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Coombe - The Melba Estate, Yarra Valley

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Featured, Melbourne, Modern Australian, Regional Victoria, Restaurants, Winery

They say weddings bring out the best and the worst in people. It has been two years since I married my long-time love in Thailand and this saying rang true right down to the last minute. Staying on a positive note, it was the best side of my family and friends that remain closest to my heart. One of the most supportive and loving people among these heroes was my Dad.

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Flashback to our wedding day….

Prior to our wedding, I confess that I could sometimes go for longer than a year without seeing his face. Now in my post-wedding enlightenment somewhat exacerbated by the knowledge we are not getting any younger, I am determined to change my ways. I will no longer think it acceptable to go for greater than six months without seeing either of my parents. Looks like I will be making more trips to Adelaide and Melbourne!

I am always a woman of my word and following with this pledge the Boy and I whizzed over for a whirlwind weekender in Melbourne to celebrate my father’s birthday. The first night we celebrated at home with a party that ran well into the wee hours of the night. Early next day we were enthusiastically prompted by Dad to piled into the car to visit their new venture; a beautiful character property in the Yarra Valley. The Boy and I were seriously hungover and sleep deprived, and we were followed by a convoy of guests in similar states from the night before.

Photo thanks to the lovely Eve from www.evelovelle.blogspot.com.au. The bad weather prevented me getting any outside shots!

Photo credit to the lovely Eve from www.evelovelle.blogspot.com.au. The bad weather prevented me getting any outside shots!

To introduce us to the Healesville area, lunch was booked at Coombe Farm Winery’s Melba Estate. The restaurant is located in a restored building that was once the home of Dame Nellie Melba, one of our most famous Australian opera singers from the early 1900s. The building is surrounded by formal gardens that were landscaped over 100 years ago. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side with blustering wind and rain preventing us from exploring the gardens so we all bundled quickly into the restaurant where we were shown to our private dining area.

Photo credit to the lovely Eve from www.evelovelle.blogspot.com.au.

Photo credit to the lovely Eve from www.evelovelle.blogspot.com.au.

Being a large group booking we were provided a set menu for three courses at $59 per head with three choices for each course. There was a gluten free option for each course although some dishes required a little adaptation. It took quite some time for our order to be taken which was extended by further delays because our drink order was forgotten and subsequently reordered.

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Roasted beetroot salad, white savourine, candied walnuts, mixed leaves (GF)

For entrée I chose the roasted beetroot salad with Yarra Valley white savourine, candied walnuts and mixed leaves. Savourine is a locally made semi matured goats cheese and it paired well with the sweeter flavours from the beetroot and candied nuts. I was also able to get some toasted gluten free bread on request which helped greatly to soak up the previous night’s residual champagne in my stomach.

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Crab filled crisp zucchini flower, lemon yoghurt (not GF)

Other options included the Boy’s choice of crab filled crisp zucchini flowers with lemon yoghurt. Upon dissecting out his zucchini flowers there was very little crab inside which left him disappointed. Other guests at our table ordered the duck liver pâté with Merlot poached figs and Melba toast. The pâté was smooth and velvety and could be served with gluten free toast on request.

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Duck Liver Pate, merlot poached figs, Melba toast (not GF)

Conversation flowed easily across the table as we were among family and close friends so it took us a while to realise that once again our table had been forgotten. Our wine glasses were bone dry, empty plates remained on our tables and our mains were nowhere to be seen. Frustrated with the lack of service, Dad got up from the table and marched off to find a waitress.

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21 day dry aged Porterhouse, kohlrabi rémoulade, hand cut chips, anchovy butter (GF)

Shortly after that, our main meals arrived along with another couple of bottles of wine. It was so cold outside that nearly everyone had opted for the winter warming dish of dry aged Porterhouse steak. It was served with smooth kohlrabi rémoulade, hand cut chips and anchovy butter. I was sold on the mere mention of anchovy butter as for me it is nearly up there with truffle butter. Now hold onto your horses, I did say nearly!

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Triple cooked Sebago potatoes chunks, rosemary, and garlic confit (GF)

Our mains were accompanied by two side dishes: triple cooked Sebago potatoes chunks with rosemary and garlic confit, and garden leaves with radish, goats cheese and a verjuice dressing. The potatoes were bland in comparison to my hand cut chips and needed liberal addition of more seasoning.

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Dark chocolate, hazelnut caramel tart (not GF)

For our last course there was a choice of two desserts or a cheese platter. None of the dessert options were gluten free however the chef was happy to adapt the Peach Melba to be suitable.

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Coombe farm Peach Melba

Poached peaches, scoops of vanilla ice cream and peach sorbet were served with lashings of syrupy raspberry sauce. Tumbled amongst the peaches were freeze dried raspberries and raspberry jelly and the dish was topped with thin, chewy straps of dehydrated peach and raspberry. It was truly the best dish of the day. The words “happy birthday” written on my dad’s plate was a lovely personalised touch.

Being one of my family’s new local eating options, we couldn’t hide our disappointment in the level of inattentive service we received. While we were mostly happy with our food and I’m sure we will return, it just might take a while for us to work our way through the rest of the local venues first.

Coombe the Melba Estate

675 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream VIC 3770 | (03) 9739 0173 | www.coombeyarravalley.com.au

 

 

Gourmet Escape Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting

Posted by  | Categories: Attractions, Degustation/Fine dining, Events, Featured, Food and Wine Festivals, Margaret River, Winery

Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held each year in the Margaret River wine region. It has become a yearly favourite for locals and a huge drawcard for people interstate and internationally. Last year the festival clashed with some dates we had booked for a close friend’s birthday celebration in Lombok, so I thought we were only going to be able to make it down for the Friday. My usual plan of attack when attending a food festival is a crazed I-must-eat-all-the-things caper. I hate the thought that I might miss out on something delicious and end up booking back to back events like a lunatic. This approach often comes at a significant cost and thus our budget for these weekends is usually quite substantial.

When it dawned upon me that I only had a single day for Gourmet Escape, I thought I would push the boat out and chose one of the most expensive events: The International Cabernet Tasting at Cape Mentelle with James Halliday as a guest speaker and matched food by highly acclaimed chefs Jacques Reymond and Hadleigh Troy.

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I should have known that it is impossible to try and plan your social life six months in advance. As it drew closer to the month of Gourmet Escape our travel plans fell through and subsequently the whole weekend opened up for us. One door closed and another door opened. I preceded to book a flurry of events and are yet to look at the damage it made on my credit card. I even bought tickets to a Fervor degustation for the evening after the Cabernet Celebration! This proved to be a learning lesson that I can no longer do two big food events in one day.

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Cameron Murphy, Estate Director, Cape Mentelle Vineyards

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I have never been to an official wine tasting event before and whilst I am very experienced at drinking wine, I am a total amateur when it comes to tasting and describing wines. Cape Mentelle’s International Cabernet tasting is an event that has been running for over thirty years and at each event they select international wines from vintages from a specific year.

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James Halliday

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There were twenty wines selected for blind tasting from the vintage 2011. Cameron Murphy, the Estate Director at Cape Mentelle advised us that 2011 was a challenging year for many wine growing regions around the world resulting in some top labels not releasing a Cabernet or requesting that their wines were not to be included in the line-up for this event.

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The wines were divided into three “brackets” and after tasting each bracket, we would congregate outside under the vines and listen to some top wine critics from around the country analyse and give their opinions. It was a very serious affair and once the tasting got under way the only noise I could hear were clinks of glasses hitting together and the occasional slurp from professional tasters spotted around the room.

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We were given note books and pencils to take our own notes and with the ban on talking this gave me an opportunity to actually think about what I was tasting from each glass.

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It took a couple of hours to get through the three brackets of wine accompanied by the wine critic’s discussions by which point I was desperate for something to eat. There was some plain bread and pear slices available to cleanse the palate between each bracket which I obviously couldn’t eat. After the tasting were completed, the list of wines were revealed for us to see. It was a proud moment to see that most of the critic’s best wine choices were from local WA wineries. Where the world had a bad vintage, our state seemed to come out with flying colours. Go WA!

Wines in order of tasting:

  1. Ridge Montebello (Napa Valley, USA)
  2. Woodlands (Margaret River, Australia)
  3. Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ (Frankland River, Australia)
  4. Mount Mary (Yarra Valley, Australia)
  5. Château Pichon – Longueville Baron, (Paulliac, Bordeaux)
  6. Domaine A (Tasmania, Australia)
  7. Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
  8. Wendouree (Claire, Australia)
  9. Spottswoode (Napa Valley, USA)
  10. Cloudburst (Margaret River, Australia)
  11. Cape Mentelle (Margaret River, Australia)
  12. Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet (Barossa, Australia)
  13. Château Palmer (Margaux, Bordeaux)
  14. Moss Wood (Margaret River, Australia)
  15. Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ (Margaret River, Australia)
  16. Château Haut Brion (Graves, Bordeaux)
  17. Xanadu ‘Stevens Road’ (Margaret River, Australia)
  18. Far Niente (Napa Valley, USA)
  19. Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien, Bordeaux)
  20. Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
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Blue Ridge Marron rolls (not GF)

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White miso mushrooms on goats curd (GF)

With the formalities of the event over, we relaxed outside under the trees. There was free flowing Verve on pour coupled with some canapés to get us into the mood before lunch. For those first few brief minutes there was no gluten free option on offer and I watched the Boy devour his obscenely amazing smelling marron roll to himself. I was so hungry I nearly had shoestrings of saliva dripping down my face. Working my way through twenty wines has a way of doing that to my appetite! Thankfully I wasn’t kept waiting long and my own gluten free adapted marron roll made its way out of the kitchen before the Boy even had a chance to finish his.

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Barbecued Arkady lamb breast with spicy tomato jam (GF)

The most popular canapé served was by far the Arkady lamb breast. Hardly an elegant morsel to eat at the best of times, I was lucky not to be wearing most of what I ate. Or maybe that was just the drool. After skipping breakfast followed by downing all those wines, I am assuring you I ate quite a few of these babies! 😉

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After multiple rounds of lamb and marron, we made our way down onto the lawn where a beautiful white marquee was erected for lunch. We had live entertainment and the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial compared to the intense concentration and silence during the tastings.

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Slow cooked ocean trout (GF)

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Slow cooked ocean trout (GF)

Our first course was a velvety textured, slow cooked ocean trout served with a tomato and basil dressing, lemon celeriac remoulade and spiced marinated cucumber. After a morning of heavy reds, it was a nice interlude to lighten up the palate. The trout was matched with Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012.

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Butterfield beef short rib (GF)

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Orange, fennel and radicchio salad (GF)

For the main course we received a tender Butterfield beef short rib alongside some charred carrots and pine nut cream. To pair with this dish all twenty of the 2011 Cabernets that we tasted earlier were brought out and poured liberally until the late afternoon. I appreciated why this event cost so much as they were very generous with the serves.

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Butterfield beef short rib (GF)

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Warm Duck Fat Potatoes (GF)

We ended our incredible day with a cheese board containing some of my favourite French cheeses; Marcel Petite Gruyere de Comte, Fourme d’Ambert and Jouvence Brie Fermier. I was even given gluten free crackers on the side which was thoughtful of the chefs.

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Cheese board

The Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting was an incredibly unique experience and something quite unlike anything I have done before. It is a long day of drinking with the event starting at 10am and running into the late afternoon. It attracted both serious wine buffs and amateurs like me and had a non-pretentious and relaxed vibe…provided you do not talk during the tasting (note to self).

Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for her ticket to the Gourmet Escape International Cabernet Celebration 2014. And, for those enquiring….no, she did not fall on her head at this event. She did however discover that Jacques Reymond is her father’s dopplerganger and consequently filled by Cabernet she MAY have waltzed over to the famous chef with the Boy armed with a photo of her father on her phone to enlighten Jacques of this fact. Suffice to say Jacques had swilled his own substantial quantity of Cabernet that afternoon and was left somewhat confused by our excitement. She will let you decided for yourselves. 

EdouardReymond-JacquesReymond-2

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Mandoon Estate Grand Opening Launch Party

Posted by  | Categories: Bars, Degustation/Fine dining, Events, Featured, Modern Australian, Restaurants, Swan Valley, Winery

Mandoon Estate have been producing boutique wines in the Swan Valley since 2010, and this year marks the opening of their incredible restaurant and beer garden. To celebrate this achievement, last week they held an invitation only Grand Opening launch party to introduce Perthites to this new kid on the block.

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The venue is huge with a classy fine dining restaurant offering a degustation menu, a large beer hall facing out onto the vineyards serving shared tapas styled food, a casual beer garden where you can purchase “picnics” from the deli, private dining rooms, function rooms and more.

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Hamhock terrine, jamon serrano, sour cherry gel (GF)

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It is quite unlike anything in the Valley and sets a new standard for the region. Within minutes of our arrival I was already imagining the next event I could plan here! 😉

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For the launch party, guests were treated to a number of bite size samples from the kitchen including plum coated slow roasted pork and the most tender Buffalo wings that slid off the bone in one gulp.

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Chargrilled Zucchini, mozzarella, fennel, apple, peashoot (V, GF))

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Enoki mushroom rice paper roll, Vietnamese mint, hoi sin

The service staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the food that they were serving. After requesting what I could eat that was gluten free, one kind waitress came back minutes later with a plate of gluten free starters just for me.

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My gluten free plate

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Buffalo chicken, blue cheese dip, celery

Dotted around the vast venue were also some food stations. Our favourite was the sashimi and oyster bar which was set up inside the beer hall. Over the course of the evening the Boy nearly ate his whole body weight in sashimi and amidst a few groans was feeling a little overindulged for our drive homeward later that night.

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The Peking duck station was very popular!

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Over in the beer garden were more food stations. The Peking Duck station was popular enough to accrue a queue of hungry guests however it was sadly not gluten free. I loved the colourful dessert station and was mesmerised by the chef torching the brulée as quickly as they were being whisked away by guests.

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Mandoon Estate is a very impressive venue and would be a wonderful place to hire out for a large function or wedding party. I am hoping to return soon to check out their degustation menu which at a glance looked very focused on local produce from the region. Stay tuned for more….

Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Mandoon Estate and would like to extend her appreciation for the invitation. 
 
Mandoon Estate
10 Harris Road, Caversham, WA 6055 | (08) 6279 0500 | www.mandoonestate.com.au

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Nearly too pretty to eat at RiverBank Estate

Posted by  | Categories: Breakfast/Brunch, Degustation/Fine dining, Featured, Modern Australian, Perth, Restaurants, Winery

Unlike me, the Boy is lucky enough to have his parents living in the same city as we do. This is a luxury I have missed out enjoying on since my late teens and I cannot deny I am a little bit jealous. While I know both Mum and Dad are a quick phone call away, it would be wonderful to be able to just drop in and say hi, or pop out for a casual lunch together. The Boy doesn’t tend to organise regular catch ups with his family and sometimes it takes a special occasion to be able to bring us all together. With his parents celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, we all agreed to meet in the Swan Valley for lunch. As per usual the booking was left up to me so I chose RiverBank Estate in Caversham.

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Bread with Lescure French butter ($3 per serve, GF option)

The Boy and I arrived a bit early, it is easy to forget how close this part of the Valley is to the city. It only took us twenty minutes to get there from our house in Vic Park. There aren’t many cities around the world that boast being this close to a vineyard region! We ordered some bread and Lescure butter while we waited for his family to arrive. The Boy’s dinner roll was so shiny it glimmered in the sun. My gluten free bread was also quite a treat; it was toasted in a sandwich press giving it a satisfying crunchy exterior yet the inside of the bread still remained soft.

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House cured salmon, beetroot jelly, horseradish cream ($19, GF)

There were a number of dishes on the menu that were either gluten free or able to be adapted. The chefs at RiverBank make all their meals fresh to order so changing or altering ingredients to accommodate for dietary requirements was not an issue for them. The Boy and I started with sharing two entrées together.

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House cured salmon, beetroot jelly, horseradish cream ($19, GF)

The house cured salmon was prepared using high quality fish topped with horseradish cream and beetroot jelly. The salmon had a luscious melt in the mouth texture without leaving any strong fishy aftertaste.

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Seared scallops, roasted sweet potato and garlic purée, crispy pancetta, truffle oil ($22, GF)

Our second entrée was the seared scallops served on a bed of roasted sweet potato and garlic purée. It was topped with some shards of crispy pancetta. The scallops were much more substantial sized than those I had recently with my Dad in Melbourne and left a wonderful creamy texture on the palate.

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Gold Band snapper with celeriac and caper slaw, Moreton Bay bug salsa, Japanese squid salad, sesame oil, lemon and parsley vinaigrette (GF)

Both my mother-in-law and I ordered the fish of the day; a Gold Band snapper served with a summery celeriac and caper coleslaw. Our plates were an array of colour garnished with vibrant spring flowers that were nearly too pretty to eat.

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Gold Band snapper with celeriac and caper slaw, Moreton Bay bug salsa, Japanese squid salad, sesame oil, lemon and parsley vinaigrette (GF)

The snapper was topped with a Japanese squid salad along with a spoonful of fresh Moreton Bay bug salsa. After all my recent excessive overeating this dish was just the perfect, light meal that I was looking for.

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Braised duck leg, polenta and rabbit terrine, sautéed wild mushroom and port jus ($44, GF)

My father in law and sister both ordered the pork belly which I didn’t get a chance to grab a photo of but they were both very happy with their choices. The Boy and his brother both ordered the more hearty braised duck leg which was served with a polenta and rabbit terrine and sautéed wild mushrooms. This dish was also gluten free which allowed me to have a little nibble.

The duck was slightly overcooked making some of the meat a little dry. There was plenty of juiciness from the rich mushrooms to balance this out to a degree. The Boy also felt the polenta was a little bland in flavour.

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Duck fat potatoes ($12, GF)

The Boy’s family are big eaters and so I made sure to order some sides to make sure that they were all full by the end of the afternoon. Our waitress advised me that their chips cannot be guaranteed gluten free as the deep fryer may contain traces of gluten. However the duck fat potatoes were fried in the pan making them gluten free. I couldn’t help but reach over and grab a couple before they all vanished.

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Soft meringue, poached peach, raspberry sorbet, Persian fairy floss ($16, GF)

For our desserts the most popular dish across the table was the soft meringue which luckily was also the gluten free dessert option on the menu. It was served with poached pear slices, bright pink raspberry sorbet and Persian fairy floss, or “hair” as the Boy likes to call it. The meringue was fluffy, squishy and delicious all in one mouthful. A winner all around the table.

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The Boy being his usual self opted for feeding his addiction and ordered a selection of ice cream and sorbet. No surprises there! It is hard not to please him with a bowl of ice cream and there were certainly no complaints.

RiverBank Estate proved to be the perfect spot for us to meet up with my in-laws for Sunday lunch. The meals were big enough to feed their Dutch appetites and the atmosphere was relaxed enough for us to while away the afternoon laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I look forward to finding another family occasion to bring them back!

Disclaimer: As much as Chompchomp and the Boy would loved to be wealthy enough to say “lunch is on us” sadly they are still waiting to win first division lotto and hope that this will be happening in the near future. It’s only a matter of time really. Instead they opted to use their Entertainment card for a discount off the total bill.
 
RiverBank Estate
126 Hamersley Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 1805 | riverbankestate.com.au

 RiverBank Estate on Urbanspoon

Nougat, caves, cows and a spot of lunch at Vasse Felix Winery

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Desserts, Featured, Margaret River, Regional WA, Restaurants, Winery

Since leaving the East coast as a fresh faced teenager to pursue a career in veterinary science, I quickly learnt to depend on only myself. While I already had an innate level of independence at that age, being separated from my parents by thousands of kilometres had a way of perfecting this skill. Nearly two decades have passed since then and I’m now at a point in my life now where I realise being fiercely self reliant isn’t always a good thing. Recognising that I need and am needed by my close family members seems much more relevant, especially given the distance that separates some of us. I haven’t lived in the same city as either of my parents since I departed long ago and can sometimes go for over twelve months before I cast eyes on their lovable faces. As we all get older, I am realising that I need to make more effort to spend quality time with each of them individually.

It has been years since Mum has come over to visit us in Perth and even longer since she came over with her other half, Jack. They both adore our South West region and requested that we take them down to “The Margaret’s River” as Mum loves to call it. No amount of convincing can get her to call it otherwise.

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At Bettenay’s Nougat

It is rare for us to be able to relax together so to celebrate this occasion I booked us in at Vasse Felix winery for a long lazy lunch. On our way to Vasse Felix we stopped off at Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Company.

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Neither Mum nor Jack are big wine drinkers so the Boy and I tried to avoid boring them to pieces with winery after winery. Bettenay’s do have some wines on offer in addition to some luscious liqueurs and, of course, loads of nougat. Their nougat is all handcrafted with gorgeous flavours including cherry and coconut, and my favourite chocolate mint.

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After each purchasing a bundle of nougat we headed off to one of Margaret River’s most popular caves; Lake Cave. It has been ages since the Boy and I have gone down into the caves yet every time we do we are reminded what a natural beauty it is.

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Lake Cave’s suspended table

Lake Cave has one of the only “suspended tables” in the world which weighs several tonnes and forms a breathtaking sight floating in the air casting its refection in the ripples of water below. This cave is one of the deepest in the region so be prepared to walk down and then back up a fair number of steep stairs. There are rest points along the way for those less fit and able.

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There were enough stairs to work up anyone’s appetite and after the Caves we headed straight to Vasse Felix for lunch. It was a long weekend and I was grateful that I had pre-booked because every winery that we passed along the way looked packed with cars.

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Vasse Felix have an à la carte menu or alternatively if you select dishes marked on the menu with a star you can enjoy three courses for a set price of $65.

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There were a handful of gluten free options and one vegetarian dish for each course. Upon arrival our waitress brought out some fresh bread and cultured butter. There was no gluten free bread available so they kindly brought out some marinated olives for me to nibble on while my family hungrily feasted on the bread.

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Marinated olives

The marinated olives are sourced from a local olive farm called 34 Degrees South and were served warm. I loved how the olive flesh slithered off the pit easily and consequently I downed most of the bowl before I realised that I should probably share.

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Omelette, asparagus, mushrooms, togarashi ($18, GF)

Mum and Jack both ordered the omelette for entrée. Cooked sous-vide with mirin, it was served with new season asparagus and locally foraged mushrooms. The egg was browned to a glowing caramel colour and garnished with chilli threads, tiny crumbles of popcorn and togarashi. Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper and thankfully it wasn’t too hot for my Mum’s palate. The omelette was a gluten free dish however to avoid all three of us having the same dish, I ordered the other gluten free option which was the quail.

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Quail, zucchini, quinoa, raisins, capers ($19, GF)

I struggled somewhat get a good photo of my entrée due to the sun coming in at an angle on my deep bowled dish. Maybe I need to bring a reflector with me when I’m out dining? Is that too crazy? My quail breast was cooked sous-vide with a confit leg and served on a bed of quinoa, zucchini and olives. It was topped with what I first thought was shaved parmesan but soon found out was feta shaved in liquid nitrogen. It had an unexpected creaminess that dissolved on contact with my tongue. To enhance the delicateness of this light dish some caper puree added some punch into the flavours.

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Marron, ramen, quail egg, nori ($21)

For his entrée, the Boy decided to pop his ramen cherry. Ramen hasn’t really taken off in Perth to the extent it has over in Sydney and therefore neither of us have tried it before. Using house made ramen noodles, this dish was given a South-west twist using Manjimup marron and local fresh water crustaceans. A soft gooey quail egg and some fried nori finished it off and as the aromas wafted to my side of the table I was so envious that I couldn’t even taste one mouthful. Damn you gluten!

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Barramundi, potato, leek, smoked oyster ($39, GF)

For those of you who have yet to try Cone Bay barramundi, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These fish are farmed in unique environmental conditions in the north west of Australia that imparts a very clean, and sweet taste.

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The fish came with a potato fondant and shards of translucent potato glass topped with luxurious drizzles of smoked oyster butter. It was nearly as good as truffle butter. Nearly I said! There was also a little bit of fructose naughtiness with locally foraged charred leeks and leek foam.

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Side dishes: Cos, fennel, blood orange salad and duck fat potatoes with seaweed salt and yuzu (both $10 each, GF)

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Lamb shank, ratatouille textures, black barley ($37)

Mum and Jack both ordered the lamb shank for their main, such peas in a pod those two! The locally sourced lamb was cooked sous-vide over 48 hours making it uber-soft in texture however sadly it was served lukewarm. I offered to get the waitress to take it back to the kitchen but my Mum didn’t want to make a fuss. The lamb was accompanied with a black barley risotto and ratatouille made of smoked tomato petal, tomato fondue, picked red onion and eggplant purée.

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Kangaroo, beetroot, wattleseed, dandelion ($38)

Although the Boy predominantly will stick to his vegetarian diet at home, like me he can on occasions crave meat. Ordering himself the kangaroo loin today was one of these days.

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The loin was served rare and was as lean can be without an ounce of detectable fat present. It was served with textures of beetroot, wattleseed crackers and oil made from dandelions foraged on the property.

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Petit fours: Lemon brownie, passionfruit macaron & mini icecream sandwich ($12)

Our mains were decent sized meals so after stuffing our faces with the addictive duck fat potatoes there was only a small amount of room left for dessert. We agreed to share a couple of petit fours plates between the four of us however the only gluten free element on the plate was the passionfruit macaron. There was only one macaron on each platter but the waitress was kind enough to put an extra one on there for me.

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The Boy was absolutely smitten by the bite size ice cream sandwich made with cinnamon ice cream. Many of us food bloggers claim to have a second stomach for dessert and whilst I was reasonably full, one macaron was not going to cut it even if it was one of my favourite flavours.

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Chocolate, cardamom, passionfruit, Jerusalem artichoke ($16, GF)

Consequently I ordered the gluten free dessert option to share with the Boy. I love abstract desserts, plates of multiple elements that you can mix and match on your tastebuds at your leisure. Fluffy portions of cardamom chiffon cake and silky chocolate cremeaux were paired with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Passionfruit caramel and gel added a tart sweetness with chocolate soil and dehydrated mouse contrasting with velvety cocoa bitterness. Heavenly to say the least. My claims for being full surpassed me as I competed with the Boy for every spoonful.

The weekend went by all too quickly, time honestly does fly when you’re having fun. There is no one in the world that can make me laugh the way my Mum can and I realise that I need to stop running the rat race of life and take time out to giggle with her more often.

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In one end and out the other! Yes, my Mum shares a similarly odd sense of humour! (That’s her at the front of the cow!)

Disclaimer: Despite Mum and Jack insisting on trying to pay for everything, the Boy and I managed to sneak in paying our own way for lunch. Blame it on that independent streak of mine. I want to thank Mum, Jack and my beloved for sharing such a wondrous weekend away. Our times together are always cherished xxxx
 
Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Co
Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Road, Cowaramup, WA 6284 | (08) 9755 5539 | www.margaretrivernougat.com.au
 
Lake Cave
Caves Road, Forest Grove WA 6284 | (08) 9757 7411 | www.margaretriver.com/operators/7706
 
Vasse Felix
Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au

Vasse Felix on Urbanspoon

The Vineyard Kitchen at Brookside Winery

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Featured, Perth, Regional WA, Restaurants, Winery

Many of you know that my day job is totally unrelated to food. I am a vet, and this means a career of long hours, late nights and a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Attaining a work life balance has always been a battle for me and the Boy plays a huge role in making me see the bigger picture. Whilst I would never neglect to care for a patient that needs me, to be at my best I need to stay fit and well rested otherwise, like many of my colleagues, I face burn out.

Depression is rife among veterinarians, in our profession we are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person. A frightening fact, yet, one that most people in our industry have had to face one way or another.

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Having been together for nearly seventeen years, the Boy and I know each other too well and he can sniff out the beginnings of me getting close to my breaking point from miles out. As I reached the end of working nine consecutive long days he suggested we take time out from our weekend chores and plan a weekend long lunch.

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Normally I am the one that will select where we eat out due to the ever hungry thirst for content this blog can create. Conversely, the Boy is not interested in hitting the hot spots but would rather take any opportunity for a drive into the countryside. He proposed we head back to the Bickley Valley so I promptly booked us a table at the Vineyard Kitchen located at Brookside Winery.

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I recall visiting this beautiful winery during the Bickley Valley Harvest Festival however on that day they were fully booked and so we only got to taste and purchase their wines. Over a year had passed and I was very keen to return.

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We started off at the cellar door where we were warmly greeted by the owners Peter and Fay Fels. Their smiles were so infectious that before we knew it we were working our way through tasting all of their wines. Our favourites were the 2012 Methode Champenoise and the 2012 ‘One Acre Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée ($12, GF, V)

There are a number of gluten free and vegetarian options on the restaurant menu with a strong focus on local produce some of which is grown on their property themselves. I started with the roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée.

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Roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée ($12, GF, V)

A whole roasted beetroot had been cored in the centre, filled with goats cheese and served warm. There was a thin layer of crackable toffee over the top but it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. It was an interesting dish and totally worked as a creative but hearty vegetarian entrée.

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Pan fried, crumbed Western Australian sardines ($14)

The Boy ordered the pan-fried sardines which were crumbed and served with a light salad. A random choice for him as although I love sardines, I cannot say I ever would have considered him to be a fan. Regardless of this he still enjoyed them but admitted it wasn’t really his thing.

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Twice cooked duck leg with porcini and mascarpone risotto ($29, GF)

For my main dish I ordered the twice cooked duck leg. The duck meat slithered of the bone without any encouragement and was served on a generous bed of creamy porcini and mascarpone risotto. The skin had a thin crispiness to it such that I temporarily cast away all my recent concerns about weight gain and ate the lot. You only live once right?

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Slow cooked spiced lamb shoulder and feta parcel wrapped in filo pastry with a light green salad and mint yoghurt ($29)

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Charred broccolini with café de Paris butter ($8, GF,V)

On our recent trip to Esperance the Boy fell in love with things wrapped in filo, sampling baked Camembert cheese and a fish and prawn curry both wrapped in this flaky treat. Upon seeing the slow cooked lamb shoulder parcel on the menu he caved into a rare moment of meat eating.

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Unlike me, the Boy is a man of few words, and my best way at measuring a dish’s awesomeness factor is by the amount of head nods and moans. The lamb shoulder scored high in both of these important measurements!

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As we ordered dessert I was told by our jovial waiter that the gluten free mixed berry clafoutis would be a twenty minute wait. This was actually a small blessing in disguise as I was nearly bursting at the seams with all the food we had eaten so far.

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Mixed berry clafoutis ($10, GF)

Clafoutis is one of those French desserts that makes me feel a little nostalgic for my ancestry and upbringing. Traditionally made with cherries, this dish works well with any slightly zingy, juicy fruit.

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Mixed berry clafoutis ($10, GF)

The Vineyard Kitchen’s clafoutis was worth the wait. The balance of tart and sweet flavours was executed perfectly with plump berries embedded in the thick, slightly wobbly baked almond batter. I get so excited when my gluten free dessert is interesting!

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Dark chocolate peanut butter pie with vanilla icecream ($10)

The Boy ordered the dark chocolate peanut butter pie with vanilla ice cream, presumably in part because it came with ice cream. Whilst the two of us have an enormous amount of compatibilities, one of our few differences is our palate for desserts. He can really take or leave them and will always be satisfied with a simple bowl of ice cream.

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Having wanted to visit the Vineyard Kitchen for such a long time there was a risk that it wouldn’t live up to the hype I created in my mind. But despite the long wait to return back for lunch, it was impossible not to fall in love with this place. The quaint gardens, the warm welcome at the cellar door, the prompt and relaxed service and most importantly the award-winning wines accompanied with sumptuous food were all key ingredients in teleporting me from a state of frazzled burn out to total relaxation.

 

Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of her husband, otherwise know as “The Boy” and was lucky enough to also score a case of wine from him to continue to drink once she arrived home. 
 
Vineyard Kitchen
5 Loaring Road, Bickley WA 6076 | (08) 6162 2070 | www.thevineyardkitchen.net.au

 The Vineyard Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Entwined in The Valley: The First Official Food Humane Region Event

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Events, Featured, Perth, Restaurants, Winery

The Swan Valley have recently been awarded the accolade of becoming Australia’s first Humane Food Region. Earlier last month I attended their launch party held at Sandalford Winery where I learnt all about this RSPCA driven initiative.

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The Humane Food movement is aimed giving recognition to businesses that are dedicated to improving the lives of food production animals to allow them to live a more natural and a happy life. To become involved businesses must undergo an accreditation process and those that meet the high standards set by the RSPCA are identified on the Choose Wisely website.

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Entwined in the Valley was the first official public event hosted in the Valley since it was declared a Humane Food Region. It was an elaborate evening of seven stunning courses matched with individually selected wines held on the grounds of Houghton Winery.

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The indulgent degustation was prepared by Masterchef judge George Calombaris and one of my favourite Perth-based chefs Kiren Mainwaring. The world-famous Ch’ng Poh Tiong was our smiling sommelier for the evening. With Anna Gare as the MC, she successfully managed to maintain lively banter with the chefs and sommelier on stage and kept the feel of the night humorous and light hearted.

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Mt Barker humane farmed chicken liver (Matched with Faber Vineyard 2011 Blanc de Blanc)

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West Australian wild prawn (Matched with Faber Vineyard 2011 Blanc de Blanc)

Lucky for me the majority of the dishes were already gluten free and therefore required minimal if any adaptations. Our evening started with canapés to share around the table; some Mt Barker humane farmed chicken liver parfait served on a crisp onion skin with pickled celery, and West Australian wild prawn crackers topped with fresh prawn meat and fennel.

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West Australian Rainbow Trout bark smoked rainbow trout (Matched with Pinelli Estate 2014 Reserve Verdelho)

Our first entrée was a decadently soft slab of bark smoked West Australian Rainbow Trout with wattle seed and the tiniest shavings of white chocolate. White chocolate with trout you say? Well, as strange as the combination sounds it definitely worked. The chocolate particles were so small that they dissolved on contact with my tongue leaving a subtlety sweet after-taste. I MAY have run my finger across my empty plate a couple of times to smear up the last chocolate fragments but there is no proof I actually did this at such a premium event.

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RSPCA approved free range egg slow cooked hen’s yolk (Matched with Lamont’s 2013 Quartet)

For those of you familiar with Kiren’s amazing repertoire of dishes, you will know his slow cooked eggs are out of this world. The second entrée reminded me of one of his creations that we loved at the Farmer’s Long Table lunch at Truffle Kerfuffle.

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A silky smooth cylinder of slow cooked hen’s yolk was served with shards of savoury meringue, cauliflower purée, green olive and shaved Moorish pistachios.

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Olive oil confit duck leg Olive oil confit duck leg (Matched with Heafod Glen 2013 Swan Valley Grenache)

The first main dish was George’s dish. A buttery soft confit duck leg topped with germinated lentils and drizzled with a spiced plum purée. A single sake compressed cucumber added some Japanese styled acidity and tang to the dish. The germinated lentils gave an interesting crunchy element without being too bitter. The sprouting process also has the added benefit of raising the nutrient level of these legumes making this dish somewhat healthy! 😉

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Wild kangaroo tail (Matched with Mandoon Estate 2012 Old Vine Shiraz)

The second main course was a slow cooked kangaroo tail with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and purée, fresh apple and crisp salt bush.  I was a bit nervous to eat this dish as I have a history of reacting to kangaroo where the back of my throat becomes puffy and swollen almost like a mild anaphylactic reaction. Last time I ate kangaroo was over ten years ago and long before I was diagnosed with my all my food intolerances. I have avoided eating it since reacting three times in a row. I have always wondered whether it was something else in the dish each time or I was actually allergic to just the roo itself.

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The Boy suggested I try a small mouthful and wait ten minutes or so to see if I still had a problem with it. I bravely tried a mouthful and within minutes developed only a slight scratching at the back of my throat. Nowhere near the severe reaction that I had many moons ago. I cautiously ate a few more mouthfuls before surrendering my plate to the Boy to finish it off.

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Artisan cheese from the Cheese Barrel & fresh honey The House of Honey

Having survived my re-entry into the kangaroo eating world without the need to reach for an Epipen, I was very excited to tuck into the selection of artisan cheese from the Cheese Barrel complete with gluten free crackers for me to enjoy.

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The final dish was one of Kiren’s dessert masterpieces, once again gluten free and as always totally addictive. A moist thick cut slice of chocolate and beetroot cake was literally engulfed in a sour cream mousse with some chocolate sorbet hidden inside the mousse. Thin slivers of fresh beetroot that I nearly mistook for rose petals decorated the dish with a splash of bright colour.

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Chocolate and beetroot cake (Matched with Olive Farm Wines 1965 Solero Liqueur Shiraz and Talijancich Julian James 1961 Solero Reserve Muscat)

As I nearly slipped into a food coma, I had to remind myself that I had a full day of work the next day and wished I hadn’t enjoyed quite so much of the free flowing wine! Lucky for me I can survive for a short time on little sleep and whilst I cannot say the next day was easy I can guarantee it was all worth it!  If Entwined in the Valley is anything to go by, I look forward to the next Humane Region food event!

Chompchomp was a guest of the City of Swan at Entwined in the Valley. As paid tickets to this event were very popular there was no offer of a plus one so Chomp was happy to fork out her dosh for another ticket so that the Boy could accompany her.
 
Houghton Winery (note the food for this meal was not prepared by Houghton’s)
148 Dale Road, Middle Swan, WA 6056 | (08) 9274 9543 | www.houghton-wines.com.au/our-cafe

Houghton Café on Urbanspoon

Coop Dining (this is where Chef Mainwaring is based) I have written blog posts on both Dear Friends and Co op Dining
2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au

 Co-Op Dining on Urbanspoon

Launch party to celebrate Australia's first Humane Food Region

Posted by  | Categories: Events, Featured, Perth, Restaurants, Swan Valley, Winery

Australia has just announced the inception of its very first Humane Food Region. Being a patriotic Western Australian I was so proud to learn that this region was the Swan Valley. The Humane Food movement is an initiative from the RSPCA to recognise businesses that are committed to using food that can be defined as animal welfare friendly. This means more than just labelling products as cage free eggs and free range pork. It translates to these animals being able to have a better quality of life and respects their need to be able to live in an environment that is more natural for them.

Whilst the obvious solution to avoid these animal’s potential suffering is to switch to eating a vegan diet, it is not realistic to expect the entire general population to make this paradigm shift. The Humane Food movement aims at achieving the highest animal welfare standards possible in these industries in order to ensure that these innocent creatures are treated kindly and live a happier life without fear and stress.

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(photo credit City of Swan)

The RSPCA have a very stringent process to be accredited as a Humane Food producer and lists all of their accredited businesses on the Choose Wisely website.

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(photo credit City of Swan)

Currently there are 30 restaurants in the Swan Valley region that have signed up with the City of Swan to support the Humane Food region program and this list is growing in number each week.

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I was invited to attend the Humane Region launch party at Sandalford Estate last week. The evening was catered for by Sandalford with plenty of gluten free options for me to nibble on.

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Sandalford Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling 2010

"cucumber cups" " salmon tartare" "perth restaurant reviews" "perth restaurants" "perth gluten free" "perth fructose friendly" "perth food reviews" "restaurants perth" "food photos" "perth food blog" "food blog" "travel blog" "perth" "perth travel blog" "chompchomp" "gluten free" "fructose friendly" "low fodmap diet" "fructose malabsorption" "gluten free cooking" "raw food cooking" "gluten free recipes" "fructose friendly recipes" "gluten free raw food" "fructose friendly raw food" "coeliacs" "coeliac disease" "humane food" "humane food region" "swan valley" "swan valley humane food" "animal welfare" "rspca wa" "city of swan" "sandalford estate" "sandalford winery" "sandalford wines" "swan valley food" "verity james" "lynne bradshaw" "dear friends" "co op dining" "kiren mainwaring" "mike price" "sittella winery" "humane region launch" "first humane food region" "manu fillaudeau" "fillaudeau’s restaurant" "don hancey" "caroline taylor" "taylor’s art and coffee house" "fiona lamont" "lamont’s" "dean williams"

Cucumber cups with salmon tartare (GF)

After a warm welcome from TV personality Verity James, we received a lovely speech from Lynne Bradshaw who is the president of RSPCA WA. Her passion for animal welfare spans back for decades and she has worked for the RSPCA for over ten years.

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Frittata with olive tapenade (GF)

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Our MC for the evening. Verity James

After the speeches were finished we got under way with the evening’s entertainment; the cook off! Six of the region’s top chefs agreed to participate using only humanely sourced produce.

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Silence as everyone relishes their slow cooked egg heaven

Kiren Mainwairing from Dear Friends and Coop Dining cooked a slow cooked duck egg with steamed bio-dynamic vegetables, sun choke chips and fennel pollen.

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(Photo credit Co-op Dining)

Slow cooked eggs are one of Kiren’s signature dishes and I am sure you have heard me rave on about them in the past as they are out of this world. With a delicately translucent egg white and perfectly molten yolk we stood around to watch the judging panel croon over every mouthful.

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Mike Price from Sittella Winery made a stunning dish of poached higher welfare chicken breast with avocado and a creamy tarragon sauce. This was topped with a sautéed Moreton Bay bug tail. Using the rest of the chicken, Mike made a compressed chicken leg terrine and topped it with wafer thin crispy skin, fried liver and baby carrots.

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"poached higher welfare chicken breast" "tarragon" "avocado" "bug tail" "compressed chicken leg terrine" "crispy skin" "fried liver" "baby carrot" "perth restaurant reviews" "perth restaurants" "perth gluten free" "perth fructose friendly" "perth food reviews" "restaurants perth" "food photos" "perth food blog" "food blog" "travel blog" "perth" "perth travel blog" "chompchomp" "gluten free" "fructose friendly" "low fodmap diet" "fructose malabsorption" "gluten free cooking" "raw food cooking" "gluten free recipes" "fructose friendly recipes" "gluten free raw food" "fructose friendly raw food" "coeliacs" "coeliac disease" "humane food" "humane food region" "swan valley" "swan valley humane food" "animal welfare" "rspca wa" "city of swan" "sandalford estate" "sandalford winery" "sandalford wines" "swan valley food" "verity james" "lynne bradshaw" "dear friends" "co op dining" "kiren mainwaring" "mike price" "sittella winery" "humane region launch" "first humane food region" "manu fillaudeau" "fillaudeau’s restaurant" "don hancey" "caroline taylor" "taylor’s art and coffee house" "fiona lamont" "lamont’s" "dean williams"

This dish was considerably more substantial in size and I could see that the judges each trying to pace themselves so they wouldn’t be stuffed at the end! This dish was entirely gluten free and Mike was kind enough to hand a whole dish over to me to enjoy. I promptly ran off into the crowd with a beaming smile looking for the Boy to share it with.

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The lovely smiling Caroline Taylor from Taylor’s Art and Coffee House made her very popular Italian eggs. She illustrated beautifully that you don’t have to use elaborate cooking techniques and loads of ingredients to make a dish that everyone will enjoy especially if Don Hancey’s beaming smile was anything to go by!

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Her Italian eggs are made with whipping cream, chorizo, Danish feta and button mushrooms. Also being a gluten free dish she kindly gave me a portion to try. It was the perfect balance of flavours and has inspired me to return back to Taylor’s to have my own full serve to myself.

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Manu Fillaudeau from Fillaudeau’s Restaurant prepared smoked Linley Valley free range pork ribs shredded with cabbage stew, turned carrots and potatoes. His dish was also gluten free however before I could steal a mouthful the judges had torn their soft bread rolls apart and dunked it in the richly coloured stew. I didn’t want to risk any gluten contamination so I consoled myself by nabbing a singular potato.

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"parmesan chicken tenderloins" "roast tomatoes" "avocado" "spinach" "perth restaurant reviews" "perth restaurants" "perth gluten free" "perth fructose friendly" "perth food reviews" "restaurants perth" "food photos" "perth food blog" "food blog" "travel blog" "perth" "perth travel blog" "chompchomp" "gluten free" "fructose friendly" "low fodmap diet" "fructose malabsorption" "gluten free cooking" "raw food cooking" "gluten free recipes" "fructose friendly recipes" "gluten free raw food" "fructose friendly raw food" "coeliacs" "coeliac disease" "humane food" "humane food region" "swan valley" "swan valley humane food" "animal welfare" "rspca wa" "city of swan" "sandalford estate" "sandalford winery" "sandalford wines" "swan valley food" "verity james" "lynne bradshaw" "dear friends" "co op dining" "kiren mainwaring" "mike price" "sittella winery" "humane region launch" "first humane food region" "manu fillaudeau" "fillaudeau’s restaurant" "don hancey" "caroline taylor" "taylor’s art and coffee house" "fiona lamont" "lamont’s" "dean williams"

Fiona Lamont from Lamont’s made a very simple but incredibly flavoursome dish of parmesan chicken tenderloins with roast tomatoes, avocado and spinach. I was feeling very well kept as she also put aside a little gluten free portion without any crumb so I could try it too. The chicken was as tender as butter literally melting in my mouth.

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"parmesan chicken tenderloins" "roast tomatoes" "avocado" "spinach" "perth restaurant reviews" "perth restaurants" "perth gluten free" "perth fructose friendly" "perth food reviews" "restaurants perth" "food photos" "perth food blog" "food blog" "travel blog" "perth" "perth travel blog" "chompchomp" "gluten free" "fructose friendly" "low fodmap diet" "fructose malabsorption" "gluten free cooking" "raw food cooking" "gluten free recipes" "fructose friendly recipes" "gluten free raw food" "fructose friendly raw food" "coeliacs" "coeliac disease" "humane food" "humane food region" "swan valley" "swan valley humane food" "animal welfare" "rspca wa" "city of swan" "sandalford estate" "sandalford winery" "sandalford wines" "swan valley food" "verity james" "lynne bradshaw" "dear friends" "co op dining" "kiren mainwaring" "mike price" "sittella winery" "humane region launch" "first humane food region" "manu fillaudeau" "fillaudeau’s restaurant" "don hancey" "caroline taylor" "taylor’s art and coffee house" "fiona lamont" "lamont’s" "dean williams"

The final dish was made by Dean Williams from Sandalford Wines. He created San Choy Bau using Linley Valley Pork accompanied by prawn eggs rolls. This dish was not gluten free so I didn’t get to have a nibble but would be easy to adapt using gluten free soy and Hoi sin sauces.

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This wasn’t an event designed to be competitive so there was no winner to announce. I am sure the panel members were pleased with this fact as it would have been hard to choose. I loved how each dish reflected the chef’s individuality across a wide range of cuisine styles. Looks like the Boy and I have a few more places in the Valley to add to our wish list!

Chompchomp was an invited guest of the City of Swan.
 
Dear Friends is currently closed. Kiren’s other restaurant is Co Op Dining (read my reviews for Dear Friends and Co-op Dining)
2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au/
Co-Op Dining on Urbanspoon
Sittella Winery
100 Barrett Street, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 2600 | www.sittella.com.au
Sittella Winery & Cafe on Urbanspoon
Taylor’s Art & Coffee House (read my review)
510 Great Northern Highway, Middle Swan WA 6056 | 0447 441 223 | www.taylorscafe.com.au
Taylors Art & Coffee House on Urbanspoon
Fillaudeau’s Restaurant
Located in Pinelli Wines, 30 Bennett Street, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 7733 | www.fillaudeaus.com.au
Fillaudeau's Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Lamont’s Swan Valley
85 Bisdee Road, Millendon WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4485 | www.lamonts.com.au/venues/swan-valley
Lamont's Swan Valley on Urbanspoon
Sandalford Estate Winery
3210 West Swan Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9755 6213 | www.sandalford.com
 Sandalford Estate Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A Day in the rolling hills of the McLaren Vale wine region, South Australia

Posted by  | Categories: Adelaide, Featured, Modern Australian, Restaurants, South Australia, Travel, Winery

My mother and I share many personality qualities and when we spend time together it often feels like there is an overlap of our mother-daughter relationship with that of two best friends. When we are together we laugh a lot, often and easily, sometimes to the point of tears at things that others may not perceive as being quite that funny. Back when I was still at school, she was the “cool” mum that everyone else wanted as their mum. Now decades later we are separated by thousands of kilometres meaning our times spent with each other are more precious than ever before. Earlier this year the Boy and I headed back to Adelaide to visit her for a short weekender break. Mum is as much of a foodie as I am and so she organised to take us on a day trip into the McLaren Vale wine region. McLaren Vale is a short 45 minute drive from Adelaide’s city centre and is easy to visit on a day trip.

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With my stepdad at the wheel we spent the day cruising from winery to winery carefully choosing just enough wine to fit into our luggage home. Our first stop was Hardy’s Tintara, a picturesque old winery bought by Hardy’s founder Thomas Hardy in 1876. Many of the old historical buildings still remain. The cellar door staff were welcoming and friendly insisting we work our way through as many of their wines as possible. There was no charge for tasting.

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We spent a lot longer than we realised at Tintara chatting to the lovely staff and sipping away on a variety of their luscious reds. By the time we all jumped in the car I felt a bit light headed and keen for a bite to eat. Mum had booked us a table at The Currant Shed as she already knew they were gluten free friendly.

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The Currant Shed marinated olives ($7, GF)

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South Australian pickled octopus with sauce vierge ($13, GF)

The Currant Shed are very focused on using local produce and being situated on the Fleurieu Peninsula they have an abundance of choice available. Their head chef prides himself on cultivating close relationships with the food producers and our waitress proudly explained to us that they make everything in house from scratch. The pickled octopus is one of their specialities and it was so tender soft you almost wouldn’t believe it was octopus.

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A selection of baby beetroots with whipped goat’s curd, toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil ($16, GF)

The menu has a number of creative dishes many of which are suitable for dietary requirements including gluten free and vegetarian options. The Boy and I shared the vegetarian entrée which was a selection of baby beetroots with whipped goat’s curd, toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil.

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A selection of baby beetroots with whipped goat’s curd, toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil ($16, GF)

Such a simple array of colourful ingredients decorated our plate elegantly and every mouthful was a burst of flavours and soft textures.

"Smoked kangaroo loin" "green strawberries" "rye pilaf" "pepper berry reduction" "The Currant Shed" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "Perth restaurants" "Perth gluten free" "Perth fructose friendly" "Perth food reviews" "restaurants perth" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "food photos" "gluten free" "fructose friendly" "gluten free cooking" "gluten free recipes" "fructose friendly recipes" "gluten free raw food" "fructose friendly raw food" "Adelaide Restaurant Reviews" "Adelaide food blog" "Adelaide restaurants" "Adelaide gluten free" "Adelaide fructose friendly" "Adelaide food reviews" "restaurants Adelaide" "McLaren Vale Restaurant Reviews" "McLaren Vale food blog" "McLaren Vale restaurants" "McLaren Vale gluten free" "McLaren Vale fructose friendly" "McLaren Vale food reviews" "restaurants McLaren Vale" "McLaren Vale" "McLaren Vale region" "McLaren Vale wineries" "McLaren Vale wine" "attractions Adelaide"

Smoked kangaroo loin with green strawberries, rye pilaf and a pepper berry reduction ($33)

We had already all gone out to Bar 9 for a late breakfast so after eating our pretty entrées none of us were exceedingly hungry. Mum and my stepdad wanted to share a main so our waitress recommended that they order the smoked kangaroo loin as it was a reasonable sized serve to divide between two people. It was served with a rye pilaf, green strawberries and a pepper berry reduction. Being accustomed to Perth restaurant prices I was astonished at what a generous serve it was for just $33.

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Zucchini, orzo and feta parmigana with fresh tomato stuffed with black rice, pea and confit garlic ($28, V)

The Boy was ecstatic when he saw his vegetarian plate of amazingness arrive. Using locally sourced, seasonal vegetables such as zucchini and capsicums his plate was as beautiful as our entrée. Who said vegetarian food was boring?

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Zucchini, orzo and feta parmigana with fresh tomato stuffed with black rice, pea and confit garlic ($28, V)

On his plate were cheesy wedges of zucchini parmigiana, orzo stuffed peppers with feta and fresh tomatoes filled with black rice and peas. Scattered about his plate lay a multitude of fresh herbs, caperberries and edible flowers.

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Fish of the day: Snapper with roast pumpkin, caperberries and tomato sugo (market price)

I ordered the fish of the day; two chunks of crispy skinned snapper with a macadamia nut crust in a tomato sugo broth with Goolwa cockles and thick cut chunks of pumpkin. The tomato sugo was a little watery and not as flavoursome as I would have preferred but with the saltiness of the cockles and lemony acidity of the caperberries the dish was still balanced well.

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Sadly despite The Currant Shed having a very delightful looking dessert menu none of us had the room left in our bellies to squeeze in any sweets. Rolling onward and outward we piled back into the car to hit one more winery. We arrived at D’arenberg where we learnt the meaning of the wonderful word cenosilicaphobic: “the fear of an empty glass”. This is certainly something I suffer from at time to time.

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The cellar door is situated overlooking the rolling hills of McLaren Vale and would have been another pretty spot to stop for lunch. Their restaurant d’Arrys Verandah is a little more formal compared to The Currant Shed and offers a full degustation menu. I noted they are also gluten free friendly and glimpses of the food heading out to the tables definitely looked like they were worth returning for.

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After a few more wine tastings and a stroll around D’Arenberg’s grassy grounds we were nearly ready to head back home. It was late in the afternoon so unfortunately for us the first two venues that we dropped into for some dessert had already closed their kitchen. After nearly giving up, we found a gourmet café called Blessed Cheese that was still open in the town centre.

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Gluten free sticky toffee muffin

They had a couple of gluten free cake options and a massive selection of cheese and other local gourmet goods. We chose the gluten free sticky toffee muffin to share which was served warm with a caramel sauce drizzled over the top. It was not my usual type of dessert these days but it successfully satisfied my sweet tooth.

With the car boot clinking with a variety of bottles of wines that I had bought for our collection, I left the Vale knowing that I made the most of my trip. Thank goodness we scored a business class upgrade for our flight home otherwise our wallets would be burned with excess luggage charges!

Hardy’s Tintara
202 Main Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171 | (08) 8329 4124 | hardyswines.com/au/wines/ranges/tintara
 
D’Arenberg
Osborn Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171 | (08) 8329 4848 | www.darenberg.com.au

 d'Arrys Verandah on Urbanspoon

The Currant Shed
Ingolby Road, McLaren Flat SA 5171 | (08) 8383 0232 | www.currantshed.com.au

  The Currant Shed on Urbanspoon

Blessed Cheese
150 Main Road, McLaren Vale SA 5171 | (08) 9323 7958 | www.blessedcheese.com.au

  Blessed Cheese on Urbanspoon

Margaret River Gourmet Escape Food For Thought Sessions at Voyager Estate

Posted by  | Categories: Attractions, Events, Featured, Food and Wine Festivals, Margaret River, Regional WA, Winery

Gourmet Escape is a three-day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. It attracts foodies from all around the country and the world in order to feast on the finest this region has to offer. The core part of the festival is centred on the Gourmet Village which is held on the spacious grounds at Leeuwin Estate. I have written a full account of our experience at the Gourmet Village here.

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Throughout the indulgent weekend there are also a number of satellite events held featuring world-famous chefs and offering experiences such as long table lunches, luxurious dinners and even pop up beach barbecues. These events sell out in a flash and for those who are keen, be sure to get yourselves on the pre-sale lists to avoid missing out. The day that all the key tickets were released for sale I was working a full day with a busy schedule so I left all our purchasing up to the Boy. One of our many compatibilities is our love for food so I trusted he would make some good decisions. His choices included two of the Food For Thought Sessions held at the picturesque Voyager Estate grounds.

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Our first session was with the amazing duo of Heston Blumenthal and Harold Mc Gee titled “The Science of Cooking”. It was a glorious day with clear blue skies and as we walked onto the brilliant green grounds the wafting aromas of freshly brewed coffee teased our senses. It wasn’t before long we both had one in hand; a short mac for me and a latte for the Boy.

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But in all honesty coffee schmofy; who needs coffee when you can have a freshly shaken grape juice cocktail? I knocked back my macchiato in a flash so that I could graciously accept our next round of beverage!  With glass in hand we entered into the elegant, chandelier decorated marquee and found our way to our table.

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Spring in a jar, Margaret River Wagyu, oyster mushrooms and horseradish emulsion, Crab and wakami egg roll

Our waitress made a careful effort to identify the people with pre-notified dietary requirements on our table including the Boy’s vegetarian request and my gluten free. My morning tea included three components. The first morsel was called Spring in a Jar and contained thick avocado cream cheese with miniature vegetables and olive powder.

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The second portion on my plate was a slice of delicately tender Margaret River Wagyu sirloin with oyster mushrooms and a horseradish emulsion. The original version of this was served on a crostini which they replaced with a gluten free rice cracker for me. The final component was an egg omelette rolled up with wakame seaweed and sweet Shark Bay Blue Swimmer crab meat.

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Vegetarian version: Spring in a jar, oyster mushrooms and horseradish emulsion, Wakami egg roll

For the Boy’s vegetarian option the Wagyu was omitted and he was given a larger serve of oyster mushroom with the horse radish emulsion and his wakame egg roll omitted the crab meat.

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It was entertaining listening to Heston and Harold talk, I believe they are close personal friends and have both in turn inspired each other’s careers. Whilst Heston was charming and humorous, I found Harold’s scientific approach to understanding the techniques used for cooking very interesting and he has motivated me to return to reading his enormously thick book “McGee on Food & Cooking” that I own at home on the shelf.

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Bahen & Co chocolate gateaux (not the GF version)

Desserts weren’t served until the talk had well and truly finished and by this point many attendees had to whisk away to attend their next foodie event. A perfect cube of Bahen & Co chocolate gateaux was just enough for about two mouthfuls and was adapted to be gluten free for me by omission of the ganache topping. I’m glad we had the time to stick around as this decadent treat literally melted in the mouth.

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Our second Food for Thought session on the following day was with Miles Irving, Alex Atala and Matt Wilkinson and was titled “The Call of the Wild – Insects, weeds and the food of the future”. It was no surprise to me that the Boy chose us a session about eating bugs. Remember his insect devouring obsession in Thailand? He ate them at every opportunity that he could find.

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This session was better organised than the previous day with both coffees and cocktails in abundance and the service even more polished and attentive. The food and drinks were created by the kitchen team from Morries Anytime. On arrival we were offered glasses of “Billy’s Punch” to accompany cubes of apple liquor soaked canapés. I had planned ahead for any inadvertent fructose exposure and brought some glucose tablets in my handbag. I downed a few before helping myself to some boozy apple delights. The punch was made with a generous amount of Aperol, some Voyager bubbles, sparkling grape juice, home-made rhubarb syrup and fresh orange and strawberry and was far too drinkable for the early morning. I was appreciative of the much larger serving compared to the day before and if it wasn’t before twelve I could have easier had another.

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Pork and parsley terrine with spiced plum chutney and Notting Hill marron and truffle mini burgers

The wait staff team were much more on the ball and shortly after being seated platters of food were brought to the tables. I was informed that I was able to eat the pork and parsley terrine topped with spiced plum chutney as it was gluten free. The mini burgers containing Notting Hill marron and truffle were not suitable and we were told to hold out as our replacements were on their way.

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Gluten free version of the marron mini-burger

For my replacement the bun was exchanged for toasted gluten free bread. My resulting sandwich was stuffed full of marron and truffle flavour. What a decadent way to start the day!

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Vegetarian Haloumi burger

The Boy sunk his teeth into his vegetarian option before I even had a chance to photograph it and then tried to recreate it in its untouched state by swizzling it round on his plate so I couldn’t see the chomp marks. I never thought I’d hear the day that he would moan in pleasure over a vego burger but this haloumi slider did the trick.

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The talk did somewhat digress away from discussing the potentially unpalatable sounding specifics of eating insects and weeds and onto its more worldly implications in providing more sustainable locally grown seasonal produce.  We were made to think about not only what foods we choose to eat, but how that food is produced and what potential impact its production has had on the world around us.

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Bahen & Co chocolate fudge with salted caramel popcorn

Our desserts were discretely served in the latter half of the talk allowing all attendees to enjoy it for this session. The Boy received Bahen & Co chocolate fudge with salted caramel popcorn.

"dessert" "desserts" "salted caramel" "popcorn" "strawberries" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef” “Food For Thought” “breville” “Alex Atala” Matt Wilkinson” “Miles Irving” “Forager” “Voyager Estate”

My gluten free dessert

For my gluten free version the fudge was replaced with a scoop of caramel ice cream and topped with the salted caramel popcorn and fresh strawberries.

I found both sessions very informative and interesting and am keen to attend them again next year. The food served each day was very locally orientated, of high quality and was able to be adapted for food allergies provided notice was given in advance. The amount of food was enough for a light morning tea leaving enough room to attend another event in the afternoon or evening without feeling stuffed to the brim.

The 2013 Gourmet Escape Food for Thought sessions cost $100 per person including food and drinks.

 
Voyager Estate
41 Stevens Road, Margaret River WA 6285 | (08) 9757 6354 | www.voyagerestate.com.au/the-estate/the-restaurant

 Voyager Estate on Urbanspoon

Gourmet Village at Gourmet Escape, Margaret River 2013

Posted by  | Categories: Attractions, Events, Featured, Food and Wine Festivals, Margaret River, Regional WA, Travel, Winery

It was only about six weeks ago that the Boy took me down to Margaret River on a prescribed weekend of rest. We wined, dined and came back as fresh as daisies albeit slightly rounder in shape. It was a comparatively unplanned and impromptu trip which is quite out of character for me and I love that the Boy can have this sort of influence on me. I had barely finished writing up all my blog posts from the trip when it was time to head back for Gourmet Escape.

For my non-Western Australians readers; Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. Famous chefs from around the world join along including Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Rick Stein, Adriano Zumbo, Hadleigh Troy, Guillaume Brahimi, Matt Stone, Tetsuya Wakuda and Neil Perry to name a just few!

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

We had a full weekend planned with different events to attend on each day in addition to a two-day pass to the Gourmet Village. The Gourmet Village is held on the spacious grounds at Leeuwin Estate and the whole day is filled with activities, classes, shows and stalls offering wine and food from all around Western Australia. It was a wonderful way to showcase what a richly diverse State we live in and how lucky we are to have such a strong focus on quality produce.

"Prevali Wines" "Prevali Wines Pinot Rose" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Bottoms up! Prevali Wines Pinot Rose 2013

Basic general admission tickets to the Village cost $38 per adult. We opted for premium tickets for $64 which also included 4 “GEMs”. GEMs are your village currency each costing $7 and most items to eat or drink cost one GEM. Despite buying some extra GEMS in advance we managed to guzzle our way through nearly 20 GEMS on the first day and had to buy more from one of the GEMs sellers that can be found walking through the crowd. There were also outlets in the Village selling GEMS but the queues for these were reasonably long.

"Classroom" "espresso martini" "Classroom Cocktail Club" “liquid nitrogen” “N2 espreso martini” “cocktails” “cocktail club” “North Perth” "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

The Classroom Cocktail Club

"Classroom" "espresso martini" "Classroom Cocktail Club" “liquid nitrogen” “N2 espreso martini” “cocktails” “cocktail club” “North Perth” "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Two N2 Espresso Martinis coming up!

The Classroom bar in North Perth set up their own Classroom Cocktail Club were you could buy their famous N2 espresso martinis for one GEM. For my review on this signature drink read my review here. The Boy missed out coming along to my cocktail Master class because he isn’t a blogger so we made a bee line as soon as we arrived to get him one to try!

"Classroom" "espresso martini" "Classroom Cocktail Club" “liquid nitrogen” “N2 espreso martini” “cocktails” “cocktail club” “North Perth” "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Even in a plastic cup it looks amazing!

"The Studio Bistro"’ "Butterfield beef fillet" "Café de Paris" "Royal Blue chips" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

The Studio Bistro’s Butterfield beef fillet, Café de Paris and Royal Blue chips (GF)

One of my favourite dishes for the day was The Studio Bistro’s Butterfield beef fillet, cooked rare with a sumptuous dark sear on the surface, served with a melting dollop of decadent Café de Paris and some hand cut Royal Blue chips. I actually went back for seconds on day two! It definitely has inspired me to pay them a visit next time I’m in Yallingup. My other most enjoyable dish was the freshly shucked Pacific oysters at 34 Degrees Blue’s stall. These guys got slurped up in a flash before I even thought of snapping a picture. Oysters are best shucked right before serving as they taste completely different when served freshly shucked. I am glad we have our own oyster shucker extraordinaire in our family; namely my Dad!

"Jean Pierre Sancho" "macarons" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Jean Pierre Sancho macarons

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Poh Ling Yeow and Matt Stone fried up some insects

Some of the presentations were of particular interest, the Boy and I loved Matt Stone’s demonstration on cooking with insects. The Boy is a great lover of eating these crunchy critters and he reminded me of the damage to the environment that farming my luscious, just devoured beef would have caused. I guarantee he would have been happier if there was a stall that he could have bought me a bag of crickets from!

“Southern Forest Food” “David Coomer” “Ian Leaning” “marron” “cauliflower” “sweet corn risotto” “truffle oil” "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Southern Forest Food tent

“Southern Forest Food” “David Coomer” “Ian Leaning” “marron” “cauliflower” “sweet corn risotto” “truffle oil” "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

David Coomer & Ian Leaning’s marron, cauliflower and sweet corn risotto with truffle oil

The Southern Forest region is one that is lesser known to interstate and overseas tourists however it is also an area rich in world class produce, luscious forests and fine wines. This is the region in Western Australia where black truffles are grown commercially. The Southern Forests Food Council are committed to spreading awareness of the value of this region as a foodie’s mecca and were selling a variety of fresh and prepared produce including free samples of trufflicious risotto.

"Apple Daily Bar" "Eating House" "Som tum gai yang" "Green papaya salad" "charcoal grilled chicken" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House’s Som tum gai yang (Green papaya salad with charcoal grilled chicken GF)

"Catch of the day" "smoked Huon salmon" "vine tomato jelly" "fennel" "apple salad" "spring pea tendrils" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Catch of the day: smoked Huon salmon, vine tomato jelly, fennel and apple salad, spring pea tendrils (GF)

There were a number of gluten free options spotted around the Village and every time I saw something that I could eat I felt compelled to buy some. A little hedonistic I know and suffice to say I suffered for my overindulgence for several days afterwards!

"Ole Paella" "Paella" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Ole Paella

"Cullen Wines" "Grilled Augusta whiting" "kimchi" "vermicelli noodle salad" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Gourmet Escape” “Gourmet Village” “Leeuwin Estate” “Food festival” “Wine festival” “Margaret River festival” “Heston Blumenthal” “Harold McGee” “Rick Stein” “Adriano Zumbo” “Hadleigh Troy” “Guillaume Brahimi” “Matt Stone” “Tetsuya Wakuda” “Neil Perry” ”celebrity chef”

Cullen Wines Grilled Augusta whiting with kimchi and vermicelli noodle salad (GF)

As our second day in the Village drew to a close we had to decide how to spend our last three GEMs. We agreed on a cup of Matso’s Mango beer for the Boy, a glass of Snake + Herring ‘Corduroy’ Single Vineyard Karridale Chardonnay for me and a bowl to share of kimchi and vermicelli noodle salad topped with a couple of grilled Augusta whiting fillets courtesy of Cullen Wines. Cullen Winery are very focussed on sustainability and their impact on the environment, operating a biodynamic winery that is carbon neutral. Their restaurant specialises in using organic and local produce and is a must to visit if you are in the region. They have loads of vego and gluten free options. See my review for Cullen Wines here.

Gourmet Escape was a fabulous foodie weekend away and we hope to be able to attend for many years to come. We enjoyed a wonderful mix of satellite events along with visiting the Village although next year I think one day at the Village will suffice. This will leave more room in my stomach for attending one of the beach BBQs which I believe were incredible.

 

The Studio Bistro, Yallingup WA

The Studio Bistro & Gallery on Urbanspoon

Prevali Wines, 99 Mitchell Drive, Prevelly, WA 6285

Leeuwin Estate, Stevens Road, Margaret River, WA 6285

Leeuwin Estate Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House, 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000

Apple Daily Bar & Eating House on Urbanspoon

Ole Paella Catering

Ole Paella Catering on Urbanspoon

Cullen Wines, Lot 4323 Caves Road, Margaret River, WA 6284

Cullen Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chasing the Stars at Wills Domain, Margaret River

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Desserts, Featured, Margaret River, Regional WA, Restaurants, Winery

I have to admit I am one of those people that tend to get a bit starry eyed with fancy restaurants that get into the big halls of fame. I am always hinting to the Boy that the holiday of my lifetime would be one where we travel around the world business class eating at the top ten restaurants in the San Pelligrino World’s Best. Focusing more locally than globally, the West Australian Good Food Guide is a highly esteemed annual publication where top restaurants around the state can be awarded one, two or three stars.

For the awards this year, there were five Perth venues and four regional venues that received a two star rating. This award is considered to identify “the best of the best: that small band of restaurateurs who are at the very apex of professional cooking and service”.  As yet no Western Australian restaurant has ever achieved a three star rating.

In the weeks preceding our recent trip down to Margaret River I booked a table at Wills Domain, the winner of two stars in addition to the best WA regional restaurant of the year. I wanted fancy and was certain this would fit the bill perfectly.

The restaurant faces out onto the winery boasting 180 degree views of the sweeping vineyards. It had been a very wet weekend and we were blessed with some of the first rays of sunshine we had seen for days. A nippy breeze remained in the air to remind us that summer was still a few weeks away. We started off at Wills Domain’s cellar door to try a few of their wines and walked away appreciating why they hold a number of accolades for their collection. Suffice to say we didn’t walk away empty handed, in fact we had to pick up a full case on the way out!

"smoked paprika" "cumin" "coriander seeds" "honey" "Marinated olives" "spice roasted almonds" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Marinated olives and spice roasted almonds ($9)

Once seated at our table, we asked for some spice roasted almonds and marinated olives to be brought out while we perused the menu. I had forced the Boy to go on a short but rather hilly jog earlier in the morning and both our tummies were rumbling as loud as the thunderstorm the night before. The nuts were roasted with smoked paprika, cumin, coriander seeds and honey and packed a decent punch of flavour.

"Gin cured trout" "heirloom beetroot" "bread and butter pickles" "buckwheat" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Gin cured trout, heirloom beetroot, bread and butter pickles, buckwheat ($21)

We both ordered the gin cured trout for entrée. Many of you may know about my gin obsession so for me this was a logical choice. Bright colours of locally grown heirloom beetroots, nasturtium flowers and pickles wound elegantly around the plate like a Spring garden bed. I found the “prawn crackers” quite curious. They were actually made from trout skins that are dried and puffed. You could even see the tiny little scales in them. They dissolved on the tongue satisfyingly.

After a considerable wait for our next dish whilst surrounded by very vocal young babies, our mains finally arrived. I was craving beef which is unusual for me so I ordered the Wagyu brisket despite getting a low brow from my dear husband.

"Wagyu" "beef brisket" "Ningaloo Wagyu brisket" "pickled walnuts" "quince" "kale" "parsnip" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Ningaloo Wagyu brisket, pickled walnuts, quince, kale and parsnip ($36)

I haven’t had red meat in some time, not necessarily because I don’t want it but more so because the Boy no longer eats it and we usually share our food! Three solid chunks of Ningaloo Wagyu brisket were served plank style with fresh kale, parsnip puree and fresh orange.

"Wagyu" "beef brisket" "Ningaloo Wagyu brisket" "pickled walnuts" "quince" "kale" "parsnip" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Ningaloo Wagyu brisket, pickled walnuts, quince, kale and parsnip ($36)

This was a very simple dish with each element done perfectly but I couldn’t help but feel that this was a very safe menu choice and lacked the creativity and imagination I would have expected for a two starred restaurant. The meat shredded with no effort under my fork and oozed that characteristic smooth, buttery flavour that one can only expect from Wagyu.

"Line caught fish" "mussels" "cuttlefish" "nettles" "fennel" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Line caught fish, mussels, cuttlefish, nettles, fennel ($39)

The Boy ordered the line caught snapper served with mussels, cuttlefish, fennel and nettles. His fish was also tenderlicious and flakable using only the freshest ingredients and served with a relaxed level of simplicity. We ordered a couple of sides to accompany our mains; roasted pumpkin with seeds and pomegranate and the radicchio and baby cos with buttermilk dressing.

"Roasted pumpkin" " seeds" "pomegranate" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Roasted pumpkin with seeds and pomegranate ($9) & Radicchio and baby cos with buttermilk dressing

Now as I have told you before, the bar has been set for the most amazing roast pumpkin in all the land by Rockpool. I have now eaten their version of this side dish at more than one Rockpool location, and, on half a dozen occasions. It never fails to woo me every time. If you are going to make a basic dish like this, then make sure you make it really really well! Wills Domain is first place I can confidently say serves roasted pumpkin that is AS GOOD AS ROCKPOOL’S!

Yes, I called it!

"Vigneron " "cheese" "woodside cheese" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West Australian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Degustation" "Vegetarian" “Wills Domain” “Wills Domain wines” “Wills Domain restaurant” “Wills Domain winery” “James Halliday”

Vigneron cheese with condiments & GF crackers ($15)

There was another fairly extended delay until our plates were cleared and another again before our smiley waitress finally brought the dessert menus out for us. Not quite the polished service I was expecting.  As is often the case I couldn’t decide between cheese and sweets so the Boy and I agreed to share one of each. However, in a rare moment of contradiction, we found that we couldn’t agree on which cheese. Accustomed to usually ordering them all, it is a difficult task picking just one! We solved things the old fashioned way and flipped a coin. To my delight I won and selected the Vigneron cheese, or “winemaker’s cheese”.

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Ooze-yeah!

This cheese is sourced from Woodside Cheese Wrights in South Australia and was created to “showcase the vine leaves and wines” from their vineyards in McLaren Vale. The young cheeses are wrapped in specially selected vine leaves and then washed in white wine. The end result is a fairly complex tasting cheese with a pleasant sweet, slightly earthy flavour ending with a nutty after-taste.

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Bitter sweet chocolate slab, coconut ice cream, passionfruit macadamia ($18)

The Boy’s choice of dessert to share was the bitter sweet chocolate slab served with coconut ice cream, passionfruit gel and fresh fruit. The full gluteny version also has a macadamia crumb but the chef was happy to serve the crumb in a little bowl on the side so the Boy could enjoy this component without me.

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Bitter sweet chocolate slab, coconut ice cream, passionfruit macadamia ($18)

Overall, our meal at Wills Domain was very enjoyable however I cannot deny I walked away a little disappointed. We have been fortunate enough to dine at a decent number of starred restaurants around Australia and I expected their service to be as polished as their food. Whilst our wait staff were dynamic and friendly, there was long waits between courses, empty plates remained on tables for prolonged times, and even though I made my booking a few weeks in advance, we were seated down the end of the balcony between two families with young children rather than in the body of the restaurant. If I hadn’t built up my expectations due to their rating, we would have actually had a fabulous day and will have to go back again to see if this was a once off.

Wills Domain
Lot 341 Brash Road (Corner of Abbey Farm Road & Brash Road), Yallingup WA | (08) 9755 2327 | www.willsdomain.com.au
 
Price:                     $$$ (Entrees $19-21, Mains $29-39)
Food:                    4/5 (simple, executed precisely without fanfare or extravagance)
Service:                3/5 (friendly but inattentive & slow)
Ambience:          3.5/5 (placed between two noisy families it was hard to appreciate potential)
Drinks:                  4.5/5 (the wines are superb, our fav was the 2009 Reserve Bitza)
Total:                     15/20

Wills Domain on Urbanspoon

We decided to Trust the Chef at Knee Deep Wines in Margaret River

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Featured, Margaret River, Modern Australian, Regional WA, Restaurants, Winery

With the disappointment resulting from our cancelled Adelaide trip still fresh in our minds, we both looked forward to our weekend break down in Margaret River with an exaggerated level of enthusiasm. Our darling fur-child Eddie had made a full recovery and we both coördinated getting out of work on time on the Friday making for a perfect start to the weekend. To facilitate this further, earlier on in the week I had purchased enough gourmet treats to feed an army and the Boy had stocked up on wine, champagne and plenty of beer. We drove down on the Friday night to our Chalet at Chandeliers on Abbey where we have stayed before some years back. The following morning we lazily lounged in bed and I flicked through my Twitter feed to see what was happening in the real world. I was awakened by a stunning photograph of flash cooked snapper for Knee Deep Wines.

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I was actually so excited by its beauty that I woke the Boy up to show him. It was met with some grunts of approval before he drifted back off to sleep. Later that morning as I was cooking us breakfast, I mentioned the photo again and he suggested making a booking at Knee Deep for lunch. Expecting there to be no chance to score a table at such last minute I whooped with joy when I was told there was one table left!

DSC_8555-1

Knee Deep Wines first started producing wines in 2004 and are rated 5-stars in the most recent James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. We arrived a little early and enjoyed working our way through their collection at the cellar door before we sat at our table. We particularly enjoyed the 2010 Limited Release Kim’s Chardonnay with its buttery creaminess and the medium bodied 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Knee Deep Restaurant’s chef Ben Day is a recent addition to the kitchen only starting in late February this year and since then has received a number of accolades including a Chef’s Hat in the 2013 West Australian Good Food Guide.

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Freshly baked organic sourdough with cultured butter

We chose the “Trust the Chef” five course menu where the chef chooses five courses for us matched with Knee Deep Wines for $115. To start with we were brought some freshly baked organic sourdough and cultured butter which are both made in house. The butter is made from local cream and infused with beautiful fresh nasturtium flowers and leaves. The aromas wafted across the table and made me so hungry I started to salivate.

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Gordel, Sicilian and Manzilla marinated olives

Thankfully our waitress didn’t leave me hanging for too long and after apologising for not having any gluten free bread available, brought some flavoursome marinated olives for me to nibble on. She informed us that like most ingredients used in the kitchen all the olives are marinated in house with the chef using different marinades for each type of olive.

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Fresh Milk curds from local milk, wild fennel, fennel pollen, zucchini, and jarrah honey (Matched with 2013 Chenin Blanc)

For our first entrée, it was like the long awaited joy of spring had been captured and masterfully spread across our plate. Fresh tangy milk curds made from un-homogenised milk obtained from Millers dairy in Cowaramup, vibrant seasonal flowers and wild fennel laced the plate with shavings of zucchini and zigzags of sweet jarrah honey. Scattered in amongst the colour were paper thin “milk crisps”. Our waitress described with great enthusiasm how the chef made these crisps from skim milk infused with all the parts from the wild fennel plant. Each crisp is flavoured with sprinklings of fennel pollen to add extra punch and brought a wonderful textual contrast to this unique and pretty dish.

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Smoked eel, yabby, beach herbs, coconut broth (Matched with 2012 SBS)

Continuing with the same level of originality and intrigue our next dish consisted of a wedge of smoked eel, yabby tail and for the Boy a curly whirly prawn cracker. It was freezing cold and raining outside and the delicately flavoured, warming coconut broth hit the spot.

"samphire" "dune spinach" "salt bush" "sea celery" "pig face flowers" "native spinach" "Cone Bay Barramundi" "octopus tentacle" "mojo picon" "ink" "Asparagus" "puffed milk" "beach herbs" "2010 LR Chardonnay" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "Bickley Valley wines" "Perth activities" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West AUstralian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Knee Deep Winery" "Knee Deep Wines" "Cheeky Monkey Brewery" "Cidery" "Margaret River Beer" "Cheeky Monkey Margaret River" "Margaret River Breweries" "Degustation" "Ben Day" "Vegetarian"

Cone Bay Barramundi, octopus tentacle, mojo picon, ink, Asparagus, puffed milk, beach herbs (Matched with 2010 LR Chardonnay)

Each dish exuded Chef Day’s passion for local and seasonal produce and this dish was garnished with locally foraged “beach herbs”. He later informed me that these beach herbs can include on any day the familiar samphire along with dune spinach, salt bush, sea celery, pig face flowers and native spinach.

"samphire" "dune spinach" "salt bush" "sea celery" "pig face flowers" "native spinach" "Cone Bay Barramundi" "octopus tentacle" "mojo picon" "ink" "Asparagus" "puffed milk" "beach herbs" "2010 LR Chardonnay" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Margaret River" "Margaret River food reviews" "Margaret River reviews" "Margaret River valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "Bickley Valley wines" "Perth activities" "winery region" "Margaret River winery reviews" "Margaret River restaurant reviews" "West Australian wineries" "West AUstralian Wines" "West Australian Good Food Guide" "Knee Deep Winery" "Knee Deep Wines" "Cheeky Monkey Brewery" "Cidery" "Margaret River Beer" "Cheeky Monkey Margaret River" "Margaret River Breweries" "Degustation" "Ben Day" "Vegetarian"

Cone Bay Barramundi, octopus tentacle, mojo picon, ink, Asparagus, puffed milk, beach herbs (GF version) (Matched with 2010 LR Chardonnay)

I am a sucker for meticulous presentation. In my own line of work as a vet, attention to detail is everything especially with my niche field of feline medicine. When this attitude is applied to fine dining, it is by far a step in the right direction in my humble opinion. Our main dish of barramundi and octopus was indeed a plate of perfection. Each component and flavour was carefully thought out and prepared yet still retained an air of simplicity with no pretention. The octopus passed my current “Barcelona test” and the mojo picon had just a teeny bit of kick to it.

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Pont L’Evêque, organic Sundowner apple, pickled watermelon, macadamia (Matched with 2012 Late Harvest SB)

I used to be a fan of having “all the cheese” when dining out and have been known to order up to five different cheeses for just the two of us because it’s too hard to choose. I figure it’s just another way I show my “all or nothing” side of myself. Since then I have come to realise that with the right chef it is possible to have just one cheese and turn it into a course of its own right by simply pairing it with the right accompaniments. Five is not necessarily better than one! A humble slice of Pont L’Evêque was served with organic Sundowner apples, pickled watermelon and shaved macadamia. Pont L’Evêque is a French cheese and is one of the oldest Norman cheeses still in production. It is an uncooked, un-pressed, washed rind cheese made with cow’s milk and is creamy pale with a smooth fine texture and pungent aroma.

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Quince & watermelon sorbet with oats

A refreshing palate cleanser of quince & watermelon sorbet gave just the right element of turning our savoury to sweet notes on our palate and tuned us in perfectly for the final course; dessert.

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Bitter Chocolate espuma, blood orange sorbet and jelly, chocolate and cardamom crumb (Matched with 2010 LR Relseas Cab Sauv)

After not a single dish faltering in its own wonder, we were wide-eyed with anticipation to see what was going to be next. We were not disappointed. Foamy light bitter chocolate espuma with blood orange sorbet and cubes of tart blood orange jelly lay hidden under fracturable shards of chocolate wafer. This whole dish of magnificence was dusted in freeze dried blood orange powder.

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Bitter Chocolate espuma, blood orange sorbet and jelly, chocolate and cardamom crumb (Matched with 2010 LR Relseas Cab Sauv)

I was impressed. For a spur of the minute decision to make a reservation because of a photo I’d seen on Twitter for a restaurant that was never really on my radar; we had experienced a total wow factor from beginning to end. Quirky and knowledgeable service, elegant but simple presentation and a level of true passion and enthusiasm that filtered from the kitchen all the way through to the dining room. This was a late minute change of plans I will never regret.

Knee Deep Winery & Restaurant

61 Johnson Road, Margaret River WA 6280 | (08) 9755 6776 | kneedeepwines.com.au
 
Price:                     $$$ (Entrees $16-22, Mains $28-40, 5 course Trust the Chef $90 + $25 matched wines)
Food:                    4.5/5 (creative, intriguing and locally sourced)
Service:                4.5/5 (quirky and passionate)
Ambience:          4/5 (even in the pouring rain, the vines are pretty as a picture)
Drinks:                  4/5 (only Knee Deep Wines available, but they matched well with each course)
Total:                     17/20
Knee Deep Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon 
 
 

The Annual Strawberry Fayre at Myattsfield Winery and Core Cider House, Bickley Valley

Posted by  | Categories: Attractions, Events, Featured, Food and Wine Festivals, Perth, Pizza, Restaurants, Winery

The Boy and I were desperate for some time-out. We planned to visit Adelaide for the weekend of my high school reunion and to make the most of our trip, we organised a full schedule including winery visits and lots of eating. I booked our flights months back but with all the havoc and uncertainty recently; the trip couldn’t have come at a better time. We were both really looking forward to switching off and relaxing. That is, until one of our darling fur-children fell ill. Now bear in mind that we are without human children and our two Burmese cats are the next best thing. Well, in my opinion, they ARE the best thing!

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The darlings.

Eddie is our youngest “son” and has the softest, sweetest nature. If he was human I’m sure every sentence would start with “Please” and end in “Sorry”! The night before our departure for Adelaide, Eddie started with profuse vomiting and the poor little guy was still unable to hold anything down the next morning. After rushing him to work and running blood tests, performing x-rays and an ultrasound, we diagnosed a flare up of his inflammatory bowel disease which may have possibly been worsened by pancreatitis. He needed an overnight stay in hospital so he could get intravenous fluids, pain relief and further treatment.

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I sure you will understand that upon realising this, neither of us could pack our bags, leave him and get on that plane. I was reminded again that I married the perfect man when he jumped onto the phone to Qantas without hesitation and rescheduled our trip to early next year. At least we are equally crazy about our kitties. Eddie was discharged from Perth Veterinary Emergency the following day. By Sunday he was obviously feeling much better asking to be picked up for a cuddle like usual. How does a cat ask this you say? Well, being Burmese he IS quite talkative but when he wants to be picked up he does something that is a little toddleresque. Standing up on his hind legs he reaches to tap-tap-tap on my upper thigh with his soft front paws. If I reach down to pick him up he stretches his “arms” right out to reach over my shoulder and then snuggles into me. So fricking cute.

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Relieved that our child was well on the road to recovery the Boy proposed a Sunday country drive to enjoy the first of Spring’s warming rays of sunshine. I wanted to visit Myattsfield Winery to try more of their sumptuous reds so with my old map from the Bickley Valley Harvest Festival in hand we drove up into the Hills. To our surprise we found a hive of activity at the winery; it was their annual “Strawberry Fayre” where the winery recreates the celebrations from their ancestors when they used to cultivate both wine and strawberries.

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There was live music, wood fired pizza and their full range of wines for tasting. Strangely there were no strawberries however. We worked our way through all their wines; from their whites through to their reds and ending on their sticky. It was hard to choose what to bring home and we ended up buying not one but two cases of our own personal selection including a couple of bottles of that delightful Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier that I fell in love with at Dear Friends.

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Smokey Jack’s wood fired pizza (not GF)

As the Boy lined his stomach with some pizza I looked on in starving envy soaking up some sun while my tummy grumbled furiously. After much whinging about the lack of gluten free edibles, I suddenly remembered the Core Cider House was gluten free friendly and so we left the Fayre goers behind in search of something I could eat.

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So pretty

For those who haven’t yet managed to spend a lazy Sunday at Core Cider House, you are definitely missing out. Every time we have visited them they have been packed to near capacity and we were very lucky according to our waiter to score a table as they were fully booked.

"pear cider" "apple cider" "lemon cider" "Cider tasting paddle" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Bickley valley" "Bickley Valley food reviews" "Bickley valley reviews" "Bickley valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "Bickley Valley wines" "Perth activities" "winery region" "Bickley valley region" "Strawberry fair" "strawberry fayre" "Myattsfield Wines" "Myattsfield Winery" "Pickering Brook" "Core Cider House" "Burmese cats" "Burmese" "cats" "cute cats"

Cider tasting paddle

Despite being obviously under the pump, the wait staff were all very jovial and friendly. Whilst by no means fancy, this place oozes character and charm. Tables are spotted about on the grass under the apple trees overlooking views of the orchards and vineyards. I could consciously feel my stress levels drop down notch by notch. All their ciders are gluten free although I doubted they were fructose friendly so I downed a couple of glucose tablets to counter act any issues and shared a tasting paddle with the Boy.  Not being a big cider drinker I am probably the worst person to review them but for what it’s worth I really enjoyed “Pith’d”; a refreshing sparking lemon cider and “Core Reactor”; a medium dry more traditional cider made from apples and pears.

"thyme and garlic infused warm brie" "warm brie" "candied walnuts" "gluten free bread" "cabernet sauvignon sultanas" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Bickley valley" "Bickley Valley food reviews" "Bickley valley reviews" "Bickley valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "Bickley Valley wines" "Perth activities" "winery region" "Bickley valley region" "Strawberry fair" "strawberry fayre" "Myattsfield Wines" "Myattsfield Winery" "Pickering Brook" "Core Cider House" "Burmese cats" "Burmese" "cats" "cute cats"

Warmed brie ($20)

We ordered a couple of plates to share starting with the thyme and garlic infused warm brie. Deliciously gooey in the centre it was served with candied walnuts, Cabernet sauvignon sultanas and toasted gluten free bread. The bread was not stodgy or crumbly and held its texture perfect while we smeared the molten cheese on it.

"aged goats cheese" "chevre Rondelle" "soft goat’s cheese" "blanched broccolini" "red pepper puree" "gluten free toast" "rosemary salt" "roasted garlic" "preserved lemon" "Vegetarian platter" "vegetarian" "Orchardist’s Platter" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "Bickley valley" "Bickley Valley food reviews" "Bickley valley reviews" "Bickley valley" "gluten free" "local produce" "Bickley Valley wines" "Perth activities" "winery region" "Bickley valley region" "Strawberry fair" "strawberry fayre" "Myattsfield Wines" "Myattsfield Winery" "Pickering Brook" "Core Cider House" "Burmese cats" "Burmese" "cats" "cute cats"

Orchardist’s Platter ($26)

Our second platter was one of the vegetarian options called “The Orchardist’s Platter”.  Thick rounds of aged creamy chevre Rondelle (soft goat’s cheese), some blanched broccolini and rich red pepper puree, more gluten free toast were flavoured with rosemary salt, roasted garlic cloves and preserved lemon slivers. Although we enjoyed this platter, I did feel it was a little overpriced and it could have easily been improved with the addition of more vegetables.

Overall we had a wonderful day out in Bickley Valley, it was a nice alternative to the more mainstream Swan Valley and I am chuffed to see my wine rack filled once again. I’m not sure how long they will last though!

Myattsfield Vineyards
Cellar Door Union Road, Carmel Valley, WA | www.myattsfield.com.au
 
CORE Cider House
35 Merrivale Road, Pickering Brook, WA 6076 | (08) 9293 7583 | www.corecider.com.au/core-cider-house
 
Price:                     $$$ (Share plates $10-32, Mains $19-33)
Food:                    3/5 (excellent range of gluten free, would like better value on the platters)
Service:                3.5/5 (bright and bubbly just like their ciders)
Ambience:          3.5/5 (a great way to lower the blood pressure)
Drinks:                  2.5/5 (spritzy Pith’d lemon cider was so refreshing)
Total:                     12.5/20

CORE Cider House on Urbanspoon

Speed Grazing with Taste Bud Tours in the Swan Valley

Posted by  | Categories: Attractions, Chocolate, Featured, Modern Australian, Perth, Restaurants, Swan Valley, Winery

Last year I entered a Facebook competition for a food magazine that will remain unnamed and in a nail-biting, head-to head battle with my blogging friend Carly from Perth Munchkin we both tied in first place. We each won a voucher for two for “Speed Grazing” in the Swan Valley with Taste Bud Tours. As often is the case, time got the better of me and before I knew it a whole year had flown by and our voucher was nigh on its expiration date. I contacted Loris the sole operator from Taste Bud Tours to book our day out before it was too late. But what developed was very odd indeed, it turns out that my voucher was in fact a counterfeit that was never officially issued! It turns out there were a number of dubious vouchers that were handed around the magazine’s office for competition prizes and staff rewards. What a scandal!

Loris offered me a two-for-one deal as replacement for my dodgy voucher in a gesture of goodwill.  I will never say no to a day in the Valley and despite the stormy forecast the Boy agreed to come along as my plus one. Loris’s concept of Speed Grazing is quite an original one and as a result she has consistently been awarded the number 1 ranking on TripAdvisor for Perth Activities for several years running. She keeps her tour group numbers small to ensure a personalised approach and visits nine different locations during each half day tour.  She provides a coach pick up from either Wellington Street, Perth City or from Guildford.

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Mac-attack time

We chose an afternoon tour and headed into the city a smidge earlier for a mac-attack. Not in any way related to the famous yellow double arches; a “mac-attack” is a termed coined by my now sadly estranged sister for those times when you just have to have to get your hands on a macaron. Paired with my usual short macchiato you could consider my version a double mac attack. We stopped in at Jean Pierre Sancho where I may have accidentally bought two macarons; my old time fav the salted macaron and my newest obsession passionfruit.

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Flaky deliciousness – if only I could eat it!

The Boy opted for a buttery, flaky toasted croissant but in his partially slumbered state he ordered a ham and cheese croissant instead of a vegetarian option. As we both sat on the couches soaking up what little sunshine there was that day he had to resort to prying open his crispy croissant to remove the offending slices of ham whilst trying not to accidentally tear it in half. After our mid-morning treat we strolled down to Wellington Street to join the rest of the tour group as the storm clouds gathered in a huddled grey mass in the sky; this weather is most unusual for Perth this time of year. On our way out to the Valley in the pouring rain, Loris shared with us some history of Perth and the Swan Valley region. The area has been producing wine for over 150 years and is the oldest wine region in Western Australia. Being so close to the Perth CBD and spanning over a relatively small area means it is much easier to visit a number of venues in a short space of time making Speed Grazing an easy task.

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Yahava Koffee Works

Our first stop on the tour was at Yahava Koffee Works. We were treated to a series of hot coffee tastings from their extensive range and then ended the experience on a sugar high with a cup of their “Ice Koffee”. This is a syrupy liquid made from a rich blend of Yahava’s Indian Tiger Mountain coffee, Indian chocory and some natural spices. I could easily imagine this sticky treat poured over a big bowl of vanilla and choc chip ice cream.

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Margaret River Chocolate Factory

Our next stop was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Now I don’t want to sound like a naysayer as I am a dedicated lover of all things chocolate however in recent years I have come to appreciate the bean to bar concept of chocolate production. This is the signature ethos of companies like Bahen & Co, Gabriel and Melbourne based Matale.  Without meaning to sound like a snob, I confess that by comparison to these quality small scale producers I find The Margaret River Chocolate Factory a touch over commercialised. That being said I also have great respect for this WA business in becoming such a massively successful company. Whilst their chocolate is not exactly cheap, it is very creamy and smooth and we couldn’t stop ourselves from purchasing a couple of truffles.

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Freshly baked scones at Cape Lavender avec du gluten :(

Our stop number three was at Cape Lavender, another business that also has a location down in Margaret River. I had informed Loris earlier in the week that I required gluten free food  and she advised me that Cape Lavender would have some gluten free scones made especially for me.

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Cape Lavender

Alas upon our arrival I was told that this wasn’t the case and so I had to settle for my glass of Lavender coloured Howling Wolves SixPointSix Cabernato 2013 instead. Quite an unusual little drop; they recommended serving this plonk as a cocktail in a tall glass over ice accompanied with a wedge fresh lime and a sprig of mint. I bought a bottle of it for drinking later so I could give this cocktail a whirl at home.

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Mago Coffee

After our group demolished the plate of mini-scones we all shuffled next door to Mago Coffee. Mago is a family owned business and they have been roasting their own blends of coffee in the Swan Valley since the late 60s. Mago imports raw coffee beans from Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Kenya and Ethiopia in addition to a few other “secret locations”. I had already reached my maximum caffeine limit for the day so I didn’t get to try their brew but we did taste some of their freshly roasted nuts and bought a giant size bag of roasted hazelnuts still slightly warm.

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Jarrah Ridge Winery

Our next stop was the familiar Jarrah Ridge Winery. The Boy and I have been here a number of times with both my parents on separate occasions and I am a big fan of both their olives and their wines. As we arrived the manager served us little tasting dishes of their marinated olives and WA cheeses for us to nibble on as we worked our way through all the wines on offer. In a repeat of our previous visits, we walked away with two large vacuum packed bags of olives in hand along with a decent chinking of wine bottles.

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The House of Honey & The Sticky Spoon Café

Being a sufferer of fructose malabsorption our next stop at The House of Honey wasn’t really the place for me but for those that do not have to restrict their fructose this place is worth a visit. Proudly using only pure, unpasteurised and unadulterated varietal honeys there is a wide range of honey products on offer. There is also an active hive with a Perspex backing to allow viewing of the bees in action. I can now understand where the saying “busy bee” comes from because not a single bee in that hive stopped for a rest.

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Pistachio macaron with cranberry and pistachio nougat @ Mondos

It was getting into the later part of the afternoon and all the food and wine tasting was beginning to make me feel sleepy. As we entered Mondos Nougat my eyes were drawn like a magnet to the macarons. Yes, I have a problem. We were given a sample of the nougat to taste but ended up buying another couple of squares to enjoy with our macarons.

Our second last stop was a farmer’s market stall selling a variety of fresh local produce ranging from strawberries to miniature herb plants. Unfortunately it was timed simultaneously with a torrential downpour meaning that no sooner had we all exited the minibus to peruse their offerings, we all very quickly came running back to the bus for shelter.

Our final stop was at the Iron Bark Brewery where Loris had called ahead for us with the tour group’s orders for pizzas. The Boy and I ordered a vegetarian gluten free pizza to share between the two of us which is not included in the price of the tour. On arrival we were given a voucher to get either a free beer tasting or a discount on a full serve of beer or wine. The price for a small pizza was $17.50 and the large was $23.50 with a $2 supplement for gluten free.

When our pizzas arrived we were puzzled to see that our small pizza was in fact just a regular sized pizza cut in half. As we looked up and down the table we saw that another tour guest had received our other half. What we found even more perplexing was that they wanted to charge us $17 for the half pizza! Erm I think not! A $34 vegetarian pizza! When we were at the counter ready to pay I suggested to our waitress that we should really only pay for half the price of a full gluten free pizza. The other tour guest that had eaten the other half could pay for remainder. I was given a look of contempt but after consulting with her frowning manager they both begrudgingly agreed. Oh dear.

Taste Bud Tours was a fabulous way to sample the wide variety of wine and produce available in the Swan Valley. I love how Loris sticks to Western Australian companies and she is a passionate and knowledgable advocate of the region. I can highly recommend her tours to anyone who wants to join a tour that is just a bit different from the norm and more personal.

Taste Bud Tours | www.tastebudtours.com.au
 
Jean Pierre Sancho
878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au
Jean Pierre Sancho on Urbanspoon
 
Yahava Koffee Works
4752 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 8599 | www.yahava.com.au
Yahava Koffeeworks on Urbanspoon
 
Margaret River Chocolate Factory
5123 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 1588 | www.chocolatefactory.com.au
Margaret River Chocolate Co. Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
Cape Lavender
6 Cranleigh Street, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 7711 | www.lavenderonline.com.au
Cape Lavender Swan Valley on Urbanspoon
 
Mago Coffee
Lot 6, Cranleigh St, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9274 5871 | www.mago.com.au
Mago Coffee on Urbanspoon
 
Jarrah Ridge Winery
651 Great Northern Highway, Swan Valley, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 6337 | www.jarrahridge.com
Jarrah Ridge Wines on Urbanspoon
 
The House of Honey & The Sticky Spoon Café
867 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 3635 | www.thehouseofhoney.com.au
The Sticky Spoon Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
Mondo Nougat & Moorish Nuts
640 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 0111 | www.mondonougat.com.au
 Mondo Nougat on Urbanspoon
 
Iron Bark Brewery
55 Benara Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 4400 | ironbarkbrewery.com.au

Ironbark Brewery on Urbanspoon

A Baby Shower at Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley

Posted by  | Categories: Featured, Modern Australian, Perth, Restaurants, Swan Valley, Winery

Although I’m not really a baby person it is hard not to get excited when a close friend falls pregnant. One of our long-term vets is nearly at the end of her first pregnancy and she is one of those gentle, nurturing types that just seems to be born to be a mother.  The joys of anticipation for the approaching arrival were very infectious amongst us women at work, so in a rather unconventional styled baby shower we all gathered together at Feral Brewing Company for a Sunday lunch to celebrate. It was the first sunny day in weeks and it was heavenly to be able to enjoy some country sunshine.

"Twice cooked pork belly" "creamed cauliflower" "crinkled courgettes" "sticky rum" "apple glace" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth bars" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "hipster" "breakfast" "casual dining" "swan valley" "coffee roaster" "Middle swan" "microbrewery" "Feral Brewery" "Feral Brewing Company" "Australian International Beers Awards" “Best Medium Australian Brewery" "craft beers" "winery" "vineyards" "cupcakes" "Cook's cakes"

Twice cooked Feral pork belly

Quite a number of people at our table chose to order the pork belly. The pork was twice cooked and served on a bed of creamed cauliflower and “crinkled” courgettes.  To balance the flavours with some sweetness the dish was topped with a sticky rum & apple relish. I was fortunate enough to sit next to the expecting mum’s husband who ordered the pork belly but curiously doesn’t like crackling. It wasn’t hard to find volunteers on the table including myself that were willing to take said crackling off his hands. Aren’t we kind folk? The artery blocking crackling had a satisfying crunch that was loud enough to be heard on the other side of the table.

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300gm local grain fed Porterhouse

The Feral Brewing Company offers good value in the valley; I was impressed with the size of the meals in relation to the price. The plump grain fed Porterhouse steak was a decent 300 gm cut and came with paprika potatoes, buttered broccolini and a juicy feta stuffed field mushroom.

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Charcuterie meat board

I needed to preserve a bit of room in my stomach as we were heading out for dinner later that evening so I opted for the charcuterie meat board for something light. Creamy Persian feta, grilled Spanish chorizo, thinly shaved prosciutto and some roasted beef sirloin were served along with some locally pickled vegetables. The platter normally comes with crusty bread but I asked for it to be served gluten free. Some crackers arrived with it but I wasn’t sure whether they were gluten free or not so I left them. I wasn’t that bothered otherwise I would have asked. The chorizo was juicy and succulent and was my favourite component of this dish.

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Trio of exotic feral dips with toasted Turkish bread

My platter was designed to share but everyone had their own full plates to contend with resulting in little luck sharing it around. My head nurse sitting next to me helped marginally to make a dent on the proviso and I helped her with her trio of dips.  The dips of the days included spicy Moroccan dhal, creamy spring onion and “funky mushroom”. I smeared some of the dhal on my pickled vegetables as a bread substitute. It had a reasonable kicked to it and went well with the pickle!

 "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Perth bars" "Perth restaurants" "Perth food reviews" "hipster" "breakfast" "casual dining" "swan valley" "coffee roaster" "Middle swan" "microbrewery" "Feral Brewery" "Feral Brewing Company" "Australian International Beers Awards" “Best Medium Australian Brewery" "craft beers" "winery" "vineyards" "cupcakes" "Cook's cakes"

Baby cupcakes!

Our adorable cupcakes for the day were designed and made by Cooks Cakes. Each cupcake had a gorgeous baby themed decoration and the cakes were a mix of flavours; red velvet, chocolate and vanilla. Alas none were gluten free this time round.

Feral Brewing Company offers a very casual atmosphere nestled in the heart of the Swan Valley with hearty grub and a great range of craft beers. Not being able to drink most beer due to gluten intolerance I cannot tell you much about their hand-crafted beers, but they are currently title holders for the Australian International Beer Awards “Best Medium Australian Brewery”. Their food is simple pub styled food priced reasonably well with modest portion sizes.

Feral Brewing Company
152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4657 | www.feralbrewing.com.au
 
Price:                     $$$ (Entrée$8.50-12, Mains $23-38          
Food:                    3.5/5 (simple, fresh, hearty meals)
Service:                3/5 (friendly, drinks service a little slow)
Ambience:          3.5/5 (country sunshine, rolling hills and vineyards)
Drinks:                  3/5 (I need the Boy to review the beers but I couldn’t convince him to come to a baby shower)
Total:                     13/20

 

Feral Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Bickley Harvest Festival 4th-5th May 2013

Posted by  | Categories: Events, Featured, Food and Wine Festivals, Perth, Restaurants, Winery

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.

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Our selection of dairy goodness

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.

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Little Stove Macarons. No salted caramel left so we chose the fig and balsamic, good texture and flavours

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We scored the last Elmars sausage!

Moving on from Kalamunda we commenced our self-drive tour of the picturesque Bickley Valley.  Gentle slopping hills, fruit filled orchards and brilliant green vineyards decorated the countryside like a holiday post card.  We both wistfully dreamed of ditching city life for a tree-change. Our first stop was Aldersyde Estate which is the oldest commercially operated winery in the Perth Hills.  This is a lovely spot to grab a few beautiful reds; we enjoyed their Merlot the best.  I love how their pet Border Collies have made it onto their wine labels too.

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Bickley Harvest Festival" "Bickley Festival" "wine festival" "harvest festival" "hills festival" "Perth Hills" "Bickley Valley" "Perth wineries" "perth wine" "Kalamunda festival" "Ashley estate" "Pinot Noir"

Ashley Estate

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Smell those sausages!

Our second stop was Ashley Estate where they had set up a sausage sizzle which sent wafts of barbecued onions and sizzling dogs downwind into the car park triggering your senses immediately upon arrival.  This winery is still run by the original owner and their speciality is Pinot Noir.  They offered a fabulous vertical tasting journey of their Pinots ranging from 2005 through to 2010.  It was fascinating to taste the change in each year’s vintage and the effects of cellaring and different seasons.  We bought some of their 2008 and the popular 2009 vintages.

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Bickley Harvest Festival" "Bickley Festival" "wine festival" "harvest festival" "hills festival" "Perth Hills" "Bickley Valley" "Perth wineries" "perth wine" "Kalamunda festival" "Apple orchard"

Pretty as a picture

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Bickley Harvest Festival" "Bickley Festival" "wine festival" "harvest festival" "hills festival" "Perth Hills" "Bickley Valley" "Perth wineries" "perth wine" "Kalamunda festival" "The Vineyard Kitchen" "Brookside Winery" "Petit Verdot"

Brookside Winery

Brookside Winery was absolutely packed with a fully booked restaurant and I regret not planning ahead and reserving a table here! Their restaurant The Vineyard Kitchen focuses on using the freshest local produce, free range meats and line-caught fish and the meals I saw heading out of the kitchen looked worth coming back for. Although we missed out on trying their food we did hang around to sample their wines.  The wine of most notable merit is their Petit Verdot; a grape that thrives on dry climates and has floral notes with fruity berry like flavours.

"Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Bickley Harvest Festival" "Bickley Festival" "wine festival" "harvest festival" "hills festival" "Perth Hills" "Bickley Valley" "Perth wineries" "perth wine" "Kalamunda festival" "Hainault Vineyard" "vegetarian platter"

Hainault Vineyard

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Yes. We paid $18 for this.

Sad that we had missed out on lunch at Brookside, we stopped in at Hainault Vineyard for a bite to eat to soak up all the wine.  Their café was also fully booked however they also sold some take away plates to eat on the grass in front of a live band. We selected a vegetarian platter to share which cost us a scorching $18! What made the high price hurt even more was that the bread roll was stale (according to the Boy) and I tasted a distinctly horrible mouldy flavour in the hummus. Ugh. Inedible.

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Something for everyone here.

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Woot! Gluten free options!

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Tunes, wine, snags…bliss

Hungry and disappointed we pushed on to our last stop for the day; the Core Cider House.  This joint was a hive of activity with a live band playing, a bustling gourmet BBQ selling hot dogs and burgers and face painting for the little ones.  You could even buy an apple tree to take home! The pork sausage was gluten free and they kindly had gluten free bread available too.  Feeling much happier with some edible food to devour, we both sat back in the sun on the grass and soaked up the atmosphere.

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Where the action was

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Angus beef burger

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Gluten free pork sausage with gluten free bread

I was shocked to learn today that apparently the Bickley Harvest Festival has run for over ten years yet this is the first time I have even heard of it! After chatting to a few wine makers it appears I’m not the only one as there are some people living in the region that have only learnt of it in recent times. It was a wonderful well organised day out and the drive showcased the Bickley Valley region beautifully. I really look forward to returning again next year.

"Ashley Estate" "Aldersyde Estate" "Ringwould Dairy" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Bickley Harvest Festival" "Bickley Festival" "wine festival" "harvest festival" "hills festival" "Perth Hills" "Bickley Valley" "Perth wineries" "perth wine" "Kalamunda festival" "The Vineyard Kitchen" "Brookside Winery" "

Our loot for the day!

 
Elmars in the Valley Elmar's in the Valley on Urbanspoon
 
The Vineyard Kitchen, Brookside Winery The Vineyard Kitchen on Urbanspoon
 
Hainault Vineyard Cafe Hainault Vineyard and Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
Core Cider House Core Cider House on Urbanspoon
 
 

The Cheese Barrel, Swan Valley then onto The Balmoral Victoria Park

Posted by  | Categories: Featured, Perth, Pub, Restaurants, Winery

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.

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Australian Plate

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 50 gram portions or larger.

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Tarago Shadows of Blue Gippsland Victoria

My head nurse ordered the Tarago Shadows of Blue, a mild blue mould cheese made with cow’s milk from Gippsland, Victoria. This was one of my favourite cheeses of the day; rich and creamy with a slight tang.  Despite the large 100gm serving, this cheese was one of the first to disappear. I even caught a few who proclaimed they don’t like blue cheese sneaking back sheepishly for seconds.

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Murcia Al Vino (lower right) and Manchego (left)

I will be travelling to Barcelona in eight weeks on conference so I thought I’d break away from my French roots and get myself into the flamenco mood. When it comes to cheese I am highly patriotic to my French ancestry however there are a number of Spanish cheeses I shamelessly hold very close to my heart.  Or should I say mouth.

The first cheese on this platter was a semi-hard goat’s cheese Murcia Al Vino. This was quite unlike anything I have had before. It has a really creamy flavour yet its texture is elastic and almost buoyant. The rind is a rich plum colour due to being washed in wine giving an interesting fruity after-taste  The second cheese on the platter is one I am all too familiar with and love very dearly; Manchego. This versatile semi-hard sheep cheese is one of my all-time favourites and has the distinctive sweet flavour typical of sheep’s cheese. I received gluten free crackers on the side however there was still bread on my platter.  To avoid contamination I suggest they avoid mixing the two on the same platter.

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Queso San Simon (left) and Queso Valdeon (right)

Moving around to the second half of the cheese board were two cow’s milk cheeses. The Queso San Simon is a semi-hard smoked cheese from the north-west of Spain. The smoky flavours are quite subtle and delicate and it also has a surprisingly creamy texture for a semi-hard cheese. The blue cheese on the Spanish plate is the Queso Valdeon.  I recall trying this for the first time at Clarke’s of North Beach last year with the in-laws. This time the Valdeon tasted like it needed to be left to come to room temperature for another half hour as the flavours were somewhat dulled. It was definitely  overshadowed by the creamy deliciousness of the Tarago Shadows of Blue.

"olive farm wine" "wine" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Cheese" "The Cheese Barrel, Swan Valley" "Cheese Barrel" "Swan Valley" "Balmoral Hotel" "Balmoral, Victoria Park" "vic park pubs" "Perth pubs" "Winery" "swan valley wine" "Albany Highway" "pub" "fromagerie"

Wine “flight”

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Tasting notes

Not being familiar with any Olive Farm wines, I ordered an Olive Farm “Wine Flight” to accompany my cheese.  Each wine was carefully matched to each cheese to enhance the experience. I’m not going to pretend I know how to describe wines and I’m sure the Olive Farm have done a better job on their tasting notes!

"La Buche D’Affinois" "Brillat-Savarin" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Cheese" "The Cheese Barrel, Swan Valley" "Cheese Barrel" "Swan Valley" "Balmoral Hotel" "Balmoral, Victoria Park" "vic park pubs" "Perth pubs" "Winery" "swan valley wine" "Albany Highway" "pub" "fromagerie"

“Soft cheese sensation”

Some of the girls ordered the Soft Cheese Sensation board which was sadly also served a little too cold. It almost seemed like sacrilege to see heroes like La Buche D’Affinois and Brillat-Savarin served firm and erect with minimal shine in their centres. The pernickety side of me also noticed spelling errors on the menu, another minor oversight perhaps.

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Raspberry macarons

I am told the macarons were the bomb.  They are imported from France, cost $2.20 each and are worth every cent.  I totally regret not trying them. At this point our party started to disband with a few of us keen to carry on the festivities. Reluctant to continue drinking this far from home with my car I attempted to convince them all to head into the city but to no avail. Eventually they opted to remain in the valley and I headed home. Not wanting my day to end once I got home I persuaded the Boy to walk down to one of our locals The Balmoral pub to carry on drinking.

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Scallops and chorizo

Walking down the Albany Highway rekindled my appetite and by the time we arrived at The Balmoral I was super hungry. There were only limited share dishes available gluten free so we shared two serves of the scallops served in the shell topped with chorizo and marinated red pepper. The scallops were fairly small but soft and tender however the chorizo was flavourless and fatty.

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Chargrilled quail salad

Trying to pace myself so I could fit in desert I ordered a light meal for dinner; the char-grilled quail salad. The plump bird was served juicy and pink. The bed of salad was scantly tossed with some occasional crisp prosciutto, warm potatoes and mixed greens. A little more of the flavoursome ingredients wouldn’t have gone astray in this dish.

"warm lamb and quinoa salad" "shredded lamb" "spinach" "quinoa" "cherry tomatoes" "sunflower seeds" "feta" "dried figs" "mint" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Cheese" "The Cheese Barrel, Swan Valley" "Cheese Barrel" "Swan Valley" "Balmoral Hotel" "Balmoral, Victoria Park" "vic park pubs" "Perth pubs" "Winery" "swan valley wine" "Albany Highway" "pub" "fromagerie"

Warm lamb and quinoa salad

The Boy has been trying to move away from eating red meat but the lure of a steak at a pub is hard work.  This time round he came very close to ordering the Surf and Turf before once again stopping himself and choosing the warm lamb and quinoa salad. His salad arrived at the table piled high on his plate with a generous serving of shredded lamb, spinach, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds feta, dried figs and a subtle hint of mint. The word salad never conjures up thought that the meal would be filing but thanks to the higher protein content of quinoa he was so full that he nearly talked me out of ordering dessert.

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White chocolate and Baileys Crème brûlée

I said nearly. After a couple of months of carefully watching what I ate, now there is no holding me back! The white chocolate and bailey crème brûlée sounded like it would be the perfect way to end a long day of eating and drinking. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted very bland with no evidence of any white chocolate or baileys flavours at all. The vanilla ice cream was icy and super sweet.

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Ice cream Sundae

The Boy defaulted back to his one of his favourites for dessert; the ice cream sundae. Those of you who know him well understand that ice cream is to him what chocolate is to me.  His sundae looked like something out of the eighties, and was served with three dishes of sauces; dark chocolate, berry coulis and “butterscotch sauce”. The butterscotch sauce had an odd khaki green colour to it and tasted like molten treacle. It was meant to be topped with nuts and chocolate shavings but there was barely half stingy a teaspoon sprinkled on top. Not a recommended dish even for kids.

Overall the Balmoral is a great casual pub to pop in for a local drink with your mates. There are two courtyards outside and they always have a great vibe and it is the perfect place to enjoy a sun downer in summer. Their food is trying to lift its game above basic pub fare with a few hits and misses along the way.

The Cheese Barrel

920 Great Northern Highway, Millendon, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4539 | http://www.thecheesebarrel.com.au/

 
Price:                     $
Food:                    2.5/5 (astounding list available, but needs to be served at the right temperature)
Service:                3/5 (quick, helpful)
Ambience:          3/5 (overlooks a small patch of forested reserve)
Drinks:                  3/5 (only tried a few wines)
Total:                     11.5/20 
The Cheese Barrel on Urbanspoon
 
The Balmoral Hotel
901 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9355 4533 | http://www.thebalmoral.com.au/
 
Price:                     $$$ (Entrees $7-23, Mains $22-35, accepts Entertainment Card)
Food:                    2.5/5 ()
Service:                2.5/5 (our waitress was lovely…but very forgetful)
Ambience:          3/5 (casual pub vibe)
Drinks:                  3/5 (the essentials)
Total:                     11/20

Balmoral Hotel on Urbanspoon

Truffle Degustation at Darlington Estate Winery, Perth Hills

Posted by  | Categories: Degustation/Fine dining, Events, Featured, Modern Australian, Perth, Restaurants, Winery

I know, I know; I whinge about the winter chilliness a bit too much.  You see, I’m not normally that much of a whinger unless I’m sick or I’m cold.  However during winter I am generally both of those things more often than I am not.  This is why I am so thankful for the wondrous fungus Tuber melanosporum, or more commonly known as the black truffle.  Its short season coincides with the deepest part of winter here in Perth and is becoming a key element to my winter survival strategy.

Being right in the height of the truffle season I had already gone a bit giddy with my annual winter addiction at our truffled dinner at Divido and then even further at Clarke’s.  Although I knew the Mundaring Truffle Festival was only a few days away, I figured why not bury myself even deeper into truffle glory and enjoy it to its fullest!

Darlington Estate had kindly extended the invitation on Twitter to Perth bloggers to create a foodie table on their opening night of their Truffle Degustation.  I was joined by fellow bloggers Strawberry Thief, Red Hot Spatula and Perth Food Journal. Being relatively new to the blogging scene it was wonderful to be able to put faces to the blogs that I read each week.  Better still I knew that I would be dining with like-minded people who consider constantly photographing their food is a normal way of life.

Darlington Estate is one of the oldest wineries in the Perth Hills, and over the years they have won many awards both for their wines and for their restaurant. The vineyard is set on steep terraced slopes surrounded by bushland and is supposed to offer lovely views from the restaurant. Having only dined here at night, I have missed out on this part of the experience….poor me, I will have to come back again sometime! It can be hard work being a foodie!

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Amuse bouche

Prior to commencing I was informed that the chef was well aware of my allergies and that all the dishes were able to be served to me relatively unadulterated except for the truffle brioche.  I was assured that the chef would come up with something else for me for this course.  To get us in the mood out came our amuse bouche; a seared scallop wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of cauliflower purée with salmon roe and truffle. This was a beautiful blend of flavours and balanced nicely although my scallop was ever so slightly overcooked.

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Truffle brioche, truffle butter

I cursed my wretched gluten intolerance as I watched everyone sink their teeth into the soft and buttery brioche.  The truffle flecked butter spread creamily over it like velvet and was definitely a hit.

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Truffle parsnip chips

Just as my jealousy started to heighten our waiter came over with my special gluten free replacement dish; a very generous sized bowl of truffle parsnip chips.  They were crisp and perfectly seasoned and I had to fight off the Boy from trying to steal a few from me (which he did actually successfully manage twice before I gave him a cold steel look….”don’t steal MY truffles!”).

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Hervey Bay scallops, barigoule potatoes, truffle and cauliflower puree

Each dish that came out was so beautifully presented and the scallops were no exception. Again my scallops were cooked just slightly past that soft delicate point of perfection.  There was a hint of firmer chewiness but certainly not enough to be a significant detriment to the dish. The cauliflower purée and barigoule potatoes gave a hearty more wintery depth to this light dish making it a gorgeous entrée to kick off this cold night with.

"Linley Valley pork cheek" "truffled almond puree" "parsnip crisp" "red wine jus" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Braised Linley Valley pork cheek, truffled almond puree, parsnip crisp, red wine jus

The braised Linley Valley pork cheek was also plated beautifully, if only I had better light for my photos to do this dish justice.  The meat was tender soft and the subtle sweetness of the truffled almond purée was delightful.  The jus was nearly good enough to lick the plate for.

"Tinder Creek" "confit duck leg" "wild mushroom risotto" "truffled gruyere" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Tinder Creek confit duck leg, wild mushroom risotto, truffled gruyere and white wine sauce

The duck was most definitely my favourite dish of the evening.   The meat was richly flavoursome and simply fell apart under my fork. The truffled gruyere oozed through the meaty flavoured wild mushroom risotto forming fabulous strings of cheesiness joining every forkful.

"palate cleanser" "Lychee" "rosewater" "truffle sorbet" "sparkling shooter" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Lychee, rosewater and truffle sorbet with sparkling shooter

The palate cleanser was very refreshing with the delicate flavours of lychee and rosewater with just a hint of truffliciousness in the backdrop.

"Coffee and truffle pannacotta" "truffle marshmallow" "desserts" "truffle foam" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Coffee and truffle pannacotta, passionfruit and truffle marshmallow, truffle foam

"Coffee and truffle pannacotta" "truffle marshmallow" "desserts" "truffle foam""Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Coffee and truffle pannacotta, passionfruit and truffle marshmallow, truffle foam

Pannacotta is on my list of favourite desserts of all time. This coffee and truffle version did not disappoint. It held perfect shape on the plate and was delicate and silky smooth.  The adorable little fluffy truffle passionfruit marshmallow gave the dish a twist of originality.

"Truffle infused double cream brie" "linguette" "candied walnuts" "quince" "muscatels" "cheese" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Truffle infused double cream brie, linguette, candied walnuts, quince and muscatels

Unfortunately for me there were no gluten free crackers available for the cheese course.  Not that this ever stops me, I am more than happy to eat brie sans crackers! Especially if it’s been truffled!  The brie was soft and creamy and served at just the right temperature to allow the flavours to develop.

Truffle infused double cream brie" "linguette" "candied walnuts" "quince" "muscatels" "cheese" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Truffle infused double cream brie, linguette, candied walnuts, quince and muscatels

The petit fours consisted of the cutest little miniature toffee apples.  I have never really been into toffee apples myself and personally I would have preferred something chocolaty but if you are indeed a fan, these candied morsels would have been right up your alley.  The apple inside was cooked until it was soft and the toffee was hardened to a thin crisp shell.

"Petit fours" "toffee apples" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "food photos" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Darlington Estate Winery" "truffle degustation" "degustation" "fine dining" "French" "winery" "Perth Hills" "Darlington" "Mundaring" "black truffle" "tuber melanosporum"

Petit fours

For a degustation meal I was impressed with our serving sizes and considering the added truffle in every single dish I also thought the full ticket price of $110 (excluding drinks) was extremely good value. The service was attentive and friendly and we look forward to returning to the hills to visit Darlington Estate again.

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Darlington Estate Winery
1495 Nelson Road, Darlington 6071 | (08) 9299 6268 | http://www.darlingtonestate.com/darlington/news.php
 
Price:                     $$$$ (Entrees $14-18, Mains $32-40)
Food:                    4/5 (accommodating for allergies, fresh produce, beautiful presentation)
Service:                3.5/5 (friendly positive attitudes but just a little slow on serving drinks)
Ambience:           4/5 (lovely setting up in the hills, I have to return for lunch as the view is apparently superb)
Drinks:                  3.5/5 (I only got to try their unwooded chardonnay 2010 so will need to come back to the cellar door for a proper tasting)
Total:                     15/20
 
Darlington Estate Winery on Urbanspoon

Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale

Posted by  | Categories: Featured, Modern Australian, Perth, Restaurants, Winery

Many of you may recall my ongoing obsession with mushrooms. I eat them nearly every day and they are definitely up there as one of my most favourite foods.  Even better still they are so good for you! So logically I was so excited to be selected as one of eleven bloggers from around Australia to take part in Mushroom Mania!  For the whole month of July, over 2000 restaurants, cafes, bistros and clubs around the country will be involved in serving up wonderful mushroom dishes for us all to enjoy. You can download the App on your iPhone for a locality guide of participating businesses.

Millbrook Winery has been one of those stunning locations that I have longed to visit for quite some time.  It is located on Chestnut Farm in the picturesque Jarrahdale area about fifty minutes south of Perth.  The property spans over 300 acres and is nestled in amongst gently sloping valleys bordering along the National Park whilst boasting breathtaking views across the countryside.  The Winery is owned the Fogarty Wine Group who also own Deep Woods Estate in Margaret River, Smithbrook in Pemberton and Lake’s Folly in the Hunter Valley. Millbrook utilise grapes from their own small vineyards in addition to grapes from their vineyards in the cooler climates south of the State.

"Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

The winery has a tasting room and cellar door where you can sample their wines at no cost.  The Boy and I ensured to arrive a little early so we could squeeze in some tasting. Their range included some interesting wines and while I won’t confess to being an expert in describing them I did walk away with a few purchases! Better still they offer a membership discount of 20% if you join up before you buy.

"Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

The restaurant is located upstairs giving nearly 180 degrees views across the brilliant landscape and I can only imagine how much more gorgeous it would be sitting out on their decking area in the warmer summer months. Being a crisp winter’s day we didn’t get to experience this and stayed inside where it was cosy and warm.

"sourdough" "house made marmalade" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Complementary sourdough, with house made marmalade

Head chef Guy Jeffreys focuses his menu on using all the freshly grown produce from the large property which includes 150 year old orchards growing citrus, stone fruit, figs, quince and apples, and an acre sized garden filled with over 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables. Herbs, free-range eggs, wild mushrooms, olives and honey are also sourced from the estate. While waiting for our meals we were brought out some complementary house made sour dough with marmalade.  Although the menu has a wide range of gluten free dishes available, the bread wasn’t so I dipped my fingers in the marmalade a couple of times to taste its home-grown deliciousness straight up while the Boy devoured the soft bread.

"braised lamb tongue" "quail eggs" "wild samphire" "fermented cucumber" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Salad of braised lamb tongue, quail eggs, wild samphire & fermented cucumber

We ordered a selection of entrées to share and couldn’t fault any one of them. The braised lamb’s tongue with quail eggs was richly flavoured and contained curious little stems of salty plant called wild samphire.  We were told the chef foraged for this unusual but powerfully flavoured plant along the banks of the Swan in Bassendean.  It is also termed “sea asparagus”.

"Fremantle octopus" "Rosa's chorizo" "pickled potato" "smoked paprika" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Fremantle octopus, Rosa’s chorizo, pickled potato, smoked paprika

Not that I’m a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I do appreciate that octopus can be one of those things that without appropriate care in the kitchen can turn into a rubbery chewy disaster.  Not this time round; our octopus was so juicy and soft that even the thin tentacles were tender.  It was served with some of Rosa’s popular chorizo from Spanish Flavours in Wembley.  We fell in love with this well-known locally made delight when at Amphoras Bar recently and you can be sure to see it feature on menus of a variety of restaurants all over Perth including Cantina 663. The octopus was also served with some pickled potato and smoked paprika.

"Roasted & raw heirloom carrot" "radish" "goats cheese" "pomegranate dressing" "mint" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Roasted & raw heirloom carrot, radish, goats cheese, pomegranate dressing

I order the salad as our third entrée because we didn’t really need a third dish so I justified ordering it by choosing something light.  Freshly picked vegetables from the farm’s garden included roasted and raw heirloom carrot and radish.  Some tangy goat’s cheese was slivered on top and the salad was dressed with a light, sweet pomegranate dressing and some fresh mint leaves.

"mushroom risotto","white truffle oil" "parmesan" "Slippery Jack" "field mushroom" "Porcini mushroom" "Button mushroom" "manjimup truffle" "Italian" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Foraged & farmed mushroom risotto, white truffle oil, parmesan

For my main I could not go past the mushroom risotto.  It contained a wonderful combination of both farmed and foraged mushrooms including porcini and button mushrooms, Slippery Jacks from the neighbouring forest and meaty Field mushrooms from the adjacent orchard. To add to the amazing mushroom intensity, the Arborio rice was pre-soaked in a stock containing some Manjimup truffles and the risotto was served with generous drizzles of white truffle oil.  Very decadent and definitely not low in calories but packed full of mushroom goodness! I kept convincing myself of all the wondrous health properties of mushrooms I was gaining and chose to overlook the addition of less nutrient rich oils and cheese!

"Baldivis rabbit" "Acciari Butchers cotechino" "tomato sauce" "hand cut pasta" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Baldivis rabbit, Acciari Butchers cotechino, tomato sauce, hand cut pasta

I have recently eaten rabbit a few times both at the epic Largesse dinner and at Villa D’Este and each time the Boy has eyed off my dishes while suffering from a bit of dish envy. He decided to take things in his own hands and order himself the Baldivis rabbit pasta. Soft folds of hand cut pasta were perfectly coated with a thick tomato sauce and scattered with a generous serving of cotechino (a type of Italian sausage) and flavourful pieces of soft rabbit.  To accompany we also order the mashed potato with truffle oil and a garden salad. Yes, more truffle oil…..well it IS truffle season after all!

"field mushrooms" "foraged mushrooms" "wild mushrooms" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Our mushroom foraging!

The Boy and I were both so fascinated that nearly all the produce use in the kitchen was foraged or farmed on the property. The Boy prompted me to ask our attentive waitress if there would be any chance we could have a wander around the property to find our own wild mushrooms.  I could barely contain my excitement when this was met with a “yes” and we were taken to a part of the property where a number of fist sized meaty field mushroom were popping up out of the lush grass.  We were permitted to harvest ourselves a few which they packaged up for us to take home and eat.  I began imagining how delicious they would be roasted in the oven with balsamic……see my recipe here.

"Vanilla bean panna cotta" "orange cake" "orange peel" "orange segments" "campari sorbet" "dessert" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Vanilla bean panna cotta, orange cake, peel, segments & campari sorbet

After our successful mushroom hunt, we returned to the warmth of the restaurant to squeeze in a final dessert course.  I was thankful that I had run to the gym for a workout that morning otherwise all my bride dieting would have gone completely out the window! The pannacotta was perfectly formed and served with little cubes of flourless orange cake, Campari sorbet and some surprisingly sweet almost caramelised orange peel.

"House churned ice cream" "Cajeta ice cream" "raspberry ice cream" "vanilla bean ice cream" "dessert" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

House churned ice cream (Cajeta, raspberry and vanilla bean)

The Boy’s ice cream was house churned with three flavours; vanilla bean, raspberry and Cajeta.  The Cajeta flavour was his favourite and is traditionally made from simmering goat’s milk and sugar until it thickens like condensed milk. It tastes a bit like caramel but isn’t too overpoweringly sweet.

"vegetable garden" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Fennel and radishes

We were lucky enough to kindly get a tour of the property after our meal by the manager Jeremy. He was a wealth of knowledge and proudly showed us through their enormous garden filled with radishes, fennel, broccoli and other winter vegetables.  He informed us that they try to be as environmentally sustainable as possible including practices such as recycling water from a natural spring that runs through the property.

"fruit orchards" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Such picturesque orchards

We even got to duck into the chicken coop for a little pat, they were so tame and friendly and didn’t seem to mind my incessant photo taking. In fact one of them looked like she enjoyed her fifteen minutes of fame!

"chickens" "Mushroom Mania: Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale" "Perth Restaurant Reviews" "Perth food blog" "food blog" "Chompchomp" "Gluten free" "Fructose malabsorption" "Power of mushrooms" "mushroom mania" "Millbrook Winery" "Jarrahdale" "perth hills" "winery" "fogarty wines" "restaurant garden"

Little Miss Henny Penny and friends

After all the recent stress we have both had over the past few weeks, our beautiful little outing together proved to be just what we needed. We drove back to the city in comfortable silence content with full bellies and lungs full of fresh country air.

This restaurant was reviewed as part of Mushroom Mania month which is happening all across Australia during July 2012. There are over 2000 participating restaurants including many all over Western Australia. The website also contains some delicious mushroom recipes so make sure you check it out.

You don’t have to be a blogger to win either! Just write a short review on a mushroom dish you enjoyed during the Mushroom Mania Month of July and you could win a $150 Best Restaurants of Australia Gift Card.

Click here for details.

Chompchomp dined at Millbrook Winery with compliments of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association.

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Millbrook Winery
Old Chestnut Lane, Jarrahdale 6124 | (08) 9525 5796 | www.millbrookwinery.com.au
Bookings recommended especially on weekends.
 
Price:                     $$$$ (Entrees $19-22, Mains $36-45)
Food:                    4.5/5 (nothing beats fresh produce, excellent range GF options)
Service:                5/5 (faultless, friendly, knowledgeable)
Ambience:          4/5 (restaurant overlooks, lake, forest and vine yards)
Drinks:                  4/5 (wine license only)
Total:                     17.5/20

Millbrook Winery on Urbanspoon