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.
I received a curious gift in the mail recently consisting of a bottle of fig infused balsamic vinegar. Attached to the bottle like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland was a little card inviting me to the launch of the Fig’s new winter menu at the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Having never been to any of the Fig’s before the Boy and I set out on a cold blustery night with no expectations or presumptions. We were openly greeted by Jamie, the Operations Manager on arrival and before long we had glasses of bubbles in hand to help set the jovial mood for the evening.
The Kalamunda Farmers Markets located in the centre of Kalamunda seemed like the most logical place for us to start our tour of the Hills for the Bickley Harvest Festival. These markets are on every Sunday from 8am until noon and include a number of local growers and producers selling their wares with many stall owners offering free tastings.
We nearly bought one of each of everything from the Ringwould Dairy stall as everything tasted so fresh. We settled for some Caillot (quark with added herbs and garlic), Moroccan marinated cheese and a strawberry lassi to share. The lassi was not overlying sweet and was very refreshing.
One of the most frustrating things about being a business owner is losing a good staff member. What makes it even harder is when not only are you sad to see them leave the business but you know you will also miss them as a friend. As a final bid farewell to one of our valued team members we all made the trek to the Swan Valley on a sunny Sunday to The Cheese Barrel. There was a great turn out and we all made ourselves comfortable in the downstairs area on the abundance of couches and cushions.
Located next door to Olive Farm Wines just off Great Northern Highway, The Cheese Barrel has a tremendous menu of cheese from all around the world. They have themed cheese boards such as “Blue Lovers Paradise” or “Soft Cheese Sensation” or alternatively you can order a regional board from Australia, France, Spain or Italy. For those more specific with their cheesy needs individual cheeses can be purchased in 100 gram portions.
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
The downside of having a destination wedding is that you have to prepare yourself that there will be some of your friends and family that you really want to be there but for whatever reason they will be unable to attend. The Boy and I understood this fact from the outset and were so incredibly grateful for all that were able to join us whilst remaining totally sympathetic to those who could not. One of my dearest friends Fran whom I have known since my early University days was one of those guests who unfortunately were unable to come. She only recently bought her own business and as a result of her dedication, hard work, blood, sweat and tears it was growing steadily at a rewarding rate. Upon our return to Perth, we were both keen to tally up a lunch date to share our stories and fill her in on my wedding details.
As most of my regular readers will be aware I recently married the love of my life in Phuket, Thailand where we had the most magical dream wedding I could have ever imagined. In the coming weeks I will soon be getting around to posting a review of the fabulous venue Andara coupled with some snap shots of our big day.
In order to make our wedding ceremony in Thailand a legally binding one back home in Australia, the Thai government required us to travel to Bangkok for an undetermined period of about 3-5 days prior to the wedding in Phuket to allow for translation of documents. After giving this much thought we agreed this was way too much hassle and decided to wait and get the legal stuff done once we returned to Perth. To make it more meaningful, we planned to do this on our anniversary, a date we have celebrated for nearly 15 years.
After such a magical time away in Thailand for our wedding, coming back to the humdrum reality of house work, cooking and cleaning felt like a kick in the face. To make matters worse, our maxed out cards and empty bank accounts meant we both had to return promptly back to work and start earning some cash. After a week of living like millionaires at Andara with a maid and a personal chef, the idea of returning to boring home cooked food sounded as tempting as eating my own arm.
The day before we both went back to work we begrudgingly headed off to our local greengrocer Scutti’s for our weekly food shop. It was the first time in nearly three weeks that we had to do such a chore and as we parked the car we were both looked longingly at each other for a solution. The idea of a temporary escape by delaying the shopping and heading over the road to a café for lunch sounded promising. Shoving my shopping list deep into my handbag we strolled over to Halo Espresso.
Some of you may recall my unusual Australia Day weekend this year. It started off at our local pub The Broken Hill Hotel where we munched on casual pub food with drinks a plenty and could even see the fireworks show from where we sat on their balcony. A far cry from our usual annual party extravaganza we hold at our house but a great night out all the same. The reason for such a tame national holiday you see was that the weekend preceeding this relaxing weekend happened to be my Hen’s day. In true Chompchomp style I burnt all my candles at both ends and managed to come out with a fair share of bruises coupled a strained joint in my spine. It was worth it; we had a total hoot of a time but entertaining and cooking for the masses was out of my capabilities that following weekend.
Everyone has their favourite types of cuisine but just to be a bit complicated I have three. Staying close to my roots my first favourite is French cuisine. Secondly, thanks to my incurable addiction to raw fish, the logical next player is Japanese. But in more recent years, my love of Thailand and their food has grown exponentially fuelled by some incredible trips to Thailand with the Boy where we have celebrated a close friend’s wedding, got engaged and found the wedding venue of our dreams and ultimately returned there to marry. It holds a very special place in both our hearts.
I have been a loyal Qantas girl for most of my life and I try to book the majority of our flights in Australia and around the world flying with my favourite airline. However late last year when I was booking our flights to Phuket in Thailand for our wedding, the need for a direct flight with no stopovers became much more important than any airline loyalties. The logical preference was to fly with Virgin Australia. Virgin operate direct flights to Phuket from Perth arriving on the sunny island in less than 7 hours.
With only a few days to go before we fly out for our wedding in Thailand, I was feeling stressed and under the pump. I had taken the last week off work to finish of all the last-minute things however the more I got done the more I found I still had to do. Despite being so time-poor I needed some time out and openly welcomed a proposal for a quick catch up over breakfast from a close friend Tracy. She was soon to be joining us in Thailand and wanted to meet up before we left.
Last time we saw each other was during another breakfast date at Sayers Sister. Hustling for a car park in Northbridge was such a pain but our meals we enjoyed there were worth it. This time round to save time I chose somewhere more local that I had heard good things about on Foodie Craving’s blog; Gusto Food, South Perth.
As much as I love my hometown of Perth, its distance behind larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne can be reflected in a number of ways in the culinary world. We lack any widespread prevalence of gourmet food trucks, Latin American cuisine barely makes a mention, we often pay high prices for poor customer service and sometimes poor quality food and finally, up until very recently we have had very few small bars worth a visit that are open beyond bedtime.
But with the new licensing laws brought in things are a’changing for little Perth and more and more funky small bars are popping up around the city and its surrounds. I have followed Frisk Small Bar on social media for some months but with all the wedding preparations absorbing my every waking minute we have had very little time to go out and explore new bars such as these.
We traditionally celebrate Australia Day in our household by throwing a Triple J Hottest 100 countdown pool party. Joined by our close friends we devour lots of good food, drinks a plenty and generally end our night with a short stroll to the end of the street to view the fireworks show. In the ten years we have lived in this house we have only had one year off when I had the misfortune to be rostered on to work.
On the weekend prior to Australia Day this year it was my Hen’s day. It was a fabulous day out in the Swan Valley which turned into a Hen’s night with many of us boogying on the dance floor of Geisha nightclub until the wee hours of the morning. I had an absolutely ball of a time and am so grateful for all that came to the various parts of the day and night to celebrate with me.
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.
I have been eyeing off some bananas in our fruit bowl that have been slowing ripening over the week from golden-yellow through to patchy dark black. As no one seems to be tucking into them any time soon, what better excuse than this to make some coconut flour banana bread. With the wedding only a few short weeks away I am trying hard to avoid any sugar or excessive carbs and to be honest anything too over-processed. I have long known the benefits of using coconut flour extend well beyond the fact that it is gluten free. It is high in fibre, protein and low in carbohydrates meaning it is the perfect ingredient to fluff up my banana bread!
In this recipe I have adapted it to remove any sugars so if you prefer your banana bread sweet, spoon some gooey jam over your hot slice or better still add some honey into the wet ingredients.
The Bestie’s birthday weekend fortunately coincided with her parent’s return from their month-long holiday in Vietnam. Her parents live in southern Western Australian in a town called Esperance which is about a ten hour drive from Perth. This means she doesn’t get to see them as often as she would like and having them in Perth for her birthday was a bit of a treat. To make the most of the occasion, she agreed to stretch out her celebrations over two nights starting with her parents cooking up a storm for us at their friends’ house followed by a casual night out at the Karalee Tavern in Como.
It is finally getting close enough to our wedding to start to feel the buzz and excitement and relieved to say I think I am pretty well set. Well, at least for the important stuff!. I have found the perfect dress from Luci Di Bella, I am blessed with two of the most awesome bridesmaids who also have fabulous dresses, I have a choice of stunning Dior or Jimmy Choo bridal shoes and our wedding venue at Andara, Phuket is something dreams are made of. Best of all; I have found the most amazing man who I could have ever wished to marry. Naw, that’s enough gushing for one post I think!
My engagement ring was designed at Linneys; a well-known West Australian jeweller famous for their Broome pearls and Argyle diamonds and it seemed fitting to return there for our wedding bands. We both arrived wide-eyed and smiling as the reality of our big day approaching fast sunk in. We helped each other deliberate over all the beautiful wedding band designs and each ended up selecting ones we both loved.
- 8 large eggs
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten free wasabi paste
- 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice-wine vinegar
- 2 large scallions (3 tablespoons), minced (I OMITTED THIS INGREDIENT TO MAKE IT FRUCTOSE FRIENDLY)
- Coarse salt
- Pea shoots or sprouts, for garnish
Prepare an ice-water bath. Place eggs in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 13 minutes.
Drain, and transfer eggs to ice-water bath until cold. Peel eggs, and halve lengthwise.
Transfer yolks to a medium bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, wasabi, vinegar, and scallions. Season with salt. Pipe or spoon filling into whites.
Garnish with pea shoots or sprouts.
Recipe with much thanks from www.marthastewart.com/food
Christmas is the time of year when the distance that separates me from my family feels the longest. December is our busiest month at work so I can only return back home for the silly season once every few years. This year I had booked our flights well in advance to avoid the last-minute price blow outs; flights across the continent triple in price around this time of year as people arrange to visit their family and friends.
Because we would not be in Perth to join the Boy’s family for Christmas Day, we agreed to celebrate our family lunch the weekend before our departure in a casual pool party affair at our house. However, in the lead up to flying out my work pressures were at boiling point so in order to avoid having a mental breakdown I opted for simple fresh dishes that were bound to please the Boy’s very hungry family!