At the very tail end of my annual leave I received a spontaneous call from one of my dearest friends and business partner Chris to join her on a lunch date. She was freed of the responsibility of her little offspring for the afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. She wasn’t fussy where we went and let me choose the venue. With so many new bars popping up around town it is hard to keep up despite being a food blogger. One bar that has sparked my interest is Shadow Wine Bar located in the new Alex Hotel. Moving away from the current trend of tight spaces and walk-ins, Shadow Wine Bar fills a large space with dramatic black and white interiors, massively high ceilings and an industrial warehouse-gone-chic feel.
I tend to avoid making an early judgement on the fluidity of service for new venues like this, not only are the staff new but everything is new and everyone deserves time to land on their feet. So I excused our waiter’s error in telling me all the pasta dishes were gluten free along with a dish with a rye crumb. It was even easier to forgive him quickly when the rest of our service was accompanied with smiles and attentiveness.
We started with the potato crisp topped with fresh crab and a lemon aioli. These morsels were a mouthful of flavour however the potato didn’t hold up to the weight of its toppings and became a little soggy in the middle.
The pan-fried haloumi was a squeaky treat matched beautifully with slightly sweet, slightly sour pink grapefruit and peppery fresh watercress. A simple collection of ingredients that balanced elegantly.
The veal carpaccio was the winner of the day. Nearly translucent slices of veal were marbled with spider thin strands of white fat and tore apart like tissue paper across the plate. Truffle mustard drizzled generously on top gave a subtle hint of truffiliciousness.
Shadow Bar’s crispy pork jowl is a must for pork lovers. The crackling was browned to a tooth-chipping, crunchable texture while the underlying unctuous goodness melted in the mouth without any lingering aftertaste.
A meal with Chris is never complete without sweets. In fact, over nearly two decades of friendship I cannot recall ever eating with her and not ingesting something saccariferous. Not that I am complaining because I am no different. After a round of giggles from us both trying to pronounce “tart tartin” properly in French, Chris ordered the pear tart tartin. It was served with tonka bean ice cream which had a similar flavour to vanilla with a hint of caramel.
The only gluten free dessert option was the poached rhubarb served with a scoop of mascarpone and shards of meringue. Whilst my dessert certainly looked the part, I found its flavours to be underwhelming with the creaminess and tartness unbalanced due to a distinct lack of sweetness. It almost felt like there was a missing ingredient.
Our lunch experience at Shadow Wine Bar left me undecided on my opinion so the following day I brought the Boy back there for lunch for a second chance. Our waitress was much more clued on about what was gluten free and sailed me through the menu without hesitation. Sadly only a handful of the small plates could be adapted and despite being a hotel there was no gluten free bread available.
We started with the jamon iberico which was served with fresh bread on the side for the Boy and some very tasty pickles. Like the carpaccio, the meat was high quality and similarly soft and flavourful.
The fish of the day was two fillets of pan-fried King George Whiting with a puttanesca sauce made with olives, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I picked out the fructose loaded onions easily. As the Boy devoured his share he wondered why I had any reservations about this venue as he had only experienced winning dishes.
Our next dish was the braised lamb neck ragu and this cemented his positive opinion on Shadow. Served on a bed of soft polenta, the lamb was delicately textured, moist and rich and we both savoured each mouthful.
In contrast to Chris, the Boy doesn’t have a sweet tooth except for his weakness for ice cream. I was happy to settle for some cheese instead especially as I had seen two of my favourites of all time on the menu; namely Manchego and Brillat Savarin. These are two very different cheeses but are both ground-shakingly amazing. The cheeses were served at the perfect temperature to maximise their flavour but sadly there were no gluten free crackers or bread to accompany. I am hoping this is just one small oversight that they plan to resolve.
I am glad I returned back to Shadow Wine Bar as I can now appreciate it has oodles of potential. Housed in an impressive space, with a short to the point menu and serving wines by the glass or carafe Shadow Wine Bar proves that our little city Perth is finally growing up. I am hoping that they will progress to becoming a little more gluten free friendly so that people like me can enjoy more of their European styled menu.
Shadow Wine Bar
214 William Street, Northbridge WA | (08) 6430 4010 | www.shadowwinebar.com.au
Invited blogger events can be unpredictable; some events are so well organised and thoroughly enjoyable such that we end up staying for the evening and then there are some events that end up being total fizzers resulting in us slinking off elsewhere to find better food and fun. I recently attended one of the later type of events which left me with two other blogger friends Kristy from Queen of Bad Timing and Carly from Perth Munchkin desperate for some decent eats. Each accompanied by our better halves we only had to utter the words “German Beer House” and all boys were super keen to make a night of it.
After taking our seats at the newly opened Brotzeit German Bier Bar, there was a bit of confusion with respect to their menu. My first impression was that ordering would be an easy task as there are a number of “GF” marked options. However, after being asked by our waiter “how severe is your gluten intolerance?” I realised that people like myself need to be a bit more careful. A number of the GF marked dishes on their menu are actually only made gluten free by adaptations illustrating how important it is to explain to the waiter dietary requirements before ordering.
The Boy and I are mostly vegetarians and always feel a little apprehensive when confronted by a menu filled with meat. Brotzeit do not offer many non-meat options so accepting defeat we ordered the waiter’s recommendation of the Ripperl; Honey Bavarian Pork Ribs. Unlike my peers, my knees do not buckle at the mere mention of pork and it takes a decent porky dish to win me over. Our Bavarian ribs were not overly fatty with plenty of tender meat on the bones. The sauce was finger licking good and although I haven’t be converted to a die hard pork fan just yet, I would happily eat these again.
Our second dish was the Würstelplatte; a sausage platter that can be made gluten free on request. We received a generous portion of authentic German sausages including flavours like spicy chicken, grilled pork, pork cheese, pork and veal, and garlic pork. It came with some salad and sauerkraut. No one believed that we could finish both dishes but in true style we did, albeit we could barely walk afterwards.
The most impressive looking dish on our table was Carly’s husband’s pork knuckle; a behemoth sized 900 grams of oven roasted ham hock served with potato salad, sauerkraut and their highly touted special sauce. There was no way one man could eat all that pork surely? I was totally impressed with his efforts but could see the relief on his face when our waiter offered him a doggy bag to take the left overs home.
Kristy ordered the slow roasted lamb shank, this was also a large serve with 400 grams of lamb, but her plate appeared pint-sized beneath the shadow of the pork knuckle. The meat collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was served with cranberry red cabbage and napkin dumplings.
Before we all slipped into a protein induced coma on the floor of the restaurant, we staggered up to the counter to split the bill before journeying home. But things were not end for the Boy and I so soon. As we slowly rolled down back William Street to our car with stomachs bursting at the seams we walked past the new Koko Black chocolate store. Before I could stop myself I was wandering around the store like a princess in a diamond store; eyes wide, hands waving about in excitement and thoughts of my meaty fullness cast far, far aside.
The Boy and I made a small selection of hand made chocolate truffles with the wise idea of having some for now and saving some for later. Of course when we pulled into our driveway at home there was not a single chocolate left. We will never learn!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid for her meal in full. This post was also published on the Eat Drink Perth 2015 website.
Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9321 6654 | www.brotzeit.co
Koko Black Perth City
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9226 3929 | www.kokoblack.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!
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.
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
A couple of months ago I attended a very motivating seminar by Darren Rowse the founder of Problogger. This was the first time he had come to Perth to share some of the secrets of his blogging successes. Having already attended two Eat Drink Blog conferences I was unsure what I could learn in one seminar yet I came away refreshed with loads of new ideas and approaches. I was joined by a number of familiar faces from the blogging community including one of my close friends Michelle from Foodie Cravings. After the seminar finished the two of us were keen to brainstorm a few ideas and the most logical way to inspire the two of us is with food. Wanting to go somewhere nearby I suggested we try Three Five Three in Wembley as I heard on the grapevine that they have free popcorn. And that is enough to draw my attention!
I was not to be disappointed. Every table was already adorned with a joyous bowl of freshly popped corn. I have a number of weaknesses and my addiction to popcorn is not something I hide very well. I have been known on countless occasions to eat whole bags in one sitting and I am on a first name basis with the gourmet popcorn company Hot Pot Popcorn purely because I buy it so often. Three Five Three’s popcorn was lightly salted without any fancy flavouring but this still hit the spot for me regardless. Especially when it’s for free.
The menu is very gluten free friendly with a number of options for both entrées and mains. Michelle is a very easy-going person to dine out with and she is always happy limit herself to the gluten free dishes so we can share. We started with the minted haloumi served with smoked chipotle and a zesty salsa. The haloumi slices were grilled lightly and squeaked delightfully with every bite.
Upon the chef’s recommendation we also tried the bruschetta made using gluten free corn bread that the chef had only just baked earlier that morning. I enjoyed the bread’s doughy texture however I am obviously quite accustomed to the ups and downs of gluten free bread. Michelle wasn’t as excited by the corn bread and was happy for me to finish the dish off.
Since the Boy moved to eating a plant-based diet I sometimes find myself craving protein when I’m out and about. For my main dish I ordered the Hideaway Bay Tasmanian salmon served lightly pan seared on top of a nicoise salad of potatoes, olives and green beans. A spoonful of uplifting fennel and lemon salsa further brightened this happy dish leaving me with a lovely clean feeling on my palate. My salmon steak was a rich dark pink colour on the inside resulting in a silky smooth texture.
Michelle ordered the chilli mussels which was served in a South-eastern Asian style as opposed to the usual tomato based sauce often used. A light coconut cream broth flavoured with lemongrass and chilli emitted beautiful fragrant aromas across the table. With a smile on her face I could see it was just what she needed.
I have some friends that can be overwhelmed by the amount of food I have a tendency to order in restaurants but thankfully Michelle is not one of them and like me she always has room for dessert. We shared the Leatherwood honey pannacotta served with blood orange lychee granita and tangy mandarin sherbet. I absolutely loved the added surprise of pop rocks, really I am just a big kid at heart.
As we both walked back to our cars I was gobsmacked to see how late it has become. Neither of us had stopped to take a breath for hours, with both of us alternating between talking at one hundred miles an hour and stuffing our faces. I love that we are always on the same page and I am certain it won’t be long before we do it again!Three Five Three 353 Cambridge Street, Wembley WA 6014 | (08) 9387 5252 | www.threefivethree.com.au
Prior to travelling up to the North West corner of Australia for the WA Signature Dish Gascoyne regional final, I wanted to touch base with the region’s designated chef Peter Manifis. Peter will be judging the four finalists in a cook off in order to select the winning dish that will represent the Gascoyne for the finale. He will then spend time closely with the regional winner mentoring and training them to give them the best chance at winning the competition.
Peter is the part owner and Executive chef for InContro, one of the fine dining local restaurants in my area. The restaurant is located on the South Perth Esplanade and overlooks the Swan River facing towards the Perth City skyline. It makes such a romantic spot for an evening meal offering uninterrupted views of the city lights twinkling away on the water. The Boy and I have celebrated many special occasions at InContro so I was excited when I found out that I was to be working with Peter. Upon meeting him I was inspired to see someone even more enthusiastic and energetic than I am. Those of you who have met me will know that this is really quite an achievement!
Whilst I understand that Chefs are often very busy people, I was grateful he took time out to have a chat with me and share some of his insights into our city’s food industry. We visited the restaurant on a sunny afternoon so we could kick back and enjoy an InContro seafood feast, something that they are very well known for here in Perth. Here’s what Peter had to say to me……
Peter, you are obviously a very passionate foodie, when and how did this love affair with food start?It all started with my grandparents owning fruit and vegetable shops in Perth when I was very young, food has always been in my blood. Moving on to my parents having fish and chip shops, a fish factory, processing plant and selling fish in my early years from age 2 – 15. I have grown up very involved in the food industry. Then of course I got my apprenticeship at the Loose Box.
You underwent your chef’s training at the highly acclaimed Loose Box under the guidance of Chef Alain Farbregues who is recognised as one of our city’s best French chefs. How has working with Alain influenced your career today?Working with Alain has had a great influence on my work and career. It has given me discipline, a good work ethic and enhanced my passion for food. Working under Alain gave me all round knowledge of the basics of the European style of cooking this then gives the grounds for everything else to follow. This is priceless.
Over the past few years we have seen Western Australia grow into a State of avid foodies with an abundance of fantastic new venues opening and food festivals being held all over the State. What excites you about the food scene here in Western Australia?The food scene here in Western Australia is fantastic and I was part of it before it started to get so fancy. It excites me to know that I stayed here in WA to help be a small part of what is such an amazing food industry we have today.
Your restaurant In Contro in South Perth has the reputation for being one of Perth’s top seafood restaurants with much of your produce sourced from our State’s North West. What are you favourite ingredients from the Gascoyne region and what makes it so special?My favourite ingredients are, Shark Bay wild prawns and Plantation vegetables. I am so passionate about this as I get to see the love people put into this produce and this reflects in what we get delivered to the restaurant. This is really special for me.
WA’s Signature Dish is an exciting competition hosted by Buy West Eat Best over the next few months. This competition is open to amateur cooks who love food and cooking but are not professional chefs. The aim is to find the ultimate recipe that puts our State on the plate. You have been chosen to be the mentor chef for the Gascoyne region’s finalist. What is your best advice for the four contestants attending the regional cook off held in Carnarvon next Monday?My advice is this, Regional produce! Use as much of it as you can and just keep it as simple as possible, let the produce speak for itself.
I hear you will be starring on the chef line up for this winter’s Truffle Kerfuffle Festival. I am a total truffle addict and have already booked up our weekend to be full of trufflicious indulgence. How will you be involved with this exciting event?I am also a massive truffle fan and always get involved with anything truffle. I am one of four chefs who will have truffle potato stand. We are cooking two major dinners for over 200 guests cooking a selection of canapés and protein and celebrating the produce with truffle.
Finally, I have dined in your restaurant many times over the years and always found your staff to be very helpful with respect to my gluten intolerance. Do you have any family members with food allergies or intolerances?None of my family members have any allergies or intolerances, however, I do have staff members and customers who do. I also find that as I work on the restaurant floor as well as the kitchen I understand and appreciate people’s requirements and feel they deserve food which is just as varied and exciting as for people who can eat everything. This is why I try to be innovative and always create new and exciting dishes to accommodate everyone. Chompchomp is the official blogger for the Buy West Eat Best WA Signature Dish Competition. Disclaimer: Chef Peter Manifis kindly offered the above meal for us at InContro for a discounted rate. Thank you Peter, we were not expecting such generosity. In Contro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WA 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au
There are so many fantastic foodie events on around the City of Perth for the month of April as part of their Eat Drink Perth Festival. Many of the degustations and roving dinners start at over $150 per person and some are up over $200. For those that have money to burn on these events I can highly recommend heading to a few as they are well worth the expense. However I realise that this is not possible for everyone’s budget so I have tried to recreate the roving dinner experience using a collection of vouchers from the Eat Drink Perth Passport. The Eat Drink Perth Passport is a booklet containing a number of discount vouchers for use at venues located around the City.
My dear friend Tara and I managed to enjoy an extended four course lunch covering four different locations in the city for the grand total of $164.50 for two people including drinks. Yes, that is for two people! It works out to be close to half the price of the ticketed events. We called it our “DIY Roving Lunch” and I can highly recommend giving the concept a go before the Passport vouchers run out at the end of the month.
To set myself in the mood and to give me the freedom to enjoy a few drinks I decided to walk into the city from my house in Vic Park. It works out to be about a 90 minute stroll which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem however I foolishly didn’t check the forecast before heading out on foot. By the time I was halfway there I was sweltering. At this point I checked my phone to see that the day was well on its way to hitting a maximum of about 35 C.
By the time I arrived at our first checkpoint The Terrace Hotel, my face was as red as a beetroot and in no way was I looking glamorous enough for a ladies lunch. The Terrace was nearly fully booked and I was lucky to get us a table.
Within minutes of being seated we were given some complimentary bread; normal baguette for Tara and gluten free toasted bread for myself. We both ordered a glass of Madame Coco sparkling wine from the Aude Valley in France ($11 each).
Our voucher for The Terrace Hotel allowed us to buy one main meal off the à la carte menu and get the second one for free. We weren’t ready to launch into a main course immediately so we started with an entrée to share while we enjoyed our complimentary bread. The menu has a number of dishes marked gluten free however our waitress told us some of the other dishes can also be adapted.
We started with the seared scallops on a disc of richly flavoured Linley Valley pressed pork and scattered with capers and watercress. I was informed that the watercress is hand-picked from the chef’s own garden! On reflection at the end of the day, this scallop dish ended up being the highlight for both of us. The blend of soft scallop, creamy cauliflower purée, salty pork and peppery watercress balanced beautifully and it was presented immaculately. Each scallop was fresh, plump and tender and required very little effort to chew.
A number of the mains could be adapted to be gluten free however I wanted to choose the dish that required minimal alterations. Our waitress recommended the Cone Bay barramundi served with crispy skin and grilled to a buttery soft texture. Having first tried this top class barramundi at Eat Drink Perth’s launch party I knew I was in for special treat. The flesh is quite unlike your standard barramundi, with a soft clean finish.
The side dish that accompanied my fish included a baby Exmouth octopus and fennel salad, a half-cob of charred corn and a saffron poached prawn. An interesting combination but it worked. Being the WA Signature Dish official blogger for the Gascoyne region I felt proud to do my duty and have ingredients in my dish that came from the North West of our State.
Tara ordered the Amelia Park beef cheek. A thick nub of meat that had been slow cooked for 12 hours to the point it literally disintegrated under her fork. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my fish I cannot deny I was in envy of that luscious looking chunk of beef.
Her beef was served with some porcini gnocchi that were curiously deep-fried. Tara described them as a crispy skinned, porcini potato croquette and despite not being a traditional way to serve gnocchi she still enjoyed them. To add to more lovely earthy mushroominess, the gnocchi sat on a bed of sautéed oyster, Portebello and button mushrooms.
Despite a very attractive looking dessert menu at The Terrace, we paid our bill and moved onto our next venue; Cheeky Sparrow in Wolf Lane. Wolf Lane has come alive over the past twelve months with a number of great little eateries well worth checking out. I love the feel of being tucked away down a little laneway, it brings up memories of our time living in London where around every nook and cranny you find activity and life.
Cheeky Sparrow’s Eat Drink Perth Passport voucher offers a WA cheeseboard paired with a bottle of either Xabregas Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz for a total of $55. They have gluten free bread available too. The platter contained three Australian cheeses; Tarago River Shadows of Blue, Woodside Charleston Jersey Brie and Old Telegraph Road Mt Baw Baw Gouda.
Alongside the cheese was some Cabernet paste, an oozylicious hunk of raw honeycomb and a very generous mound of toasted gluten free bread. For those with fructose malabsorption, please avoid eating the amazing looking raw honey comb. We are not supposed to eat honey as it is high in fructose.
Our third stop was The Stables Bar for dessert. They offer a dessert tasting platter with the chef’s selection of three desserts for $18. This platter can be adapted to be gluten free.
The first dessert was a deconstructed wagon wheel with a combination of marshmallow, rich dark chocolate ice cream and a sweet raspberry sorbet.
The second component was an Eton mess with tumbles of fresh peaches and plums with meringue and apricot crisps.
The third element was a fluffy light passionfruit and cardamom cream mousse served with passionfruit jelly and a cup of pistachio mango lassi. The lassi was a little overly sour for my liking but I realise that is how they are meant to taste. I only had a small sip anyway as I cannot tolerate mango due to fructose. It was served with a gluten free hazelnut and pistachio biscotti.
Our final stop was for petit fours in the form of a macaron. Jean Pierre Sancho have a buy one get one free voucher in the Passport for their popcorn macaron flavour. With subtle hints of popcorn and a sweet macaron finish this was the perfect finale I needed before braving the sun for the long, slow walk home. By the time I hit the South Perth foreshore I gave up and was thankful that my loving husband empathised and came to pick me up to drive me the rest of the way home.For our DIY Roving Lunch we used the following Eat Drink Perth Passport vouchers: The Terrace Hotel: Buy one main meal and get one main meal free from the a la carte menu for lunch or dinner. Cheeky Sparrow: WA Cheese platter and bottle of Xabregas wine for $55, gluten free bread on request. The Stables Bar: Dessert tasting platter for $18, gluten free option available on request. Jean Pierre Sancho: Buy one popcorn macaron get one free for $2.50. Disclaimer: This roving lunch was funded for by the City of Perth as part of the Eat Drink Perth festival. The individual venues did not receive advance notice of my arrival. Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and runs for the whole month of April 2014. For more information head to the Eat Drink Perth website. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au Cheeky Sparrow 1/317 Murray St, Perth WA 6000 (entry off Wolf Lane) | 0405 550 286 | www.cheekysparrow.com.au www.thestablesbar.com.au Jean Pierre Sancho 878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au
One of the perks of being a food blogger is that we often receive invitations to attend various foodie events and launch parties. Free food and booze is enough to put a smile on anyone’s dial however sometimes there can be very few gluten free options for me to eat and it just ends up being one big tease. If it’s a high-profile cocktail style event I have occasionally omitted telling the organisers that I’m gluten free to avoid making a fuss. This brazen approach has sometimes worked and sometimes not. At the Taste Great Southern Launch Party my strategy was a complete fail. For the entire event I proceeded to be tortured by multitude of amazing dishes coming out of the kitchen and yet I couldn’t eat a single one. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Fuss or no fuss I need to eat!
The only thing I could eat were the natural oysters shucked fresh by Carl Thee Shucker. I positioned myself right up next to Carl and greedily gobbled them as he shucked them but unfortunately they ran out quite early in the night. Luck was surely not on my feasting side that night. By the end of the party I had drunk a disproportionate amount of wine to food and was in urgent need of a decent feed. We were just around the corner from Bivouac Canteen so thankfully I didn’t have to stagger too far. After a short wait we were seated at our table at which point I could I swear I could have nearly eaten my own arm I was THAT hungry.
Our waitress was absolutely gorgeous and helped me through my desperate state to see what could be done gluten free. She came up with a variety of options and due to my urgent hunger I pretty much ordered them all. Being a little obsessive with crispy skinned fish this was my immediate first choice. The barramundi had a buttery smooth texture underlying a crunchy, wafer thin layer of seared crispy skin. It was served with a salty, samphire citrus sauce. Alongside the fish was a currant, pine nut, feta and rocket salad with bright little pomegranate seeds dotted in for some tarty sweetness.
The baby carrots were firm enough to pick up whole yet soft enough to cut with a fork. They felt oddly decadent smothered with rich almond cream and a hint of spicy harissa. I never knew carrots had so much potential!
Amazingly the fried local whitebait with tahini yoghurt could be served gluten free. I rarely have such an opportunity to eat these little guys as they are usually dusted in wheat flour but this time round there was no holding me back. I relished in eating them head and all for the full flavour punch.
As my raging hunger took some time to settle down I realised that I was the one doing most of the eating as the Boy was already quite full from all the canapés served at the launch party earlier. In a moment of self-control I thought it a wise idea to order a salad to fill me up as our final choice. But I cheated a little, I mean who can go past a grilled haloumi salad? I’m sure it has elements of healthy in it, right? It was tossed in with watermelon, mint, pistachio and green olives. The spritzy orange blossom and fennel dressing left a light and refreshing taste on the palate convincing me that I had been good enough to justify ordering some dessert.
I ordered the peach and lavender fool without really knowing what sort of dessert a “fool” was but I love trying new things and it was one of the few gluten free options. I also asked for some Turkish delight on the side to which the Boy retorted “What do you want THAT for?” Turkish delight is something I detested for years until recently when I received some for the Sweet Swap and now I am totally converted. Pillows of firm jelly dusted with powder puffs of icing sugar left gentle scents of rosewater and orange on my satisfied taste-buds.
A “fool” turns out to be type of English dessert made by folding stewed fruit into whipped cream or custard. Bivouac used honeycomb yoghurt to mix in with the fruit and generously drizzled the lot with dark ruby red berry coulis. Shard of honey comb and sprinkles of lavender completed this creation but I confess it was all bit too much dairy for me. The Boy on the other hand was completely smitten and happily finished it off with a contented smile on his face.
I loved Bivouac’s spunk and groove; it typifies just how cool Northbridge is becoming. It is no longer the roughened playground of hardened partygoers but has a number of snappy eateries with their fingers firmly on the pulse. I can guarantee this is one place we will definitely be returning to.This is not a sponsored meal and Chompchomp paid for this meal in full. Bivouac 198 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9227 0883 | bivouac.com.au Price: $$ (Share plates $7-34, Pizzas $23-26 (not GF) ) Food: 4/5 (share plates of simple concepts with an interesting twist) Service: 4/5 (quick on their feet with hipster humour and smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (happening, busy and loud) Drinks: 4 /5 (excellent interesting choice of regional Aussie and Internationals) Total: 15.5 /20
We had only been back in Perth from our tropical holiday in Vietnam for 24 hours and yet we were at it again. Eating. Although we covered a fair bit of ground exploring Vietnam and seeing all the sights, the thing that we did most was eat food. All the food. We both have a shared habit of overeating whilst on holidays and this holiday won hands down for being the feast of the century. Consequently, on our journey homeward there was a lot of talk between us about juice fasts, diets and eating a lot less in general. But old habits die-hard and after running around on some errands in City we found ourselves at The Heritage for a late afternoon lunch.
I am a girl who loves her French champagne however I could hardly say that Moet is my favourite. In fact, I have been known on occasion after drinking a glass or two of a more refined champagne to bad mouth it. The Heritage serve glasses of Moet priced at a very drinkable $15 a glass so despite my tendency to champagne snobbery I could hardly say no. We paired it with a dozen freshly shucked oysters from Frankland Harbour in South Australia. Served perfectly with wedges of fresh lemon and Tabasco sauce, each mouthful slipped down our gullet leaving us with a breath of fresh sea air.
I was craving salad like a health freak and consequently got a bit over excited ordering us a couple of options. Considering the serving size they were all very decently priced ranging from $9-17. The green salad came with plump grilled mushrooms, avocado and asparagus and although it wasn’t much to look at it hit the spot for me. Fresh herbs such as mint and parsley were generously tossed through giving considerable flavour. When placing our order I forgot to mention to our waitress that I cannot eat onion but the pieces were large enough for me to pick out.
The richly coloured salmon was cured in-house with sugar, salt and spices before being smoked with hickory chips giving a buttery smooth texture and subtle sweet, smoky after-taste. It was perched atop of slice of sweet watermelon and dotted with salmon roe, microherbs and watermelon foam.
Initially we had good intentions to exhibit portion control and planned to just order ourselves a couple of light dishes however our holiday binge eating had effectively stretched the size of our stomachs and our waistlines. This meant that after finishing off our oysters, the salmon and all the salads we were still left wanting more.
Another round of champagne seemed like a wise idea and so to go with our drinks we ordered the somewhat healthy “Grand Platter” which comes with four oysters, four scallops and four prawns to share along with some dipping sauces and seaweed salad. I was informed that the sauces were all gluten free but the seaweed salad was not.
The prawns were small, brightly coloured and crunchy fresh. One of our tests to assess the freshness of a prawn is to suck out the head. A prawn head from a super fresh specimen is an absolute culinary delight; do not knock it until you have tried it. Do however make sure you avoid trying this with a not-so-fresh critter as you will be unlikely to want to attempt it again.
Having dessert at the end of a meal is another hard habit to break and I blame my Mum for inheriting her sweet tooth. I struggle to finish a meal on a savoury note and this was no exception. After a small amount of to-ing and fro-ing by our waitress to the kitchen to determine what desserts were gluten free, I was advised to order the crème brûlée.
Crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts and I’m so lucky that it is usually gluten free. The Heritage’s version is a reasonable sized serve and could have easily been shared between the two of us. The custard was set beautifully and ended with a creamy finish.
The Boy predictably chose the selection of house made sorbets and ice cream for his dessert. He is never really a dessert person unless it’s ice cream. Or so he keeps telling me. That didn’t seem to stop him from helping finish off my overly generous serve of luscious brûlée.
The Heritage is a lovely mix of the formality and classiness characteristic of their neighbours Print Hall and The Trustee with a more casual styled and priced menu. Their fresh faced staff are enthusiastic and helpful and I look forward to returning.For the 2014 Eat Drink Perth Festival, The Heritage will be holding a Wine Maker’s Dinner with food matched with Champagne from Piper & Charles Heidsieck on Tuesday 8th April 2014 at 6.30pm. Price is $149 per person for a three course dinner with matched champagne. Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This meal at The Heritage is not sponsored and I paid for it in full. www.theheritageperth.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $15-36, Mains $29-41) Food: 3.5/5 (classic and comforting European dishes with a modern twist) Service: 4/5 (very attentive and welcoming) Ambience: 4/5 (classy, classic and with character) Drinks: 4/5 (number of very affordable Australian & French wines ) Total: 15.5 /20
My father-in-law’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it an occasion that is usually celebrated in a very relaxed style at their home. This year we were unable to attend the family gathering and proposed to take them out for lunch instead with just the four of us. Predictably for the time of year in Perth, the weather was absolutely glorious so I convinced everyone to head to the coast and meet at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe.
The beach in Cottesloe is something to be proud of and in my humble opinion has to be one of the prettiest beaches in our state. The sky was as blue as the clear waters below it and the white expanses of sand were splashed with bright colours of beach towels and bikini clad sunbakers. There are people around the world who pay to go on holiday to be able visit locations like this and here we have it on our back door step. You cannot help but love Perth.
Il Lido is built in a 1935 heritage building and back in the 1940’s this site housed Lido Cabaret, which was the old-time equivalent to our modern day nightclub. Much of the interior has been kept intact with decorative high ceilings and windows facing out onto the beach. Il Lido has been on my ever growing wishlist of places to eat for some time having already been to both of their sister restaurants Duende and Gordon Street Garage a number of times.
Most of the small plates were already gluten free or were easily adaptable so we started off with a number of them to share before moving onto something more substantial. I have always been a huge lover of oysters as many of you may have noticed. Despite having tried them prepared countless different ways, until recently my favourite style has be “au natural”. That was until I tried Lalla Rookh’s incredible freshly shucked oysters with cucumber chilli granita. The combination of fresh saltiness and sweet iciness ending in a gentle spicy kick was more than just intriguing.
So when I saw something that sounded very similar on Il Lido’s menu I got quite excited. I should have however ordered them with no expectations because these oysters came with just a teeny dollop of melted sorbet not a shell full like I was expecting. Although the oysters were delightfully fresh, having such a small amount of sorbet made them lacklustre by comparison.
It must have been the day for carpaccio because I found myself unable to decide between the tuna and the beef. My solution was to simply order one of each. The tuna carpaccio was a complete hit. The dish was literally as pretty as a picture; chewy pieces of candied chilli, torn fresh orange and olives were scattered on top of thinly sliced fish. Each piece of tuna dissolved on the tongue leaving a surprisingly complex array of flavours on the palate.
The beef carpaccio was just as tender and was served with generous shavings of truffle sottocenere cheese along with lavish smears of horseradish cream. Each mouthful was as soft as silk and resulted in a brief period of silence across the table while we all gustated in pleasure.
I mean, who can say no to truffle cheese?
Our last starter of scallops had to be slightly adapted to be gluten free by omission of the “crumbs”. Plump scallops were hidden under piles of freshly tossed beans and greens. Whilst not the biggest scallops in town, each mouthful was browned to a warm caramel colour yet remained juicy and soft.
My father-in-law ordered himself the lamb cutlets for his celebratory birthday meal. The two meaty lamb chops came with light salad of fresh figs, spinach, basil, goats cheese and pine nuts all tossed enthusiastically to coat each component in tangy, creamy cheesiness.
My mother-in-law opted for a lighter meal, choosing the poached chicken salad with peaches, prosciutto, almonds and goats cheese. Her plate was piled high and ended up being a bigger serve than she had anticipated. I love how each of their salads came with a mix of seasonal fresh fruit and goats cheese, such a lovely combination to have on a hot summers day.
The Boy ordered the beetroot and goats cheese crespelle. Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes, can be served as a savoury or sweet dish and are usually made using small sized pancakes folded with a sauce filling. By the time I had taken shots of his parent’s meals he was starting to get impatient giving me not much more than a millisecond to capture its vibrant colours.
I was in the same boat as my MIL and craved a light and healthy salad. I always eat way too much over Christmas and by the time New Year’s approaches I’m actually ready for a break! I chose the hickory smoked salmon with avocado, green beans and a yoghurt dressing. My helping was also generous with all the ingredients tumbled together evenly. I hate salads where the key ingredients are just dumped on top of the greens; everything needs to be tossed through!
My husband’s family are usually big eaters especially the men. It’s those long Dutch legs that need that extra filling up! I didn’t anticipate our big servings and ordered a couple of sides; crisp potato skins with paprika salt, aioli and a rocket, pear and parmesan salad. The potato skins are worth returning back for. Slightly spicy, super crunchy with just a hint of soft potato flesh these little numbers didn’t last long.
There were a couple of dessert choices that were gluten free including the pineapple upside down cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Having four mouths to feed on the table allowed me to order one of each knowing anything I couldn’t eat would still get eaten.
The pineapple cake was very moist and accompanied some poached pineapple and extra virgin olive oil ice cream that is made in house. The extra virgin flavour in the ice cream was not too over powering to be unpleasant and gave a pleasant fruity end to the tongue.
The Boy gobbled up a substantial part of his cake before I could get a fork in edgewise which generally is a good sign coming from someone who claims to not like desserts. The tall disc of cake came in a puddle of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces with honeycomb ice cream. I had a couple of mouthfuls and thought it was a little dry for my liking.
As both the Boy and I tend to work long hours, it isn’t often that we get to spoil either of our parents and it was totally worth it to see the beaming faces at the end of it all. To help all the food excesses digest we took a relaxing stroll along the coastline together and longed for the day to never end.
Il Lido was even better than we expected given our excellent experiences at Duende and variable meals at Gordon Street Garage. They have successfully emulated a casual beach side vibe yet serve stunning Italian “peasant” food that left the in-laws very impressed. I can guarantee we will be back.Il Lido Italian Canteen 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, WA 6011 | (08) 9286 1111 | illido.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-20, Mains $28-42) Food: 4.5/5 (focuses on simple Italian dishes with local, seasonal produce) Service: 4/5 (helpful with allergy choices, accommodating with alterations, full of smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but that is part of the atmosphere, indoor and outdoor options) Drinks: 4/5 (comprehensive wine list with many interesting Italian and Aussie options to suit all prices) Total: 16/20
The latter half of last year was emotionally and physically draining for me due to some major, yet to be resolved issues at my work. It is hard to believe that this year of rock bottom lows also contains what was undoubtedly THE best day of my life; my wedding day! I’ve resigned myself to accept that such extremes of ups and downs were simply what 2013 had in store for me. Such is life as they say.
In the lead up to Christmas our workload began to increase rapidly and with everything else that was going on around me I could feel myself close to a burnout. I took a proactive approach and booked a week of leave at the last minute to divert a mental disaster. During this week off I was invited to attend a Royal Canin seminar for a veterinary talk held at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Seeing as I didn’t have to work the next day I decided to catch a cab into the city so I could enjoy a few drinks courtesy of Royal Canin. When I let the Boy know of my plans, he kindly offered to drive me there instead and so we headed in a bit earlier to grab a bite to eat together.
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House is only a couple of blocks walk away from the Pan Pacific and has been on my wish list for ages. The Head Chef Joel Valvasori and I follow each other on Twitter and Instagram and I have already suffered several episodes of food envy from looking at his drool worthy food photos.
We entered Lalla Rookh via their side entrance through the wine store which I initially thought was actually the whole restaurant. As we continued to walk through to the bar area I was surprised at each turn how big the place is. Their venue spans over multiple different areas including an open bar area, a lounge area, a sun lit courtyard and a more romantic, formal dining room. They serve an all-day menu which is a useful fact to know if you happen to be hungry and stuck in the city in that in-between time after lunch and before dinner.
We were on a strict short time frame with less than an hour to order, eat and be on our way. Their menu was filled with loads of gluten free options including pizza so I was spoilt for choice. When I placed our order I informed our waitress we only had limited time and she was very accommodating with this. We ordered a collection of little share dishes starting off with the freshly shucked oysters. I am usually a traditionalist when it comes to my oysters; they just need to be super fresh, natural and naked with just a squeeze of lime. Each of these oysters were topped with some icy cold cucumber chilli granita and salmon roe but even to my critical, purist tastebuds this combination was a delight.
A hint of sweet, a hint of spice and a mouthful of creamy fresh oysterness. Perfection.
I was literally gobsmacked to see that all their pizzas were gluten free. There wasn’t just a gluten free OPTION; the Chef decided boldly that ALL the pizzas would be available as either standard or gluten free. I LOVE this guy! I figured it would be totally negligent of me to not order one to try. Simple but tasty our pizza was topped with tomato sugo, olives, Sicilian anchovies and blobs of luscious melted fior de latte, a type of fresh mozzarella. The base wasn’t doughy tasting and held its form until the last bite.
To balance out the less healthy option of pizza I made the token gesture of ordering us some salad. We are still in asparagus season here in Perth and whilst I cannot go nuts on this vegetable due to its moderate fructans content, I find I can tolerate a small amount without any issues. The asparagus spears were soft without being soggy and served with a softly boiled egg and shavings of Trentingrana which is a hard Italian cheese similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Our final and relatively random choice was the baked fior de latte stuffed lemons with Sicilian anchovies. The obvious way to eat these lemons was to squeeze the ooey-gooey cheesy stuffing out with our teeth and leave the rind. For some reason however, I blame it on my foggy state of mind, I decided to try eating them whole including the rind and skin. The Boy looked on in surprise and found my resulting facial expressions somewhat entertaining. Although quite chewy, I strangely enough didn’t actually mind eating the entire thing although I doubt I could eat my way through two.
As I quickly looked at the clock I estimated we just had enough time (and room) to fit in dessert. There were a couple of gluten free options but the pannacotta vera with roasted cocoa and walnut crumble got my attention. Perfectly jiggly and smooth, this traditional Italian dessert was executed in its true glory. The sugar kick snapped me out of my depressive slumber for long enough to be chaperoned by the Boy on my power walk down to the Hotel for my seminar.
We were both left pleasantly surprised with our experience at Lalla Rookh. Having only got to try a few of their share dishes, my interest for them has definitely strengthened and I look forward to returning for a more formal meal in the future.Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 7077 | www.lallarookh.com.au Price: $$ (Small bites $4-16, Mains $25-38) Food: 4/5 (well versed in gluten free, could consider sourcing GF bread) Service: 4/5 (quick, efficient and super friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (pick your own ambience! There is an area for everyone!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (some interesting Australian and International wines by the glass or bottle) Total: 16.5/20
Tomato bread, or as it is said in Spanish “pan con tomate” is one of the simplest but most well-loved and widely eaten dishes from the Cataluña region in the Northern parts of Spain. During my recent travels to Barcelona I found that many tapas bars would actually have bowls of tomatoes and garlic sitting out on their tables with a bottle of olive oil. As their customers took their seats, waiters would bring out freshly toasted bread to the table enabling the diners to make the bread for themselves. Unfortunately for me I found that not many of these bars offered gluten free bread thus leaving me to watch others enjoy the tomato bread in envy. Consequently upon my return to Perth I was inspired to make my own gluten free tomato bread.
Just a word of warning. This gluten free tomato bread is so easy to make yet it is incredible addictive.
I dare you to stop at just one slice.
Firstly gather your ingredients; all you will need is some gluten free bread, ripe tomatoes, fresh garlic, olive oil and sea salt. I used Schar’s Pane Casereccio which has a great continental texture and toasts beautifully.
Cut a garlic clove in half and rub the cut side onto the slice of toasted bread until the clove is worn down and falling to pieces.
Slice a ripe tomato in half and then rub the cut side of the tomato generously onto the toast.
Use one tomato half for one to two pieces of bread and allow most of the tomato pulp to be absorbed by the bread.
Drizzle with olive oil, salt to taste and voila! Gluten free tomato bread! Eat immediately!
A little shout out of thank to my dear husband for being my hand model. 😉 xxx
For those of you living in Perth, think back to what it used to be like on a weeknight in our City five years ago. Once the day ended and the clock hit five, all the bustling daytime cafes and bars would shut and everyone would head straight home. Before long the streets of our capital would be stark empty and it was like you were standing in a ghost town. A rapidly growing city with a population of over one million people and yet we turned our backs on our own city centre!? Thankfully things didn’t stay that way forever and after some government incentives like the new small bars laws and the construction of flashy inner city apartment blocks; little sparks of life started popping up everywhere throughout the city. This energy has now burst into full flame and the memory of Perth’s once deserted streets is just an embarrassment of the past.
One of the most exciting new developments in the city is Brookfield Place situated on St Georges Terrace. This complex is based around the BHP skyscraper and is an entertainment hub filled with high end restaurants and bars. Print Hall is one of the more sophisticated new eating locations within the complex and is housed in the beautiful heritage listed Newspaper House. Print Hall recently won six awards at the Australian Hotels Association Western Australia Hospitality Awards for Excellence and has also received one star in the 2014 Good Food Guide. The kitchen team is led by David Coomer of iconic Star Anise fame and Executive chef Shane Watson and these talented guys are very focused on using Western Australian produce to serve European influenced dishes.
My first visit to Print Hall was earlier in the year when we stopped for a couple of quick drinks before seeing David Attenborough’s live show at the Perth Convention Centre. Immediately upon entering the bar I was wowed by its opulence and sense of grandeur; it is massive by Perth standards. Situated at one end of the luxurious bar is a permanent oyster bar manned by the lovely Jerry Fraser who is also known as the “King of Oysters”. Jerry is there nearly every day freshly shucking oysters on demand for hungry diners in addition to serving a variety of super fresh local seafood. On this night however we missed out on meeting the man himself and got his more than competent side kick Tony.
Like moths attracted to a bright light the Boy and I gravitated over to the neon “Jerry’s Oysters” sign and sat ourselves in front of Tony at the bar. Looking at my clock I saw we had exactly one hour until the show began and ambitiously ordered the biggest and most expensive seafood platter to share; “The Print Hall”. The Boy gave me a bit of a high brow look but didn’t make any attempts to stop me ordering it.
Tony assured us he would have our platter ready for us in a jiffy and made quick work preparing everything giving us plenty of time to make a total mess of ourselves as we devoured it.
Our enormous platter was piled high with all the delights of the sea including a full Western rock lobster, Blue Ridge marron, Blue Manna crab, Tiger prawns, mussels, cambinata yabbies and oysters. Nothing beats the taste of freshly shucked oysters in my humble opinion; I can eat them by the dozen. These combined with nearly every other tasty crustacean from the sea it was enough to send us both into a dizzy head spin. It was a fabulous experience and worth every single cent.
After our brief but awesome experience at Print Hall Bar, I was very eager to return. My Dad and Stepmum are two very well-travelled foodies who live in the heart of Melbourne just off Flinders Lane where they are surrounded by the City’s top end restaurants. I knew they would be hard to impress so when they came over for a whirlwind business trip to Perth I took a punt and booked a table in the Print Hall Dining Room.
We started the night off with a round of cocktails upstairs in the Apple Daily Bar overlooking Print Hall’s long bar. Dad and the Boy both ordered the daily special cocktail which was made with apple and rosemary. Not really the Boy’s thing however as you may know he is a purist strawberry daiquiri fan. This drink wasn’t pink enough for him!
I ordered the White Lady Boy made with white spirits, yuzu and ginger. It was topped with pretty little flowers and was fresh, light and far too easy to knock back. I could have gulped another down if it wasn’t a work night! My Stepmum ordered Milk of the Poppy with pandan, mandarin and coconut and her drink tasted like an alcoholic version of something you get off the dessert tray at Dim sum. Just minus the cubes and balls.
After our drinks we were escorted back downstairs to the Print Hall Dining Room. My heart sunk a little as I looked around and saw the dim level of ambient lighting as I knew my photography skills were in for a test. Not to worry, I’m always up for a challenge and what better way to create a beautiful mood than to turn the lights down real low?
After listening to our waitress give us a very polished but somewhat lengthy description of the three champagnes served by the glass, she brought our complementary amuse bouche to the table. A curious zesty tasting disc of fresh cheese made from a mixture of mascarpone, cream, feta and yoghurt and garnished with dried black olives, roasted parmesan, dill pollen and some fresh dill. It was so soft that it begun to melt sumptuously on the plate.
To scoop the cheese up we were given an enormous cracker that looks like something from another planet. It was gluten free and made from potato, tapioca and brown rice flours. It had a similar texture to a prawn cracker being light and easy to start. It was fun passing it around taking turns to snap off a piece.
We chose to have the four course meal option for $110 per person as there was something on the menu for everyone including both vegetarian and gluten free options. To start off with Dad and I chose the Blue Manna crab with curried egg, cucumber and avruga caviar. The crab was so sweet it was almost like eating dessert and the addition of the avruga gave it a wonderful salty finish. My gluten free version omitted the crisp bread however my dish didn’t feel unfinished without it. Our waitress gave me another giant sized cracker in case I wanted that textural crunchy component.
The Boy and my Step mum chose the tartare of Point Samson scampi. It came with a flavoursome carrot, ginger and orange puree and tiny slivers of seaweed and micro herbs.
The Boy chose the vegetarian option of wood grilled black salsify for his second course option. Black salsify is a root vegetable that belongs to the dandelion family and is also known as the oyster plant because it has an oyster like taste when it is cooked. It is considered to be very nutritious containing proteins, fats, essential amino acids, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, E and C. It was served with brilliant green kale, hot smoked ricotta and meaty oyster mushrooms.
The remainder of us chose the roasted pigeon breast for our second course. The pigeon was cured in gin, juniper and sage and then roasted to a luscious ruby red rare. To further enhance the rich colours and flavours, a chunk of creamy rare seared chicken liver was buried in amongst the tender breast along with sweet pickled and pureed beetroot.
Some slightly bitter cooked radicchio leaves were also tossed in there giving a wonderfully diverse tickle to my taste-buds. As I savoured every twist and turn of this dish’s elements I looked up to see both my Dad and Stepmum’s facial expressions indicating they were doing the same!
The main course fish of the day was Red Emperor and have to I apologise to you my dear readers as you will only get to see and hear about one main dish despite there being a number of other beautiful options on the menu. It is a rare occasion that I dine out with my family and we all order the same thing but we did this time round. When I first moved out of home at the tender age of seventeen, the first whole fish I ever attempted to cook was an enormous Red Emperor. It barely fit into my oven and my fellow flat mates looked on with suspicion and doubt. Thankfully the fish turned out perfectly, I proved them all wrong and my love for this fish has stayed ever since. Print Hall did not disappoint and I was served an exquisitely cooked thick wedge of juicy fish topped on a neat pile of wood grilled mussels and squid. Brightly coloured and aromatic sofrito introduced a bit of a South American feel to this dish and it was so good I nearly wanted to lick my plate clean.
To accompany our mains a side serve of salad and a bowl of duck fat potatoes were brought to the table. Now if you bear in mind that my Stepmum has a well-known reputation amongst both friends and family for making the best duck fat potatoes these potatoes were up for some scrutiny. Thankfully they were damn good and although my Stepmum’s are definitely better, it was a pretty close call!
For dessert the Boy ordered the pumpkin pie with pepita sponge and maple ice cream. Not being a much of a sweet tooth, he isn’t really one to get into the whole concept of de-constructed desserts and I guarantee the only reason he chose this was because it said maple ice cream on the menu. He is very easily pleased for his sweets; give him ice cream and it will satisfy him every time.
For my dessert our waitress recommended for me to have the Valrhona chocolate mousse as she felt this was the best gluten free option to have. It sounded nothing short of amazing; Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut, single origin coffee crème and milk sorbet. I have to say however, after enjoying a succession of very impressive courses, my dessert actually left me feeling somewhat under-whelmed. Even my chocoholic Stepmum agreed with me that it wasn’t that exciting. Please don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it; it just didn’t feel special like everything else did. After all our other dishes totally exceeded our expectations it was a shame to end the night on a bit of a fizzer.
Overall we were both very impressed on each of our evenings at Print Hall . These guys have nailed all the essential key elements for success; polished, knowledgeable service, interesting and creative food with fresh locally sourced produce where possible and an ambience that makes you feel like you are dining somewhere quite special. I look forward to returning but maybe I will go for lunch next time so that I can actually take some decent photos of their beautiful food!Apple Daily Bar & Eating House 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0088 Print Hall Bar and Dining Room 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0000 | www.printhall.com.au Price: $$$$ (2 courses $70, 3 courses $90, 4 courses $110, dego $150)) Food: 4.5/5 (creative but with classic elements) Service: 5/5 (faultless) Ambience: 4.5/5 (very romantic and opulent, just not great for a food blogger’s photos!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive wine list, thank god Da chose because I got lost in it all) Total: 18.5/20
People come and go in your life; sometimes through your own choosing and sometimes due to circumstances out of your control. Their departure can often be filled with all sorts of mixed emotions but when you know that their decision is a good one for them personally it makes saying goodbye so much easier. We recently bade goodbye to a dear friend and colleague who is entering a new chapter in their life; one that I’m certain will give them the security and happiness they deserve. To bid him farewell, we dined at the Kailis Bros Fish Café, Leederville for a simple, fresh seafood meal.
I had spent the earlier part of the day at Feral Brewery for lunch for a friend’s baby shower and was grateful there were many light options on the menu. I was informed that many of the dishes could be adapted to be gluten free as they only involved simple ingredients while relying on the freshness of the seafood to take centre stage.
For entrée I started with the herb and garlic crusted scallops with fresh chill. Kailis’s Bros support sourcing local produce and their scallops are West Australian, from either up North in Carnarvon or from the icy water of Esperance depending on the time of year. Each lightly browned scallop was a delicate, tender pillow of flavour and my notion that I was too full from my lunch passed from my consciousness as I plopped each morsel into my mouth in quick succession. The Boy made a little underhanded comment at my speed of eating which I can only presume meant he wished that I saved him one! His consolation prize was getting to mop up the remaining garlic juices on my plate with his garlic bread instead.
The Boy couldn’t see any vegetarian meals on the menu and so he reluctantly ordered the octopus “a la grec”. For this dish the octopus is carefully simmered in red wine and then grilled. Having recently been very spoilt with some mind blowing “pulpo” in Barcelona I was interested to see how Kailis’s version matched up. After just one mouthful I was left wishing I had ordered this dish instead of my scallops. There was no chewiness or rubbery texture; each piece was as soft and as tender as I recall it being in Spain.
Our guest of honour ordered the grilled New Zealand flounder which he explained was a common dish he ate during his childhood. Having not eaten it in decades he took a bit of a gamble trying to rehash an old school favourite but thankfully he was not disappointed. The fish was served whole with a “latho lemano” dressing which is a traditional Greek baste made with lemon juice, olive oil, wild Greek oregano and a dash of fresh ground black pepper. The meat flaked away off the bone easily and despite this fish’s huge size our friend managed to slowly but deliberately work his way through the lot.
For my main I both ordered the pan seared Tasmanian salmon with a sweet & sour tamarind glaze, sautéed baby corn and bok choy. I was impressed to see the kitchen staff take gluten contamination seriously and ensured my fish was grilled on a separate fresh grill. Not all eating establishments have this level of understanding for what is needed to ensure there is no gluten in their food. The salmon skin was super crispy whilst the steak was just past the point of being rare making it lusciously soft. The tamarind sauce was a touch too sweet for my liking and needed a tiny bit more balance with its other key elements of sourness and spiciness.
We also ordered a few sides to fill in the gaps including crunchy roasted Royal Blue potatoes with wild oregano and sea salt, a green leaf salad with shaved Reggiano parmesan and cracked black pepper and some sautéed seasonal vegetables with tarragon butter. The potatoes were crisp on the outside with a lovely soft centre and were one of the first things to be finished at our table.
Just when we thought we had no room left for sweets, our waitress came over to our table with their daily selection of desserts. She advised us that all their desserts are made in house fresh each day by their dedicated pastry chef.
Once again bursting at the seams I wondered to myself if I would ever gain the ability to exhibit self-control at this point of the evening. I dismissed such a crazy idea and chose the lemon and lime crème brûlée to share with the Boy. Other options included a tiramisu, sticky date pudding and a couple of other more creative looking options. Our choice was a hit all around the table with each couple sharing one brûlée between each other. A well rounded night out indeed.
I have always found Kailis Brothers Fish Café to reliably satisfy me at every visit. They maintain their reputation by staying true to themselves serving the freshest of seafood with minimal fuss. They promote West Australian produce in particular and remain in my humble opinion one of the best providers of fresh seafood in Perth to the public.Kailis Brothers Fish Café 101 Oxford Street, Leederville WA 6007 | (08) 9443 6300 | www.kailisbrosleederville.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $12.50-26.50, Mains $27-48) Food: 4/5 (exceedingly fresh seafood needs minimal additional work) Service: 3.5/5 (friendly and welcoming but a bit slow on the drinks service) Ambience: 3.5/5 (busy, loud and non-pretentious) Drinks: 4/5 (a proudly WA heavy wine list with a good selection by the glass) Total: 15/20
Our main wholesaler we use at work wanted to do something interesting as a thank you to their valued clients and so they organised a night out to see Cirque de Soleil’s latest touring production Ovo. Our practice was lucky enough, or should I say valued enough, to receive four tickets. Having never been to see this internationally famous Show I was the first one to put up my hand to go. It seems that everyone who wanted to go already had their own tickets and those who didn’t have a ticket weren’t that keen. Although we are now creeping into June, on the afternoon of the show the sun was shining defiantly outside like a Spring Day and so the Boy suggested we walk into the city and stop somewhere earlier for dinner. I jumped at the opportunity to work on reducing my restaurant wish list which is currently longer than my arm. Near the top of my list was The Stables Bar in the CBD a convenient ten minute walk from the circus’s marquee.
I am known by my close friends as a planning freak and I love to be prepared. Although it was a warm day, I anticipated a chilly night knowing that Cirque de Soleil’s marquee is on the Esplanade; a potentially windy spot. In addition to needed some warmth, we were looking at a 14 km round trip on foot and strutting that distance in my high heels would not be realistic. Proud of my organisational skills in addition to my handbag I packed an extra bag filled with a scarf, high heels, my extra camera lens and a wool jacket. Sliding into my sneakers the Boy looked at me with an astonished look on his face and said: “You’re seriously not going to carry all that around all night?” I retorted “Of course!” and we headed out the front door and into the sunshine.
By the time we arrived at the Stables Bar one hour later, I had definitely lost some of the bounce in my stride. I felt a bit lopsided from carrying the heavy bags but strangely satisfied that I had a good workout! Now I could eat a decent meal without the guilt of overindulgence. Bring it!
In order to make it to our 8 o’clock show we had an early dinner booking and when we arrived there was only one other couple dining. Parched and hungry, we quickly ordered our drinks and scanned the menu. The wait staff were all super friendly and enthusiastic such that we were approached by each of the five of them asking for our drinks and food orders. It’s certainly better to be too attentive then to leave a customer waiting but some communication between the team wouldn’t hurt either.
The crispy school prawns were far too moreish and I could have easily crunched my way through a second bowl. The Boy explained to me that they tasted very similar to the fried insects he ate in Thailand. If that is the case, maybe I could be enticed on our next visit to try them? Hmmm, maybe. The chipotle mayonnaise balanced the saltiness of the prawns but I would have preferred a touch more spiciness.
The zucchini croquettes were gluten free and having a one track mind on anything remotely Spanish with my impending trip next month I simply had to order them. A thin shell of crispiness enveloped their soft interior to expose very subtle and gentle flavours. I almost felt they could do which a dash more seasoning. The cardamom flavouring in the yoghurt was also very subtle. Nevertheless they were still a tasty treat as they were.
The Boy has recently been contemplating giving up eating meat based on ethical, environmental and health reasons. As easy as this may be for some, it is a big step for someone whose previous diet, like many men in our country, was very meat focused. His half way step has been to become a pescatarian. When the waitress came to the table with our meals a steak and a Niçoise salad, she presumed the salad was for me and gave us a bit of a high brow look as we advised her that the orders were in fact the opposite way round. His Niçoise salad was made with flaked Rankin cod, steamed green beans, hard-boiled eggs and white anchovies. All the ingredients were brightly colours and fresh and although being a small serve for a main it was decently priced at $26.
Being someone that commonly suffered from iron deficiency anaemia, in part due to my gluten issues and worsened by my infrequent ingestion of red meat I decided to have the first steak I have had in a long while. The steak was sourced from Blackwood Valley who are well known in WA for their high quality organic beef. Although the minute steak isn’t the softest cut of beef it is certainly very flavoursome and was cooked rare exactly as requested. The super sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh horseradish added some bite and after a long walk this sat very well in my stomach.
The char-grilled baby cos lettuce was a little bland by comparison to my steak and although the dollops of tangy goat cheese and white anchovies helped improve it significantly I still felt like it also needed a little more seasoning. And that is coming from someone who rarely adds salt to her meals.
We still had another hour before we had to depart and start walking down to the Esplanade for the show. As is often the case when we are out for dinner, it was an arm twisting event getting the Boy to agree on dessert and my requests for dessert and cheese were met with a decisive “No!” He knows from years of experience that I always have eyes bigger than my stomach and once I have a few drinks in me I tend to just keep ordering food until we nearly explode.
The poached peach Melba and vanilla pannacotta came highly recommended by one of our wait staff. She was right on the money with this one and once again for someone who didn’t want dessert the Boy helped me finish it matching me spoon for spoon. It was served in a cute jam jar reminiscent of our recent Watermelon Foam dessert at the Greenhouse. A definite winner. Our dessert was obviously too good because we scoffed it down in record time leaving us with another 45 minutes to spare. As we ordered a final round of drinks I was surprised that I successfully persuaded the Boy to share a cheese platter. Up until this point everything we had order was requested gluten free but I forgot to mention it to our server again when I ordered the cheese platter.
It came out with a scrumptious looking assortment of crackers and breads which were obviously not gluten free. I called the waiter over who confirmed this to me and within minutes the platter returned without any crackers at all. Such a shame as each cheese was just the right temperature for serving making them fragrant and soft. The well thought out selection included Fourme d’Ambert; a mild blue cheese made from cow’s milk from France, Deuce De Bourgogne; a rich and creamy soft French cheese also made from cow’s milk and Capricorn; a hard goat cheese from the UK. We were advised that the kitchen changes their cheese selections frequently which I quite like the idea of.
The Stables Bar is a stunning location in the heart of the city with a range a decently priced pub meals. It is another great addition to the increasing number of prime venues dotted around the city and definitely worth a visit for a few rounds of drinks or a meal.The Stables Bar 888 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6314 1300 | www.thestablesbar.com.au Price: $$ Food: 3.5/5 (small menu with some interesting dishes) Service: 2.5/5 (some teething problems with communication which should be easy to iron out) Ambience: 3.5/5 (awesome fit out of some old stables originally built in the late 1800s) Drinks: 3.5/5 (lots of creative cocktails, will have to come back and try a few more) Total: 13/20
I originally starting blogging as a natural progression from my love of food photography and eating out. Finding a restaurant that caters for peeps like me with food intolerances without compromising the wow factor rocks my world. Naturally over time my blog has morphed to begin to include the occasional recipe. Whilst I have never claimed to have talent in the kitchen I do enjoy cooking things from scratch and my need to alter and change recipes due to my intolerances has developed into a passionate love of cooking. When I received an invite to the launch of the Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes I was intrigued and excited to see what these classes were all about.
Cooking classes are a fabulous way to improve your skills and what better way to learn than from the masters themselves. The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are an initiative organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Chamber has recently just finalised their list of certified Italian restaurants in Perth that have qualified for the internationally recognised Ospitalita’ Italianana quality assurance seal. This is a certification recognised by the Italian Government to protect the traditions of Italian agricultural and food products and value Italian gastronomic culture. The guidelines to achieve accreditation are very strict and amongst more than 1000 certified restaurants around the world, 11 of those are here in lil’ Western Australia!
The certified restaurants in WA are:
- * Galileo Buona Cucina, Shenton Park
- * Gargano Restaurant, Nedlands
- * Italians, Dianella
- * Maretti Caffe Cucina, Mosman Park
- * Maurizio’s Restaurant, Perth
- * Millioncino, Perth
- * Modo Mio, Crown Casino
- * Osteria Dei Sapori, Nedlands
- * Paradiso Restaurant, Attadale
- * Perugino Restaurant, West Perth
- * Villa D’Este Restaurant, West Perth
In true Italian style, there was far too much food for the evening launch and we were thoroughly stuffed with all the finger food before it even got to the main dishes. Not that it stopped any of us of course. Although a lot of the food was not gluten free, the smooth talking waiters made sure the suitable options kept heading my way. I feel rude turning food down and when it all tastes this good, well what can you do?
The prawn and pancetta prawns were the absolute bomb. Sticky balsamic drizzled over crunchy prawns wrapped in crisp salty pancetta. I’m sure I downed at least half a dozen of these babies.
The first two mains of ravioli and gnocchi were off the menu for me and I got a lot of sympathetic looks from the others as they slurped and scoffed down what I can only presume was really good!
I made up for it with the following main dishes which resultantly meant I ended up with very little photographic proof as I was too busy stuffing my face. The rack of lamb was the biggest winner for me; marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano they were the juiciest chops I have ever eaten (and that is a big call). I ended up eating way too many.
The night ended with some perfectly set pannacotta and without waiting for all those chops to hit the bottom of my stomach I downed one of each flavour. My favourite was definitely the pistachio pannacotta with berry sauce. What a total pig. I was glad the Boy drove us home as I slipped into a little nap on the drive back.
The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are held at the Accento Showroom, 256 Stirling Highway in Claremont. There will be 6 evening classes each hosted by one of the local chefs from the Ospitalita’ Italianana certified restaurants.
The cooking classes run from the 20th May until the 9th September 2013. All classes start at 6.30pm and you will all get to enjoy you meal at the end of the class. The cost per class is $90 and includes matched wines, or it’s $500 for the full course of six. Click here for more information.Chompchomp was an invited guest of the ICCI and was able to enjoy this feast free of charge. Getting a free feed does not however buy my praise and I strive to ensure accurately documenting my experiences without bias.
It was the weekend before Christmas and I had flown into Melbourne a day earlier than the Boy in order to attend to some “secret wedding business”. It was for my final dress fitting at Luci Di Bella and despite enduring a terrible flight with crying babies, vomiting toddlers and a delay on the tarmac for nearly an hour I remained hyped with excitement.
My Dad and Stepmum’s apartment is very conveniently located just off Flinders Lane; meaning with a short skip and a jump you can find yourself submerged in one of Melbourne’s hottest spots for restaurants; PM24, MoVida, Chin Chin, Cumulus Inc, Coda, Ezard…need I go on?
Despite their close proximity, I have not had the fortune to visit many of these fine establishments as my family are also star entertainers. They are well known for throwing many fabulous dinner parties that often carry well on until the wee hours of the morning. As a result when I am in Melbourne, I rarely get the chance to check out the local eateries because there is too much good food to eat at home!
Arriving late on a Friday night we were all in agreeance that cooking would prove to be too much of a hassle and headed out to one of their favourites: The French Brasserie. We were greeted by the owner of the restaurant like we were family, which is not an uncommon occurrence when out with these two. They get a similar reception from many of the fresh produce sellers at the Prahran Markets which is something you wouldn’t expect in a big city like Melbourne. We were given some complimentary champagne to celebrate the beginning of the silly season with him and sat out in the alfresco dining area sipping away before being ushered to our table.
After enjoying some freshly shucked Sydney Rock and Pacific Oysters I started to feel the warmth of the champagne glow through my veins and all my stress from the crazy, hectic week slowly drained out of me. Living in separate cities makes it hard to keep my family up to date with all my wedding plans. As a result there was a lot of catching up for us to do! What made this moment even more special to me was that all my bridal babble was met with excitement and genuine interest. As not all my close family members have been by my side during this precious time, so their love and support has been worth its weight in gold. Or black truffle even 😉
Knowing there was a long weekend of Christmas feasting ahead of us we scanned the menu for something light. My Stepmum and I chose the filet de bouef. My thickly cut tender yearling eye fillet was seared to a firm crust on its surface yet carved smoothly like pate under my knife. An elegant smear of ruby red beetroot purée gave a hint of sweetness to the delicate meat. It was exactly what I felt like. The dish is normally accompanied by a long block of potato salardaise; potatoes cooked in duck fat. I was unfortunately informed that the potato contained gluten or onion, I can’t quite remember, but basically it wasn’t suitable for me. They served us an extra dish of French fries to make up for this.
Dad ordered the paillard de boeuf, a yearling beef minute steak served with marrow and bordelaise sauce. The decadent flavours of the bone marrow gave a richer and bolder flavour to the beef and if his dish wasn’t laden with onion I would have loved to have given it a try. I cannot remember that last time I tried bone marrow, possibly it was at the family table as a child? What a perfect start to what was to prove an incredible Christmas weekend. Let the eating begin!!French Brassiere 2 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1632 | http://www.thefrenchbrasserie.com.au/site/ Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-20, Mains $34-43) Food: 4.5/5 (ultra-fresh cuts of meat, faultless preparation) Service: 4/5 (I almost felt like family, I love that all the wait staff are French!) Ambience: 4.5/5 (hidden down a little lane way, has a bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (Dad picked the wine, it was something scrumptious from Bordeaux) Total: 17/20
A wonderful part of being a food blogger is discovering and connecting with other food blogs. The downside of this is that it is a time consuming business and on top of running a business, working full-time and maintaining my own blog; it is sometimes an uphill battle finding the time to read all posts from those I have grown to love and enjoy. Consequently I find myself grouping favourite blogs into the “must reads”, “read when you have time” and “visit occasionally” categories.
Chew Town is definitely in the first category for me. Not being excessively prolific in her posts, she posts often enough to support my interest without making it impossible for me to stay up to date. Her photography is breathtaking and she deservedly won 2nd prize for the photography awards at the Eat Drink Blog conference last year. But it’s not just her blog that is awesome. In sharing a number of common interests we created a foundation for the pen-pal styled friendship common to the blogging community which was finally made a reality thanks to the magic that was Eat Drink Blog 2012.
Originally from Perth, Amanda returned to the West for the silly season and thus we were determined to catch up despite my insane roster placing me on a run of 11 out of 12 days straight. The only time we could tally up was the morning of New Year’s Eve and we met at The Beaufort Street Merchant for some brunch. The Boy was sweet enough to drop me off and so bidding him farewell I said I’d meet him back at the same spot in an hour and a half.
I ordered the Chorizo and Manchego Spanish omelette. Foolish me, in my excitement and chatter I forgot to request no onion and it was a predominate ingredient. I still managed to successful pick the onion out and enjoy my meal. My serving size was absolutely enormous and would have easily fed two people even without the onions! Topped with a fresh crisp rocket salad and thick syrupy balsamic dressing this dish was quite an impressive sight. The toasted gluten free bread was spongy and light, with that springy resilience normal toast eaters take for granted.
Amanda ordered the toasted bagel which was served with hot smoked trout, slippery scrambled eggs and buttered leeks. Again the serving size was huge and all my hopes for getting her to help finish my own giant sized meal were squashed as she had trouble finishing her own.
Now those that know me well can appreciate that I can talk. Well, suffice to say Amanda gives me a run for my money. In what felt like half an hour, no less than two and half hours passed us by during which I had failed to observe 5 missed calls from the Boy who meanwhile was waiting in the heat out in the car for me. Eeeek. Am I the worst fiancé ever? After a number of failed attempts at contacting me, he decided to abandon ship and strolled up to the Queens where I found him enjoying a pint of beer under the water misters. Sheepishly guilty I hurried off to the bar to order the poor hungry man some food and more beer. I didn’t get a chance to stroll through the store at the back of The Beaufort Street Merchant and will be sure to return with an empty stomach and more time in the near future.The Beaufort Street Merchant 488 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 6299 | http://www.beaufortmerchant.com/ Price: $$ (Breakfast $15-22) Food: 4/5 (interesting options for breaky, large serves, fresh produce) Service: 2.5/5 (slow with taking drinks orders and with delivery of food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great vibe, noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (coffee strong and not too bitter) Total: 14/20
After landing in Singapore on the overnight flight from Perth I was accompanied by the Boy and one of my business partners Woki to attend a friend’s wedding at the Fairmont Hotel. Not willing to be discouraged by our lack of sleep we refused to waste our free day and spent most of it exploring the city. We conveniently ended our self-guided tour at Ku De Ta which is situated on the 57th level of one of the three Marina Bay Sands (MBS) towers. Sipping our drinks we watched a blanket of dark ominous clouds slowly envelop the city from our viewpoint on high and by the time the tropical storm reached us we were all seriously hungry. We headed back downstairs in search of some food.
Back on the ground floor foyer, we were served by a small framed, elegant woman who kindly took great trouble to ring around a few restaurants in the complex in search of a table. She managed to secure us a booking at Guy Savoy, one of the “celebrity restaurants” at the Casino. The only time available was just an hour away yet there we stood all wind-swept, sweaty and in no way presentable for fine dining.
Jumping in a cab the Boy, Woki and I made a mad dash to return to our hotel but as we crawled inch by inch through peak hour traffic I started to feel the tension among us rising. By this point, the monsoonal downpour was in full force and I could barely see the road in front of us. Jumping out of the cab to proceed on foot was completely out of the question!
Upon our return to Fairmont Hotel we quickly raced upstairs dripping wet to our rooms. With my heart pounding in excitement I flurried about spraying my hair with a ton of hair products and my face with a lathering of makeup. After the finishing touch of a smear of bright red lipstick I prayed my transformation into something more elegant was successful.
However, our building anticipation was not to end there. It almost felt like fate was against us as we ended up taking the wrong train, got off on the wrong station and then took a full circle route on foot of the entire MBS complex before we could actually find the restaurant. Let me tell you, it is not well signposted and MBS is huge!
A little flustered and nauseatingly hungry we were seated at our table ready for the fun to begin. Our meal was kick-started by a few adorable bite size canapés.
The gluten eaters received a pint-sized foie gras club sandwich and similarly Lilliputian cube of parmesan waffle.
My gluten free canapés included a spoonful of miniature cubes of beetroot sprinkled with black truffle on a herb purée and some finely grated apple with baby celery leaves on an almond crumble.
As we allowed these flavours to entertain our palate, our waiter wheels out an old polished wood trolley with a whole leg of Joselito’s Ibérico de Bellota Jamón. Ibérico jamón is a type of ham made from black Iberian pigs that are kept free range on pasture and oak groves where they feast on a diet of acorns, grass, herbs and roots. Joselito’s Ibérico jamón is world famous for being the best ham in world and wholesale prices start at around $600 for a small leg and can get well over $3000-4000 for an aged leg. They pride themselves on raising “happy pigs” and believe this is a major factor in their meat quality.
The waiter carved in front of us about a dozen slices straight off the bone. Dark purple in colour and with multiple thread-like veins of white fat coursing through the meat; the wafer thin slivers of ham nearly dissolved on contact with my tongue. Eating Joselito jamón is quite an unforgettable foodie’s experience and I highly recommend that you try it yourself if you ever have the chance.
The unusual pretzel shaped bread was unfortunately not gluten free and as there wasn’t any gluten free bread option I had to satisfy myself by just having a brief sniff of its fresh doughy aroma. I cannot deny it is always a little disappointing when I visit fine dining institutions such as this and a gluten free bread option is overlooked. Not that I really needed bread given the enormous meal we were about to enjoy!
Our Amuse Bouche was a chilled Vichyssoise-styled soup made from leek, potatoes and cream. The addition of fennel gave a slightly sweet and refreshing after-taste. Curiously hidden under the small mug of thick soup contained two little half spheres of fennel and leek “royale”, basically a smooth lime green custard topped with minuscule little micro herbs and pea sized blobs of herb purée. With the subtle sweetness of the fennel in the soup still lingering, this little dollop served to extend and enhance the ambrosial experience with utmost precision.
Both the Boy and Woki ordered the “crab with multi-coloured beetroot variations” for their entrée. The concept of this dish was to “marry land and sea”. The blood red and lemon yellow shavings of roasted beets were curled into cone like flowers. Each little beet “flower” was filled with a foamy light beetroot blancmange followed by delicate portions of the cooked Australian Spanner crab meat. Savoury shortbread crumble and flecks of beetroot crisps sprinkled over the dish to add more complexity.
Alongside the salad was served a warm golden beetroot tartlet containing hints of cardamom and orange. The pastry collapsed in the mouth like fairy floss. It lay on top of a wafer thin square of transparent paper that looked a bit like cellophane. We were informed this was salt paper and was entirely edible. Despite the tart being the accompaniment, both the boy and our companion agreed it was the star of the two components.
This photo of my entrée is not my own and is courtesy of the restaurant. My mosaic of poulard, foie gras and artichoke was by far and by large the highlight of the evening yet for some strange reason it completely bypassed me to take a photo. Like a bizarre form of savoury layer cake, thick door stop-sized slices of young fattened poulard, wedges of soft foie gras and similar textured artichoke sat relatively unimpressively on my plate. They were accompanied by two precisely equal sized blobs of black truffle vinaigrette. The appearance of this dish does in no way make one’s mouth water; which is perhaps why my photography was overlooked. However just one mouthful of these three simple ingredients with a conservative smear of the vinaigrette and you will change your mind forever. This dish was absolutely mind-blowing; the rich buttery elegance showed true respect for the ingredients with no need for embellishment.
As we waited for our mains to arrive out came a little prequel, some sort of intermission entertainment I guess; named the Chestnut Royale. Now I am quite partial to chestnuts, yet I rarely see them feature on the menus in Australia. They always conjure up memories of walking down the streets of Paris where street vendors roast them everywhere in the winter. This innocent looking dish was quite a taste sensation. A perfectly formed dome of smooth chestnut custard sat swimming in a light bed of chestnut milk. Carefully placed on top a milk glazed chestnut glistened under the dim lighting garnished with tiny little pygmy sized celery leaves and chestnut chips.
Woki thoroughly enjoyed his “Shoulder of Australian Wagyu in two preparations”. By using an oyster blade steak or “paleron” as it is called by the French, the meat contained wondrous marbling and flavour. The first portion was braised in a red wine jus topped with baby carrots and a black pepper mignonette. The second portion of beef was purely just seared and garnished with dollops of wasabi. Both portions of beef sliced like butter at room temperature as good Wagyu should.
The accompanying side dish of potato Maxim’s and bitter greens was comparatively lacklustre and did not wow Woki at all.
I ordered the pan seared duck breast with eggplant “gianduja” sauce and “au poivre”. I was informed by our waiter that in order to achieve the creamy pate-like texture of the meat the duck breast was seared, then cooked sous vide, and then finally seared again. On my plate balanced so carefully like a stack of cards were thin slivers of eggplant served with gianduja chocolate sauce. The sauce tasted a little reminiscent of Nutella due to its high hazelnut content. Tiny little purple delight flowers scattered amongst the eggplant giving a splash of colour and bitter flavour. The duck was richly flavoured and buttery tender and left me wanting more.
My side dish was potato tagliatelle; thin ribbon like curls of deep fried potato. This was the only dish I ate that I felt was a little lacking. Perhaps some seasoning would have improved this element however even if that were the case it felt a little mismatched to the fabulous duck dish.
The Boy ordered the “Saddle, rack and shoulder of lamb; Land and Sea”. Unfortunately for him, after being left relatively unimpressed with his entrée choice his main didn’t manage to suitably wow him either. The main part of his dish contained a roasted rack of lamb placed on an almond and hazelnut praline. The saddle of lamb was stuffed with bamboo clams and pan roasted. Next to the lamb I recognised some emerald-green samphire on his plate; something we were introduced to during our beautiful lunch at Millbrook Winery last year where the chef forages it from the banks of the Swan River.
The second part to his dish was his favourite. The shoulder of the lamb was braised and wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes and topped with sprinklings of purple potato crisps. I recall the waiter mentioned that this component contained melted onions so I didn’t get to taste it! This dish was apparently seasoned in the bamboo clam jus.
By this point in time in the night I was starting to receive a number of subtly concerned looks from the Boy and knew he was worried as to how much this meal was going to cost us. He is never been one to be a killjoy by any means and during our near fifteen years together we have shared some highly priced memorable meals together. But he is also a sensible man, and he knew all too well that just coming over to Singapore alone was breaking the budget so close to our wedding, so enjoying a four figure fine dining experience was definitely going to break the bank. A smart move from me at this would have been to proclaim total fullness and call it a night.
And then out came the cheese trolley. And all my sensibility went out the window. My thoughts of finances, savings and budgets temporarily felt incredibly less important. Our dinner companion Woki was no help either. Being a father to two little ones means he rarely gets to experience such incredible culinary excellence and wanted to make the most of our evening. After a long consideration we settled for three cheeses: the curious looking Mimolette, Fourme d’Ambert and most dear to my heart Saint Marcellin; a cheese produced by my late uncle Jeannot’s factory in the Alps of France.
The Fourme d’Ambert is a very mild blue cheese that is considered to be one of France’s oldest cheeses dating back to Roman times. It is a semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk and has a luscious creamy texture and leaves a slightly sweet earthy mushroom after-taste.
The Mimolette had such a curious appearance that it was our wild card choice for the evening. The cheese looked like a cross between a rock melon and a dusty cannonball. It was a hard round ball with a pocked dimpled surface. I later learnt that the dimpled appearance is actually due to the activity of surface mites that burrow their way through the surface rind which in turn allows the cheese to breathe and mature. From the heart of this bizarre rock, our waiter scooped out some bright orange brittle cheese. It tasted quite unexpectedly sweet and caramelised, and felt like you were eating a hybrid of fudge and cheese, but in a good way.
Our portion of the Saint Marcellin cheese regrettably wasn’t warmed to room temperature and thus failed to relax into that sexy goo I have enjoyed many times before. I was very disappointed because for a number of years I have been talking up about this cheese to Woki. It is not easy to come by in Australia and this was his first time trying it.
For some reason the next two following pre-dessert dishes managed once again to escape my camera. I think I was a little distracted by my growing concern as the impending bill. Our first pre-dessert was so delectable that Woki jokingly exclaimed to the waiter that it was “no good” and that we all requested another one. His sarcasm was lost on our waitress and with a worried look she scuttled away to get us another serve.
We were too full to order a dessert but were tempted by the trolley of “petit fours”-styled mini-serves of ice cream, sorbet and biscuits and each tried a little portion for ourselves.
Just when we thought the near theatrical dining experience was over, as I sipped on my peppermint tea an Earl Grey Sorbet was delivered to our table for a final palate cleanse. Served on top of a black pepper crème anglaise the subtle flavours of the bergamot from the tea left a very refreshing end to our wondrous meal. Suffice to say, the Boy was right; we are still paying back our share of the meal to Woki!Guy Savoy The Shoppes, Atrium 2 L2-01, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8513 | www.guysavoy.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.7/5 (my choices were nearly faultless but there were some hits & misses at my table) Service: 5/5 (very knowledgeable and attentive with a noticeable lack of any pretension) Ambience: 3.5/5 (a little formal and stuffy but some fabulous views) Drinks: 4/5 (very extensive wine list but a considerable mark up on bottle prices) Total: 17.2/20