I am a proud Australian. I love my country and all the opportunities and joy it has given me. But what I love even more is my home town Perth. I wasn’t born here, I didn’t even grown up here, yet amongst all the cities I have lived in it is the only place I can see myself growing old. I am fiercely loyal to this city for a reason. We really have it all here; sunshine, happy people, incredible food and fresh produce, stunning beaches, a plethora of wine regions on our doorstep and the list goes on. I mean seriously….we even grow our own truffles. I am a strong believer in supporting local businesses and will go out of my way to buy something West Australian where I can.
After my publication of Perth’s Hottest 100 Food Blogs last year, I helped Sydney blogger Noodlies to compile a current comprehensive Australian Food Blogs list. He updates this list quarterly and it provides an incredible resource for foodies, journalists and fellow bloggers alike. With the creation of this full list, I felt that publishing a regularly updated Perth list was overkill as those who wanted to see the rise and fall of their stats could just refer to Noodlies list. The intentions of my list was not so much about stats but more about showcasing what an incredible number of beautiful and talented food bloggers we have here in WA. Just another reason we are awesome 😉 Consequently, after much encouragement from fellow bloggers and foodies, I have decided to update my Hottest 100 list annually to coincide with my favourite Public Holiday; Australia Day. There are a number of new additions to my list this year along with some that have sadly been removed due to inactivity or moving interstate/abroad.
In order to qualify for the Perth’s Hottest 100 Food Blogs 2015 list, blogs need to be based in Western Australia and their content needs to be predominantly about food. I have excluded any blogs that haven’t published content in the last twelve months. Blogs that have with no Alexa ranking data have also been excluded this year. Updating this list is a huge endeavour that involves a lot of researching and double-checking each blog for suitability. If I have missed or excluded your blog off my list and you do qualify the criteria; I apologise profusely. Just send me an email or comment below and I will add you to the following year.
Just a little word about Alexa ranking; Alexa Internet is a US-based subsidiary company of Amazon that provides commercial web traffic data. It estimates traffic by comparing how a website is doing compared to all other sites on the Internet over the past 3 months. Alexa’s website describes this rank as being “calculated using a combination of the estimated average daily unique visitors to the site and the estimated number of page views on the site over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of unique visitors and page views is ranked #1”. To give you an idea of how it goes, Google is number one closely followed by Facebook. Noodlies has given a more detailed explanation on Alexa’s merits and pit falls when used for ranking blogs.To read more about the Alexa ranking please refer to their site at www.alexa.com.
Here is Perth’s Hottest 100 Food Blogs 2015:
These stats were complied on 16th of January 2015
Growing up in a small family unit means that when it breaks apart, the blow is a harder one to deal with. Having less people for the impact to disperse energy leaves each individual with a harder knock. This Christmas we travelled back to Melbourne to spend time with my family however the logistics of who sees who and when became even more complicated than ever before. My sister and I non-amicably parted ways in the lead up to my wedding, not my choice, and although time has passed the wounds still remain fresh for us both. To further complicate the issue, my parents are divorced which means we would normally spend Christmas with them each individually, dining with Dad on Christmas Eve and with Mum on Christmas Day.
Being estranged from my sister meant this usual arrangement would not be possible. Consequently, the plan was for the Boy and I to have Mum’s company for Christmas Eve whilst my sister spent time with our father, and then we would swap over for Christmas Day.
We organised to have Mum for the full day so I could maximise our time together, starting with a beautiful lunch booked at Stokehouse City. Being only minutes walk from where we staying it was the perfect location.
We both arrived laden with bulky gifts and beaming Christmas cheer smiles. I have laboured too long over the sadness of our family situation and am actively trying to move forward and embrace what moments I have with a positive mind.
Mum and the Boy started with the seared Harvey Bay scallops for entrée. This was an interesting mix of flavours with cauliflower purée, strawberries, macadamias and crisp pancetta.
I chose the steak tartare served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, horseradish and mascarpone. Plump, super sweet ruby grapes and wafery potato crisps garnished the dish. The beef was freshly diced and had a very clean aftertaste. This was a modern take of a classic done exceptionally well.
For our main course both Mum and I chose the John Dory fillet. I knew there was going to be some hard core feasting over the next few days and figured starting off eating light would be a kind way to ease my gut into it. The fish was tossed with peppery watercress, toasted almonds and local mussels and served on a bed of richly flavoured Romesco sauce.
The Boy ordered the O’Connor’s pasture fed beef tenderloin served perfectly rare to order and topped with a cascade of smashed roasted potatoes and herbs.
Feeling brief pangs of sadness that I wouldn’t be joining Mum for our traditional lunch at Vue de Monde the following day, I decided to push the boat out and managed to coerce her into ordering both cheese and desserts. I know, I know. I said I would stop this habit as I have put on too much weight this year but then isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
For dessert, we ordered the two gluten free options and shared them amongst the three of us. The lemon and raspberry Eton mess was like a garden of deliciousness with tumbles of fresh berries, champagne jelly and buttermilk ice cream. I nearly regretted electing to share as I savoured every mouthful.
Our second choice was “The Bombe”, Stokehouse’s take on a Bombe Alaska. It made a stunning sight although my drunken photography didn’t really do it justice. Sadly the toasted meringue tasted a bit too gluey and not very fresh. The meringue layered over a centre layer of strawberry sorbet and a white chocolate parfait base.
With full bellies and fuelled with champagne we exchanged our gifts before gathering them all up and walking over to the cinema to see a movie of Mum’s choice. It was late when the movie finished but knowing we wouldn’t get to see each other the following day none of us wanted this day to end. To finish the evening we travelled up to the Atrium Bar on level 35 at the Sofitel to enjoy a few nightcaps before finally bidding farewell and turning it in.
The following day was Christmas Day. Back in the day when I spent this with my sister, it would often be a day of extremes and drama; certainly not all bad but definitely not all good. Some people just don’t cope well under pressure and invariably I would end up bring the scapegoat for most of the day’s hiccups and problems.
Although it was sad and out of place to not be with Mum, this new way of doing Christmas Day was such a relaxed and chilled affair that it almost didn’t feel real.
We ate all day as one always does on Christmas; feasting on roasted goose, baked ham and the most addictive duck fat potatoes. But all this was done without a single element of drama.
Our hosts for the day were my Stepmum’s sister and her husband. My Stepmum’s sister is a master in the kitchen as well as also being the author of the blog Cioccolata Bella.
Everything was made from scratch using local seasonal produce where ever possible, much of it just from her backyard veggie patch.
There was even some gluten free mince pies and plum pudding for me to enjoy. In fact, another guest was Coeliac so there weren’t just token gluten free options, everyone was very mindful of avoiding contamination in the kitchen.
Reflecting back in the peace of mid-January, I appreciate that our return home for Christmas wasn’t what I am used to in years gone by yet despite this change I still got to spend quality time with those I love. And that is the most important thing.
7 Alfred Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000 | (03) 9525 5555 | stokehouse.com.au/city
Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held each year in the Margaret River wine region. It has become a yearly favourite for locals and a huge drawcard for people interstate and internationally. Last year the festival clashed with some dates we had booked for a close friend’s birthday celebration in Lombok, so I thought we were only going to be able to make it down for the Friday. My usual plan of attack when attending a food festival is a crazed I-must-eat-all-the-things caper. I hate the thought that I might miss out on something delicious and end up booking back to back events like a lunatic. This approach often comes at a significant cost and thus our budget for these weekends is usually quite substantial.
When it dawned upon me that I only had a single day for Gourmet Escape, I thought I would push the boat out and chose one of the most expensive events: The International Cabernet Tasting at Cape Mentelle with James Halliday as a guest speaker and matched food by highly acclaimed chefs Jacques Reymond and Hadleigh Troy.
I should have known that it is impossible to try and plan your social life six months in advance. As it drew closer to the month of Gourmet Escape our travel plans fell through and subsequently the whole weekend opened up for us. One door closed and another door opened. I preceded to book a flurry of events and are yet to look at the damage it made on my credit card. I even bought tickets to a Fervor degustation for the evening after the Cabernet Celebration! This proved to be a learning lesson that I can no longer do two big food events in one day.
I have never been to an official wine tasting event before and whilst I am very experienced at drinking wine, I am a total amateur when it comes to tasting and describing wines. Cape Mentelle’s International Cabernet tasting is an event that has been running for over thirty years and at each event they select international wines from vintages from a specific year.
There were twenty wines selected for blind tasting from the vintage 2011. Cameron Murphy, the Estate Director at Cape Mentelle advised us that 2011 was a challenging year for many wine growing regions around the world resulting in some top labels not releasing a Cabernet or requesting that their wines were not to be included in the line-up for this event.
The wines were divided into three “brackets” and after tasting each bracket, we would congregate outside under the vines and listen to some top wine critics from around the country analyse and give their opinions. It was a very serious affair and once the tasting got under way the only noise I could hear were clinks of glasses hitting together and the occasional slurp from professional tasters spotted around the room.
We were given note books and pencils to take our own notes and with the ban on talking this gave me an opportunity to actually think about what I was tasting from each glass.
It took a couple of hours to get through the three brackets of wine accompanied by the wine critic’s discussions by which point I was desperate for something to eat. There was some plain bread and pear slices available to cleanse the palate between each bracket which I obviously couldn’t eat. After the tasting were completed, the list of wines were revealed for us to see. It was a proud moment to see that most of the critic’s best wine choices were from local WA wineries. Where the world had a bad vintage, our state seemed to come out with flying colours. Go WA!
Wines in order of tasting:
- Ridge Montebello (Napa Valley, USA)
- Woodlands (Margaret River, Australia)
- Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ (Frankland River, Australia)
- Mount Mary (Yarra Valley, Australia)
- Château Pichon – Longueville Baron, (Paulliac, Bordeaux)
- Domaine A (Tasmania, Australia)
- Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
- Wendouree (Claire, Australia)
- Spottswoode (Napa Valley, USA)
- Cloudburst (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cape Mentelle (Margaret River, Australia)
- Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet (Barossa, Australia)
- Château Palmer (Margaux, Bordeaux)
- Moss Wood (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Château Haut Brion (Graves, Bordeaux)
- Xanadu ‘Stevens Road’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Far Niente (Napa Valley, USA)
- Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien, Bordeaux)
- Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
With the formalities of the event over, we relaxed outside under the trees. There was free flowing Verve on pour coupled with some canapés to get us into the mood before lunch. For those first few brief minutes there was no gluten free option on offer and I watched the Boy devour his obscenely amazing smelling marron roll to himself. I was so hungry I nearly had shoestrings of saliva dripping down my face. Working my way through twenty wines has a way of doing that to my appetite! Thankfully I wasn’t kept waiting long and my own gluten free adapted marron roll made its way out of the kitchen before the Boy even had a chance to finish his.
The most popular canapé served was by far the Arkady lamb breast. Hardly an elegant morsel to eat at the best of times, I was lucky not to be wearing most of what I ate. Or maybe that was just the drool. After skipping breakfast followed by downing all those wines, I am assuring you I ate quite a few of these babies! 😉
After multiple rounds of lamb and marron, we made our way down onto the lawn where a beautiful white marquee was erected for lunch. We had live entertainment and the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial compared to the intense concentration and silence during the tastings.
Our first course was a velvety textured, slow cooked ocean trout served with a tomato and basil dressing, lemon celeriac remoulade and spiced marinated cucumber. After a morning of heavy reds, it was a nice interlude to lighten up the palate. The trout was matched with Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012.
For the main course we received a tender Butterfield beef short rib alongside some charred carrots and pine nut cream. To pair with this dish all twenty of the 2011 Cabernets that we tasted earlier were brought out and poured liberally until the late afternoon. I appreciated why this event cost so much as they were very generous with the serves.
We ended our incredible day with a cheese board containing some of my favourite French cheeses; Marcel Petite Gruyere de Comte, Fourme d’Ambert and Jouvence Brie Fermier. I was even given gluten free crackers on the side which was thoughtful of the chefs.
The Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting was an incredibly unique experience and something quite unlike anything I have done before. It is a long day of drinking with the event starting at 10am and running into the late afternoon. It attracted both serious wine buffs and amateurs like me and had a non-pretentious and relaxed vibe…provided you do not talk during the tasting (note to self).
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for her ticket to the Gourmet Escape International Cabernet Celebration 2014. And, for those enquiring….no, she did not fall on her head at this event. She did however discover that Jacques Reymond is her father’s dopplerganger and consequently filled by Cabernet she MAY have waltzed over to the famous chef with the Boy armed with a photo of her father on her phone to enlighten Jacques of this fact. Suffice to say Jacques had swilled his own substantial quantity of Cabernet that afternoon and was left somewhat confused by our excitement. She will let you decided for yourselves.
Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables is easy to do living in Western Australia because the diversity of our state means we can grow a wide variety of our own produce. This year’s cherry crop was a bumper one and I have been so grateful that I could buy fresh locally grown cherries throughout the Christmas period. As both the Boy and I are predominately vegetarians at home, our house has various fruit bowls dotted around the place such that anyone visiting might think we were obsessed with food. 😉
Cherries do contain a moderate amount of fructose so for those who suffer from fructose malabsorbtion you need to be careful with your intake. For those very sensitive, you are probably best to avoid until you have your symptoms under control. After being on a strict fructose friendly diet for a few months, I was recommended to reintroduce small amounts of fructose to assess my own personal level of tolerance. I find I can handle eating a small amount of cherries as my reaction is relatively mild provided that I do not go nuts and devour a whole bowl to myself.
This addictive peach and cherry breakfast bake is made with fresh cherries and canned peaches but these fruits can easily be substituted with other more fructose friendly fruits if you prefer such as berries and fresh banana. It is the perfect dish for entertaining family groups over the festive season as you can prepare it prior to guests arriving and pop it in the oven once their all turn up. I think this is much better than standing in front of a hot stove frying eggs while everyone else sips champagne!
- 8 slices gluten-free bread, cut into 2cm cubes
- 3 whole eggs
- 300ml of your preferred type of milk (almond, rice, soy or dairy)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 x 425gm can gluten-free peaches in light juice/syrup** See note
- 12-15 fresh cherries, pitted
- 100ml of prepared coconut whipping cream (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 70ml 100% pure maple syrup, warmed
- 1 x 275ml can coconut milk (full fat, not fat reduced, refrigerate overnight)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- To make the coconut whipping cream, refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight to allow it to harden. The following day, spoon out the milk into a bowl and add maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk or mix with an electric beater until it has the consistency of whipping cream.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a 22cmx22cm glass baking dish.
- Drain the can of peaches and discard the syrup.
- Remove the pits from the fresh cherries and cut them in halves.
- Slice about 8 slices of the bread into 2cm squares and place half the bread into the baking dish.
- Nestle half of peach slices and cherries in between the slices of bread.
- Top with the remaining cubes of bread and nestle the remainder of the peaches and cherries in this second layer.
- In medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk and vanilla and pour over the bread cubes.
- Pour dollops of the whipped coconut milk prepared earlier over the bread cubes.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for about 35 minutes or until browned and crunchy on top. Once baked, set aside to cool about 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately with warm maple syrup and dollops of whipped coconut cream.
It is no secret that I love my local The Precinct in Vic Park. We are regulars almost every week and they seem to successfully predict what we want to drink and almost read our minds on what we want to eat too. I love their passion and enthusiasm; every wine and every dish has its own story. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that this awesome team had plans to open a second venue. Managing to secure the old Jus Burgers site in Northbridge I waited patiently for the restaurant to open, hoping them all the success that they deserve. Their new bar is called No Mafia.
Focusing on southern Italian cuisine with handpicked Italian and local wines, the food bypasses serving stodgy pastas and bread in favour of fresh and nearly entirely gluten free share plates. Executive Chef Sam McKinven has created a menu that left me wanting to return in a hurry.
One thing I love about The Precinct is that I never have to think about what to drink, I can trust that their selection with match my food choices beautifully; I was soon to find that No Mafia is no different.
I started with a white peach blini, using local seasonal fruit from Gingin and topped with Prosecco for that Italian twist. It was hard to stop at one but the Boy insisted on sharing some wine for our meal.
As I tried to resist the urge to gulp my refreshing beverage down, our first plate of a serve of some Prosciutto di Parma arrived. The Proscuitto di Parma is imported by Princi Butchers direct from Italy and had a soft, creamy texture and a hint of sweet saltiness. The Boy paired it with some Bread in Common loaf but unfortunately there was not a gluten free bread alternative.
Our next dish was the swordfish crudo; think of this as an Italian version of sashimi. The swordfish is fished out locally off the western coast near Rottnest Island ensuring extreme freshness and a delicate texture. The sword fish was served with Colatura, an Italian fish sauce. This revered sauce is made by layering anchovies with salt in wooden barrels. This causes the fish to release liquid which becomes mixed with salt and collected underneath. The end result is paler coloured and lighter flavoured than standard Asian fish sauce.
The beef carpaccio is priced on a per person basis. Using 100 day grain fed beef each strip loin was hand trimmed and beaten to achieve a perfectly thin portion. The luscious marbling made this a delight to photograph and imparted a gorgeously rich flavour. To add a dash of umami each slice of beef was rolled around sautéed pickled enoki mushrooms.
I needed to fit in a vegetarian dish to dilute out all this protein and was recommended the eggplant parmigiana. As with all of No Mafia’s dishes, there was no heaviness or glugginess and it was surprisingly light and fresh.
Our last savoury dish was the seared yellow fin tuna once again made with locally caught WA fish. Some bottarga, an Italian imported sundried mullet roe added a touch more depth and “fishy goodness”. A crunchy bright side of greens using broccoli and beach banana balanced this nicely.
Ordering both cheese and dessert used to be something we would occasionally do as a treat but in recent times has become more of a regular occurrence. It is one of our many overindulgent habits of 2014 that is going to have to stop in 2015 before we become morbidly obese. Given January was yet to tick over, we ordered a serve of baked ricotta to share. Subtle and slightly sweet it made the perfect pre-dessert choice.
We had worked our way through a lot of food and had to call upon the miracle of our second stomach for dessert. ;-).
Zabaglione is a simple but satisfying Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. It was served with fresh strawberries and shavings of chocolate. Being naturally gluten free this is a dish I could have many more of!
There is always a great level of satisfaction when you see those that deserve success achieve their goals. I am not alone in my loyalties to the No Mafia team as they have recently got a round of positive mentions in the Gourmet Traveler and the West Australian. They accept walk-ins and bookings can be made online on their website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was not an invited guest and paid for her meal at No Mafia in full.
Like many Australians, I have a mixed racial background. My father was born in France and is proudly patriotic, consequently I grew up listening to endless stories about the food, culture and history of my ancestors. One thing he taught me from an early age was that each region of France has their own signature dishes or types of cuisine that they proclaim to be famous for.
Brittany, or Bretagne is a historic province in the north-west of France that is rich in culture. In contrast to a lot of France where the locals will drink wine daily, the traditional drink of Bretons is cider with Brittany being the second largest cider producing region in France. They are also recognised for their crêpes and galettes which traditionally replaced bread as basic food. These are made with buckwheat flour and thus are gluten free.
Breizh Original Crêperie is a new pop up restaurant located on Leonard Street in Victoria Park. The building is used for a number of different pop up events over the course of the week with Breizh securing the venue for Saturday and Sunday nights.
Run by two French brothers this dynamic team aims to provide traditional French Bretagne food with a bit of a modern twist. They utilise simple, locally sourced ingredients and make everything in house themselves.
Although their savoury crepes are made with gluten free buckwheat flour, they do prefer that any severely intolerant or coeliac customers notify them 48 hours in advance so they can ensure to take extra precautions with the kitchen environment to avoid any cross contamination.
For our invited feast to follow with the tradition of Bretagne, the Boy organised some ciders for us to bring along and enjoy with our meals. Not exactly the most fructose friendly beverage but they do say when in Rome…
We started our meal with a serve of the apero; an appetiser galette to share with parsley, roasted garlic and olive oil with gooey melted Emmental cheese.
The buckwheat added a subtle nutty flavour and the crepes had a surprisingly crisp texture.
For our main we opted for the weekly special galette. Breizh post their changing weekly specials up on their website every week and include a new galette and crepe to keep the menu dynamic and interesting.
Our savoury galette was made with dried wild morel mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, fresh tarragon and parsley with a luxurious white wine cream sauce. Added to this was some melted Swiss cheese and sprinkles of toasted pine nuts. Again the outer most edge of my galette had a paper thin crispiness to it yet the centre was soft, gooey and rich in flavour. A taste sensation for sure.
For dessert we both chose a different type of crepe. These crepes can be made with either normal flour or buckwheat flour. For those wanting gluten free, ensure to inform your waiter on ordering that you want the buckwheat option.
One of the permanent items on the crepe menu is the salted caramel crepe. This was our favourite, despite its simplicity. It is made with homemade salted caramel sauce, and I recommend to go for the option of an added ice-cream scoop.
The weekly crepe special was also a winner and was topped with a cube of velvety strawberry parfait, drizzles of strawberry coulis and fresh whipped cream. This was a crepe for those with a strong sweet tooth. It was a warm night and we had to devour this treat quickly before the parfait turned into a puddle of pink syrup.
I have been informed that Briezh Original Crêperie are attempting to secure a more permanent location in Vic Park but at this stage it is not set in stone. In the meantime they are happy to be working out of Leonard Street and are spending their time focusing on producing quality crepes and galletes.
The little pop-up restaurant fills up quickly each week and I highly recommend heading to their website and pre-booking a table. Don’t forget to advise them in advance if you are gluten free too.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Breizh. Given the fact that this restaurant is within five minutes’ walk from her front door, she will be sure to happily return as a full paying customer. Always happy to eat a piece of my heritage 😉 Breizh Original Crêperie Pop Up Event Every Saturday and Sunday night from 6pm to 9pm | 1 Leonard Street Victoria Park WA 6100 | breizhoriginal.com.au