After a long drive through the pouring rain it was a relief to arrive in Carnarvon ready for the WA Signature Dish regional final. It had been a right kerfuffle getting to our destination with missed flights, flight delays and severe weather warnings but we made it albeit one day late.
We arrived in Carnarvon in the late afternoon and checked into our accommodation at the Best Western Hospitality Inn. Our room was clean and simply appointed with a minibar stocked with nibbles, beer, wine and soft drinks. There were also tea and coffee-making facilities, free WIFI and room service however the internet connection was painfully slow.
On our first night we were a little weary from travelling all day so we ate at the hotel restaurant Sails. Sails is considered one of the more refined dining options in town in addition to being one of the very few restaurants that remain open seven days a week.
Having heard great things about Carnarvon’s fresh seafood it was all I was in the mood for. And the best way to start a seafood feast is with oysters. Now I realise the hot climate of Carnarvon excludes it from farming oysters locally this meant the oysters on Sail’s menu would undoubtedly be imported. However, when I get the fanciful idea of eating oysters I just will not stop until I am satisfied. These giant sized babies came from Frankland Bay in South Australia and were plump, creamy and surprisingly fresh. We enjoyed them served natural with a squeeze of cut lemon.
Before ordering anything else the chef kindly came out to speak with me about suitable gluten free options from his menu. I always appreciate this level of concern as it illustrates to me that they will ensure to take care when preparing my food. Our first dish was a seared prawn salad using local prawns tossed through a mighty sized salad of julienned bacon, roasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and baby spinach leaves. It was finished with a lemon, chilli and coriander dressing. The bacon was an odd addition and one we didn’t expect however being cut into such thin slivers it wasn’t overpowering and added just a hint of flavour with each mouthful.
Our second entrée was the grilled ginger scallops. This dish also has a level of curiosity about it as in addition to the enormous scallops served in the shell, there were extra smaller sized ones buried underneath. It worked out quite good value when you consider the price as there ended up being six scallops in total. It came served upon a scoop of steamed rice and wilted Chinese greens.
An unexpected touch of complementary lemon sorbet was brought to our table in the interlude between our first and second courses. After all the spice and ginger flavours it was a welcoming cleanser to prepare for our main meal.
For mains we both ordered the tropical barramundi. The fillet was grilled lightly, served on a bed of bok choy and topped with lemon butter sauce plus a spoonful of chilli mango salsa. A couple of poached prawns topped this collection of ingredients as a strange afterthought. Whilst the fish was soft and tender within, I felt the combination of lemon butter and mango salsa was too eclectic with only a small amount of each so that neither had the chance to shine. The end result was actually a somewhat bland dish. Such a shame because those simple flavours had a lot of potential.
We ended our night which Sail’s cheese platter for two which considering the price once again this was a generous portion size. The chef ensured to serve the water crackers in a separate bowl to avoid any gluten contamination which reinforced to me what a gluten free friendly place this was. There were four different types of cheese; chunks of tasty cheddar, smoked Dutch, Danish blue and Camembert sat among some pieces of fresh fruit and roasted nuts.
The complimentary breakfast provided with our room was very basic including some sliced toast, fruit and cheese plus an array of cereals. There wasn’t any gluten free bread available. You are able to pay a small amount extra for a hot cooked meal if you prefer but instead I bought some gluten free muffins from the local Woolworth’s supermarket which they grilled for me at no extra charge.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Carnarvon and whilst the Best Western is by no means the five-star luxury that I love, it was comfortable and clean with friendly service. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again next time we are in the region.Disclaimer: Chompchomp’s accommodation at Best Western Carnarvon was partly funded for by Buy West Eat Best for my involvement in their WA Signature Dish competition. Sails Restaurant 6 West Street, Carnarvon WA 6701 | (08) 9941 1600 | www.carnarvon.wa.hospitalityinns.com.au
In March this year, I married the love of my life in the most magical fairy-tale wedding of my dreams. Because we chose to get married in Thailand, our wedding was not legally recognised back in Australia unless we made a pre-wedding pilgrimage to Bangkok to arrange the necessary papers. Prior to getting hitched, the Boy and I had already spent more than ten years together and we had always celebrated our anniversary in April often with much greater enthusiasm than for either of our birthdays. It seemed logical to us, that upon our return from Thailand we would arrange a very private official ceremony back in Perth specifically on our anniversary date. This enabled us to invite special friends that weren’t for able to join us in Thailand. It also means we now get to celebrate TWO anniversaries! 😉
In total contrast to the extreme detailed organisation of our Thailand wedding, this second wedding was a much more casual affair. Ann Lord, a lovely celebrant I met at a Wedding Upmarket day helped with the proceedings. We found a patch of grass in Burswood Park and without all the fanfare, anxiety, nerves or build up we repeated our vows once more.
To celebrate the legalisation of our marriage, we booked a Loft room at the Crown Promenade to enjoy one more night of luxury before we started making a serious attempt at paying off all our wedding debt! I had called in the morning to request an earlier check in and was told by the reception desk that this was not a problem. Unfortunately upon our arrival this was to prove not true; we were informed our room wasn’t ready for another hour and to make ourselves comfortable with our suitcases in tow in the lobby area.
This would have frustrated me greatly if I hadn’t managed to find to find myself a beautiful collection of macarons to snack on. Seeing as I no longer had to fit into wedding dresses, I slipped back into my excessive ways and ordered a whole box to share with the Boy. By the time the reception staff gestured to us that our room was ready, all the macarons were gone.
The loft room has an expansive balcony that gives glorious panoramic views of the city’s skyline. It was not as breathtaking as the views from our Andara villa in Thailand, but it was by no means shabby.
The loft itself is of considerable size with a living room, dining room and well stocked kitchen complete with a full mini-bar. There was an iPod docking station for music and flat screen TVs screens in the living room, bedroom AND the bathroom. Not that we watched any television that is!
The bathroom is ginormous with separate his and her vanities, wall to floor mirrors and a lovely deep spa bath. The flat screen television is positioned directly facing the spa…how relaxing would it be to sink yourself into bubbles while watching a movie. And drinking bubbles of course!
The bedroom is similarly spacious with a full King sized bed and reading area overlooking the city scape. The curtains successfully make the room pitch black no matter what time of day meaning a late checkout can be well utilised to gain those extra ZZZs if you need. We certainly did.
After the very short ceremony, we all headed over to the main casual pub of the Crown complex; The Merrywell. The Merrywell’s style of cuisine has been coined “dude food” by a number of professional food critics and whilst I don’t really like this terminology it does describe it well.
Artery clogging Mexican cheese fondues, fish tacos, burgers and hot dogs regularly feature on their changing menu. At the time we went, the waitstaff were not overly familiar with what dishes were gluten free and what wasn’t, but I have since noticed they now offer gluten free buns with their burgers so I presume they have improved their understanding.
One of my favourite snacks of the night was the lollipop Buffalo wings served with a rich blue cheese fondue and celery sticks. I am pretty sure I slurped at least half a dozen of these wings off the bone each one mouthful at a time. All my bridal grace was thrown out the window!
The drinking session progressed fairly late into the night and by following morning the Boy and I were nursing a fairly rocking hangover. But we didn’t mind one bit because it was official.
From this point we are now legally “Mr and Mrs”.
Just the very thought of this fact was enough to cast away most of our pain and we eased our stomachs back into the real world with some ultra-healthy room service. My egg white omelette was so fluffy is nearly looked like an Aerobar and it came with some roasted shiitake mushrooms, avocado, feta and fresh micro herbs. Washed down with a black coffee I was re-energised and ready to officially be a Mrs!A big shout out of thanks to my dear friend Tara for taking most of the above photos. On the day I decided to give Chompchomp a night off and Tara was more than happy to take over the job role of photographer. She got some awesome shots and I am very appreciative. xxx Crown Metropole Perth, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979 | (08) 9362 8888 We stayed in a Loft room and took advantage of their advance purchase rates which gives a significant discount off the standard rates. The full price for this room is around $1250 per night. The Merrywell, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979| (08) 9362 7551
Part Two: Our Phuket Wedding Villa at Andara Resort
After a few short and very hectic days staying at the stunning Andara Resort in one of their Pool Residences we finished off our last-minute Phuket wedding planning just in time for our wedding guests to start to arrive. This moment signalled our “moving day” where we were to move into the villa of our dreams. This would be the place where we would say our vows, become husband and wife and spend our first days as Mr and Mrs together. Eeeeek! So exciting!
Andara’s villas are situated up high on the mountain side overlooking the Andaman Sea. Each villa has its own full-time staff including a private chef. The villas are kept in an immaculate state and no matter where I took photos from various points around our enormous lodgings; I could never completely capture its incredible emotion and beauty. After an initial scare where our original choice of villa was alleged to have water damage, we managed with some persuasion to negotiate getting a larger but just as beautiful villa replacement.
Our master bedroom opened out onto our private balcony with expansive views of the Andaman sea and angled to afford glimpses of the sun setting into the sea. Our bathroom was as big as our living room at home with a massive spa once again with those incredible sea views. Our bath was filled with rose petals both on our arrival and also for our wedding night. We each had our own separate walk in robes meaning all my wedding attire could be hidden away from prying groom’s eyes until our big day.
The villa was an enormous building set over three levels allowing each of our guests their own private areas. There are two separate indoor living areas; a living room with a ten seater dining table and a separate family room. Both are equipped with large flat screen TVs and entertainment systems.
Despite the opulence and spaciousness for indoor relaxing; most of us spent the week outdoors basking around the infinity pool and eating under the sala. I couldn’t understand why you would want to dine indoors when there was such a beautiful view to gaze upon outdoors.
Our villa’s chef Su proved to be one of the biggest assets to this breath-taking villa and we would have all loved for her to return home with us to Australia! Every time we chose to eat out in Phuket we were reminded how much better Su’s food was and we should have just stayed at the villa and let her look after us.
She would approach us each morning after we finished eating our cooked breakfast in order to plan our menu for the day so she could head down to the markets and buy all the produce fresh. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she never complained about all the “blow-in” guests we repeatedly invited up to the villa to join us.
For our first night we invited all wedding guests up to the villa for a “casual” BBQ to welcome them all to Thailand. Expecting something simple, we were in no way prepared for the half a dozen or so staff that came up hours in advance to set up for the party.
Tables were set with white linen, flower centrepieces placed on the tables, bamboo flame torches embedded in the garden around the pool and a bar was set up complete with a bartender. This was to be the standard of attention and care we received throughout the duration of our stay making us really feel like we were kings and queens. This could be a lifestyle I could easily get used to if I had the money for it to be sustainable!
The only downside of Andara’s villas is their price tag. This level of luxury and opulence doesn’t come cheap. In the lead up to our stay I cannot deny I was cringing at the cost, but in all honesty our week staying at our villa was truly the best week of my life and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Part One: Finalising our Phuket Wedding Preparations!
Prior to getting engaged I often toyed around in my head with the idea of eloping off to somewhere exotic. Like many people I have a divided family with my real parents and my respective step parents not exactly being the best of friends. Having to brave getting all these loved ones in the same room sounded like a daunting feat and one that could prove best to avoid. Our engagement party at The George provided me with a safe way to test the waters and despite all the anxiety and tension in the build-up to the evening along with very disappointing customer service from the George’s staff; everyone managed to get along wonderfully. In fact we all had an absolute ball. It dawned upon me that I should give my family much more credit.
As with all brides, the last few months before our big day flew past at the speed of light. No day seemed long enough and I forgot what it was like to relax. Some may say I got a bit pedantic about details however I prefer to see it as purely just ensuring everything was done properly and thoroughly. Consequently, despite previously being so paranoid that I wouldn’t be elegantly slim enough, in the last few weeks before the big day I could barely keep weight on for all the running around I did.
Our wedding invitations were designed by Jessica, one of the lovely designers at Annie P Paperie. My theme if you can call it that was “simple elegance”. I didn’t want any froo-froo, lace, feathers or glitter and opted for letter pressed stationary instead. Following with the Thai theme they designed me a simple “logo” of orchids intertwining gracefully around the edge of the page. I used this design throughout our wedding; on our invites, personalised canvas tote bags used for the welcome gifts, small gift note pads, menus and name place cards. The orchid design was sent to the Bella Figura in New York where they used antique cast iron presses to make the invitations the old-fashioned way.
After visiting many different resorts in Phuket during our previous trip in November 2011, we both agreed unanimously that Andara was the place of our dreams. Andara has two accommodation options in its expansive resort; they have massive privately owned villas perched up high on the mountains and then they also offer smaller, apartment style residences lower down the scarp by the beach.
Both are managed by the hotel and ooze luxury and attention to detail. We arrived about five days prior to all our wedding guests and initially stayed in one of their residences for a few days before moving into the opulent villa with our bridal party. Although the residences do not quite have the wow factor of the villa, each is still appointed with great care and attention. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a pool residence for these few days and on arrival received a bottle of champagne on ice.
Each residence has its own fully equipped kitchen, full sized fridge and all the utensils you would ever need while on holiday. Not that we did any cooking. For four days we busied ourselves organising welcome packs, choosing wedding music, practising our dance and finishing off all the important little wedding details whilst the hotel’s room service kept us well fed. The kitchen went above and beyond to diligently ensure all my allergies were strictly catered for without sacrificing on taste.
Breakfast for the residence guests is served at the hotel’s only restaurant Silk. They provide a combination of a continental style buffet coupled with a freshly cooked hot meal off their al la carte menu. Every morning the food and beverage manager would come over to our table and reassure me that my gluten free bread and muffins along with my hot meal was on its way. The gluten free muffins were sweet, coconutty and fluffy light and I had to stop myself from eating them all each morning. They were served warm and spread generously with Lescure butter they were close to heaven.
If I hadn’t already had my socks knocked off by the impressiveness of our wedding villa then the Andara residences would have had the same effect. However I knew we were soon to move into even bigger and better lodgings and the beauty of our suite was somewhat lost on me. Looking back now on our stay there I can appreciate what stunning accommodation it was and for a couple travelling on their own the suites are a more affordable way to stay at Andara.
In my next Wedding blog post I will take you through our breath taking Villa where overlooking the Andaman Sea the Boy and I declared our vows to the world and became husband and wife!
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Our last visit to Singapore was during a stopover ten years ago en route to London where we lived for a number of years. We had spent our last few weeks in Perth burning all the candles at every end bidding our friends farewell and by the time we arrived in Singapore we were left feeling like a clump of melted wax. We were young and comparatively naïve and got easily caught up in the flurry of hotel booked tours and commercialised tourist traps.
Fast forward to the present and we are now both savvy travellers; we know what we enjoy and more importantly how to find it. Consequently I was super excited to be returning to Singapore to attend a close friend’s wedding armed with a multitude of eating recommendations from all my fellow blogging friends.
The wedding banquet was to be held at Fairmont Hotel so to simplify things we took opportunity of the discounted group rates and stayed there. The location is very central being walking distance to the harbour, CBD and Marina Bay Sands; and has a subway train station in the shopping complex attached to the hotel. Public transport in Singapore is quick, efficient and easy to use. We actually discovered it to be a quicker way to get around the central city than a taxi.
We stayed in the Fairmont Room which is their most basic room; however it was relatively spacious with a lounge chair, extremely comfortable king sized bed, fully equipped working desk and a private balcony overlooking the city.
There was a selection of bathroom amenities using Le Labo products scented with their signature Rose 31 fragrance. The thought of rose fragrance conjures up in my mind subtle, underwhelming, floral scents so when I took a waft of the luscious hand cream I wasn’t expecting the complexity of spice and woodiness. Other components of this fragrance include cedar wood, cumin and olbanum giving a sexy, nearly masculine scent. We only stayed for two nights but I ensured to clear away the products each service to ensure getting refreshed with another batch!
Another highlight of our room was the addition of a Nespresso machine. Since my Mum gifted to us a Nespresso machine for our engagement last year, I have realised my coffee addiction has been lifted to new heights and I cannot start my day without a decent coffee.
My initial excitement at seeing a Nespresso machine was short-lived when I realised the only pods on offer were in fact the only pods I didn’t like! Thankfully a Nespresso Boutique was not far from our hotel and before long I was back in 7th coffee heaven.
Breakfast is served buffet style downstairs at their Italian restaurant Prego. I always find Asian hotels offer a much great variety of foods for breakfast buffet than our Australian counterparts and this buffet was no exception. Gluten free bread was available on request however unfortunately none of the buffet food was sign posted whether it was gluten free so I was a little nervous in knowing in what I could and couldn’t eat. The non-allergic Boy on the other hand went nuts and piled his plate high of an assortment of curries, pastries and meats topped with a pile of crispy bacon.
On our second day in Singapore we returned fairly late back to our room after a full day walking around the city. The wedding banquet was to be held that evening so we planned to quickly beautify ourselves ready for a few pre-dinner drinks to set the mood for the occasion. To our dismay, on entering our room we were confronted by the same mess we had left hours earlier that morning. Housekeeping had forgotten to clean our room! I cannot deny this is a major oversight for a premium hotel establishment and I couldn’t help but be annoyed that I had to wait for fresh towels before I could start getting ready for the evening celebrations. Consequently we missed out on the pre-drinks and had to rush straight to the wedding reception.
Despite this frustrating hiccup the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore proved to be a great accommodation option for us during our recent stay. The central location, reasonable room rates and well-appointed room made our whirlwind 2 day stay an enjoyable and comfortable one. Our only complaint (other than our un-made room) was we didn’t have enough time! As a result we have decided to stop over again on our way home from our wedding to finish off our hit list of must-eats!
80 Bras Basah Road, Marina Bay, 189560 Singapore | www.fairmont.com/singaporeTripadvisor reviews Food: 3.5/5 (based on buffet breakfast at Prego only) Service: 2.5/5 (check out process was slow, housekeeping forgot our room) Rooms: 4/5 (clean, well-appointed and spacious, BTW the bed is the BOMB) Location: 4.5/5 Total: 14.5/20