“The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” Elizabeth Foley
As a child I attended a school in Adelaide that started from pre-primary right through to Year 12. As a result there were a handful of us students who graduated from high school after spending 13 full years of schooling together. To add to that amazingness, a reasonable proportion of us who lived locally also went to the same kindergarten meaning we have known each other since we were only 4 years old!
I had planned to take a year off from study after matriculation therefore I felt no urgency to say goodbye to my lifelong friends at our valedictory dinner. To my shock my university deferral request was declined at the thirteenth hour and I had just a mere weeks’ notice to pack up my life and move to the other side of Australia where I knew nobody.
Cut to more recent times and thanks to social media I have reconnected with a lot of these friends of yesteryear and have delighted in catching up on nearly twenty lost years of contact. As most of us have dispersed ourselves around Australia and the wider world much of our contact with each other has been purely internet based. Consequently I’m sure you can imagine my total excitement when one of my childhood besties from this group informed me she was coming to Perth for the weekend on conference. She planned to stay with another close school friend of ours who has recently moved over here to Perth. Despite this other friend’s relocation, I have unfortunately only managed to catch up with her once since she settled here. I was so happy to be able to see them both; it looked like we were in for a great night out!
Of course I was nominated to select the venue so I suggested starting with a couple of rounds of drinks at Five Bar after which we would head across the road to Must Wine Bar, one of my favourite restaurants in Perth by far.
A lot can change in 18 years, and although we were extremely close for most of our childhood I wondered if we would easily reconnect or would there be some pauses of uncomfortable silence? I was almost a little nervous with anticipation that afternoon but immediately upon seeing her, my heart melt and there were no barriers or awkwardness. We embraced in a loving hug and I felt my eyes go a little hot with joy!
Over an hour zoomed by in the space of what felt like minutes as we all chattered away about old times; both good and bad. We finished our drinks and headed over to Must. I wasn’t the only one with food allergies this time round and I had chosen Must not only because they have amazing food, but because their ability to cater for people like me has never posed a problem.
All three of us girls ordered the prosciutto di Parma and beetroot salad for entrée. Soft, thin folds of sweet but salty prosciutto flopped gently on the plate with crisp radicchio. The flavours matched seamlessly with the dulcet beetroot and more briny parmesan.
The Boy’s eyes lit up when he saw the chicken liver parfait was truffled. I am so chuffed we both share this addiction. He received a reasonable sized serve for one but probably could have done with a touch more thick fluffy brioche to lovingly smear his parfait on.
For mains one of my friends and I both ordered the confit duck leg which was served with a parsnip purée, sautéed Brussel sprouts, black pig bacon and a Madeira jus. The duck was meltingly tender yet robust with the flavours further enriched by the black pig bacon. Black pig bacon comes from the Berkshire breed of pig which has a different proportion of intramuscular fat giving the meat a more flavoursome and moist texture compared to standard bacon. The Madeira jus gave a subtly sweet end on the palate.
The Boy and my other friend ordered the Must pork sausages. Two thick juicy sausages sat perched atop of a creamy sweet potato purée. Some confit fennel and herb salad completed this simple yet extremely tasty dish.
The night seemed to go by so quickly and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the time and it was creeping close to midnight! “Time flies when you’re having fun” as my Mum loves to say! We all agreed we were satisfyingly full and skipped dessert in favour of just tea and coffee. I was proud of Perth’s gastronomic capabilities to suitably impress my dear friends; I have a foodie reputation to uphold after all! I can always rely on Must to deliver from all angles: the food, the wine, the service, the ambience and most importantly an ability to accommodate allergies. An absolute must on everyone’s bucket list!Must Wine Bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $24-30, Mains $39-46) Food: 5/5 (After enjoying numerous meals here I cannot remember a bad one.) Service: 4.5/5 (Attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4.5/5 (Sublime, classy and very French) Drinks: 4.5/5 (Extensive quality wine list, knowledgeable staff. Well, they are a wine bar.) Total: 18.5/20
The first of September marked the last six months leading up to our wedding. Although I realise I am not fat by any stretch of the imagination, just like most women I want to maximise my slim sexy hotness for my wedding day! My problem is that one of my biggest weaknesses is gluttony. As a consequence I have made a promise to myself that once I hit this six month marker, I am genuinely going to try to be more contained in my eating habits. Well … at least save the binges for days that I have managed to pelt out significant amounts of sweaty exercise. After all, isn’t weight loss just a mathematic equation of calories?
So after running five kilometres to get to the gym followed by a workout, I felt like I had earned the right to go out for breakfast. After previously missing out on my Mrs S fix due to their temporary closure last month, it was logical they would be our choice. I can’t complain about them taking a little break because if they hadn’t we would have never stumbled upon Sherbet Bake Shop which has now been added to my favourite breakfast stops!
Mrs S’s eclectic décor is almost a bit Freo-esque in nature. With a big communal table running down the centre of the dining room, it feels more like someone’s homely kitchen than a cafe. There is even some oven mitts and other kitchen essentials hanging off the walls.
Although I was really in the mood for some eggs, we had arrived just a touch too late and they have moved onto serving their lunch menu. I didn’t waste any time and ordered my short mac; Mrs S serve Crema coffee. It is very smooth with a satiny sweet taste. I love the adorable little heart signature the barista makes flawlessly each time we visit.
Their menu changes regularly and always includes a few gluten free options. I chose the charred fennel and white anchovy salad with buffalo mozzarella and blood orange. This was such an interesting salad with unusual but very well matched combinations of flavours and textures. The acidity of the sweet blood orange, the subtlety of the buffalo mozzarella and the salty anchovies alone were an absolute taste sensation. Add to this some crunchy fennel and a real wow factor remained. I would love to replicate this dish at home.
The Boy chose to have a break from our vegetarian stint and treat himself to some juicy beef. Although the open steak sandwich was a little difficult to eat he also thought his choice was out of this world. The meat was tender and had a lovely dark pink colour in the centre.
Mrs S sells fresh macarons purchased from Chef Alexandre Lui-Van Sheng. After initial humble beginnings selling his delightful macarons at local markets around Perth including the Stirling, Claremont and Manning markets, Alexandre has taken his macarons to the next level and in February this year opened his store Maison Saint-Honoré in Fremantle with fellow chef Jacque Saint-Alme. They now have a second store in Whitfords. I have yet to get myself to one of these stores so in the meantime I can still enjoy his perfectly textured mouthfuls when we visit Mrs S. The salted caramel is my favourite!
For dessert, I had every intention of just getting us some macarons, but the piglet inside me briefly reared her snout and “accidently” also ordered a slice of the gluten free orange and passionfruit cake. What a wonderful surprise this was! It was so moist and the added passionfruit gave it a tang to set it apart from your usual flourless orange cake suspects.
On our subsequent visit to Mrs S a few weeks later we were both much more organised and arrived early enough to catch the breakfast menu. After missing out on eggs last time I was champing at the bit for a decent gooey poached egg. I was not to be disappointed, thank you Mrs S! The gluten free toast was thickly sliced, springy and held it’s shape despite all the egg yolk goo soaking into it.
It had been a long while since the Boy had ordered his old time favourite of the big breakfast. It used to be his staple in pre-Chompchomp days, but since then he has been keen to order more interesting dishes that can help showcase a restaurant better. Such a thoughtful lad. He loved all of his meal except for the beans which were a tad cold and lacked flavour.
Of course no visit to Mrs S is complete without any macarons; this time we took a few extra to go. The bestie was popping in for an afternoon visit later that day and I didn’t want her to miss out!Mrs S 178 Whatley Crescent, Maylands | (08) 9271 6690 | Follow on Twitter @mrsscafe Price: $$ ($15-25 per meal) Food: 4/5 (a number of interesting options beyond your eggs on toast) Service: 5/5 (vibrant, friendly and uber cool) Ambience: 4/5 (think country kitchen meets Fremantle) Drinks: 4/5 (good coffee, great barista) Total: 17/20
It has been twelve months since the Boy finally managed to convince me to start a food blog. My reluctance to blog was fuelled by the fact that spare time was already a luxury I never seemed to have. Despite these hurdles, Chompchomp has managed to grow to more than 1200 page views a week and will hit 40,000 total page views in a couple of weeks. Mental!
I have no training in cooking, journalism, photography or creative writing and will never profess to be an expert in any of these things but my passion for food is never ending. There is great satisfaction in finding a restaurant which shares this joy and then being able to capture this moment with photos and words. I am just so flabbergasted that there are many others out there that enjoy reading my blog as much as I do creating it. Thank you so much!
The frustration and anguish of being a foodie with complicated intolerances and allergies is something many have to deal with on a daily basis. Although I realise this is nothing compared to the real trauma and illness that some poor individuals have to bear, I hope my gastronomic journey helps give hope and enjoyment to fellow intolerants out there.
I have very fond memories of my last time at Matilda Bay Restaurant with two of my favourite people in my life; the Boy and my dearest Mum. It was Christmas Day lunch some years ago and it remains one of our most relaxing and stress-free Christmas’s to date. So when the Boy invited me to join him there on a business dinner recently I didn’t have to hesitate in my response!
Being so food obsessed is proving to be my Achilles heel by hindering my success in achieving the svelte bride body that I want. I have a bad habit of over eating and seem to enjoy the feeling of being insanely full. My solution is simply to focus on eating less for the last six months in the lead up to the big day. This night out was to be the last night of uninhibited eating before the frustrations of restriction begun so I wanted to go out with a bang.
You can only imagine my disappointment when a few hours before we were to all meet for dinner, the Boy was informed by email that the invitation didn’t extend to partners. Knowing how much I was looking forward to the evening and presuming the refusal was due to a strict budget, the Boy explained that we were not expecting a free meal and I was more than happy to pay my own way. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for the agency and after receiving a fairly patronising reply the Boy’s blood started to boil.
Not wanting to disappoint his food obsessed wife-to-be, he softened the blow of the bad news to me by offering to still take me out somewhere nice. We toyed with the idea of getting a table right next to the one I got booted off at Matilda Bay purely for entertainment value. However after briefly thinking about this further we figured that probably wouldn’t gone down so well! After a few unsuccessful calls to some favourite venues, he managed to secure us a reservation at InContro in South Perth. We even managed to get a table with city and river views. (My apologies in advance for the photos…even Gordon didn’t cope in such low level lighting!)
InContro offers a style of dining they call “piccolo dining” which is a bit like a Mediterranean version of tapas. They create small dishes for the entire table to share and it is brought to the table in a tiered rack reminding me of years gone by where I shared High Tea with my Dad and stepmum at Brown’s Hotel in London. After discussing my allergies with our waitress, she offered for the chef to select appropriate dishes to make up a two courses of a piccolo experience. Not being in the mood for anything specific, the Boy and I both smiled at each other and chose to go ahead with her recommendation. I love surprises!
Each course contained three carefully selected and quite interesting dishes using lots of fresh seasonal local produce. The succulent frenched Dorper lamb cutlets were topped with Moroccan spiced cauliflower. The sweet tasting cumin paired harmoniously with the tender lamb leaving me wishing we had more.
Our seared scallops were plump with a crisp browned surface and a nearly creamy centre of amazingness. On a bed of pea puree and topped with crispy shreds of prosciutto these little morsels were nearly as moreish as the cutlets. I was pretty excited about what else was to come.
Our third entrée was simply described as a lobster salad. A fairly decent serve of decadent lobster sat innocently hidden underneath a handful of shredded greens. Further hiding below the lobster was bite sized chunks of thoroughly dressed avocado, tomato and fresh herbs. Although this dish wasn’t much to look at, each mouthful was bursting with flavour.
The sticky Black Angus short rib was the “to die for” dish of the evening. Unfortunately my photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked them to due to the beef sitting at the top of the three levelled tier. Not being a very tall person I really struggled to steady my camera. Of course my lack of hand stability that had nothing to do with the three glasses of Billecart I had drunk previously. Not at all.
The meat didn’t just fall off the bone it slivered off and dissolved in the mouth like cotton candy. The marinade was thick, sticky and subtly sweet and neither of us could help ourselves as we scraped the remaining sauce off the board with our forks, trying to savour its flavour for as long as possible.
In my excitement of this final night of excess I had not bothered to go through the nitty gritty of my fructose malabsorption with our waitress. I had purely just requested no gluten or no onion. Thus I did have to sift through our pork dish to avoid the little cubes of pear. The pork belly had just the right balance of fat, meat and crackling and didn’t leave any unpleasant porkiness taste in my mouth. The crackling gave a satisfyingly loud crunch as I bit into it.
The salad to accompany our mains dishes contained shaved fennel, pear and candied walnut. Again I had to dodge the pear (my own fault) which was easy enough to do. The salad was light and refreshing on the palate after the two heavier meat dishes.
For dessert the Boy ordered his ice cream as per usual; as you may already know it is fairly uncommon for him to ever order anything else for dessert. I settled for the only gluten free dessert option which was the polenta cake with butterscotch ice cream. It was moist and didn’t crumble apart but the butterscotch ice cream was a little sickly sweet for my liking.
InContro is a great local option if we feel like a night out with a bit more class than casual. We have dined here on several occasions over the years and have never been disappointed with either the food or service and they take good diligence in catering to those with allergies. Of course we will be back.InContro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au Price: $$$$ (Piccolo $9-16/dish, Entrees $22-28, Mains $35-48) Food: 4.5/5 (sticky beef ribs were out of this world) Service: 4/5 (attentive, efficient despite a full house) Ambience: 5/5 (views of Perth city skyline, how can it get better?) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list but I confess I stuck to my Billecart all night!) Total: 17.5/20
I know, I know; I whinge about the winter chilliness a bit too much. You see, I’m not normally that much of a whinger unless I’m sick or I’m cold. However during winter I am generally both of those things more often than I am not. This is why I am so thankful for the wondrous fungus Tuber melanosporum, or more commonly known as the black truffle. Its short season coincides with the deepest part of winter here in Perth and is becoming a key element to my winter survival strategy.
Being right in the height of the truffle season I had already gone a bit giddy with my annual winter addiction at our truffled dinner at Divido and then even further at Clarke’s. Although I knew the Mundaring Truffle Festival was only a few days away, I figured why not bury myself even deeper into truffle glory and enjoy it to its fullest!
Darlington Estate had kindly extended the invitation on Twitter to Perth bloggers to create a foodie table on their opening night of their Truffle Degustation. I was joined by fellow bloggers Strawberry Thief, Red Hot Spatula and Perth Food Journal. Being relatively new to the blogging scene it was wonderful to be able to put faces to the blogs that I read each week. Better still I knew that I would be dining with like-minded people who consider constantly photographing their food is a normal way of life.
Darlington Estate is one of the oldest wineries in the Perth Hills, and over the years they have won many awards both for their wines and for their restaurant. The vineyard is set on steep terraced slopes surrounded by bushland and is supposed to offer lovely views from the restaurant. Having only dined here at night, I have missed out on this part of the experience….poor me, I will have to come back again sometime! It can be hard work being a foodie!
Prior to commencing I was informed that the chef was well aware of my allergies and that all the dishes were able to be served to me relatively unadulterated except for the truffle brioche. I was assured that the chef would come up with something else for me for this course. To get us in the mood out came our amuse bouche; a seared scallop wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of cauliflower purée with salmon roe and truffle. This was a beautiful blend of flavours and balanced nicely although my scallop was ever so slightly overcooked.
I cursed my wretched gluten intolerance as I watched everyone sink their teeth into the soft and buttery brioche. The truffle flecked butter spread creamily over it like velvet and was definitely a hit.
Just as my jealousy started to heighten our waiter came over with my special gluten free replacement dish; a very generous sized bowl of truffle parsnip chips. They were crisp and perfectly seasoned and I had to fight off the Boy from trying to steal a few from me (which he did actually successfully manage twice before I gave him a cold steel look….”don’t steal MY truffles!”).
Each dish that came out was so beautifully presented and the scallops were no exception. Again my scallops were cooked just slightly past that soft delicate point of perfection. There was a hint of firmer chewiness but certainly not enough to be a significant detriment to the dish. The cauliflower purée and barigoule potatoes gave a hearty more wintery depth to this light dish making it a gorgeous entrée to kick off this cold night with.
The braised Linley Valley pork cheek was also plated beautifully, if only I had better light for my photos to do this dish justice. The meat was tender soft and the subtle sweetness of the truffled almond purée was delightful. The jus was nearly good enough to lick the plate for.
The duck was most definitely my favourite dish of the evening. The meat was richly flavoursome and simply fell apart under my fork. The truffled gruyere oozed through the meaty flavoured wild mushroom risotto forming fabulous strings of cheesiness joining every forkful.
The palate cleanser was very refreshing with the delicate flavours of lychee and rosewater with just a hint of truffliciousness in the backdrop.
Pannacotta is on my list of favourite desserts of all time. This coffee and truffle version did not disappoint. It held perfect shape on the plate and was delicate and silky smooth. The adorable little fluffy truffle passionfruit marshmallow gave the dish a twist of originality.
Unfortunately for me there were no gluten free crackers available for the cheese course. Not that this ever stops me, I am more than happy to eat brie sans crackers! Especially if it’s been truffled! The brie was soft and creamy and served at just the right temperature to allow the flavours to develop.
The petit fours consisted of the cutest little miniature toffee apples. I have never really been into toffee apples myself and personally I would have preferred something chocolaty but if you are indeed a fan, these candied morsels would have been right up your alley. The apple inside was cooked until it was soft and the toffee was hardened to a thin crisp shell.
For a degustation meal I was impressed with our serving sizes and considering the added truffle in every single dish I also thought the full ticket price of $110 (excluding drinks) was extremely good value. The service was attentive and friendly and we look forward to returning to the hills to visit Darlington Estate again.
This winter I have had a terrible time with my allergies. My knuckles are often cracked and bleeding and my face can just erupt into hives without any real warning. What has made it all even more upsetting and frustrating is that I cannot seem to identify my triggers. I know very well I cannot touch gluten, but to complicate things I also seem to flare up if I have too much dairy or soy. The problem with those allergens is I can actually have a small amount, says a small piece of cheese or a couple of splashes of soy sauce and I’ll be fine. But if I have loads of cheese, or if I eat a gluten free muffin with soy flour…..scratch, scratch, scratch ALL night for days on end.
Eczema sufferers will empathise with this. When your skin is bad, you become overwhelmingly self-conscious of your appearance such that all you want to do is hide away in a dark cellar where no one can see you. You are so sleep deprived, distracted and on edge because you just cannot stop that burning desire to scratch even though your damaged skin is weeping and sore. With my up and coming wedding, my anxiety levels heightened even more; I don’t want to be a blotchy scabby bride! My mind was in a dark and not so attractive place all week, and so it was a complete relief to learn the Bonsai Restaurant in Northbridge not only have gluten free soy available, but have much of their menu easily adaptable to accommodate for difficult people like myself. Praying for dim lighting I made a partially successful attempt at covering up my skin with some makeup and headed out with the Boy.
To try and get myself in a better mood I started off with ordering some sparkling Yuki sake. The waitress described this drink as Bonsai’s take on an alcoholic bubble tea. In the brief time we sat waiting for our drinks, I envisioned a glass of amber coloured liquid with clear balls of jelly floating around curiously. What arrived was not what I expected and looked like nothing more than some lemon soda in a wine glass. I can’t deny I was initially disappointed by its appearance as it was, well, kind of boring. But upon sipping my drink I was taken by surprise as I felt various sized gloops of invisible jelly slurp into my mouth. I was hooked.
We started off with the roast duck slices dressed with garlic soy caramel and shichimi. Shichimi is a Japanese 7-spice blend typically containing ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper (sansho), ground ginger and nori. It gave an obvious heat to the tender duck breast yet the flavours were freshened by additional citrus notes and more oceanic layers from the nori.
I used to hate all things pork but recently I confess I have had some mouth-watering experience and I think my tastes are a turning. But I have now learnt that cold pork belly however is not my thing. Pale, fatty slices of blanched pork belly were topped with a shichimi flavoured salsa dressing of red onion, red capsicum, cucumber and olive oil. I should have thought more carefully before ordering this one.
The tuna tataki was seared and served on a bed of avocado wedges and thick teriyaki sauce. The tuna had a wondrous rich dark pink colour and practically dissolved on the tongue.
Of course once again the Boy had to order the soft shelled crab. It is rare that I get to share this dish as it is deep fried and usually coated in a wheat flour batter. This dish was no exception and although there were loads of gluten free options, all the fried dishes were off the menu for me. A big helping of crispy, meaty crab served with some wasabi mayonnaise quickly vanished off from his plate accompanied by much lip smacking and finger licking. I was very jealous!
What is a meal without mushrooms? I am starting to wonder if I can actually survive for more than a few days without my mushroom fix. Being involved in Mushroom Mania month earlier this year has only proved to make my addiction worse as I feel like I need to continue to “do my bit” to promote their awesomeness! The pan fried mushrooms came topped with a mustard miso dressing and a sprinkle of shichimi.
The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a small amount of bouncy firmness to the outside but soft tenderness on the inside.
The eggplant and capsicum namura was unexpectantly one of my favourite dishes of the night. The eggplant had an amazing texture that was close to that of set custard, held together only by its soft but firmer skin. The goma miso sauce was slightly sweet and salty with a nutty aftertaste. Goma miso is a thick sauce that is made with miso and sesame seeds.
I have to admit I didn’t really read the description of the seaweed salad before ordering and I expected a standard small bowl of brilliant green seaweed. Out came an enormous salad bowl filled with a variety of seaweeds in addition to cabbage julienne, Swiss chard leaf, mizuna, coral lettuce, tat-soy and red radish all coated well with a sweet mustard miso dressing. It was really easy to eat and we both crunched and munched happily away like rabbits .
Although we had ordered a lot of food, neither of us were overly full and agreed there was a tinsy bit of room left to share dessert. There was only one gluten free option; the crème brûlée. The surface of our dessert was hot to touch proving that it was indeed torched traditionally to get the burnt crust that makes crème brûlée such a treat. With a gentle tap of the spoon the wafer thin caramelised shell cracked and broke into bite sized geographical shaped pieces. Underneath the custard was tasty but its texture wasn’t smooth enough and actually looked a little on the lumpy side. It was still delicious however, and certainly didn’t go to waste.www.the-bonsai.net/ Price: $$$ (Share dishes $7-20, Mains $17-29, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 4.5/5 (must try the eggplant and the duck) Service: 5/5 (impeccable, attentive without being obtrusive) Ambience: 4.5/5 (funky, busy but can get quite noisy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (LOVED the sparkling Yuki saki!) Total: 17.5/20