It was our first morning at Chandeliers on Abbey and we woke up to nothing but the soft twitter of birds. The peace and quiet of the country coupled with an amazingly comfortable bed had allowed both of us to get the first uninterrupted night’s sleep since my evil gastro hit nearly a week ago. Although I still wasn’t quite 100%, I definitely felt much more revived, refreshed and ready to eat again. What perfect timing.
Our chalet had a fridge stocked with some fresh orange juice, milk, eggs and butter and a pantry stocked with tea and coffee. I had presumed there would be nothing for us to eat in the chalet for breakfast, so I brought some gluten-free bread, avocado and tomatoes from our fridge at home. These fresh provisions were combined for a quick and satisfying cooked breakfast and feeling energised off we set on a self-guided tour. I planned to stop in at a few old favourites mixed in with a couple of places we hadn’t visited before.
Our favourites included the picturesque Clairault Wines where I was delighted to see they had a special on their cases of Chardonnay – obviously I had to take advantage of this offer! The Boy was so sweet and without complaint was my skipper for the day. He knew what a horrid week I had and wanted me to enjoy myself too. So that he didn’t bore too much from winery upon winery, we stopped in at the Bootleg Brewery where he grabbed a mixed six-pack and some Pilsner to enjoy back at the chalet later.
No visit to Margaret River is complete without a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Company. I get so excited at their tubs of free choc buds – they contain white, dark and milk buds. Kids line up at the tubs scooping out handfuls at a time (thankfully using the spoon not their bare hands!)
We bought a sample of their truffles to enjoy for the drive down to Xanadu for lunch but as we journeyed further south we drove past another much newer chocolatey venue called Gabriel Chocolate. I recall reading a review of this place on Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and was intrigued to see how they compared to the mainstream MRCF.
Gabriel chocolate differs from many fine chocolatiers in that they import the actual cocoa beans (rather than chocolate) to make all their lovely treats. This basically means that they can make chocolate from beans that have been obtained from only one part of the world or even just one plantation. Just like wine made from the same grapes but grown in different regions, the flavour from cocoa beans can vary depending on the climate they are grown in and we both found it fascinating comparing different textures, aromas and taste that each region imparted to its beans.
Being the Easter weekend, Xanadu Wines was fully booked and as we arrived a number of less organised people were being turned away due to a lack of a reservation. All the staff were all so bubbly and welcoming, and within minutes of us being seated at our table the manager came over to acknowledge us and advised me he was fully aware of my allergy requirements. I was advised that most items off the menu could be easily adapted and we were introduced to our waiter for the afternoon.
Of course I ordered the mushroom entrée. My obsession with this vegetable continues. Served with soft butternut pumpkin and quinoa I felt like I was being so good to my body while still enjoying such wonderful flavours. This was my first time trying quinoa at a restaurant and I enjoyed the nutty texture. Prior to my gluten-free days I was a big fan of couscous and it is one of the things I miss (along with buttery croissants). I can see how this ancient grain could serve as a replacement to couscous in many of my old recipes!
The Boy ordered the Marsala prawns with curried lentils, carrot and yoghurt purée topped with a coconut dressing. A good indicator of the quality of his meal can always be measured by how quickly he devours it and trust me those prawns didn’t linger long on the plate!
As my stomach was still undersized from its usual capacity I stuck with ordering light meals and chose the fish of the day. It was a Gold band snapper fillet and the chef kindly adapted the sides to accommodate for my allergies. The fish flaked away gently under my fork and I was surprised at the size of the portion.
The Boy ordered the duck which came with zesty orange braised witlof and a fig salad. It was drizzled in sweet, sticky quince vinaigrette. The duck was tender and not overcooked or dry.
Despite feeling pretty full I was determined to have dessert. There were a number of gluten-free options available which was quite exciting. I chose the mandarin and almond cake with olive oil ice cream. It was so moist and was warmed slightly. As I scooped a mouthful of ice cream and cake simultaneously onto my spoon I delighted that the ice cream melted perfectly into my mouth and not on my plate.
The Boy wasn’t going to have any dessert as he was also feeling near capacity but I coaxed him into trying the poached pear on the fact that it came also with ice cream. His addiction to ice cream parallels mine for mushrooms. The caramel ice cream was nothing short of amazing and mixed in with the vanilla cream I had to stop myself from stealing all his dessert. I will definitely be back!
Like Me on Facebook!Xanadu Wines Boodjidup Road, Margaret River 6285 | (08) 9758 9500 | www.xanaduwines.com Price: $$$$ Accepts Entertainment Card (Entrees $18, Mains $36, 2 course special $49, 3 course special $65) Food: 4.8/5 (wonderful fresh, clean and locally sourced food)) Service: 5/5 (discreetly attentive, friendly, oozed great teamwork and positivity) Ambience: 3.5/5 (would have been better with a bit of a view) Drinks: 4/5 (we shared a bottle of the lively fruity Xanadu Sauvignon blanc Semillion 2011) Total: 17.3/20
Bearing in mind that our mini-break to Bali was a spontaneous and relatively unplanned trip the holiday’s budget was a little tighter than I am normally accustomed to. It was our fourth night and we had already eaten at some very impressive restaurants such as Ku De Ta and La Lucciola. These were wonderful meals but they came at prices that are comparable to those back in Perth. To add to the situation it is only a year before our wedding date (WOOT!) and the boy was getting justifiably concerned about our spending habits knowing full well that we still had our Sydney trip the following week!
Once again by recommendation, this time from one of our travelling companions who came with us last year in Phuket, we made the journey in the torrential monsoon rain to the more built up southern part of Seminyak to Chez Gado Gado. On entry into this opulent venue I started to worry that I had inadvertently chosen another pricy restaurant. Thankfully after scanning the menu I was relieved to see that things were all very reasonably priced despite the external appearance of the restaurant being quite fancy.
We were greeted promptly by the maître D who had been kindly informed in advance by our hotel reception of my dietary requirements. She explained she would get the chef to come to our table so I could discuss the menu directly with him. The executive chef is Quirijn Rademaker, a Dutchman who has been working at Gado Gado for the past 4 years having previously come from Shy restaurant in Jakarta. He was keen and energetic and offered to adapt a number of options off his menu for me. I was eyeing off the terrine of smoked and cured salmon with crab, pomelo and sour cream vinaigrette. He said although the terrine is not suitable, he could make me a salmon carpaccio and accompany it with a dill mustard cream, fresh fennel and the pomelo. I haven’t tried salmon with citrus before – it sounds like a pretty weird thing to combine, but surprisingly it really worked and I was suitably impressed.
The boy ordered the lobster ravioli which I obviously couldn’t taste but looked really flavoursome. Having eaten out for a number of nights in a row, he was starting to get a little weary of my repeated and incessant questions regarding the taste of his meals so I didn’t get much of a description from him other than “delicious”.
After such fresh and saporous entrees, unfortunately our main meals were lacklustre by comparison. The potato gratin was served lukewarm and tasted like it had been re-heated. The jus contained onion so the chef made an alternate sauce for me that was too peppery and didn’t balance well with the sweetness of the beetroot and duck. None of the dish was unpleasant by any stretch of the imagination, just mismatched and poorly combined.
We had also ordered some sides of sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with mint and garlic. These sides were seemingly forgotten and I had to remind the waiter that we ordered them. They didn’t come out until we had finished our mains completely. The sautéed mushrooms were juicy and tasty but the zucchini was soggy with excessive oil and was intensely overloaded with garlic. After overdosing on our garlic we had no room left for dessert and tried to make the most of the break in the rain and head back to the villa. As soon as we had paid the bill and were heading out the front door to hail ourselves a cab – the heavens opened up again and the tropical downpour continued! We got thoroughly soaked!
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!Like Me on Facebook! Chez Gado Gado Jalan Camplung Tanduk, (Dhyanapura) 99, Seminyak, Bali, 80361 INDONESIA | (+62) 361 736966 | www.gadogadorestaurant.com Price: $$ (Entrees 88-164K Rp/$9-17 AUD, Mains 146-295K Rp/$15-30 AU) (incl. tax & service charges) Food: 3/5 (has potential – overall not bad) Service: 3/5 (slow on drinks service and forgot side dishes) Ambience: 3/5 (would be awesome to watch the sunset on the deck weather permitting) Drinks: 2.5/5 (cocktails were fairly average) Total: 11.5/20
What a horrific week it’s been for me! This persistent stomach bug has put me out of action for the whole week!. It started brewing on my wedding dress shopping day with my bestie and then developed more dramatically into a further two days at home in bed. I always get racked with guilt whenever I take a sick day as everyone else’s work load increases to compensate for my absence. So when I woke up on the fourth day and managed to hold a piece of toast down I figured surely I must be good to go. I was wrong and a few hours later my manager sent me home ashen-faced and dizzy.
Being our first Easter off together in several years, I had booked a weekend getaway with the Boy down in Margaret River which also happened to coincide with our 14th anniversary celebration. Prior to falling sick I was so excited about this little minibreak and was looking forward to a few days of eating, drinking and romantic fun. As I sat unusually quietly in the car on the drive down, I accepted that although I am not feeling at my best I was not going to let it ruin our holiday.
We didn’t arrive until the late afternoon on Good Friday by which I was too tired to consider the notion that I may want to blog about our accommodation so dear readers please forgive me for the lack of any photos. We stayed at Chandeliers on Abbey in Yallingup and were quite impressed with the quality of the chalet – it had a fabulous sound system with speakers throughout the chalet, warmed bathroom tiles, and a fridge stocked with fresh milk, OJ, eggs and butter. The kitchen was well equipped and there were candles all about the chalet to help give more atmosphere.
After relaxing on the deck for some time, we headed out to Gnarabar Bar and Bistro which was seemingly one of the only places I could find open on a Good Friday. Situated just out of Margaret River Township near the Gnarabup beach, the bar was humming with life and nearly full capacity. The staff seemed a little run off their feet and perhaps also a tad disorganised.
Seeing a menu clearly marked with gluten-free options always instills hope for an easy ordering experience. If gluten-free dishes are regular menu items then this indicates to me that the kitchen must be familiar with correct food preparation for us more challenging customers. I ordered the gluten-free option of chilli salted calamari with Thai chilli jam and lime. I just wanted a light snack for entrée as my stomach had shrunk from my lack of food intake during the week as a result of being so unwell.
When my dish arrived, it was coated in batter and for some reason I thought there was a chance it wasn’t actually gluten-free. I asked the waiter who assured me this was gluten-free batter and I was totally fine to eat it. Fortunately my usual ritual of photo taking delayed me starting to eat this dish as a few minutes later the same waiter came out of the kitchen looking a little flustered exclaiming I can’t eat it and that it WASN’T gluten free. I couldn’t believe my ears! If I hadn’t double checked with the waiter, and then paused to take photos, I would be back to square one with my stomach ills and our romantic weekend would have been ruined. It astounded me that the kitchen allowed this error to occur!
The Boy order the pan-fried gnocchi with rabbit and shiitake mushrooms. I told him not to wait for my replacement meal to arrive before commencing so he could enjoy his while it was still hot. The gnocchi was soft and not too doughy and he said the rabbit was tender and sweet. My dish didn’t end up being brought out to the table until well after he had polished off his gnocchi.
It didn’t actually look a grand deal different from the previous dish but the Boy had snuck a taste of the one with gluten and said it tasted different. Seeing as my appetite wasn’t the best I was happy to share some of my calamari with him rather than have him stare hungrily at me while I ate. I’m not sure what happened to my “chilli jam” as my calamari was served with some aioli…maybe I read the menu wrong. The calamari was fairly bland and not seasoned very well, and although most pieces were tender there were a few chewy ones in there.
There was only one main dish on the menu that was able to be prepared both gluten and onion free and unfortunately it was a fairly unexciting looking chicken breast dish. Thankfully I was informed by our waitress that it wasn’t a problem for the chef to make any of the entrée dishes into a full main meal size for an extra ten bucks. I was impressed with the size of the meal that was to follow. Juicy meaty Moroccan spiced quail served on a creamy pumpkin purée with an olive, feta and parsley salad. The spices were not too overpowering for my delicate gut and the quail were super-sized and succulent.
The boy ordered the 10 hour braised beef cheek with parmesan polenta for his main meal. He was quite disappointed in his choice as the meat was unexpectedly dry and chewy; not tender or flavoursome as he imagined.
There was no way I was going to fit in a third course until I had given myself another day or two for my stomach size to re-expand to its previous size so we skipped dessert – an unusual occurrence for me indeed! We returned to our cosy chalet and flaked out for what was to be one of the best night’s sleep either one of us has had in over a week. Bliss.
For what it is, a casual beach pub, the Gnarabar fits the bill. However despite us using our Entertainment Book discount, we both felt we could get better quality food at better value at many of the beautiful wineries we visited over the following few days. Additionally the oversight of serving me gluten accidentally is of considerable concern not just for me but for other gluten intolerants out there. If I hadn’t asked, I would have found out the hard way a few hours later.
Follow Me on Facebook!Gnarabar Bar and Bistro Margarets Beach Resort, 1 Resort Place, Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, WA 6285 | (08) 9757 1583 | www.gnarabar.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-17, Mains $28-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2/5 (dodged a gluten bullet!) Service: 2.5/5 (friendly but haphazard and disorganized) Ambience: 2.5/5 (bubbling pub vibe, needs more dim lighting too bright in restaurant area) Drinks: 3/5 (some great MR choices, need more by the glass options) Total: 10/20
After a pretty hectic start to our year, thoughts about planning for our wedding have remained in the infant stages. But there are some things that need to be commenced well in advance of such an occasion and one of those is getting our bodies into top shape! Seriously, there are no real overnight miracles to losing weight and toning up, the secret is really simple. Eat healthily in moderation and increase your amount of exercise. It’s definitely not rocket science. The trick is just sticking to it!
The Boy recently was inspired by a documentary called Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s about an overweight Australian guy named Joe Cross who suffered from a number of illnesses secondary to his poor diet and weight problem. He decided to go on a 60 day juice fast drinking only fresh fruit and vegetables. During his fast he drove nearly 5000 kilometres across America with only one goal in mind; to get off all his medication and achieve a balanced lifestyle. During his road trip he met a man with similar health issues as he had and together they supported each other to becoming fitter, healthier and happier men.
After watching the doco The Boy went out and bought himself a juicer and a fridge full of fresh fruit and vegetables and tried it for himself. As I watched the kilos peel off him, it wasn’t hard to partially convert me however I’m not sure I could get through the whole day drinking just juice and no food! My will power is not that strong!
In a way to complement his new founded desire for raw fresh produce, I suggested a trip down to Fremantle to try The Raw Kitchen where all the food is vegetarian, vegan, organic, raw, dairy free AND gluten-free! It almost sounds too good to be true!
Their dairy free green smoothies were much tastier than our own concoctions at home although bear in mind we didn’t add any nut milk to ours – they were just straight vegies and fruit! They are made with handmade almond milk, filtered water, spinach and banana. The Boy had fresh mango added to his which made it a bit sweeter. Despite being served enormous glasses full we both easily gulped ours down quenching our thirst from the mornings exercise around the Swan River.
So much for my words of wisdom to eat in moderation. We got quite carried away as everything on the menu looked so good and we ended up ordered way too much food leaving no room for any dairy free cheesecake! The raw pizza was packed full of flavour with piles of fresh basil on top. There was some red onion on the pizza which I had to pick off which wasn’t a big issue. The cashew nut cheese tasted surprisingly cheese-like and it was hard to believe that it didn’t contain any dairy.
The nachos were a small serve but for us this was fortunate for us! The corn chips had an almost nutty flavour and were surprisingly crisp considering they had not been baked.
The “pasta” was made out of ribbons of raw zucchini which had an excellent firm texture to mimic that pasta feel. The rich sauce was lip smacking good and contained some sliced Kalamata olives and more delicious fresh basil. It was topped off with a sprinkling of raw macadamia “parmesan cheese”. Highly recommend.
Have You Liked My Facebook Page?The Raw Kitchen Shop 14, Piazza Arcade, 36 South Terrace, Fremantle 6012 | 0409 323 441 | www.therawkitchen.com.au Price: $$$ ($18-23 lunch, $3.80 espresso, $8.50-10 smoothies) Food: 5/5 (the pizza and the pasta are complete winners) Service: 3/5 (quick to bring food but slow to clear tables) Ambience: 2.5/5 (in an arcade in front of shops) Drinks: 4/5 (fabulous smoothie) Total: 14.5/20
I was woken up abruptly at around 3am feeling very nauseous and sweaty with my stomach churning and cramping. I had a big day ahead of me with a number of appointments booked at bridal boutiques and I refused to accept that anything could ruin this special day. I gobbled down some antacid tablets and managed to scull a few mouthfuls of Gaviscon. I lay still in bed hoping that my increasing desire to vomit would pass and that I would at least get a couple more hours of sleep before I had to rise in the morning for what would be a very busy day!
The sun rose a few sleepless hours later and I continued to try to force myself into believing I felt ok but to no avail. Our first appointment time crept up way too quickly such that I was relieved to get a message from Kate saying she had slept in and was running late as I was struggling to get going myself. She cancelled the first booking for me and embarking in the pouring rain we managed to make it to our second booking. Woozy and achy I worked my way through so many dresses as best I could and prayed I wouldn’t vomit when the assistant cinched the dress as tight as she could to “show off my figure”. The problem with our first two boutiques was that their display dresses were all size 12s and they were all far too large, so the girls in the store would clamp the dress with a bundle of clips and pins. From this I was supposed to be able to visualise what the right size dress would look like! A very difficult task indeed, especially with a gastro developing in the mist.
As an interlude to all this rushing around Kate suggested we look along Scarborough Beach Road for a gluten-free café she recalled seeing previously. We initially stopped in at the New Norcia Bakehouse where the only gluten-free options they had to offer were a selection of cakes. Given the state of my stomach I wasn’t one to brave the stickies and we continued further down the road. We stumbled upon Cultural Tastes which is both a shop and café rolled into one.
I walked in presuming that my on-the-spot demands for no wheat, no gluten, no onion and all the rest would be too big an ask for such a small quaint little café. To my delight I was met with a series of “of course, no problems” to all of my requests – no onion in the omelette, gluten-free toast, and finally a freshly juiced fruitless, fructose friendly drink made especially for us with carrot, celery and ground coriander.
Our omelette came out quickly and was fresh and piping hot, full of delicious roasted vegetables and packed with flavour. The side salad was crisp and dressed thoroughly but not excessively so. The gluten-free bread was the only downside of the meal and could be improved.
Our juices were divine. Iced and not watery; the dash of ground coriander gave it an ideal flavour boost. They were a refreshing improvement on my own concoctions at home for sure. Thankfully our rest stop saved the day and gave me enough energy to solder on and continue our journey.
Our last stop was at Fara Couture, where our appointment had fortunately been changed to later in the day. This allowed my darling bestie/personal chauffeur for the day to take me home for an exhausted slump on the couch for a few hours before braving the bridal world once more. We received a warm and animated welcome from Fara herself who had opened the store on her day off for us and another bride to be. I noted her dresses were all a little bit different from the bog-standard ones we had looked at over the course of the day. I also liked the idea she makes them all herself rather than outsourcing overseas. We have definitely found a couple of potentials but I’m not ready to stop looking by any means yet…..Cultural Tastes 167 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9242 1688 Price: $$ (I was too sick to remember to take a pic of the menu but it came to $40 for 2 omelettes, 2 juices and a coffee) Food: 3/5 (great omelette, they need to source better GF bread though) Service: 3.2/5 (not overtly friendly but very accommodating) Ambience: 3/5 (quaint little courtyard out the back in the sunshine) Drinks: 3.5/5 (I didn’t get to try their coffee due to my illness but the juice was excellent) Total: 12.7/20
I really need to start looking for a wedding dress! Or at least I need to start to have some sort of vision on what I am looking for! It all seems like a bit of an overwhelming task to begin so thankfully my bridesmaid Amber took the lead and knowing my style she kindly booked an appointment for me with Donna Tobin. The task of co-ordinating all three of us (Kate, Amber and I) proved more difficult than we thought as on the day each of us ran late for our own individual reasons. This resulted in us arriving nearly 45 minutes late for our appointment. We sheepishly entered the old bungalow style house in Subiaco apologising profusely all hot and sticky from the rush.
After browsing through her collection I chose four different styles to try on and in nearly a blink of an eye our time was up! I had officially entered this weird world of bridal and was starting to really enjoy myself! We walked away with some valuable ideas on things to look for in our next dress expedition and chatted excitedly about them as we headed down to Rokeby Road in search of a thirst quencher!
After a short few steps we arrived out the front of Bistro Felix – a familiar favourite of mine. I have dined here a number of times and always been impressed with whole package – great service, food and prices. They have a “petit lunch” menu which you can enjoy two courses for $40 or three courses for $45 including a glass of house wine. Excellent value right in the heart of Subiaco! We relaxed into the bistro feel of the place while we cooled our parched throats with some buttery sparkling wine (which I cannot recall the name!).
The Boy and I have recently been on a bit of a vegan detox which has left me craving fish, fish and more fish. Consequently I went a bit overboard and ordered fish for both my entrée and my main. Very unconventional but so satisfying! The home cured gravlax was tender and slightly sweet however could have done with a touch more creamy sauce gribiche.
Amber ordered the “wild game” terrine which was made from pork and had pistachios speckled through it. It was topped with some port and apple chutney and served with some toasted brioche. It looked so meaty and she was very happy with her choice.
Kate decided to go vegetarian and ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad with artichoke, sun-dried tomato and aubergine. Her dish was beautifully balanced and she was delighted to note that every component of her salad was served at the perfect cool temperature with no pockets of tepid food to mar any of the flavours.
My main was so simple but executed perfectly, two fillets of garfish with a lightly dressed salad and some fresh lemon. It complemented my entrée just how I wanted it to and I was left satisfied with my fish fix.
Amber had the wild mushroom risotto which was packed full of meaty mushrooms of all types and topped with shaving of parmesan. I was very envious of this dish!
Kate had the Toulouse sausage which is a traditional pork sausage from the South-western part of France. Her meal was a decent size with a fat juicy pork sausage sitting atop of some creamy Paris mash. It was garnished with a colourful array of flowers that she shared around for all of us to nibble on for fun.
Of course I had to order the mushroom sides. As many of your dear readers will know I have a strong affinity for mushrooms and seeing as I couldn’t have the risotto this was the next best thing! They were served in the cutest little Scanpan pot and were so succulent. Hidden in the pot amongst the mushrooms were also some little gems of whole roasted garlic cloves which oozed out their pasty contents into the pan giving even more flavour!
The girls had the chocolate and caramel tart which was so decadent and rich. Both of them struggled to finish their dessert after their decent sized mains. I ordered the crème brûlée (which I had NO trouble eating by the way!). After my previous lumpy experience of this dish at Celyta’s where instead of caramelising the surface they poured blobs of toffee on top, this was a wonderful and much more traditional reprieve to my taste buds. Always a favourite, I will look forward to continuing to return to Bistro Felix for more long lazy lunches in the future.Bistro Felix 118-120 Rokeby Road, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9388 3077 | www.bistrofelix.com.au Price: $$$$ (Petit lunch menu 2/3 courses $40/$45, Dinner entrees $22-26, Mains $37-41) Food: 4.8/5 (excellent value, would go back just for the mushrooms!) Service: 4/5 (fairly attentive, occasionally needed prompting for topping up our wine) Ambience: 3.7/5 (great bistro vibe – love the artwork on the walls) Drinks: 4/5 (big wine list – lots of options) Total: 16.5/20
Have You Liked My Facebook Page?