I owe you, my dear readers a small apology. Many of you may have noticed that my recent posts on Chompchomp have been fewer and far between and are often written using content that dates further back than I would prefer. For this I am truly sorry. If the lack of reading has bothered you, I can assure you that the frustration is mutual. Whilst I hate to go on like a broken record and whinge incessantly, the reality is that my slipped disc in my back has made our dining experiences virtually non-existent. Needless to say, life goes on around me and consequently my list of new venues in Perth that I want to visit is growing at an alarming rate.
For the Boy and me, our times spent dining out together form a major part of our enjoyment and their absence leaves us both feeling depressed and disconnected. So, this weekend I necked back a couple of strong pain killers, splashed on some mascara and red lipstick and headed out for a lunch date with my love. I will not be beaten by pain! The Boy wanted to take my new wheels for a spin so we headed down to Fremantle to Chef Kenny McHardy’s new restaurant Manuka Woodfire Kitchen.
Chef Kenny is one of those who will go above and beyond for us allergy-prone intolerants as I discovered recently on our decadent Truffle Kerfuffle weekend. When I heard that he had moved up to Perth with his family from Albany and opened a new restaurant I placed his venue at the top of my to-do list.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen is a cosy space with a warm and inviting atmosphere, a gluten free friendly menu and a short but well-chosen Western Australian wine list. We selected a bottle of Domaine Naturaliste 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was rich in luscious berry and spice aromas making it perfectly matched to the stormy weather outside.
The Boy filled himself up quickly with the wood fired garlic and herb bread while I appreciated having my own gluten free counterpart to enjoy. Manuka make their gluten free bread themselves and it tasted wonderfully fresh and fluffy.
Manuka’s menu features a number of uncomplicated share plates using fresh seasonal produce cooked to smoky heavenliness in their wood fire oven. It was hard to choose where to start so we agreed to let the chef decide while we sat back and relaxed.
At $4 a serve there was nothing not to love about Manuka’s wood roasted olives. Served warm, the delicately flavoured olive flesh slid off the pits with a light squeeze of my teeth. It would have been an easy task to sit all afternoon with my wine in hand eating more of these olives while we watched the quirky world of Fremantle walk by.
Our next dish was a plate of chorizo sausage that had been grilled over hot coals. The sausage had a gentle hint of spice and each slightly charred piece remained burst-in-the-mouth juicy.
One of the standout dishes for me was the roasted button mushrooms, the mushrooms were so meaty and succulent. They were served with paper-thin, crispy kale leaves and dollops of garlic sour cream.
Another fabulous vegetarian dish was the roasted baby beetroot. I could really taste the difference from cooking the beets in the wood fire oven, there was a subtle smokiness and just so much more flavour. The toasted hazelnuts added some great crunch and texture.
The Boy’s favourite dish was the wood roasted miso chicken. Each piping hot piece of chicken was torn apart easily by our eager fingers and we gobbled it down like we had only just sat down to eat.
It was tempting to lick the remaining sticky miso sauce from the bowl as we both slurped sauce from our messy fingers. I guess we could have used a fork and knife to eat but when the chicken is this finger-licking good why bother?
Just when we thought we were too full to fit in any more food, our waitress brought us one last dish to the table. And of course being good sports, we found room to fit in some dreamy tender slow cooked osso bucco. 😉 All my good table manners fell out the window as I sucked loudly on the shin bone ensuring to remove all traces of the rich bone marrow.
Despite continuing to feebly protest about being too full, my rubber arm was easily twisted into sharing dessert. Look, my back may be injured but there is nothing wrong with my stomach!! Secretly you and I both know I ALWAYS have room for dessert. Our chocolate mousse was so light and airy leaving us with no problems polishing it off.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen has only been open for three weeks and yet their team showed no signs of any teething problems that I have come to expect with newly opened establishments. The wait staff are friendly and passionate, the dishes are decently priced and the Chef’s use of fresh local ingredients cooked in a wood fire oven speaks for itself.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, Fremantle
134 High Street, Fremantle WA | (08) 9335 3527 | Facebook
“Take me back to Barcelona!” These are words that escape my mouth on more than one occasion. My love affair with Spain first developed back in the 90’s when the Boy and I went backpacking around Europe together for the summer. We were uninhibited by shackles of any debt or responsibility and traveled nearly six months roaming from city to city without any real plan. We stayed in hostels and I successfully survived living out of a backpack with only two pairs of shoes to choose from. I laugh at this fact when I think of how I travel now; with suitcases the weight of bricks complete with multiple pairs of shoes, boots, jackets, dresses, running gear, party outfits, lap tops and camera equipment. My how time can change people!
More recently I traveled alone to Barcelona on conference and despite being ten years between visits, I slipped back into my hedonistic state within the first day. Simply I ate, and I ate and I ate. There wasn’t a single meal that didn’t excite me and my only regret was not bringing the Boy with me.
People in Barcelona don’t eat three square meals like us Aussies tend to prefer, and more curiously they eat at the strangest times of day with most restaurants not opening their doors until 9 pm at night. During the day for those who want a snack, there are a multitude of “pintxos” bars serving a variety of small bites of tapas with a wooden stick skewered in the middle of it. At the end of your meal, the waitress would count your sticks to determine your bill.
Pintxos have started to take off in Perth with a couple of options around town. It is somewhat comforting to know I don’t have to travel too far to get a little piece of Barcelona. I was recently invited to dine at Pinchos in Leederville for a bloggers lunch.
Run by the same team behind Jus Burgers, Pinchos takes that concept of all day bites to the Spanish level, with a multitude of morsels to fill your hungry belly. They have a separate food intolerances menu making ordering very easy.
We ordered a bunch of my favourites including boquerones y pulpo; white anchovies and octopus served with ribbons of zucchini, chilli and grapes. The octopus was not as tender as that in Spain but then I have set very high standards for myself. I loved the addition of sweet grapes. The Boy added even more sweetness to his by drizzling the honey from the chorizo pintxos on top.
Another Spanish thing I adore is manchego cheese. This aged hard sheep cheese has a very characteristic flavour and I ate it by the truckload in Barcelona. The De la Casa salad, or house salad, is made with thin slices of manchego tossed with iceberg lettuce and a sherry vinaigrette. A simple but addictive dish that I could easily eat every day.
We wanted to try a few of Pincho’s cured meats but I was mindful that there were a number of other dishes I was desperate to order. We agreed to compromise and order a “taste of four for one”. Our plate included Jamon Serrano, Morcon, Chistorra and Fuet Anise.
Our favourite two on the meat plate were the Jamon Serrano and the Chistorra. Chistorra is a traditional sausage from the Basque region made from minced pork and flavoured with garlic, salt and paprika.
Both of the two daily specials were able to be adapted gluten free so we chose the Bienmesabe fish with stuffed squid. Served in two components, the fish was delicately tender and infused with gentle spices on a bed of roasted cherry tomatoes and capsicum.
The stuffed squid were particularly delicious, stuffed with a sweet fig paste and drizzled in caramelised balsamic. My only gripe was I was left wanting more.
A Spanish tapas feast is never complete without a slice of tortilla. In Spain a tortilla is not a form of flatbread, but instead comprises of a thick omelette with chunks of potato and other ingredients cooked through. They are generally gluten free and an easy quick snack for a Coeliac on the go. Pincho’s tortilla is served with some salad and made a substantial meal on its own.
We were far too full for dessert but as always I was left with the need to end with something sweet on my palate. We ordered a couple of chocolate and sherry fig truffle to finish. They were soft and melted in the mouth leaving a creamy sensation to roll over my tongue for a lingering moment.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp dined as a guest of Pinchos. Her opinions and photos are her own and she will not be influenced by the fact her meal was at no cost. In a desperation for a little bit of Barcelona without the cost of an airfare, she has already returned in cognito and found the quality of the food and service to be consistent.
749 Newcastle Street, Leederville WA 6007 | (08) 9228 3008 | pinchos.me
For many years The Brisbane Hotel was one of our regular Sunday Session drinking holes. However in recent years our careers, families and a hint of maturity have replaced these fun-filled afternoons making them less and less frequent. Furthermore since becoming a food blogger, I find myself searching out new venues to visit rather than returning to our tried and tested favourites. Consequently, I confess I haven’t eaten at the Brisbane for well over a year, maybe longer. Last week I received an invitation to come along to their wintertime Tuesday “Roast and Red” night.
Tuesday isn’t exactly a night that I would expect to see people out and about yet the Brisbane was alive with activity with customers drinking at the bar as well as those dining in. We were shown to our table and I was offered the “dietary requirements menu”. This wasn’t just the normal menu with scribbles and lines drawn across it but rather a specifically printed menu filled with gluten free and vegetarian options. This was a quick and easy way to impress me as there were loads of options on there including gluten free pizzas.
The Brisbane’s Roast and Red special runs every Tuesday night throughout winter offering a full traditional styled roast served with a glass of their house-label Shiraz for the measly price of $25. They are more than happy to prepare separate gluten free roasts provided they receive advance notice on booking. We were warned by our waiter that the roast is a big serve however as per usual we didn’t heed this advice and ordered ourselves a couple of gluten free starters first.
Gazing at the menu I was a little distracted by all the tasty gluten free pizzas and we nearly ordered one for our starter before my logic kicked in. It dawned on me that eating a whole pizza PLUS a roast PLUS dessert MAY just prove a teeny bit too much food for us. Maybe. We opted for the tasting plate and the special of the day instead.
The tasting plate was a decent size with all items gluten free. The chorizo was mouth-wateringly juicy and burst with flavour on each bite. The mixed olives bowl had a pleasing range of soft and firm, green and black which suited the Boy and my differing preferences.
The polenta chips were my favourite part of the plate crunching satisfyingly with each Chomp to expose the piping hot, soft centre. As we ate our way through them I thought to myself that I would have preferred it if there were a few more chips on our plate but by the time we had finished our meal I was actually thankful there wasn’t as I was super full.
Our second starter was one of the daily specials; seared scallops with crispy pancetta on a bed of cauliflower purée. Scallops and pancetta has always been a combination of flavours rocks my world; creamy soft sweetness with salty smokiness is close to being in heaven in my humble opinion. The scallops were lightly browned to a pale caramel colour yet remained silky on the inside like pillows of angelic deliciousness.
Our waiter was mindful not to pump out our food too quickly and gave us the perfect amount of time to rest between courses before bringing out the star of the show; the roast. Having already given advance notice for my gluten free version, my chook had been stuffed with lemon and herbs instead of stuffing and was roasted separately from the rest of the birds to ensure no cross contamination.
My gluten free gravy was made using the juices from my chook and arrowroot flour to thicken. The cheese sauce was omitted as there was no gluten free replacement however I didn’t even notice it missing. The chicken was tender and brimming with moisture, flaking off the bone easily. I admit that for $25 in a funky venue with attentive service, this was a meal hard to match in value around Perth.
I was close to being well and truly stuffed. Layers of polenta, chorizo, scallops, half a chicken and a man-sized serving of roast vegetables all sat in my distended stomach fighting to make their way through my digestive tract. Thankfully I am one of the many who are blessed with a second stomach; the dessert stomach. And in these times it is a worthy anomaly to have.
As I gazed over the dessert menu I was astonished to see that everything on there was gluten free. I actually had to double check with our waiter to ensure this was correct. Indeed it was! I could theoretically have ALL the desserts. I paused briefly to consider whether this was possible before the Boy read my mind and promptly said “No!”
We settled on the chocolate nemesis with stewed rhubarb and raspberry gelato. I reasoned that the raspberry gelato was to keep the Boy happy but in all honesty I was haggling for chocolate. Our dessert came out looking much more ladylike than my previous chocolate nemesis experience at the Rose and Crown where it looked more like a miniature replica of the ominous Mount Doom. Whilst the nemesis was very rich and dark, for a hard core chocolate lover such as myself it was the ideal way to end such a hearty feast.
A big thank you to all the staff at the Brisbane that looked after us for the evening, we couldn’t fault your service and friendliness. And an even bigger thank you for being such a gluten free friendly venue.
Chompchomp was an invited guest of The Brisbane hotel however her views are her entirely own and she was not obliged to write a favourable blog post in exchange for a feed. She is already planning on how she will be able to return as a paying customer so she can eat one of their gluten free pizzas PLUS a roast on the same night. It can be done. It’s all about the stretchy pants. The Brisbane Hotel 292 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9227 2300 | www.thebrisbanehotel.com.au $$$ Entrées $9-23, Pizza $19-22 (GF bases available for +$4), Mains ($25-39), Roast and Red Tuesday nights only, $25 including a glass of house Shiraz. Bookings are highly recommended. Call in advance if you want your roast to be gluten free and they will ensure it is cooked separately.
Only a few weeks ago the Boy and I shared a very memorable lunch at Dear Friends and it was easily one of the best meals we have had in Perth for some time. I love their philosophy of focusing on local and seasonal produce with much of their ingredients being sourced directly from local farmers or foraged from the wild surrounds. On our way home that day we both decided to book in at their city restaurant Co-op Dining, East Perth to celebrate our six month wedding anniversary.
I am still nursing a broken toe therefore my ability to go running has come grinding to a complete halt. We enjoy eating out a lot and I am totally devastated that I can no longer burn it all off on the tarmac. Honestly, it won’t be long before I’m the size of a small house. In a vain attempt to mitigate the anticipated caloric excesses for our dinner we agreed to walk, or in my case shuffle, from our house to Co-op Dining. I sighed in disappointment that I cannot wear high heels, sulkily chucked a pair of flats in my LV bag and headed off in my flip-flops.
It was a Friday night and both of us had to work the next day meaning a degustation was unfortunately out of the question. Instead we chose the five course menu with a couple of suggested wines by the glass. A bit more of a reserved affair compared to our lunch date at Dear Friends when I am told I may have been a bit flamboyant.
Work or no work I just couldn’t commence this celebratory meal without some bubbles; Champagne definitely remains one of my weaknesses. Coop Dining serve NV Gosset Grande Reserve by the glass which comes from one of the oldest and original Champagne houses originating way back to 1584. Rich and creamy with incredible structure I made sure I savoured every drop. The Boy chose to bypass the booze and ordered a lemon and lime bitters made with lemon myrtle and fresh limes. Some of the soft house churned Guernsey butter that we had enjoyed at Dear Friends was served alongside some home-made bread.
Our first course was a sweet Manjimup marron served with peppery watercress puree, Swan River samphire, a twig of warrigal and some glistening syrupy fermented lime. The samphire has quite an unusual salty, tangy flavour and is foraged from the banks of an estuary near the Swan River. It was the same type of samphire that we enjoyed last year at Millbrook Winery as part of the Mushroom Mania campaign.
The Boy’s next dish was a luscious chestnut soup made from whole roasted chestnuts grown locally in Bridgetown. I really love how these guys are such great supporters of WA produce. His soup was rich and creamy and smelt like Paris in winter to me. For those who are yet to travel to this romantic city; roasted chestnuts are sold there as street food in cones of newspaper on the boulevards.
Although I was highly envious of the Boy’s heart-warming chestnut soup, I was not to be disappointed with my non-vegetarian option. Chef made his own rabbit chorizo which he served with some WA cuttlefish and more of that dangerously black squid ink puree that we enjoyed at our Dear Friends lunch. The slight gamey flavour of the rabbit was in no way overpowering and balanced graciously with a gentle kick from the cute little blob of kimchee. I successfully avoided getting any squid ink on me again. Winning. Maybe I’m gaining more coordination in my older years?
For our next dish, the house made soy tofu made a return visit too. I like how each of the menus for their restaurants shared key elements but then diverged out into their own individuality. Coop’s tofu dish looked so simplistic and symmetrical with each ingredient placed in alternation across the slate. Cubes of house made soy tofu and velvety soft chunks of confit carrot were sprinkled with dashes of spinach powder and placed on a bed of smoked egg yolk.
Looks can be deceiving and although this dish may appear basic, more complex flavours were thoughtfully hidden to surprise us. The smoked yolk was thick and strongly flavoured and gave the more subtle flavoured tofu and carrot a bit of oomph. The gently scented wild garlic is foraged on the Mainwaring’s property and I couldn’t help but smile when Kelli’s eyes lit up as she told us how each year they get so excited when they see it sprout up.
The Boy and I diverged again for our next course as mine included **shock horror** meat. I was given a choice of pork belly or Wagyu beef and opted for the later. Admittedly I confess that as it was a Friday night and as I was onto my third glass of wine by this point my mind had blissfully travelled off with the fairies. As a result I forgot to photograph my dish until I have already devoured a few wondrous mouthfuls. My deepest apologies dear readers, however I’m sure you can still get the idea what luscious cuts of beef they were from what was left on my plate. Cooked over bark and crusted with carbonised leek powder each piece of 4+ Wagyu beef was as soft as sashimi. The wine match for this dish was the 2012 Myattsfield Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier and was the second time I had tried this local wine from Myattsfield Wines. After our lovely outing at the Bickley Harvest Festival I have started to appreciate the sumptuous reds made in this region and are going to need to return for more.
The Boy’s vegetarian main focused on Jerusalem artichoke which is just still in season for a few more weeks. The artichoke was prepared two ways; cooked artichoke was compressed into chunks overnight and cooked sous vide and then for the base of the dish was artichoke purée. Chunks of leeks and courgettes tumbled in amongst Guernsey curd and Nasturtium flowers. Mushroom and green olive powder was sprinkled over for a strong flavour boost.
Although we only selected the five course menu, the chef was so kind to send us a complimentary cheese course. It was called Brin d’Amour, or “birth of love”. A perfect choice to celebrate our first six months as newly-weds! Chef Kiren makes this traditional Corsican cheese himself using half Guernsey and half ewes milk. Once made it is rolled in mustard seeds, house made smoked paprika, rosemary, oregano and black onion seeds. The whole process takes about two weeks. The cheese was served with carrot molasses and olive bread. I received some gluten free bread as a replacement.
I was a little off my form as I also forgot to take a picture of our pre-dessert; fresh Donnybrook mandarins and lemon scented fennel topped with Thai basil flowers. A mouthful of spring this cleansed the flavours of dairy goodness off our palates in preparation for our final course.
Once again I appreciated the personal touches made by the Mainwaring team to make our experience all the more memorable with “Happy” and “Anniversary” scribed in chocolate on each of our plates.
Juicy fresh Donnybrook Pink lady apples took the centre stage star for the finale. On a bed of peachy coloured apple puree laid an ice cool scoop of rhubarb sorbet encircled by portions of fresh and poached apples. Topped with slivers of glass sugar, oats and pistachios I loved the layering of textures, temperatures and flavours.
Our night ended with some healthy and cleansing Kombucha, a type of fermented slightly effervescent black tea.
It comes as no surprise that Co-op Dining came out winners at the recent Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards where they received a placing in the top 100 restaurants in Australia. Both Co-op and Dear Friends were also awarded One Star in the highly esteemed GT Restaurant Guide for 2014. This is a team that have proven and maintained their place as foodie “royalty” in Perth yet remain humble, modest and true to their passion. We will most definitely be back.Co-op Dining 2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au Price: $$$$ (5 course menu $95, 10 course menu $120, matched wines extra) Food: 5/5 (consistently excellent, original and proudly West Australian) Service: 5/5 (once again charming, enthusiastic and passionate) Ambience: 4/5 (would have been improved if busier but we had our own booth and each other, who needs more?) Drinks: 4.5/5 (wished I could have gone for matched wine as my selected few were wonderful ) Total: 18.5/20
Although I’m not really a baby person it is hard not to get excited when a close friend falls pregnant. One of our long-term vets is nearly at the end of her first pregnancy and she is one of those gentle, nurturing types that just seems to be born to be a mother. The joys of anticipation for the approaching arrival were very infectious amongst us women at work, so in a rather unconventional styled baby shower we all gathered together at Feral Brewing Company for a Sunday lunch to celebrate. It was the first sunny day in weeks and it was heavenly to be able to enjoy some country sunshine.
Quite a number of people at our table chose to order the pork belly. The pork was twice cooked and served on a bed of creamed cauliflower and “crinkled” courgettes. To balance the flavours with some sweetness the dish was topped with a sticky rum & apple relish. I was fortunate enough to sit next to the expecting mum’s husband who ordered the pork belly but curiously doesn’t like crackling. It wasn’t hard to find volunteers on the table including myself that were willing to take said crackling off his hands. Aren’t we kind folk? The artery blocking crackling had a satisfying crunch that was loud enough to be heard on the other side of the table.
The Feral Brewing Company offers good value in the valley; I was impressed with the size of the meals in relation to the price. The plump grain fed Porterhouse steak was a decent 300 gm cut and came with paprika potatoes, buttered broccolini and a juicy feta stuffed field mushroom.
I needed to preserve a bit of room in my stomach as we were heading out for dinner later that evening so I opted for the charcuterie meat board for something light. Creamy Persian feta, grilled Spanish chorizo, thinly shaved prosciutto and some roasted beef sirloin were served along with some locally pickled vegetables. The platter normally comes with crusty bread but I asked for it to be served gluten free. Some crackers arrived with it but I wasn’t sure whether they were gluten free or not so I left them. I wasn’t that bothered otherwise I would have asked. The chorizo was juicy and succulent and was my favourite component of this dish.
My platter was designed to share but everyone had their own full plates to contend with resulting in little luck sharing it around. My head nurse sitting next to me helped marginally to make a dent on the proviso and I helped her with her trio of dips. The dips of the days included spicy Moroccan dhal, creamy spring onion and “funky mushroom”. I smeared some of the dhal on my pickled vegetables as a bread substitute. It had a reasonable kicked to it and went well with the pickle!
Our adorable cupcakes for the day were designed and made by Cooks Cakes. Each cupcake had a gorgeous baby themed decoration and the cakes were a mix of flavours; red velvet, chocolate and vanilla. Alas none were gluten free this time round.
Feral Brewing Company offers a very casual atmosphere nestled in the heart of the Swan Valley with hearty grub and a great range of craft beers. Not being able to drink most beer due to gluten intolerance I cannot tell you much about their hand-crafted beers, but they are currently title holders for the Australian International Beer Awards “Best Medium Australian Brewery”. Their food is simple pub styled food priced reasonably well with modest portion sizes.Feral Brewing Company 152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4657 | www.feralbrewing.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée$8.50-12, Mains $23-38 Food: 3.5/5 (simple, fresh, hearty meals) Service: 3/5 (friendly, drinks service a little slow) Ambience: 3.5/5 (country sunshine, rolling hills and vineyards) Drinks: 3/5 (I need the Boy to review the beers but I couldn’t convince him to come to a baby shower) Total: 13/20
I received a curious gift in the mail recently consisting of a bottle of fig infused balsamic vinegar. Attached to the bottle like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland was a little card inviting me to the launch of the Fig’s new winter menu at the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Having never been to any of the Fig’s before the Boy and I set out on a cold blustery night with no expectations or presumptions. We were openly greeted by Jamie, the Operations Manager on arrival and before long we had glasses of bubbles in hand to help set the jovial mood for the evening.
The Fig restaurants comprise of three beach-side venues; the Wild Fig in North Beach, the Pickled Fig in South Fremantle, and the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Whilst sharing similarities in their West Coast scenery, Jamie explained to us that each of their restaurants have been allowed to develop their own “personality” which is a reflection of both their head chef’s ideas and their local clientele’s needs. For the evening the three head chefs wanted to give us a feel for what their own Fig was all about. They in turn each selected an entrée, main and dessert for us to share giving a total of nine dishes to try.
The team had put a lot of thought into how they ran the night keeping the vibe very light hearted and casual while encouraging us to not be shy to give them our honest thoughts both good and bad. A thoughtful touch was the food photography table; a table with great overhead lighting to allow us to take quality pics of the meals without reaching across the table and getting in each other’s way. A big win for us bloggers, but realistically a win for them too as it maximises the appearance of their food on our blogs.
There was no problem adapting the meals on the menu to suit my gluten free and no onion requirement. For each dish Jamie carefully explained to me what adjustments if any were made. Whilst the olive bread looked tasty our gluten free alternative was reasonable and wasn’t too stodgy or crumbly as many gluten free breads can be.
The gluten free version of the tortellini consisted of soft scallops served in shellfish cappuccino sauce without the pasta. The scallops were of a small size but tender on the inside with a slight firmness to the outside. I winced as the boy popped the last one in his mouth as I had been eyeing it off for a few minutes for myself. I quietly consoled myself as there was still a lot of food to come!
The vegetarian entrée from the Wild Fig was by far my favourite starter; a hearty slab of crisp fried polenta served with an aubergine and tomato roulade along with dollops of sweet agro dolce puree. This dish was a little more difficult to share amongst us and I think I made have inadvertently taken more than my fair share. Oops.
Although crispy skinned barramundi may be considered a dish that lacks creativity it is a common fall-back choice for me that when done properly totally satisfies me. This fillet was buttery smooth with paper thin crunchy skin and the serving size was generous. The bed of chorizo, capsicum and orange reduction brought an element of excitement to this staple of mine and spritzed it up to make it a bit more interesting.
The Naked Fig’s main dish consisted of beef prepared two ways. A rich ruby-red wedge of sirloin crusted with pepper and rosemary served alongside a scrumptiously tearable uber-soft portion of blade steak. Having these two very alternate textures, flavours and presentations of meat made this meal a bit more on the lines of fine dining when compared to the fish.
The most outstanding dish of the evening was by far the Wild Fig’s duck main once again prepared two ways. A pan roasted duck breast paired with a confit duck and mushroom tart, creamy parsnip puree, some sautéed kale and a scattering of textured pistachio brittle. For my gluten free alternative they simply omitted the tart casing leaving the confit for us to still enjoy. I’m fairly sure this was the winner from all of us at our end of the table with the beef pulling in a narrow second.
Those of you who know me will be aware of my recent popcorn obsession. Following in the vein of my “all or nothing” personality I have been known to down a whole bag in one sitting before dinnertime. There have also been a number of emergency dashes to the shops in my lunch break. Maybe I’m suffering from a corn deficiency if that is possible. Thank goodness popcorn is gluten free, right? So obviously my favourite dessert for the evening had to be the popcorn pannacotta. I even subjected the pannacotta to the booby jiggle test to which it passed with flying colours. My only criticism, being the popcorn connoisseur, was that the popcorn pieces tasted a bit stale and chewy however the remainder of the dish was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious.
As the white chocolate and raspberry mille-feuille was not gluten free, I didn’t get to taste it and therefore I am unable to personally comment on it but Perth Munchkin did say this was her pick of the bunch.
We all tap-tap-cracked the top of the mandarin and thyme crème brûlée to expose the custardy deliciousness underneath and although the hint of thyme was a fabulous combination with the sweet citrus the texture was very runny as the custard had failed to set properly. Thankfully this was at no sacrifice to flavour but this dish would have been near perfect if the texture was correct.
As we wrapped up the evening out of the kitchen came the three head chefs; Andy Walton from Pickled, Chris May from Naked and Rodrigo da Rocha from Wild. They were all smiles and took the time to tell us what inspired each of them to create their own menus. I love hearing passionate people talk about what they love and I could see each of these men still maintained their love for what they do.
Having read a mixed bag of reviews on all of the Fig’s, I have to say after our pleasant evening I’m inspired to go back and check them out on a night when they don’t know I’m food blogger. If our wonderful meal is anything to go by I’m fairly certain it will be an awesome experience….watch this space!Chompchomp was a guest of the Naked Fig. 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 openly complementary. When I return incognito, I may give a score then.
One of the most frustrating things about being a business owner is losing a good staff member. What makes it even harder is when not only are you sad to see them leave the business but you know you will also miss them as a friend. As a final bid farewell to one of our valued team members we all made the trek to the Swan Valley on a sunny Sunday to The Cheese Barrel. There was a great turn out and we all made ourselves comfortable in the downstairs area on the abundance of couches and cushions.
Located next door to Olive Farm Wines just off Great Northern Highway, The Cheese Barrel has a tremendous menu of cheese from all around the world. They have themed cheese boards such as “Blue Lovers Paradise” or “Soft Cheese Sensation” or alternatively you can order a regional board from Australia, France, Spain or Italy. For those more specific with their cheesy needs individual cheeses can be purchased in 50 gram portions or larger.
My head nurse ordered the Tarago Shadows of Blue, a mild blue mould cheese made with cow’s milk from Gippsland, Victoria. This was one of my favourite cheeses of the day; rich and creamy with a slight tang. Despite the large 100gm serving, this cheese was one of the first to disappear. I even caught a few who proclaimed they don’t like blue cheese sneaking back sheepishly for seconds.
I will be travelling to Barcelona in eight weeks on conference so I thought I’d break away from my French roots and get myself into the flamenco mood. When it comes to cheese I am highly patriotic to my French ancestry however there are a number of Spanish cheeses I shamelessly hold very close to my heart. Or should I say mouth.
The first cheese on this platter was a semi-hard goat’s cheese Murcia Al Vino. This was quite unlike anything I have had before. It has a really creamy flavour yet its texture is elastic and almost buoyant. The rind is a rich plum colour due to being washed in wine giving an interesting fruity after-taste The second cheese on the platter is one I am all too familiar with and love very dearly; Manchego. This versatile semi-hard sheep cheese is one of my all-time favourites and has the distinctive sweet flavour typical of sheep’s cheese. I received gluten free crackers on the side however there was still bread on my platter. To avoid contamination I suggest they avoid mixing the two on the same platter.
Moving around to the second half of the cheese board were two cow’s milk cheeses. The Queso San Simon is a semi-hard smoked cheese from the north-west of Spain. The smoky flavours are quite subtle and delicate and it also has a surprisingly creamy texture for a semi-hard cheese. The blue cheese on the Spanish plate is the Queso Valdeon. I recall trying this for the first time at Clarke’s of North Beach last year with the in-laws. This time the Valdeon tasted like it needed to be left to come to room temperature for another half hour as the flavours were somewhat dulled. It was definitely overshadowed by the creamy deliciousness of the Tarago Shadows of Blue.
Not being familiar with any Olive Farm wines, I ordered an Olive Farm “Wine Flight” to accompany my cheese. Each wine was carefully matched to each cheese to enhance the experience. I’m not going to pretend I know how to describe wines and I’m sure the Olive Farm have done a better job on their tasting notes!
Some of the girls ordered the Soft Cheese Sensation board which was sadly also served a little too cold. It almost seemed like sacrilege to see heroes like La Buche D’Affinois and Brillat-Savarin served firm and erect with minimal shine in their centres. The pernickety side of me also noticed spelling errors on the menu, another minor oversight perhaps.
I am told the macarons were the bomb. They are imported from France, cost $2.20 each and are worth every cent. I totally regret not trying them. At this point our party started to disband with a few of us keen to carry on the festivities. Reluctant to continue drinking this far from home with my car I attempted to convince them all to head into the city but to no avail. Eventually they opted to remain in the valley and I headed home. Not wanting my day to end once I got home I persuaded the Boy to walk down to one of our locals The Balmoral pub to carry on drinking.
Walking down the Albany Highway rekindled my appetite and by the time we arrived at The Balmoral I was super hungry. There were only limited share dishes available gluten free so we shared two serves of the scallops served in the shell topped with chorizo and marinated red pepper. The scallops were fairly small but soft and tender however the chorizo was flavourless and fatty.
Trying to pace myself so I could fit in desert I ordered a light meal for dinner; the char-grilled quail salad. The plump bird was served juicy and pink. The bed of salad was scantly tossed with some occasional crisp prosciutto, warm potatoes and mixed greens. A little more of the flavoursome ingredients wouldn’t have gone astray in this dish.
The Boy has been trying to move away from eating red meat but the lure of a steak at a pub is hard work. This time round he came very close to ordering the Surf and Turf before once again stopping himself and choosing the warm lamb and quinoa salad. His salad arrived at the table piled high on his plate with a generous serving of shredded lamb, spinach, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds feta, dried figs and a subtle hint of mint. The word salad never conjures up thought that the meal would be filing but thanks to the higher protein content of quinoa he was so full that he nearly talked me out of ordering dessert.
I said nearly. After a couple of months of carefully watching what I ate, now there is no holding me back! The white chocolate and bailey crème brûlée sounded like it would be the perfect way to end a long day of eating and drinking. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted very bland with no evidence of any white chocolate or baileys flavours at all. The vanilla ice cream was icy and super sweet.
The Boy defaulted back to his one of his favourites for dessert; the ice cream sundae. Those of you who know him well understand that ice cream is to him what chocolate is to me. His sundae looked like something out of the eighties, and was served with three dishes of sauces; dark chocolate, berry coulis and “butterscotch sauce”. The butterscotch sauce had an odd khaki green colour to it and tasted like molten treacle. It was meant to be topped with nuts and chocolate shavings but there was barely half stingy a teaspoon sprinkled on top. Not a recommended dish even for kids.
Overall the Balmoral is a great casual pub to pop in for a local drink with your mates. There are two courtyards outside and they always have a great vibe and it is the perfect place to enjoy a sun downer in summer. Their food is trying to lift its game above basic pub fare with a few hits and misses along the way.The Cheese Barrel
920 Great Northern Highway, Millendon, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4539 | http://www.thecheesebarrel.com.au/Price: $ Food: 2.5/5 (astounding list available, but needs to be served at the right temperature) Service: 3/5 (quick, helpful) Ambience: 3/5 (overlooks a small patch of forested reserve) Drinks: 3/5 (only tried a few wines) Total: 11.5/20 The Balmoral Hotel 901 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9355 4533 | http://www.thebalmoral.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Entrees $7-23, Mains $22-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2.5/5 () Service: 2.5/5 (our waitress was lovely…but very forgetful) Ambience: 3/5 (casual pub vibe) Drinks: 3/5 (the essentials) Total: 11/20
A wonderful part of being a food blogger is discovering and connecting with other food blogs. The downside of this is that it is a time consuming business and on top of running a business, working full-time and maintaining my own blog; it is sometimes an uphill battle finding the time to read all posts from those I have grown to love and enjoy. Consequently I find myself grouping favourite blogs into the “must reads”, “read when you have time” and “visit occasionally” categories.
Chew Town is definitely in the first category for me. Not being excessively prolific in her posts, she posts often enough to support my interest without making it impossible for me to stay up to date. Her photography is breathtaking and she deservedly won 2nd prize for the photography awards at the Eat Drink Blog conference last year. But it’s not just her blog that is awesome. In sharing a number of common interests we created a foundation for the pen-pal styled friendship common to the blogging community which was finally made a reality thanks to the magic that was Eat Drink Blog 2012.
Originally from Perth, Amanda returned to the West for the silly season and thus we were determined to catch up despite my insane roster placing me on a run of 11 out of 12 days straight. The only time we could tally up was the morning of New Year’s Eve and we met at The Beaufort Street Merchant for some brunch. The Boy was sweet enough to drop me off and so bidding him farewell I said I’d meet him back at the same spot in an hour and a half.
I ordered the Chorizo and Manchego Spanish omelette. Foolish me, in my excitement and chatter I forgot to request no onion and it was a predominate ingredient. I still managed to successful pick the onion out and enjoy my meal. My serving size was absolutely enormous and would have easily fed two people even without the onions! Topped with a fresh crisp rocket salad and thick syrupy balsamic dressing this dish was quite an impressive sight. The toasted gluten free bread was spongy and light, with that springy resilience normal toast eaters take for granted.
Amanda ordered the toasted bagel which was served with hot smoked trout, slippery scrambled eggs and buttered leeks. Again the serving size was huge and all my hopes for getting her to help finish my own giant sized meal were squashed as she had trouble finishing her own.
Now those that know me well can appreciate that I can talk. Well, suffice to say Amanda gives me a run for my money. In what felt like half an hour, no less than two and half hours passed us by during which I had failed to observe 5 missed calls from the Boy who meanwhile was waiting in the heat out in the car for me. Eeeek. Am I the worst fiancé ever? After a number of failed attempts at contacting me, he decided to abandon ship and strolled up to the Queens where I found him enjoying a pint of beer under the water misters. Sheepishly guilty I hurried off to the bar to order the poor hungry man some food and more beer. I didn’t get a chance to stroll through the store at the back of The Beaufort Street Merchant and will be sure to return with an empty stomach and more time in the near future.The Beaufort Street Merchant 488 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 6299 | http://www.beaufortmerchant.com/ Price: $$ (Breakfast $15-22) Food: 4/5 (interesting options for breaky, large serves, fresh produce) Service: 2.5/5 (slow with taking drinks orders and with delivery of food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great vibe, noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (coffee strong and not too bitter) Total: 14/20
Many of you may know I grew up in Adelaide, the City of Churches. At the young and impressionable age of seventeen I left my family and friends behind in order to head west to study veterinary science. Although initially moving to the opposite side of our great continent was not easy, Perth has given me amazing opportunities, plenty of sunshine and most importantly has found me the love of my life.
In my earlier years in Perth I remained in close contact with very few of my school companions. In fact in all honesty, until the creation of Facebook I only stayed in touch with just one school friend; Lenni. Despite our homes being geographically separated by thousands of kilometres, over the years we have always managed to see each other at least once every twelve months or so.
When we were living in London she detoured to see me from Greece where she had attended a family wedding. We lived in a poky little bed-sit in South-east London which was situated upstairs from the 24 hour veterinary hospital in which I worked at. We only had enough room to fit a single blow up mattress on the floor and by the end of every night it would ensure to deflate itself. Dear Lenni never uttered a complaint. No room for luxury during these times!
Another time she flew over for a whirlwind trip down to Margaret River and Pemberton. Eager to show off my newly adopted home, I tried to squeeze everything into a tight 3 day schedule. For those who know these areas you will understand what a crazy schedule this was. We covered a LOT of ground!
Whenever I was visiting Mum in Adelaide, Lenni would always manage to fit me into her hectic on-call schedule for some late night drinks and a bite to eat. No matter how long between impromptu visits we would always manage to spend the whole time laughing and chattering late into the night. I would often wake up the next day with sore stomach muscles from too much giggling.
Fate has a way for bringing good friends together and in recent years Lenni’s career has also brought her to this state of opportunity. Being well overdue to see each other we met up one weeknight at Cantina 663 in Mount Lawley to enjoy some good food, wine and conversation.
I love eating out with someone who really enjoys their food. It is so much more pleasurable to take the time to savour all the flavours of a meal as opposed to quickly wolfing everything down. Better still, it allows you to analyse and really appreciate what you are devouring. Lenni is a gracefully slow eater and meals with her are always at an extended relaxed pace. Cantina 663 is perfect for this style of eating as much of their dishes are designed to share.
There was initially much confusion from our waiter upon ordering our food. At first, he gave me the impression that he was quite familiar with fructose malabsorption and advised me that there was only a couple of small nibbles I could have and nothing on the main menu. He told me as a replacement the chef was happy to specially make me a risotto for my main instead. As he walked away from our table I was left feeling a little bewildered as I have previously been able to eat a number of their menu items as much of it is gluten free. What made things worse was I didn’t feel like a risotto at all yet didn’t want to seem like a complaining ungrateful customer!
On further questioning I discovered that my waiter had presumed that fructose malabsorption meant I had a fruit allergy and couldn’t eat anything with any fruit at all. As many of the dishes contained citrus or lemon juice he thought that they would all be unsuitable. After giving him a brief run down on fructose malabsorption, he returned to the kitchen armed with a wealth of information on this frustrating condition and found out that there was indeed a lot more on the menu that I could eat. What a relief. I was starting to get a bit worried for a moment there!
The buttery smooth smoked salmon rillettes had the consistency of creamy pâté and smeared elegantly over the crusty charred bread. There was no gluten free bread available but when I booked the table a few days prior the waitress kindly advised me in advance and welcomed me to bring my own…which of course I forgot! Paired with crunchy liquoricy preserved fennel and a bottle of Grenache this was perfect dish to kick start our night.
The sauce for the roasted mushrooms contained onions so the chef served this on the side. Despite omitting this potentially key ingredient, the earthy mushrooms were still bursting with rich port flavoured juices. Shreds of buffalo mozzarella cut through the acidity of the dish leaving a lingering creaminess on the palate. A simple dish done well.
Lenni had the crisp pork belly with cotechino, potato hash and pickled onions. Nestled in amongst all these ingredients were finger like slivers of sweet Pink Lady apple. The crackling was as hard as toffee and snapped satisfyingly in the mouth with an audible crack. The meat lacked any unpleasant porky after-taste and the fat had emulsified to a custard-like texture. I was lucky enough to try a small sample denuded of any sauce and could see why she finished every morsel on her plate despite being very full!
I enjoyed the pan-fried barramundi served with an almond butter sauce laced with baby capers. The fish was normally accompanied with artichokes and asparagus which presumably wasn’t onion free so the chef made me a large garden salad instead. The fish had thin crispy skin yet the flesh remained flaky and delicate requiring minimal effort to reduce into bite size morsels. The nearly sweet almond sauce made this ordinarily light meal much more satisfying and I was contentedly full by the end.
Fructose malabsorption is by no means an easy intolerance to understand, and to an untrained ear the requirements are complicated and difficult. I was impressed that although our waiter’s initial presumptions regarding my diet were incorrect he put in the effort to understand the facts and find me something I would enjoy. We will most definitely be back again.
More on Cantina 663: Birthday Dinner at Cantina 663, Mount Lawley (March, 2012)Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | www.cantina663.com Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (they really need to consider stocking gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (bubbly, efficient, but a little confused with my food intolerances) Ambience: 4/5 (warm and cosy inside on a cold rainy night) Drinks: 4/5 (Interesting Portuguese, Spanish & Italian wines. Perfectly matched to the food) Total: 16/20
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
As much as I would love to be spending more of my time eating and blogging like most food bloggers I have a day job. I am a veterinarian who is as passionate about my career as I am about food. In order to stay abreast of this ever evolving field I regularly attend veterinary conferences and congresses. Forever thirsty for new information and ways to better practice medicine, these conferences are often quite intense for me and I have been known to go through a whole biro pen from furiously scribbling down extra notes in the margins of our proceedings.
While I have been a vet for over ten years I have only been blogging for just over a year and my abilities to write and take photos still have a long way to go before I would consider myself “good”. Keen to improve my skills as an amateur I was over the moon to be invited to join 80 fellow bloggers to attend the third annual Eat Drink Blog Conference (EDB) this year. Better still the conference was to be held in Adelaide, the city I grew up in and where my darling mother still lives.
Vets are not unsociable folk by any means; however the extroverts are few and far between meaning at a conference I would be lucky if I managed to network with a small handful of colleagues each time. In stark contrast, the energy and excitement amongst the Eat Drink Blog delegates was infectious. Being more isolated in Perth, there were many bloggers that I had never met. Yet over the past twelve months together we have shared life’s ups and downs via our blogs and social media. Such a warm and welcoming bunch of people filled the room and I sensed a strong sense of community amongst us from the outset.
This year was to be the first year that the conference spanned over two days and I cannot sing enough praise to the dedicated team of people responsible for making Eat Drink Blog such a successful weekend.
I spent much of my adolescent years in Adelaide and the Adelaide Central Markets holds a very dear place in my heart. In the early stages of coping with a broken home, my Mum and I always found solace visiting the markets together. Not only did our scant food budget thrive on the cheaper produce, the atmosphere and buzz was always enough for us to temporarily forget our pains and absorb the vitality. Returning to the markets some twenty years later conjured up a mix of emotions as this was one of the highlights of one of the darker times of my younger years.
Our tour included visits to a number of South Australian owned businesses and many of these were family run having been in the Central Markets for generations.
After the market tour, delegates had the option of joining a winery tour in the Barossa or McLaren Vale, or to participate in a food writing workshop by acclaimed writer Dianne Jacob. As much as the imagery of a road trip with a bunch of food obsessed bloggers sounded like a dream come true, I genuinely want to improve my writing abilities and thus opted for the workshop.
Coming over from wet weather and storms in Perth I wasn’t prepared for the stifling hot day in Adelaide and prickled with sweat as I peeled off my layers walking in the sunshine. Killing time before the workshop we fortunately stumbled upon Dessert Story; a Taiwanese dessert restaurant. Desperate for something refreshing I ordered the Kiwifruit crushed ice. To my surprise out came a towering pyramid of syrupy bright green ice with chunks of kiwifruit tumbling down the sides like cartoon lava. I was unable to finish it partly due to its gargantuan size and partly due to its sickening sweetness.
For anyone interested in becoming a food writer, be it a professional journalist or an unschooled blogger, I can highly recommend attending one of Dianne Jacob’s food writing workshops or at least reading her book “Will Write for Food”. She made us all reflect critically on our writing styles and gave us lots of techniques to improve our style and find our “voice”. Throughout her three hour workshop, she made us all participate in exercises which although hard to do on the spot were effective at illustrating her points.
This is my description of eating a sweet potato chip using adjectives, simile and some emotional significance. Bear in mind this had to be written on the spot!
“The crown of my tooth nearly shatters like glass under the impact of the snap. I start to salivate as I anticipate a piquant brininess only to be left underwhelmed by the subtlety, wimpy aftermath. I breathe a deep sigh of relief as memories of my recurrent nightmares of rotting teeth fade back to the distant cobwebs of my mind. “
The other big take home point for me was the fact that gushing is boring. It’s easy to write a review about a fantastic meal and a terrible one. But most meals are neither of these and fit into somewhat of a grey area. What distinguishes the more talented writers is their ability to write about these grey areas and still manage to capture their readers.
I have my new challenge. Mark my words; there will be no more “delicious”, “yummy” or “cooked to perfection” on Chompchomp from here forth!
This year has been such a hectic and emotional one which has flown by with the speed of light. It has been a whole year since the Boy finally managed to convince me after much persuasion to start writing a blog. After an initial few quiet months while in its fledgling state, it has now grown to be something I am proud to call my own. Many of my close friends are loyal regular readers and are always keen to be part of the Chompchomp phenomenon by joining me on my gastronomic expeditions around Perth.
My wedding expert friend Tara is one of these supportive people and she jumped at the opportunity of a night out with our respective others to Duende to celebrate my first blogiversary coupled with a bit of “wedding talk”.
It was one of those first glorious balmy spring days and I was drunk on the delightful sunshine and perhaps maybe also the bottle of Billecart the boy bought for us in the afternoon. I donned a short summery frock, slipped on some killer Diavolina platforms and bared my winter legs. Call it a stark rebuttal against any further threats of the dreaded cold weather!
We started at The Garden for a few rounds of drinks before heading over to Duende for dinner. Neither Tara nor her husband suffer from any dietary intolerance and were happy to order a selection of dishes that were suitable for me so we could all share. We started off with a bottle of gorgeously bright ruby coloured Pe Tinto Tempranillo, an organic and biodynamic wine from Portugal. We then proceeded to work our way through most of the gluten free options on the menu. Of which there were many!
The marinated olive selection contained over four different types with a broad range of textures and tastes to suit all of our palates. The chorizo had generous amount of heat in it and was thickly cut and juicy.
Patatas bravas are one of my favourite Spanish dishes. Parboiled potatoes are deep fried before being coated with a variety of spices, vinegar and red pepper. They can be served with a number of different types of sauces depending on the area of Spain and which can range from a tomato based sauce to more of an aioli style. These crispy slices of heaven had a generous paprika dusting and were seasoned with some lemony tasting vinegar. The level of spiciness was fairly mild and I would have preferred a bit more of a punch however the Boy was relieved with the relatively low heat.
The pork belly had a luscious creamy texture and literally melted into the polenta without any fatty aftertaste. The pear and plump muscatels gave a pleasant sweet note but I did my best to avoid these two fructose filled fruits.
The lamb rump was quite a surprise. I didn’t really read the menu carefully enough to be prepared for the enchanting sweet maple flavours from the fenugreek. It actually took us all a few moments to work out where the flavours came from! The rump was succulent and pink.
The pickled beetroots were hidden under a loose pile of fresh rocket, goat cheese and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are my favourite nut, in part due to my praline addiction but additionally it brings back indulgent teenage memories of eating Nutella by the jar full. Although an interesting dish this wasn’t one of the better ones.
Initially we were a little reserved in ordering the beef cheeks after hearing negative feedback from a friend that found them to be dry. Cheeks are a cheaper cut of meat with a higher proportion of fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone in them. Provided they are cooked correctly this generally means they are more delicious, though they do require a little time and care when cooking.
We were right in taking the gamble because our cheeks were incredibly flavoured, delicately tender and we really should have ordered two serves and maybe left out the beetroot.
The sensation of squeaky haloumi always brings a smile to my face. Coupled with rich smoky undertones of eggplant puree this simple dish was a crowd pleaser.
Px vinegar is made with the sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes and was the perfect combination with gorgonzola to top the earthy mushrooms. I know I’m a little biased as I have a mushroom addiction but these slippery little nuggets packed a powerful burst of flavour and I could have eaten many more had I not already stuffed my face with everything else!
We chose 3 out of the selection of five available French and Spanish cheeses and it was quite a feat narrowing it down to three. If I wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would have said one of each! Our choice included a semi-firm cow’s cheese Mahon from Spain and two French cheeses; Roquefort, a creamy blue sheep cheese and Sainte Maure, a soft buttery goat cheese.
For sweets we ordered the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream. Obviously these were not for me as they are full of all the gluten in the land; a fact my companions were very content with as it meant there was all the more for them!
After reading a multitude of positive reviews on Duende over the years I cannot believe it took me this long to try them for myself. They more than exceeded my expectations and have to be the best tapas I have experienced in Perth by far. We loved it so much that we actually headed back for a quick midweek bite later that following week! And yes….we ordered more of those patatas bravas.Duende 662 Newcastle Street, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9228 0123 | http://www.duende.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Tapas share dishes range from $4-25, we share 11 dishes/4 people = stuffed!) Food: 4.5/5 (if I had more room I would have tried more!) Service: 4/5 (dishes didn’t come out too quickly, friendly and helpful) Ambience: 4.5/5 (buzzing vibe, I could nearly imagine myself back in Spain…) Drinks: 4/5 (interesting wine list, plenty of by the glass options) Total: 17/20
The Boy had been given a corporate box ticket for the Western Derby game by some work mates and although he is not the hugest follower of AFL he was still pretty excited with his score. There was only one ticket on offer meaning I missed out and so off he headed into Subiaco solo. In order to try and compensate for leaving me home alone, he was kind enough to send me photos of all the delicious food on offer and update me regularly on the game progress. (Not that I’m any more of a footy fan than he is.) Presumably the beer was freely flowing because after the game had finished I receive yet another text message:
“How do I get home? :(“
Considering he was one amongst another 40,000 fans trying to get home, I didn’t like his chances of hailing a cab, nor did I like MY chances of getting through the traffic anytime soon either. After initially considering walking home (so the beer was definitely flowing fast) he offered to meet me over in Leederville where we could stop for a bite to eat before driving home.
At this point in time I was devoid of any makeup, in my track pants and snuggled on the couch with the boys (our two kitties Rollie and Eddie). Any normal person would probably decline an offer of a night out especially considering how cold and wet it was outside and how warm and cosy it was in. But I am never one to turn down a spontaneous night out to eat something other than hum-drum home-made bride food.
After a fairly pricey foodie month of July which included two nights of degustation at Clarke’s of North Beach and Darlington Estate Winery, we opted for a cheap dinner and headed into Justin Bell’s new(ish) venture Snags and Sons. I found out recently at the Mundaring Truffle Festival that they now stock gluten free buns and have a variety of gluten free sausage choices. Many of you are familiar with Justin Bell; several years ago he was one of the first to open up a gourmet burger bar here in Perth namely Jus Burgers. Promoting use of locally sourced produce he has now expanded to include restaurants in Subiaco, Fremantle, Northbridge and now on Chapel Street in South Yarra. S&S is the next chapter for his casual eating empire. As with Jus burgers, the menu is filled with WA produce right down to the desserts. (More on this later!)
Having trekked on foot in the rain from Subiaco, the Boy was keen to order more than just a sausage in a bun so we ordered some marinated olives and some grilled goat chorizo to start. The chorizo was juicy with a subtle hint of chilli heat. The olives were fairly standard and nothing too spectacular.
The Boy ordered the beef Boerwors with smoked Dutch cheese and peach chutney. Although tasty, he wasn’t wowed by his choice at all and felt after the succulent chorizo his sausage was a little dry and lacklustre.
My venison sausage was very succulent and the gamey taint of the meat matched well with the sweet beetroot. The horseradish was barely noticeable through these flavours and a more generous helping inside would have gone down treat. My gluten free bun looked similar to that you find in Jus Burgers, I have to presume the same supplier, and it held its shape well despite all the delicious juiciness contained inside.
A meal ended on a savoury note just doesn’t make any sense. At least that’s what I keep telling everyone. I shimmied out of my corner to wander over and investigate the sweets cabinet. There wasn’t any gluten free cake options however amongst the minitarts and brownies I did notice some vaguely familiar looking nougat chopped up into bite site pieces.
I enquired if it was gluten free upon which I was told they did not know as they buy it straight from Rochelle’s café. “Rochelle Adonis?” I ask. To which I received an affirmative reply. Having feasted on her nougat many times I know for certain that it is indeed gluten free and bought a piece for us both to share. It was perfection as all her creations usually are.
Leederville, 6007 | (08) 9228 3008 | www.snagsandsons.com.au/ Price: $ (Under $15 per meal) Food: 7/10 (may be gourmet, but they are just hot dogs! Keen to try a few more tho) Service: 2.5/5 (our waitress seemed a little distracted but still served us promptly) Ambience: 3.5/5 (funky, vibrant & fresh)
Spontaneity is an uncommon occurrence for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, in fact quite the contrary it’s just that I can’t help but plan and organise things. I hate the thought that an element of enjoyment is missed out due to lack of foresight. But as I was running to my car during the heaviest part of the down pouring rain I got this burning desire to go out for the evening. We both work long hours and often have hectic busy days so most weeknights tend to be a sombre experience of crashing on the couch, eating dinner and watching television. I sat in my car drenched right through to the skin in my work clothes and phoned the boy who was still at work, half expecting him to decline the offer with protests of exhaustion and lack of motivation. His immediate response was yes! Wa-toot!
On the previous weekend, a group of us had a pub crawl up Beaufort Street and on our way to the Flying Scotsman we all dropped into Five Bar for a refreshing beverage to quench us for the uphill stagger to the Scotto. I remember making a mental note to return to try their tapas and so we did.
As you walk into Five Bar you almost feel like you are in someone’s oversized living room. There is a mismatched collection of lounge chairs, ottomans and crates to relax on and the interior is decorated with a similarly eclectic collection of lamps and oddities. As I sipped on my Hendricks and tonic, I felt all the tensions of my day smoothly melt away.
The menu is quite small with the majority of the dishes designed to be shared tapas-style. After requesting to our waitress for suitable gluten-free and onion free options, this menu unfortunately further narrowed down to a smaller handful of dishes.
The marinated olives contained a crowd pleaser selection of pitted and non-pitted, black and green, and in all sizes from jumbo through to the teeny-weeny Arbequina olives. They were all of excellent quality and very moreish.
The beef Carpaccio was dressed with cornichons, goat’s curd and capers, pine nuts, some fresh herbs and EVOO. The beef was sliced perfectly paper-thin but was a bit dry and lacked a little flavour. This was somewhat compensated for by the tarty goat’s curd however that shouldn’t really be the aim of this dish. A few extra lashings of olive oil may have improved this dish.
We were informed after ordering the chorizo that it may contain onions so I gave this a miss and let the boy munch his way through the generous sized serve. It seemed to be quite tender and juicy and disappeared with no complaints.
The slow-roasted mushrooms with Danish fetta, balsamic and chives were definitely one of the better dishes. I am a bit of a self-confessed mushroom addict. I really love their rich savoury flavour; in fact it would be safe to say I eat them daily. These mushrooms were roasted wonderfully. The chef has managed to capture and enhance all that delicious mushroomness I enjoy and the subtle tang of the balsamic gently cut through these flavours to then be followed by the more lingering creaminess of the fetta. We ended up ordering seconds!
The final tapas dish we ordered were the sweet potato frites served with a Moroccan spiced mayonnaise. These were very tasty albeit also a tad oily. Nevertheless I could have eaten more of them if I could fit them in!
We ended the evening with a duo of macarons – vanilla and coffee. After overindulging on some amazing macarons from Choux earlier in the week, unfortunately these ones were a bit of a disappointment. I enjoy the contrast of the crispy outer shell with the chewy nearly gooey centre. These ones were consistently chewy all the way through and showed none of the contrast in textures macarons are meant to have.
Given the popularity of tapas in Perth at the moment we are spoilt for choice. I walked away from Five Bar thinking there are better quality options for the price we paid and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return there.
Venue 8.5/10 Service 7.8/10 Food 7/10Five Bar 560 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley | 0467 534 267