Many of you know that my day job is totally unrelated to food. I am a vet, and this means a career of long hours, late nights and a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Attaining a work life balance has always been a battle for me and the Boy plays a huge role in making me see the bigger picture. Whilst I would never neglect to care for a patient that needs me, to be at my best I need to stay fit and well rested otherwise, like many of my colleagues, I face burn out.
Depression is rife among veterinarians, in our profession we are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person. A frightening fact, yet, one that most people in our industry have had to face one way or another.
Having been together for nearly seventeen years, the Boy and I know each other too well and he can sniff out the beginnings of me getting close to my breaking point from miles out. As I reached the end of working nine consecutive long days he suggested we take time out from our weekend chores and plan a weekend long lunch.
Normally I am the one that will select where we eat out due to the ever hungry thirst for content this blog can create. Conversely, the Boy is not interested in hitting the hot spots but would rather take any opportunity for a drive into the countryside. He proposed we head back to the Bickley Valley so I promptly booked us a table at the Vineyard Kitchen located at Brookside Winery.
I recall visiting this beautiful winery during the Bickley Valley Harvest Festival however on that day they were fully booked and so we only got to taste and purchase their wines. Over a year had passed and I was very keen to return.
We started off at the cellar door where we were warmly greeted by the owners Peter and Fay Fels. Their smiles were so infectious that before we knew it we were working our way through tasting all of their wines. Our favourites were the 2012 Methode Champenoise and the 2012 ‘One Acre Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are a number of gluten free and vegetarian options on the restaurant menu with a strong focus on local produce some of which is grown on their property themselves. I started with the roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée.
A whole roasted beetroot had been cored in the centre, filled with goats cheese and served warm. There was a thin layer of crackable toffee over the top but it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. It was an interesting dish and totally worked as a creative but hearty vegetarian entrée.
The Boy ordered the pan-fried sardines which were crumbed and served with a light salad. A random choice for him as although I love sardines, I cannot say I ever would have considered him to be a fan. Regardless of this he still enjoyed them but admitted it wasn’t really his thing.
For my main dish I ordered the twice cooked duck leg. The duck meat slithered of the bone without any encouragement and was served on a generous bed of creamy porcini and mascarpone risotto. The skin had a thin crispiness to it such that I temporarily cast away all my recent concerns about weight gain and ate the lot. You only live once right?
On our recent trip to Esperance the Boy fell in love with things wrapped in filo, sampling baked Camembert cheese and a fish and prawn curry both wrapped in this flaky treat. Upon seeing the slow cooked lamb shoulder parcel on the menu he caved into a rare moment of meat eating.
Unlike me, the Boy is a man of few words, and my best way at measuring a dish’s awesomeness factor is by the amount of head nods and moans. The lamb shoulder scored high in both of these important measurements!
As we ordered dessert I was told by our jovial waiter that the gluten free mixed berry clafoutis would be a twenty minute wait. This was actually a small blessing in disguise as I was nearly bursting at the seams with all the food we had eaten so far.
Clafoutis is one of those French desserts that makes me feel a little nostalgic for my ancestry and upbringing. Traditionally made with cherries, this dish works well with any slightly zingy, juicy fruit.
The Vineyard Kitchen’s clafoutis was worth the wait. The balance of tart and sweet flavours was executed perfectly with plump berries embedded in the thick, slightly wobbly baked almond batter. I get so excited when my gluten free dessert is interesting!
The Boy ordered the dark chocolate peanut butter pie with vanilla ice cream, presumably in part because it came with ice cream. Whilst the two of us have an enormous amount of compatibilities, one of our few differences is our palate for desserts. He can really take or leave them and will always be satisfied with a simple bowl of ice cream.
Having wanted to visit the Vineyard Kitchen for such a long time there was a risk that it wouldn’t live up to the hype I created in my mind. But despite the long wait to return back for lunch, it was impossible not to fall in love with this place. The quaint gardens, the warm welcome at the cellar door, the prompt and relaxed service and most importantly the award-winning wines accompanied with sumptuous food were all key ingredients in teleporting me from a state of frazzled burn out to total relaxation.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of her husband, otherwise know as “The Boy” and was lucky enough to also score a case of wine from him to continue to drink once she arrived home. Vineyard Kitchen 5 Loaring Road, Bickley WA 6076 | (08) 6162 2070 | www.thevineyardkitchen.net.au
The Swan Valley have recently been awarded the accolade of becoming Australia’s first Humane Food Region. Earlier last month I attended their launch party held at Sandalford Winery where I learnt all about this RSPCA driven initiative.
The Humane Food movement is aimed giving recognition to businesses that are dedicated to improving the lives of food production animals to allow them to live a more natural and a happy life. To become involved businesses must undergo an accreditation process and those that meet the high standards set by the RSPCA are identified on the Choose Wisely website.
Entwined in the Valley was the first official public event hosted in the Valley since it was declared a Humane Food Region. It was an elaborate evening of seven stunning courses matched with individually selected wines held on the grounds of Houghton Winery.
The indulgent degustation was prepared by Masterchef judge George Calombaris and one of my favourite Perth-based chefs Kiren Mainwaring. The world-famous Ch’ng Poh Tiong was our smiling sommelier for the evening. With Anna Gare as the MC, she successfully managed to maintain lively banter with the chefs and sommelier on stage and kept the feel of the night humorous and light hearted.
Lucky for me the majority of the dishes were already gluten free and therefore required minimal if any adaptations. Our evening started with canapés to share around the table; some Mt Barker humane farmed chicken liver parfait served on a crisp onion skin with pickled celery, and West Australian wild prawn crackers topped with fresh prawn meat and fennel.
Our first entrée was a decadently soft slab of bark smoked West Australian Rainbow Trout with wattle seed and the tiniest shavings of white chocolate. White chocolate with trout you say? Well, as strange as the combination sounds it definitely worked. The chocolate particles were so small that they dissolved on contact with my tongue leaving a subtlety sweet after-taste. I MAY have run my finger across my empty plate a couple of times to smear up the last chocolate fragments but there is no proof I actually did this at such a premium event.
For those of you familiar with Kiren’s amazing repertoire of dishes, you will know his slow cooked eggs are out of this world. The second entrée reminded me of one of his creations that we loved at the Farmer’s Long Table lunch at Truffle Kerfuffle.
A silky smooth cylinder of slow cooked hen’s yolk was served with shards of savoury meringue, cauliflower purée, green olive and shaved Moorish pistachios.
The first main dish was George’s dish. A buttery soft confit duck leg topped with germinated lentils and drizzled with a spiced plum purée. A single sake compressed cucumber added some Japanese styled acidity and tang to the dish. The germinated lentils gave an interesting crunchy element without being too bitter. The sprouting process also has the added benefit of raising the nutrient level of these legumes making this dish somewhat healthy! 😉
The second main course was a slow cooked kangaroo tail with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and purée, fresh apple and crisp salt bush. I was a bit nervous to eat this dish as I have a history of reacting to kangaroo where the back of my throat becomes puffy and swollen almost like a mild anaphylactic reaction. Last time I ate kangaroo was over ten years ago and long before I was diagnosed with my all my food intolerances. I have avoided eating it since reacting three times in a row. I have always wondered whether it was something else in the dish each time or I was actually allergic to just the roo itself.
The Boy suggested I try a small mouthful and wait ten minutes or so to see if I still had a problem with it. I bravely tried a mouthful and within minutes developed only a slight scratching at the back of my throat. Nowhere near the severe reaction that I had many moons ago. I cautiously ate a few more mouthfuls before surrendering my plate to the Boy to finish it off.
Having survived my re-entry into the kangaroo eating world without the need to reach for an Epipen, I was very excited to tuck into the selection of artisan cheese from the Cheese Barrel complete with gluten free crackers for me to enjoy.
The final dish was one of Kiren’s dessert masterpieces, once again gluten free and as always totally addictive. A moist thick cut slice of chocolate and beetroot cake was literally engulfed in a sour cream mousse with some chocolate sorbet hidden inside the mousse. Thin slivers of fresh beetroot that I nearly mistook for rose petals decorated the dish with a splash of bright colour.
As I nearly slipped into a food coma, I had to remind myself that I had a full day of work the next day and wished I hadn’t enjoyed quite so much of the free flowing wine! Lucky for me I can survive for a short time on little sleep and whilst I cannot say the next day was easy I can guarantee it was all worth it! If Entwined in the Valley is anything to go by, I look forward to the next Humane Region food event!Chompchomp was a guest of the City of Swan at Entwined in the Valley. As paid tickets to this event were very popular there was no offer of a plus one so Chomp was happy to fork out her dosh for another ticket so that the Boy could accompany her. Houghton Winery (note the food for this meal was not prepared by Houghton’s) 148 Dale Road, Middle Swan, WA 6056 | (08) 9274 9543 | www.houghton-wines.com.au/our-cafe Dear Friends and Co op Dining 2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au
Geographical separation has never had any impact on the bond I have with my best friend, Kate. Through the course of our fifteen years of Bestie-hood we have only lived in the same city for about half this time. We are not that good at regularly calling each other on the phone, in fact we are both shockers, yet within seconds of hearing each other’s voice we immediately lapse into our crazy way of talking that no one else on this Earth can ever seem to replicate. It’s actually like our own language. We have a way of bringing out the best in each other and I know that if anyone can turn my frown upside-down it will most definitely be Kate.
Twelve months ago Kate returned to her home-town of Esperance to complete her yoga teacher training with the aim to open her own yoga studio specialising in kid’s yoga. I envisaged this to be a slow process and was so surprised and excited to hear that less than a year after she moved away her studio was ready to be opened. I am so proud of her determination to make this long-term dream a reality and upon hearing the brilliant news I promptly booked some last minute flights to zip down and spend the weekend with her.
We booked accommodation at the Esperance Island View apartments which is located on the Esplanade and is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom apartment had two storeys with a large kitchen and living area, and most importantly excellent heating. This is something I have learnt to appreciate after our recent stay in Pemberton for Truffle Kerfuffle at an unnamed chalet location that had no heating other than a pot belly stove!
For our first night together we walked down to the Pier Hotel, a massive pub with separate bistro and bar areas, a cocktail lounge and the only night club in town. We sat down in the toasty bistro area by the open fire and made ourselves quite cosy.
The bistro menu has gluten free items clearly marked on the menu and most of the salad bar was also gluten free. Our waitress was kind enough to double check everything for me which was a thoughtful gesture. We each started off with a serve of drunken oysters. Served three ways, the oysters were surprisingly fresh and salty.
My favourite oyster of the three was the tequila shot which was served with a generous splash of tomato juice. The Jack Daniels Kilpatrick oyster was everyone’s least favourite. I found the bacon to be dry and flavourless with a barely discernible taste of bourbon. Not such a bad thing as I don’t particularly like bourbon.
My choice for main course was the Thai style barramundi, a grilled barra fillet cooked in curry sauce with basil, chilli and coconut cream. It is normally served with a pistachio and capsicum couscous but the gluten free option offers chips or mash as a replacement. Whilst it was quite an unsightly dish, the fish was cooked beautifully and the curry sauce was not overpowering. It would have been better paired with some steamed rice instead of mash.
With a day and a half to explore, we saw only a brief snippet of Esperance and its surrounds yet what I did see left me blown away by this remote town’s rugged beauty. Imagine long stretches of beaches with the whitest sand in Australia where the water is so vividly blue it almost doesn’t look real. It was breathtaking. One of the most special moments we shared was seeing a mother whale and her calf in the bay at Hellfire beach. Every time a tail fin would gracefully plunge out of the water both of us couldn’t hold back emitting loud sighs of amazement. I regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me!
Being in the middle of winter, Esperance’s weather can be unpredictable and can turn from clear blue skies to thundering storms quicker than I expected. After walking the Rotary Lookout circuit walk on Wireless Hill, we stopped to catch our breath in a little gazebo and watched a storm coming in over the coast for just long enough to avoid getting wet. Once the rain hit, we journeyed back into town for an afternoon snack at Taylors Beach café before popping into see her parents.
Taylors Beach café is situated overlooking the Bay of Isles and has been a local icon for many years. They have live music on Sunday afternoons and are open seven days. We only wanted a light snack to go with our drinks as we were heading out for dinner later that evening.
We started off with some French bubbles which is something of a tradition for the two of us. We have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have on bottles of exquisite French champagne so I figured we needed to keep on with our tradition to some degree; even if Grandin isn’t strictly Champagne it is French! 😉
Taylors have a small bites menu however unfortunately I was sternly informed that there was only one dish that could be served gluten free; the grilled scallops. There were six scallops served in the shell lightly grilled and seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I made the error of eating some of the garnish in the middle of the dish which left a mouldy flavour in my mouth, ruining any further enjoyment of the scallops. The Boy and Kate took heed and avoided eating any greens meaning their scallop experience was much more enjoyable.
Fuelled with the warmth of a round of drinks, we visited her parents for a brief lesson on clipping cat’s claws. Betty Lois and Doris are ex-farm cats who are affectionately known collectively as The Girls. They were on their best behaviour which made for short work of my vet consult allowing us to celebrate with another round of drinks before heading out on the town to the Loose Goose for dinner.
The Loose Goose is one of the fine dining options in town and offers set dinner prices of $45.50 for one course, $57.50 for two courses and $67.50 for three courses. This price includes complimentary herb or garlic bread and a side salad or vegetables with the main meals. They did not have any gluten free bread on offer.
In our usual celebratory mode, we all chose to enjoy three courses. It is not often that we get to dine out together and the logical approach was to make the most of it. The Boy’s starter was a thick slab of Camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. A rather inelegant blob of mild chilli plum sauce accompanied the cheese adding a touch of fruity sweetness. This wasn’t a type of dish I ever expected him to order, in fact I cannot recall the last time I saw him order ANYTHING in puff pastry. However if his moans of delight were anything to go by, I can see he will likely order this again given the chance!
Kate ordered the sweet potato salad served warm with marinated mushrooms, French cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and julienned snow peas. It was a vegetarian’s feast and I couldn’t help myself from reaching across and nabbing a slice of soft creamy sweet potato.
I ordered the half dozen fresh natural oysters which I was hoping were obtained locally from WA but unfortunately I was told they were imported from South Australia. Regardless of the greater distance they travelled to reach my plate each oyster gave me a mouthful of fresh seawater without any unpleasant fishy after-taste.
The Boy was on a roll with this pastry fetish as his main course was also wrapped in puff pastry. His dish was titled “real barramundi” and consisted of a thick fillet of barramundi cooked with prawns and garlic butter and then wrapped in pastry.
His fish came with a potato gallete and more lashings of creamy garlic sauce. No vampires came near us that night!
Kate wasn’t too impressed with the main dish choices as she is not really much of a meat eater so she requested for the chilli squid entrée to be served as a main size. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige. Her chilli squid was served in a Greek style cooked with tomato, capsicum and a hint of chilli. It was topped with some crumbled feta and black olives. She paired it with brilliant emerald green choc-mint cocktail made with Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Midori. We downed a few of those together that night!
I ordered the special of the day; the King Snapper Tom Yum. Having travelled a reasonable amount in Thailand, this clear, sweet and sour soup is one of my Thai favourites and I was counting on flashbacks of our time in the tropical sunshine. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dish I received which was more like a red fish curry than a Tom Yum. The sauce was a more modern interpretation made using coconut cream and was served with rice, like a curry. After my initial surprise, I actually didn’t mind it at all. For a curry, it was richly flavoured with all the layering of tastes that a well-made Thai dish should have. The fish was softly cooked and flaked apart gracefully and I was close to licking the bowl clean by the end.
As we arrived at dessert time, I was grateful for having a second stomach as I was totally stuffed. Whenever the three of us are out together, Kate and I will often try and guess what the Boy will order. He will then try to meet our suggestions with an air of total mystery and nonchalance. We are renowned for usually getting it right and simultaneously chanted that he would choose the Death by Chocolate. After a few minutes of playing coy and pretending we were completely wrong our waitress came up to take our order and lo and behold; he orders the Death by Chocolate. It was a rich doorstop-sized block of chocolate cake served warm and drizzled with oozing chocolicious ganache.
Both of us girls ordered the dessert special; the Loose Goose chocolate pot. Despite asking for gluten free, mine was initially served with some chocolate biscuit crumbled on top. Thankfully the Boy pointed this out to me before I had finished taking my photos and I avoided getting gluten poisoning.
Our waitress was extremely apologetic and promptly swapped it over for me. The chocolate pot was a huge serve of which neither of us needed to finish it all. Of course we both did polish off the lot which made our dancing attempts later on at the Pier nightclub not exactly easy!
The following morning we gathered ourselves together for a refreshing coastal walk. There is a walking track along most of the town’s coastline with gentle undulating hills and some of the most breathtaking views of the beaches. If I hadn’t binged so much the night before it would have made a fabulous running track to burn off those excess calories.
Sadly our weekend had nearly drawn to an end so before we headed back to the airport, Kate took us for a drive to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve. She is a master at pleasing everyone and given I had already had a fulfilling foodie weekend, she wanted to take us somewhere that she knew the Boy would love.
The reserve has a well maintained boardwalk which takes you right out onto the lake giving gorgeous views of the reflections of the trees on the water.
There was an abundance of bird life that the Boy spotted with great ease; wildlife watching is something of a talent of his and he takes great pleasure in being the first to spot any signs of life. Once again I regretted not travelling with the appropriate camera lens!
While the Boy wandered off ahead in search of birds and frogs, my Bestie and I took our time to treasure our last hour together.
Whilst it had been a whirlwind trip this is something the two of us have grown accustomed to over the years. Previously we would both end up being shattered by the end of our rushed catch up due to our desperate attempts at making the most of our time by indulging in all the excesses.
Nearly decades later, our best-friendship has reached a point where we know we have each other for support no matter where we live and what we are doing. Our times together are becoming much more cherished and the influence of her yoga practice on living a healthy life is having a positive impact on both of us. It is a beautiful point in our lives to be.
Despite being all “zen” about my best friend living so far away, as I watched her leave us at the Esperance airport, I shed more than just a few tears. 😥To the bestest bestie; we had such a fabulous weekend with you in your hometown of Esperance. Let’s hope the time until we meet again is short. Whaa-toot!
Chompchomp travelled to Esperance on her own budget purely just to be with her bestie. She is confident that no one in town knew of her blog’s existence and was happy to be completely incognito. Pier Hotel The Esplanade, Esperance Western Australia 6450 | (08) 9071 1777 | www.pierhotelesperance.net.au www.taylorsbeachcafe.com.au loosegooseesperance.com.au
I have to come clean. I have been using the Eat Drink Perth festival as an excuse to justify eating out even more than usual. Given the frequency that I dine in restaurants is already quite high, you can imagine what a busy month it has been. It has given me a wonderful opportunity to fall in love with Perth City once again and discover even more fantastic venues to return back to. One of these little discoveries has been Muse Café. I was initially attracted to visit them after reading in the Eat Drink Perth program that they offer both gluten free and vegetarian options for their Saturday High Tea. When informing the Boy that I had booked us a lunch date, I glossed over the finer details as I suspected that the words “High Tea” would have had him running in the opposite direction. Instead I tried to focus on the fact that I had kindly found somewhere specifically vegetarian just for him! Such a good wife. 😉
The café is located in the Old Gaol building in the WA Museum which is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Western Australia. It was built in 1855 and 1856 by convicts but was only used as a gaol until 1886 after which it was closed and the prisoners were all moved to the Fremantle Gaol. It has been used as part of the WA Museum since 1891.
The back of the café opens out onto a leafy courtyard where you can relax and take in the atmosphere of the beautiful old buildings surrounding you. We were shown into a more cosy little room within the building that has been decorated for the purposes of intimate high tea parties.
There are a number of bubbles available to drink including Balgownie Sparkling Brut Yarra for $8 per glass or $35 for a bottle. For those with finer taste there is also Veuve Clicquot champagne by the bottle only. To cleanse the palate, we started off with some fresh watermelon and strawberry salad with mint syrup. Knowing I cannot eat watermelon due to its high fructose content the Boy happily finished mine off for me after I picked out all the strawberries.
Service was attentive but unobtrusive allowing us to sink back into the antique chairs and nibble our way through the first platter. It contained a mixture of gluten free items for me and vegetarian items for the Boy. I did note that everything was served on the same plate however I suffered no reactions to suggest there was any cross contamination. For those particularly sensitive I would suggest pre-requesting that your gluten free items be plated separately.
My gluten free options included two types of frittata; Jerusalem artichoke and spinach, and caramelised onion, goats cheese and thyme. I decided to wear the consequences of a little onion ingestion as there wasn’t much contained in them. The baby berry friand was my favourite with a perfect balance of tart and sweet. Other gluten free items included the fruit salad and the chocolate date torte which the Boy polished off both.
The Boy’s trio of vegetarian sandwiches included cucumber with Meander Valley butter and sea salt; egg, aioli and Swiss chard; and pickled carrot and goats cheese. He paired these finger sandwiches with two lemonade and date scones dolloped with double cream and jam. Despite never being a jam and scones type of guy he still enjoyed them. He even sipped on some cinnamon tea to wash them all down which amazed me as he very rarely drinks tea at all.
Our second platter had three different types of sweets on it. The gluten free passionfruit marshmallows were soft and fluffy making a subtle squelching noise when you bit into them that you only get from fresh mallow. The chocolate pomegranate cakes were also gluten free and were richly decadent with a slight hint of nutty flavour.
The lemon curd tarts were not gluten free being made from a shortbread casing lined with dark chocolate and filled with a tangy curd. Thankfully I was already quite full and it didn’t bother me too much that I couldn’t try them however the Boy ate both and delighted in rubbing it in how delicious he found them.
For the month of April as part of the Eat Drink Perth festivities, Muse café offer high tea every Saturday with two sittings at 11 am and 1 pm for $46 per person. There is a 15% surcharge for gluten free and vegetarian menus. Chompchomp paid in full for both hers and the Boy’s high tea however she did receive a complementary glass of bubbles 😉 Muse café can also offer pre-booked high tea for groups throughout the year. Muse Café Cnr Beaufort and Francis Street, Northbridge, WA 6003 | 0411 708 063 | museum.wa.gov.au/museums/perth/muse-cafe
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 need to give you a word of warning before you commence reading this post. If you are even just half the chocoholic that I am, some of the following images may cause a rapid heart rate, salivation and excitement. Across Australia tomorrow Chocolateria San Churro officially launch their new winter menu and last week I kindly agreed to take a hit for the team and attend their preview evening.
San Churro is an Australian business first created in Melbourne in 2004 by founders Kelly Smith and Giro Maurici who were inspired whilst travelling by the traditional breakfast in Spain of thick hot chocolate and churros. The company has since grown to 37 stores across five states including eight cafes here in Perth; Northbridge, Vic Park, Subiaco, Fremantle, Mandurah, Hillarys, Rockingham and Leederville. Whilst churros are unfortunately not gluten free, I was enlightened to find there are still a number of chocolaty treats I can enjoy.
While we waited for the remaining guests to arrive we were given a “tapas” plate to share. I discovered a new taste sensation that I cannot WAIT to return to San Churros for. Dunk a macaron in drippalicious molten chocolate; it is all the colours of sickly sweet wrong yet it left me feeling like I could conquer the world. The Boy looked on in bemusement while I dripped chocolate everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It was on my elbows, my forehead and even my camera.
Our first course was the new cinnamon breakfast churros which are made fresh daily in the morning and fried to order. Whilst I obviously didn’t get to taste any of them, the Boy quite enjoyed his although he did say that it wouldn’t really be something he would eat for breakfast. He usually eats healthy salads and fruit.
My replacement for the churros was another macaron which was served very apologetically. I laughed. As if I would ever be disappointed with being given more macarons.
Our second course included smaller sample tastings of their two new milkshakes. I was glad that we didn’t get the full-sized serves as there was no way we could have got through it all. Our first milkshake was the iced salted caramel. Fresh milk and vanilla ice cream were mixed together with swirls of dulce de leche and topped with whipped cream and chocolate. These babies were gulped down in seconds.
The popularity of salted caramel means it is a flavour that has been done to death by many kitchens but the next milkshake flavour was something a bit more interesting; salted chocolate coconut. Made with milk chocolate, shredded salted coconut, coconut syrup and dark choc chips this taste sensation put any salted caramel to bed. Let’s hope this is the new trend for 2014 because it is a whole new level of addictive sweet saltiness.
Our third course was the new sundaes however neither of them were gluten free. Consequently they kindly made me an adapted version of the new salted caramel ice cream sundae. The normal version contains white chocolate ice cream with warm salted caramel fudge, melted milk chocolate and crusted chocolate malt balls. My sundae was adapted to be gluten free by changing the ice cream flavour to vanilla and replacing the malt balls with smashed chunks of salted caramel macarons. The warmed salted caramel and melted milk chocolate were still layered in there as they were gluten free. The alternate textures of smooth ice cream, macarons, gooey caramel and crunchy chocolate was out of this world. I was informed that this adaptation would cost extra due to the addition of the macarons.
Moving onto the fourth course we were introduced to the new addition to their cake cabinet; the “Chocolate Volcano”. This dessert was not gluten free meaning the Boy got a whole Volcano to himself however after being generously filled with San Churro’s churros, macarons, chocolate, sundaes and milk shakes he was getting close to being absolutely stuffed.
I cut into the centre of the pudding for him and our eyes widened as luscious chocolate lava erupted out of the centre and dribbled out onto his plate. The pudding was served warm and despite our fullness the Boy managed to get through at least half of it before lowering his fork and admitting defeat.
My gluten free cake was one that is already on their menu however I was told it is very popular and not just those who eat gluten free. Rich and decadent, even I couldn’t get through one solo as the serving size is quite large. The centre of the cake was very moist with a subtle almond flavour.
We were onto the final stretch at the fifth course and by this point I could hear a few groans coming from the other side of the table. We had well and truly out-chocolated ourselves leaving no room for our final course.
The Boy was served a mug of San Churro’s traditional Spanish hot chocolate. They import this drink from Spain were it is made to an authentic Spanish recipe. This is not a hot drink for the light hearted as it is basically a mug of thick, molten chocolate. It is also not gluten free so I left the Boy to attempt to devour it on his own. The new versions of this drink take it to an even higher level of indulgence than before using a choice of three toppings; marshmallows and chocolate syrup, crusted malt balls or choc biscuit crumble. The Boy ate a few spoonfuls meekly before giving up for good.
I received a milk coverture hot chocolate instead which was light and foamy along similar lines to the standard hot chocolate many of you know well. I managed a few more mouthfuls than the Boy did with his drink before also putting my cup down with a sigh. I had been beaten by chocolate. And it was good.Chocolateria’s new Winter Menu launches on Monday 31st March, 2014 across all stores. Chompchomp attended San Churro’s Winter Menu preview night as a guest. However having been to San Churro as a customer several times already, I can guarantee I will continue to love their chocolate just as much when I return and have to pay for it. Chocolateria San Churro Northbridge 132 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9328 3363 | http://www.sanchurro.com/
My father-in-law’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it an occasion that is usually celebrated in a very relaxed style at their home. This year we were unable to attend the family gathering and proposed to take them out for lunch instead with just the four of us. Predictably for the time of year in Perth, the weather was absolutely glorious so I convinced everyone to head to the coast and meet at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe.
The beach in Cottesloe is something to be proud of and in my humble opinion has to be one of the prettiest beaches in our state. The sky was as blue as the clear waters below it and the white expanses of sand were splashed with bright colours of beach towels and bikini clad sunbakers. There are people around the world who pay to go on holiday to be able visit locations like this and here we have it on our back door step. You cannot help but love Perth.
Il Lido is built in a 1935 heritage building and back in the 1940’s this site housed Lido Cabaret, which was the old-time equivalent to our modern day nightclub. Much of the interior has been kept intact with decorative high ceilings and windows facing out onto the beach. Il Lido has been on my ever growing wishlist of places to eat for some time having already been to both of their sister restaurants Duende and Gordon Street Garage a number of times.
Most of the small plates were already gluten free or were easily adaptable so we started off with a number of them to share before moving onto something more substantial. I have always been a huge lover of oysters as many of you may have noticed. Despite having tried them prepared countless different ways, until recently my favourite style has be “au natural”. That was until I tried Lalla Rookh’s incredible freshly shucked oysters with cucumber chilli granita. The combination of fresh saltiness and sweet iciness ending in a gentle spicy kick was more than just intriguing.
So when I saw something that sounded very similar on Il Lido’s menu I got quite excited. I should have however ordered them with no expectations because these oysters came with just a teeny dollop of melted sorbet not a shell full like I was expecting. Although the oysters were delightfully fresh, having such a small amount of sorbet made them lacklustre by comparison.
It must have been the day for carpaccio because I found myself unable to decide between the tuna and the beef. My solution was to simply order one of each. The tuna carpaccio was a complete hit. The dish was literally as pretty as a picture; chewy pieces of candied chilli, torn fresh orange and olives were scattered on top of thinly sliced fish. Each piece of tuna dissolved on the tongue leaving a surprisingly complex array of flavours on the palate.
The beef carpaccio was just as tender and was served with generous shavings of truffle sottocenere cheese along with lavish smears of horseradish cream. Each mouthful was as soft as silk and resulted in a brief period of silence across the table while we all gustated in pleasure.
I mean, who can say no to truffle cheese?
Our last starter of scallops had to be slightly adapted to be gluten free by omission of the “crumbs”. Plump scallops were hidden under piles of freshly tossed beans and greens. Whilst not the biggest scallops in town, each mouthful was browned to a warm caramel colour yet remained juicy and soft.
My father-in-law ordered himself the lamb cutlets for his celebratory birthday meal. The two meaty lamb chops came with light salad of fresh figs, spinach, basil, goats cheese and pine nuts all tossed enthusiastically to coat each component in tangy, creamy cheesiness.
My mother-in-law opted for a lighter meal, choosing the poached chicken salad with peaches, prosciutto, almonds and goats cheese. Her plate was piled high and ended up being a bigger serve than she had anticipated. I love how each of their salads came with a mix of seasonal fresh fruit and goats cheese, such a lovely combination to have on a hot summers day.
The Boy ordered the beetroot and goats cheese crespelle. Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes, can be served as a savoury or sweet dish and are usually made using small sized pancakes folded with a sauce filling. By the time I had taken shots of his parent’s meals he was starting to get impatient giving me not much more than a millisecond to capture its vibrant colours.
I was in the same boat as my MIL and craved a light and healthy salad. I always eat way too much over Christmas and by the time New Year’s approaches I’m actually ready for a break! I chose the hickory smoked salmon with avocado, green beans and a yoghurt dressing. My helping was also generous with all the ingredients tumbled together evenly. I hate salads where the key ingredients are just dumped on top of the greens; everything needs to be tossed through!
My husband’s family are usually big eaters especially the men. It’s those long Dutch legs that need that extra filling up! I didn’t anticipate our big servings and ordered a couple of sides; crisp potato skins with paprika salt, aioli and a rocket, pear and parmesan salad. The potato skins are worth returning back for. Slightly spicy, super crunchy with just a hint of soft potato flesh these little numbers didn’t last long.
There were a couple of dessert choices that were gluten free including the pineapple upside down cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Having four mouths to feed on the table allowed me to order one of each knowing anything I couldn’t eat would still get eaten.
The pineapple cake was very moist and accompanied some poached pineapple and extra virgin olive oil ice cream that is made in house. The extra virgin flavour in the ice cream was not too over powering to be unpleasant and gave a pleasant fruity end to the tongue.
The Boy gobbled up a substantial part of his cake before I could get a fork in edgewise which generally is a good sign coming from someone who claims to not like desserts. The tall disc of cake came in a puddle of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces with honeycomb ice cream. I had a couple of mouthfuls and thought it was a little dry for my liking.
As both the Boy and I tend to work long hours, it isn’t often that we get to spoil either of our parents and it was totally worth it to see the beaming faces at the end of it all. To help all the food excesses digest we took a relaxing stroll along the coastline together and longed for the day to never end.
Il Lido was even better than we expected given our excellent experiences at Duende and variable meals at Gordon Street Garage. They have successfully emulated a casual beach side vibe yet serve stunning Italian “peasant” food that left the in-laws very impressed. I can guarantee we will be back.Il Lido Italian Canteen 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, WA 6011 | (08) 9286 1111 | illido.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-20, Mains $28-42) Food: 4.5/5 (focuses on simple Italian dishes with local, seasonal produce) Service: 4/5 (helpful with allergy choices, accommodating with alterations, full of smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but that is part of the atmosphere, indoor and outdoor options) Drinks: 4/5 (comprehensive wine list with many interesting Italian and Aussie options to suit all prices) Total: 16/20
Some people shop until they drop. Me? I just eat until I drop. gluten free Barcelona
Surely, by far and by large the best part of travelling to another country is being able to taste their local cuisine. When the Boy and I travel together we will always share our dishes so that we can try as many different things as possible. Recently I travelled to Barcelona without my lovely husband to attend the International Society of Feline Medicine’s World Feline Veterinary Conference. This was a new experience travelling solo and it presented me with a problem; I no longer had a buddy to share food my food with. Now logically one would think that there is an easy solution to this problem. Just order less food. But no, this solution was never going to work as moderation has never been my forte. I take the concept of “all or nothing” very seriously.
For most of my restaurant meals that I devoured in Barcelona I will write (or have already written) an individual blog post about the experience. But as I wandered through the cobbled streets of this wonderful city I found that it was so easy finding a gluten free Barcelona to enjoy so in addition to my more elaborate meals I wanted to share these extra snippets and snacks with you.
If you head out toward the coast of Barcelona you will find a quaint neighbourhood called La Barceloneta. It is a triangular shaped district that cuts into the sea and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Port Vell and the trendy El Born neighbourhood. Filled with cute little narrow streets you can smell the fresh taint of sea in the air. Strolling through the cobbled lane ways I found loads of busy tapas bars and restaurants serving wonderful cheap Catalan food.
On my first day in Barcelona I wanted to familiarise myself with some key foodie spots so I took a small personalised tapas tour with a German man named Dirk Engelhart. One of the places he took us to was a bustling little joint called La Bombeta who specialise in a Catalan dish called “bombas”. Bombas are deep-fried balls of fluffy mashed potato with a minced meat centre and they are served with a spicy brava sauce. They are not gluten free unfortunately so I didn’t try them. As I looked around the cramped bar I noticed it was filled with a combination of both locals and tourists. Always a good sign.
Bombas are not the only thing on La Bombeta’s menu and there were plenty of gluten free options for me. I ordered of bowl of piping hot steamed mussels, a plate of grilled sardines and some fresh prawns. The service was quick and the vibe was noisy but fun. The prawns were so fresh and crunchy with a strong, rich flavour; these were ones that were good enough to suck the juices out of their heads. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to enjoy such a delicacy, I shamelessly sucked every one noisily while the remaining two tour members in our group looked on in horror.
Dirk also took us to a small little dessert bar called Sweet Dreams, which is located in the heart of the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter. I was ecstatic to see quite a number of gluten free mini-cakes that looked very different from the usual boring, bog standard offerings. I tried their chocolate genoise cake with orange cream and passionfruit coulis. Fairy light sponge was topped with uplifting cream and embellished with tangy coulis. This was an assault on my senses that I could happily endure again and again.
The conference spanned over one week and the majority of it was fully catered for with meals provided by the hotel; Hotel Fira Palace. But honestly, when you are staying in such a fabulous gastronomic country like Spain who wants to eat hum drum catered food? Intermittently I found myself sneaking out of lectures into the sunshine to grab myself a quick bite of something more local. Surprisingly I found that most of the places that I visited had a good understanding of what is gluten free provided that I asked them the correct magic words:
“Por favor, Sin gluten?”
Strangely, the remarkably similar words of “no gluten” or “gluten free’ appeared to be much harder for the locals to understand and consequently I earned the nickname of “Dr Sin Gluten” by a group of four lovely foodie friends that I meet on the first day of the conference.
The wonderful thing about travelling to an international conference is that you can meet like-minded people from all around the world. The five of us spanned across the globe; one from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, one from West Virginia, a couple from Austin, Texas and then of course there was myself from Perth, Australia. We all instantly seemed to click with each other and proceeded to spend the rest of the week wining, dining, laughing and sharing stories together until the wee hours of each morning. I look forward to the next time that we can all gather together again! Hopefully it will be soon!
Prior to meeting my posse, one of the first places I tried was Conessa, a little sandwich store in Plaça Sant Jaume situated in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Conessa specialise in making gluten free baguettes and they have a huge range to choose from and an English menu. My eating habits had already started to escalate out of control so I sensibly wanted to just try something light. I chose one of their vegetarian options which contained my absolute favourite Spanish cheese manchego along with fresh tomato, fried pepper and oregano. The bread was very fluffy and did not crumble apart as many gluten free breads are prone to doing. The bread had a slight sweet taste that reminded me of brioche both with its texture and its flavour.
Northern Spain is the origin of pintxos and Barcelona has numerous pintxos bars dotted all about their streets. Since Bar de Halcyon recently opened in Perth many of us are now educated to appreciate what pintxos are but for those who are not in the know, they are are basically small snacks that are speared by a wooden stick and served on a bar where you go up and choose for yourself. Once you have eaten your full, the waiter will come over to your table and count how many sticks you have which determines your bill. Like many sushi bars who use coloured plates, some pintxos bars will use different colour sticks to indicate varying prices.
Traditionally pintxos are served on a slice of crusty bread meaning that most of them are not gluten free. Bilbao Berria is a popular pintxos bar in Plaça Nova and their bar is filled with all sorts of amazing Catalan tapas. Unfortunately, whilst the wait staff are friendly and efficient they weren’t overly helpful in assisting me to choose gluten free options. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and made a not so educated guess what was suitable.
Everything looked far too tempting and I wanted to try them all! To maximise how many pintxos I could eat I stupidly talked myself into believing that I would be FINE pulling the toppings off the bread and just eating those without eating the bread. Of course I was totally wrong and the gluten contamination proved enough for me to have a reaction that evening. It’s my own stupid fault for being so brazen. Or greedy. Nevertheless, despite my own self-inflicted gluten ingestion, I was still impressed with the variety and quality of pintxos on offer at Bilbao Berria and for those people blessed with no gluten intolerance I highly recommend a visit.
When we hit the mid-week mark, there was a lecture free afternoon to allow delegates time to explore the city. Our posse of five headed out together with basic ambitions to catch rays of sunshine, eat some food and do a spot of shopping. Off we headed down Avenue Parallel and before long we had worked up a bit of an appetite and agreed to stop and eat. We sat down outside at a fairly nondescript tapas bar situated along the Avenue however I didn’t catch their name. What I do remember is that despite speaking very poor English they were extremely helpful and enthusiastic in advising me what was “sin gluten” on their simple and inexpensive tapas menu.
For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you may have already been reading about my obsession for marinated octopus that started whilst I was over in Spain. Back home in Perth I commonly find octopus to be quite chewy. Not so in Barcelona. The Spaniards obviously take much greater care preparing these creatures and every time I ate it over there I was repeatedly astounded how soft and delicate it can actually be.
My fellow companions also ordered their favourite; tomato bread or pan con tomate. This is one of the simplest, well-loved, widely eaten and famous dishes from Cataluña. Many tapas bars will have a bowl of tomatoes and garlic sitting on the table with a bottle of olive oil so you can make the bread yourself. It is so easy to make but unfortunately not many bars have gluten free bread! Consequently upon my return to Perth I was inspired to make my own gluten free pan con tomate. See my recipe here.
Before I left Perth for Barcelona, I asked around on Twitter for advice on where to eat. I was told by one blogger to just “Eat everything!” There is some merit in this comment because for my whole week in Barcelona, I didn’t have one meal that failed to impress me. Whether it was a planned and highly researched degustation extravaganza like at Nectari and Ria de Gallacia, or just a spontaneous, unplanned stop-in at Restaurant L’Amfora as we were walking past; all the food I ate was amazing. More importantly I found that a gluten free Barcelona really does exist leaving me champing at the bit to return to this amazing city!
It is no wonder that I managed to become a fatty boombaladi so rapidly and although I cannot wait to return to Spain, I have some hard work at the gym first!La Bombeta Calle de la Maquinista 3, La Barceloneta, 08003 Barcelona, Spain | +34 (0) 933 199 445 | (Tapas 4.50-14 €) Sweet Dreams Carrer Regomir 4 bis, Barric Gótico, 08002 Barcelona, Spain | +34 (0) 671 430 115 Bilbao Berria Plaça Nova 3, Barcelona & c/Argenteria 6, Barcelona | +34 (0) 933 170 124 Conessa Barri Gòtic: Llibreteria 1(Plaça Sant Jaume), 08002 Barcelona | +34 (0) 933 101 394 Hostafrancs-Montjuic: Creu Coberta 80, 08014 Barcelona
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
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
The Boy ordered one of his time old favourites; the beef lasagna. Thick with meaty sauce and gooey cheese the lasagna connoisseur gave it the big thumbs up. We both vowed to return when both the kitchen and the coffee machine were switched on and see what these guys could do.
A few weeks later I attended Rob Broadfield‘s sold out seminar on food writing at the Hyatt with Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin. Rob gave us some useful tips on how to write captivating restaurant reviews worthy enough to publish in the well-known West Australian Good Food Guide. The day also served to give him an opportunity to scope for new reviewers as each delegate had to submit an 80 word café or bar review. I found it amusing that basically we were all paying for the chance to have an interview!
It started off a stunning morning with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze so I chose to walk into the city. Halfway through the four-hour seminar I began to regret this decision as my stomach let out some clearly audible grumblings and my head started to spin. Talking about food wasn’t helping my situation much either. As soon as the seminar was over I met up with the Boy and headed straight to Food For Me, Victoria Park for lunch.
Serving locally roasted Essenza coffee, the beans are ground on demand and you can smell the aroma as soon as you walk into the café. The coffee is quite sweet and creamy without any strong bitterness or bite.
Although they do serve gluten free toast I wasn’t in the mood for bread and chose the zucchini and corn fritters. I didn’t expect such a huge meal and with half a brilliant green avocado, tossed salad and two poached eggs I was thankful I did walk earlier in the morning. All that bridal weight loss was returning back to my hips in a very fast fashion. The fritters were filled brim full of corn, each ear popping with freshness in my mouth.
My poached eggs were satisfyingly gloopy and I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a quick yolk-porn shot. Heavenly. The preserved lemon, chilli and dill dressing had a sweet almost maple syrupy flavour to it and I had to resist licking the last of it off my empty plate before they were taken away.
The Boy nearly ordered himself a steak sandwich before he stopped himself and changed to a chicken burger instead. Juicy tenderloins were buried in the burger among some bacon, cheese and lettuce. Their breads are sourced from Barrett’s Bakery in Nedlands where they hand make all their bread without adding any additives. The burger bun was soft but resilient and despite the constant drip of mayonnaise and relish it retained its shape and body until the very end.
When we were up at the counter ordering our meals, our waiter talked up their gluten free brownies claiming them to be outrageously good. After finishing off the last of my fritters my curiosity got the better of me and I sidled back up to the counter to order one to share. Rich and moist, the brownie lived up to his hype and was laced with some tart raspberries to balance out the sweetness. There was no crumbliness common to gluten free slices and our spoons fought over the last mouthful.
Breakfast in Vic Park can often be a bit of hit and miss. Having visited Food For Me on a number of occasions now I can safely say they are on my list of hits. Loads of gluten free options, fresh mostly organic produce and friendly staff they really have got their recipe right. We will be returning for sure.Food For Me 877 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 6101 | (08) 9472 0333 | http://www.foodforme.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (loads of GF options, make sure you try their brownie!) Service: 4/5 (super positive friendly vibe) Ambience: 3/5 (try and nail a table outside in the sun) Drinks: 3.5/5 (creamy luscious coffee) Total: 15.5/20
I am always a little torn having my homes in a number of places around our vast country. Having lived in Perth for most of my adult life it is obvious that this is the main place I love to call my home. However to add to this, my Mum lives in Adelaide and returning back there to the house I grew up in I get that familiar sensation like I am returning home. To complicate things further, my Dad has lived in Melbourne with my Step mum for nearly twenty years and in many ways staying with them also feels very homely! I often wonder when we eventually return back to London where the Boy and I lived for several years, would this feel like another home to me? How many places can one call home before it starts to get a bit over the top?
Over the past six months, I have been fortunate enough to have the need to return my “home” in Melbourne several times for my wedding dress fittings at Luci Di Bella. A bride needs sustenance for such endeavours and here are my recent top four Brunch Hot Spots in Melbourne.
Cooper & Milla’s
After a bit of an emotional experience at the first wedding dress fitting, Mum and I wandered down High Street in Armadale in search of some gluten free friendly fare. We stumbled upon Cooper and Milla’s and were drawn in by their spectacular window display of treats and salads.
Like children in a candy store we wandered in all wide-eyed and totally distracted by all the adorable cakes and tarts on the counter. I had to consciously remind myself that I had a wedding waistline to watch and physically forced my eyes away from the many delicious desserts. I shall make sure to return here again to sample some of their dulcet delights.
Thankfully not all their fare is sugar laden and piled high in the window was a stunning looking seared tuna Nicoise salad and once noticing it my attention was easily dragged away from the cakes and onto this seemingly healthy yet vibrantly coloured snack.
My Mum didn’t take much convincing and before long we were both enjoying the sunshine sitting outside at their alfresco dining area feeling proud of ourselves for our dietary choices.
The following day on Christmas Eve there was a lot of market shopping to do in preparation for our big day of feasting. Getting up bright and early the Boy and I walked down to the river with my Dad & Stepmum for some hearty breakfast. Right on the banks of the Yarra River near Federation Square is a gorgeous little spot Riverland.
My parents are regular locals there and the staff all know their three Cocker Spaniels by name. As we arrive one of the waitresses brings over a bowl of water for the pooches as Dad places our order to include toast for the dogs. (I might add that this is not something his diligent veterinarian daughter advocates as good nutrition for his dogs!)
Unfortunately they do not stock any gluten free bread so I always come prepared and bring a couple of slices of my own. They have always been happy to toast this for me. I love their poached eggs with roasted mushrooms topped with a big glob of feta. The mushrooms can be a little oily sometimes however and I occasionally need to blot the oil off with a serviette!
Lindt Chocolate Café
After a full day of last-minute Christmas shopping the Boy and I headed back home which took us up Collins Street and past the Lindt Café. Now before any of you say anything, I understand that this café cannot really be classified as a brunch spot but being a ridiculously obsessed Lindt chocolate addict I felt it would be negligent for me to pass this café by. The interior of the café is initially quite impressive with high ceilings and everything seemingly glittering in gold. We made our way through to the back of the store into the café and were shown to our seats. After this we appeared to become invisible for quite some time despite the appearance of adequate staff and minimal customers. I hate that feeling when you try to catch a waiter’s eye and they look right through you like you are not even there.
As this place is well known for its hot chocolate the Boy simply couldn’t resist. Piping hot milk served with molten Lindt chocolate on the side; this decadent treat filled the hungry hole in his belly satisfactorily. Not wanting to eat too much dairy as I tend to get eczema outbreaks, I avoided the milk and satisfied myself by licking the remaining chocolate from his little jug with my finger! Such bad manners!
After the hot chocolate the Boy protested that he really did not need the St Moritz cake I had strongly encouraged him to order. Hey, if I can’t enjoy any of the cakes (as they are not gluten free) at least I can live vicariously through his gastronomic experiences! Despite his complaints he still managed to eat his way through the silky layers of alternate dark, milk and white chocolate mousse each separated by a thin layer of almond cake. The cake was topped with ultra-thin squares of Lindt dark chocolate with a generous dusting with cocoa powder.
Now don’t be fooled into thinking I sat there empty handed watching the Boy indulge. Other than buying some chocolate for the road, my main reason for entering the café was to stop for a “Mac attack”. The Christmas Delice macaron is seasonally exclusive and is filled with Christmas spices and a white chocolate filling. Although it had a good layering of flavours it was a little lost on texture and lacked the thin outer crisp sensation. It also was an unusually shaped with one side half the size of the other!
After a memorable time on Christmas Day with my family eating and drinking all the excesses imaginable, Boxing Day quickly followed and I realised it was soon time for the Boy and I to jump on a jet plane and head home. I was torn between the emotions of being sad it was all over whilst excited that the next family celebration would be our wedding day! Despite feeling very hung over and sluggish, we managed to squeeze in a last minute brunch catch up with Mum at The European on Spring Street.
The European is one of my favourite regulars in the Melbourne CBD and this French-Spanish-Italian hybrid is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week making it easy to slip in a visit each Melbourne trip. Although they do not have gluten free bread, there are a number of gluten free breakfast options and their menu goes well beyond the standard choices. Their coffee is particularly moreish and after drinking the A to Z of booze the day before I quickly ordered a second macchiato while we waited for our meals.
As the three of us sat in the sun in silence I started to the caffeine course through my veins and push my sleepy brain kick into gear and wake up. We hadn’t seen Mum on Christmas Day as she had spent the day with my sister so we had much to catch up on; what we ate, what presents did we received and what memorable good times we all had. I was feeling a little on the queasy side so I ordered the goat’s cheese omelette which had all the light fluffiness my delicate stomach lining needed and helped make me feel human again.
The Boy wanted something a little more substantial and enjoyed his “Huevos madrileños”; baked eggs with black pudding and chorizo served with toasted ciabatta. I wish I had room for his choice as it looked amazing. I am in love with Spanish style baked eggs and his oozy gooey eggs didn’t disappoint. True food envy plagued me for most of the day and my only consolation was thanks to my gorging efforts the day before, I doubt I had any room in my tummy for them anyway!Cooper & Milla’s 1094 High Street, Armadale VIC 3143 | (03) 9500 8127 Price: $$ ($10-16.50 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (I need to get back and try some sweets!) Service: 3.5/5 (casual, no table service) Ambience: 3/5 (hive of activity, funky) Drinks: 3/5 Total: 14/20 Riverland Vaults 1-9, Federation Wharf, Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1771 | www.riverlandbar.com Price: $$ ($7-20 breakfast) Food: 3/5 (not bad, a little heavy on the grease, BYO gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (relaxed and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (sitting by the river watching boats go by…) Drinks: 3.5/5 Total: 14/20 Lindt Chocolat Café 271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9667 0900 | www.lindt.com.au Price: $$ Food: 3/5 (it’s Lindt chocolate, it was always going to be amazing, pity about the macaron) Service: 2/5 (get better service at McDonald’s) Ambience: 2/5 (surprisingly poor) Drinks: 4/5 (get the hot chocolate) Total: 11/20 The European 161 Spring Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9654 0811| www.theeuropean.com.au Price: $$ ($8-19 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (interesting breakfast options, no gluten free bread) Service: 4/5 (quick and efficient) Ambience: 3.5/5 (sit outside for breaky, a bit too dark inside) Drinks: 4.5/5 (coffee is the bomb!) Total: 15.5/20
Adelaide holds a close place to my heart. I spent much of my impressionable teenage years there and much of that helped to culture the type of person I am today. The real joy of returning to Adelaide however is largely because it is the home town of my dearest Mother. I am a fiercely independent person much to the annoyance of those close to me; but I cannot deny that it would make my life so much better if I was able to spend more time with my Ma. She is my best friend, my confidant, my comforter and my inspiration. She is one of the best cooks, has a gifted touch in the garden and can always make me laugh until I cry. I love her so much!
During my whirlwind trip over to Adelaide in November for Eat Drink Blog 3 Mum and I managed to squeeze in a quick catch up for breakfast at The Store on Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. She already checked that this place had a number of gluten free options available and was keen to revel in some wedding chit-chat. She was still on the hunt for her outfit for the big day and wanted to check out a cute boutique a few doors down from The Store meaning we could kill two birds with one stone.
Theoretically with the grotesque amount of food I had eaten at the Eat Drink Blog, one would think I would no longer be hungry. But I always find overindulgence has a way of stretching my stomach capacity thus allowing me to continue spiralling into the depths of excess. I was craving some poached egg action and ordered myself some along with their gluten free toast, roasted tomato and mushrooms.
A big pile of rich earthy mushrooms tumbled across my plate next to some herbed roasted tomatoes and two softly poached eggs. A quick pierce with a knife into my egg’s internals confirmed success as their yellow innards billowed out onto my gluten free toast.
Having also eaten a big meal the night before Mum opted for something very light ordering the fruit salad with the vanilla yoghurt on the side. Being used to the small serves and high prices of Perth I thought this was good value but having not eaten out much in Adelaide recently I have nothing but my hometown to compare with. The fruit was as fresh as summer leaving Mum with a small amount of room to fit in some sweets to share!
I skipped over to the counter to find out what gluten free cakes were available. My choices included an orange almond cake (the bog standard) and a heavy-looking chocolate mud cake. I am growing quite weary of the orange almond option and knew my Mum would never turn down chocolate. I definitely inherited my chocolate addiction gene from her.
Within minutes the two of us devoured our succulent treat and hand in hand headed off down Melbourne Street in search of an outfit worthy of the mother-of-the-bride. Alas we were in no luck this time but at least I got to share one of those precious moments with my Mum that many take for granted.The Store 157 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide SA 5006 | (08) 8361 6999 | www.thestore.com.au Price: $$ ($7-18 Breakfast, $7-18 Entrée, $19-29 Mains) Food: 3/5 (simple, fresh food using local ingredients sourced from Adelaide Central markets) Service: 4/5 (unable to not notice beaming smiles and happy vibe amongst staff) Ambience: 3/5 (reminds me of the décor in Dome cafes in Perth) Drinks: 3/5 (their own blend of coffee from a local South Australian company called Coffee World, it was creamy and light in flavour) Total: 13/20
Dispersed throughout my eleven year friendship with my Bestie there has been prolonged times of separation where we have lived in different cities, states and even on different continents. In true testament to our strong connection to each other, distance has only ever served to make the heart grow fonder. In the past when our times together were limited, our catch ups would often tend toward the excesses and we both have a number of scars and hilarious but foggy memories to remind us.
In more recent times, we are lucky enough to finally both be settled down in the same city. No longer do we have to schedule our fun times to those infrequent occasions when our paths cross as we only live a short drive away from each other. Impromptu brunches and sleep overs can now be a regular occurrence. After an exciting morning a few weeks ago at Elixir Coffee, we made last minute plans to meet up for brunch before work.
I have had a bit of an emotional week where I have had to make some firm decisions on where I am going to draw my line in the sand with recent family issues. These things always seem to raise their head at weddings. What they say is right: weddings really do bring out the best AND worst in people! My thoughts progressed to a little nostalgia for my Mum’s last visit to Perth where we ate and drank our way around this wonderful city. One of our many eating stops was Sayers in Leederville, so I figured returning there may help re-live some of those happier times. Better still I would be accompanied by the one person in my life that is always guaranteed to make me laugh.
I arrived about ten minutes prior to my Bestie so I ordered a short macchiato and sat back to soak in the atmosphere. I became increasingly overwhelmed with indecision on the menu because everything sounded so delicious! Sayers serve their own special blend of Five Senses coffee. It contains a mix of Brazilian and Balinese beans both sourced from fair trade plantations. The coffee has a very smooth and creamy flavour yet still retained enough kick to wake me up out of my hazy thoughts just in time for the Bestie’s arrival.
I ended up deciding on the slow roasted mushrooms with crumbled feta, truffled rocket and a poached egg on gluten free toast. For those who must endure the rollercoaster ride of hits and misses with gluten free bread, you will understand how exciting it is to firstly discover a venue actually has gluten free bread, but then even better still that it is good!
This bread had texture resembling a freshly baked crumpet and was fluffy, light and slightly sweet. Confronted with a mound of food, I initially decided it wise not to eat it all, especially not all the bread. However once again my stomach won the battle; good gluten free bread doesn’t come around often and I have to make the most of such moments!
The Bestie has been a long-time fan of her oats so it was certainly no surprise as she ordered the porridge with poached pear and blackberry compote. It was served with a dainty little pint size milk bottle filled with fresh locally sourced milk. The small little spoon of honey gave her meal just the right level of sweetness she wanted. She commented that the pear was poached just to the point of melting in the mouth and not a moment prior.
We honestly had no room for sweets but we both just wanted to remain in our blissful states for a little longer so we ordered a piece of flourless chocolate cake to share. We certainly were not prepared for the enormous wedge of nutty rich goodness that appeared in front of us only moments later. It had been warmed allowing the decadent ganache to drizzle randomly down the sides onto the plate. It was absolute heaven. Exploding at the seams this was a day that our eyes really were bigger than our stomachs. We were unable to finish it not because it wasn’t good, but because we were too insanely full. Better luck next time I say!Sayers 224 Carr Place, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9227 0429 | www.sayersfood.com.au Price: $$ (Breakfast $13-22, Lunch $17-27) Food: 4.5/5 (excellent gluten free bread, more than the usual breakfast items on offer) Service: 4/5 (funky, friendly and fast) Ambience: 3.5/5 (buzzing and busy, would have been cosier with a table inside) Drinks: 4.5/5 (Five Senses sure to please coffee connoisseurs) Total: 16.5/20
If you are anything like me and have grown bored of ordering old school basics for breakfast like eggs benedict then head over to Maylands. A decent handful of venues all within close proximity to each other will fulfil your desire for something a bit more original than what you easily could cook up at home. Furthermore they all appear to be very gluten free friendly with a number of options for us allergic types.
Mrs S is one of my favourites amongst these establishments however due to a variety of circumstances we haven’t returned to enjoy her deliciousnesses for over six months! After deciding to finally head back there I got myself in quite a state of excited anticipation. I pre-emptively added to my Sunday run an extra 2 kms to my usual twelve in order to have two guilt free courses for breakfast!
To my complete dismay we were greeted by a locked door and an empty cafe with a sign saying they would be reopening the following week. Perhaps my post run jitters exaggerated my emotions a little but I swear nearly cried in disappointment. After scooping my heart off the pavement, we followed our noses back up Whatley Crescent past Chapels and stumbled upon Sherbet Bake House. This bright café was brimming full of life and aromas of freshly roasted coffee wafted out the door and down the street.
Sherbet serve Fiori coffee which is roasted locally by a small business that strive to only import coffee harvested from ethical and sustainable plantations. I recently enjoyed Fiori for the first time (along with some amazing scrambled eggs with truffle oil) at The Imp in Vic Park. I love its smooth yet rich flavour. The perfect style of coffee to be served as a traditional short mac. Sherbet do not sell cooked breakfasts as they are more a bake shop than a café, however they do have a counter full of colourful meal options which can be warmed up and served with a fresh green salad. I chose the roast pumpkin and feta frittata which was the only gluten free savoury option.
Flying close on the coat tails of my perfect frittata I had a few weeks ago at the Little Pantry, this one certainly gave them a run for their money. Its texture was well set and similarly lacked any unpleasant wateriness. There was an abundance of fresh herbs speckled throughout. The pumpkin was particularly sweet and dense making it almost feel like a dessert dish as opposed to something savoury. The Boy’s pumpkin and sundried tomato tart was just as good, with soft flaky pastry and filled with more of the sweet pumpkin.
For dessert options I was a little spoilt for choice; Sherbet has much more to offer than the usual gluten free choices of orange almond or flourless chocolate! I had been trying to abstain from chocolate all week as I am starting to wonder how I will ever lose any weight before the wedding. In true manner of wanting what you can’t have, all that my self-control achieved was effectively to make me crave and obsess about chocolate even more. Thus there were no surprises when I returned to our table with a berry chocolate minicake. The cake had a wonderful light sponge texture, something hard to replicate in gluten free baking and there were plenty of fresh berries buried deep inside. I cannot wait to return for another!www.sherbetbakeshop.com.au Price: $$ ($ under $15/meal) Food: 4.5/5 (minimal savoury GF options but LOADS of sweets) Service: 3.5/5 (no table service, but were quick and efficient) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bustling and energetic, some alfresco tables in the sun) Drinks: 4.5/5 (serve Fiori coffee – very smooth and rich style) Total: 16/20
Via my fellow bloggers on Twitter I recently became aware of a brilliant phenomenon called the Clandestine Cake Club. The CCC was created two years ago by cake lover Lynn Hill in Leeds, UK with the aim to be able to get people together in a relaxed social environment so they could “Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake”.
The concept was to strictly only include cakes; no cupcakes, brownies, pies or tarts are allowed and since its inception it has grown to over 133 groups around the world including Switzerland, Spain, France and Finland.
There is currently only one group in Australia and luckily for us it’s here in Perth! The Perth branch is coordinated by Carolanne from Carolanne’s Kitchen and Jackie from Where the wind blows me. Recent awareness of this group has surged thanks to some awesome publicity in Scoop magazine, on Great about Perth and Agenda City.
I was so excited to hear that the theme for the July meet was to be gluten free and signed up to come along. As I am by no means a talented baker by anyones stretch of the imagination I began madly flipping through a number of my food stained cookbooks. I eventually decided to make a Coffee Bundt cake adapted from one of Sue Shepherd’s books.
For those who don’t know who Dr Sue Shepherd is; she is one of Australia’s leading clinical nutritionists specialising in patients with gluten intolerance and fructose malabsorption. Being a sufferer of both these conditions myself, I have all her cookbooks on my shelf every single one is worn and well used. (For the recipe for my Coffee cake please click here.)
Knowing what a sweet tooth my bestie is, I wasn’t surprised when she agreed to join me as my guest and off we headed to our first Cake Club meet! We were greeted with a warm welcome and were both blown away by the wonderful collection of cakes that had been made for the occasion. Everyone had experimented with a wide range different types of flours and ingredients to create a decadent selection that would make any gluten eater jealous.
Carolanne made a scrumptious coconut and berry cake using coconut flour. She taught me something new; apparently coconut flour has such a high fibre content that it expands dramatically once you add your wet ingredients meaning you only need to use a third of what you would use with normal flours. I have a bag of coconut flour sitting unused in my pantry, I am best to remember this expansion effect when I first use it!
My favourite cake of the day was Red Hot Spatula’s Kuihs – little Asian style cakes made from rice flour, green bean flour and tapioca flour. It was interesting to find out that traditionally in Asian cultures they do not usually bake large cakes like what we are accustomed in Western society. Instead they tend to make small single serve cute little cakes. These cakes were steamed not baked and I loved them so much that I ordered some more from her to be delivered to my work the following fortnight! She was kind enough to share the recipe with us all as a guest post on Where the Wind Blow Me.
My bestie’s favourite cake for the day was the white chocolate, macadamia nut and honeycomb cake. This cake was subtle flavoured with all three elements and had a very moist, almost syrupy texture without being too gooey.
As well as being the welcoming hostess, Liv from Col Panna baked the “Best Cake full stop”; which was a hazelnut cake with Frangelico ganache. This deliciousness was nothing sort of incredible and was made even more spectacular in that the outer layer of the cake was the best part, not the centre like many standard cakes. My bride diet went completely out the window with this one. She was also kind enough to share her recipe for us all to try for ourselves.
A final cake of note was the raw chocolate avocado cake made by Bri from East Meets West. Unfortunately I didn’t try this one as it contained dates which are chock full of fructose. I figured after the sugar and dairy overload, I didn’t need to add a fructose blow out to deal with as well. It looked almost succulent and I watched enviously as the rest of the group devoured it.
One of the great things about these cake meets is that once we are all finished at the end, we all get to fill our own plates with slices of everyone else cakes to take home to share and enjoy. As much as I dreamed of eating cake for breakfast, the Boy tucked into the container as soon as I got home and there were only slim pickings by the following morning! I guess this is a good sign on how good the cakes were as he isn’t really a sweet tooth.
The next meet’s theme is Scandinavian style cakes and is on the 4th of August from 3-5 pm. If you are interested in joining this brilliant phenomenon click the link for details how to register.
Perth Clandestine Cake Club: http://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/groups/perth-australia/