At the very tail end of my annual leave I received a spontaneous call from one of my dearest friends and business partner Chris to join her on a lunch date. She was freed of the responsibility of her little offspring for the afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. She wasn’t fussy where we went and let me choose the venue. With so many new bars popping up around town it is hard to keep up despite being a food blogger. One bar that has sparked my interest is Shadow Wine Bar located in the new Alex Hotel. Moving away from the current trend of tight spaces and walk-ins, Shadow Wine Bar fills a large space with dramatic black and white interiors, massively high ceilings and an industrial warehouse-gone-chic feel.
I tend to avoid making an early judgement on the fluidity of service for new venues like this, not only are the staff new but everything is new and everyone deserves time to land on their feet. So I excused our waiter’s error in telling me all the pasta dishes were gluten free along with a dish with a rye crumb. It was even easier to forgive him quickly when the rest of our service was accompanied with smiles and attentiveness.
We started with the potato crisp topped with fresh crab and a lemon aioli. These morsels were a mouthful of flavour however the potato didn’t hold up to the weight of its toppings and became a little soggy in the middle.
The pan-fried haloumi was a squeaky treat matched beautifully with slightly sweet, slightly sour pink grapefruit and peppery fresh watercress. A simple collection of ingredients that balanced elegantly.
The veal carpaccio was the winner of the day. Nearly translucent slices of veal were marbled with spider thin strands of white fat and tore apart like tissue paper across the plate. Truffle mustard drizzled generously on top gave a subtle hint of truffiliciousness.
Shadow Bar’s crispy pork jowl is a must for pork lovers. The crackling was browned to a tooth-chipping, crunchable texture while the underlying unctuous goodness melted in the mouth without any lingering aftertaste.
A meal with Chris is never complete without sweets. In fact, over nearly two decades of friendship I cannot recall ever eating with her and not ingesting something saccariferous. Not that I am complaining because I am no different. After a round of giggles from us both trying to pronounce “tart tartin” properly in French, Chris ordered the pear tart tartin. It was served with tonka bean ice cream which had a similar flavour to vanilla with a hint of caramel.
The only gluten free dessert option was the poached rhubarb served with a scoop of mascarpone and shards of meringue. Whilst my dessert certainly looked the part, I found its flavours to be underwhelming with the creaminess and tartness unbalanced due to a distinct lack of sweetness. It almost felt like there was a missing ingredient.
Our lunch experience at Shadow Wine Bar left me undecided on my opinion so the following day I brought the Boy back there for lunch for a second chance. Our waitress was much more clued on about what was gluten free and sailed me through the menu without hesitation. Sadly only a handful of the small plates could be adapted and despite being a hotel there was no gluten free bread available.
We started with the jamon iberico which was served with fresh bread on the side for the Boy and some very tasty pickles. Like the carpaccio, the meat was high quality and similarly soft and flavourful.
The fish of the day was two fillets of pan-fried King George Whiting with a puttanesca sauce made with olives, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I picked out the fructose loaded onions easily. As the Boy devoured his share he wondered why I had any reservations about this venue as he had only experienced winning dishes.
Our next dish was the braised lamb neck ragu and this cemented his positive opinion on Shadow. Served on a bed of soft polenta, the lamb was delicately textured, moist and rich and we both savoured each mouthful.
In contrast to Chris, the Boy doesn’t have a sweet tooth except for his weakness for ice cream. I was happy to settle for some cheese instead especially as I had seen two of my favourites of all time on the menu; namely Manchego and Brillat Savarin. These are two very different cheeses but are both ground-shakingly amazing. The cheeses were served at the perfect temperature to maximise their flavour but sadly there were no gluten free crackers or bread to accompany. I am hoping this is just one small oversight that they plan to resolve.
I am glad I returned back to Shadow Wine Bar as I can now appreciate it has oodles of potential. Housed in an impressive space, with a short to the point menu and serving wines by the glass or carafe Shadow Wine Bar proves that our little city Perth is finally growing up. I am hoping that they will progress to becoming a little more gluten free friendly so that people like me can enjoy more of their European styled menu.
Shadow Wine Bar
214 William Street, Northbridge WA | (08) 6430 4010 | www.shadowwinebar.com.au
It is no secret that I love my local The Precinct in Vic Park. We are regulars almost every week and they seem to successfully predict what we want to drink and almost read our minds on what we want to eat too. I love their passion and enthusiasm; every wine and every dish has its own story. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that this awesome team had plans to open a second venue. Managing to secure the old Jus Burgers site in Northbridge I waited patiently for the restaurant to open, hoping them all the success that they deserve. Their new bar is called No Mafia.
Focusing on southern Italian cuisine with handpicked Italian and local wines, the food bypasses serving stodgy pastas and bread in favour of fresh and nearly entirely gluten free share plates. Executive Chef Sam McKinven has created a menu that left me wanting to return in a hurry.
One thing I love about The Precinct is that I never have to think about what to drink, I can trust that their selection with match my food choices beautifully; I was soon to find that No Mafia is no different.
I started with a white peach blini, using local seasonal fruit from Gingin and topped with Prosecco for that Italian twist. It was hard to stop at one but the Boy insisted on sharing some wine for our meal.
As I tried to resist the urge to gulp my refreshing beverage down, our first plate of a serve of some Prosciutto di Parma arrived. The Proscuitto di Parma is imported by Princi Butchers direct from Italy and had a soft, creamy texture and a hint of sweet saltiness. The Boy paired it with some Bread in Common loaf but unfortunately there was not a gluten free bread alternative.
Our next dish was the swordfish crudo; think of this as an Italian version of sashimi. The swordfish is fished out locally off the western coast near Rottnest Island ensuring extreme freshness and a delicate texture. The sword fish was served with Colatura, an Italian fish sauce. This revered sauce is made by layering anchovies with salt in wooden barrels. This causes the fish to release liquid which becomes mixed with salt and collected underneath. The end result is paler coloured and lighter flavoured than standard Asian fish sauce.
The beef carpaccio is priced on a per person basis. Using 100 day grain fed beef each strip loin was hand trimmed and beaten to achieve a perfectly thin portion. The luscious marbling made this a delight to photograph and imparted a gorgeously rich flavour. To add a dash of umami each slice of beef was rolled around sautéed pickled enoki mushrooms.
I needed to fit in a vegetarian dish to dilute out all this protein and was recommended the eggplant parmigiana. As with all of No Mafia’s dishes, there was no heaviness or glugginess and it was surprisingly light and fresh.
Our last savoury dish was the seared yellow fin tuna once again made with locally caught WA fish. Some bottarga, an Italian imported sundried mullet roe added a touch more depth and “fishy goodness”. A crunchy bright side of greens using broccoli and beach banana balanced this nicely.
Ordering both cheese and dessert used to be something we would occasionally do as a treat but in recent times has become more of a regular occurrence. It is one of our many overindulgent habits of 2014 that is going to have to stop in 2015 before we become morbidly obese. Given January was yet to tick over, we ordered a serve of baked ricotta to share. Subtle and slightly sweet it made the perfect pre-dessert choice.
We had worked our way through a lot of food and had to call upon the miracle of our second stomach for dessert. ;-).
Zabaglione is a simple but satisfying Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. It was served with fresh strawberries and shavings of chocolate. Being naturally gluten free this is a dish I could have many more of!
There is always a great level of satisfaction when you see those that deserve success achieve their goals. I am not alone in my loyalties to the No Mafia team as they have recently got a round of positive mentions in the Gourmet Traveler and the West Australian. They accept walk-ins and bookings can be made online on their website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was not an invited guest and paid for her meal at No Mafia in full.
Being the only food blogger in the family means the decision on where to go for dinner is invariably left up to me. I am by no means complaining about this allocated role however it does mean that my choices are often somewhat biased towards what I want to eat. For the Boy’s birthday this year, I wanted to make sure it was somewhere HE wanted to go. Upon his request I gave him a short list of choices and left him to do his own research. His first choice was Chefz Table however at the last minute they called to inform us that the restaurant was unexpectantly closing for the weekend. With only two days to find somewhere to book, I was worried we would be stuck with nowhere to go but fortunately managed to grab a table at the Boy’s second choice the Wild Duck in Nedlands.
We have visited the Wild Duck a couple of times when they were located in Albany. On our most recent visit we even managed to wow my stepdad by giving him his first experience of a degustation meal complete with fancy foams and gels. The Boy has very fond memories of Albany and was happy to see how this creative restaurant has managed moving up to the big smoke.
Our evening began with the chef’s amuse bouche, a Thai influenced fish cake with a herb aioli. This tasty morsel wasn’t gluten free. My gluten free replacement was a single but super fresh oyster from Franklin Harbour.
These South Australian oysters are always so plump and creamy and never fail to excite me. I also chose to have the matched wines with our degustation however I couldn’t help myself from starting the meal with an additional glass of bubbles. In hindsight, I should remember that when doing a degustation with matched wines, I don’t NEED that extra glass of bubbles.
Our first course was a cute little mug of broccoli soup. It was wintry cold and rainy outside and the warming soup was a perfect choice to ease us into an evening of eating and birthday celebrations. The thick creamy soup had a hint of sweet from the swirl of balsamic reduction and ended with a familiar tang from the crumbled Meredith Dairy goats cheese.
Our second entrée was the beef carpaccio. The paper thin slices of brilliant, ruby red beef dissolved on my tongue in a second. Textural contrasts with some shaved fennel and watercress added layers of flavours which were accentuated by fresh horseradish and beetroot. The dish was finished with a sumptuous drizzle of slow cooked egg yolk. We had barely been there an hour and already we had enjoyed some of my favourites of all time; fresh oysters, champagne and slow cooked egg.
Next up was the confit salmon. A perfect bite of salmon slow cooked at 42 degrees proved to be just as outstanding as our previous dishes. I loved how each dish contained elements of contrasting textures and flavours. Served with the salmon were pickled and charred cucumber and fresh samphire which added both crunchy and salty aspects to the palate. This was all smoothed out beautifully by some dollops of crème fraiche and drizzles of a dill infusion oil.
Unlike many of my fellow pork-obsessive bloggers, I don’t eat a lot of pork and I would rarely choose it unless it was part of a tasting menu. Consequently when I do eat it, it has to be pretty damn good for me to enjoy it. Wild Duck’s confit pork belly is prepared using slow cooking techniques over 16 hours resulting in a buttery soft texture and no greasy porky aftertaste. The crispy skin cracked exuberantly in my mouth making me giggle too loudly thanks my increasingly intoxicated state.
The pork belly was served with a steamed pork bun which for me was adapted to be gluten free by leaving out the dumpling skin and serving me just the stuffing. Some grilled polenta, smooth sweetcorn purée, cubes of warm apple jellies and a crunchy apple and micro herb salad completed the dish.
Wild Duck offer a couple of optional extras with their degustation and in our usual state of gluttony we agreed to order both. The first optional course was a rabbit roulade with dates and pistachio alongside a red wine braised rabbit croquette. This dish was unable to be changed to be gluten free so the chef offered to make me something different.
My replacement dish was a duo of beef. Winter really is the time to get slow cooking and one of the best cuts of beef to slow cook is the cheek. My first time I tried cheek was moons ago prior to my blogging days at the Loose Box in Mundaring and I will never forget this memorable meal. Wild Duck’s dish was similarly heart-warming with wondrous soft shreds of beef cheek accompanying a charred nub of Black Angus fillet. It was served with a fondant potato, beetroot and cauliflower crumble, sousvide honey thyme carrots and a cauliflower purée.
I had restrained from eating for most of the day to save room for dinner and it was becoming progressively obvious to the Boy that I was quite drunk. My voice volume was slowly increasing and my attention to detail to my photography had all but expired. The Boy reached across the table to grab my camera and flipped quickly through some of my shots whilst raising his eyebrows at me. I slurped up my sorbet noisily and returned his gaze with a coy smile.
Consequently details of our final main dish is a little foggier than I would prefer and the angling of my photo is somewhat clumsy. A fillet of crispy skinned duck breast was paired with cubes of grilled speck bacon, aniseed poached pears and braised honey carrots. Coloured smears of carrot purée and creamed peas made this dish quite a substantial one, this wasn’t a degustation where we went home hungry.
Our second optional course was the pre-dessert; a picture perfect lemon soufflé with coconut ice cream. It was powder puff light and I could nearly hear the “poof” as I plunged my spoon in the ramekin. In fact I vaguely recall mimicking that “poof” noise as I tucked into it.
Our evening ended with the Wild Duck’s chocolate delice; a decadent mousse made from cream, eggs and chocolate. Scattered across my plate like Willy Wonka’s garden were wibbly-wobbly strawberry jellies, strawberry sponge and crunchy meringue kisses adorned with blobs of yoghurt parfait, fresh strawberries and bright pink strawberry powder. A bright and cheerful way to end a joyful evening together.
Happy Birthday to my best friend and my one true love. I love you and I love my life with you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Chompchomp paid for this meal out of her own pocket however at the end of the night the Boy reminded her to use their digital version of the Entertainment card to receive a $40 discount of the total bill. Wild Duck 35 Hampden Road, Nedlands WA 6009 | http://www.wildduckrestaurant.com/ $$$$ (Seven course degustation $105, nine course degustation $130, $50 extra for matched wines)
I recently travelled up to the Northwest corner of Western Australia as the official blogger for the Gascoyne regional final in the inaugural WA Signature Dish competition. Having never visited this part of Australia before, I wanted to obtain a clear insight into its food industry in order to understand why they call themselves the “food bowl” of our State. The Boy and I flew in via Exmouth, collected ourselves a rental 4WD from the airport and drove straight to Carnarvon in the pouring rain to be ready to start early the next morning.
The competition event was held at One Mile Restaurant which is housed in the new Interpretive Centre facing out onto the historical One Mile Jetty in the Heritage Precinct. Whilst this ancient but well preserved jetty was constructed back in 1897, the accompanying restaurant was only built recently and hadn’t even officially opened! Their kitchen was so shiny and new creating a perfect work area for our four contestants to create their signature dishes. The fabulous four finalists for the Gascoyne region are Jerolina, Amy, Paul and Gayle. They all live in Carnarvon and show an obvious love for their home town and its amazingly vibrant produce.
The contestants weren’t scheduled to hit the stoves until mid-morning which gave Channel Seven’s Today Tonight camera team plenty of time to get loads of footage including getting individual interviews with each of them. Also joining the team was professional photographer Anton from Simply Designed, whose talent, skills and awesome equipment reminded me what a complete amateur I am with my little camera!
As each contestant was scuttled away for their private interviews, it gave me the chance to have a good chat with those remaining behind and learn more about what it is like living in Carnarvon and more importantly to plug them for suggestions on where to eat locally.
I was surprised and somewhat saddened to learn that despite being a town surrounded by an abundance of amazing fruit and vegetable plantations in addition to having access to some of the freshest seafood, many of the local eateries preferred to obtain cheaper imported ingredients in order to save on costs. Hopefully with highly publicized and well-run events like WA Signature Dish, it will help promote using local produce and this food culture will start to change. Certainly if the passion and enthusiasm of these four locals was anything to go by, it won’t be long before this happens.
Once all the contestant’s interviews were completed it was time for them to don their aprons and get down to business. Before officially commencing the cook-off, the region’s mentor chef Peter Manifis from InContro wished the contestants the best of luck before gesturing them into the kitchen.
Although the four in the kitchen were far too busy to stop and eat, the rest of us were getting pretty peckish. To our delight the newly appointed chef for One Mile Restaurant had kindly prepared a huge spread of food for us to snack on while we anxiously waited to see what the first dish would be. Our lunch included fresh sushi rolls, pumpkin soup, rice paper rolls, scones and a colourful fruit platter. When I chatted to the chef to find out what was gluten free, I was excited to hear she was a huge supporter in using her local produce and plans to promote this in her new restaurant once it opens.
Each contestant received their signature dish ingredients packed neatly in a crate and seeing them all go through each one was like watching kids at Christmas. Jerolina’s signature dish was a whole grilled Snapper served with Dabu dabu and coconut corn. Dabu dabu is a type of hot sauce found in Manado cuisine from Indonesia.
Her signature dish was the first one to be presented to the judges and she certainly set the bar high for her fellow finalists. The fish was so delicate and moist with a rich, spicy flavour from the Dabu dabu sauce. The chargrilled corn also had a hint of spice which balanced elegantly with the sweet coconut flavours.
Those of you who know me well, you will be familiar with my “flying hands of fury”. It is a term used by my friends to describe my ever-moving and highly expressive hand movements. Well, actually they are sometimes more like arm movements.
Within minutes of meeting Amy I concluded we must have been separated at birth because she also sported a similarly fantastic pair of flying hands of fury. Being such an energetic and vibrant person I was excited to see what creative and crazy dish she would create. Her signature dish was a stunning carpaccio of kangaroo fillet served on a bed of Oriental lentils with pickled beetroot. It was plated immaculately and I found it hard to believe she had no chef training.
As I am allergic to kangaroo meat, unfortunately I didn’t try this dish. Roo causes me to develop a rather unusual anaphylactic like response where my throat swells up and I struggle to breathe. Kind of like what I imagine a nut allergy to be. But to roo! It’s not pleasant. I was informed by those who ate the carpaccio that the meat was uber-tender and matched well with the creamy lentils and sweet beetroot.
Gayle runs the front of house for Pickles Point Seafood & Boatyard in Carnarvon. Pickles Point are renowned for providing the local Carnarvon residents with some of the freshest Shark Bay seafood so it was logical that this would be the main feature of her signature dish.
She cooked a freshly cut fillet of Shark Bay Pink Snapper topped with butterflied Tiger prawns and served on a sweet potato mash with lime and mayonnaise. I looked over at the judge’s faces and I could see they were struggling to choose a winner. It was going to be such a hard call to make as every dish was outstanding.
The lovely, smiling Paul was the lucky last competitor to serve up his signature dish to the judging panel. This didn’t appear to frazzle him whatsoever and he looked so zen and calm as he prepared his dish. I wish cooking had that effect on me!
His dish was titled the “Gascoyne seafood tasting plate”. It comprised of four equally outstanding components each showcasing a outstanding number of key hero ingredients from the Gascoyne region; King prawns with salsa verde, citrus cured snapper, pan fried Pink snapper with lime mayonnaise and pickled vegetables; and snapper tartare with basil drizzle.
Narrowing it down to just one winner was going to be very hard and I didn’t envy the judges having to make this decision. The winner of each regional final will go on to battle it out for the title of WA Signature Dish on WA Day in June. The other three regional finalists are from the areas of Southern Forests, Great Southern and Perth. In order to help prepare the contestants for the big finale, each regional winner will receive intense one-on-one training from their mentor chef. I can see the Peter has a strong competitive streak in him so we couldn’t have asked for a more motivated chef to train our finalist!
As the crowd gathered around to wait for the announcement of the winner I could feel the excitement and tension in the air. The judges had used a points system to score each dish, assessing its flavour, presentation and originality but also on its ability to proudly showcase the produce from the Gascoyne region. Before they declared the winner, we were informed that it was an extremely close call with the top two contestants so close they nearly came in at a tie.
And the winner of the WA Signature Dish Gascoyne regional is……..Paul Kelly with his stunning Gascoyne seafood tasting plate. A huge congratulations to you Paul and also a big well done to Jerolina, Amy and Gayle for creating such amazing and individual signature dishes. Hopefully we may all meet again next year? 😉
Chompchomp is the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for WA Signature Dish competition run by Buy West Eat Best.
My father-in-law’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it an occasion that is usually celebrated in a very relaxed style at their home. This year we were unable to attend the family gathering and proposed to take them out for lunch instead with just the four of us. Predictably for the time of year in Perth, the weather was absolutely glorious so I convinced everyone to head to the coast and meet at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe.
The beach in Cottesloe is something to be proud of and in my humble opinion has to be one of the prettiest beaches in our state. The sky was as blue as the clear waters below it and the white expanses of sand were splashed with bright colours of beach towels and bikini clad sunbakers. There are people around the world who pay to go on holiday to be able visit locations like this and here we have it on our back door step. You cannot help but love Perth.
Il Lido is built in a 1935 heritage building and back in the 1940’s this site housed Lido Cabaret, which was the old-time equivalent to our modern day nightclub. Much of the interior has been kept intact with decorative high ceilings and windows facing out onto the beach. Il Lido has been on my ever growing wishlist of places to eat for some time having already been to both of their sister restaurants Duende and Gordon Street Garage a number of times.
Most of the small plates were already gluten free or were easily adaptable so we started off with a number of them to share before moving onto something more substantial. I have always been a huge lover of oysters as many of you may have noticed. Despite having tried them prepared countless different ways, until recently my favourite style has be “au natural”. That was until I tried Lalla Rookh’s incredible freshly shucked oysters with cucumber chilli granita. The combination of fresh saltiness and sweet iciness ending in a gentle spicy kick was more than just intriguing.
So when I saw something that sounded very similar on Il Lido’s menu I got quite excited. I should have however ordered them with no expectations because these oysters came with just a teeny dollop of melted sorbet not a shell full like I was expecting. Although the oysters were delightfully fresh, having such a small amount of sorbet made them lacklustre by comparison.
It must have been the day for carpaccio because I found myself unable to decide between the tuna and the beef. My solution was to simply order one of each. The tuna carpaccio was a complete hit. The dish was literally as pretty as a picture; chewy pieces of candied chilli, torn fresh orange and olives were scattered on top of thinly sliced fish. Each piece of tuna dissolved on the tongue leaving a surprisingly complex array of flavours on the palate.
The beef carpaccio was just as tender and was served with generous shavings of truffle sottocenere cheese along with lavish smears of horseradish cream. Each mouthful was as soft as silk and resulted in a brief period of silence across the table while we all gustated in pleasure.
I mean, who can say no to truffle cheese?
Our last starter of scallops had to be slightly adapted to be gluten free by omission of the “crumbs”. Plump scallops were hidden under piles of freshly tossed beans and greens. Whilst not the biggest scallops in town, each mouthful was browned to a warm caramel colour yet remained juicy and soft.
My father-in-law ordered himself the lamb cutlets for his celebratory birthday meal. The two meaty lamb chops came with light salad of fresh figs, spinach, basil, goats cheese and pine nuts all tossed enthusiastically to coat each component in tangy, creamy cheesiness.
My mother-in-law opted for a lighter meal, choosing the poached chicken salad with peaches, prosciutto, almonds and goats cheese. Her plate was piled high and ended up being a bigger serve than she had anticipated. I love how each of their salads came with a mix of seasonal fresh fruit and goats cheese, such a lovely combination to have on a hot summers day.
The Boy ordered the beetroot and goats cheese crespelle. Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes, can be served as a savoury or sweet dish and are usually made using small sized pancakes folded with a sauce filling. By the time I had taken shots of his parent’s meals he was starting to get impatient giving me not much more than a millisecond to capture its vibrant colours.
I was in the same boat as my MIL and craved a light and healthy salad. I always eat way too much over Christmas and by the time New Year’s approaches I’m actually ready for a break! I chose the hickory smoked salmon with avocado, green beans and a yoghurt dressing. My helping was also generous with all the ingredients tumbled together evenly. I hate salads where the key ingredients are just dumped on top of the greens; everything needs to be tossed through!
My husband’s family are usually big eaters especially the men. It’s those long Dutch legs that need that extra filling up! I didn’t anticipate our big servings and ordered a couple of sides; crisp potato skins with paprika salt, aioli and a rocket, pear and parmesan salad. The potato skins are worth returning back for. Slightly spicy, super crunchy with just a hint of soft potato flesh these little numbers didn’t last long.
There were a couple of dessert choices that were gluten free including the pineapple upside down cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Having four mouths to feed on the table allowed me to order one of each knowing anything I couldn’t eat would still get eaten.
The pineapple cake was very moist and accompanied some poached pineapple and extra virgin olive oil ice cream that is made in house. The extra virgin flavour in the ice cream was not too over powering to be unpleasant and gave a pleasant fruity end to the tongue.
The Boy gobbled up a substantial part of his cake before I could get a fork in edgewise which generally is a good sign coming from someone who claims to not like desserts. The tall disc of cake came in a puddle of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces with honeycomb ice cream. I had a couple of mouthfuls and thought it was a little dry for my liking.
As both the Boy and I tend to work long hours, it isn’t often that we get to spoil either of our parents and it was totally worth it to see the beaming faces at the end of it all. To help all the food excesses digest we took a relaxing stroll along the coastline together and longed for the day to never end.
Il Lido was even better than we expected given our excellent experiences at Duende and variable meals at Gordon Street Garage. They have successfully emulated a casual beach side vibe yet serve stunning Italian “peasant” food that left the in-laws very impressed. I can guarantee we will be back.Il Lido Italian Canteen 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, WA 6011 | (08) 9286 1111 | illido.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-20, Mains $28-42) Food: 4.5/5 (focuses on simple Italian dishes with local, seasonal produce) Service: 4/5 (helpful with allergy choices, accommodating with alterations, full of smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but that is part of the atmosphere, indoor and outdoor options) Drinks: 4/5 (comprehensive wine list with many interesting Italian and Aussie options to suit all prices) Total: 16/20
This blog post is the second in my series for this year’s Mushroom Mania. The month kicked off in full force commencing with my visit to the picturesque Millbrook Winery where we wined and dined until we nearly exploded. We even managed to successfully forage some wild field mushrooms from their stunning property. From there my madness for mushrooms continued and I posted my first recipe detailing how I cooked up these freshly picked delights. Don’t forget you can also go a little mushroom mad as there are over 2000 participating restaurants all over Australia serving up a variety of mushroom themed recipes. You can even win a $150 dinner voucher; see the end of this post for more.
I cannot deny that for once in a blue moon neither one of us were up for a night out. The Boy had been struggling to shake off a flu that had lingered all week. He had resultantly dosed himself up on cold and flu which only served to give him a few hours of relief each time. I had managed to only catch a very mild bout of his illness presumably because I had already been sick several times this year. However I had inadvertently poisoned myself with some gluten the night prior at the Good Food and Wine Show. One hour before we were to leave the house my whole face randomly broke out in large welts and my eyes puffed up like those of a gold fish. Not the makings for an attractive couple really, were we?
Refusing to be beaten, I prayed for dim lighting as the Boy chowed down on more cold and flu and out we headed to Divido in Mount Hawthorn. The restaurant glowed with subdued soft lighting and although I knew the quality of my photos were going to suffer a little, I was much relieved to be able to hide under its cloak of poor visibility.
On the weekend Divido offer an option of either degustation for $95 or a three course meal for $80. Neither of us felt like we had the room for a full dego so we opted to extend the three courses to four as an in-between compromise. Better still, this enabled me to select three wonderful mushroom dishes to enjoy! While we waited our waiter brought some handmade sourdough with olive oil and balsamic to our table. It smelt absolutely amazing! Being unable to eat normal bread for many years now, I’m not ashamed to at least enjoy its smell. The Boy gave me funny looks as I picked up a soft piece of bread and deeply inhaled its glorious aroma. Surely he must be used to my antics by now?
My first entrée was the beef carpaccio. I was crossing my fingers I wouldn’t get the same overly lemony acidic version I received at Villa D’Este recently. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed; soft elegantly thin slices of dark red beef were complimented with richly flavoured porcini mushrooms and topped with the freshest greenest rocket I have seen for a while. Shavings of parmesan polished this dish off to perfection.
The Boy ordered the baked Cloudy Bay clams. This was served in its clay pot and contained some interesting combinations of flavours with tomato, okra and fennel seeds. It had a garlic breadcrumb crust adding in a crunchier texture to the softer elements underneath.
I realise I have already made most of you drool over my fabulous mushroom risotto at Millbrook Winery last week, however I couldn’t go past ordering it again this time round after our waiter informed me it contained some Manjimup black truffle. The inside of a truffle always amuses me as recall our pathology wet lab classes back in Vet School. The intricate patterning of the black truffle reminds me somewhat of the cross-section of a brain.
Luckily for me these thoughts have absolutely no effect on my appetite, it takes a lot more than that to put me off my food as many of my work companions can tell you! The rice wasn’t gluggy whatsoever and maintained its “al dente” texture while still having that creaminess of a good risotto. I was delighted at the generosity of shavings of truffle despite this only being an entrée serve. The earthy flavours of the truffles lingered long on my palate and I was so pleased there would be more to come in my choice of main.
The Boy was obviously in the mood for some seafood and ordered the pansotti with prawns, local blue swimmer crab and mussels for his next dish. Pansotti are a type of triangular-shaped ravioli and these were filled with the Greek purée skordalia. The poor guy had such a blocked nose he was unable to tell me what sort of skordalia was inside the soft folds of fresh pasta, but traditionally it is usually made from garlic, potatoes and some vinegar.
My main meal was the fish of the day, and gazing across the room I could see I wasn’t the only one who thought it sounded good. A fresh flaky fillet of locally caught Pink Snapper was baked inside baking paper, a style the Italians like to call “al Cartoccio”. Cooking al Cartoccio helps to maintain the dish’s moisture and preserves the intensity of its natural flavours. Inside my paper package was a multitude of mushrooms including porcini, field, shitake, enoki and button mushrooms. They each had their own degree of potency in taste and texture. Of course the highlight was more (yes more) shaving of black truffle.
The Boys’ main dish of wood roasted duck was served with buckwheat polenta and a porcini sauce with mustard fruits and spring onions. The duck was moist and tender, falling off the bone easily and I had to beg him for a small mouthful to taste. I’m not sure if his taste buds were a little dulled by his flu because he wasn’t as wowed by this dish as I would have expected given its mouth-watering appearance. My single taste of it was divine so I going to consider that he just may not have been able to sense all the flavours properly through his snuffles and sickness. Poor love.
For sides we ordered the spiced pumpkin with chick peas, mint and almonds. This dish was surprisingly moreish and despite our bursting waistlines we managed to finish it all off. The chickpeas tasted really fresh not quite like any I have tasted before, and the Moroccan style spices coated each piece of pumpkin perfectly.
At this point, we really didn’t have much room left for more food. To be honest, in hindsight we really should have stuck to one entrée each not two! Why do we always order too much food? After a brief gaze over the dessert menu, I couldn’t really see anything that was obviously gluten free so I asked our waitress for some advice. She went off to have a chat to the chef and soon returned to let me know that although nothing on their menu was gluten free, the chef was happy to make a gluten free alternative called zabaione especially for me. I was told that the chef has done this many times before for gluten free customers. I really love chefs with this can-do attitude!
After a short wait, out comes the most gorgeous looking dessert for me to enjoy. For once my dessert was the envy of all instead of the other way round! Zabaione is a dairy free, gluten free Italian egg custard made from egg yolks, sugar and Moscato. It was accompanied by strawberry compote, scoops of soft icy sorbet and topped with some pistachios. Heaven! Give me zabaione any day!
Although the Boy’s walnut torta looked pretty good, but I can’t deny I felt it appeared a little lacklustre in comparison to my deliciousness! It came with a scoop of cardamom ice cream and was drizzled in sticky Muscat compote. He was way too full to finish it off but made a pretty good effort considering how unwell he was. He had barely eaten anything the past few days so I was happy to see him eat a good hearty meal. Fingers crossed this is the last of the winter ailments and we can both get back on track for some healthiness again.
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 has 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 Divido with compliments of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association.Divido 170 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9443 7373 | www.divido.com.au Price: $$$ (Three courses $85, Degustation $95 or $140 with matched wines) Food: 4.5/5 (flexible chef, hearty Italian dishes with a modern flair) Service: 4/5 (occasionally a bit disjointed but very knowledgeable and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (cosy, inviting and relaxing) Drinks: 4.5/5 (lots of champagne to choose from. Very happy with this!) Total: 17/20
It is always amazes me how quickly winter creeps up in Perth. Maybe it’s because we’re a little spoilt here in this sunny city. We have long glorious summers and comparably short winters meaning we never really get acclimatised to the concept of being cold so when it does come it really hits us with a shock. Notoriously the Boy’s birthday always comes about at just that point in time when the very first cold snap arrives. Not that we have ever let cold weather stand in the way of good fun mind you, in fact one year I remember he decided it a grand idea to jump in our pool with the bestie! So this year out we went in the freezing rain for some birthday celebrations. As we left the house he excitedly reminded me again that the next time we celebrate our birthdays together we will be husband and wife! It still gives me goose bumps of joy saying that!
A number of weeks ago in an attempt to adhere to our wedding budget I had purchased a Spreets coupon for Villa D’Este. It was a very good deal: a three course meal for two for only $99. Quite a few years ago our bank took us out for dinner here. We all had a wonderful meal back then so I figured that this place had some potential to be a much better coupon experience than our previous recent outings.
One thing that really drives the Boy crazy is feeling like he is being ripped off by cab drivers. As soon as we climb into a taxi no matter where we are, he is as sharp as a tack in noticing any dodgy tactics they might use to make extra money. As I naïvely chatted away to him on our way over to West Perth, I could feel that something was really bothering him yet I couldn’t quite work out what. I continued to remain completely oblivious for long enough for him to become a little impatient and frustrated with me. Finally as I noticed what a long winded route we were taking the penny dropped and I nodded my head knowingly at him.
After our scenic route we eventually arrived at our pre-dinner destination Amphoras Bar. The driver proceeded to slowly and deliberately remove our change coin by coin and placed it on the centre console. He even stopped mid-counting coins a couple of times to fiddle with his phone, Navman and a few other knobs in his car. The Boy was convinced that the driver was pretending to have difficulty hoping we would say not to worry and he could keep the change. Being a very perceptive type he was probably right.
After the tension in the taxi it was a relief to walk into the cosy and warm atmosphere of Amphoras. I was literally freezing to my bones and I wanted a strong drink to defrost myself. I decided against ordering wine and chose a cocktail called La Parta Sur; it filled the spot wonderfully with no ice to chill me.
The mixed marinated olives contained a suitable mix of types and texture for variety; fleshy, firm Spanish olives, soft and flavoursome Kalamata and some little wild Ligurian olives. Not wanting too much food before we headed over to Villa D’Este, we selected a couple of little tapas dishes to keep us going until our late dinner reservation.
The scallops were a buttery treat served with sweet pickled cucumber and a corn relish. The flavours balanced beautifully without drowning out the enjoyment of the brilliant little mouthfuls of tender scallops. We also ordered some Pedro Ximenez glazed Rosa’s chorizo. Unfortunately the lighting didn’t allow my photos to be viewable so dear readers, you miss out on checking out this dish but I’ll let you know it’s worth going back for. The chorizo was literally bursting in meaty juiciness and had a slight caramelised surface due to the glaze. Thankfully this is my last post using my point-and-shoot so fuzzy photos will (hopefully) be a thing of Chompchomp’s past!
After a few rounds of drinks my bones had sufficiently thawed out enough to briefly brave the cold once again and walk quickly around the corner to Villa D’Este. Despite it being a fairly late booking the restaurant was totally packed and alive with noisy atmosphere. Our table wasn’t ready so we were shown to the bar to enjoy another round of drinks while we waited.
The Boy loves snails. You can be sure if they are on the menu he will order them guaranteed. These ones were cooked in the shells and served with a mixture of red wine, butter, garlic and parsley. The little suckers didn’t disappoint him and were soft, succulent and oozing in garlicky flavours.
My beef carpaccio had a lot of potential as the meat was exquisitely sliced and had a rich deep colour to it. Unfortunately I felt it was left a little drowned in the lemon dressing which overpowered any flavour or the meat leaving my mouth feeling pickled and sour.
The Boy ordered the Piccata Tartufata: medallions of veal which was topped with a slice of prosciutto, soft cheese and served with a truffle flavoured barbera wine sauce. He wasn’t very impressed with his choice, his meat was a little tough and the sauce lacked the rich flavours one would expect. He also commented that he could barely taste any truffle flavour.
I chose the Special of the Day which was prosciutto wrapped rabbit with roasted chestnuts and risotto cake. I hadn’t eaten roasted chestnuts since walking along the streets of Paris many years ago where they are sold by street vendors in cones of newspaper. It brought back wonderful memories of our time backpacking through Europe and although the rabbit was ever so slightly overcooked I still really enjoyed this dish.
For dessert I ordered the Duetto di Panna e Caramello which was a match made in heaven: consisting of a layer of pannacotta topped with a layer of crème caramel and drizzled with tart berry compote. Combining these two standouts from Italian and French cuisine and was by far and by large one of the highlights of the evening for me. I was so full that I was nearly on the verge of nausea yet I still managed to gobble most of it. In fact if it wasn’t the boy’s birthday, I would have been very reluctant to share any of it but seeing as it was meant to be his night to enjoy I meekly let his help me polish it off.
Of course I’m sure my regular dear readers could probably guess what he ordered for his own birthday dessert….yes you guess it, gelati! As expected in a fine dining Italian restaurant the gelati was smooth and towards the end I thought I spotted him nearly licking his bowl clean.
Happy Birthday my love, I hope you had a fabulous night out. Here’s to many more amazing birthdays together xxAmphoras Bar 1303 Hay St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9226 4666 | www.amphorasbar.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas dishes range from $7-39 per plate) Food: 4/5 (we only sampled a few dishes and must return to make a true judgment) Service: 3/5 (waiter not very knowledgeable about the menu ingredients/details) Ambience: 4/5 (warm, cosy & didn’t want to leave) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list, fabulous cocktails) Total: 15/20 Villa D’Este Restaurant 49 Outram St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9322 6262 | www.villadeste.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $26-39, Mains $39-54. We bought a $99 Spreets voucher which gave us a three course meal for two) Food: 3/5 (a little hit and miss in its execution) Service: 4.5/5 (brilliant, helpful & accommodating for my allergies) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels like I’m in Italy) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive list of Australian and Italian wines) Total: 16/20
Spontaneity is an uncommon occurrence for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, in fact quite the contrary it’s just that I can’t help but plan and organise things. I hate the thought that an element of enjoyment is missed out due to lack of foresight. But as I was running to my car during the heaviest part of the down pouring rain I got this burning desire to go out for the evening. We both work long hours and often have hectic busy days so most weeknights tend to be a sombre experience of crashing on the couch, eating dinner and watching television. I sat in my car drenched right through to the skin in my work clothes and phoned the boy who was still at work, half expecting him to decline the offer with protests of exhaustion and lack of motivation. His immediate response was yes! Wa-toot!
On the previous weekend, a group of us had a pub crawl up Beaufort Street and on our way to the Flying Scotsman we all dropped into Five Bar for a refreshing beverage to quench us for the uphill stagger to the Scotto. I remember making a mental note to return to try their tapas and so we did.
As you walk into Five Bar you almost feel like you are in someone’s oversized living room. There is a mismatched collection of lounge chairs, ottomans and crates to relax on and the interior is decorated with a similarly eclectic collection of lamps and oddities. As I sipped on my Hendricks and tonic, I felt all the tensions of my day smoothly melt away.
The menu is quite small with the majority of the dishes designed to be shared tapas-style. After requesting to our waitress for suitable gluten-free and onion free options, this menu unfortunately further narrowed down to a smaller handful of dishes.
The marinated olives contained a crowd pleaser selection of pitted and non-pitted, black and green, and in all sizes from jumbo through to the teeny-weeny Arbequina olives. They were all of excellent quality and very moreish.
The beef Carpaccio was dressed with cornichons, goat’s curd and capers, pine nuts, some fresh herbs and EVOO. The beef was sliced perfectly paper-thin but was a bit dry and lacked a little flavour. This was somewhat compensated for by the tarty goat’s curd however that shouldn’t really be the aim of this dish. A few extra lashings of olive oil may have improved this dish.
We were informed after ordering the chorizo that it may contain onions so I gave this a miss and let the boy munch his way through the generous sized serve. It seemed to be quite tender and juicy and disappeared with no complaints.
The slow-roasted mushrooms with Danish fetta, balsamic and chives were definitely one of the better dishes. I am a bit of a self-confessed mushroom addict. I really love their rich savoury flavour; in fact it would be safe to say I eat them daily. These mushrooms were roasted wonderfully. The chef has managed to capture and enhance all that delicious mushroomness I enjoy and the subtle tang of the balsamic gently cut through these flavours to then be followed by the more lingering creaminess of the fetta. We ended up ordering seconds!
The final tapas dish we ordered were the sweet potato frites served with a Moroccan spiced mayonnaise. These were very tasty albeit also a tad oily. Nevertheless I could have eaten more of them if I could fit them in!
We ended the evening with a duo of macarons – vanilla and coffee. After overindulging on some amazing macarons from Choux earlier in the week, unfortunately these ones were a bit of a disappointment. I enjoy the contrast of the crispy outer shell with the chewy nearly gooey centre. These ones were consistently chewy all the way through and showed none of the contrast in textures macarons are meant to have.
Given the popularity of tapas in Perth at the moment we are spoilt for choice. I walked away from Five Bar thinking there are better quality options for the price we paid and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return there.
Venue 8.5/10 Service 7.8/10 Food 7/10Five Bar 560 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley | 0467 534 267
I’m on the final lap of my six and half weeks of this gluten induced ride through hell. My life has now been taken over by constant reminders of how poisoning this stuff is to my body. My previously clear skin is breaking out all over in unsightly eruptions of blotchy red sores and random areas of flakiness and I struggle to fall asleep at night as I’m so itchy all the time waking up repeatedly to start scratching. I am crossing my fingers that my skin can recover in time for our engagement party in 5 weeks or I may be investing in a big paper bag for my head! Aside from these hideous skin issues, my gut is crying out for a break having also endured way too much.
Italian cuisine is nearly impossible to enjoy gluten free so before I return to my GF way of life, I figured we should fit in night at Modo Mio Cucina Italiana, one of Burswood Casino’s new additions to their recently improved restaurant collection.
Giampaolo Maffini, the Head Chef at Modo Mio was head hunted from Milan and has over 20 years’ experience in the industry working all around the world including North America, Asia, Middle East and over ten countries in Europe at top-end restaurants such as the Raffles in Singapore and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain. He is passionate about Italian food, using fresh, preferably locally sourced ingredients and changing the menu monthly. I was impressed to see his dedication to his job as halfway through the dinner service he was out and about in the dining area talking to the customers. Not something I’ve seen at high profile restaurants in Perth very often.
The interior design of the restaurant felt very opulent yet not overly pretentious with leather table tops, matching seats and elegant chandeliers giving the anticipation of something amazing about to come.
The service was friendly and cheerful albeit a little under-attentive, there were a number of brief but noticeable delays that I wouldn’t expect in such a high caliber restaurant such as the waiting to place our orders, and wine and water glasses remaining empty. Don’t get me wrong – the waits weren’t horrendous, but they were significant.
We started off with ordering some garlic bread. Upon placing our order our waitress informed us that garlic bread at Modo Mio is not your traditional type of garlic bread but went on to describe what can only be reiterated as a garlic cheese puff. Out comes these crunchy “puffs” of crunchy but hollow buns with some gooey cheesy garlic inside. They were quite tasty … but a bit odd for fine dining. I’m not sure if I would recommend it.
For our starters we shared two dishes. The first dish was the beef Carpaccio served with Cipriani sauce, rocket salad and Parmesan – a simple but delicious dish if executed correctly. The beef was sliced paper thin and was delicately flavoured with the traditional Tuscan style sauce. I think a few more lashings of olive oil and/or sauce would have perfected this dish as it was a little bland. Our second entrée was the roasted veal in tuna caper sauce with a celery salad, quail egg, and black truffle. The presentation of the dish was excellent. The tuna sauce was very overpowering and lingered on the palate too heavily to taste the truffle properly. Nevertheless it was still an enjoyable dish.
Next we shared a pasta dish so we could both squeeze in mains and dessert. The boy chose for us the homemade cannelloni filled with veal, pork & ricotta, spinach sauce, smoked pancetta and beetroot. I was really excited about this dish as it sounded like it was going to be the bomb! Unfortunately I found this dish to be very salty and over-seasoned and was disappointed to see only one tiny piece of pancetta dressing the dish.
Our mains were definitely the highlight of the evening. I ordered the red wine marinated Angus beef tenderloin with pan fried foie gras, polenta & taleggio ravioli and Pommery mustard marmalade. Despite ordering a rare fillet it was served medium rare. Normally this would be a call for me to complain and send the dish back but I have to be honest – it was so absolutely amazing regardless and I didn’t have the heart to do it. The foie gras and the nutty Pommery marmalade gave incredible depth to the octave of flavours rocking around in my mouth and when you added in the tangy cheesiness of the Taleggio ravioli – it was a taste sensation. I can highly recommend this dish!
The boy ordered the oven baked lamb rack with a macadamia crust, thyme jus and butternut pumpkin flan. This was also a stand out dish for him shown by the fact I didn’t even get a taste! He said it was fantastic and made up for the other disappointing dishes.
The meals are were all a bit on the smaller side which I didn’t really mind as it meant we could fit all these courses in – but it is something to note if you like your plate heaped high with food. For dessert I thought I would plant another nail in the gluten coffin and try another chocolate fondant. After the disappointment of my previous fondant experience at Jezabelle’s I was determined to chase that experience for one last time while I could. Alas this fondant had no gooey centre either but I still managed to demolish the lot so can’t have been that bad! The boy is obsessed by anything that screams ice-cream, he is not really a dessert kind of guy so I wasn’t surprised to see him order the gelati…ho hum boring!
Overall we had an enjoyable night but I’m surely paying for it today tenfold. Suffice to say I won’t be overdosing on gluten and having Italian again in a hurry, but if I did I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Modo Mio to give another pasta dish a go……..
Service 6/10 Food 8.8/10 Venue 9/10Modo Mio Cucina Italiana Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | http://www.burswood.com.au/Restaurants/Modo-Mio/