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
A couple of weeks ago the Boy bought me a surprise gift of some Pemberton Finger Limes from Scutti, our local greengrocer. Finger Limes are a native Australian plant that originate from our lowland, subtropical rain forests in Queensland and New South Wales. I am by no means a stranger to this curious “citrus caviar” having eaten it a number of times when we have been out at restaurants. I have never really known how to use it in my own cooking however figuring there is never anything wrong with experimentation in the kitchen I decided to use it to garnish my vegan tortillas I made using Mexican masa flour.
The finger limes added a whole new level of texture and flavour to my Mexican feast with each lime pearl popping in my mouth to give a short sharp burst of citrusy freshness. Within a week of posting my recipe I was contacted by Jacquie Baker from Pemberton Finger Limes to kindly invite me to the Pemberton Finger Lime Tasting night held at The Terrace Hotel. Keen to learn other ways to use these bizarrely shaped fruits, I eagerly accepted her invitation.
I was joined by fellow bloggers Perth Munchkin and Perth Food Engineers along with a number of other foodies for a night of finger lime laced treats. We kicked off the evening with margaritas made using finger lime salt, citrus and caviar.
The first dish was a smoked chicken mousseline with avocado puree wrapped in a thin layer of pastry and therefore not gluten free. The chef happily made me one on request without the pastry so I could also try it. The mousse was smooth and light with a strong smoky after taste which was uplifted by the hint of citrus.
Following on from the smoked chicken mousseline, we were served thinly sliced cured ocean trout with radish and crème fraiche, topped with micro herbs and finger limes. The trout was soft, tender and delicately flavoured. As more food slowly started to roll out of the kitchen, Jacquie spoke to us about how her parents’ retirement hobby has grown into a fully-fledged and successful business.
It all started back in 2006 when they planted two paddocks with finger lime plants on their Pemberton property and harvested their first crop in 2011. This crop sold out in just six weeks and the fruit were highly sought after by Perth’s top chefs including Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse.
Now onto their fourth year of harvest, Pemberton Finger Limes have made their way into the retail market which means you don’t have to spend big bucks and visit a top end restaurant to try them.
Over the course of the evening the chef experimented with a number of different proteins to showcase the finger limes however my favourite dishes were those using seafood. Citrus caviar topped on oysters adds a burst of freshness that you simply cannot get with a squeeze of standard lime juice. Better still the sensation of popping “eggs” of juice in your mouth layers such a fabulous textural element that gives me flashbacks of some our molecular gastronomy experiences with their spheres, powders and other intriguing elements. I can understand why it is such a popular ingredient at Amuse!
The night ended with some vanilla cheese cake which was regrettably not gluten free however the chef did offer to serve me the top half without the biscuit base. I am always a little nervous when I am offered this as there is always the chance of cross contamination however I didn’t react to it later that night so obviously he took care in preparing it for me.
Pemberton Finger Limes are a seasonal fruit which are generally available from early April through to end of May depending on the weather conditions. They can be purchased from a few select locations around Perth, refer to their website for stockists.Pemberton Finger Limes | www.pembertonfingerlimes.com.au Chompchomp was an invited guest to this event thanks to Pemberton Finger Limes. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au
There are many memories I have about food from my childhood and most of those involve my father. Like many Frenchman he appreciates quality over quantity and cringes at the idea of ordering food from children’s menus. He believes that kids have just as much right to taste the finer food in life as the adults do. Growing up I was the child that was always keen to eat anything whereas my sister was exceedingly fussy. My dad embraced having a least one child with the same attitude to food as him and from a young age had me eating snails, sashimi and oysters amongst other delicacies.
One of my favourite restaurants he would take me to was a Teppanyaki restaurant located near his house in Prahran, Melbourne. Japanese cuisine was yet to take off back in Adelaide making this theatrical dining experience so new and entertaining to my young and impressionable mind. Since then Japanese in all its styles; sushi bars, Izakaya and Teppanyaki BBQs have taken off like a rocket in popularity to become commonplace and finding one that can maintain enough balance of tradition with modern flair isn’t that easy. Fuku Omakase Teppanyaki is located next door to the popular Tsunami in Mosman Park and has been a restaurant on my wish list since its opening about eight months ago.
We have visited their sister restaurant Tsunami many times and although we haven’t returned for a few years I have never been disappointed with a meal there yet. So when I received an invitation to attend their bloggers dinner at Fuku it was an offer just too good to refuse. Fuku offer a degustation style menu, or omakase as the Japanese call it. There are three options: the “Good” which is $100 for 4 courses, the “Better” which costs $135 for 8 courses or the “Best” which is $220 for 10 courses. You can also choose to have matched sake from their impressive wall of bottles for $75 per person.
On arrival you get the feeling you are about to be part of something special. An intercom button must be pressed at the front door to gain entry upon which glass sliding doors automatically open to let you into the restaurant. We were openly greeted by our hosts for the evening owner Brett Carboni and his manager Milan and shown to our seats. Warm lighting and a single row of chairs facing the two Teppanyaki BBQs made this feel like a very intimate experience and immediately my mind started ticking over what celebration of sorts I could plan here. The Boy’s 40th is only a few years away……food for thought. Literally!
Gary our chef for the evening was so humble and gracious and I warmed to him immediately. He patiently answered all our annoying bloggers questions regarding each dishes details and took due care that my meals remained gluten free. Our first course was presented in a lacquered bento box reminiscent of Nobu and contained gorgeous little flash-fried Kawa Ebi and some crunchy sun-dried nori. Kawa Ebi are pint sized freshwater shrimp and tasted similar to the fried school prawns we recently tried at The Stables Bar. These crispy morsels are eaten whole as easily as a bowl of pretzels. Washed down with some sake my hopes were high for a night of feasting for the eyes and the palate.
Being someone who apparently borderlines on OCD at times, I love the perfection and neatness of Japanese food. Everything is presented so immaculately and without clutter or messiness. Our second course contained four carefully plated elements. The standard dish contained slivers of soft Wagyu beef with a sweet white sesame dressing, some marinated red emperor with octopus, a tempura oyster with a refreshing ginger salsa and the most curious addition that initially I mistook for a garnish; soba noodle tempura.
The noodle tempura was fashioned like a cherry blossom tree and looked almost too pretty to eat. Although as crunchy as uncooked pasta it had great flavour I found myself not only munching through mine but stealing the Boys “tree trunk” and munching that too. For my gluten free version the tempura oyster was replaced with a meaty scampi topped with some tobiko.
No Japanese meal is complete without sashimi. Absolute freshness is key as its raw simplicity leaves little room for disguise with sauces and other gimmicks. Chef Gary recommended starting with the snapper with Japanese pickle to clear our palates first allowing maximum appreciation of the remaining pieces. Both the tuna and the salmon dissolved on contact with the tongue and both the Boy and I groaned simultaneously in delight.
Having to have my meals adapted to be gluten free means one of two outcomes; I’m either jealous for what I miss out on, or others around me are jealous for my substitution. You never know which way it will go. The rest of the guests were served quail with Szechuan sauce wrapped in a soba bean pancake. The quails are farmed organically in the Hunter Valley and are supposed to be the biggest quails in the world. Not that that makes them gigantic by any dimensions I’m sure.
As I watched everyone eat their dishes with gusto, I hoped my gluten alternative gave me the same level of eye rolling pleasure. I watched the chef chop up a lamb cutlet in a flash of knives in eager anticipation. It was served with a potato galette and a ball of grated beetroot flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Now it’s easy to imagine tuna sashimi dissolving in the mouth but have you had that experience with lamb? Each cube disintegrated like butter leaving the sweet taste of miso sauce lingering on my tongue. My manners went out the window and I picked up the bone with my fingers and I gnawed off every last bit of meat.
While some guests were a little nervous at the concept of eating a prawn head, I reassured them that once you have tried them you will never go back. The subtle flavours of prawn meat are humbled by the intensity of the head and my family all consider it somewhat of a delicacy. This dish was served with uni butter which is made from sea urchins. Rich and decadent, uni butter is like the foie gras of the sea and imparted a luscious complex depth of flavour.
As the fish of the day was being prepared, owner Brett commented with a little snigger that this dish was one of the more amusing dishes of the evening. I caught a glimpse of the cheeky glint in his eye as our dish was presented to us.
As I turned to look at our plates the penny dropped. I’m not sure I will be able to look at eggplant in the same light again! It brought several giggles to the table and made the Boy pause for a few seconds before he could bring himself to eat it. The fish of the day was a wedge of swordfish served with a Japanese citrus (Yuzu) and miso sauce.
The final main course allowed our chefs to show us the real entertainment of Teppanyaki style dining. It was hard to catch all the action on film as fast flashes of flames, knives and food were expertly flicked and chopped across the hot plate. The Wagyu beef is the real McCoy sourced from the award winning Mayura Station; one of the top producers in the country.
Having had the chance to eat “real” Wagyu recently at Waku Ghin in Singapore I feel like I can truly appreciate how eye-boggling amazing this meat can be. Whilst this was not in the ball park of the brilliance we ate in Singapore, the buttery cut was still mind blowing and this quality is not one you will find easily here in Perth. (PS My Waku Ghin review is on its way!!)
My final course was a cute collection of a vanilla crème brûlée, a warmed molten chocolate drink, curious mountain peach and a plume of wasabi foam. I am a little biased with my opinion on things like wasabi foam. I have been known to mix wasabi with foods like Camembert and Lindt chocolate just to see what it’s like and ended up loving it so it comes as no surprise the wasabi foam rocked my world. The brûlée had a thin crackable top with a smooth underbelly and the peach was unusually refreshing.
The other guests enjoyed their gluteny dessert of a Yuzu cheesecake. Yuzu is Japanese citrus fruit that is tart in flavour much like a grapefruit. This dish was also served with the chocolate drink, wasabi foam and mountain peach.
And so the journey came to an end. Fuku was everything I imagined it to be and I was left feeling a warm glow of happiness I get from a truly satisfying degustation. I look forward to splashing out on the “Best” menu sometime in the future! A big thank you to Brett, Milan and Gary for providing the Boy and I with such an enjoyable evening.Fuku – Omakase and Teppanyaki 20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park WA 6012 | 0403 470 964 | http://thefuku.com/
Chompchomp dined as a guest of Fuku. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is complementary. When I return incognito for the “Best” dego I may give a score.
This year the Boy’s birthday caught us both by surprise as it seemed to come around with lightning speed. Appreciably the first half of our year was a whirlwind hurricane of wedding planning followed by the most fantastic wedding celebrations. I haven’t even had time to stop and catch my breath yet half the year is already gone by. It is such madness how quickly time can fly when you are busy. As we really need to try to fit more exercise into our hectic routines instead of catching taxis to restaurants we have been choosing restaurants that are within walking distance from our house and getting ourselves there on foot. Some of these restaurants have been relatively local and close to home such as Pinto Thai, but others have been a vigorous hour and a half trek away like The Stables Bar in the City.
Funds are a little tight this year and so the birthday Boy was happy to settle for a night out with each other in lieu of a gift. I think experiences make the best presents anyway. We headed off in the direction of the Crown Casino with the intention for a casual night out at The Merrywell. It was a beautiful 45 minute walk along the Swan River that time of the evening but once we got to the Merrywell we were desperate for a drink. I found a table for us while the Boy went over to the bar to get us a round of drinks. More than ten minutes later he was still standing at the bar drinkless waiting to be served. I received an exasperated sounding text message from him proposing we go to Nobu instead. My rubber arm didn’t need much twisting; give me Nobu over Merrywell any day!
We didn’t have a table booked but fortunately for us there were a couple of seats available at the sushi bar. Woot! A spontaneous visit to Nobu is a sure-fire way to amp me up. This was turning out to be a much better way to celebrate the Boy’s birthday. There must be something about this restaurant and our birthdays; I celebrated my birthday here last year.
It was a week night and we both needed to switch off from our days’ work so to ease ourselves into it we ordered a couple of pieces of sashimi. We asked our waiter for his recommendations and on his advice we ordered the Yellowtail and some freshwater eel. Both were exceedingly soft and delicately flavoured. Such simple morsels are so easily perfected when they are fresh.
New Style Sashimi is one of Nobu’s classic signature dishes. The idea came to Nobu Matsuhisa whilst he was trying to find a way to convince people who don’t like raw fish to eat sashimi. Thin slivers of sashimi salmon are plated beautifully and sprinkled with garlic, ginger, spring onions, sesame seeds, soy sauce and yuzu sauce. Boiling hot sesame and olive oils are then lightly dropped onto the fish around the plate which lightly sears it. Although this was quite an oily dish, the flavours balanced nicely and the occasional crunch between the teeth of sesame seeds added a bit of fun.
The spicy miso chips tuna dish reflected the fusion aspect of Nobu’s Peruvian Japanese cuisine. The spiciness was a bit disappointingly subtle for my palate but was at the perfect level for the sensitive tastes of the Birthday Boy. The tuna was as soft as avocado and sat coiled neatly on top of a crispy miso chip. This play on textures was really interesting and I will definitely order this dish again.
Toban-Yaki refers to the method of cooking which involves serving the dish sizzling on a super-hot ceramic dish. Being a self-confessed mushroom addict, this dish was the highlight of the evening for me. Layers and layers of slippery mushrooms bubbled away in the piping hot plate including shiitake, eryngii, shimeji, king oyster and the cutest little babies of the mushroom world enoki.
We had been trying to make a conscientious effort to avoid ordering any dishes off the menu that we have already tried on previous visits to Nobu. Despite the lure of mind-blowing dishes like the Miso Black Cod we have so far had success. However our night was drawing to an end and we forgot our efforts and ordered the Nobu House Special sushi rolls. These tasty rolls are filled with smoked salmon, fresh tuna, flying fish roe, white fish, snow crab and avocado, and then wrapped in nori and daikon. Despite containing what sounds like a considerable amount of seafood to fit in one roll, each perfect bite size roll held together until the end giving a wonderful hit of flavours.
Our last main dish for the night was the sea bass with jalapeño dressing. I wasn’t really expecting the appearance of this dish because I think I muddled up the name of this dish with their signature Yellowtail Sashimi with jalapeños. Thick wedges of sea bass sat semi-submerged in a brilliant emerald green jalapeño dressing that at a first glance looked like pea soup. The dressing was reasonably spicy with a very smooth and creamy after-taste.
Sitting right in front of the sushi chefs as they perform at their craft made it very hard to resist ordering more. The Boy ordered us two more serves of rolls; one was his favourite and the other choice was something we hadn’t tried before. The soft-shelled crab sushi rolls were a crowd pleaser as always. The other choice was the salmon skin rolls. These had a very strong salty taste with a similar crispy inside like the crab. I was nearly home and hosed in meeting my goal of being totally full and only had a tiny bit of room left for dessert. There is always room for dessert.
There are only a couple of gluten free dessert options at Nobu but who really cares about options when you can have their Bento Box. It’s hard to believe that something this delicious can be gluten free. The ooze speaks for itself.
Earlier in the evening when we were ordering our dishes, it came into the conversation with our waiter that it was the Boy’s birthday. It was only a brief comment, yet he secretly took it on board and back to the kitchen in order to surprise us at dessert. What a lovely gesture!
Read my previous review on Nobu from my birthday last year: Nobu, Burswood and a Birthday Surprise
Nobu Crown Casino Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth Price: $$$$ (Cold dishes $14-65, Hot dishes $19-85, Sushi $8-28, Sashimi $3-10 per piece) Food: 4.5/5 (this is my kinda food. If only I could eat here every week) Service: 4/5 (Much improved since our last visit) Ambience: 4/5 (Watching all the action in the kitchen was great fun) Drinks: 4/5 (Extensive wine and sake list, I just stuck to my Verve this time) Total: 16.5/20 Half a point up from our last visit due to a perceivable improvement on service.
Having only just celebrated my first blogiversary last month, I consider myself somewhat of a newcomer to Perth’s food blogger ranks. What has truly amazed me and touched my heart profoundly is the strong sense of community amongst fellow bloggers. Despite my inexperience, I have been graciously greeted with open arms not just by other fresh(wo)men like myself, but by those with popular, well-established and recognised blogs. It certainly does make a fresh change from the comparatively serious and introverted veterinary world.
Four bloggers from Perth including yours truly were selected to attend the third annual Eat.Drink.Blog conference this year in Adelaide. In preparation for our highly anticipated weekend away, we met up during the week prior for dinner to talk “blogger’s stuff” and of course to eat!
After a few restaurant options were toyed around, we ended up agreeing on West End Deli in West Perth. Snuggled in the residential end of West Perth, West End Deli is a quaint little bistro owned by a husband and wife duo; Justin and Christine Peters. I had been here once several years ago and confess my previous experience back then wasn’t very memorable. I vaguely recall the kitchen appearing to have strong reluctance to adapt any dishes for me and that we waited well over 45 minutes for our breakfast meals only for them to forget our coffees. Twice. Having said that, this was quite some time ago and I know one should try to avoid forming a strong judgement from just one experience.
It’s incredible how the same dining room, with all the same interiors, can change its whole persona at night. The casual, sunlit café I remember from previously had magically transformed into a sombre, intimate and classy bistro. It wasn’t long before we all arrived and with glasses of wine in hand we relaxed into the vibe. Some unexpected amuse bouche were brought to our table; a crisp homemade wonton piped with creamy herb and goats cheese and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Being unable to eat the wonton, a plump little ball of pear filled with the cheese was offered to me as a replacement. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or fussy, I quickly chowed down on a glucose tablet before I slipped my juicy treat into my mouth. Being such a small amount of pear, it is easy to counteract the fructose with a small dose of glucose. For times like these, I carry these tablets everywhere with me.
Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse started with the potato and pickled sardine terrine topped with a curl of crème fraîche and a poached yabby tail.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings was initially reluctant to order herself an entrée as we had already earmarked a couple of dishes on the dessert menu and she sensibly wanted to pace herself. The ricotta gnocchi managed to twist her rubber arm when the waitress informed her it would be no trouble to omit the candied olives and replace with an alternate ingredient. The gnocchi were light, mini sized pillows, tossed in fresh sage and garlic and tumbled over a thick smear of pesto sauce.
I chose the slow cooked egg for entrée as my obsession with these gelatinous beauties continues. Perched on a nest of crumbled bacon it was accompanied a pea mash flavoured with white anchovies and lashings of truffle oil. Weblike shavings of Reggiano cheese were sprinkled on top. I struggled to do this dish justice with my photography in the flickering candle light however suffice to say my palate was rewarded. This breakfast-esque spin on bacon and eggs was a winner.
Moni from Gastromony chose the elegantly plated charred octopus. Coated with a thin chermoula crust it came with pear and walnut salad and a smear of blood orange. Kudos to her assistance with taking a photo for me as my go-go gadget arms couldn’t reach across the table without losing some degree of decorum. I still get a little embarrassed and feel awkward taking photos of people’s meals as deep in my heart I feel like a novice.
Ideas of pork belly and spatchcock failed to get past the consideration stages for any of us and we all opted for the snapper for mains. The fish was seared to a butter smooth consistency and balanced precariously over some prawns and mussels. A thin saffron coloured broth gave a subtle perfumey bitterness to sharpen the softer flavours of this dish. Tarry coloured squid ink brandade was blobbed on top and gave a pleasant piquant aftertaste. Brandade is French sauce made from an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil.
The girls all ordered the potted cheesecake for dessert. It was served in the same adorable little pots that I saw Rochelle Adonis’s salted caramel mousse recently. Apparently she imports them from France. What was much more curious about this dish was that next to the pot laid an innocent little tube labelled “Squeeze Me” containing salted dulche de leche.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I wondered if my new found friends would slowly start shrinking in their seats to become miniature pint-sized versions of their former selves. Thankfully the only surprise to follow was the unexpected layer of popping candy on top of the cheesecake. No one had any trouble finishing off their desserts which is always a good sign.
I was informed by our waitress that none of their desserts on the menu were gluten free however in complete contrast to my experience at West End Deli many moons ago, the chef kindly rose to the occasion and wasn’t going to let me miss out by any means. I was offered a honey vanilla parfait served with a caramelised warm banana. Grateful for their efforts once more, I didn’t bother going through the finer details that fructose malabsorbers cannot have honey. I presumed the amount would indeed be small anyway so I sneakily crunched on another couple of glucose tablets. My parfait was a little icy and hard for my liking but this was made up for by the dulcet banana.
I have to be honest; my recent experience at West End Deli has turned my opinion around for the better. They were accommodating for our varied requests and their service was discrete yet warm and welcoming. As we left the kitchen staff bid us all farewell from the open plan kitchen; a nice touch. I think I am going to have to give their breaky another try.West End Deli 95 Carr Street, West Perth, WA 6005 | (08) 9328 3605 | www.westenddeli.net.au Price: $$$ ($25-35 per meal, BYO) Food: 7.5/10 (flexible with requests, small menu executed well) Service: 4/5 (attentive without being obtrusive, warm and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (very dark ambiance, would be romantic for couples) Drinks: Unable to assess as BYO. Total: 15.5/20