Earlier this year I locumed as a cat vet for the Hobart Cat Clinic and discovered a humble little café just up the road called The Picnic Basket. For lunch breaks I found it hard to tear myself away from the clinic as I’m not used to working somewhere as the sole charge vet. I am paranoid that an emergency case might rock up when I’m not there to treat it. Fortunately, the brilliant nurses at the Cat Clinic are very experienced and in all honesty would have been more than capable of holding the fort in my brief absence. After buying take-out lunches for the first week, they encouraged me to walk up to The Picnic Basket and dine in for lunch.
After graduating from high school I left Adelaide and moved across to Perth to study for my dream career in Vet Science. Being only seventeen at the time, my worldly possessions consisted of a suitcase of clothes, some hand-me-down pots and pans, a hand written note book with all of Mum’s family recipes and my stereo tape deck. I couldn’t imagine why I would need or want anything more; music and food were enough to keep me happy.
It was fortunate that I was so easily satisfied because for the next six years I got to experience what it is like to live below the poverty line on Austudy, Australia’s government funded student income. It is easy to learn to go without when you barely have enough income to eat and pay your rent, and it forces you to become much more resourceful.
Not everyone marries their best friend and I am so grateful that I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of those lucky ones. Whilst our life is by no means perfect, for the major things we are invariably on the same page. Where we want to live. Our love for animals. Our passion for fine food. Particular black truffles and chocolate. Our core values. And, our love for staying at luxury lodges and hotels! 😉
For our Christmas present to each other we chose to forgo buying each other materialistic stuff, I mean who really needs stuff? We both work and play hard, sometimes too much so, such that our best gift to each other is just spending quality time together. I was once again reminded that I married my soul mate when he agreed without hesitation to go stay at the Lake House in Daylesford for a couple of nights squeezed in between our family Christmas in Melbourne and a friend’s wedding on New Year.
For our short Christmas trip home to Melbourne we managed to fit in two separate Christmas family celebrations, a friend’s wedding, five days of pre and post wedding celebrations and a spot of shopping. I also successfully squeezed in a quick brunch date with Mum before she flew back to Adelaide and we returned to Perth. We met up out the front of a café called Top Paddock in Richmond on Boxing Day. There was already a reasonable queue heading out the door and round the street so I put our name down and we stood and waited outside in the sunshine. Despite a long queue, the restaurant achieved a quick table turnover and before long we were seated.
Still in a post-Christmas day food daze I could barely focus on the menu in front of me. There were a lot of gluten free options and much of the produce used was obtained direct from the producers locally in Victoria.
Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables is easy to do living in Western Australia because the diversity of our state means we can grow a wide variety of our own produce. This year’s cherry crop was a bumper one and I have been so grateful that I could buy fresh locally grown cherries throughout the Christmas period. As both the Boy and I are predominately vegetarians at home, our house has various fruit bowls dotted around the place such that anyone visiting might think we were obsessed with food. 😉
Cherries do contain a moderate amount of fructose so for those who suffer from fructose malabsorbtion you need to be careful with your intake. For those very sensitive, you are probably best to avoid until you have your symptoms under control. After being on a strict fructose friendly diet for a few months, I was recommended to reintroduce small amounts of fructose to assess my own personal level of tolerance. I find I can handle eating a small amount of cherries as my reaction is relatively mild provided that I do not go nuts and devour a whole bowl to myself.
We had packed our bags, dropped the fur-children off at the Vet Hospital for boarding, parked the car in the long-term car park at the airport and were finally ready to check-in for our flight to Exmouth. That was until we found out the bad news; we had missed our flight. I had muddled up our departure times with that of our original booking meaning our plane was well on its way to Exmouth without us. Angry with myself for such stupidity and frustrated that there was no further flights out that day, the last thing I wanted to do was to go home to an empty cat-less house.
The Boy could see I was close to tears and in a humble attempt at diffusing the situation he suggested we go somewhere for a late breakfast and unwind. I felt the need to get away from my familiar surroundings as everything homely reminded me of my mistake. After briefly consulting Urbanspoon on my phone I randomly chose for us to visit Ingredient Tree in Wembley.
I don’t work in the city centre and with my chosen line of work it is unlikely that I ever will. I passionately love my job as a vet; I get to save lives and make a positive impact on individual animal’s welfare every day. However there is girlie part of me that would love to have a job where I could wear beautiful clothes, style my hair and grow my nails. Working with animals excludes all of these things, the job of a vet is far from the glamorous kitten hugging, puppy kissing career that some of you may believe it to be. Those of you who know me well will have been subjected to many of my gross and detailed stories involving unsavoury smells and body liquids!
I consider myself a Perth girl and love our city in so many ways but I wasn’t actually born here. I was born in Manly and my moved to Adelaide in my childhood years. I went on to spend most of my teenage years in Adelaide before moving to the other side of Australia on my own at the impressionable age of seventeen. Whilst my loyalties will always lie with Perth, I cannot deny that Adelaide holds a very sweet place in my heart and returning feels like coming home despite leaving so many years ago. One of the big attractions to return to Adelaide for is my Mum. Mum and I have always been best friends and being physically separated by thousands of kilometres makes our times together even more precious. After letting all the madness of Christmas die down, the Boy and I made a weekender trip to see her for the first time since our wedding. Being a total foodie herself, Mum had planned a busy weekend of feasting starting off with a hearty breakfast at a gorgeous restaurant called Bar 9.
My friends often joke about an aspect of my personality referred to as the “all or nothing”. According to them, I have a habit of applying this methodology to most of my life. I eat all the cakes or no cakes. I order all the cheese or no cheese. I buy four dresses after a year of buying none. You get the drift. So when the Boy suggested we do a predominately vegetarian, no alcohol detox diet after the New Year, I took the whole idea very seriously and proceeded to book us into a number of vegetarian restaurants around Perth. Just because we were being healthy didn’t mean we had to stop eating out did it? We visited The Raw Kitchen and Solomon’s Café in addition to doing a three day juice cleanse with Au Naturale.
It isn’t often that the Boy wants to go out for a bite to eat and I turn him down. Being not just a mad foodie but also a food blogger means I am forever on the search to find myself decent content to publish. Ordinarily I will take every opportunity I can grab as not all our meals end up being blogworthy; be it because my photos aren’t good enough or maybe there just isn’t a story worth telling.
After working two full weekends in a row on top of my usual full working week, my overtime hours clocked through the roof. Tired, grumpy and in a rare moment of unsociability all I wanted to do was engross myself in front of the computer and work on my massive “blog-log” which is my term for the ever increasing back log of posts needing to be written. After barely seeing each other for the past two weeks, the Boy implored me to stop being so lazy, get up off my bum and go out with him for a late lunch. Having heard mixed reports about Typika Artisan Roasters in Claremont, we both agreed to go there and see for ourselves.
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.
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.
Last year was the first time that I was selected to attend the Eat Drink Blog Australian Food Blogger’s conference and I spent three days in Adelaide eating more food than I ever thought was imaginable. And for those of you who know me you will appreciate that is a LOT of food! My blog was barely a year old at the time and I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many talented writers and photographers. Friendships that had previously only existed in cyberspace were materialised and new friendships were created. It opened my eyes to the strong sense of community and togetherness that food bloggers share and inspired me to improve my blog with the aspiration it would become something much more individualistic and personalised.
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!
I may have inadvertently blown our wedding budget to the point that there was very little left in our kitty for a honeymoon. Our original plans were to go on a six week drive up the West coast of America followed by a week in New York. My fantasy of cruising up Route 101 in a bright red convertible with the wind in my hair and not a care in the world has been pushed far, far away into the very distant future. Our make shift post-wedding holiday was instead to be a four day stopover in Singapore; an easy holiday to do as Jetstar land in Singapore on their way back from Phuket anyway.
This weather is seriously wild. A torrential river cascading down what was once a road isn’t exactly something I expected to see here in sunny Perth. I’ve seen it a bunch of times in Melbourne and most definitely around South-East Asia but in Perth? It’s madness I tell you. I had arranged to meet fellow blogger Whitney from dineWHITme.com for a coffee at Vans Café in Cottesloe but due to her being something of a study-work-blog-aholic she was running insanely late. I suppose I could have rescheduled but instead I decided to kill half an hour until she arrived.
It is an unusual thing for me to do; sit alone in a café sipping coffee, eating a macaron and reading the paper. I am the type of person that rarely stops still for more than a second and thus it didn’t take me long to start chatting to the person sitting next to me about food, cats and vegetarians. By the time Whit rocked up my neighbour had written herself a long list of new restaurant tips that I had suggested down onto her newspaper and she glowed like someone possessing juicy insider information.
There are some people who genuinely have the talent of listening and empathising to others. Whilst this may be a skill one can try and develop; to truly master it you actually need to be a certain type of soft and caring personality type. My Bestie is one of those people and she has always been able to centre her attention on whoever she is speaking to with incredibly genuine sincerity. Recently she has taken on a job as a carer’s consultant where she provides both individual and group support to the carers in the Esperance area. Being somewhat of a free spirit in the past, this direction and responsibility has brought out a great sense of worth and pride within her. I cannot describe how happy it makes me to know she has finally landed on her feet and found her calling.
Despite the common perception that veterinarians make a lot of money, those of you who are in the profession can appreciate it is really quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong; it can be a highly rewarding career but it is not a path I would recommend to someone who aspires to be rich! While many of my non vet friends frequently travel for their jobs, work travel of a veterinary nature is much less frequent and usually has to be self-funded. This year my continuing education expenditure has ground to a halt as I poured all my spare savings into our magical wedding in Thailand. When I saw a brochure for the World Feline Veterinary Congress in Barcelona, I consoled myself that there would always be other Congresses. So I’m sure you can imagine my complete gratitude and surprise when our company offered to fund a trip for me to attend. A whole week of cats, tapas and Spanish sun. I felt like I had won the lotto!
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.
I am fortunate enough to work on the doorstep of the Swan Valley. This means that it is relatively easy to have some office meetings out and about and over the years we have developed a few favourites. Taylor’s Art and Coffee House has been one of those locations mainly due to their excellent coffee and interesting range of gluten free cakes. Their coffee is sourced from a small local company called Dark Star who roast their own imported beans on site in Northbridge. It is a full flavoured coffee that is perfect for an espresso or short mac, just how I like it.
Choosing a venue to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday was left up to me and with some winter sunshine on the forecast I suggested a trip to the valley. The Boy’s family appreciate eating big hearty meals in a casual relaxed dining atmosphere so I knew Taylor’s Art and Coffee House would fit the bill perfectly. No pretension or tiny plates of food.
This year is my second year that I have been selected as one of fourteen bloggers from around Australia to participate in Mushroom Mania. This is a campaign run by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association in the month of July every year where they join thousands of restaurants, cafes, bistros, pubs and clubs to celebrate the wondrous mushroom. They spread their message through both traditional and online media and run competitions where you can win $100 restaurant vouchers. For the past few years they have embraced food blogs as a way to communicate with foodies and recruit a handful of us to do what we do best, go out to restaurants, eat and shoot food then go home and write about it. The only catch is that we have to eat dishes containing mushrooms!