Some people choose to mix their work life with their personal life and others prefer to keep them totally separate. I imagine that it would be easy to separate the two if you didn’t hold any passion or joy in your working hours. For me, I tend to submerge myself in my career, sometimes to the level of obsession, such that it is impossible to not develop friendships with both my colleagues and my clients. Occasionally I manage to combine both careers in one, connecting all the dots by creating a friendship with a client from the vet hospital that also happens to read my blog. Conversation runs very freely when you can talk to me about the two things I love the most…..food…..and cats!
Of course the logical thing to do when you have succeeded in finding this trifecta of friendship is to spend quality time to eat together. So, after a few false starts due to busy schedules, we managed to tally up a night to head out with my friends-clients-fellow crazy cat ladies to Cocos Restaurant in South Perth. Being a closet crazy cat man the Boy was happy to join us for dinner for a night of cat talk. Surprisingly despite Cocos being something of a Perth icon I had never eaten at there and welcomed the suggestion.
Cocos Restaurant overlooks the Swan River to gaze onto the expanding Perth City skyline. That is, mind you, if you can secure a table riverside. It is a deceptively large restaurant packed full of tables and wasn’t exactly the fine dining location that I had pictured in my mind. Our table was tucked away at the back of the restaurant with naught but a glimpse of the city lights. The menu showcased a lot of local WA produce with marron and Dhufish featuring alongside Cone Bay barramundi. I was informed by our waitress that there are a number of gluten free options.
I started with the duo of salmon; two types of cured salmon plated out generously and served with a citrus, fennel and herb salad. The outer layer of salmon was cured in beetroot and ginger which imparted a sumptuous red hue to the fish and the inner layer was cured with vodka and Pernod. Some of the fish pieces were a little dry on the edges like they had been prolongedly exposed to air however each mouthful still left a clean aftertaste on the palate without any stale fish odour.
The Boy was feeling peckish and ordered the duck risotto for a more substantial entrée. Soft pinkish strips of pan seared duck breast topped a creamy orange and thyme risotto. The citrusy flavours made this a lighter style of risotto perfect for a first course. One of our friends ordered the beef Carpaccio served with baby capers, chilli, truffle oil and manchego crisps and it was the hugest serve of beef Carpaccio I have ever seen. It was not an entrée for the light-hearted and she kindly offered much of her dish to share as she couldn’t finish it!
For main I chose the Geraldton Dhufish. I realise that eating fish for both entrée and main is a little one sided and maybe narrow minded but there are some days that I just really feel like seafood and figure that I need to listen to my body! The Dhufish fillet was ever so slightly overcooked leaving part of the fillet a little dry. It was served with a tossed salad of Swiss chard and roasted beets.
The Boy ordered the beef fillet on a parsnip and onion puree with a red wine jus. His meat was cooked precisely to order rare and sliced effortless like butter.
One of our friends ordered the saffron linguini pasta with sautéed Moreton Bay Bug tails. It had a bit of a kick to it with added chilli.
My gluten free dessert option was the vanilla pannacotta which was served in an hour shaped glass so I couldn’t test the jiggle factor. There were a lot of contrasting textures to add interest to this dish with strawberry jelly, fresh strawberries, crisp meringue and strawberry ice cream. Happy with this option indeed.
Also ordered at the table was the Bombe Alaska which sadly it wasn’t gluten free so I didn’t get to taste it. It consisted of a chunk of sticky date pudding and homemade honey macadamia ice cream encased in swirls of meringue in a puddle of addictive butterscotch sauce. I cannot deny I was a bit jealous!
It was no surprise the Boy ordered himself the selected homemade ice creams and sorbets although he was a bit perturbed by the “hair” on top of his dessert. He loves to proclaim that he is not a fan of Persian fairy floss yet he always seems to eat it when it’s on his plate so I’m guessing it wasn’t too bad!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp has no shame in admitting that she is a crazy cat lady, additionally that she loves hanging out with crazy cat ladies, that she is married to a crazy cat man and, basically, that cats rock her world. Here’s a picture of her dinner companion’s adorable boy Ralph to cement this statement. A very handsome lad indeed.
Coco’s Riverside Bar and Restaurant
85 The South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WAZ 6151 | (08) 9474 3030 | http://www.westvalley.com.au/
For those who work from home or perhaps don’t work at all, it is easy to labour with love in the kitchen preparing all your food from scratch. When I have time to do this myself, I gain great satisfaction knowing every ingredient I put in my food. However for those like myself who work long hours and often in places where there are no hip cafes with raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options, it is easy to resort to eating less healthy meals. I was recently invited to a blogger’s brunch at The Wolf The Bean The Walnut which is a new café that has opened up on Wolf Lane in Perth City offering healthy food whilst accommodating for us with specific dietary requirements.
Over the course of the morning, we were taken on a journey through their menu with tasters of their signature dishes.
I started off with a “Flu Tonic” juice; it was the fructose friendly option made with lemon, ginger and spinach. It is a relief to find somewhere I can get a take away juice without having to ask for the apple to be omitted! Guests were given some breakfast bars made with oats, pistachio, cranberry and buckwheat however due to the inclusion of oats they were not gluten free.
The Wolf The Bean The Walnut offer both toasted and gluten free options for their granola which is then topped with dairy free coconut yoghurt. Although I have not excluded dairy from my diet completely, I do try to avoid it as it flares up my eczema quite severely so that I scratch my fingers until they are red raw. It was comforting to see there are a number of dairy free alternatives on their breakfast menu for allergic intolerants like me.
Our second dish to sample was their chia pudding. This is normally made with toasted granola on the bottom layer which is not gluten free so the Chef made me one using their gluten free granola instead. The chia seeds were soaked in almond coconut milk to set into a pudding and topped with a fruit coulis. It wasn’t overly sweet and I could imagine a normal serve would be quite filling.
Next up was a taster of their signature turmeric custard. This was an interesting and colourful dish served cold with fresh mango, pistachios, pepitas and coconut. The custard had a delicate, mild flavour with a lovely hint of sweet fragrant spice.
Our final dish was one of their “superbowls” and by this point I was feeling pretty stuffed. Chia pudding, coconut yoghurt, seeds and nuts; these are all foods that can leave one feeling very satisfied without being overly full. I wasn’t sure if I would have any room left for this next morsel.
But after cutting into my poached egg and witnessing its egg porn in full glory I cast away any fears of fullness and tucked in. Buried underneath the perfectly poached egg was some pieces of crispy salmon, lima beans and red and white quinoa. Flavoursome dukkah was sprinkled on top to give some extra texture.
Sadly I couldn’t stay until the end of the blogger’s brunch as I had a test drive booked for a new car that the Boy was considering to buy for my birthday present….(more on THIS later!)…. On my way out I was handed a luscious looking raw treat to eat on the drive home. Suffice to say it didn’t last long!
I am so chuffed to know that there is somewhere I can stop into in the CBD to get a bite for lunch that will be safe for my belly and won’t set my allergies off into a storm.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp would like to thank The Wolf The Bean The Walnut for their invitation to dine with them. All opinions on this post are Chompchomp’s own.
The Wolf The Bean The Walnut
Arcade 800, 800 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9481 6315 | Facebook
For some reason over the last couple of years I have become accident-prone. Don’t be alarmed, there has been no major incidents, but more of a succession of annoying injuries that have prevented me from running which in turn makes me very grumpy. To name a few, there has been a handful of broken ribs, multiple occasions of recurrently broken toes, countless bumps to the head, plantar fasciitis and most recently during our Melbourne trip, a torn quadriceps. It has got to the stage that I get more of an eye roll than any sympathy from the Boy because seriously…it is never ending and according to him somewhat preventable.
For my most recent injury it was a case of me being overambitious, which again the Boy believes is a common occurrence. My stepmum invited me out on a run with her one morning. As we walked out the door my father was chanting out retorts that she doesn’t really run suggesting I was in for an easy outing.
Eighteen rounds of interval training at a flat out sprint later I was left out of breath with a stitch and sweating profusely. My stepmum had barely worked up a sweat and had to slow down so I could keep up the pace.
Two days later, still stiff and sore the Boy and I hit the shops to do some clothes shopping. It is a rare event that the both of us are in the mood to shop and this day our minds were perfectly in sync. Winning. Just as we were getting into the swing of things with a number of bags in hand, I crouched down to pick up a pair of jeans and felt something in the front of my leg go “twang!”. Sharp bolts of pain radiated up my leg and I struggled to pull myself up.
And thus our shopping expedition ended. Within minutes a very focal hard area of swelling and bruising came up on the front of my leg and I was unable to extend my leg out. Yup, I tore a quad. Awesome.
As my eyes watered with pain the Boy tried to distract me from my injury with offers of a lunch date instead. We were minutes shuffle from Supernormal on Flinders Lane so I plucked up my courage and hobbled along gritting my teeth. Supernormal serve Modern Asian share plates, with a lot of Chinese influenced dishes as a result of the Head Chef’s time spent in Hong Kong.
As we were seated we were given some complementary pumpkin seeds to nibble on while the waiter went through the gluten free options for me. I was finding it very hard to concentrate with pain shooting up and down my leg and not knowing whether I should sit or stand I kept shuffling about at our table with an unattractive grimace on my face. To buy us some time the Boy ordered some pickled vegetables and oysters to start along with a strong hit of gin for me. I downed a couple of pain killers in one gulp and waited for my pain to subside.
As the gin coursed its way through my veins, my pain gave way to discomfort allowing me to sit back on my bar stool and knock back some Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters. I could take my focus away from my torn muscle and concentrate on the menu enough to select a couple of larger dishes to share. We started with the silken tofu with marinated eggplant and coriander after being advised it was gluten free. It wasn’t until the waitress actually brought the cooked dish to our table that she then paused and exclaimed “Oh! This isn’t gluten free!” and whisked it away quickly. I wish I hadn’t got to smell and see the dish because it looked amazing and I really felt like I had missed out. Boo hoo to gluten.
I had heard many good things about Supernormal’s lobster rolls so you can imagine my joy when our apologetic waitress told me they could do a gluten free version of this dish using a lettuce leaf cup instead of the brioche bun. The Boy ordered the standard version which although small for the price did get a number of exclamations and groans of pleasure out of the man.
Whilst not getting to enjoy the texture and flavour on the brioche bun, I was hardly missing out with the sang chow bow styles lettuce cups. The lobster was sweet, fresh and all the colours of delicious. For a brief moment there I could almost forget I was a cripple again. Food has a wonderful way of making things better in the short term.
I will definitely be returning for a few more rounds of these next trip to Melbourne hopefully without any injuries to distract me!
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIA 3000 | (03) 9650 8688 | www.supernormal.net.au
For our short Christmas trip home to Melbourne we managed to fit in two separate Christmas family celebrations, a friend’s wedding, five days of pre and post wedding celebrations and a spot of shopping. I also successfully squeezed in a quick brunch date with Mum before she flew back to Adelaide and we returned to Perth. We met up out the front of a café called Top Paddock in Richmond on Boxing Day. There was already a reasonable queue heading out the door and round the street so I put our name down and we stood and waited outside in the sunshine. Despite a long queue, the restaurant achieved a quick table turnover and before long we were seated.
Still in a post-Christmas day food daze I could barely focus on the menu in front of me. There were a lot of gluten free options and much of the produce used was obtained direct from the producers locally in Victoria.
Mum has always been an eggs benny fan and consequently ordered hers without a moment of hesitation. It was served with pulled ham hock rather than the usual sliced ham. The pork was soft and flavoursome but sadly her poached eggs lacked any egg porn ooze.
I opted for the gin and limed cured Huon ocean trout fillet served with pickled baby beets, a couple of cubes of potato gallete, goats curd and poached eggs. Each component was awkwardly placed about my plate, without any real relation to each other.
I was in better luck with my eggs and was spoilt with a delightfully sunny cascade of goo after nervously poking a hole into it with my knife.
Is it normal to put such a high level of expectation on something as simple as a perfectly poached egg? Maybe, but then that comes with the territory of being a food connoisseur maybe.
The Boy was very pleased with his choice of a fresh Queensland soft-shelled crab roll. Served in a Brioche bun with a fennel and dill salad, the bun had a satisfying crunchy exterior and light puffy inside with a subtly sweet flavour. In my tired and overindulged state I could have nearly shed a tear hearing how good it was as there wasn’t any remotely gluten free about this dish for me to try.
The service at Top Paddock was much quicker than we had anticipated leaving us with a small amount of time to share a bite of something sweet. I love two course breakfasts. There were a couple of gluten free options in addition to some raw and vegan treats too.
I chose the raw peppermint slice as I wanted to critique it compared to my own version. When it came to the presentation this slice definitely won over mine, it was pretty. I always like to think that my food has a rustic charm however some may prefer to describe it as border lining on amateur. Despite its neat and cute appearance, I cannot deny my raw peppermint slice has a better flavour and always leaves me wanting more. With this slice I was satisfied with just a shared mouthful between three. Maybe that is a good thing.
When I was ordering dessert for us, I wasn’t sure if my mum would be into the whole raw, vegan thing and ordered a safe option of a gluten free lemon and berry cheesecake. There was nothing sugar-free about this one and it came complete with a hit of central berrylicious goo in the middle.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp doesn’t get to spend even half the time she wants with her mum. Consequently she will always try to pay, thinking that the gift of food somewhat makes up for their time apart. What makes this tricky is her mother feels the same and this time round insisted it was her turn to pay. Thanks Mum xx
658 Church Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 | (03) 9429 4332 | toppaddockcafe.com
Reflecting back on last year I have a mixed bag of emotions. It was a roller-coaster experience of opportunity coupled with some of my darkest times in years. I expected 2014 to be a wonderful year of post–wedding bliss but sadly the Boy and I were not that lucky. A family feud that commenced in the months before our wedding resulted in my family fragmenting apart, and then to add to this heartbreak my business came very close to a similar fate. Worst of all, one of my friends was tragically killed in a horrific car accident.
Whilst trying to deal with all of this turmoil, I injected my energy into writing and saw this humble blog blossom into something even my critical mind can be proud of.
As direct result of such a year I neglected spending time with many of my friends. The only occasions I would see many of them would be at invited foodie events and even then this would be a rushed and distracted moment in time.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend my time more wisely and make more effort to hang with those I heart. Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and Perth Food Truck Rumble is one of the first food bloggers that I became close friends with. We first met after both being accepted to attend Eat Drink Blog ‘12 in Adelaide. Both being a little quirky in our own individual ways, we connected immediately and have been great friends ever since.
Following with my New Years promise to myself, I met with Ai-Ling for a ladies lunch at Circa in Mount Lawley. Being able to chat without all the fan fare of an official foodie event was such a better way to share company. I need to make time to do this more often.
Circa do not indicate on their menu gluten free options however after a brief chat to our waitress she was confidently able to let me know what I could have. She showed a deeper level of understanding of what constitutes a gluten free dish explaining that some dishes don’t contain gluten however they will still have some contamination and therefore would not be suitable for Coeliacs and those very sensitive.
The chicken parfait was served with toasted gluten free bread. We were kindly offered normal bread for Ai-Ling to enjoy and each serve of bread was served on separate plates to ensure no mixing of crumbs. The parfait was velvety smooth and reminded me of the enormous dish Mum always makes for us around Christmas time. She does everything from scratch and we eat parfait on toast for days until it’s all devoured.
For our main we shared the roasted duck, a tender slightly pink breast served on cauliflower purée and charred cabbage with a sweet apricot jus. Not the most fructose friendly of choices but I have been eating so much vegan dishes in my post-Christmas guilt that I was craving some poultry.
Sadly we ran out of time to hit the dessert menu. I don’t think there was a silent moment for the whole two hours that we sat together and it felt like our time was over in a flash. Of all the lessons I learnt last year, one of those is that life can be short. Sometimes a lot shorter than you were ever expecting. Taking time out from the rat race of life to laugh, connect and share with those you love is so important.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for this meal as a gesture of friendship however also because Ai-Ling actually ran out of time and had to race off for an appointment. Time really did escape us!