My lifestyle is soon to change as I will be moving to working a Monday to Friday week instead of one with weekend shifts. This has both merits and disadvantages in some ways. I will lose my regular Monday off, which I cannot deny is quite possibly THE best day to have off in the week. But in turn, I will finally be able to spend my weekends with the Boy who hasn’t worked a weekend in years. The first thing I am looking forward with this change is of course food related; I can now be a lady who does weekend brunch.
Now while my inner health freak may have already mentally started lining up juice bars and raw cafes to visit, my alter-ego would much rather an indulgent boozy afternoon.
Enter Swallow Bar with their new debut brunch menu. Moving away from the commonplace hipster chic with its chia puddings and cold pressed juice, these guys are opting to serve a more European styled brunch.
I was recently invited to Swallow Bar to sample their new gluten free friendly brunch menu. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to our table before being offered one of their summer fresh cocktails.
The Perth sun was already pelting down strongly outside and the mere mention of a seasonal Bellini promised to quench my thirst quickly. Our Bellini’s were made with house made strawberry and rhubarb fruit nectar and Cremant de Loire sparkling brut.
For eats, we started off with a sample dish of Swallow’s Captain’s Cure ocean trout. Our waitress informed us that one serve normally comes with three pieces but she served us a smaller amount to give us more room for what was to come. The luscious soft pieces of trout topped crunchy potato rosti and the dish was rounded off with dollops of horseradish crème and a fresh herb salad.
I think I may have smashed back my Bellini a touch too quick, or maybe it was that there was just a hole in my glass. 😉 Either way this opened up a new opportunity for us to order something different from their cocktail menu.
We were sitting in Swallow’s little courtyard at the back of the bar and the day was really starting to heat up. To help cool us down the Boy chose “A Rose is a Rose” jug made with SOS Rosé, brandy, Cointreau, Rose liqueur and lemonade. The rose cocktail was like a gentle breeze of subtle flavours and freshness and I would happily return just for another.
Our next dish was a grilled piadina. This is an Italian dish of folded, grilled flatbread which is filled with savoury or sweet fillings. Our piadina was generously stuffed with mushrooms, thyme, melted scamorza cheese and a touch of fresh chilli for a little hit of spice. Swallow Bar offer a “normal” or a gluten free piadina on their menu. My gluten free piadina was filled with stretchy, stringy cheese and both of us fell silent as we devoured our serves contently. There is something about eating melted cheese that brings back happy childhood memories for me.
To end our fabulous, somewhat naughty brunch, our waitress brought out a plate of Shark Bay prawns to share.
Many of you have followed the WA Signature Dish journey on this blog as I have been the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the past two years. This year our region won the competition with Jerolina’s dish using Shark Bay prawns as her hero ingredient. Seeing the hero ingredient on Swallow’s menu made me very proud! Local is best.
The prawns were simply grilled with lemon butter, fresh chilli and parsley. I was even more delighted to find they were so fresh you could suck their heads. For those not in the know, the meat in the prawn head is actually the most tasty bit of a grilled prawn. I suggest you don’t knock it until you have tried it, just make sure they are super fresh!
Swallow makes a fabulous new addition to the weekend brunch scene in Perth. Being a small bar and not a cafe means you can drag your afternoon over into the evening while you work your way through all those wonderful cocktails. Swallow’s menu is very gluten free friendly with lots of options that won’t make you feel like you miss out.
Chompchomp was an invited guest at Swallow Bar and did not pay for her meal or drinks. Given her insanely hectic schedule she was grateful to receive a more personalised approach to sample the new brunch menu rather than the standard group blogger event. Being such a boutique small bar, it allowed her to get a more accurate feel for the venue and their quality of service. She looks forward to returning as a full paying customer in the near future.
I love being part of unique dining experiences. I find the excitement of the unknown combined with the knowledge that it is a once off event makes the evening feel so special. Alphabet Soup Dining is a Perth-based pop-up restaurant run by chef Melissa Palinkas who is also the Executive Chef and part owner of Young George in East Fremantle. Melissa started Alphabet Soup because she wanted to offer a quirky degustation style meal where she could let her creativity run free. She holds a dinner event once monthly in locations all around Perth and has popped up in places like Milk’d in Maylands, Cutlery Draw in Manning, Frisk! Small Bar and 399 Bar in Northbridge and most recently at Canton Lounge in the City.
I have wanted to attend an Alphabet Soup dinner for some time so when I saw that chef Melissa was holding a truffle themed dinner this was my immediate cue to book us in. I can never say no to truffle. Before booking I checked that the event could cater for gluten free and was happily assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Alphabet Soup events are based around a six course meal and the menus are published online just a few days before the event. After being seated for the evening, we received a couple of rounds of “snacks” that were not on the menu as a surprise. Our first treat was a reverse crayfish truffle sushi roll using locally caught Mindarie cray. The cray meat was tender and sweet having been cooked sous vide with truffle in the bag to infuse a strong flavour.
Our second surprise snack was a basket of miso lamb ribs, also cooked sous vide in a bag with truffle. The meat slid off the bones easily and the Boy and I sat speechless, both far too busy for words as we sucked and slurped each rib until it was clean.
Our next dish was a little theatrical; sake cured ocean trout with truffle with a yuzu and coconut salad. The portions of ocean trout were suspended on a miniature hanging line with pint-size pegs. Super cute.
The trout was matched with a pomelo mojito, made with Havana 7, pink grapefruit, lime and crème de menthe. It was an interesting experience having a meal matched with not just wines, but also a collection of cocktails.
Who said eating gluten free meant you had to miss out? My truffle chicken karage was made using tapioca flour and tasted just like the real thing. Two crispy morsels were accompanied by some truffled Japanese mustard aioli topped with black sesames. This was finger licking good chicken that left no grease on my hands, my only gripe was that I was left wanting more.
My fried chicken yearning was quickly forgotten upon the arrival of the next dish; broken truffle sticky rice with a 62 degree egg. It is hard not to fall madly in love with the magical combination of slow cooked eggs and truffle, and thankfully there are a number of chefs in Perth that have caught onto this simple decadence.
It is guaranteed that this combination will never fail to make me swoon, those flavours are perfectly married in heaven. Poised with my camera in hand, my predictable squeal of delight emitted when the Boy cut into his yolk was met with his usual eye roll. I may be a little over the top with my love for yolk porn, especially after a few cocktails.
For our next dish, we enjoyed a pork and truffle dumpling served in a richly flavoured dashi broth with fresh shiitake mushrooms. To finish the dish, shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle cascaded on the surface adding a stronger hit of truffiliciousness.
I was to learn that the element of surprise is the norm for the Alphabet Soup dinners. Our next course was yet another secret item that was not found on the menu. I really love surprise dishes! A super tender, baby carrot was cooked in truffle dashi before being grilled and then served with an XO sauce ash.
Our final main course was the seared duck breast, cooked Chinese BBQ style with truffle mushrooms, edamame and of course, fresh truffle.
The duck breast was crispy thin on the outside yet remained tender pink and buttery moist on the inside.
To freshen up our palates ready for dessert, we were given a bite sized spoonful of mandarin and yuzu jelly. It was uplifting and refreshing, combining perfectly with my jazzed up G&T made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon and jasmine tea.
Our dessert brought me back to my childhood when Mum and I would go to the Adelaide Central Markets to do our weekly food shopping. My reward for being the good daughter who would come along and help her mother would always be some sort of treat we shared before going home. Most weeks we would end up walking over to Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and finding something delicious. These were the days I was oblivious to the fact gluten was killing me, and in my ignorance I would eagerly look forward to the times we would get ourselves a steam pork bun.
For our final course with Alphabet Soup, the Chef made a special batch of gluten free truffle and pear steam buns just for me. The buns were made using potato, corn flour and rice flour giving an authentic doughy, but fluffy texture. We were given truffle honey and Anglaise sauce to drizzle lavishly over our buns. It was a perfect way to end our evening.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening out with Alphabet Soup and will be watching out for her next event. There was all the right elements of entertainment, quirkiness and originality that I had hoped for with some extra surprises to boot. Chef Mel effortlessly catered for my dietary needs without making me feel like I missed out on any of the degustation experience. Thanks Melissa!
Alphabet Soup | www.alphabetsoupdining.com
Canton Bar | 532 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 8887 | www.cantonbar.com.au
This is my second year to join the team of official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival which is an annual event held over five weeks in Perth City and its surrounds. Eat Drink Perth is a festival where there is something for everyone with all sorts of brilliant foodie events held every day ranging from degustations to walking tours, bar wars to cooking classes and there is even a Food Truck Rumble. We are now half way through the festival and reflecting back over the past few weeks I am happy I have managed to cram a lot in despite my non-blog working life being super busy. I have attended the annual Gluten Free Expo, an intimate long table diner by The Creatives, eaten some velvety raw desserts at CNR and watched a friend eat nearly 900 grams of pork knuckle at Brotzeit.
In return for our writing and photography efforts for the festival, each blogger has been kindly delegated complementary tickets to some events that we listed on our individual top ten festival picks. For me this included an opportunity to attend Frisk Small Bar’s Martini and Oysters night.
Along the same lines that I don’t understand people who don’t like cats, I don’t understand those that don’t like oysters. They are so succulent and juicy, slightly sweet and slightly briny all in one mouthful and I could easily eat my body weight of them if I was given the chance.
Normally I love pairing oysters with French champagne however in all honesty I am generally happy pairing champagne with almost anything! For a change, I was interested to see how the oysters paired with a Martini as this was a combination I haven’t tried before. Would the Martini complement the flavours of the oysters or would it be too overpowering and just drown them out?
The bar team at Frisk can churn out some of the best cocktails in town and I had confidence that they could pull this combination off with a hit. They have one of the most enormous and amazing gin collections that I have even seen and I figured that if anyone could match a cocktail to an oyster they would be the ones to achieve it.
And my gut feeling was right. I was soon to discover that sipping Martinis with oysters is indeed a perfect match with the flavour of each seemingly enhanced by the other. The botanical crispness of the martini meant it didn’t overpower the creamy oysters and my palate ended with a harmonious briny finish. This is a combination definitely worth trying again provided I can muster up the will power to say no to champagne. And that is never easy!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth ’15 and enjoyed her oysters and martini courtesy of the City of Perth. For more details of Eat Drink Perth events head to their website.
Martinis & Oysters Every Thursday during Eat Drink Perth ’15 at Frisk Small Bar, 103 Francis St, Northbridge WA 6003
I have always had a very keen interest to try Malaysian cuisine but the fear of accidentally eating gluten has frightened me off. I learnt this the hard way on our trip to Kuala Lumpur earlier this year where I was quite restricted in what I could eat and despite being very careful I ended up getting sick from eating something with gluten in it.
Many moons ago I perused RIA Malay Kitchen’s menu online and found that they are one of the rare Asian restaurants in Perth that not only can accommodate for gluten free but have dishes specifically marked on their menu. Consequently I have wanted to visit this Leederville restaurant for quite some time. Knowing in advance what I can eat makes life so much easier, for those with food allergies you learn quickly that doing your research prior to choosing a restaurant is so important.
RIA have recently renovated and expanded their popular restaurant with a revamped menu including old favourites alongside some new additions. Chef Jon Hizola’s style is based on authentic home style Malaysian cooking and with RIA being an allergy friendly venue, they were keen to invite me come along and try some of their dishes.
The word “ria” can be translated from Malay to mean happy or jolly and I could see that the staff working both front of house and in the kitchen seemed to apply this to their daily work. We were greeted with warm smiles and although my booking was late in the afternoon at a strange time of day to eat there were still a number of customers dotted about the restaurant.
RIA offers still or sparking water free of charge which I thought was a lovely touch but I was in the mood for something a bit more exciting. They have a small cocktail menu with some interesting options. I started off with the mandarin sour; slightly sweet with a hint of sour this was the type of beverage I could down way too easily while sitting by the pool on a hot summer’s day.
The menu doesn’t just cater for those with gluten sensitivity but also has options for dairy free and nut free meals. It felt like such a luxury to be able to just choose dishes straight off a menu without my waitress having to go to and fro from the kitchen. As an extra precaution, I always ask for it to be written on our order slip that I’m coeliac just to reinforce to the chef to avoid cross contamination.
We started with a couple of small plates off the entrée menu; the lotus chips and the crispy prawns. Both were served with a mild spicy homemade mayo. The Boy hadn’t tried lotus root chips before and crunched through them nearly as quickly as he would a packet of corn chips. Along with ice cream, corn chips is another one of the Boy’s weaknesses.
The prawns were one of my favourite dishes and were so flavoursome. Cooked in a gluten free batter with a thin crispy outside and crunchy middle, you could taste the freshness of these critters. They were topped with some fried garlic and chilli which added another punch of flavour. You wouldn’t want to be on a first date after eating these!
It was hard to just choose two curries for us to share as there were quite a few gluten free options. I toyed with the idea of ordering three which the Boy also thought was a good idea but our waitress raised her eyebrows at us and explained that we would want to be extremely hungry! I settled for just two but ordered some pilau rice to help mop up all the sauces.
My first choice was the seafood tamarind. I fell in love with tamarind in my travels through Thailand, the tangy flavours always go so well with delicate seafood. It was a generous serve and the seafood was super fresh with the fish fillets so tender they tumbled apart under my fork.
For our second curry I chose the Nyonya chicken curry as I wanted to try something authentic. RIA uses a traditional recipe that has been handed down from the Chef’s mother for generations. The curry is gently spiced with turmeric, chilli and cinnamon and then cooked with coconut milk.
Now I am not of Malaysian descent so I can never confess to being an expert on Nyonya cuisine, but I have certainly eaten a lot of curries and I know what makes a beautiful curry and what makes one fall short. A good curry to my western tastebuds, is one that has an individual and defined flavour with wonderful layers of complexity from the careful addition of spices, coupled with slow judicious cooking. Too many times have I been out for curry, ordered a bunch and they all just taste the same!
Our Nyonya curry had all the makings of a brilliant curry such that we polished off the lot despite feeling uncomfortably full by the half way mark. In hindsight, we really did eat too much (again) and that is saying something as we both have bottomless pits for stomachs.
Dessert was a childhood favourite of mine, sago pudding or, sago melaka. My mum used to make this for us when we were kids and I always loved the sensation of squishing the little tiny soft pearls of sago between my teeth. Our saga melaka was served with fresh apple which is not fructose friendly so I let the Boy eat the fruit off the top before we tucked in together.
For someone who is gluten free, I usually don’t even consider dining in Asian restaurants as the chance of a suitable meal can be near on impossible. The only exceptions I have found is Vietnamese, Thai and Indian cuisines as they do not use soy sauce or much wheat flour. The discovery that Ria Malay Kitchen is so accommodating for those on a gluten free diet is quite a liberating find and I will definitely be returning.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of Ria Malay Kitchen however my views and opinions are my own. Ria Malay Kitchen 106 Oxford Street, Leederville WA 6007 | (08) 9328 2998 | riamalaykitchen.com.au
Back in March I attended a two-day feline veterinary conference in Kuala Lumpur. The Boy joined me at the end of the conference where we stayed on for an extra day to explore the city together before flying onto Vietnam for our anniversary holiday. As I’m not accustomed to sitting still for long periods, by the time the Boy arrived after my two conference days had finished I was full of energy like crazed, caged animal. We had only allocated one day for KL so to cover as much ground as possible I planned a busy schedule of eating with some sight-seeing and shopping thrown in for good measure.
We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which was where the conference was held and was conveniently located within walking distance to the shopping areas and the monorail station. Our room was one of the “Lifestyle Rooms” which overlooks the beautiful Petronas Towers. The room gave us access to the Lifestyle Club floors however I felt this probably was a waste of our money as I only went in there once. The bathroom had a good range of Tokyomilk amenities which were refreshed daily.
The breakfast on offer in the club lounge was much smaller than the buffet downstairs and wasn’t worth returning for. We didn’t get a chance to check out their free afternoon cocktail hour. The gym was huge and certainly one of the better equipped, more modern hotel gyms that I have seen. It was nearly as big as my regular gym back home. The breakfast buffet had all the usual suspects that I would expect in a South-east Asian hotel however I would have preferred better quality. They had gluten free bread and muffins available on most albeit not all days.
1. Local breakfast snack at Nyonya Colours, Suria KLCC
Unless I’m staying five-star, hotel breakfasts are not really a deal clincher for me as I prefer to get out and about to sample the city’s cuisine. We skipped our hotel breakfast and headed off on foot towards the Petronas Twin Towers. Located at the base of the twin towers is Suria KLCC; six heavenly levels of shopping with something for everyone ranging from high ends brands like Tiffany, Chanel, Gucci and LV through to some more affordable fashion, sport wear and accessories stores. The Boy was kind enough to tolerate a short spurt of shopping before stopping in at Nyonya Colours for a quick morning snack.
I flashed my home-made Malaysian gluten free, fructose friendly eating card to the cashier to which he initially frowned and shook his head. After giving my request more thought he then pointed to the only two suitable options in the glass cabinet; a type of fish cake wrapped in banana leaf called otak otak and a rose sago dessert. Beggars can’t be choosers I thought to myself so I ordered them both.
If they are made traditionally, Otak otak should be naturally gluten free but as always if you are Coeliac or very sensitive please ensure to check with the seller before you buy. Otak otak are a type of spicy fish cake made with coconut milk, shrimp paste, egg, rice or tapioca flour and spices such as kaffir lime, turmeric, lemongrass and chilli. They can often contain some shallots so for those sensitive to onion be aware of this.
Rose sago is another traditional Malaysian dessert made from sago, coconut milk, palm sugar and fresh coconut. It is flavoured with rose essence for a subtle hint of floral flavour. I have been a big fan of eating these “kuih” since I first tried Red Hot Spatula’s some years back.
The Boy wasn’t keen on any of the vegetarian options from Nyonya Colours so after I finished my otak otak we headed downstairs to the food hall in search of something else for him to eat. As we entered the basement area I saw a post office and dashed over to send postcards home to family and friends. Meanwhile the Boy found a food stall serving some vegetarian sushi. Whilst the stall holder nodded to me that his selection was gluten free, I didn’t want to take the risk it as there was some suspect looking marinated tofu inside that looked like it contained soy sauce.
As the Boy sat down to eat his breakfast, my eyes gazed around the mall and caught sight of a brightly lit Garrett’s popcorn store. I have been lusting over this world famous popcorn for a very long time and was dying to try it. I ran over to the store like an excitable child and ordered a large bag of their popular Chicago mix to eat later back in the hotel room. Most of Garrett’s popcorn flavours are gluten free but once again be sure to double check before you order. Oh, and another warning…it is very addictive and once you open the packet you need to be prepared to be unable to stop until it’s all gone.
2. Petronas Twin Towers
Our first touristy stop was the Petronas Twin Towers; KL’s 88 floor 452 metre tall skyscraper. We were on a fairly tight schedule so had I pre-booked our tickets to go up to the top online the day before. For those less organised there are also a small allotment of tickets available every morning at the ticket counter but get there early as they sell out quickly. The tickets cost 80 RM per person.
Our journey consisted of two parts; the first was up to the 41st level where the twin towers are joined by a 58 metre sky bridge. We were given around ten minutes or so to explore the bridge and take photos.
After this we were escorted to the 68th floor which is the highest point in the building that the general public are permitted. Once at the top we were left to our own devices to explore, read the display information and take in the 360 degree view of Kuala Lumpur CBD.
After our Petronas experience was over we headed back down to the ground level to find ourselves a taxi to Batu caves. On our way we passed a macaron stall allowing me to have a quick impromptu mac attack. Well, it’s not like I could walk past and not try a couple of flavours, could I?
3. Batu caves
Our next stop was the Batu caves. These caves are accessible by either taxi or train with a substantial difference in price. We paid about 80 RM for one way by taxi however we made the mistake of catching it outside our hotel, you could probably get a metered taxi for half the price if you were a bit savvier.
The Kommuter train line runs right out to the caves with a direct stop and our return trip on the train only set us back 4 RM each. We are not the biggest fans of public transport and found the taxi much easier and more relaxing. Additionally the connection from the Kommuter train to the Monorail at KL Sentral station wasn’t the easiest to find as the signposting was quite poor.
There are a few noteworthy things to see at the Batu caves. Your first hurdle is to climb the 272 steps to get to the caves. There is no lift available which is worth knowing in advance if you are injured, infirm or wheelchair bound. At the foot of the stairs is the world’s tallest statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. He stands nearly 43 metres tall and it took 300 litres of gold paint to paint him!
After spending a few days cooped up in lectures, the stair climb was just the workout that I needed. I do have to confess that we both stopped halfway to catch our breath! Dotted all up the stairs were a multitude of long-tailed macaques all scampering about trying to forage amongst the rubbish left by messy humans.
The Cathedral Cave located at the top of the stairs is a huge area with an impressive high ceiling and was filled a number of Hindu statues and ornate shrines although they were not very well maintained with rubbish littered about the place.
After walking through the Cathedral cave, we also took a tour through the Dark Cave. Tours cost 35 RM per adult and last about an hour. Our tour guide Zarris was an entertaining chap who spoke excellent English and was very informative. In contrast to the cultural experience of walking through the temple, the Dark Cave tour is focussed on educating about conservation. It highlights some of the intriguing invertebrate wildlife living in the caves and if you are lucky you might get to sight a bat or two. We also got to view some beautiful large stalagmite and flow stone formations.
On our way to the Batu train station to return back to the city centre, the Boy stopped at one of the street food vendors to grab a quick on-the-go snack. Unfortunately the stall holder couldn’t read any of my translated eating cards meaning I couldn’t identify whether anything was gluten free.
Instead I settled for some durian popcorn. I can see why some people go nuts for this fruit, it has a very distinct and pungent flavour!
4. Shopping at the Pavilion and a Hello Kitty coffee at Komugi Cafe
My next checkpoint was to buy myself a Hello Kitty latte. As many of you know, I am a self-confessed crazy cat lady and whenever I’m on holidays I need to get a kitty fix from somewhere. A few weeks back I had seen a picture of cat coffee art at Komugi Café on my Instagram newsfeed and was determined to head there and score one for myself.
Komugi Café is a Japanese bakery selling a variety of Japanese baked goods including a lot of different types of breads and pastries. Regrettably none appeared to be gluten free so we settled on some chocolates instead.
The coffee tasted a lot milkier and was weakly flavoured, quite a contrast to my normal preferences. However the pure novelty of having a Hello Kitty face decorated in my coffee’s foam made this one of the best coffees I have ever had! 😉
Komugi is located in the Pavilion shopping centre which is also multi-level and has a different collection of shops to that in Suria KLCC. After doing a spot more shopping we were ready for something more substantial to eat having only nibbled on things throughout the day.
5. Jalan Alor Hawkers food
It was a short walk from the Pavilion to Jalan Alor where there is a wide variety of street food with prices that won’t break the travel budget. I brought with me all my translated eating cards written in Malaysian, Chinese and Thai and this made it a bit easier to find someone willing to help us.
Gluten free alcohol options are grim with most hawker restaurants only serving beer. I was happy to abstain and enjoy a fresh young coconut instead. Veterinary conferences can be quite heavy going with a lot of alcohol drinking so I’m sure my liver appreciated some time off.
Before choosing our dinner location we started off with some grilled corn and sambal stingray. After showing the stall holder my gluten free eating card I watched them carefully while they prepared our dishes to ensure there wasn’t any gluten containing sauces like soy added. The sting ray was a bit of a disappointment as it wasn’t as spicy as that I’ve had in Singapore and the meat wasn’t tender and flaky.
Our next round of meals were from Restoran Sun Chui Yuen who were very happy to accommodate and help choose some gluten free dishes for me. We ordered steamed ginger crab, prawns with egg yolk, fried tofu and fried rice. As we looked around us we saw that we had ordered a lot more dishes than any of our adjacent tables despite it just being for the two of us. Locals pointed at all our food and laughed while they rubbed their bellies to indicate our greediness. We smiled back sheepishly.
Whilst I had tried my best to explain to our waiter about potential contamination of gluten in food, this is the hardest part of ordering in a foreign country. Many waiters will understand about not including ingredients with gluten, but to ensure the frying oil and the chopping board is clean is much more difficult.
Later that night I did get a reaction however thankfully it wasn’t too severe and I am guessing it would have just been in the deep fryer rather than actually in the food. I should have used my common sense and stuck with steamed dishes.
6. Night cap at Marini’s on 57 Sky bar
The fact that the locals at Jalan Alor thought our eating habits were hilarious were well founded. We were feeling very full and ready for late night cap before hitting the sack. Before we did, I wanted to show the Boy how beautiful the Petronis Towers looked all lit up at night so we walked back to the city centre for a drink at Marini’s on 57 Sky bar.
Marini’s is located on the 57th level of Petronis Tower 3 adjacent to the Twin Towers and gives a spectacular view of the building and city below. It is claimed to be Malaysia’s highest rooftop bar and has floor to ceiling glass windows to maximise on the view. Marini’s has three areas with a funky bar, Italian restaurant and cigar lounge.
We made ourselves comfortable at the bar and I ordered a Mary’s Melon cocktail; made with 42 below Manuka honey vodka, Midori melon, rosemary syrup and vanilla syrup and garnished with a rosemary stalk and chunks of honey dew. Not exactly a fructose friendly drink but it was completely worth it.
Whilst it wasn’t easy to find a gluten free Kuala Lumpur; with eating cards in hand things were made a bit easier for me. For those foodies not restricted by the shackles of food intolerances it is definitely a city worth eating your way around. Street food vendors are everywhere and I wish I could have sampled more dishes. Alas I have learnt that whilst I can tolerant a bit of fructose here and there, gluten is my enemy and is simply not worth the pain.
Suria KLCC Shopping Centre | www.suriaklcc.com.my/index.html Petronis Twin Towers | Lower ground level, Petronis Twin Towers, KLCC 50088 Kuala Lumpur | +603 2331 8080 | www.petronastwintowers.com.my Jalan Batu Caves, 68100 Jalan Batu Caves, Selangor | +603 6189 6284 | en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Caves | Dark Cave Educational Tour, Batu Caves | www.darkcavemalaysia.com Komugi Café | Lot 24/1A, Tokyo Street, Level 6, Pavilion Shopping centre, Kuala Lumpur | +603 214 80369 | www.komugi.com.my Jalan Alor Street Food | Jalan Alor Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur Marini’s on 57 | Level 57, Menara 3 Petronis, Persiaran KLCC, 50088 Kuala Lumpur | +603 2386 6030 | www.marinis57.com
A couple of weeks ago the Boy bought me a surprise gift of some Pemberton Finger Limes from Scutti, our local greengrocer. Finger Limes are a native Australian plant that originate from our lowland, subtropical rain forests in Queensland and New South Wales. I am by no means a stranger to this curious “citrus caviar” having eaten it a number of times when we have been out at restaurants. I have never really known how to use it in my own cooking however figuring there is never anything wrong with experimentation in the kitchen I decided to use it to garnish my vegan tortillas I made using Mexican masa flour.
The finger limes added a whole new level of texture and flavour to my Mexican feast with each lime pearl popping in my mouth to give a short sharp burst of citrusy freshness. Within a week of posting my recipe I was contacted by Jacquie Baker from Pemberton Finger Limes to kindly invite me to the Pemberton Finger Lime Tasting night held at The Terrace Hotel. Keen to learn other ways to use these bizarrely shaped fruits, I eagerly accepted her invitation.
I was joined by fellow bloggers Perth Munchkin and Perth Food Engineers along with a number of other foodies for a night of finger lime laced treats. We kicked off the evening with margaritas made using finger lime salt, citrus and caviar.
The first dish was a smoked chicken mousseline with avocado puree wrapped in a thin layer of pastry and therefore not gluten free. The chef happily made me one on request without the pastry so I could also try it. The mousse was smooth and light with a strong smoky after taste which was uplifted by the hint of citrus.
Following on from the smoked chicken mousseline, we were served thinly sliced cured ocean trout with radish and crème fraiche, topped with micro herbs and finger limes. The trout was soft, tender and delicately flavoured. As more food slowly started to roll out of the kitchen, Jacquie spoke to us about how her parents’ retirement hobby has grown into a fully-fledged and successful business.
It all started back in 2006 when they planted two paddocks with finger lime plants on their Pemberton property and harvested their first crop in 2011. This crop sold out in just six weeks and the fruit were highly sought after by Perth’s top chefs including Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse.
Now onto their fourth year of harvest, Pemberton Finger Limes have made their way into the retail market which means you don’t have to spend big bucks and visit a top end restaurant to try them.
Over the course of the evening the chef experimented with a number of different proteins to showcase the finger limes however my favourite dishes were those using seafood. Citrus caviar topped on oysters adds a burst of freshness that you simply cannot get with a squeeze of standard lime juice. Better still the sensation of popping “eggs” of juice in your mouth layers such a fabulous textural element that gives me flashbacks of some our molecular gastronomy experiences with their spheres, powders and other intriguing elements. I can understand why it is such a popular ingredient at Amuse!
The night ended with some vanilla cheese cake which was regrettably not gluten free however the chef did offer to serve me the top half without the biscuit base. I am always a little nervous when I am offered this as there is always the chance of cross contamination however I didn’t react to it later that night so obviously he took care in preparing it for me.
Pemberton Finger Limes are a seasonal fruit which are generally available from early April through to end of May depending on the weather conditions. They can be purchased from a few select locations around Perth, refer to their website for stockists.Pemberton Finger Limes | www.pembertonfingerlimes.com.au Chompchomp was an invited guest to this event thanks to Pemberton Finger Limes. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au
This event has now passed. My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page.
This Sunday it all kicks off at the Perth Cultural Centre for our inaugural Perth Food Truck Rumble. The food truck revolution has taken off in our city bringing street food from around the world and into our hungry hands. You will be surprised at the incredible number and variety of food trucks we have operating around Perth. At the Food Truck Rumble you will be able to experience street food from countries such as Brazil, Spain, France, Mexico, Italy and more. There will be Asian fusion trucks and even a few dessert trucks with sweet treats such as cupcakes, popsicles and most importantly macarons!
There will be 17 food trucks there on the day so to make life a little easier Perth Food Truck Rumble’s organiser Ai-Ling has kindly helped me compile a list of gluten free friendly and vegetarian trucks so you can arrive at this busy event ready and prepared!
I am gob smacked at the amount of gluten free food options these food trucks can provide and I guarantee that I’ll be so full by the end of the day I will be barely able to walk! I have tried to divide the options into the semblance of a three course meal so you can fit it all in!
My gluten free food truck degustation for this Sunday:
Comida Do Sul Brazilian Food truck will be serving Prato Feito, a famous Brazilian dish with picanha grill (beef steak), farofa (crushed, roasted Brazilian yam), black beans, rice, mandioca frita (fried cassava), vinaigrette and kale. The steak can be omitted to make this dish vegetarian. Their fries are also gluten free.
Both Mexican trucks Lil Tortilla Boi and Mojito Cantina will have a number of GF options. I cannot wait to try Mojito’s gluten free chilli dog nachos paired with
sweet potato spicy wedges. (I was informed on the day that these were not gluten free despite receiving advice pre-event that they were.)
I plan to wash this all down with some gluten free raw juice from The Juicist.
For those that are vegetarian but not gluten free; you also have the option of The Merrywell Food Truck who will be serving mac and cheese bites or head over to Franklin Foodies for their vegetarian Philly rolls stuffed with Italian marinated field mushrooms, bell peppers and melted cheese. Finally you cannot miss out on some vegetarian Jumplings, a taste sensation that has hit near cult status in Perth. Sadly the truck’s owner Roy is yet to perfect a gluten free version of Jumpling pastry which has been a work in progress for some time.
For a mid-afternoon interlude:
While I allow my stomach to make room for more, I am going to head over to Cocktail Gastronomy’s Molecular pop-up bar where their team will be conjuring up some magical cocktails including their signature liquid nitrogen espresso martinis, Bunsen burner torched lemon meringue pie and sous vide lychee mojitos.
After allowing some time for digesting, I plan to move onto something more substantial however I am yet to decide as there are a couple of great GF options. Both Little Caesar’s and Vince’s Mobile Wood Fire Pizza will have gluten free and vegetarian pizzas and if you are more of a burger-buff Hey Pesto can do both gluten free and vegetarian burgers. If you prefer to dine on something more healthy The Wagon will be churning out some scrumptious sounding vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals such as coriander chickpea tomato curry, Thai glass noodle salad and even some raw, vegan, chocolate fudge brownies!
By the end of the day my belly will be close to exploding point therefore I am going to have to select my dessert carefully. Should I try one of Delish Ice’s creatively flavoured popsicles or will the Boy’s ice cream addiction land me at Miss Tartufo for some gelato? Or will I predictably end my night with a mac attack and buy myself vast numbers of macarons from Miam Miam?Please be aware that this is a guide only and if you have a high level of gluten intolerance then always check with the vendors prior to purchasing. Due to working in the small confined spaces of a food truck, some vendors may not be able to guarantee that there is no cross contamination with gluten. Perth Food Truck Rumble will be held on Sunday 13th April 2014 as part of Eat Drink Perth at the Perth Cultural Centre off William Street in Northbridge from 11 am to 8 pm. Entry is free and food will range from $5-$15 per dish. Food Truck Rumble | Facebook | Twitter Addendum: My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page
Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and their launch party The First Feast was held at Brookfield Place last Monday. The event attracted all the who’s who of the food industry as seven of the star venues from around Brookfield Place took the guests on a culinary journey complete with signature cocktails, entertainment and substantial amounts of food. As one of the team of four official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth I joined the festivities for a night of fun.
The evening commenced outdoors under the stars with pre-dinner cocktails served by Bar Lafayette and Choo Choo’s. A gorgeous Perth based swing band called the Darling Buds of May churned out some hip-swinging tunes under the eerie blue lighting whilst the mixologists at the bar vigorously shook, muddled and stirred up some of the prettiest cocktails in town.
It was hard to know what our amuse bouche actually looked like under the deep blue hue of the lights but it certainly packed a bomb of flavour. It was created by the guest of honour Matt Golinski using a number of ingredients that are Western Australian grown. Bite sized spoonfuls of soft spanner crab mixed with crushed macadamia, ginger and coconut were piled neatly on a betel leaf and topped with pearls of finger lime. The heart-shaped leaf made it easy to roll up and eat somewhat delicately even for someone as uncoordinated as myself.
After a few rounds of Moscow Mule cocktails we were all ushered into the foyer of Brookfield Place to what I can only describe as the longest long table I have ever seen. Seating 250 guests it spanned from one side of the vast foyer to the other. Our tables were already set with our entrées which were created by Sushia Izakaya; a Japanese restaurant who pride themselves on using fresh produce to prepare dishes that are a fusion of traditional and modern Japanese flavours.
The majority of the table received the Hamachi carpaccio of Kingfish sashimi in an Asian styled pesto with yuzu soy and wafu gelée. I was told that whilst the fish was very soft it tasted like it had been plated a little too soon in advance and had consequently been sitting at the table for some time before we were seated.
As I gazed up and down the longest long table I noticed that for once I wasn’t the only one with food allergies and there was in fact three of us in a row with alternate dishes to the Kingfish. My gluten free option of pork belly was served cold and each cube of meat had a near gelatinous texture that melted on contact with my tongue. It was topped with a ginger salsa and came with a mound of pickled daikon. I love my Japanese pickles and was overjoyed at the size of my heap on the plate.
Queen of Bad Timing’s Kristy cannot eat capsicum and so she was served gyu tataki, or seared beef. It was served with garlic chips, chives, momiji orosh, scallions and ponzu sauce.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings needed something cooked as she has a little Junior Burger Boy in the oven. Whilst the staff didn’t get the memo of her pregnancy dietary requirements in advance the kitchen were super quick on their feet to whip her up some gyu kushiyaki, or beef skewers. Marinated in kinolo teriyaki sauce each morsel looked exquisitely soft. Gazing over at her plate I had a brief moment of carnivorous food envy and she tweaked each piece off the skewer and devoured it.
The mains were provided by The Trustee Bar and Bistro as a shared style of dining with the dishes being placed in the centre of the table. I was somewhat surprised that for such a high profile event the mains were not plated individually however shared dining does make the night more social and interactive by encouraging strangers to share stories.
All the mains and sides were gluten free allowing me to try them all. The Cone Bay barramundi was by far my favourite, obviously in part due to the addition of truffle but also because it was such a quality piece of fish cooked faultlessly.
The cheese platter created by The Heritage came in a variety of forms to suit everyone’s dietary requirements. The standard option consisted of some crumbled Papillon Roquefort with Roquefort foam, cabernet poached pear and a thyme salted doughnut. For my gluten free version the doughnut was omitted.
Being pregnant, Foodie Cravings cannot eat soft cheese she received a wedge of Swiss Gruyère instead of the blue cheese.
The “Whisky and Cigars” dessert was created by Print Hall. The jar of crème caramel embodied all the rich honey flavours of Lochen Ora whisky leaving subtle lingering hints of spice of the palate. The chocolate cigar wasn’t gluten free however I was told it had very distinct smoky tobacco flavours and was an acquired taste that not all enjoyed. I cannot deny it makes me happy to know my gluten free component was the best part! 😉
Being a Monday evening many of us were holding ourselves back on our alcohol consumption knowing that we would have to drag ourselves out of bed to go work the following day. However as glasses of Bobeche’s famous Iced Tea were brought to the table I resigned myself to the fact that I would wake up in the morning to find myself in Struggletown. Made with Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray gin, Pampero Blanco Rum, Cherry Heering, sweet spice tea, fresh lemon and lemonade this was one Long Island Iced Tea too good to pass on. It was also one that made me grateful I didn’t drive that night! Whilst the Tea wasn’t served in their signature tea cups being a small bar I can imagine they are unlikely to own 250 cups to be able to use on that single evening!Chompchomp was invited to The First Feast as a guest and will be one of the official four bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. For the whole month of April there will be events, activities and discounts on food and beverages all across the city. Check out the Eat Drink Perth website for all the latest news.
We really have to consider ourselves lucky living here in Perth. Not only do we have the Swan Valley, a fabulous wine region only half an hour’s drive from the CBD, but for those willing to do a weekender trip we also have Margaret River. In November every year this relaxed little town becomes a buzz with life for the three day food festival; Gourmet Escape. Last year the Boy and I attended in full feasting force visiting the Gourmet Village on both days in addition to attending a few fabulous satellite events. We ate uncontrollably all weekend long and our repeated episodes of over-indulgence stretched our stomachs to near-bursting capacity. After just a few hours of not eating, our saggy baggy internal gizzards would start to gurgle and unbelievably we would get hungry again. On our last night before returning to Perth, we rolled our giant sized bodies down to the main strip to find ourselves more food. Our noses lead us to Morries Anytime.
I started off with looking at Morries Anytime’s cocktail menu. Their mixologist Billy Phillips was recently awarded “highly commended” for the Mixologist Award in the 2013 AHA Awards. Earlier that day at the Food for Thought sessions at Voyager Estate I had thoroughly enjoyed his Billy’s Punch and now I was keen to try more of his beverages. It had been quite a hot day and I needed something non-alcohol to start. This being quite a rarity for me I was thrilled to see a variety of interesting mocktails available. I chose the Green Guy; a jar of cold Green tea with added cucumber, rosemary and lime. I gulped it down eagerly and felt its icy freshness hit the back of my palate and slowly cool me down from the inside. My second drink was a Tart Gin Cooler. It contained a long pour of Tanqueray gin split with a freshly squeezed grapefruit and topped with a splash of Peychauds bitters tonic & fresh basil. It was as strong as rocket fuel and made up for my earlier sobriety.
Morrie’s menu facilitates shared style dining which suited us fine as we just wanted to pick and nibble the night away together. Our first choice was the treacle cured salmon. Melt-in-your-mouth thin slices of brightly coloured salmon had just a delicate hint of caramel sweetness. It was coupled alongside a grilled fennel and pear salad with orange vinaigrette.
For nearly a whole year previously the Boy refused to eat oysters after eating a bad one and I’m so relieved that he has finally put those memories behind him and got back in the oyster saddle. Morries oysters came with a perfect sized dollop of gin and cucumber sorbet. We necked back these fresh, slurpalicious beauties much quicker than we really should have. Gluttony dies hard.
Relishing in the freshness of the seafood we ordered the fresh prawn meat salad served with crispy baby cos lettuce, sweet corn, radish and a thick lemon dressing. After eating quite a lot of heavy food all day these dishes sat so light in our overextended stomachs. The only problem was we kept ordering more.
For the days preceding our trip I was convinced that my iron level were plummeting again as that familiar tiredness, cold chills and achiness had started to return. Whilst I don’t eat red meat often, when my body craves it I listen and consequently ordered myself the porterhouse steak.
The steak was served with a luscious scoop of horseradish crème fraiche on a creamy potato terrine with asparagus and vine ripened tomatoes. That’s my dose of iron for the day, check. As a backup, I wrote myself a reminder in my calendar to take more iron tablets in the following week.
The Boy has also recognised my need for iron as I’m normally a very energetic person and the iron deficiency version of me becomes very quiet and sleepy. Thankfully he kept his lectures on the need to eat a plant based diet to himself that evening and ordered himself the raw zucchini pasta and a rocket salad.
Each “pasta” ribbon was long and spaghetti-like just how we both like it and I quickly nabbed a big forkful before he could fight me off. The zucchini was coated liberally in a creamy nut truffle sauce and mixed in with fresh raw peas and herbs. My inner truffle addict relished in that wondrous unique flavour.
Morries Anytime is a must on your next visit to Margaret River. They have options to suit all dietary requirements including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan dishes. I was really keen to return to try their breakfast menu on the next day but we ran out of time and had to get back to Perth for work. Morries have placed as finalists in both the AHA Awards and the Gold Plate Awards in 2013 and scored an appearance in the latest West Australian Good Food Guide. And rightfully so, we will definitely make a repeat visit next time we are down south.Morries Anytime Shop 2, 149 Bussell Highway, Margaret River WA 6285 | (08) 9758 8280 | www.morries.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas $7-15, Mains $32-38) Food: 3.8/5 (right on the money with share dishes, local ingredients) Service: 3.8/5 (relaxed and casual, no pretension) Ambience: 3.2/5 (dark and moody at night, hard for food photography!) Drinks: 4/5 (go for the rocket fuelled cocktails) Total: 15.2/20
Gourmet Escape is a three-day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. It attracts foodies from all around the country and the world in order to feast on the finest this region has to offer. The core part of the festival is centred on the Gourmet Village which is held on the spacious grounds at Leeuwin Estate. I have written a full account of our experience at the Gourmet Village here.
Throughout the indulgent weekend there are also a number of satellite events held featuring world-famous chefs and offering experiences such as long table lunches, luxurious dinners and even pop up beach barbecues. These events sell out in a flash and for those who are keen, be sure to get yourselves on the pre-sale lists to avoid missing out. The day that all the key tickets were released for sale I was working a full day with a busy schedule so I left all our purchasing up to the Boy. One of our many compatibilities is our love for food so I trusted he would make some good decisions. His choices included two of the Food For Thought Sessions held at the picturesque Voyager Estate grounds.
Our first session was with the amazing duo of Heston Blumenthal and Harold Mc Gee titled “The Science of Cooking”. It was a glorious day with clear blue skies and as we walked onto the brilliant green grounds the wafting aromas of freshly brewed coffee teased our senses. It wasn’t before long we both had one in hand; a short mac for me and a latte for the Boy.
But in all honesty coffee schmofy; who needs coffee when you can have a freshly shaken grape juice cocktail? I knocked back my macchiato in a flash so that I could graciously accept our next round of beverage! With glass in hand we entered into the elegant, chandelier decorated marquee and found our way to our table.
Our waitress made a careful effort to identify the people with pre-notified dietary requirements on our table including the Boy’s vegetarian request and my gluten free. My morning tea included three components. The first morsel was called Spring in a Jar and contained thick avocado cream cheese with miniature vegetables and olive powder.
The second portion on my plate was a slice of delicately tender Margaret River Wagyu sirloin with oyster mushrooms and a horseradish emulsion. The original version of this was served on a crostini which they replaced with a gluten free rice cracker for me. The final component was an egg omelette rolled up with wakame seaweed and sweet Shark Bay Blue Swimmer crab meat.
For the Boy’s vegetarian option the Wagyu was omitted and he was given a larger serve of oyster mushroom with the horse radish emulsion and his wakame egg roll omitted the crab meat.
It was entertaining listening to Heston and Harold talk, I believe they are close personal friends and have both in turn inspired each other’s careers. Whilst Heston was charming and humorous, I found Harold’s scientific approach to understanding the techniques used for cooking very interesting and he has motivated me to return to reading his enormously thick book “McGee on Food & Cooking” that I own at home on the shelf.
Desserts weren’t served until the talk had well and truly finished and by this point many attendees had to whisk away to attend their next foodie event. A perfect cube of Bahen & Co chocolate gateaux was just enough for about two mouthfuls and was adapted to be gluten free for me by omission of the ganache topping. I’m glad we had the time to stick around as this decadent treat literally melted in the mouth.
Our second Food for Thought session on the following day was with Miles Irving, Alex Atala and Matt Wilkinson and was titled “The Call of the Wild – Insects, weeds and the food of the future”. It was no surprise to me that the Boy chose us a session about eating bugs. Remember his insect devouring obsession in Thailand? He ate them at every opportunity that he could find.
This session was better organised than the previous day with both coffees and cocktails in abundance and the service even more polished and attentive. The food and drinks were created by the kitchen team from Morries Anytime. On arrival we were offered glasses of “Billy’s Punch” to accompany cubes of apple liquor soaked canapés. I had planned ahead for any inadvertent fructose exposure and brought some glucose tablets in my handbag. I downed a few before helping myself to some boozy apple delights. The punch was made with a generous amount of Aperol, some Voyager bubbles, sparkling grape juice, home-made rhubarb syrup and fresh orange and strawberry and was far too drinkable for the early morning. I was appreciative of the much larger serving compared to the day before and if it wasn’t before twelve I could have easier had another.
The wait staff team were much more on the ball and shortly after being seated platters of food were brought to the tables. I was informed that I was able to eat the pork and parsley terrine topped with spiced plum chutney as it was gluten free. The mini burgers containing Notting Hill marron and truffle were not suitable and we were told to hold out as our replacements were on their way.
For my replacement the bun was exchanged for toasted gluten free bread. My resulting sandwich was stuffed full of marron and truffle flavour. What a decadent way to start the day!
The Boy sunk his teeth into his vegetarian option before I even had a chance to photograph it and then tried to recreate it in its untouched state by swizzling it round on his plate so I couldn’t see the chomp marks. I never thought I’d hear the day that he would moan in pleasure over a vego burger but this haloumi slider did the trick.
The talk did somewhat digress away from discussing the potentially unpalatable sounding specifics of eating insects and weeds and onto its more worldly implications in providing more sustainable locally grown seasonal produce. We were made to think about not only what foods we choose to eat, but how that food is produced and what potential impact its production has had on the world around us.
Our desserts were discretely served in the latter half of the talk allowing all attendees to enjoy it for this session. The Boy received Bahen & Co chocolate fudge with salted caramel popcorn.
For my gluten free version the fudge was replaced with a scoop of caramel ice cream and topped with the salted caramel popcorn and fresh strawberries.
I found both sessions very informative and interesting and am keen to attend them again next year. The food served each day was very locally orientated, of high quality and was able to be adapted for food allergies provided notice was given in advance. The amount of food was enough for a light morning tea leaving enough room to attend another event in the afternoon or evening without feeling stuffed to the brim.
The 2013 Gourmet Escape Food for Thought sessions cost $100 per person including food and drinks.Voyager Estate 41 Stevens Road, Margaret River WA 6285 | (08) 9757 6354 | www.voyagerestate.com.au/the-estate/the-restaurant
The Secret Cake Club is a Perth based group of of keen bakers that were originally known as the Perth Clandestine Cake Club. The Clandestine Cake Club is a worldwide phenomenon that was created two years ago by cake lover Lynn Hill in Leeds, UK. Her aim was to get people together in a relaxed social environment so they could “Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake”. Her concept is strictly for cake only and no cupcakes, brownies, pies or tarts are allowed. After received a scolding from Lynn Hill herself after not adhering to these rules the CCC organisers decided enough was enough and the Secret Cake Club was born. This new group prides themselves on having no rules and has reached considerable popularity with avid bakers from all around Perth. Their events are held every 4-6 weeks and places fill up fast.
One night when the SCC girls were out on a bar crawl, they got the inspiration to create a similar styled group but not to eat cake, to bar hop and drink! The new group was christened the Secret Bar Crawl and they had their first official event on the weekend of Eat Drink Blog Conference. Our planned bar crawl was to take us across the City of Perth starting at Bobeche in Brookfield Place then moving onto Wolf Lane before ending the night at The Stables Bar.
I joined the crew for the first half of the bar crawl at Bobeche’s, a cute little basement bar tucked away off St Georges Terrace. Earlier that afternoon at work, I had to go through the heart breaking experience of putting one of my long term patients to sleep. He was a gorgeous sixteen year old dog that had captured many of our hearts but after braving a long battle with illness we all knew it was his time. Knowing this sure doesn’t make it any easier however and a whole bunch of us ended up blubbering at work. RIP dear Boofa.
To liven up my mood and be sociable I knew I needed a strong drink with a short, sharp and throat burning kick. I asked the gurning bartender for advice and she suggested “The Trilby”. The Trilby has Tanqueray gin, Noilly Prat vermouth, crème Yvette and Fee Brothers orange bitters all shaken with a high amount of vigorous energy and served in a Martini glass. No frills, bells or whistles this was exactly what I needed to cast away my thoughts of death and disease.
The girls had organised our own cordoned off area complete with bowls of complementary popcorn on the tables. The popcorn had been cooked in coconut oil and had a subtle coconutty after-taste. It was great to see some familiar faces there but also to meet some people that I had been following on Twitter for some time but never actually met. This is a common problem for social media addicts like myself, friends are easily made on Twitter but many of them you don’t meet face to face for some time if ever. I continued on for a short while at our second venue Wolf Lane before I received a phone call from the Boy wanting to meet for dinner.
After a five month hiatus from wearing my high heels due to the stupid broken toe, I have discovered that I am no longer accustomed to wearing them and I had to walk embarrassingly slow and carefully. It is a strange feeling being clumsy in heels. Having a shoe designer for a father meant that I worked out how to walk in heels from a young age. Being a bit of an unplanned night out we didn’t have any dinner reservations made so I suggested that we head over to Brookfield Place. Given how many restaurants they have in their complex I figured there was bound to be at least one that could fit us in.
After just a short wait at their bar we managed to score a table at the first restaurant we stumbled into; The Trustee. As I sunk myself into their Chesterfield-styled seating I gazed around the dining room and deduced that we were probably the most sober people in the room. And after several rounds of rocket fuelled cocktails we were definitely not THAT sober. The group of men at the table next to us were so amped up like they were at a football match and kept making loud whooping noises that could be likened to one of our primate counterparts. In fact, in the dim lighting they may have even resembled them…
It was late and neither of us were that hungry so we decided to share an entrée and ordered the tuna tartare. Lightly tossed in sesame seeds, the tuna was a deep red colour and buttery fresh. It was served with a peach puree and some icy cold Campari sorbet. We also ordered a serve of their fat chips which for $13 were quite possibly some of the most expensive potatoes in town. Disappointingly they were a touch undercooked and were very firm to bite into. They sure looked better than they tasted.
My main choice was the barramundi and the skin was cooked to a wonderful caramel colour whilst the flesh underneath remained smooth to the point of near creaminess. It sat on a bed of celeriac veloute and came with an apple, hazelnut and labna salad. Curiously, next to my fish two random fat chips sat innocently alongside for company. Maybe this was their rebuttal against my lack of acceptance.
The Boy had the prawn shiitake linguine which was filled with vibrant colours of spring. Whilst as I’m sure you all know we are always more that happy to pay a premium for good food, the Boy thought this small serve of pasta with a few teeny prawns was over priced considering its size and quality.
If a restaurant chooses to price themselves in the higher price bracket I expect them to fulfil two simple conditions; awesome food AND awesome service. Simple. Our recent meal at Print Hall which is only metres away from The Trustee is the perfect example of this. Despite reading so many positive things about The Trustee from mainstream food critics, we were surprised how poor their service was throughout the whole evening. It was consistently slow, jolted and totally disorganised. On multiple occasions waitresses would walk past our empty plates, look down at them and then walk off empty handed. Once our plates were eventually cleared, we waited forever for the dessert menus and then when I enquired about what was gluten free, my waitress said she would be right back with my options but then never returned! After a half an hour wait we had finished our wine, got up and left. Not ordering dessert is an unusual occurrence for me indeed!Bobeche 131 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9226 5596 | www.bobeche.com.au www.thetrustee.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $20-26, Mains $38-50) Food: 3/5 (get the simple things right) Service: 2/5 (inattentive, disorganised) Ambience: 3/5 (subdued lighting, opulence and luxury) Drinks: 4.5/5 (allow yourself some time to peruse the 40 page wine list!) Total: 12.5/20
For those of you living in Perth, think back to what it used to be like on a weeknight in our City five years ago. Once the day ended and the clock hit five, all the bustling daytime cafes and bars would shut and everyone would head straight home. Before long the streets of our capital would be stark empty and it was like you were standing in a ghost town. A rapidly growing city with a population of over one million people and yet we turned our backs on our own city centre!? Thankfully things didn’t stay that way forever and after some government incentives like the new small bars laws and the construction of flashy inner city apartment blocks; little sparks of life started popping up everywhere throughout the city. This energy has now burst into full flame and the memory of Perth’s once deserted streets is just an embarrassment of the past.
One of the most exciting new developments in the city is Brookfield Place situated on St Georges Terrace. This complex is based around the BHP skyscraper and is an entertainment hub filled with high end restaurants and bars. Print Hall is one of the more sophisticated new eating locations within the complex and is housed in the beautiful heritage listed Newspaper House. Print Hall recently won six awards at the Australian Hotels Association Western Australia Hospitality Awards for Excellence and has also received one star in the 2014 Good Food Guide. The kitchen team is led by David Coomer of iconic Star Anise fame and Executive chef Shane Watson and these talented guys are very focused on using Western Australian produce to serve European influenced dishes.
My first visit to Print Hall was earlier in the year when we stopped for a couple of quick drinks before seeing David Attenborough’s live show at the Perth Convention Centre. Immediately upon entering the bar I was wowed by its opulence and sense of grandeur; it is massive by Perth standards. Situated at one end of the luxurious bar is a permanent oyster bar manned by the lovely Jerry Fraser who is also known as the “King of Oysters”. Jerry is there nearly every day freshly shucking oysters on demand for hungry diners in addition to serving a variety of super fresh local seafood. On this night however we missed out on meeting the man himself and got his more than competent side kick Tony.
Like moths attracted to a bright light the Boy and I gravitated over to the neon “Jerry’s Oysters” sign and sat ourselves in front of Tony at the bar. Looking at my clock I saw we had exactly one hour until the show began and ambitiously ordered the biggest and most expensive seafood platter to share; “The Print Hall”. The Boy gave me a bit of a high brow look but didn’t make any attempts to stop me ordering it.
Tony assured us he would have our platter ready for us in a jiffy and made quick work preparing everything giving us plenty of time to make a total mess of ourselves as we devoured it.
Our enormous platter was piled high with all the delights of the sea including a full Western rock lobster, Blue Ridge marron, Blue Manna crab, Tiger prawns, mussels, cambinata yabbies and oysters. Nothing beats the taste of freshly shucked oysters in my humble opinion; I can eat them by the dozen. These combined with nearly every other tasty crustacean from the sea it was enough to send us both into a dizzy head spin. It was a fabulous experience and worth every single cent.
After our brief but awesome experience at Print Hall Bar, I was very eager to return. My Dad and Stepmum are two very well-travelled foodies who live in the heart of Melbourne just off Flinders Lane where they are surrounded by the City’s top end restaurants. I knew they would be hard to impress so when they came over for a whirlwind business trip to Perth I took a punt and booked a table in the Print Hall Dining Room.
We started the night off with a round of cocktails upstairs in the Apple Daily Bar overlooking Print Hall’s long bar. Dad and the Boy both ordered the daily special cocktail which was made with apple and rosemary. Not really the Boy’s thing however as you may know he is a purist strawberry daiquiri fan. This drink wasn’t pink enough for him!
I ordered the White Lady Boy made with white spirits, yuzu and ginger. It was topped with pretty little flowers and was fresh, light and far too easy to knock back. I could have gulped another down if it wasn’t a work night! My Stepmum ordered Milk of the Poppy with pandan, mandarin and coconut and her drink tasted like an alcoholic version of something you get off the dessert tray at Dim sum. Just minus the cubes and balls.
After our drinks we were escorted back downstairs to the Print Hall Dining Room. My heart sunk a little as I looked around and saw the dim level of ambient lighting as I knew my photography skills were in for a test. Not to worry, I’m always up for a challenge and what better way to create a beautiful mood than to turn the lights down real low?
After listening to our waitress give us a very polished but somewhat lengthy description of the three champagnes served by the glass, she brought our complementary amuse bouche to the table. A curious zesty tasting disc of fresh cheese made from a mixture of mascarpone, cream, feta and yoghurt and garnished with dried black olives, roasted parmesan, dill pollen and some fresh dill. It was so soft that it begun to melt sumptuously on the plate.
To scoop the cheese up we were given an enormous cracker that looks like something from another planet. It was gluten free and made from potato, tapioca and brown rice flours. It had a similar texture to a prawn cracker being light and easy to start. It was fun passing it around taking turns to snap off a piece.
We chose to have the four course meal option for $110 per person as there was something on the menu for everyone including both vegetarian and gluten free options. To start off with Dad and I chose the Blue Manna crab with curried egg, cucumber and avruga caviar. The crab was so sweet it was almost like eating dessert and the addition of the avruga gave it a wonderful salty finish. My gluten free version omitted the crisp bread however my dish didn’t feel unfinished without it. Our waitress gave me another giant sized cracker in case I wanted that textural crunchy component.
The Boy and my Step mum chose the tartare of Point Samson scampi. It came with a flavoursome carrot, ginger and orange puree and tiny slivers of seaweed and micro herbs.
The Boy chose the vegetarian option of wood grilled black salsify for his second course option. Black salsify is a root vegetable that belongs to the dandelion family and is also known as the oyster plant because it has an oyster like taste when it is cooked. It is considered to be very nutritious containing proteins, fats, essential amino acids, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, E and C. It was served with brilliant green kale, hot smoked ricotta and meaty oyster mushrooms.
The remainder of us chose the roasted pigeon breast for our second course. The pigeon was cured in gin, juniper and sage and then roasted to a luscious ruby red rare. To further enhance the rich colours and flavours, a chunk of creamy rare seared chicken liver was buried in amongst the tender breast along with sweet pickled and pureed beetroot.
Some slightly bitter cooked radicchio leaves were also tossed in there giving a wonderfully diverse tickle to my taste-buds. As I savoured every twist and turn of this dish’s elements I looked up to see both my Dad and Stepmum’s facial expressions indicating they were doing the same!
The main course fish of the day was Red Emperor and have to I apologise to you my dear readers as you will only get to see and hear about one main dish despite there being a number of other beautiful options on the menu. It is a rare occasion that I dine out with my family and we all order the same thing but we did this time round. When I first moved out of home at the tender age of seventeen, the first whole fish I ever attempted to cook was an enormous Red Emperor. It barely fit into my oven and my fellow flat mates looked on with suspicion and doubt. Thankfully the fish turned out perfectly, I proved them all wrong and my love for this fish has stayed ever since. Print Hall did not disappoint and I was served an exquisitely cooked thick wedge of juicy fish topped on a neat pile of wood grilled mussels and squid. Brightly coloured and aromatic sofrito introduced a bit of a South American feel to this dish and it was so good I nearly wanted to lick my plate clean.
To accompany our mains a side serve of salad and a bowl of duck fat potatoes were brought to the table. Now if you bear in mind that my Stepmum has a well-known reputation amongst both friends and family for making the best duck fat potatoes these potatoes were up for some scrutiny. Thankfully they were damn good and although my Stepmum’s are definitely better, it was a pretty close call!
For dessert the Boy ordered the pumpkin pie with pepita sponge and maple ice cream. Not being a much of a sweet tooth, he isn’t really one to get into the whole concept of de-constructed desserts and I guarantee the only reason he chose this was because it said maple ice cream on the menu. He is very easily pleased for his sweets; give him ice cream and it will satisfy him every time.
For my dessert our waitress recommended for me to have the Valrhona chocolate mousse as she felt this was the best gluten free option to have. It sounded nothing short of amazing; Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut, single origin coffee crème and milk sorbet. I have to say however, after enjoying a succession of very impressive courses, my dessert actually left me feeling somewhat under-whelmed. Even my chocoholic Stepmum agreed with me that it wasn’t that exciting. Please don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it; it just didn’t feel special like everything else did. After all our other dishes totally exceeded our expectations it was a shame to end the night on a bit of a fizzer.
Overall we were both very impressed on each of our evenings at Print Hall . These guys have nailed all the essential key elements for success; polished, knowledgeable service, interesting and creative food with fresh locally sourced produce where possible and an ambience that makes you feel like you are dining somewhere quite special. I look forward to returning but maybe I will go for lunch next time so that I can actually take some decent photos of their beautiful food!Apple Daily Bar & Eating House 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0088 Print Hall Bar and Dining Room 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0000 | www.printhall.com.au Price: $$$$ (2 courses $70, 3 courses $90, 4 courses $110, dego $150)) Food: 4.5/5 (creative but with classic elements) Service: 5/5 (faultless) Ambience: 4.5/5 (very romantic and opulent, just not great for a food blogger’s photos!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive wine list, thank god Da chose because I got lost in it all) Total: 18.5/20
It was only about six weeks ago that the Boy took me down to Margaret River on a prescribed weekend of rest. We wined, dined and came back as fresh as daisies albeit slightly rounder in shape. It was a comparatively unplanned and impromptu trip which is quite out of character for me and I love that the Boy can have this sort of influence on me. I had barely finished writing up all my blog posts from the trip when it was time to head back for Gourmet Escape.
For my non-Western Australians readers; Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. Famous chefs from around the world join along including Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Rick Stein, Adriano Zumbo, Hadleigh Troy, Guillaume Brahimi, Matt Stone, Tetsuya Wakuda and Neil Perry to name a just few!
We had a full weekend planned with different events to attend on each day in addition to a two-day pass to the Gourmet Village. The Gourmet Village is held on the spacious grounds at Leeuwin Estate and the whole day is filled with activities, classes, shows and stalls offering wine and food from all around Western Australia. It was a wonderful way to showcase what a richly diverse State we live in and how lucky we are to have such a strong focus on quality produce.
Basic general admission tickets to the Village cost $38 per adult. We opted for premium tickets for $64 which also included 4 “GEMs”. GEMs are your village currency each costing $7 and most items to eat or drink cost one GEM. Despite buying some extra GEMS in advance we managed to guzzle our way through nearly 20 GEMS on the first day and had to buy more from one of the GEMs sellers that can be found walking through the crowd. There were also outlets in the Village selling GEMS but the queues for these were reasonably long.
The Classroom bar in North Perth set up their own Classroom Cocktail Club were you could buy their famous N2 espresso martinis for one GEM. For my review on this signature drink read my review here. The Boy missed out coming along to my cocktail Master class because he isn’t a blogger so we made a bee line as soon as we arrived to get him one to try!
One of my favourite dishes for the day was The Studio Bistro’s Butterfield beef fillet, cooked rare with a sumptuous dark sear on the surface, served with a melting dollop of decadent Café de Paris and some hand cut Royal Blue chips. I actually went back for seconds on day two! It definitely has inspired me to pay them a visit next time I’m in Yallingup. My other most enjoyable dish was the freshly shucked Pacific oysters at 34 Degrees Blue’s stall. These guys got slurped up in a flash before I even thought of snapping a picture. Oysters are best shucked right before serving as they taste completely different when served freshly shucked. I am glad we have our own oyster shucker extraordinaire in our family; namely my Dad!
Some of the presentations were of particular interest, the Boy and I loved Matt Stone’s demonstration on cooking with insects. The Boy is a great lover of eating these crunchy critters and he reminded me of the damage to the environment that farming my luscious, just devoured beef would have caused. I guarantee he would have been happier if there was a stall that he could have bought me a bag of crickets from!
The Southern Forest region is one that is lesser known to interstate and overseas tourists however it is also an area rich in world class produce, luscious forests and fine wines. This is the region in Western Australia where black truffles are grown commercially. The Southern Forests Food Council are committed to spreading awareness of the value of this region as a foodie’s mecca and were selling a variety of fresh and prepared produce including free samples of trufflicious risotto.
There were a number of gluten free options spotted around the Village and every time I saw something that I could eat I felt compelled to buy some. A little hedonistic I know and suffice to say I suffered for my overindulgence for several days afterwards!
As our second day in the Village drew to a close we had to decide how to spend our last three GEMs. We agreed on a cup of Matso’s Mango beer for the Boy, a glass of Snake + Herring ‘Corduroy’ Single Vineyard Karridale Chardonnay for me and a bowl to share of kimchi and vermicelli noodle salad topped with a couple of grilled Augusta whiting fillets courtesy of Cullen Wines. Cullen Winery are very focussed on sustainability and their impact on the environment, operating a biodynamic winery that is carbon neutral. Their restaurant specialises in using organic and local produce and is a must to visit if you are in the region. They have loads of vego and gluten free options. See my review for Cullen Wines here.
Gourmet Escape was a fabulous foodie weekend away and we hope to be able to attend for many years to come. We enjoyed a wonderful mix of satellite events along with visiting the Village although next year I think one day at the Village will suffice. This will leave more room in my stomach for attending one of the beach BBQs which I believe were incredible.
The Studio Bistro, Yallingup WA
Prevali Wines, 99 Mitchell Drive, Prevelly, WA 6285
Leeuwin Estate, Stevens Road, Margaret River, WA 6285
The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House, 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
Ole Paella Catering
Cullen Wines, Lot 4323 Caves Road, Margaret River, WA 6284
The second day of Eat Drink Blog 4, the Australian Food Blogger’s Conference for this year consisted of three different activities; Mastering French Pastries with Emmanuel Mollois, Unearth the Mystery of Mushrooms and finally the Cocktail and Cuisine Matching Masterclass at The Classroom, North Perth. I was excited to get my first choice of the Cocktail Class along with number of my close blogging friends.
Everyone knows about the concept of wine and food pairing. A seamless match of these two elements can take your culinary journey to great heights and many fine dining degustation menus are designed to offer this. More recently beer lovers have jumped on the pairing band wagon and some establishments now offer dishes with matched beers too.
But have you ever consider matching cocktails with food? Cocktails can bring an additional element of texture that makes wine feel comparatively one-dimensional. They allow a more tactile experience to expand on the palate and create a totally different type of adventure.
I am always inspired by people who love their craft. Classroom’s bar manager Andrew Bennet and Chef Daniel Sterpini talked passionately to us about the development of their Cocktail and Cuisine Masterclasses from its humble beginnings in their own homes to the sell-out events they hold today. Their cocktail choice for us was their signature drink; a liquid nitrogen Espresso Martini served with an Asteroid Rocher dessert which was sadly not gluten free.
Their Espresso martini consists of three layers. The first layer contains their own house made blend based around a fresh shot of Dark Star coffee which is pulled to order to maintain its crema and aroma. Added to this is some vanilla vodka, dark chocolate liqueur, Italian coffee liqueur and some Pedro Ximenez sherry to give you a “kick on the back palate”.
The second layer is created by adding liquid nitrogen to the top of the drink which subsequently freezes the crema of the coffee like a crème brûlée giving it a frozen edge.
The final layer is created to remind you of a tiramisu; the martini is topped with a swirl of house made sherry and mascarpone foam and then dusted with coverture chocolate.
The Asteroid Rocher dessert contained numerous elements all of which looked delicious. Popping candy, gold dust, malted honeycomb, Persian fairy floss, fresh blueberries and banana foam surrounded the “asteroid” making it an eye catching dish. I looked on in envy as everyone chowed down until my gluten free adapted version was given to me, sans asteroid and popping candy. I had been spoilt rotten with so many gluten free options over the weekend that I was hardly going to complain but I cannot deny my replacement didn’t look nearly as amazing. Hopefully when Classroom next offers a Cocktail matching Masterclass they will have one that is totally gluten free friendly? I await with bated breath!The Classroom 356 Charles Street, North Perth WA 6006 | (08) 9444 7729 | www.theclassroom.com.au
Our main wholesaler we use at work wanted to do something interesting as a thank you to their valued clients and so they organised a night out to see Cirque de Soleil’s latest touring production Ovo. Our practice was lucky enough, or should I say valued enough, to receive four tickets. Having never been to see this internationally famous Show I was the first one to put up my hand to go. It seems that everyone who wanted to go already had their own tickets and those who didn’t have a ticket weren’t that keen. Although we are now creeping into June, on the afternoon of the show the sun was shining defiantly outside like a Spring Day and so the Boy suggested we walk into the city and stop somewhere earlier for dinner. I jumped at the opportunity to work on reducing my restaurant wish list which is currently longer than my arm. Near the top of my list was The Stables Bar in the CBD a convenient ten minute walk from the circus’s marquee.
I am known by my close friends as a planning freak and I love to be prepared. Although it was a warm day, I anticipated a chilly night knowing that Cirque de Soleil’s marquee is on the Esplanade; a potentially windy spot. In addition to needed some warmth, we were looking at a 14 km round trip on foot and strutting that distance in my high heels would not be realistic. Proud of my organisational skills in addition to my handbag I packed an extra bag filled with a scarf, high heels, my extra camera lens and a wool jacket. Sliding into my sneakers the Boy looked at me with an astonished look on his face and said: “You’re seriously not going to carry all that around all night?” I retorted “Of course!” and we headed out the front door and into the sunshine.
By the time we arrived at the Stables Bar one hour later, I had definitely lost some of the bounce in my stride. I felt a bit lopsided from carrying the heavy bags but strangely satisfied that I had a good workout! Now I could eat a decent meal without the guilt of overindulgence. Bring it!
In order to make it to our 8 o’clock show we had an early dinner booking and when we arrived there was only one other couple dining. Parched and hungry, we quickly ordered our drinks and scanned the menu. The wait staff were all super friendly and enthusiastic such that we were approached by each of the five of them asking for our drinks and food orders. It’s certainly better to be too attentive then to leave a customer waiting but some communication between the team wouldn’t hurt either.
The crispy school prawns were far too moreish and I could have easily crunched my way through a second bowl. The Boy explained to me that they tasted very similar to the fried insects he ate in Thailand. If that is the case, maybe I could be enticed on our next visit to try them? Hmmm, maybe. The chipotle mayonnaise balanced the saltiness of the prawns but I would have preferred a touch more spiciness.
The zucchini croquettes were gluten free and having a one track mind on anything remotely Spanish with my impending trip next month I simply had to order them. A thin shell of crispiness enveloped their soft interior to expose very subtle and gentle flavours. I almost felt they could do which a dash more seasoning. The cardamom flavouring in the yoghurt was also very subtle. Nevertheless they were still a tasty treat as they were.
The Boy has recently been contemplating giving up eating meat based on ethical, environmental and health reasons. As easy as this may be for some, it is a big step for someone whose previous diet, like many men in our country, was very meat focused. His half way step has been to become a pescatarian. When the waitress came to the table with our meals a steak and a Niçoise salad, she presumed the salad was for me and gave us a bit of a high brow look as we advised her that the orders were in fact the opposite way round. His Niçoise salad was made with flaked Rankin cod, steamed green beans, hard-boiled eggs and white anchovies. All the ingredients were brightly colours and fresh and although being a small serve for a main it was decently priced at $26.
Being someone that commonly suffered from iron deficiency anaemia, in part due to my gluten issues and worsened by my infrequent ingestion of red meat I decided to have the first steak I have had in a long while. The steak was sourced from Blackwood Valley who are well known in WA for their high quality organic beef. Although the minute steak isn’t the softest cut of beef it is certainly very flavoursome and was cooked rare exactly as requested. The super sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh horseradish added some bite and after a long walk this sat very well in my stomach.
The char-grilled baby cos lettuce was a little bland by comparison to my steak and although the dollops of tangy goat cheese and white anchovies helped improve it significantly I still felt like it also needed a little more seasoning. And that is coming from someone who rarely adds salt to her meals.
We still had another hour before we had to depart and start walking down to the Esplanade for the show. As is often the case when we are out for dinner, it was an arm twisting event getting the Boy to agree on dessert and my requests for dessert and cheese were met with a decisive “No!” He knows from years of experience that I always have eyes bigger than my stomach and once I have a few drinks in me I tend to just keep ordering food until we nearly explode.
The poached peach Melba and vanilla pannacotta came highly recommended by one of our wait staff. She was right on the money with this one and once again for someone who didn’t want dessert the Boy helped me finish it matching me spoon for spoon. It was served in a cute jam jar reminiscent of our recent Watermelon Foam dessert at the Greenhouse. A definite winner. Our dessert was obviously too good because we scoffed it down in record time leaving us with another 45 minutes to spare. As we ordered a final round of drinks I was surprised that I successfully persuaded the Boy to share a cheese platter. Up until this point everything we had order was requested gluten free but I forgot to mention it to our server again when I ordered the cheese platter.
It came out with a scrumptious looking assortment of crackers and breads which were obviously not gluten free. I called the waiter over who confirmed this to me and within minutes the platter returned without any crackers at all. Such a shame as each cheese was just the right temperature for serving making them fragrant and soft. The well thought out selection included Fourme d’Ambert; a mild blue cheese made from cow’s milk from France, Deuce De Bourgogne; a rich and creamy soft French cheese also made from cow’s milk and Capricorn; a hard goat cheese from the UK. We were advised that the kitchen changes their cheese selections frequently which I quite like the idea of.
The Stables Bar is a stunning location in the heart of the city with a range a decently priced pub meals. It is another great addition to the increasing number of prime venues dotted around the city and definitely worth a visit for a few rounds of drinks or a meal.The Stables Bar 888 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6314 1300 | www.thestablesbar.com.au Price: $$ Food: 3.5/5 (small menu with some interesting dishes) Service: 2.5/5 (some teething problems with communication which should be easy to iron out) Ambience: 3.5/5 (awesome fit out of some old stables originally built in the late 1800s) Drinks: 3.5/5 (lots of creative cocktails, will have to come back and try a few more) Total: 13/20
As much as I love my hometown of Perth, its distance behind larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne can be reflected in a number of ways in the culinary world. We lack any widespread prevalence of gourmet food trucks, Latin American cuisine barely makes a mention, we often pay high prices for poor customer service and sometimes poor quality food and finally, up until very recently we have had very few small bars worth a visit that are open beyond bedtime.
But with the new licensing laws brought in things are a’changing for little Perth and more and more funky small bars are popping up around the city and its surrounds. I have followed Frisk Small Bar on social media for some months but with all the wedding preparations absorbing my every waking minute we have had very little time to go out and explore new bars such as these.
It’s funny how sometimes the more you think of someone or something, fate seems to bring you together. Like how you will think of a friend you haven’t spoken to for months and then you bump into them at the shops. Well, strangely enough along those lines I received an email from Frisk inviting me to come and join them for a drink or two on the house. After initially having to cancel due to injuring my neck at my hen’s day, we rescheduled for a Friday night that just happened to occur at the end of a very hectic week for both of us.
Many years ago, long before the building that houses Frisk was built existed a night club called DCs. It was something of an institution amongst my friends and I and we spent many of our weekends in our twenties partying under their roof until the sun came up. This is the place where many friendships were formed, relationships made and broken and brings a nostalgic smile to my face. When the building was originally bulldozed to make way for apartments it felt like an end of an era. As I took my seat at Frisk’s bar it dawned on me that I was sitting on what once was the dance floor and it made me so glad that at least it was put to good use.
Frisk’s bar houses more gins than you could shake a stick at so it seemed logical that this should be the theme of our night. I started off with the WA Gimlet; a refreshing cocktail made with locally distilled Westwinds Cutlass gin, fresh lime and basil and rose marmalade. The hints of herbs left a clean after-taste and put me in a brighter and energising mood for the evening.
The Boy’s cocktail was not on the menu and was one of our bartenders Will’s own creations. He called it his twist on a South side. Traditionally made with gin, sugar, mint and lemon, this thirst quenching beverage had Will’s own special mix of syrup containing chilli, cinnamon and other sweet spices. This lifted the whole perspective of this popular drink to another superior level. He used a “Mediterranean gin” called Gin Mare which is additionally quite fragrant and added further botanical layers of rosemary, olives, thyme and basil.
Although the Boy’s cocktail was in no way a girlie drink, one was definitely enough for him and he began to peruse over the beer menu. Allowing a re-run of Chompchomp roulette, Will and I selected the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for him to try. Neither of us had even heard of this beer before and we were surprised to it is considered one of the top craft breweries in the USA with their Pale Ale being the second best-selling craft beer in the US.
After my energising first round I was ready for something a bit more intense. I chose the Aphrodite’s Martini which contained Isfjord gin, Antica vermouth, Aphrodite Ginger bitters and grapefruit. Moving from a West Australian gin to one distilled in the Arctic I could taste the flavour becoming pronouncedly smoother. Further interesting flavours from the bitters brought hints of chocolate, coffee and chill which rounded off perfectly with the citrus notes of the grapefruit. A masterpiece but not one for the light hearted. A few more of these and I wouldn’t be heading into to work that following morning. Well at least not in any good form! Aphrodite’s Martini will remain on Frisk’s cocktail menu for the duration of March as part of the Eat Drink Perth 2013 celebrations.
A little peckish by this point in time, we were recommended to head over to Casa Mexicana El Compa. Having experience both highlights and lowlights of Mexican food when dining locally in Vic Park we were keen to see how others fared compared to our experiences.
We started off with some appetisers or “botana”. We chose four types of dips; guacamole, arroz a la Mexicana; red rice, carrot and peas, Frijoles Charros; slow cooked black beans with chorizo and Esquites; stripped sweet corn, mayo and piquin chile. None of the dips had very strong flavours and had to be supplemented with the free sauces provided on the side to avoid being too bland.
Our next dishes came highly recommended by our vivacious waitress; some “sopes”. These are a form of Mexican street food consisting of a fried corn tortilla topped a variety of different options. We chose the vegetarian sope topped with refried beans, lettuce, sour cream and cheese. The crunchy base gave way to an interesting mix of textures but once again I felt that the flavours were a little lacking and found myself heaping more of the complimentary sauces on top to give more depth and heat.
Following on from our sope, we ordered a couple of tacos to share. Having loved our experience of taco nopales at That Little Mexican Place we were keen to order them again. These were served with refried beans, cheese and coriander. I was able to taste more of the cactus’s flavour this time; they resembled a pleasant form of bitter green beans.
Our dose of meat for the night was the pork tacos. The soft handmade taco was topped with orange marinated slow cooked pork served with cubes of apple. I had to negotiate between the apple pieces as I try to avoid it due to a high fructose content leaving just the pork and the taco. I found the pork to be quite dry and tough considering it was slow cooked something that usually results in melt in your mouth tenderness.
Although I know we will be back to Frisk soon to try a few more of their wondrous ginny cocktails, with a number of good Mexican options around town we will probably give Casa Mexican a miss.Frisk! Small Bar Northbridge 103 Francis Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | www.frisksmallbar.com.au Price: $$ ($17-20 cocktails, $8-11 beer, $2-9 small bites) Food: Unable to assess Service: 4/5 (these guys know their liquor!) Ambience: 4/5 (busy for the whole time we were there, happy non-pretentious customers) Drinks: 9/10 (using the finest ingredients and a personal flair gives amazing results) Total: 17/20
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest at Frisk Small Bar and received all drinks complimentary however she paid in full for her meal at Casa Mexicana El Compa.
It is always amazes me how quickly winter creeps up in Perth. Maybe it’s because we’re a little spoilt here in this sunny city. We have long glorious summers and comparably short winters meaning we never really get acclimatised to the concept of being cold so when it does come it really hits us with a shock. Notoriously the Boy’s birthday always comes about at just that point in time when the very first cold snap arrives. Not that we have ever let cold weather stand in the way of good fun mind you, in fact one year I remember he decided it a grand idea to jump in our pool with the bestie! So this year out we went in the freezing rain for some birthday celebrations. As we left the house he excitedly reminded me again that the next time we celebrate our birthdays together we will be husband and wife! It still gives me goose bumps of joy saying that!
A number of weeks ago in an attempt to adhere to our wedding budget I had purchased a Spreets coupon for Villa D’Este. It was a very good deal: a three course meal for two for only $99. Quite a few years ago our bank took us out for dinner here. We all had a wonderful meal back then so I figured that this place had some potential to be a much better coupon experience than our previous recent outings.
One thing that really drives the Boy crazy is feeling like he is being ripped off by cab drivers. As soon as we climb into a taxi no matter where we are, he is as sharp as a tack in noticing any dodgy tactics they might use to make extra money. As I naïvely chatted away to him on our way over to West Perth, I could feel that something was really bothering him yet I couldn’t quite work out what. I continued to remain completely oblivious for long enough for him to become a little impatient and frustrated with me. Finally as I noticed what a long winded route we were taking the penny dropped and I nodded my head knowingly at him.
After our scenic route we eventually arrived at our pre-dinner destination Amphoras Bar. The driver proceeded to slowly and deliberately remove our change coin by coin and placed it on the centre console. He even stopped mid-counting coins a couple of times to fiddle with his phone, Navman and a few other knobs in his car. The Boy was convinced that the driver was pretending to have difficulty hoping we would say not to worry and he could keep the change. Being a very perceptive type he was probably right.
After the tension in the taxi it was a relief to walk into the cosy and warm atmosphere of Amphoras. I was literally freezing to my bones and I wanted a strong drink to defrost myself. I decided against ordering wine and chose a cocktail called La Parta Sur; it filled the spot wonderfully with no ice to chill me.
The mixed marinated olives contained a suitable mix of types and texture for variety; fleshy, firm Spanish olives, soft and flavoursome Kalamata and some little wild Ligurian olives. Not wanting too much food before we headed over to Villa D’Este, we selected a couple of little tapas dishes to keep us going until our late dinner reservation.
The scallops were a buttery treat served with sweet pickled cucumber and a corn relish. The flavours balanced beautifully without drowning out the enjoyment of the brilliant little mouthfuls of tender scallops. We also ordered some Pedro Ximenez glazed Rosa’s chorizo. Unfortunately the lighting didn’t allow my photos to be viewable so dear readers, you miss out on checking out this dish but I’ll let you know it’s worth going back for. The chorizo was literally bursting in meaty juiciness and had a slight caramelised surface due to the glaze. Thankfully this is my last post using my point-and-shoot so fuzzy photos will (hopefully) be a thing of Chompchomp’s past!
After a few rounds of drinks my bones had sufficiently thawed out enough to briefly brave the cold once again and walk quickly around the corner to Villa D’Este. Despite it being a fairly late booking the restaurant was totally packed and alive with noisy atmosphere. Our table wasn’t ready so we were shown to the bar to enjoy another round of drinks while we waited.
The Boy loves snails. You can be sure if they are on the menu he will order them guaranteed. These ones were cooked in the shells and served with a mixture of red wine, butter, garlic and parsley. The little suckers didn’t disappoint him and were soft, succulent and oozing in garlicky flavours.
My beef carpaccio had a lot of potential as the meat was exquisitely sliced and had a rich deep colour to it. Unfortunately I felt it was left a little drowned in the lemon dressing which overpowered any flavour or the meat leaving my mouth feeling pickled and sour.
The Boy ordered the Piccata Tartufata: medallions of veal which was topped with a slice of prosciutto, soft cheese and served with a truffle flavoured barbera wine sauce. He wasn’t very impressed with his choice, his meat was a little tough and the sauce lacked the rich flavours one would expect. He also commented that he could barely taste any truffle flavour.
I chose the Special of the Day which was prosciutto wrapped rabbit with roasted chestnuts and risotto cake. I hadn’t eaten roasted chestnuts since walking along the streets of Paris many years ago where they are sold by street vendors in cones of newspaper. It brought back wonderful memories of our time backpacking through Europe and although the rabbit was ever so slightly overcooked I still really enjoyed this dish.
For dessert I ordered the Duetto di Panna e Caramello which was a match made in heaven: consisting of a layer of pannacotta topped with a layer of crème caramel and drizzled with tart berry compote. Combining these two standouts from Italian and French cuisine and was by far and by large one of the highlights of the evening for me. I was so full that I was nearly on the verge of nausea yet I still managed to gobble most of it. In fact if it wasn’t the boy’s birthday, I would have been very reluctant to share any of it but seeing as it was meant to be his night to enjoy I meekly let his help me polish it off.
Of course I’m sure my regular dear readers could probably guess what he ordered for his own birthday dessert….yes you guess it, gelati! As expected in a fine dining Italian restaurant the gelati was smooth and towards the end I thought I spotted him nearly licking his bowl clean.
Happy Birthday my love, I hope you had a fabulous night out. Here’s to many more amazing birthdays together xxAmphoras Bar 1303 Hay St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9226 4666 | www.amphorasbar.com.au Price: $$$ (Tapas dishes range from $7-39 per plate) Food: 4/5 (we only sampled a few dishes and must return to make a true judgment) Service: 3/5 (waiter not very knowledgeable about the menu ingredients/details) Ambience: 4/5 (warm, cosy & didn’t want to leave) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list, fabulous cocktails) Total: 15/20 Villa D’Este Restaurant 49 Outram St, West Perth 6005 | (08) 9322 6262 | www.villadeste.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $26-39, Mains $39-54. We bought a $99 Spreets voucher which gave us a three course meal for two) Food: 3/5 (a little hit and miss in its execution) Service: 4.5/5 (brilliant, helpful & accommodating for my allergies) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels like I’m in Italy) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive list of Australian and Italian wines) Total: 16/20
It was our last night in Bali and although we had both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly we couldn’t help but feel that we had preferred our recent trips to Thailand. The over commercialised vibe along with the abundance of Australian tourists made our holiday in Bali feel a little bit like we hadn’t actually left Australia. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing, but I do love the experience of being in another country. I guess we shouldn’t really try to compare the two and regardless of their differences I am still looking forward to returning to Bali; perhaps next time we might get a bit off the beaten track.
We set out in a local cab once again and the Boy set my GPS on my phone to record our route. He was determined to prove to me that in order for the driver to justify a larger fare we were about to taken on a more extended journey to our destination. As we got into the cab we requested the driver to set the meter rather than barter with him over a fixed price. We discovered this can be a better way to obtain a more fair charge. On the slow drive south of the island to Rock Bar our driver continued to attempt to convince us of a package price deal where he would wait at the other end and be available to drive us home at the end of the evening. We politely declined his offer and explained we were happy to just hail another cab and use their metered fee also.
By the time we arrived at our destination an hour later he reproached us – obviously being very keen for the return fare and he offered to wait for us for 3000 Rupiah (which is about $3 dollars). At this point we realised we were being stingy mean tourists; the poor man was willing to wait for hours while we ate and drank the evening away for an extra three bucks. Feeling guilty for playing the hard arse we agreed as we pulled up at the busy hotel foyer.
To get to Rock Bar you must walk through the large Ayana resort to the edge of the cliff face and then board a tiny cable car that takes you about 50 metres down the cliff to the bar. I recommend you arrive with plenty of time before sunset to avoid the queues to get in. We chose one of the lounges facing the water, kicked off our shoes and sunk back to soak up the sun.
Because there is no kitchen at Rock Bar all the food is pre-prepared and I was so disappointed to be told that there are absolutely no gluten free options on their menu at all. We were both hungry so you can imagine my food envy as I watched the Boy tuck into his wedges and curly fries. It was some consolation to me to hear that the wedges were dry, thin and flavourless, and the curly fries tasted like they came out of a frozen packet. To make matters worse, only tiny serves of sauce accompanied the dry potato meaning it didn’t sound like I missed out on much.
As I basked in the warmth of the sun like a cat I sipped on my “Rockito” and realised that even without some nibbles to eat life was pretty good. The Boy wasn’t enjoying the sun quite as much as I was and tried to hide behind what little shade he could find cast by my shadow. My first Rockito came out with mostly ice and only about an inch of drink in the bottom meaning it only took me minutes before I had guzzled it down. I ensured to give more explicit directions to our waiter how I wanted my subsequent drinks to be served and from then on they were made to perfection, with just enough of a hint of sugar without being too overpoweringly sweet.
After several rounds of drinks I was beginning to think my stomach had started to digest itself in protest of my hunger. We moved further down the cliff face to the restaurant on the beach called Kisik. A word of advice for the ladies: don’t wear your high heels here as the restaurant is literally on the beach and your stilettos won’t take kindly to sinking into the sand! The location and view are fantastic affording great photo opportunities as the sun slowly sinks into the sea as you are surrounded by glowing bamboo torches.
Kisik offers a variety of fresh seafood displayed on a bed of ice for you to pick and hand to the chef who cooks it for you just how you like it. Lobster, prawn, seasonal fish, oysters and clams you name it; if it’s caught locally it is likely to be available fresh off the boat and nearly moving. In fact the lobsters were still actually alive and I felt pangs of guilt for the poor creatures as we selected which one we were soon to devour.
As part of the meal you are served two entrees consisting of an Indonesian Gado gado salad followed by a Jimbaran styled Bouillabaisse. My Gado gado salad was altered slightly to accommodate for my allergies which by the way the chef found to be no problem.
Our soup tasted similar to a Tom Yum style hot and sour soup and was refreshing and light. Perfect to commence our seafood feast that we had selected as in true form we had gone overboard and ordered quite a lot!
Our first choice was some beautiful looking King prawns and although they were ridiculously priced, nearly more than what we paid at Rottnest last year, they looked so tempting that we just couldn’t resist. It was worth it! They were cooked simply with some garlic butter and lemongrass and were very fresh, crunchy and mouth-wateringly juicy.
For our next course we had selected some local clams which the chef made into a very tasty soup with fresh lime and coriander in a white wine reduction. It reminded me a little of the clam soup we had some time ago at Rockpool and was comparably delicious.
Our last course was the one I really was waiting for. Steamed rock lobster cooked Indonesia style with tofu, chilli and garlic. To my extreme disappointment the lobster was overcooked and rubbery tough. What a sad way to end an otherwise wonderful meal!
Upon our return to Seminyak we realised that our poor driver had spent a total of three hours waiting for us and a further two hours driving. Now we really felt like the mean stingy tourists so in order to both appease our guilt and show our appreciation we gave him a generous tip as we alighted at our hotel Villa Air Bali.
Overall both Rock Bar and Kisik are experiences not to be missed on a trip to Bali, expect to pay near Perth prices, but for the location, service and ambience it was totally worth it.
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!
Like Me on Facebook!Rock Bar and Kisik @ Ayana Resort Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia | (+62) 361 702222 | Rock Bar | Kisik Price: $$$$$ (Live Rock Lobster AUD$185/kg, King Prawns AUD$145, Oysters AUD$4/piece!!) Includes tax, service charges and two entrees, using current $1=R9166 Food: 3/5 (Rock Bar – needs GF options, Kisik – amazing meal until our overcooked lobster arrived) Service: 5/5 (could not fault them – full of smiles) Ambience: 5/5 (waves lapping on the rocks below you, setting sun, fresh sea air = awesome) Drinks: 3.5/5 (great variety of cocktails) Total: 16.5/20