Shortly after my relaxing weekend down south with Mum I flew over to Melbourne on a whirlwind business trip and managed to squeeze in time to hang with my Dad and Stepmum. The old saying that the apple never falls far from the tree rings true with me and my father with specific respect to our love for food. He is the sole person responsible for introducing me to a wide range of exotic foods as a child, some of which weren’t always easy to get hold of in Adelaide back in the 80’s. By the time I was ten, I had tried foods such as snails, foie gras and even raw sea urchin and we bonded over every one of those foodie moments. He always seemed to proud that I was open minded to eat new things as my sister was the total opposite being so finicky she wouldn’t even eat plain cooked fish.
Dad and Tess live in a modern apartment just off Flinders Lane so when I stay with them I never have to travel far for something good to eat. They eat out a lot, probably even more than the Boy and I do, and are well known regulars in most of the good restaurants in their area. For our night together Tess booked us in at one of their current favourites Tonka, a modern Indian-Asian restaurant run by the team behind the famous Coda. We were warmly greeted as if we were family and after some air kisses and smiles we were shown to our table.
The waitress informed me that catering for gluten free was no problem for them at all and they would bring out a succession of share plates for us all to enjoy. We started off with the tuna tartare mixed with tart pomegranate, ginger and fresh wasabi and served with rice pappadums. Whilst not the most generous serve, the tuna was fresh and succulent with each cube melting in your mouth.
Our second starter was the smoked trout. With flavours more likely found in Thailand than India, I appreciated that this was indeed Asian fusion. The soft shreds of trout mixed with pomelo, coconut and a hint of chill were served on a betel leaf making each one a perfect bite sized morsel.
The zucchini flowers were prepared with a rice flour batter making them totally gluten free much to my delight. It isn’t often I get to enjoy tempura. The batter was a tad thicker than I would prefer, I like my tempura to be super light. They were stuffed with gooey smoked paneer and urad dal, a type of bean similar to mung beans.
The Hervey Bay scallops were small but plump served on a spiced cauliflower puree with sweet peppers and crispy fried pancetta. Although each serve was barely a mouthful, the flavours complemented each other beautifully leaving a rich creamy after-taste.
The final savoury dish of the night was the Rajasthani duck curry which stood out as the most exceptional dish for the evening although my stepmum informed me that the duck curry at Coda is even better. The meat slithered clean off the bone and the curry sauce was an interesting mix of sweet, tangy and spicy flavours. The waitress brought roti to the table for Dad and Tess in addition to some gluten free pappadums for me. This popular dish was featured as a recipe in Gourmet Traveller last year.
Tonka’s gluten free dessert consisted of a play on banana, chocolate and coconut flavours. Banana parfait was made using jaggery, a traditional sweetener popular in Indian cuisine made from a concentrated product of sugarcane and date palms. This was paired with some rich chocolate mousse, coconut sorbet and sprinkled with zingy lime sherbet.
My Dad often claims that he is not a dessert person although I have busted him on several occasions devouring a whole bag of liquorice to himself in one sitting. Apparently this doesn’t count as dessert. Happy to take a hit for the team, Tess and I shared the dessert together leaving him to enjoy his late night espresso instead.
After spending a weekend relaxing with Mum down south and then another with my Dad in Melbourne I feel content to have reconnected with them both. It has pricked my guilt conscious and reminded me to be a better daughter and make more effort in the future to travel across our vast country to visit them.Disclaimer: My father is well known for his generosity and gave me no option of paying for our dinner despite me offering. Also, it is important to note that the venue was made aware they had a food blogger in the house as my Dad took great pride in announcing this to our waitress as we were sat down at our table. Whilst I generally try to dine incognito so I can get a feel for what it is like for every customer, I cannot help but smile at his zeal for Chompchomp’s existence. Tonka 20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03) 9650 3155 | tonkarestaurant.com.au
Since leaving the East coast as a fresh faced teenager to pursue a career in veterinary science, I quickly learnt to depend on only myself. While I already had an innate level of independence at that age, being separated from my parents by thousands of kilometres had a way of perfecting this skill. Nearly two decades have passed since then and I’m now at a point in my life now where I realise being fiercely self reliant isn’t always a good thing. Recognising that I need and am needed by my close family members seems much more relevant, especially given the distance that separates some of us. I haven’t lived in the same city as either of my parents since I departed long ago and can sometimes go for over twelve months before I cast eyes on their lovable faces. As we all get older, I am realising that I need to make more effort to spend quality time with each of them individually.
It has been years since Mum has come over to visit us in Perth and even longer since she came over with her other half, Jack. They both adore our South West region and requested that we take them down to “The Margaret’s River” as Mum loves to call it. No amount of convincing can get her to call it otherwise.
It is rare for us to be able to relax together so to celebrate this occasion I booked us in at Vasse Felix winery for a long lazy lunch. On our way to Vasse Felix we stopped off at Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Company.
Neither Mum nor Jack are big wine drinkers so the Boy and I tried to avoid boring them to pieces with winery after winery. Bettenay’s do have some wines on offer in addition to some luscious liqueurs and, of course, loads of nougat. Their nougat is all handcrafted with gorgeous flavours including cherry and coconut, and my favourite chocolate mint.
After each purchasing a bundle of nougat we headed off to one of Margaret River’s most popular caves; Lake Cave. It has been ages since the Boy and I have gone down into the caves yet every time we do we are reminded what a natural beauty it is.
Lake Cave has one of the only “suspended tables” in the world which weighs several tonnes and forms a breathtaking sight floating in the air casting its refection in the ripples of water below. This cave is one of the deepest in the region so be prepared to walk down and then back up a fair number of steep stairs. There are rest points along the way for those less fit and able.
There were enough stairs to work up anyone’s appetite and after the Caves we headed straight to Vasse Felix for lunch. It was a long weekend and I was grateful that I had pre-booked because every winery that we passed along the way looked packed with cars.
Vasse Felix have an à la carte menu or alternatively if you select dishes marked on the menu with a star you can enjoy three courses for a set price of $65.
There were a handful of gluten free options and one vegetarian dish for each course. Upon arrival our waitress brought out some fresh bread and cultured butter. There was no gluten free bread available so they kindly brought out some marinated olives for me to nibble on while my family hungrily feasted on the bread.
The marinated olives are sourced from a local olive farm called 34 Degrees South and were served warm. I loved how the olive flesh slithered off the pit easily and consequently I downed most of the bowl before I realised that I should probably share.
Mum and Jack both ordered the omelette for entrée. Cooked sous-vide with mirin, it was served with new season asparagus and locally foraged mushrooms. The egg was browned to a glowing caramel colour and garnished with chilli threads, tiny crumbles of popcorn and togarashi. Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper and thankfully it wasn’t too hot for my Mum’s palate. The omelette was a gluten free dish however to avoid all three of us having the same dish, I ordered the other gluten free option which was the quail.
I struggled somewhat get a good photo of my entrée due to the sun coming in at an angle on my deep bowled dish. Maybe I need to bring a reflector with me when I’m out dining? Is that too crazy? My quail breast was cooked sous-vide with a confit leg and served on a bed of quinoa, zucchini and olives. It was topped with what I first thought was shaved parmesan but soon found out was feta shaved in liquid nitrogen. It had an unexpected creaminess that dissolved on contact with my tongue. To enhance the delicateness of this light dish some caper puree added some punch into the flavours.
For his entrée, the Boy decided to pop his ramen cherry. Ramen hasn’t really taken off in Perth to the extent it has over in Sydney and therefore neither of us have tried it before. Using house made ramen noodles, this dish was given a South-west twist using Manjimup marron and local fresh water crustaceans. A soft gooey quail egg and some fried nori finished it off and as the aromas wafted to my side of the table I was so envious that I couldn’t even taste one mouthful. Damn you gluten!
For those of you who have yet to try Cone Bay barramundi, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These fish are farmed in unique environmental conditions in the north west of Australia that imparts a very clean, and sweet taste.
The fish came with a potato fondant and shards of translucent potato glass topped with luxurious drizzles of smoked oyster butter. It was nearly as good as truffle butter. Nearly I said! There was also a little bit of fructose naughtiness with locally foraged charred leeks and leek foam.
Mum and Jack both ordered the lamb shank for their main, such peas in a pod those two! The locally sourced lamb was cooked sous-vide over 48 hours making it uber-soft in texture however sadly it was served lukewarm. I offered to get the waitress to take it back to the kitchen but my Mum didn’t want to make a fuss. The lamb was accompanied with a black barley risotto and ratatouille made of smoked tomato petal, tomato fondue, picked red onion and eggplant purée.
Although the Boy predominantly will stick to his vegetarian diet at home, like me he can on occasions crave meat. Ordering himself the kangaroo loin today was one of these days.
The loin was served rare and was as lean can be without an ounce of detectable fat present. It was served with textures of beetroot, wattleseed crackers and oil made from dandelions foraged on the property.
Our mains were decent sized meals so after stuffing our faces with the addictive duck fat potatoes there was only a small amount of room left for dessert. We agreed to share a couple of petit fours plates between the four of us however the only gluten free element on the plate was the passionfruit macaron. There was only one macaron on each platter but the waitress was kind enough to put an extra one on there for me.
The Boy was absolutely smitten by the bite size ice cream sandwich made with cinnamon ice cream. Many of us food bloggers claim to have a second stomach for dessert and whilst I was reasonably full, one macaron was not going to cut it even if it was one of my favourite flavours.
Consequently I ordered the gluten free dessert option to share with the Boy. I love abstract desserts, plates of multiple elements that you can mix and match on your tastebuds at your leisure. Fluffy portions of cardamom chiffon cake and silky chocolate cremeaux were paired with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Passionfruit caramel and gel added a tart sweetness with chocolate soil and dehydrated mouse contrasting with velvety cocoa bitterness. Heavenly to say the least. My claims for being full surpassed me as I competed with the Boy for every spoonful.
The weekend went by all too quickly, time honestly does fly when you’re having fun. There is no one in the world that can make me laugh the way my Mum can and I realise that I need to stop running the rat race of life and take time out to giggle with her more often.Disclaimer: Despite Mum and Jack insisting on trying to pay for everything, the Boy and I managed to sneak in paying our own way for lunch. Blame it on that independent streak of mine. I want to thank Mum, Jack and my beloved for sharing such a wondrous weekend away. Our times together are always cherished xxxx Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Co Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Road, Cowaramup, WA 6284 | (08) 9755 5539 | www.margaretrivernougat.com.au Lake Cave Caves Road, Forest Grove WA 6284 | (08) 9757 7411 | www.margaretriver.com/operators/7706 Vasse Felix Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au
For as long as I can remember, I have always felt like I never have enough time. I struggle to relax and seem to thrive on fast paced hyperactivity. It wasn’t until I hit my thirties that this lifestyle started to take its toll prompting me to seek medical advice when I could no longer even run without collapsing on the couch. As a direct result I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia which then led onto discovering my gluten and fructose issues.
I stick to my gluten free diet religiously and find this is easy to do as there are life threatening risks for me if I don’t. Coeilacs who eat gluten raise their risks of intestinal cancer significantly along with risking developing a bunch of other horrible diseases. In contrast, I find following my fructose friendly diet much, much more difficult to adhere to. Whilst eating fructose does cause some unpleasant effects, it doesn’t causing any permanent damage to my body. I consequently wax and wane from being vigilantly fructose friendly to chancing the risk of a gut ache for something tasty to eat.
To mitigate this ongoing strain I place on my gut, once a month I will set aside a few days to concentrate purely on nourishment and digestive health. Some months I will do a strict 3 day juice only cleanse, and on other months if my work load is high, I will add in some raw, vegan food to supplement my caloric intake. Working full-time and running a business means finding the time to prepare healthy and balanced raw meals can be tricky and I am forever searching for like-minded small businesses that are willing to cater not just for this need, but to adapt these meals to be fructose friendly.
Some time ago, I was lucky enough to receive a gifted Raw by Chris basket containing a collection of fabulous raw goodies adapted to be fructose friendly that she wanted me to taste test. I was so delighted by my gift that I returned her favour by blogging about it.
After a few more months of perfecting dishes in her kitchen, Raw by Chris launched a more comprehensive option to the people of Perth of one, two and three day raw baskets containing all the food you need to give your digestive system a well-deserved rest. She offers these baskets with a fructose friendly option on request. Perfect!
I chose to try the two day Raw by Chris Nourish basket, here’s what it included.
Day one:Morning: • Chia pudding with coconut milk and seasonal berries. Chris subbed the honey to maple syrup. I loved the creamy texture of this pudding, much better than what I tend to make myself! • Inner Ego cold pressed juice which I saved for my morning tea. Lunch • Kale, avocado and grape salad served with salad dressing and raw bread crackers. Everything is labelled clearly and numbered so it is easy to know what goes with what. • Inner Ego pressed juice Afternoon snack • Kale chips – these were so light and crispy with just a hint of sea salt Dinner • Mixed raw noodles bowl (kelp, zucchini, and carrot). This was the first dish the Boy saw me eat and he started to regret not joining me in the cleanse. Subsequently he will be joining me on my next cleanse next week 😉 • Inner Ego pressed juice Dessert • Chocolate coconut maca cup. Chris replaced the Medjool date goo that she normally puts in the centre of these cups with fresh banana. This was a wonderful treat to savour at the end of the day.
Day twoMorning • Chia pudding with coconut milk and seasonal berries. • Inner Ego cold pressed juice Lunch • Kale, orange and sprouts salad with carrot, tomatoes, sprouts, and almonds and served with a salad dressing and raw bread crackers. Both the salad were filling yet refreshing leaving me sufficiently energised for my afternoon. • Inner Ego pressed juice Afternoon snack • Kale chips Dinner • Falafel plate; carrot falafel, capsicum hummus, and spinach, cherry tomato salad. Served with a tahini dressing and raw bread crackers. • Inner Ego pressed juice Dessert •Another AH-MAZING chocolate coconut maca cup to finish
This was a cleanse that didn’t leave me constantly hungry and is certainly one that I would recommend for those people who have struggled with adhering to a straight juice fast. Eating raw and vegan is a wonderful way to ease your body into the whole concept of fasting without actually missing out on food. It also has the added benefit of meaning no animal is harmed in the making of your meals!
Personally I have no difficult sticking to a three day juice fast most of the time as I have been doing them every month for nearly a year now. But when the heat is on at work and I’m faced with those dreaded long 12 hour days without time to sit and rest, I find that drinking juice only can leave me short of my usual oomph and sparkle. This raw food cleanse was the perfect compromise for those busy times. I have already booked in my next cleanse for next week, getting myself ready for the Christmas time silly season and all the potential hidden fructose that this time of year may bring!Chompchomp paid Raw by Chris in full for this Nourish Raw basket and didn’t receive any payment for this review. She has been a convert for the benefits of raw food and juice fasts for some time, and was delighted to let someone else do the hard work for her while she was busy working in her own day job! Raw by Chris | http://rawbychris.com/ | Facebook
If you live in Perth and have attended any food festivals or hawkers markets, you will probably will have heard of Red Hot Spatula. Lead by Yvonne Bleach with additional help from her family members, they have become one of my guaranteed sources of a gluten free dish when at a food festival as often, unfortunately, this can be a little lacking from other stall holders.
I first met Yvonne a couple of years ago at Perth’s famous Cake Club. Since then we have become great friends and will often cross paths at the various food events we both attend. In addition to feeding the market-loving masses, Red Hot Spatula also provides a catering service in addition to running a variety of cooking classes in their commercial kitchen located in Middle Swan. Topics of these classes range from Asian cuisines such as Chinese Dim Sum and Malaysian, to Spanish Tapas and making pasta.
My last Red Hot Spatula class that I attended was about a year ago before she had her own kitchen to work in. I haven’t had the chance to attend one of her classes since, so when she kindly invited me and a guest to her Singapore Hawkers Food cooking class it was an offer that was too good to refuse. I invited Colleen who is one of my close friends from work to join me. Her parents lived in Singapore for years and she is a big fan of Hawkers food.
The classes are conducted in small group sessions of no more than ten people. I recommend that you make sure to arrive with a big appetite as you will leave the cooking class feeling very full. For our Singapore hawkers food cooking class Yvonne and her mum demonstrated to us how to prepare five different dishes which were served up over the course of the evening. Our first course was grilled crisp tofu pockets (Tahu Bakar) with Rojak sauce.
To prepare these the tofu puffs are cut in half and grilled over hot pan before being stuffed with a flavoursome filling made from roasted shrimp paste, chilli and tamarind along with some fresh bean sprouts, cucumber and then topped with roasted peanuts. These tasty morsels didn’t last long!
Our second course was Ngoh Hiang, which I can basically describe as kind of a Hawkers version of a sausage roll, but much tastier! The meat stuffing is made from minced pork belly, dried shrimps, coarsely chopped prawns, water chestnuts, carrot and soy.
The stuffing is wrapped in bean curd skin before being steamed and then deep fried. It was mesmerizing to see how neatly Yvonne’s mother could wrap each roll in succession with every roll matching the exact size of that before it.
Our next course was one of my favourite South-east Asian street foods, otak otak. It is a snack that I know will always be gluten free and tastes amazing. For those not in the know, otak otak are a type of fish cake which wrapped in banana leaves and baked.
They are made using blended white fish combined with egg white, rice flour, coconut cream and a variety of spices including turmeric, candlenuts, kaffir lime, lemongrass, garlic, belacan (dried shrimp paste) and chilli.
Having successfully worked our way through three entrées it was time to move onto our main course, Rochor mee or fried Hokkien prawn noodles. Being mindful of the risk of contamination with gluten for cooking Yvonne was very kind to make up a gluten free batch of noodles for me first by omitting the wheat noodles before going onto cook the more traditional style for the remaining guests.
I always thought noodles were just a quick, almost lazy dish made with a bunch of ingredients all thrown into a wok with a dash of soy and a splish of fish sauce. Maybe that’s why I was never really a big noodle eater. But these noodles were out of this world! I found out that the secret trick that makes these noodles so incredibly delicious was that they were cooked in a homemade prawn stock.
Yvonne showed us how to prepare the stock before cooking up a big batch of noodles for the gluten eaters with both the rice noodles and the wheat noodles. She also tossed in bean sprouts, fish cake, fresh prawns, squid rings and pork belly. Despite serving up a huge plate, everyone managed to eat every last morsel.
Despite groans around the table of fullness followed by a lot of belly patting, it didn’t take long for us to find some room for our final course, little bite size sweets called Ondeh ondeh. These are made from pandan flavoured glutinous rice flour and filled with liquid palm sugar which bursts into your mouth when you bite into them. Despite having already eaten so much, there were hard to resist.
As the night drew to an end I was thankful I had only eaten a small lunch as we had certainly worked our way through a lot of food. I was amazed at how easy it was to prepare Hawkers food gluten free. Each class participate received a full list of recipes from all the dishes so Colleen and I promised to each other that our next catch up will have to be trialling these recipes out for ourselves!Disclaimer: Chompchomp and her companion Colleen were invited guests of Red Hot Spatula. Red Hot Spatula Cooking Classes Unit 5/5 Toodyay Road, Middle Swan, WA 6056 | www.redhotspatula.com.au
I don’t know what it is about wet, windy nights that sometimes inspires me to want to leave the comfort of my home and eat out. Mostly when I get these fanciful urges, the Boy will sensibly put his foot down and insist we stay at home where it is warm and dry. However on occasions, for reasons I have yet to pin point, he will sporadically and unpredictably consent to my absurd proposition and off we go together with overcoats and matching umbrellas in hand. Whenever this glorious union in thought occurs, I get disproportionately excited like a child that has just been given an oversized bag of candy. I have to love this guy for always keeping me on my toes!
After a couple of teasing days of sunshine, our Perth weather turned sour and my bizarre desire to head out to a restaurant in the rain returned. I wanted to check out a relatively new bar opened in Applecross called Bad Apples Bar and after enticing the Boy with offers of beer and pizza he willingly accepted.
Bad Apples Bar have plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options which they have kindly indicated on their menu. They also have gluten free pizza bases for a couple of extra dollars on top of the normal pizza price. We started with their grilled haloumi topped with a pineapple salsa and olive crumb. The Boy commented that he thought haloumi and pineapple was an odd combination but I enjoyed the play on salty and sweet flavours it gave.
I rarely order pizzas at restaurants as I am somewhat nervous of the risk of cross contamination of gluten with the non-gluten bases in the same oven. Whilst my sensitivity to gluten is not as severe as some, I still have to ensure to be very careful. Just to be safe, I double checked with our waitress again about Bad Apple’s pizzas and she assured me that the kitchen staff take every precaution. Willing to accommodate the Boy’s vegetarian preferences I ordered us the mushroom pizza on a gluten free base.
The pizza was topped with some rocket pesto, goats cheese and overly zealous lashings of truffle oil. After we had finished eating our pizza, a glimmering puddle of oil remained pooled on our plate. Some restraint from the chef next time would be greatly appreciated!
I was thankful I had also ordered a salad which assisted to wash down some of the oiliness of the pizza. I convinced myself that I was being somewhat healthy by adding in a salad. The warm salad contained pan-fried root vegetables, lentils and chickpeas tossed with spinach and topped with more goats cheese. Crunchy lotus chips garnished the dish giving a little bit of flair and adding a textural contrast.
The Boy and I were having one of those nights where I wanted to finish up the night with cheese, and he wanted something sweet. To settle this debate we decided to flip a coin. Heads for dessert and tails for cheese. I was so keen for a bite of cheese that I stared at that coin so hard, trying to will it to land on tails. “HEADS!” the Boy shouts out. A bet is a bet and he won it fair and square, dessert it is then!
Quite chuffed with himself for winning the Boy chose the vanilla crème brulée to share. This was the only gluten free dessert on the menu. Even better still it came with a small bowl of lemon ginger sorbet to quench his relentless need for frozen desserts. It had a very mild flavour but the custard was silky smooth with the top layer making a satisfying crack of as we hit our spoons.
Bad Apples Bar is a popular venue along Riseley Street’s café strip. Despite the unpleasant weather of that evening, it was still filled with customers and we were actually lucky to secure a table.
Was it worth braving the elements for? Well, the service was bubbly and attentive but the food was a bit of hit and miss. Even though I was happy to eat a rare dinner of pizza, the taste of the excess oil lingered on my palate for most of the drive home. I guess you can’t win ‘em all!
Disclaimer: Whilst Chompchomp may admit that the Boy can sometimes be right, that does not under any circumstances mean she is consequently wrong. It is a perfectly normal desire to want to leave a dry, warm home in search of something better to eat.Bad Apples Bar 6/16 Riseley Street, Ardross WA 6153 | 0430 098 748 | www.badapplesbar.com.au