My lifestyle is soon to change as I will be moving to working a Monday to Friday week instead of one with weekend shifts. This has both merits and disadvantages in some ways. I will lose my regular Monday off, which I cannot deny is quite possibly THE best day to have off in the week. But in turn, I will finally be able to spend my weekends with the Boy who hasn’t worked a weekend in years. The first thing I am looking forward with this change is of course food related; I can now be a lady who does weekend brunch.
Now while my inner health freak may have already mentally started lining up juice bars and raw cafes to visit, my alter-ego would much rather an indulgent boozy afternoon.
Enter Swallow Bar with their new debut brunch menu. Moving away from the commonplace hipster chic with its chia puddings and cold pressed juice, these guys are opting to serve a more European styled brunch.
I was recently invited to Swallow Bar to sample their new gluten free friendly brunch menu. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to our table before being offered one of their summer fresh cocktails.
The Perth sun was already pelting down strongly outside and the mere mention of a seasonal Bellini promised to quench my thirst quickly. Our Bellini’s were made with house made strawberry and rhubarb fruit nectar and Cremant de Loire sparkling brut.
For eats, we started off with a sample dish of Swallow’s Captain’s Cure ocean trout. Our waitress informed us that one serve normally comes with three pieces but she served us a smaller amount to give us more room for what was to come. The luscious soft pieces of trout topped crunchy potato rosti and the dish was rounded off with dollops of horseradish crème and a fresh herb salad.
I think I may have smashed back my Bellini a touch too quick, or maybe it was that there was just a hole in my glass. 😉 Either way this opened up a new opportunity for us to order something different from their cocktail menu.
We were sitting in Swallow’s little courtyard at the back of the bar and the day was really starting to heat up. To help cool us down the Boy chose “A Rose is a Rose” jug made with SOS Rosé, brandy, Cointreau, Rose liqueur and lemonade. The rose cocktail was like a gentle breeze of subtle flavours and freshness and I would happily return just for another.
Our next dish was a grilled piadina. This is an Italian dish of folded, grilled flatbread which is filled with savoury or sweet fillings. Our piadina was generously stuffed with mushrooms, thyme, melted scamorza cheese and a touch of fresh chilli for a little hit of spice. Swallow Bar offer a “normal” or a gluten free piadina on their menu. My gluten free piadina was filled with stretchy, stringy cheese and both of us fell silent as we devoured our serves contently. There is something about eating melted cheese that brings back happy childhood memories for me.
To end our fabulous, somewhat naughty brunch, our waitress brought out a plate of Shark Bay prawns to share.
Many of you have followed the WA Signature Dish journey on this blog as I have been the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the past two years. This year our region won the competition with Jerolina’s dish using Shark Bay prawns as her hero ingredient. Seeing the hero ingredient on Swallow’s menu made me very proud! Local is best.
The prawns were simply grilled with lemon butter, fresh chilli and parsley. I was even more delighted to find they were so fresh you could suck their heads. For those not in the know, the meat in the prawn head is actually the most tasty bit of a grilled prawn. I suggest you don’t knock it until you have tried it, just make sure they are super fresh!
Swallow makes a fabulous new addition to the weekend brunch scene in Perth. Being a small bar and not a cafe means you can drag your afternoon over into the evening while you work your way through all those wonderful cocktails. Swallow’s menu is very gluten free friendly with lots of options that won’t make you feel like you miss out.
Chompchomp was an invited guest at Swallow Bar and did not pay for her meal or drinks. Given her insanely hectic schedule she was grateful to receive a more personalised approach to sample the new brunch menu rather than the standard group blogger event. Being such a boutique small bar, it allowed her to get a more accurate feel for the venue and their quality of service. She looks forward to returning as a full paying customer in the near future.
One thing I have learnt from the Boy is that I need to take more time out to relax. Relaxing does not come naturally to me and generally the only way I can do it is if I am forced. Last weekend we drove down to the South West to stay at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, a five-star beach front resort only minutes’ drive from Dunsborough and Yallingup.
The reason for our single night stay at Bunker Bay was to sample the resorts’s launch of their new High Tea. High Tea is available at Pullman Bunker Bay resort every day of the week until the 20th of December, and Executive Chef Grant Murray is more than happy to accommodate for guests like myself with dietary requirements.
We sat out on the sunny deck overlooking the wonderful ocean view where we could see glimpses of majestic whales out in the bay. Regrettably I didn’t come prepared with a zoom lens to capture their beauty.
Being able to enjoy gluten, the Boy’s high tea was plated separately to mine to avoid cross contamination and as our waitress brought over our tiers of food we both let out a sigh of pleasure. Each plate was an array of vibrant spring colour and neither of us could wait to tuck in!
Chef Murray enthusiastically spoke to us about his focus on utilising fresh, seasonal produce and wherever possible he will obtain his ingredients locally. All the pastries and baked items are made in their own kitchen, with our muffins and scones coming just out of the oven that morning.
My gluten free savoury course included a cucumber, tarragon and chicken sandwich made with compressed cucumber to give more flavour. The tomato salad contained tomatoes that were grown especially for the restaurant on a property only a few kilometres away. Nothing beats the taste of home-grown tomatoes.
There was no sensation of feeling like I was missing out on a gluten free diet, with my second tier of baked goods tasting just as good the Boy’s looked. My scone didn’t crumble apart like many gluten free versions and my muffin was still warm.
My final top tier of high tea was the prettiest of all, decorated in fresh edible flowers and plump blueberries. My mini tartlets were filled with juicy fresh Western Australian mango. The little meringues had all the layers of textures that a quality meringue must have; a powder poof crunchy shell with a sumptuous gooey centre. Perfection.
The Boy’s standard high tea looked very similar to mine, except that of course it contained gluten. This is the second time he has joined me for high tea and whilst I doubt he will start swilling hot tea any time soon, I can be sure he will happily join me on my next one.
The Boy’s dessert course was just a pretty as my gluten free version, and included a selection of macarons, profiteroles and chocolate mousse cake.
For our accommodation we stayed in a garden view studio villa. Our room was elegantly appointed with a comfortable, king sized bed and a fully equipped kitchenette. Not that we ever needed it to cook for ourselves!
The bathroom was spacious and modern, complete with fluffy bathrobes and slippers along with luxury amenities for those who forgot their toiletries.
Being such a brief stay, we decided to dine at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Other Side of the Moon for our evening meal. Our bubbly natured waitress was very knowledgeable with respect to what was gluten free and what could be adapted on the menu.
We started off our evening with some natural oysters from Coffin Bay served with shallot vinegar.
For our entrée, we opted to share the local South West tasting plate for two. For those with less agreeable dining companions, this tasting plate was also available as a single serve for a lower cost. In the centre of the plate was a gluten free adapted serve of Geographe Bay squid fried with a spicy Asian herb salad and nahm jim dressing. We were advised to start in the middle of the plate and work our way out.
The second tasting was a Swiss brown mushroom filled with confit Baldivis rabbit on bacon and Jerusalem artichoke purée.
We ended the tasting experience with some thin slices of Margaret River venison carpaccio and local pickled onions. Of course I left the onions for the Boy to gobble as I’m not good with the added fructose. A gluten free crouton with olive tapenade accompanied the small serve of venison.
The Boy ordered the duo of beef for his main course. A lightly pan-seared Harvey beef tenderloin accompanied a pot of beef cheek daube. A scoop of truffle mash and cute little heirloom carrots added in some vegetable goodness and was drizzled in a Capel Vale Cabernet Sauvignon jus.
We also ordered a side of fries which our waitress told us would be cooked in clean oil to avoid any gluten contamination. The Boy suggested that perhaps an order of fries on top of all the rest of the food we had eaten so far may be considered somewhat excessive. I was pleased to see our waitress was on the same page as me as she agreed that not only is there a second stomach for desserts, that there is in fact a specific “potato stomach” to fit in potatoes in all forms: be that fries, chips, wedges, whatever, wherever 😉
For my main choice, I ordered the daily special of roasted duck breast. It was served on a bed of quinoa, parsnip purée, and locally grown golden beets. The duck was delicately tender and soft, literally melting in my mouth without a hint of dryness.
Whilst I had big ambitions of pushing the boat out for the evening and having both dessert and cheese, when it came to the crunch I sadly realised I only had room for one or the other. It was a hard choice as there were a decent selection of local and imported cheese on offer. I turned to the Boy for guidance. He had already spotted the Simmo’s ice cream menu with no less than ten flavours to choose from. It was decided. We would have dessert.
The daily dessert special was light, refreshing and perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth. A lemon-scented toasted marshmallow cloud with fresh mango and lychee gel on lime granita had an interesting tango of sweet and citrus flavours. I reluctantly let the Boy taste a mouthful as he even more reluctantly let me sample his ice creams. He is generally very easy going with letting me eat off his plate, except when it is ice cream. He becomes very territorial of every mouthful!
The following morning we opted for a light room service breakfast before taking a stroll around the beautiful resort. There is a 24 hour room service menu offering lots of gluten free options including pizzas and other main meals for late night snacking. The beach is only a short walk from the villas, and is such a beautiful spot with the characteristic stunning white sands and clear blue water that the region is well known for.
After a enjoyable walk along the beach, the Boy and I headed to the resort spa; Vie where we had booked a massage in the couples room along with a Pevonia signature facial. It has taken me some time to convert the Boy to enjoy spa treatments but each time he comes along he warms further to the concept.
Sadly, our whirlwind weekend was coming to an end and prior to departing we took some time to relax in the bistro area of the resort where they have a tapas menu serving small plates that highlight on the local produce that is seasonally available. Again there were both gluten free and vegetarian options available.
Our vegetarian dish of roasted cauliflower was exceedingly addictive with charred grilled piquillo peppers, toasted macadamia and pomegranate. It came with creamy tahini for a tangy hit of extra flavour. I loved the presentation with lots of splashes of colour and fun.
Our second dish of Fremantle octopus was adapted to be gluten free by the omission of chorizo. It was paired with smoked yoghurt, local olives, edamame and grilled tomato. I have a tendency to be quite fussy with my octopus having be very spoilt in my time in Spain. It is far too common that it is not prepared well and the meat ends up being as chewy as an old sock. This octopus did not disappoint my critical opinions, each piece was deliciously tender and did not give my jaw a work out to chew. It was a perfect way to end our very short stay.
For much of the drive home to Perth, the Boy and I talked about making plans for when we could next return to stay at Bunker Bay. It is rare that we simultaneously relax together and despite such a short stay, this trip was a success. The resort has enough options to be able to stay there and not leave, but is located so close to the wineries and tourist sights for the Margaret River region such that if you don’t want to stay put you don’t have to. Suffice to say we have already booked our next trip 😉
High Tea at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort is available at the resort’s bistro until 20 December 2015.
Cost is $37 per person with a Dilmah specialty tea, barista-made coffee or hot chocolate, or $45 per person to add a glass of sparkling wine. Kid’s Menu available for children up to 12 years. Bookings require 48 hours’ notice with pre-payment at the time of reservation. With advance notice, dietary requirement can be catered for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of Pullman Bunker Bay resort and received her night accommodation and high tea for two at no cost. She paid in full for her dinner at Other Side of the Moon, for the tapas at Tapestry and for her Spa treatments at Vie.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, 42 Bunker Bay Road, Naturaliste WA | (08) 9756 9100 | Website
Birthdays are meant to be celebrated and it is an incredible surprise to me that this humble blog has just turned four. Four human years converted into food blog years must equate to at least a decade. That is definitely a cause to crack open the champagne. Writing this blog has certainly been a colourful journey of eating amazing food, but also has seen me cultivate wonderful, lasting friendships and interact with some very passionate Perth business people and chefs. I have loved every minute of it.
For me, this year has been all about time and its ability to slip through my fingers like sand. Admittedly I am my worst enemy and perpetually keep taking on more than I realistically have time for. To add to this dilemma, I spent a decent chunk of my year debilitated with back pain which terminated all physical activity in my life at the time. Thankfully my back troubles are becoming something of the past, and I am embracing life with a new found zest.
Last Sunday I woke up quite early, hours before the Boy and the cats cared to be awoken and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was a stunning Spring morning so I snuck quietly out the front door and took my new bike for a spin around the river leaving the sleeping beauties snoring peacefully in a pile together. Upon returning home later I was chuffed to see the Boy up and about, ready to go out for breakfast. I was recently followed on Instagram by a new café called Layup Cafe that has just opened in Northbridge so we agreed to check it out.
Layup’s menu had plenty of gluten free options with a number of interesting dishes that moved away from the comparatively boring egg benny and big breakfasts. We selected a few dishes to share, all gluten free adapted.
The guacamole on toast came with smoked corn and pica de gallo and we elected to have it topped with optional slow cooked eggs. A few dollops of jalapeño custard decorated the side of the plate and this custard had just a gentle chili kick to it. Being a hater of all things spicy, the Boy didn’t trust my description of “very mild” and gave the custard a wide berth. He was determined to avoid tasting something too hot for his delicate palate.
Sadly these efforts were in vain as I didn’t get to warn him in time about the shichimi togarashi that accompanied the Sicilian anchovies.
After proudly thinking he dodged a bullet with the jalapeño custard, the Boy proceeded to dunk his charred gluten free bread in gooey slow cooked egg heaven before coating it liberally in the innocent looking red powder. He nearly choked in horror at the heat and proceeded to gulp gallons of water quickly.
After the subtle tease of the jalapeño custard I was much more game and dunked my generously coated bread confidently. It was a wonderful, nostril clearing experience that had me going back for more. Combined with the salty fishiness of the anchovies this was a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before and would happily try again.
Thankfully there was a cooling dish on the table to soothe the poor lad’s burning tongue. The breakfast pannacotta came on a bed of toasted gluten free muesli and goji berries topped with a strawberry compote and fresh berries.
I love having two courses for breakfast. This was something my dear friend and business partner Chis and I started doing long ago and that habit has stuck. Making the decision for sweet or savoury is far too difficult to do first thing in the morning so my advice is having both is the best way to go.
Layup Cafe only opened this month and it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling the high expectations of regular Perth breakfast punters. I loved their creative menu options and use of local produce and hope to return soon.
197-199 Brisbane Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | 0481 064 166 | Facebook
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.
It is a curiously decorated café that feels like a fusion of a corner store, a farmstead living room, a bakery and a café. It is owned by a husband and wife team who are dedicated to promoting local produce and you can actually buy picnic baskets and fill them with take away goods for your own outdoor experience.
For those not wanting to brave the cold Tasmanian outdoors, there are plenty of cosy places to dine inside and it was lovely to sit and sip my coffee with the sun shining through the large ceiling height windows.
The Boy ordered himself a freshly squeezed juice as he doesn’t drink coffee. The juice was made with beetroot, apple and a hint of ginger. He gulped it down with minimal conversation which I always take as a positive sign.
For lunch he ordered the “Gaza Breakfast” which turned out to be a much larger meal than either of us were expecting. I guess this is a good demonstration of the difference between Hobart and Perth prices!
The soft, warmed pita was smeared with hummus and topped with boiled eggs, tomato, cilantro, red onion and a dash of paprika.
I was keen to try the “Miss Watson’s” dish which came with their home-baked gluten free nut seed bread. The moist, protein rich bread was dense and heavy making this a very filling dish. It was piled high with smashed avocado, roasted cherry tomatoes and delightfully squeaky haloumi.
Not knowing how generous the servings would be, I also ordered a side of mushrooms to share. The mushrooms weren’t served separately as I expected but were added onto my toast. The Boy’s Gaza breakfast was more than enough to keep him going so I just ate them all to myself.
The Picnic Basket is located on the southern side of Hobart and the route takes you along a picturesque winding coastal road. It is worth a visit should you have the time during your travels. For those of you who are my regular readers, you are probably thinking I am turning into a broken record by going on about how amazing all the food is in Tasmania. I guess this means you will just have to check it out for yourselves!
The Picnic Basket
176 Channel Highway, Taroona, TAS 7053 | 0477 225 427 | Facebook
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.
Many years have passed since then and reflecting back I struggle to comprehend how on Earth I made ends meet on such a small amount of money. I am so grateful that through all my years of perseverance, sacrifice and hard work it has finally paid off. Whilst I can hardly call myself a “rich bitch”, I am enjoying a level of luxury that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of having in my student days.
The Boy has developed a similar appreciation for the finer things in life having originally also come from humble beginnings. He has recognised my last couple of years have been tough ones and so he decided to spoil me for my 40th birthday with a brand new AMG A45. After driving a 1999 Honda Civic for the past ten years now I feel like I’m in a fantasy land. I never thought I could be in love with something with no heartbeat but who am I kidding, I’m completely smitten. She is fast, has a satisfying loud sporty engine and comes complete with personalised plates.
Of course I now want to get behind the wheel at every given opportunity and our occasional weekend lunch dates generally involve a Sunday drive paired with a pit stop somewhere decent for food. In keeping with this concept we headed down to East Fremantle to check out May Street Larder, a new café from the creators of Bib & Tucker. Knowing Bib & Tucker’s food well I was anticipating good things.
As we waited for our table in the standing area, the barista called out to us to see if we wanted any coffees. We had been up quite late the night before and a hit of caffeine was just what I needed.
The Boy isn’t a coffee drinker which is something I will never quite understand. To each their own I guess. Once we were seated at our table he ordered himself a banana fig smoothie instead. It was not overly sweet and quite creamy, and he didn’t utter a single word until it was all gone.
I was keen to try the zucchini, lupin and lemon fritters. Lupins are a Western Australian grown product and were one of the main hero ingredients for last year’s WA Signature Dish. They are high in protein and fibre making them very filling.
My lupin fritters were topped with smashed avocado, savoury granola and a couple of poached eggs. The eggs were cooked magically with the fluffy whites encasing liquid gold yolks. We were seated on a communal table and I received a couple of bemused looks as I furiously photographed to capture ever second of my egg porn moment.
The lack of sleep was giving the Boy a small dose of indecisiveness over the menu until he saw a waiter with a pulled pork sandwich scoot past to a nearby table and then his choice was crystal clear. The pork shoulder was slow cooked to a near melting point and was ever so moist and flavoursome. The chipotle aioli wasn’t too intense for his sensitive tastebuds and he informed me he liked that it had a subtle sweetness to it. His sandwich also came with some May Street Larder house pickles along with very moreish deep fried sweet potato crisps.
Sadly this was a rare day where my appetite lacked its usual gusto due to a persistent hangover. Additionally my dish of lupin and zucchini fritters was so filling it left me no room for any sweets. I was so disappointed and consoled myself by wandering over to the counter to at least have a peek. What a shame! There were heaps of desserts for people like me; gluten free, vegan and raw options so I would have been spoilt for choice. Basically this simply means I will just have to come back again another day!
May Street Larder
Shop 23, 155 Canning Highway, East Fremantle WA 6158 | www.maystreetlarder.com.au
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.
We booked a Luxury Package for two nights in a waterfront suite. Our package included breakfast and dinner for both nights and some spa treatments to enjoy together.
Our room overlooked the lagoon and the shores of Lake Daylesford and facilitated complete relaxation with a very comfortable king sized bed, sofa and armchairs. There were a pair of sunbeds out on our deck however the weather was scorching hot and no sane person would have basked in that heat.
There was a bottle of chilled complimentary champagne ready for us on arrival. The minibar was stocked with a small number of locally sourced drinks and nibbles, Salus Spa’s own sparkling mineral water and a Nespresso coffee machine. Unlike some of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, the minibar was not included as part of our stay. Considering the price was comparative with other Lodges, it would have been a nice touch if it was.
The bathroom was spacious with a dual shower, double spa bath and heated bathroom floors. There was a modest sized flat screen television, an iPod docking station to play our tunes and free in room Wi-Fi access.
Every evening between 6 pm to 8.30 pm cocktails are served in the Argyle Library along with some complementary canapés. I was hoping that the canapés would keep coming for as long as we ordered drinks however we quickly learnt that you get one round of delicious canapés and then that is it.
I am guessing they expect you to move through into the restaurant at that point. Nobody ever seems to understand that our appetites are not those of normal people!
After enjoying a round of nibbles and a few more rounds of Campari spritzers, we headed out for a walk around the Lake before returning to our suite for dinner. There are two Lakes to walk around each taking less than half an hour on a shaded and pretty path.
Our package included an in-room supper for two on the first evening with two glasses of house wine. We weren’t expecting such a feast to arrive and this seemed to make up for the feeling of wanting more of those canapés earlier on.
Everything was adapted to be gluten free including gluten free bread and crackers. There was creamy pea soup, an antipasto platter, a cheese platter and plate of fresh fruit.
Breakfast is included for both mornings of our stay and consisted of a continental buffet in addition to a choice of a main dish from their a la carte menu.
The buffet had an array of freshly baked pastries, sliced meats and cheeses with a few gluten free and vegetarian options.
For my main dish I ordered the house baked beans with goats cheese, wilted spinach and poached eggs on gluten free toast.
The beans had wonderful depth of flavour but sadly the gluten free toast let the dish down being quite tasteless and crumbly in texture.
We had minimal plans for our weekend, in fact I was hoping to do very little other than relax but as is always the case with us we cannot help but do a little exploring. The Daylesford Sunday Market operates each Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm and contains a wide range of stalls selling all sorts of antique bric-a-brac, locally grown produce, clothing and crafts. We already had suitcase filled with loot from Christmas so I made do with purchasing a refreshing beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Oh, and I bought a book about cats
We also visited Lavandula, a Swiss Italian lavender farm. It was a melting 40 degrees Celsius and we lingered only long enough to smell the fragrant flowers, scull a lavender lemonade in the shade and then retreat back to our air-conditioned car.
For our second evening at Lake House, our package included an eight course degustation with matched wines in the restaurant. We started the evening off again in the Library with some canapés before taking a seat by one of the large windows to watch the reflections of the setting sun across the Lake.
Our degustation took us on a journey using local seasonal food some of which is harvested from their own gardens. This is a restaurant that has repeatedly earned two hats and as our dishes started to roll out I began to see why.
Our amuse bouche consisted of a mouthful of veal tartare and mojama which is a salt cured tuna. This was served with some bonito aioli on a nori crisp so light it dissolved on the tongue like a wafer.
Our second course of spanner crab and white fish sashimi had a Nobu-esque twist with the addition of jalapenos and an elegant dollop of green gazpacho. Some tapioca pearls on the side added another element of texture.
The next course was a pasta dish which meant I received something different in replacement. The Boy’s pasta was a bug agnolotti, which are similar to ravioli. It was served with house made kimchi butter emulsion and crisp shallots.
My gluten free alternative was some mixed tempura served with the kimchi. I was so chuffed that they could do the tempura gluten free as this is so commonly off the menu for me. It was crispy and light and the kimchi had a decent kick to it.
The next dish was inspired by Chef Alla’s Russian heritage and we were told that a variation of this dish is always on the menu. Smoked eel is considered a delicacy and features in many Russian dishes.
The eel was sourced from the Victoria based Skipton eel factory. Wrapped in pancetta the smoked eel was paired with some locally grown organic beets and served alongside a toothsome mustard crème fraiche. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
The next dish was some addictive little morsels of tempura quail wrapped in nori.
They were accompanied by dollops of umeboshi puree, coriander puree, wasabi mayonnaise and the cutest coriander flowers.
Our final main dish was locally sourced pasture fed beef; cooked carefully and slowly such that it had the consistency of melting butter. The hearty flavours of the beef had an added surprise of some chilli and togarashi for an interesting kick.
Pre-dessert consisted of a platter named “Playtime”. This consisted of a number of little palate cleansers including a strawberry compote with white chocolate sorbet and strawberry granita, a “plum shot” and blackcurrant marshmallow lollipops.
For our final course, the Boy and I had different dishes as mine had to be adapted to be gluten free. The Boy’s “Summer Ramble” was a garden of gorgeous components and I was gutted there was no more natural light for a stunning photo. His dish had pistachio sponge, almond praline, almond milk pannacotta, honey ice cream, almond tuille chocolate bark berries AND honey comb….all on one plate. It looked heavenly and despite all the different elements it didn’t taste over complicated or flamboyant.
I could have nearly developed a case of food envy if it wasn’t for my rich peanut butter parfait. It was topped with sesame ganache, peanut praline and sesame ice cream. A perfectly balanced blob of lemon curd added a hint of acidity and a black sesame tuille gave it some crunch and texture.
We had such a relaxing stay at Lake House in Daylesford giving the perfect amount of “us” time that we needed together. Having stayed in a number of Luxury Lodges around Australia now, I would have liked to have seen a bit more luxury in our rooms to justify the room price and feel that in these sort of “never want to leave” styled lodges a complementary minibar can encourage you to really enjoy your accommodation more.
We found the Spa to be of a high quality and actually went back for a second massage in the couple’s room. The restaurant is well deserved of its Good Food Guide Hats and is worth a visit even without a stay in the Lodge. Their wine list is enough to impress my father which is saying something and I heart how they focus on local and seasonal produce.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp and the Boy paid in full for a Lake House Luxury Package for $1200/night. This package included two night accommodation in a Waterfront Suite, light supper for the first evening and a degustation with matched wine on the second night, a full breakfast each morning and a massage and facial at Salus Spa.
4 King Street, Daylesford, Victoria 3460 | www.lakehouse.com.au
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.
Mum has always been an eggs benny fan and consequently ordered hers without a moment of hesitation. It was served with pulled ham hock rather than the usual sliced ham. The pork was soft and flavoursome but sadly her poached eggs lacked any egg porn ooze.
I opted for the gin and limed cured Huon ocean trout fillet served with pickled baby beets, a couple of cubes of potato gallete, goats curd and poached eggs. Each component was awkwardly placed about my plate, without any real relation to each other.
I was in better luck with my eggs and was spoilt with a delightfully sunny cascade of goo after nervously poking a hole into it with my knife.
Is it normal to put such a high level of expectation on something as simple as a perfectly poached egg? Maybe, but then that comes with the territory of being a food connoisseur maybe.
The Boy was very pleased with his choice of a fresh Queensland soft-shelled crab roll. Served in a Brioche bun with a fennel and dill salad, the bun had a satisfying crunchy exterior and light puffy inside with a subtly sweet flavour. In my tired and overindulged state I could have nearly shed a tear hearing how good it was as there wasn’t any remotely gluten free about this dish for me to try.
The service at Top Paddock was much quicker than we had anticipated leaving us with a small amount of time to share a bite of something sweet. I love two course breakfasts. There were a couple of gluten free options in addition to some raw and vegan treats too.
I chose the raw peppermint slice as I wanted to critique it compared to my own version. When it came to the presentation this slice definitely won over mine, it was pretty. I always like to think that my food has a rustic charm however some may prefer to describe it as border lining on amateur. Despite its neat and cute appearance, I cannot deny my raw peppermint slice has a better flavour and always leaves me wanting more. With this slice I was satisfied with just a shared mouthful between three. Maybe that is a good thing.
When I was ordering dessert for us, I wasn’t sure if my mum would be into the whole raw, vegan thing and ordered a safe option of a gluten free lemon and berry cheesecake. There was nothing sugar-free about this one and it came complete with a hit of central berrylicious goo in the middle.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp doesn’t get to spend even half the time she wants with her mum. Consequently she will always try to pay, thinking that the gift of food somewhat makes up for their time apart. What makes this tricky is her mother feels the same and this time round insisted it was her turn to pay. Thanks Mum xx
658 Church Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 | (03) 9429 4332 | toppaddockcafe.com
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.
This addictive peach and cherry breakfast bake is made with fresh cherries and canned peaches but these fruits can easily be substituted with other more fructose friendly fruits if you prefer such as berries and fresh banana. It is the perfect dish for entertaining family groups over the festive season as you can prepare it prior to guests arriving and pop it in the oven once their all turn up. I think this is much better than standing in front of a hot stove frying eggs while everyone else sips champagne!
- 8 slices gluten-free bread, cut into 2cm cubes
- 3 whole eggs
- 300ml of your preferred type of milk (almond, rice, soy or dairy)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 x 425gm can gluten-free peaches in light juice/syrup** See note
- 12-15 fresh cherries, pitted
- 100ml of prepared coconut whipping cream (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 70ml 100% pure maple syrup, warmed
- 1 x 275ml can coconut milk (full fat, not fat reduced, refrigerate overnight)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- To make the coconut whipping cream, refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight to allow it to harden. The following day, spoon out the milk into a bowl and add maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk or mix with an electric beater until it has the consistency of whipping cream.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a 22cmx22cm glass baking dish.
- Drain the can of peaches and discard the syrup.
- Remove the pits from the fresh cherries and cut them in halves.
- Slice about 8 slices of the bread into 2cm squares and place half the bread into the baking dish.
- Nestle half of peach slices and cherries in between the slices of bread.
- Top with the remaining cubes of bread and nestle the remainder of the peaches and cherries in this second layer.
- In medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk and vanilla and pour over the bread cubes.
- Pour dollops of the whipped coconut milk prepared earlier over the bread cubes.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for about 35 minutes or until browned and crunchy on top. Once baked, set aside to cool about 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately with warm maple syrup and dollops of whipped coconut cream.
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.
The small café was nearly at full capacity with tables of families, couples and the odd loner busily working on their iPad. We seated ourselves at one of the communal tables near the window giving me plenty of natural light, a must for decent food photography!
Ingredient Tree serve Genovese Coffee which is a blend of high quality beans roasted with the aim to produce a one size fits all styled beverage that is suitable to drink both as an espresso as well as something more milky. I ordered my usual short macchiato and although it was a little wait for our coffees to arrive, it was a much welcomed shot of warmth to calm my frazzled nerves. We waited some time to place our orders to be followed by a reasonably longer wait for our meals. I figured that maybe they were not used to a busy Saturday morning however I did note one staff member spent most of his time chatting outside in the sun while customers waited.
The Boy ordered the salmon served with beetroot fritters, horseradish cream and two poached eggs. His fritters had lots of flavour however he felt their consistency didn’t live up to his expectations as they were a little wet and undercooked. He commented he felt the dish had a lot of potential but just wasn’t quite prepared right.
His poached eggs gave a half-sized eruption of yolk porn as some of his yolk had started to solidify. It was still enough of an ooze of goo to satisfy his poached egg cravings.
I ordered the quinoa patties made with quinoa, pumpkin and lentils. It was topped with wilted spinach, slow roasted tomatoes and two poached eggs. A couple of spoonfuls of house made capsicum relish were dolloped on the side for extra flavour. Like the Boy, I also thought my dish had a lot of potential however my quinoa patties were sloppy in texture turning to mush under my fork.
My stress of the morning made me forget to ask for omission of any onion. Lo and behold, I was out of luck for the day as the patties were filled with large chunks of onion. These chunks helped the patties to fall apart even more however this actually was a blessing in disguise as it meant it was easy for me to pick the onion pieces out. The relish added a lovely mustardy sweet flavour to the dish and I am certain if the patties were prepared more lovingly this dish would have been delightful.
It was definitely a morning for a two course breakfast. As you probably already know, most of my breakfast outings end in dessert. In fact most of any outing with me ends in dessert.
And what is the problem with that I ask?
After another delay waiting for service, we were informed that there were no more gluten free cakes or desserts remaining as they had sold out. Looking at the delicious counter of sweets I cannot deny I felt a flicker of anger again at myself…..why do I have to miss out? Damn you gluten!
Thankfully our waiter saved the day as in addition to their own home-baked goodies they stock some of the Rawsome raw desserts. He brought over their product list so I could find one that wasn’t too heavy on the fructose content. I chose the Love Bite slice which one of the items that is free of dates. A lot of types of dried fruit which can run total havoc with my fructose malabsorption so I really try to avoid them. The slice did however contain some agave nectar which also isn’t ideal for me but a small amount is tolerable once in a while.
The Boy chose the Choc Mint Slice which does contain dates so I left it for him to enjoy for himself. We are both big fans of raw desserts and while I know they are often quite high in calories, I love that I never feel any sugar “comedown” after eating them as all their ingredients are natural and unprocessed. Over to the side of the café is a shop section selling a collection of gourmet ingredients from both local and international producers. Of course after we finished eating our treats I couldn’t help myself and went over for a little browse where I found a variety of interesting gluten free products that found their way into my basket.
Ingredient Tree have a number of interesting options for breakfast and I am hoping that I just caught them on an off day. If our dishes were executed better, both would have certainly been worth returning back for. Maybe those sell-out gluten free cakes will bring me back for a second time.Chompchomp dined at Ingredient Tree on her own budget. The rest of her budget was blown in fees in order to be able to catch the next flight out to Exmouth. Ingredient Tree 87a Herdsman Parade, Wembley WA 6014 | (08) 9287 1100 | www.ingredienttree.com | Facebook Price $$ (Meals $13-21)
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!
In addition to vetting, I am also part of the practice’s senior management team and we meet together monthly with our most recent meeting falling on my rostered day off. Kindly embracing the spirit of Eat Drink Perth with me, my fellow colleagues Chris, Wayne and Liz were happy to journey into the city to have a work meeting at Venn Bar + Café located on Queen Street.
Venn serve a blend of 5 Senses coffee which is a guaranteed way to start my morning off on a good note. Better still they served my short macchiato short and traditional, just the way it should be. I hate it when baristas top up my macchiato with hot milk, that’s not how a macchiato should be! Let’s recall what macchiato actually means in Italian; a “stain”. A proper short macchiato should be a shot of espresso with a dash or stain of milk, not a cup full.
Chris and I have been breakfast buddies for many years and have enjoyed numerous outings together. As soon as I saw house braised beans and chorizo on the menu I guessed it would be her choice. I was not wrong. If it has chorizo or prosciutto and it is for breakfast, she will claim it for her own. Her serving size was more than ample and even someone with an appetite as big as hers couldn’t finish it all.
Liz chose the warm potato and Gruyère cakes with smoked salmon. I was glad she selected this as it was my second preference and it meant I got to try a little nibble. The potato cakes were thick and well-formed however they only had a very subtle flavour of Gruyère. The soft folds of salmon were topped with a chive and citrus yoghurt which lightened this otherwise quite stodgy and filling dish. Once again I noted this was a good value meal considering we were in the heart of the city.
I used to have avocado religiously every morning on my toast but in recent years I have had to drop that luxury from my daily life to avoid being the size of a small house. We eat out a LOT so when at home I try to eat as clean and lean as possible.
My free range poached eggs came with a spoonful of house made avocado butter and citrus sea salt. The total contrast in creamy smooth avocado and tangy saltiness was all these eggs needed. And yes, I got that all important yolk shot; always a win for me. They were served with house made gluten free bread.
Never serve a South African greens I’ve been told. Well at least not to my colleague Wayne. This is a man who deliberately removes his lettuce from his burgers before eating them. It was no surprise what he chose for his breakfast. Meat, meat and eggs. No greens, no fuss. He actually even picked the green garnish off his eggs and refused to eat it. Venn source their bacon from a local small goods company called Princi who specialise in free range bacon and other smallgoods. The cut was nearly as thick as a piece of steak and yet was richly flavoured and tender. Paired with the slab of bacon were pork chipolatas, eggs and a token vegetable that thankfully wasn’t green.
Our meeting ran a little later into the morning than planned meaning a third round of coffees was needed at which point the talk of sharing sweets was bantered across the table. There was only one gluten free choice available; an orange almond cake. It was moist and soft but I confess I have eaten enough orange almond cake to last me a life time. Nevertheless it filled the void for my sweet spot.
The gluten eaters were spoilt with the chocolate swirl cake which judging how quickly it got torn into two, three and then four pieces before vanishing in a whirl of crumbs I am figuring this was a positive sign.
Venn is a hip little venue tucked away in the back of the building behind the Venn store and is divided into a small ground floor dining area with a rooftop deck on the second level. I would love to return here for an evening and try some of their small bites. Their bar focuses on Australian wines and craft beers with some killer looking cocktails.For the 2014 Eat Drink Perth Festival, Venn Bar and Café have a couple of offers in the Eat Drink Perth Passport. Head over to the EDP website to find out where you can pick up your copy of the passport. Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This meal at Venn Cafe was not sponsored and was paid for in full. Venn Bar + Café 16 Queen Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9321 8366 | venn.net/bar
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.
As I looked at the forecast back home in Perth where it was predicted to hit 42°C I was thankful to be away for the weekend as Adelaide was blessed with the most perfect weather. Bar 9 was packed full and we had to wait around fifteen minutes for a table. It was bustling, noisy and full of life which is just the way I like to start my morning but I could see both the Boy and my step dad cringe a little at the decibels.
Bar 9 take their coffee quite seriously and purchase 5 Senses coffee roasted to order and then blended and aged on site. My short macchiato was richly flavoured with a complexity I wasn’t expecting and ending on a smooth aftertaste with hints of caramel. I was truly impressed by the quality of their coffee.
The menus were hidden inside Golden Books like they are back home at Mrs S and my menu was coincidentally inside one called “I love you, Mommy!”. Bless.
For a slim, tiny framed person my Mum can put away a decent amount of food despite retorts to the contrary. Sound familiar at all? I guess what they say about the apple falling from the tree has some merit. Mum ordered the charred asparagus spears on toast with poached eggs, slivered almonds and finely grated grana prado.
The Boy didn’t hold back and went straight for the ultimate decadence; creamy truffled mushroom ragu. Rich, meaty mushrooms were stewed into tender slippery morsels and drizzled with truffled honey.
My stepdad looked on with mild bemusement as I stopped the Boy mid-way through slicing into his poached eggs to catch the wonderful moment on camera. Being much more accustomed to such moments my Mum chuckled at my strangeness and explained to him what it was all about.
I ordered the house cured ocean trout with some initial regrets as I looked over at the Boys truffiliciousness. My jealousy was short lived as my dish provided more than just satisfaction from hunger relief. The gluten free bread came in small post-stamp sized pieces but this was made up for by providing three pieces. Each piece was adorned with vibrantly coloured trout which was as soft as velvet on the tongue.
My dish didn’t come with any eggs so not wanting to miss out I ordered one poached egg on the side. Once again I got the privilege off seeing it gently pop before oozing out golden perfection. Don’t you love how those simple things in life can often be some of the best?
You always know that the food is good when everyone across the table suddenly goes silent and for a brief few minutes we all sat in comfortable silence enjoying our breakfasts. Fueled and ready for a big day we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, into the car and headed off for a day in the McLaren Vale wine region.Bar 9 96 Glen Osmond Road, Parkside SA 5063 | (08) 8373 1108 | bar9.com.au/wp Price: $$ (Breakfast $11-18) Food: 4/5 (polished breakfast grub with a slightly fancier twist) Service: 3.5/5 (quippy and quick) Ambience: 3/5 (noisy and action packed) Drinks: 4.5/5 (go even just for the coffee) Total: 15/20
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.
I can tell you that going vego is no longer a boring diet of carrot sticks and hummus; in fact it makes quite the flavoursome lifestyle change. Towards the tail end of our detox we booked lunch at Heavenly Plate online with a Dimmi special which offered a 50% discount off the total bill. Heavenly Plate is a quaint little restaurant positioned on the busy part of Canning Highway just after the bridge in Applecross. As we entered we walked past their menu board and the Boy asked me “Are you SURE this is all vegetarian here? It says chicken and pork on the menu?”
Upon further reading of their menu, I confirmed to the Boy that everything was in fact ALL vegetarian and that the “pork” and “chicken” are made from tofu and other vegetable products. Prior to our visit I had perused over their website and seen that they make some very spectacular looking cakes in house. So before placing our ordering I walked over to check out their cake cabinet and make our selection. There were a number of beautifully decorated cakes on display but unfortunately the waitress informed me that although they were all vegan not a single one was gluten free. I couldn’t hide my disappointment from my crestfallen face.
We started off with a couple of small bites while I pondered on what to do about my cake dilemma as I had totally geared myself up for a sweet feast. Our first dish was the crispy yam rolls, paired with fresh mint and strawberries these rolls were an interesting yet addictive starter. They were made from soft rolls of sweet potato and yam wrapped in vermicelli noodles and subsequently deep fried which turned the noodles into a fine crunchy net encasing the super soft “meat” inside.
None of the remaining starters on their lunch menu were gluten free so we ordered a serve of scrambled “vegan eggs” made from tofu and coloured with turmeric. They looked eerily like real egg and left the same texture in the mouth. The taste was slightly different to egg but certainly didn’t taste overwhelmingly like tofu either. I could see myself successfully tricking a few meat eating friends with this dish!
The Boy ordered the Japanese burger with wedges. His burger was made with a marinated teriyaki “steak” in between two patties of Japanese rice and finished with fresh lettuce, tomato and cucumber.
This dish couldn’t be made gluten free so I didn’t get to taste it but he did say that it was very similar to eating a real meat burger except for the rice bun. He started to scheme how he could fool his carnivorous mates into coming back to Heavenly Plate and eating all these tofu dishes unknowingly. He is a man who loves a good practical joke.
With my cake dismay lingering in my mind, I had to have something sweet for my main. Our waitress told me that both the cinnamon French toast and the pancakes could be made gluten free. I settled on the French toast.
It was a good choice. Those two slices of sweet buttered French toast gave me just the sugar hit I was looking for. The gluten free bread didn’t crumble apart or dissolve like many can do with the rigours of Frenching. Each piece was dusted lightly in cinnamon sugar just like my mum used to do and was served with maple syrup and mixed berry compote. Some extra compote was served on the side so that the toast didn’t go too soggy on the plate. A thoughtful touch.
At half price this was a definitely a lunch worth eating however I cannot deny I was disappointed in the number of gluten free options especially the lack of even just one cake. There are a few interesting creations on the menu in addition to a few dishes that will surprise your meat eating friends into enjoying eating vegan. Wonders never cease!Heavenly Plate 2/899 Canning Highway, Applecross WA 6153 | (08) 9316 8818 | www.heavenlyplate.com.au Price: $$ (Entrée $7-13, Main $13-22) Food: 3/5 (101 ways to eat tofu without knowing it’s tofu) Service: 3/5 (a little slow to start but unobtrusive and friendly) Ambience: 3/5 (has a quaint French provincial style) Drinks: 2/5 (fruit drinks tasted a little artificial) Total: 11/20
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.
Situated in a large warehouse style building, Typika import their own beans and roast them on site. In the centre of the dining area is a glass encased room housing their huge coffee roaster so you can watch their creations unfold before your eyes. We didn’t arrive until minutes before the kitchen was closing which made it far too late in the day for me to try their coffee. In fact, I was wired enough from work and didn’t actually need further stimulation to add to the mix. Instead we opted for a couple of fruit smoothies to accompany our nuts and olives whilst we waited for our food.
Within a couple of minutes of being seated our nibbles were brought to the table. The nuts contained a lovely mix of macadamias, cashews and almonds. They were spiced with smoked paprika, chilli, honey, garlic and sea salt. The serve was quite substantial in size.
Typika’s olives contain their own mix of kalamata and ligurian olives warmed with chilli, garlic, rosemary, cumin and slices of lemon. Soft and nearly velvety, the olive flesh slipped clean off the pit in one easy slurp. The amount of spice was fairly mild and I could easily have enjoyed a bit more kick.
The Boy wasn’t that thrilled with any of the vegetarian options and opted for the beer battered fish of the day. After reminding me that he “isn’t really a fish and chips person” I was surprised that he ordered it. If any serve of fish and chips was going to win him over this would have been it. Swirls of batter fried to a crisp golden colour coated each fillet of fish. It was served with battered chips and sweet potato wedges with a side serve of tartare sauce and a bottle of vinegar.
I have to admit I was a little envious of the appearance of his dish and longed to be able to at least sink my teeth into one bite. That was until later in the day when all that fried batter started to disagreed with him. Being on a plant based diet and no longer used to such fatty foods his digestive system uttered roars of complaints which spanned throughout our yoga class!
Unlike the hungry lad, I only felt like something light and enquired to our waitress which of the two gluten free scallop options on the menu could be adapted to be fructose friendly. The chef recommended the scallops with black pudding, minted pea puree and romesco sauce. They were happy to serve the romesco on the side as it contained garlic which is something a lot of FM’s have to limit.
Plump and only briefly seared each scallop was a little raw on the inside which fortunately is just how I prefer them although I realise others may prefer them more cooked through. The black pudding was cut into the skinniest slivers such that its flavour didn’t overpower the delicate scallops. The pea puree was a little under-seasoned but had enough of a hint of sweetness to allow the scallop’s fresh taste to shine.
I didn’t think it was fair to write a blog post on a coffee roaster without trying their coffee so as all that overtime gave me an extra day off in lieu I chose to head back to Typika Artisan Roasters solo. That day luck was not on my side as it turned out that a power line had come down across Stirling Highway making access nearly impossible with the Police blocking off the road completely. After getting lost winding my way through the back streets I finally managed to pop out upwind of the drama.
It was bustling for a late weekday morning and most tables were occupied. I sat down on my lonesome ready to get down to business. The drive had taken me a lot longer than I anticipated and I was champing at the bit for a coffee. Served with a bit more milk than I prefer for my short macs, my coffee was quite smooth and creamy however lacked the wow-factor that I expected from a self-proclaimed artisan roaster.
I um-ed and ah-ed whether I needed a second breakfast for about two full seconds before I called the waiter back to take my food order. I chose the Typika breakfast stack which included a shredded potato crisp, wilted spinach, avocado and house smoked ocean trout all topped with fried egg. Service was prompt and before I had finished my coffee my meal arrived. The waiter seems rushed and as he placed my dish on the table the whole mountain of food came toppling down in one messy and very un-photogenic pile. I sheepishly requested if it could kindly be send back to the kitchen for reconstruction.
I guessed at this point there was no way of remaining incognito for the purposes of my blog post. I winced a little at openly giving myself away and acting like a diva sending my food back. As I pricked my knife into my egg these thoughts quickly vanished to the back of my mind as I watch the bright yellow yolk porn dribble gracefully down my enormous stack. Oh yes.
Typika Artisan Roasters makes a nice modern change from the surrounding old-fashioned styled cafes in the Claremont area. Whilst their coffee was by no means incredible, it still hit the sweet spot for me. Their menu is very gluten free friendly and has a good variety of options beyond the standard eggs benny and big breakfasts.Typika Artisan Roasters 331 Stirling Highway, Claremont WA 6010 | (08) 9284 6088 | www.typika.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $12-21, Lunch $17-34) Food: 3/5 (a touch on the oily side, plenty of GF options) Service: 3/5 (quick, friendly but minimal menu knowledge for ingredients) Ambience: 3/5 (loud, busy, hive of activity) Drinks: 3.5/5 (great coffee but not blow-your-socks-off coffee) Total: 12.5/20
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.
Our first session was with the amazing duo of Heston Blumenthal and Harold Mc Gee titled “The Science of Cooking”. It was a glorious day with clear blue skies and as we walked onto the brilliant green grounds the wafting aromas of freshly brewed coffee teased our senses. It wasn’t before long we both had one in hand; a short mac for me and a latte for the Boy.
But in all honesty coffee schmofy; who needs coffee when you can have a freshly shaken grape juice cocktail? I knocked back my macchiato in a flash so that I could graciously accept our next round of beverage! With glass in hand we entered into the elegant, chandelier decorated marquee and found our way to our table.
Our waitress made a careful effort to identify the people with pre-notified dietary requirements on our table including the Boy’s vegetarian request and my gluten free. My morning tea included three components. The first morsel was called Spring in a Jar and contained thick avocado cream cheese with miniature vegetables and olive powder.
The second portion on my plate was a slice of delicately tender Margaret River Wagyu sirloin with oyster mushrooms and a horseradish emulsion. The original version of this was served on a crostini which they replaced with a gluten free rice cracker for me. The final component was an egg omelette rolled up with wakame seaweed and sweet Shark Bay Blue Swimmer crab meat.
For the Boy’s vegetarian option the Wagyu was omitted and he was given a larger serve of oyster mushroom with the horse radish emulsion and his wakame egg roll omitted the crab meat.
It was entertaining listening to Heston and Harold talk, I believe they are close personal friends and have both in turn inspired each other’s careers. Whilst Heston was charming and humorous, I found Harold’s scientific approach to understanding the techniques used for cooking very interesting and he has motivated me to return to reading his enormously thick book “McGee on Food & Cooking” that I own at home on the shelf.
Desserts weren’t served until the talk had well and truly finished and by this point many attendees had to whisk away to attend their next foodie event. A perfect cube of Bahen & Co chocolate gateaux was just enough for about two mouthfuls and was adapted to be gluten free for me by omission of the ganache topping. I’m glad we had the time to stick around as this decadent treat literally melted in the mouth.
Our second Food for Thought session on the following day was with Miles Irving, Alex Atala and Matt Wilkinson and was titled “The Call of the Wild – Insects, weeds and the food of the future”. It was no surprise to me that the Boy chose us a session about eating bugs. Remember his insect devouring obsession in Thailand? He ate them at every opportunity that he could find.
This session was better organised than the previous day with both coffees and cocktails in abundance and the service even more polished and attentive. The food and drinks were created by the kitchen team from Morries Anytime. On arrival we were offered glasses of “Billy’s Punch” to accompany cubes of apple liquor soaked canapés. I had planned ahead for any inadvertent fructose exposure and brought some glucose tablets in my handbag. I downed a few before helping myself to some boozy apple delights. The punch was made with a generous amount of Aperol, some Voyager bubbles, sparkling grape juice, home-made rhubarb syrup and fresh orange and strawberry and was far too drinkable for the early morning. I was appreciative of the much larger serving compared to the day before and if it wasn’t before twelve I could have easier had another.
The wait staff team were much more on the ball and shortly after being seated platters of food were brought to the tables. I was informed that I was able to eat the pork and parsley terrine topped with spiced plum chutney as it was gluten free. The mini burgers containing Notting Hill marron and truffle were not suitable and we were told to hold out as our replacements were on their way.
For my replacement the bun was exchanged for toasted gluten free bread. My resulting sandwich was stuffed full of marron and truffle flavour. What a decadent way to start the day!
The Boy sunk his teeth into his vegetarian option before I even had a chance to photograph it and then tried to recreate it in its untouched state by swizzling it round on his plate so I couldn’t see the chomp marks. I never thought I’d hear the day that he would moan in pleasure over a vego burger but this haloumi slider did the trick.
The talk did somewhat digress away from discussing the potentially unpalatable sounding specifics of eating insects and weeds and onto its more worldly implications in providing more sustainable locally grown seasonal produce. We were made to think about not only what foods we choose to eat, but how that food is produced and what potential impact its production has had on the world around us.
Our desserts were discretely served in the latter half of the talk allowing all attendees to enjoy it for this session. The Boy received Bahen & Co chocolate fudge with salted caramel popcorn.
For my gluten free version the fudge was replaced with a scoop of caramel ice cream and topped with the salted caramel popcorn and fresh strawberries.
I found both sessions very informative and interesting and am keen to attend them again next year. The food served each day was very locally orientated, of high quality and was able to be adapted for food allergies provided notice was given in advance. The amount of food was enough for a light morning tea leaving enough room to attend another event in the afternoon or evening without feeling stuffed to the brim.
The 2013 Gourmet Escape Food for Thought sessions cost $100 per person including food and drinks.Voyager Estate 41 Stevens Road, Margaret River WA 6285 | (08) 9757 6354 | www.voyagerestate.com.au/the-estate/the-restaurant
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.
This year Eat Drink Blog was held on home ground at Perth City Farm where many of you may remember I visited to go behind the scenes for Mushroom Mania just a few months ago. Eat Drink Blog is a free conference for selected delegates and all costs are funded by sponsors and donors. Coordinating such a venture with zero start-up funding sounds like a horrendously difficult task yet despite this significant hurdle the Committee managed to create an experience that exceeded most people’s including my expectations.
Although a large part of the weekend involved a serious amount of eating; contrary to popular belief that isn’t ALL us food bloggers do. Behind each blog is a person with their own aspirations, core values and ambitions. Some bloggers are in search of a big break such as a cook book deal, some blogger’s ultimate goal is to score free meals or products and on the opposite end of the spectrum there are some bloggers who are so determined to do it on their own that they refuse to write anything sponsored be it a free product, meal or holiday.
At the end of the day’s motivating lectures and discussion panels, I reflected back to try to define where my blog falls on this spectrum. Whenever considering a sponsored post or free meal, I always stop to think very carefully about whether it is applicable to my blog content.
I bring myself back to my vision of why I created this blog in the first place: to connect with others with food intolerances and show them that you can still be a foodie despite the barriers and restrictions.
I ask myself “Would I pay to go and eat a meal here?” or “Would I use this product at home?” If I find myself answering Yes to this question, this prompts me to give the offer further consideration.
Ultimately one of the most important things I try to achieve when writing these types of reviews is to remain truthful, accurate and give you dear readers full disclosure. I am naturally quite a blunt and truthful character, so I feel that this honesty comes relatively easy to me but because of the potential bias for sponsored posts I never give these meals a score because this cannot be done accurately unless I’m incognito.
In total contrast to Eat Drink Blog’s more formal sit down dinner last year at the Hilton Adelaide, this year the team organised a pop-up dinner containing a number of Perth’s well-loved food trucks. Butty’s, Marcelita’s Empanadas, Jumplings, Delish Ice and Bangkok Jump Street all donated their time to provide an evening of highly addictive scrumptious street food. We even managed to twist a few rubber arms and get a West Winds Gin bar spontaneously created at the thirteenth hour after a series of thirsty gin-craving tweets from delegates earlier the day.
I MAY have played a central part in the last-minute gin-spiration! 😉
As the celebrations drew to a close for the evening, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and I headed into Must Wine Bar along with our newly found friend Coconut Joe for a couple of night caps before heading home. Michelle’s blog remains one of the most popular Perth based blogs and is usually one of my first go-to references to suss out new places to eat. I find her a wealth of knowledge for advice and guidance with blogging but even better she is a wonderful friend who can always make me laugh.
Although she does think I’m a little crazy. Just you wait until you read her Coconut Joe post and then we can discuss crazy!
Our final stop was at Enrique’s School for to Bull fighting where we continued in the spirit of the ongoing gin-theme for the evening. We were served Glorious Gin from Brooklyn based Breuckelen Distilling mixed with Kaffir lime leaves, fresh white grapefruit and the uplifting botanical flavours of Fentimans Tonic. Without any doubt it was the best G&T I have ever had and THAT is a big call! It provided the perfect ending to a fabulous day.
Organising an event of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, energy and efforts put in by the most awesome five Committee Members. My thanks and appreciation cannot be expressed enough in words and without these dedicated people none of EDB4 would have been possible.
Thank you 100 billion times over! You guys rock!
● Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse (Chair)
● Matt from Abstract Gourmet
● Bri from Eatmeetswest
● David from Food Blarg
● Chris from Bon Viveur
Last year I entered a Facebook competition for a food magazine that will remain unnamed and in a nail-biting, head-to head battle with my blogging friend Carly from Perth Munchkin we both tied in first place. We each won a voucher for two for “Speed Grazing” in the Swan Valley with Taste Bud Tours. As often is the case, time got the better of me and before I knew it a whole year had flown by and our voucher was nigh on its expiration date. I contacted Loris the sole operator from Taste Bud Tours to book our day out before it was too late. But what developed was very odd indeed, it turns out that my voucher was in fact a counterfeit that was never officially issued! It turns out there were a number of dubious vouchers that were handed around the magazine’s office for competition prizes and staff rewards. What a scandal!
Loris offered me a two-for-one deal as replacement for my dodgy voucher in a gesture of goodwill. I will never say no to a day in the Valley and despite the stormy forecast the Boy agreed to come along as my plus one. Loris’s concept of Speed Grazing is quite an original one and as a result she has consistently been awarded the number 1 ranking on TripAdvisor for Perth Activities for several years running. She keeps her tour group numbers small to ensure a personalised approach and visits nine different locations during each half day tour. She provides a coach pick up from either Wellington Street, Perth City or from Guildford.
We chose an afternoon tour and headed into the city a smidge earlier for a mac-attack. Not in any way related to the famous yellow double arches; a “mac-attack” is a termed coined by my now sadly estranged sister for those times when you just have to have to get your hands on a macaron. Paired with my usual short macchiato you could consider my version a double mac attack. We stopped in at Jean Pierre Sancho where I may have accidentally bought two macarons; my old time fav the salted macaron and my newest obsession passionfruit.
The Boy opted for a buttery, flaky toasted croissant but in his partially slumbered state he ordered a ham and cheese croissant instead of a vegetarian option. As we both sat on the couches soaking up what little sunshine there was that day he had to resort to prying open his crispy croissant to remove the offending slices of ham whilst trying not to accidentally tear it in half. After our mid-morning treat we strolled down to Wellington Street to join the rest of the tour group as the storm clouds gathered in a huddled grey mass in the sky; this weather is most unusual for Perth this time of year. On our way out to the Valley in the pouring rain, Loris shared with us some history of Perth and the Swan Valley region. The area has been producing wine for over 150 years and is the oldest wine region in Western Australia. Being so close to the Perth CBD and spanning over a relatively small area means it is much easier to visit a number of venues in a short space of time making Speed Grazing an easy task.
Our first stop on the tour was at Yahava Koffee Works. We were treated to a series of hot coffee tastings from their extensive range and then ended the experience on a sugar high with a cup of their “Ice Koffee”. This is a syrupy liquid made from a rich blend of Yahava’s Indian Tiger Mountain coffee, Indian chocory and some natural spices. I could easily imagine this sticky treat poured over a big bowl of vanilla and choc chip ice cream.
Our next stop was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Now I don’t want to sound like a naysayer as I am a dedicated lover of all things chocolate however in recent years I have come to appreciate the bean to bar concept of chocolate production. This is the signature ethos of companies like Bahen & Co, Gabriel and Melbourne based Matale. Without meaning to sound like a snob, I confess that by comparison to these quality small scale producers I find The Margaret River Chocolate Factory a touch over commercialised. That being said I also have great respect for this WA business in becoming such a massively successful company. Whilst their chocolate is not exactly cheap, it is very creamy and smooth and we couldn’t stop ourselves from purchasing a couple of truffles.
Our stop number three was at Cape Lavender, another business that also has a location down in Margaret River. I had informed Loris earlier in the week that I required gluten free food and she advised me that Cape Lavender would have some gluten free scones made especially for me.
Alas upon our arrival I was told that this wasn’t the case and so I had to settle for my glass of Lavender coloured Howling Wolves SixPointSix Cabernato 2013 instead. Quite an unusual little drop; they recommended serving this plonk as a cocktail in a tall glass over ice accompanied with a wedge fresh lime and a sprig of mint. I bought a bottle of it for drinking later so I could give this cocktail a whirl at home.
After our group demolished the plate of mini-scones we all shuffled next door to Mago Coffee. Mago is a family owned business and they have been roasting their own blends of coffee in the Swan Valley since the late 60s. Mago imports raw coffee beans from Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Kenya and Ethiopia in addition to a few other “secret locations”. I had already reached my maximum caffeine limit for the day so I didn’t get to try their brew but we did taste some of their freshly roasted nuts and bought a giant size bag of roasted hazelnuts still slightly warm.
Our next stop was the familiar Jarrah Ridge Winery. The Boy and I have been here a number of times with both my parents on separate occasions and I am a big fan of both their olives and their wines. As we arrived the manager served us little tasting dishes of their marinated olives and WA cheeses for us to nibble on as we worked our way through all the wines on offer. In a repeat of our previous visits, we walked away with two large vacuum packed bags of olives in hand along with a decent chinking of wine bottles.
Being a sufferer of fructose malabsorption our next stop at The House of Honey wasn’t really the place for me but for those that do not have to restrict their fructose this place is worth a visit. Proudly using only pure, unpasteurised and unadulterated varietal honeys there is a wide range of honey products on offer. There is also an active hive with a Perspex backing to allow viewing of the bees in action. I can now understand where the saying “busy bee” comes from because not a single bee in that hive stopped for a rest.
It was getting into the later part of the afternoon and all the food and wine tasting was beginning to make me feel sleepy. As we entered Mondos Nougat my eyes were drawn like a magnet to the macarons. Yes, I have a problem. We were given a sample of the nougat to taste but ended up buying another couple of squares to enjoy with our macarons.
Our second last stop was a farmer’s market stall selling a variety of fresh local produce ranging from strawberries to miniature herb plants. Unfortunately it was timed simultaneously with a torrential downpour meaning that no sooner had we all exited the minibus to peruse their offerings, we all very quickly came running back to the bus for shelter.
Our final stop was at the Iron Bark Brewery where Loris had called ahead for us with the tour group’s orders for pizzas. The Boy and I ordered a vegetarian gluten free pizza to share between the two of us which is not included in the price of the tour. On arrival we were given a voucher to get either a free beer tasting or a discount on a full serve of beer or wine. The price for a small pizza was $17.50 and the large was $23.50 with a $2 supplement for gluten free.
When our pizzas arrived we were puzzled to see that our small pizza was in fact just a regular sized pizza cut in half. As we looked up and down the table we saw that another tour guest had received our other half. What we found even more perplexing was that they wanted to charge us $17 for the half pizza! Erm I think not! A $34 vegetarian pizza! When we were at the counter ready to pay I suggested to our waitress that we should really only pay for half the price of a full gluten free pizza. The other tour guest that had eaten the other half could pay for remainder. I was given a look of contempt but after consulting with her frowning manager they both begrudgingly agreed. Oh dear.
Taste Bud Tours was a fabulous way to sample the wide variety of wine and produce available in the Swan Valley. I love how Loris sticks to Western Australian companies and she is a passionate and knowledgable advocate of the region. I can highly recommend her tours to anyone who wants to join a tour that is just a bit different from the norm and more personal.Taste Bud Tours | www.tastebudtours.com.au Jean Pierre Sancho 878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au Yahava Koffee Works 4752 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 8599 | www.yahava.com.au Margaret River Chocolate Factory 5123 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 1588 | www.chocolatefactory.com.au Cape Lavender 6 Cranleigh Street, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 7711 | www.lavenderonline.com.au Mago Coffee Lot 6, Cranleigh St, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9274 5871 | www.mago.com.au Jarrah Ridge Winery 651 Great Northern Highway, Swan Valley, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 6337 | www.jarrahridge.com The House of Honey & The Sticky Spoon Café 867 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 3635 | www.thehouseofhoney.com.au Mondo Nougat & Moorish Nuts 640 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 0111 | www.mondonougat.com.au Iron Bark Brewery 55 Benara Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 4400 | ironbarkbrewery.com.au
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.
We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which is a five-star hotel very conveniently located in the heart of the Marina Bay district right along the Grand Prix track. Our room offered stunning views over the Bay and the city skyline in addition to directly facing onto the Formula One racetrack itself. You could watch the race directly from your own room if you booked it enough in advance! I chose this area knowing it is very central to all the foodie, entertainment and shopping places I had on my wish list to check out. It is also only a couple of tube stations from the Orchard Road shopping district. Our Premium Ocean Room was clean and reasonably newly appointed with a pillow menu, twice daily housekeeping and free WIFI.
On our first night we had already been out for a beautiful lunch at Sky on 57 with my Dad and Stepmum as they were passing through Singapore on their flight home to Melbourne. Ordering room service seemed like the best way for us to kick back and relax. Earlier that morning when we were still in Phuket we had obtained all our unedited wedding video footage from our videographer and we were both itching to watch it.
The Boy ordered one of his favourite comfort foods; a traditional Italian lasagna made with fresh tomatoes, minced beef and mozzarella cheese layered between home-made pasta sheets. Retrospectively, it feels quite odd now writing about him eating meat. In the weeks following our return from Singapore, the Boy made the surprising decision to become a vegetarian. After years of being a big meat eater, I wonder what his favourite comfort food will be now?
I ordered the grilled Norwegian salmon with steamed potato and baby vegetables. Desperate for some greens I also ordered the garden salad which turned out to be quite an enormous serve. In addition to the usual greens it contained asparagus tips, avocado, olives, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese shavings.
During our stay we visited the Axis Bar a couple of times to put our feet up after a hard day eating and sightseeing. Overlooking the Marina Bay they have plenty of comfortable lounges to allow us to unwind from all the wedding excitement over a drink or two.
Whilst the bar menu did not have many gluten free options, the kitchen was more than happy to make up for us a special platter each visit with a variety of gluten free snacks including roasted duck with caperberries, smoked salmon and marinated olives.
In addition to two bars, the Mandarin Oriental has five restaurants. MELT ~ The World Café is their buffet style restaurant where our included buffet breakfast was served. They had an excellent range of gluten free options and every morning the waiter would come over to our table and ask if I wanted my gluten free waffles and pancakes. I’m sure this is the first hotel I’ve been offered both waffles and pancakes that I am able to eat. No wonder I put on so much weight! The waffles had a wondrously thin crisp outer layer and were light and fluffy on the inside.
There was a huge range of salads, sliced meats and pastries in addition to both Asian and Western style hot dishes. There was even a waffle counter making fresh waffles while you wait. On our last morning we slept in, nearly missed breakfast and ended up dashing down all dishevelled and sleepy. As we finished off our meals the manager came over to us with two glasses of champagne and a camera wanting to congratulate us on our marriage. Even without any make-up the natural glow of happiness from us both was easy to capture. Within minutes of returning to our room the photo arrived in a Silk quilted photo frame. What a thoughtful and personal touch.
In addition to the buffet restaurant there are four other restaurants which include Dolce Vita (Italian), Cherry Garden (Cantonese), Morton’s (Steakhouse) and Wasabi Bistro (Japanese). We dined at Cherry Garden one evening where I was gob-smacked that I could enjoy beautiful Cantonese dishes made especially gluten free. Read my review of our meal at Cherry Garden here.
Throughout our stay we found there to be a high level of attention to detail with excellent communication amongst their staff regarding my food allergies. It was refreshing to not have to reiterate at each venue what I could and couldn’t eat and I would have no hesitation staying here again upon our return to Singapore.
Note: We stayed in a Premier Ocean Room for $437AUD/night which included a buffet breakfast. Mandarin Oriental Singapore 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797 | +65 6338 0066 | www.mandarinoriental.com/singapore
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.
Despite waiting for thirty minutes I was still undecided about my choice from the menu. The lay out of the menu is a little odd with three different time slots with varying overlap. Even after a couple of coffees it was hard to know where to look! We both agonised over it long enough for the waiter to come to our table twice to take our orders only to be met with two blank indecisive faces. It was a bee’s bum away from midday and logic drew me away from ordering some lunch as my hunger for some egg porn was uncontrollable. It’s not uncommon for me to have a second breakfast and I figured this was going to be one of those days.
There were a number of morning options that you could still order throughout the day and so my choice was a hot potato cake with smoked salmon, wilted spinach and a poached egg. Thankfully I was blessed and my burning desire for a sumptuous gooey egg was completely satisfied. The remainder of the dish was less than impressive however. The lemon butter was poured over my dish to the same exaggerated extent that the rain flooded the streets. The sheer amount of lemon butter would have been overwhelming had it not been that the potato cake was bland and poorly seasoned and was in dire need of a lift.
Whit had her own issues to contend with. Whilst egg porn was far from her mind, she was determined to have a lamb burger. She was on an unofficial mission to find the tastiest lamb burger in town so if it is on the menu, it must be devoured. That is until we were told they had run out of lamb; at twelve o’clock on a Monday. I could feel her disappointment from across the table and empathised; if there weren’t eggs on the menu to feed my addiction I was fairly confident I would pack up and go as I wanted them so bad.
As I nodded consolingly, Whit ended up choosing the lamb burger’s cousin; a pulled pork sandwich with Asian slaw and chilli jam. It turns out she is on a similar quest for the perfect pulled pork as she is with lamb. As she nibbled on her chewy, dry bun and flavourless pork my heart went out to her as my rays of golden egg enveloped everything on my plate. Looking at the torrential rain outside, my egg was to be the closest either of us would get to any sunshine that day.
As the pouring rain became apocalyptic outside, the whole of Napoleon Street completely filled up like a river breaking its banks. It looked like neither of us were heading anywhere else in a hurry. Brushing the let-down of the pulled pork aside, we looked about for a dessert menu to cheer up the taste buds.
Our dessert choice to share was a caramelised ginger rice pudding with the deceptive appearance of being a crème brûlée. We tapped and cracked the thin shell on top to reveal a thick creamy bed of dulcet rice pudding. Subtle hints of fresh lemony ginger added a bit of zing with even more tangy ginger in the scoop of ice-cream.
Encouraged by our winning dessert, we thought we would sit out the rain for a bit longer and have a round of coffee. We had already been chattering away for over four hours and I resigned to myself that my long list of tasks to do on my day off could simply wait for another day. With all the crazy crap that is going on in my life at the moment, whiling a day away in a café chatting with a newly found friend was much more enjoyable. As Whit took a sip of her coffee her face screwed up into contortions of displeasure border lining on pain. I reached over to grab her coffee for a taste; it was piping hot with an after-taste much like charcoal. What was to follow was something I’m sure can be defined as “how not to handle a disgruntled customer 101”. After three rounds of burnt coffee and a number of condescending comments implying that we obviously had no idea what a long macchiato tasted like, we were both left bewildered and mildly offended.
Customer service unfortunately still remains sorely lacking in some venues around Perth. With the recent opening of so many exciting and switched on eateries it would be wise for these restaurants to start improving or risk ending up getting left behind in the slipstream of other’s successes.
For the full story on what went down with the coffee saga head over to Whit’s account of our lunch on her blog: “Off the wall and into Vans”.Vans Café 1 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe WA 6011 | (08) 9384 0696 | www.vanscafe.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $13-23, Mains $18-42) Food: 2.5/5 (hits and misses) Service: 2/5 (1st rule of customer service: the customer is always right) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bright, airy and even with the gloom outside felt sunny) Drinks: 2/5 (burnt Crema coffee…..so sad) Total: 10/20
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.
The only down side of this success is that Esperance is a long way away from Perth! Selfish I know but gee I miss her! Recently she came back up to Perth for a few weeks of intensive training and we managed to squeeze in a few random catch ups. The Tuck Shop Café has been on my hit list for ages. Kindly remembering this fact, my Bestie suggested we meet there early on a weekday before we started work.
On perusing their menu I really wanted to try the black pudding which came with herbed ricotta and roasted tomatoes. I was dismayed to hear that it wasn’t gluten free so I order the same dish but with mushrooms to replace the black pudding instead. The grilled mushrooms were plump and fleshy with a rich earthy flavour. The ricotta was foamy light with just a slight hint of sweetness which combined well with the caramelised tomatoes. A single poached egg completed this dish.
The Bestie has recently changed to eating a vegetarian and gluten free diet and found there weren’t a lot of options for her on the menu. She chose to keep it simple and ordered poached eggs, roasted tomato and spinach.
We couldn’t help but order some sides of mushrooms and mushy peas too. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to order mushrooms on the side for breakfast. The mushy peas were a bit bland in flavour and needed more seasoning.
Two rounds of coffee and some tea later I glanced at the clock and realised our impromptu outing was nearly over as we both needed to head to our respective places of work feeling overly full and content. But wait; there is always room for dessert isn’t there? There were a couple of home-made gluten free cupcakes in the counter cabinet; a chocolate freckle and a berry cream cheese cupcake. Unable to decide which one the waitress convinced us to order both and cut each in half.
Each cupcake tasted neither heavy nor sickly sweet so despite already discussing how full we both felt before we knew it we had each eaten our respective halves. History repeats itself once more. I love that the two of us always manage to equally make pigs of ourselves; we are peas in a pod for sure. It serves to remind me that although physical distance separates us once again, we are always so close in spirit.Tuck Shop Café, Pie-House and Delicatessen 178 Newcastle Street, Northbridge WA 6000 | Facebook Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (need more GF and vegetarian options) Service: 3.5/5 (friendly, know their menu well) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great busy morning buzz) Drinks: 3.5/5 (They serve Toby Estate coffee) Total: 14.5/20
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!
I have always heard such glowing reviews of Emirates but have never wanted to lose out on my Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Now with Qantas’s new partnership with Emirates this means they code share most flights allowing QFF members to accumulate flying miles while on Emirates flights. Emirates also give economy passengers a wonderful 30 kg of checked in baggage in addition to the usual 7 kg of cabin luggage making my agonising experience of trying to choose which shoes to pack much easier as I could bring more shoes with me!
The Boy and I have been together since our early twenties and although we have both done a lot of travel together I had never travelled alone overseas without him. As I kissed him farewell at Perth International Airport I think both of us were secretly a bit nervous about our eight day separation from each other across opposite ends of the world. Not wanting to cry I quickly grabbed my hand luggage and powered through immigration to make a bee line for the Qantas Club Lounge. Once I downed a few vodkas my anxiety morphed to excitement and I made my way over to the gate for departure.
The Emirates flights from Perth to Barcelona use their smaller Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The seating arrangements on these planes is a bit squishy with most of the cabin’s seat configuration being a 3-4-3 layout. At the rear of the aircraft the triple seats near the windows are reduced to just double seats and seem have more room. In the weeks before my flight I went online to their website to choose my preferred seat at one of these doubles.
Each seat has its own touch-screen which is loaded up with over 200 movies ranging from new releases to old favourites from Hollywood, Bollywood and many foreign films. In addition to the movies there was also a wide range of TV series, music and games. After flicking through them for a few minutes I could see I wasn’t going to get much sleep…there was too much to watch! I noted there was a USB port to charge my mobile devices just in case I got bored of all the television.
In the seat pocket in front of me was a cute little amenities bag containing socks, eye mask, toothbrush and tooth paste. Not bad for economy class and the toothbrush came in handy for my overnight stopover in Dubai as I forgot to pack mine in my hand luggage.
On the Perth to Dubai flight we were served two meals. For my gluten free breakfast I received some reasonably fluffy scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach, fresh tomato and baked potato, plus a small bowl of fresh seasonal fruit, some Yoplait yoghurt and a couple of plain rice cakes. There wasn’t much to spread on the rice cakes so I piled some of the spinach and eggs on top of one and clumsily tried to eat it without covering myself in crumbs.
I was determined to watch the whole Pirates of the Caribbean series from beginning to end before I touched down in Barcelona. Charmed by Captain Sparrow the time flew away quickly and before I knew it lunch was being served. My gluten free lunch included a surprisingly succulent roast chicken breast. This was a first as I cannot recall having chicken on a plane that wasn’t dry. It was served with some roasted vegetables and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. There was also a grated vegetable salad, another fruit salad, a piece of cheddar cheese and gluten free crackers. A couple of plain rice crackers were plopped on there too.
Emirates provides economy passengers with free hotel accommodation in Dubai including all your meals if the layover between your connecting flights is between 8 and 24 hours. My flight to Barcelona didn’t depart until the following morning so I took Emirates up on this offer. After a very long wait at the airport I was transferred to the Copthorne Hotel just ten minutes from the airport. The hotel room was very basic but it was clean and comfortable. Personally however next time I’m stopping over in Dubai; I would prefer to pay and stay in a nicer hotel in a better location. I didn’t bother eating any of the hotel’s complimentary meals so I cannot comment on them.
For my flight onwards to Barcelona I received two meals again. I quite like the fact that Emirates ensure their passengers don’t go hungry! For my gluten free breakfast I received a “deli platter” with thinly sliced roast beef, light pesto chicken, cheddar cheese, marinated potato salad and fresh crudités. Some reconstituted orange juice and a fruit salad were also provided. The gluten free bread was sealed individually to ensure there was no cross contamination however it had a crumbly hard texture and a slightly mouldy flavour.
My gluten free lunch was much better than the breakfast although I was starting to get a little sick of chicken for every meal. My main consisted of roasted chicken breast with creamy mashed potato and green beans. A sweet chilli chicken salad with thinly sliced cabbage salad and some more of that mouldy gluten free bread was also provided. The best part about this meal was the dessert. A smooth vanilla pannacotta with white chocolate and strawberries cleansed all the mildly unpleasant mouldy flavours from my mouth and left me fairly full, content and ready for Barcelona.
Overall I was very happy with my first experience flying Emirates Economy Class Perth to Barcelona. The seats were reasonably comfortable, had an adequate amount of recline and provided plenty of leg room for me although bear in mind I’m not exactly tall. The in-flight entertainment kept me amused for most of the flight and although the food wasn’t amazing it was better than most other gluten free meals I have been served on other airlines. I look forward to trying their business class when we eventually set off for our very belated honeymoon.
Emirates fly daily from Perth to Dubai with connecting flights to Barcelona also daily.