Birthdays are meant to be celebrated and it is an incredible surprise to me that this humble blog has just turned four. Four human years converted into food blog years must equate to at least a decade. That is definitely a cause to crack open the champagne. Writing this blog has certainly been a colourful journey of eating amazing food, but also has seen me cultivate wonderful, lasting friendships and interact with some very passionate Perth business people and chefs. I have loved every minute of it.
For me, this year has been all about time and its ability to slip through my fingers like sand. Admittedly I am my worst enemy and perpetually keep taking on more than I realistically have time for. To add to this dilemma, I spent a decent chunk of my year debilitated with back pain which terminated all physical activity in my life at the time. Thankfully my back troubles are becoming something of the past, and I am embracing life with a new found zest.
Last Sunday I woke up quite early, hours before the Boy and the cats cared to be awoken and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was a stunning Spring morning so I snuck quietly out the front door and took my new bike for a spin around the river leaving the sleeping beauties snoring peacefully in a pile together. Upon returning home later I was chuffed to see the Boy up and about, ready to go out for breakfast. I was recently followed on Instagram by a new café called Layup Cafe that has just opened in Northbridge so we agreed to check it out.
Layup’s menu had plenty of gluten free options with a number of interesting dishes that moved away from the comparatively boring egg benny and big breakfasts. We selected a few dishes to share, all gluten free adapted.
The guacamole on toast came with smoked corn and pica de gallo and we elected to have it topped with optional slow cooked eggs. A few dollops of jalapeño custard decorated the side of the plate and this custard had just a gentle chili kick to it. Being a hater of all things spicy, the Boy didn’t trust my description of “very mild” and gave the custard a wide berth. He was determined to avoid tasting something too hot for his delicate palate.
Sadly these efforts were in vain as I didn’t get to warn him in time about the shichimi togarashi that accompanied the Sicilian anchovies.
After proudly thinking he dodged a bullet with the jalapeño custard, the Boy proceeded to dunk his charred gluten free bread in gooey slow cooked egg heaven before coating it liberally in the innocent looking red powder. He nearly choked in horror at the heat and proceeded to gulp gallons of water quickly.
After the subtle tease of the jalapeño custard I was much more game and dunked my generously coated bread confidently. It was a wonderful, nostril clearing experience that had me going back for more. Combined with the salty fishiness of the anchovies this was a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before and would happily try again.
Thankfully there was a cooling dish on the table to soothe the poor lad’s burning tongue. The breakfast pannacotta came on a bed of toasted gluten free muesli and goji berries topped with a strawberry compote and fresh berries.
I love having two courses for breakfast. This was something my dear friend and business partner Chis and I started doing long ago and that habit has stuck. Making the decision for sweet or savoury is far too difficult to do first thing in the morning so my advice is having both is the best way to go.
Layup Cafe only opened this month and it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling the high expectations of regular Perth breakfast punters. I loved their creative menu options and use of local produce and hope to return soon.
197-199 Brisbane Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | 0481 064 166 | Facebook
The WA Signature Dish is an annual cooking competition that promotes Western Australia’s beautiful and abundant local produce. The competition is open to amateur cooks who must create a recipe that best represents our “State on a plate” using one or more of the “hero ingredients” from either the Gascoyne, Kimberley, Swan Valley & Surrounds or Peel regions.
This year’s competition at the WA Signature Dish Semi-Final was fierce. The cook off was held earlier this month in Perth and was a nail-biting morning for everyone. Following with Perth’s latest food trend, a number of the dishes showed the creative use of Australian native plants. There are so many interesting flavours hidden out there in the outback and I love seeing how chefs use these unique flavours.
The winning finalist for the Gascoyne region is Jerolina Rankin. Jerolina participated last year and narrowly missed the place in the finals. This year she returns to the competition with her Gascoyne seafood broth with Shark Bay wild prawns.
The finalist for the Kimberley region is Arylene Westlake-Jennings with Cone Bay barramundi and green mango and mizuna salad.
Talented local Perth food blogger Matt Cook is carrying the flag for the Swan Valley and surrounds with his dish; lemon-myrtle marron laksa-inspired curry.
Finally, Rachel Hartshorn is representing the Peel region with her dish of Harvey Beef eye fillet, bush tomato, native thyme and pepperberry with red wine jus.
The four finalists now must spend the next few months working alongside their dedicated Mentor Chefs in order to perfect their dish for the Grand Finale. The Mentor Chefs this year are Chris Taylor (Fraser’s) for the Kimberley, Peter Manifis (InContro) for the Gascoyne, Kiren Mainwaring (Co-op Dining) for Swan Valley & Surrounds and Jason Hutchen (Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant) for Peel.
The WA Signature Dish Grand Finale takes place at the Gourmet Escape festival on the 22nd of November. A 60 minute live cook-off will be held on stage and each finalist will present their dish for judging to Chefs Guillaume Brahimi and Shane Osborn and restaurant critic Matt Preston to select the 2015 winner.
It will be a great relief to many that this year, each of the four finalist’s dishes will be available to buy this year at Gourmet Escape. Chef Peter Manifis plans to prepare about 6000 of the finalist’s dishes at the WA Signature Dish pop-up restaurant. Festival punters will be able to vote on their favourite dish for the People’s Choice award which will be announced at the cook-off finale.
For more details visit www.wasignaturedish.com.au
Please note photo credits with thanks to Peter Maloney, Department of Agriculture and Food WA. I was afflicted by a bad gastro and couldn’t attend the semi-finals.
I love being part of unique dining experiences. I find the excitement of the unknown combined with the knowledge that it is a once off event makes the evening feel so special. Alphabet Soup Dining is a Perth-based pop-up restaurant run by chef Melissa Palinkas who is also the Executive Chef and part owner of Young George in East Fremantle. Melissa started Alphabet Soup because she wanted to offer a quirky degustation style meal where she could let her creativity run free. She holds a dinner event once monthly in locations all around Perth and has popped up in places like Milk’d in Maylands, Cutlery Draw in Manning, Frisk! Small Bar and 399 Bar in Northbridge and most recently at Canton Lounge in the City.
I have wanted to attend an Alphabet Soup dinner for some time so when I saw that chef Melissa was holding a truffle themed dinner this was my immediate cue to book us in. I can never say no to truffle. Before booking I checked that the event could cater for gluten free and was happily assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Alphabet Soup events are based around a six course meal and the menus are published online just a few days before the event. After being seated for the evening, we received a couple of rounds of “snacks” that were not on the menu as a surprise. Our first treat was a reverse crayfish truffle sushi roll using locally caught Mindarie cray. The cray meat was tender and sweet having been cooked sous vide with truffle in the bag to infuse a strong flavour.
Our second surprise snack was a basket of miso lamb ribs, also cooked sous vide in a bag with truffle. The meat slid off the bones easily and the Boy and I sat speechless, both far too busy for words as we sucked and slurped each rib until it was clean.
Our next dish was a little theatrical; sake cured ocean trout with truffle with a yuzu and coconut salad. The portions of ocean trout were suspended on a miniature hanging line with pint-size pegs. Super cute.
The trout was matched with a pomelo mojito, made with Havana 7, pink grapefruit, lime and crème de menthe. It was an interesting experience having a meal matched with not just wines, but also a collection of cocktails.
Who said eating gluten free meant you had to miss out? My truffle chicken karage was made using tapioca flour and tasted just like the real thing. Two crispy morsels were accompanied by some truffled Japanese mustard aioli topped with black sesames. This was finger licking good chicken that left no grease on my hands, my only gripe was that I was left wanting more.
My fried chicken yearning was quickly forgotten upon the arrival of the next dish; broken truffle sticky rice with a 62 degree egg. It is hard not to fall madly in love with the magical combination of slow cooked eggs and truffle, and thankfully there are a number of chefs in Perth that have caught onto this simple decadence.
It is guaranteed that this combination will never fail to make me swoon, those flavours are perfectly married in heaven. Poised with my camera in hand, my predictable squeal of delight emitted when the Boy cut into his yolk was met with his usual eye roll. I may be a little over the top with my love for yolk porn, especially after a few cocktails.
For our next dish, we enjoyed a pork and truffle dumpling served in a richly flavoured dashi broth with fresh shiitake mushrooms. To finish the dish, shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle cascaded on the surface adding a stronger hit of truffiliciousness.
I was to learn that the element of surprise is the norm for the Alphabet Soup dinners. Our next course was yet another secret item that was not found on the menu. I really love surprise dishes! A super tender, baby carrot was cooked in truffle dashi before being grilled and then served with an XO sauce ash.
Our final main course was the seared duck breast, cooked Chinese BBQ style with truffle mushrooms, edamame and of course, fresh truffle.
The duck breast was crispy thin on the outside yet remained tender pink and buttery moist on the inside.
To freshen up our palates ready for dessert, we were given a bite sized spoonful of mandarin and yuzu jelly. It was uplifting and refreshing, combining perfectly with my jazzed up G&T made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon and jasmine tea.
Our dessert brought me back to my childhood when Mum and I would go to the Adelaide Central Markets to do our weekly food shopping. My reward for being the good daughter who would come along and help her mother would always be some sort of treat we shared before going home. Most weeks we would end up walking over to Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and finding something delicious. These were the days I was oblivious to the fact gluten was killing me, and in my ignorance I would eagerly look forward to the times we would get ourselves a steam pork bun.
For our final course with Alphabet Soup, the Chef made a special batch of gluten free truffle and pear steam buns just for me. The buns were made using potato, corn flour and rice flour giving an authentic doughy, but fluffy texture. We were given truffle honey and Anglaise sauce to drizzle lavishly over our buns. It was a perfect way to end our evening.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening out with Alphabet Soup and will be watching out for her next event. There was all the right elements of entertainment, quirkiness and originality that I had hoped for with some extra surprises to boot. Chef Mel effortlessly catered for my dietary needs without making me feel like I missed out on any of the degustation experience. Thanks Melissa!
Alphabet Soup | www.alphabetsoupdining.com
Canton Bar | 532 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 8887 | www.cantonbar.com.au
This year I return to join the team of bloggers and follow the journey of the WA Signature Dish Competition 2015. Many of you will remember my comprehensive coverage of last year’s competition which included a trip up to the stunning Gascoyne region where I went on my own paddock to plate experience meeting the local farmers and producers in person. I visited a number of banana plantations, ate chocolate pudding fruit straight from the tree and even got to climb on board a crabbing boat.
The WA Signature Dish is an annual cooking competition that promotes Western Australia’s beautiful and abundant local produce. The competition is open to amateur cooks who must create a recipe that best represents our “State on a plate” using one or more of the “hero ingredients” from either the Gascoyne, Kimberley, Swan Valley & Surrounds or Peel regions. Two contestants from each region will be chosen to compete in the Semi Final cook-off event on the 14 October in Perth.
This year Peter Manifis will join us again as the mentor chef for the Gascoyne region. Peter grew up on WA’s Pilbara coast and being the son of a commercial fisherman, he developed a passion for our State’s abundant seafood from a very young age. By the time Peter was ten years old he had already decided that he was going to be a chef. He trained at the famous Loose Box under French Master Chef Alain Farbregues and is now a partner in the successful South Perth restaurant InContro. Read my interview with Peter last year and see some of his mouth-watering creations at InContro restaurant.
The Hero Ingredients that the contestants must use from the Gascoyne Region this year are:
• Wild Shark Bay Prawns (Northern Star Ocean Products)
• Carnarvon grown tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant and chilli (Loveapple)
• Shark Bay Mullet, Shark Bay Scallops, Pink Snapper and Shark Bay Whiting (recommended by the WA Fishing Industry Council)
Once the four regional Semi Final winners are selected, they will each then work with their mentor chef for their chosen region to prepare them for the Grand Finale which will be held at Margaret River Gourmet Escape on the 22 November. The judging panel for the Grand Finale will consist of Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume), Shane Osborn (from Michelin starred St Betty’s restaurant in Hong Kong) and a third high profile chef who is yet to be named.
The winner of the WA Signature Dish Competition 2015 will receive two days mentoring with Guillaume Brahimi at Bistro Guillame in Crown Perth, plus a trip for two to a luxurious remote Western Australian location for a wine and dine experience and the opportunity to meet some of WA’s most respected chefs and industry figures along the way.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the 2015 WA Signature Dish Competition. The competition is organised by Buy West Eat Best, a food labelling program that’s all about supporting the local food industry in Western Australia. Buy West Eat Best aims to grow the value and consumption of local WA produced food. Buy West East Best provides consumers and the local food industry with a food-specific brand to clearly show Western Australian grown, farmed, fished and produced food.