Oh my goodness! What bliss it has been this week to finally return back to my gluten free diet! I know it will take me a few weeks for my skin to heal and a few more weeks to maybe months on top of that for my gut to settle down……but my mood? It is astonishing how avoiding eating just one seemingly harmless little protein can alter my mind so dramatically. For the past six weeks I have carried a whinging, negative dark presence in my mind that was constantly criticising and complaining about everything and anything, and made dealing with all the other physical effects of eating gluten so much more difficult. I was oblivious to the presence of this monkey on my back until now when I can see he has left! My energy and excitement for life is returning and my sense of humour is lifted!
One of my bridesmaids suggested we go out for a casual meal to kick off the CHOGM long weekend. As we both had later shifts at work that day we opted for an easy peasy local night out on the strip in Vic Park. To To’s was packed full of customers and only had a couple of spare tables. This is always a good sign. After enquiring about gluten free dishes, we were promptly assigned a very flamboyant waiter who was bubbling to help us. He pondered expressively on options for us and was keen to ensure that we chose a good range of dishes. For Vietnamese starters, I can never go past fresh rice paper rolls. Unfortunately they only offered prawn rolls which meant my bridesmaid couldn’t try any as she doesn’t eat seafood. I would have liked there to be a pork or chicken option for those who don’t eat prawns. Nevertheless, the rolls were fresh and neatly rolled and the dipping sauce was not too overly sweet.
The sang choy bow was made with chicken and pork mince. The meat was very moist and seasoned perfectly, however silly me forgot to ask for the shallots to be omitted and I had to pick them out. We also ordered chicken satay for my bridesmaids children but unfortunately they contained gluten so I did not try. They gave us a generous serve of these and I was informed they were finger licking good.
For mains we were recommended to order the stir fried chicken with chilli and lemongrass, Vietnamese style beef, chilli and pepper spare ribs and stir fried vegetables with garlic and oyster sauce. Both the chicken and the beef dishes contained copious amounts of onions which I had once again completely forgotten to request omission. I guess after six weeks of foodie freedom it will take a bit for me to remember to ask for all the finite details of the fructose malabsorption part of my diet. Thankfully fructose ingestion doesn’t mess with me to the extent that gluten does. The onion was in big strips so it was pretty easy to pick it all out. By the end of the night I had a cute little pile of onion next to my plate.
Despite having to negotiate my chopsticks around the presence of so much onion I really enjoyed the lemongrass chicken. The beef on the other hand was quite dry and bland and I wouldn’t recommend it. Unfortunately when the ribs were brought out to our table we noted that they were covered in batter and called our exuberant waiter over to double check that this wasn’t wheat flour batter. He was very apologetic and offered to replace the dish. This wasn’t before one of the kids managed to quickly nab a pork rib to try! According to his palate it tasted like KFC so he renamed the dish VFC! (Vietnamese Fried Chicken). As a replacement we were offered a dish that wasn’t on their menu – some roast pork. This dish was definitely the best of the mains – the pork was deliciously tender and marinated to perfection and enjoyed by all at the table. With our bellies comfortably full we all skipped over the road to Baskin and Robbins for an ice-cream fix to end our chilled out evening and we were very satisfied and ready for our long weekend!
Food 6/10 Venue 6.5/10 Service 7/10
To To Vietnamese 875 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park | (08) 9355 2388
I’m on the final lap of my six and half weeks of this gluten induced ride through hell. My life has now been taken over by constant reminders of how poisoning this stuff is to my body. My previously clear skin is breaking out all over in unsightly eruptions of blotchy red sores and random areas of flakiness and I struggle to fall asleep at night as I’m so itchy all the time waking up repeatedly to start scratching. I am crossing my fingers that my skin can recover in time for our engagement party in 5 weeks or I may be investing in a big paper bag for my head! Aside from these hideous skin issues, my gut is crying out for a break having also endured way too much.
Italian cuisine is nearly impossible to enjoy gluten free so before I return to my GF way of life, I figured we should fit in night at Modo Mio Cucina Italiana, one of Burswood Casino’s new additions to their recently improved restaurant collection.
Giampaolo Maffini, the Head Chef at Modo Mio was head hunted from Milan and has over 20 years’ experience in the industry working all around the world including North America, Asia, Middle East and over ten countries in Europe at top-end restaurants such as the Raffles in Singapore and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain. He is passionate about Italian food, using fresh, preferably locally sourced ingredients and changing the menu monthly. I was impressed to see his dedication to his job as halfway through the dinner service he was out and about in the dining area talking to the customers. Not something I’ve seen at high profile restaurants in Perth very often.
The interior design of the restaurant felt very opulent yet not overly pretentious with leather table tops, matching seats and elegant chandeliers giving the anticipation of something amazing about to come.
The service was friendly and cheerful albeit a little under-attentive, there were a number of brief but noticeable delays that I wouldn’t expect in such a high caliber restaurant such as the waiting to place our orders, and wine and water glasses remaining empty. Don’t get me wrong – the waits weren’t horrendous, but they were significant.
We started off with ordering some garlic bread. Upon placing our order our waitress informed us that garlic bread at Modo Mio is not your traditional type of garlic bread but went on to describe what can only be reiterated as a garlic cheese puff. Out comes these crunchy “puffs” of crunchy but hollow buns with some gooey cheesy garlic inside. They were quite tasty … but a bit odd for fine dining. I’m not sure if I would recommend it.
For our starters we shared two dishes. The first dish was the beef Carpaccio served with Cipriani sauce, rocket salad and Parmesan – a simple but delicious dish if executed correctly. The beef was sliced paper thin and was delicately flavoured with the traditional Tuscan style sauce. I think a few more lashings of olive oil and/or sauce would have perfected this dish as it was a little bland. Our second entrée was the roasted veal in tuna caper sauce with a celery salad, quail egg, and black truffle. The presentation of the dish was excellent. The tuna sauce was very overpowering and lingered on the palate too heavily to taste the truffle properly. Nevertheless it was still an enjoyable dish.
Next we shared a pasta dish so we could both squeeze in mains and dessert. The boy chose for us the homemade cannelloni filled with veal, pork & ricotta, spinach sauce, smoked pancetta and beetroot. I was really excited about this dish as it sounded like it was going to be the bomb! Unfortunately I found this dish to be very salty and over-seasoned and was disappointed to see only one tiny piece of pancetta dressing the dish.
Our mains were definitely the highlight of the evening. I ordered the red wine marinated Angus beef tenderloin with pan fried foie gras, polenta & taleggio ravioli and Pommery mustard marmalade. Despite ordering a rare fillet it was served medium rare. Normally this would be a call for me to complain and send the dish back but I have to be honest – it was so absolutely amazing regardless and I didn’t have the heart to do it. The foie gras and the nutty Pommery marmalade gave incredible depth to the octave of flavours rocking around in my mouth and when you added in the tangy cheesiness of the Taleggio ravioli – it was a taste sensation. I can highly recommend this dish!
The boy ordered the oven baked lamb rack with a macadamia crust, thyme jus and butternut pumpkin flan. This was also a stand out dish for him shown by the fact I didn’t even get a taste! He said it was fantastic and made up for the other disappointing dishes.
The meals are were all a bit on the smaller side which I didn’t really mind as it meant we could fit all these courses in – but it is something to note if you like your plate heaped high with food. For dessert I thought I would plant another nail in the gluten coffin and try another chocolate fondant. After the disappointment of my previous fondant experience at Jezabelle’s I was determined to chase that experience for one last time while I could. Alas this fondant had no gooey centre either but I still managed to demolish the lot so can’t have been that bad! The boy is obsessed by anything that screams ice-cream, he is not really a dessert kind of guy so I wasn’t surprised to see him order the gelati…ho hum boring!
Overall we had an enjoyable night but I’m surely paying for it today tenfold. Suffice to say I won’t be overdosing on gluten and having Italian again in a hurry, but if I did I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Modo Mio to give another pasta dish a go……..
Service 6/10 Food 8.8/10 Venue 9/10Modo Mio Cucina Italiana Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | http://www.burswood.com.au/Restaurants/Modo-Mio/
I cannot believe we are back in Thailand already! It was only about three months ago we arrived in Phuket for the first time to celebrate our dear friend’s wedding and yet here we are again. But better still this time we are here to start planning our own wedding! So exciting! We were both so amped to start the hunt for our venue and after our interesting culinary experiences at the Patong night markets last night we were also pretty keen to enjoy some more traditional Thai food!
I am a bit of an organisational freak – I gain great pleasure in planning things down to the finite detail. So in my preparation for our wedding venue search I had spent hour upon hour back home in Perth trawling over the internet to ensuring we would to check out every perceivable suitable wedding location in Phuket. After numerous emails I managed to whittle my ridiculously long list down to a much more manageable eight resorts.
Our first stop was Andara Resort in Kamala. I was really attracted to the idea of staying in Kamala as there are a lot of little restaurants and bars all within walking distance from each other. A full spectrum of accommodation options can be found ranging from the exquisite Andara Resort and Villas to the much more economical and family orientated Courtyard Marriott Resort that we were staying in this time round. In addition to this it is much more family friendly than the madness of Patong and a fair bit cleaner as well!
Andara Resort sits up on the hillside towards the southern end of Kamala beach overlooking the blue expanse of the Andaman Sea. Immediately upon entering their luxurious lobby we both felt a really good vibe and looking about the place it just felt very “us” which was very good start. We were promptly greeted by the resort wedding planner Mod. She initially sat us down to show us some photos of a few weddings set up around the resort pool and also in their spectacular villas. Having seen many of these stunning photos previously in her emails I was impatient to view the property and was hoping that it wasn’t going to disappoint.
In some ways, it was kind of shame that we both fell in love with the very first venue that we looked at as over the course of the next week we found the majority of other locations we visited just simply didn’t compare. Not even close! There were only two other locations we saw that could begin to match up to Andara’s beauty – Trisara in the far north of the island, and the very expensive Amanpuri.
The villa that Mod recommended as her favourite for us to have our wedding ceremony sits high on the edge of the cliff and is built over three levels giving every room incredible views of the sea. No detail is left untouched throughout the villa with exquisitely appointed interior design using natural dark wood and warm Thai silks to create a beautiful wow factor throughout. She said they could arrange a platform to be placed in the infinity pool allowing us to say our vows with uninterrupted views of the bay as our backdrop! Imagine that! Saying our vows with views like this will be breathtaking!
Mod’s beaming pride as she watched us appreciate the beauty of the resort shone through as she took us on a detailed tour of the whole resort, showing us their world class, icy cool air-conditioned gym (which rivals my university gym back at home) and the enormous and elegantly appointed spa which included a whole level of rooms for the bridal party to beautify. We then ended the tour in their popular restaurant Silk overlooking their spacious pool deck.
After our detailed tour, we were then treated to a complimentary four course Thai lunch where the chef’s had carefully prepared Thai dishes taking into consideration both my fructose malabsorption and gluten intolerance. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this lovely meal as Mod, the boy and I were busy engaged in lengthy conversation talking about further details in which Andara could provide us with an amazing wedding. Highlights of our lunch included Goong cinnamon (Cinnamon prawn – to die for!), Tom yam soup and absolutely huge Tiger prawns cooked in garlic and pepper and presented gorgeously.
To help us to make our decision we headed back to Andara for dinner on one of our final nights in Phuket. I thought seeing as I’m actually able to punish myself with gluten while on the prescribed gluten challenge I wouldn’t be quite so restrictive and let loose a little on the menu. For entrée we ordered a started platter which had some fish cakes, chicken wrapped Pandanus leaves and prawns. The chicken was soft and fell apart in the mouth and was sweetly scented with the Pandanus. The prawns were wrapped in noodles – similar to what we ate at Old Cathay, but less oily and easier to eat. After memories of our enjoyable meal at Old Cathay returning to my mind, I also ordered some satay tofu. This was not silky smooth this time round and definitely didn’t excite either of us.
To keep the boy happy for mains we ordered some soft shelled crab, one of his favourites, which were deliciously meaty and crispy, some tamarind duck and stir fried Morning Glory. Morning Glory is considered a weed in Australia however is very popular in a lot of parts of South-east Asia where it is often called “water spinach”. It is quite sweet in flavour, not bitter at all, and was cooked very simply with oyster sauce and garlic.
After all this delicious Thai food, I can’t help but wonder….I do hope all our wedding guests are happy to eat Thai at our reception? I just don’t feel right going to a country that has such wonderful culinary culture and eating “Western food”.
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
We were so lucky to be part of a friend’s wedding in Phuket earlier this year as it has sparked the beginning of our love affair with Thailand. After a week of wedding celebrations in Phuket, we then flew over to the Eastern coast of Thailand to stay for another week on the island of Koh Samui. It was during this memorable and fun filled holiday that my love proposed to me. He dropped the question during the most amazing private dining experience at Six Sense’s Dining on the Rocks which he had all pre-arranged before we left Australia. A single stunning table was decorated lavishly with roses and orchids and placed romantically isolated on a wide expanse of wooden decking on the cliff face overlooking the distant neighbouring islands and fishing boats. We had our own two butlers serve us a seven course degustation while we sipped our way through bottles of Verve. It was an experience I will never forget.
Subsequently it was a bit of a no-brainer that we both envisioned returning to Thailand for our wedding vows. Choosing a venue for such an occasion wasn’t really a decision we wanted to make via photos and email so this provided us with a great excuse for an impromptu holiday. I planned a busy week for us sashaying around Phuket touring resorts and dining on their food.
To get ourselves in the mood, our first night we decided to brave it into the bedlam of Patong to go the night markets. The boy has a strange and burning desire to eat unusual foods; this is actually something we used to share in common before all my allergies came to light and I starting being more wary of ingredients. Uninhibited and giddy on the street vendors rocket fuelled cocktails (80 Baht/$2.50) AUD), we dived into one of the many night markets and found ourselves surrounded by interesting smells. There was a lot of familiar fare, such as roast pork, chicken and duck but lo and behold we found the piece de la resistance……intestines?? Now you must be thinking we have gone a little mad, but there it was all snake like and coiled neatly in its mesenteric fat like a distorted grotesque fan.
Before I knew it the boy had ordered us a dish and was eagerly watching them dice it up for us into smaller more bite size pieces. I cautiously ate one, and to be honest with all the soy and chargrilling it didn’t taste too bad. There was none of the unpleasant smells you would have expected. However after a few morsels I began to remember my public health lectures at University and stopped myself before I worked myself into a nauseous state. I fell asleep that night dreaming of hydatid cysts in my brain and vowed not to be swayed to such a dark side again!
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
Travelling to Thailand? Be sure to checkout the Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide before you go!
I have a penchant for excesses. A friend once coined a term to describe me as “all or nothing”. It is the source of both extreme happiness and great trouble in my life. Currently my focus is on surviving this gluten challenge whilst trying to avoid going overboard. Easier said than done. The Doctors recommendation has been to eat a meagre two to three slices of wheaty wheatyness daily for six weeks. This all started out very well, but the all or nothing has quickly taken over and despite it making me so ill, when I’m out for a wonderful dinner I go out of control.
In a manner of pre-empting the evening eating excesses, I thought I’d get my bloated self out into the glorious sunshine and run around like a freak around the river with the concept that the more calories I burned the more I could eat that night. Unfortunately the whole dietary indiscretion thing is not very conducive to my running efforts, and it was more so a rather pathetic jog where numerous non-poisoned runners zoomed past me totally in their zone. I’m so jealous. Only three more weeks to go. Hey at least I can eat real food! After nearly six weeks of enjoying his long service leave payout, my love has decided to return to the workforce and has successfully passed through a rigorous interview process to be accepted for a job he is really keen to have. With hopes for a even brighter future what better way for us to celebrate than with good food and some bubbles!
After flipping through the Entertainment Book we booked a table at Chapter One Brasserie in Subiaco. Chapter One is a relaxed and unpretentious restaurant run by a husband and wife team; Hayley and Jason Walker. Hayley has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and this became apparent as throughout the night she confidently flitted from table to table ensuring everyone was enjoying themselves and their meals. We both immediately warmed to her bubbly personality and her pride in her restaurants success. The chef Jason trained at the London Hilton before going to work with a number of Europe’s famous chefs including Marco Pierre White. This European influence comes through strongly on his menu with some hearty dishes including rabbit pie and duck with foie gras.
We started our evening with a baguette and butter. The baguette had a wonderful crunchy exterior with fluffy lightness inside, something one really misses out on when on a gluten free diet. It would have enhanced my whole experience if the bread wasn’t cold. Or the butter for that matter. Cold butter does not make for very elegant eating.
We moved on to our next course to share the Tasting plate. This contained four shot glasses of pea and ham soup, some grilled polenta with a tomato salsa, some vol-u-vents, chorizo and some asparagus spears. The soup was served hot and was a much needed hit of warmth in my belly after the disappointment of the cold baguette. It was thick and creamy and the ham was meaty with minimal fat. It was a tad quirky that the spoons served with the soup didn’t fit into the little glasses. The polenta was soft on the inside but grilled to a flavoursome brown and was the most enjoyable item on the plate next to the soup. The chorizo was good but nothing special. The vol-u-vents were disappointing as they were luke warm and the puff pastry had no crunch to it.
After reading some others reviews on the net raving about Chapter One’s Blue manna crab angel hair pasta, we decided to once again make pigs of ourselves and order a second entree. Well the Italians do it don’t they? And aren’t we meant to be celebrating? Memories of cold dishes slipped into the back of our minds as we slurped our way through this amazing dish. I highly recommend. It truly shows looks can be deceiving as the strong crab flavours worked their magic over our palate. Hayley claims their secret is in the sauce and she is most definitely not mistaken there. Oh boy, I was really going to pay for all this glutenness tomorrow!
For mains we both ordered the braised rabbit & wild mushroom pie, with parsnip puree and a sage jus. I can understand why this dish remains on his ever changing menu as it was executed perfectly. This time round the pastry was buttery and feather light (and hot), and the rabbit was tender and succulent. We also ordered the warm beetroot and goats cheese salad. I felt there was an excess on onion in this dish, not really necessary given the abundance of strong tart taste of the goats cheese.
Unsurprisingly I was convinced we had room for dessert. That doesn’t actually mean there was room in my stomach but refer to my original point I made at the beginning of this blog. All or nothing. I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) have it any other way! I ordered the berry and creme fraiche tart and the boy ordered some sort of butterscotch cheesecake.
The berry tart was well balanced with both sour and sweet flavours however the pastry base was very hard and half of my dessert went flying across the table when I tried cutting into it. The boy found it quite entertaining as once again you could easily see my place at the table as in front of me was a collage of colours ranging from the pale green of the pea soup to the brilliant ruby red of the berries. Apparently he thinks this is a regular occurrence. Overall the evening was very enjoyable and I will dream of the crab pasta well into my gluten free days.
Venue 7.5/10 Service 9/10 Food 8/10Chapter One Brasserie 292 Hay St, Subiaco, 6008 | (08) 9388 1323 | www.chapteronebrasserie.com.au