Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Spots for Eating and Drinking in Brisbane

Brisbane is a beautiful and vibrant city, filled with friendly locals and enjoying an enviable climate all year round. If you’re planning a visit to Brisbane, you’re probably up to date with the tourist attractions you want to see and where you’re going to stay.

Brisbane Crab claw
Photo: Andrew Scott

What you might not know, however, is that apart from the many wonderful tourist attractions that Brisbane has on offer, it boasts a large selection of entertainment venues that keep locals and tourists entertained. All you need to do is buy your travel insurance and book your tickets because we’ve got you covered with the best places to eat, drink and play in Brisbane.


  • Brisbane is one of the most exciting cities in Australia for food, and more and more innovative chefs are coming to Brisbane each year.
  • If you’re looking for high-end cuisine, the Brisbane institution Montrachet is a must.
  • Grasshopper Asian Kitchen blends funky modernism with traditional Asian fare to great effect.
  • Run by celebrity chef Matt Moran, Aria is a sophisticated and modern restaurant that embodies all of the elegance and style of big city dining with the unique atmosphere that makes Brisbane so special.
  • Enoteca is an Italian restaurant that makes a meal of its wine list. With a downstairs cellar and top quality ingredients, you’ll be having one or two vinos here for sure, so it’s best you don’t drive.

  • When it comes to going out on the town, Brisbane is definitely the place to be. At the forefront of the Australian music scene and with a strong passion for electronic and dance music, Brisbane is just waiting to show you a good time.
  • For dancing, good music and a lot of fun, Family Nightclub is an iconic place to shake a tail feather
  • For a more relaxed, laid back vibe, the Story Bridge Hotel is a quintessentially Aussie pub—so much so that it even features cockroach racing on Australia Day!
  • If you want some good live indie music, The Zoo is a Brisbane icon, having played host to some of the best alternative music acts since opening in 1992.
  • For a top-quality brewski, the Archive Beer Boutique on Boundary St is a must-visit. Taste your way through the nectar of the gods with a brilliant ambience to go with it.
  • The Victoria Hotel, after a devastating fire in 2008, is back open for business and features one of the best beer gardens in the state. Perfect for whiling away those steamy tropical nights with a cold drink in hand.

Brisbane’s nightlife and entertainment scene has undergone a revival in the last few decades. Once ironically nicknamed ‘Brisvegas’ for a perceived lack of nightlife, the locals have taken the insult and made it their own, turning Brisbane into a thriving hot spot to rival any major city. With most Brisbane apartments and hotels central to the city and all the action, it’s possible to simply duck outside any night of the week for a bite to eat, a boogie, or a quiet drink with some friendly locals.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to be Healthier

Our personal health and wellbeing affects every aspect of our life: our happiness, our relationships, our work and our physical health. It is easy to neglect our health when we are feeling stressed, or money is tight, or we are just too busy to focus on it. But the fact is, we can’t afford not too. Practicing healthy habits will improve all these aspects of our lives. Here are some ways to help you work on this.

Photo: HaoJan

1. Think about what you eat.
    Frequently relying on convenience food and takeout is a habit that most of us can easily fall into, especially if we are really busy, too tired to cook, or trying to be careful with money.

    However, what we put into our bodies has significant effects, not just in terms of weight, skin and other aspects of our physical appearance, but mentally and emotionally as well.

    Too much sugar, caffeine can cause jitteriness and headaches and really negatively affect your mood. If you don’t always have the time to cook, see if you can share the cooking duties around, or prepare meals in advance and freeze them.

    Frozen vegetables and healthy staples like brown rice are inexpensive and much better for you than 2-minute noodles or potato fries.

    2. Where you live.
      Our physical surroundings can affect our health in ways you may not have realised. Make sure where you live is always clean and airy – too much mold and dampness can cause you to be chronically sick. Being cooped up in a windowless apartment will give you headaches and make you moody.

      Consider your furniture as well – if your bed or your couch is really uncomfortable you could be getting back pains and ruining your posture.

      You may find you need to move houses or take steps to improve your living environment. Fast loans for small amounts of money (usually up to $3000) if you don’t have the savings could be an option – you can’t afford not to take action.

      3. Medical and dental care.
        It is really easy to shrug off medical and dental check ups, but it’s a habit we need to change.

        Often we don’t go to the doctor when we are sick because we think it will go away; only we wait too long, and before we know it, we’ve spent two weeks being miserable, missing work…and visiting the doctor in the end anyway!

        And of course no one is ever excited about visiting the dentist, but avoiding this could end up costing you dearly in the long run. Tooth aches, root canal, losing your teeth – these are all things that can be avoided.

        If you don’t have private health insurance and worry about what you would do if something were wrong, you can always apply for cash loans to help you afford the initial treatment.

        4. Fresh air and exercise.
          You are reading this article online right now – where are you? How long have you been staring at the computer?

          Whether you are a student studying furiously away, stuck in an office with stale air, or inside looking after the kids: make an effort to get that fresh air and exercise wherever you can.

          Go for a walk during your lunch break, study in the park, take the kids outside to the garden. Being in one place too long fosters feelings of restlessness and anxiety.

          5. Positive relationships.
            Surround yourself with people you love, people who inspire and motivate you. If you don’t have friends like this in your life – make an effort to meet some!

            Great friends can provide a supportive network and you could help each other in your efforts to get healthier: exercise together, go for walks on the weekends, cook for each other. We can all get into bad habits together, but we can also get out of them together. Good luck!

            Thursday, September 15, 2011

            How to Stay Healthy when Travelling

            Keeping healthy whilst on a business trip or a vacation can be very challenging. For some people it is hard enough to stay motivated to do enough exercise and eat healthily when at home. But with motivation and preparation it is as easy to stay fit when travelling as it is elsewhere. This short guide will help you to achieve a healthier style of living when travelling.

            Photo: Piero_Castellano

            1. Get it done early
            When you wake up in your serviced apartment in Sydney it is far too tempting to head down to the breakfast bar for an all you can eat buffet. It is important to exercise first because you will not wish to afterwards. If you really need to then pick up some fruit to eat as you go for a morning walk or jog. At first it will be hard to motivate yourself in this new environment, but forcing yourself out into Sydney early in the morning has its benefits. The streets, parks and roads are all empty early in the morning and you will soon find yourself longing for the peace and tranquillity of a summer’s morning walk in the city.

            1. Exercising can be fast
              Remember that exercise does not have to be very time consuming. A fast sprint for a mile in a few minutes will burn as many calories as a mile long walk, and vice versa. If you are short on time you can achieve the same results by working out more intensively for a shorter period of time. Languishing in the gym between workouts just wastes time that you could be spending exploring your destination in Australia.
            2. Follow a Routine
              In addition to following a daily routine, starting early at the same time each day, it is good to follow a workout routine when you are travelling. This routine will keep you motivated as you get to know it and it will allow you to monitor your progress and improvement each day. Take a workout DVD to play through your laptop or download one onto your iPod so that you can follow the instructions for a healthy workout.
            3. Try the free gym
              If you ever find yourself short of somewhere to run outside, which is very unlikely in Australia, then try out the free hotel gym. If there is no free gym nearby then ask for a trial session at a local gym and enjoy short-term gym use free of charge.
            4. Try something new
              When staying in a Gold Coast apartment it is good to try a new and unfamiliar type of exercise to keep yourself interested in the exercise instead of dreading monotonous repetition. Try running on the beach. If you have not done so before then you will be surprised at the extra effort needed to propel yourself forward. Other than the enjoyment gained from exercising on Golden beaches, a new workout may provide you with the motivation to keep exercising each day.
            5. iPhone Apps
              In this technological era it is now possible to download applications which will help to monitor your exercise each day. Most fitness applications are very cheap and will enable you easy access to a workout plan whilst travelling.
            6. Maintain your diet
              Possibly the most important aspect for keeping fit when abroad is maintaining your diet. It is very easy to be lured into easting unhealthy foods when abroad, but the combination of plane food and an unhealthy diet will quickly take its toll on the unwary business traveller.

            Thursday, September 8, 2011

            So You Think You Can Cook

            So you think you can cook do you? Family meals a breeze, weekend entertaining an absolute pleasure – but how about dinner for 200 produced out of your very own kitchen – no? well why ever not! These days even ‘amateur’ chefs are a very serious breed. We are as a country food obsessed from the diet queens to the faddie foodies to the down right greedy monsters! Cooking is a national pastime and has become the ultimate hobby to show off.

            Photo: massdistraction

            The kitchen is fast becoming the most remodelled room of the house, and the demands on our food preparation spaces are increasing all the time. Kitchen worktops are no longer just the surface above our cupboards, they are an essential area on which to hone our craft that needs to be made of the right material and lit perfectly! Storage is also an issue due to the number of culinary gadgets the average household possesses and kitchen designers are forever having to come up with ingenious ways to maximise space.

            Kitchen cabinets are the least of our worries too. Along with most remodelling projects there is a requirement to upgrade appliances and this can be a huge headache in its own right. Making sure you stick to your budget, achieve all the desired elements and find something which quite simply you like the look of is never an easy task. On a positive note there is a huge amount of choice out there if you can take the time to do your research properly – and try to enjoy the process. These kinds of purchases are often only made every few years so treat the decisions with appropriate importance.

            Whatever the direction of your kitchen remodelling project, a chef-like kitchen where dinner for 200 would actually be achievable is within your reach so happy cooking and get planning that menu!

            Thursday, September 1, 2011

            Healthy Curries for Dieters

            As an avid curry fan I felt the end of the world was fast approaching when I decided a few years ago that something had to be done about the gradually expanding waistline. How could I get through the week without cooking at least one curry and would I ever be able to eat at my favourite curry house again? My impending holiday to Rajasthan did not bode well either. Surely I was not going to turn into one of these people who order a salad regardless of where they are in the world?

            Thai Green Curry Chicken
            Photo: Thai Jasmine

            Well I am glad to say that like most problems there was a solution. With a little bit of thought about what constituted my favourite dishes I was able to make sensible choices both when eating out and when in India. Out went the creamy dishes like lamb pasanda but luckily tandoori dishes, especially chicken and prawn, are pretty healthy and delicious into the bargain.

            As for cooking curries at home it is even easier to make the right choices since you are following a recipe and have complete control about what goes into the dish. Where online recipes called for ghee (clarified butter) I found that using a small amount of sunflower oil or even the minimal calorie spray oil did not affect the flavour of the food. Many Indian dishes use yoghurt and, whereas I may previously gone for the full fat yogurt, I found that the reduced fat yogurt tasted no different and had no impact on the cooking process.

            Sadly a lot of my favourite Indian dishes use lamb (and often a somewhat fatty cut too!) but with a little discipline and will power I ditched the lamb and turned instead to vegetarian recipes. Serving a healthy vegetable curry as a side dish and just a little rice rather than my usual mound, I found that I was still able to enjoy a curry and lose a few pounds as well.

            We are what we eat

            We all know the old saying “we are what we eat” but it is easy to ignore this fact especially when we all lead such busy lives. Gone are the days of the man of the house going out to work, whilst the wife stayed at home planning nutritious meals, shopping for the fresh ingredients on a daily basis and spending hours cooking.

            ready meal
            Photo: jakerome

            Nowadays we are all out at work and, with so many ready meals available in the supermarket, the temptation is to fill the freezer with something we can shove in the microwave when we get home after a busy day. However, with a little planning and an occasional bulk cook-in we can do wonders for our health.

            Take time at the weekend to plan the week’s meals in advance rather than wondering on the train home what on earth you are going to have for dinner that night. Work out exactly what you are going to need and make a list for your supermarket or online shop. Knowing precisely what you are going to be using saves money too as it stops you buying things that end up being thrown away.

            Dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, chilli, and casseroles of all types can be made in bulk when you have time and frozen in individual portions. Soups are good for freezing too and are an excellent and healthy thing to take to work in the winter as a change from your usual sandwich. If you have time to cook something from scratch when you get home then why not coat a couple of salmon fillets with a Schwartz rub and cook in a foil parcel in the oven? Served with tzatziki and couscous this makes a delicious and nutritious meal.

            Healthy eating is key to feeling well. Bad eating habits can result in low energy, low mood, poor sleep patterns, inability to cope with stress and general malaise. It is also difficult to lose weight or sustain a healthy weight if you are feeding your body with junk, so do yourself a favour and start fuelling your body with healthy food instead.