The Boy and I were struck down with the killer Flu of the Year this month and it completely knocked the stuffing out of us. Everything became a huge effort and suffice to say life wasn’t much fun. At the tail end of our sickness we decided to cheer ourselves up and head out to the Avon Valley for the Toodyay Food Festival. Toodyay is roughly an hour’s drive from our house and when we got about half way both of us became overwhelmingly tired and nauseous.
It took about five minutes of us whingeing to each other before we realised the insanity of what we were trying to do. Walking around a food festival when I could barely stand up followed by another hours drive home sounded more like torture than enjoyment. We agreed this idea was a little ambitious and turned the car back around. As we headed home I realised we had nothing in the fridge because I had originally anticipated we would be stuffing our faces at the festival. We took a detour through Belmont and landed at Sapore Espresso.
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.
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
I don’t work in the city centre and with my chosen line of work it is unlikely that I ever will. I passionately love my job as a vet; I get to save lives and make a positive impact on individual animal’s welfare every day. However there is girlie part of me that would love to have a job where I could wear beautiful clothes, style my hair and grow my nails. Working with animals excludes all of these things, the job of a vet is far from the glamorous kitten hugging, puppy kissing career that some of you may believe it to be. Those of you who know me well will have been subjected to many of my gross and detailed stories involving unsavoury smells and body liquids!
I consider myself a Perth girl and love our city in so many ways but I wasn’t actually born here. I was born in Manly and my moved to Adelaide in my childhood years. I went on to spend most of my teenage years in Adelaide before moving to the other side of Australia on my own at the impressionable age of seventeen. Whilst my loyalties will always lie with Perth, I cannot deny that Adelaide holds a very sweet place in my heart and returning feels like coming home despite leaving so many years ago. One of the big attractions to return to Adelaide for is my Mum. Mum and I have always been best friends and being physically separated by thousands of kilometres makes our times together even more precious. After letting all the madness of Christmas die down, the Boy and I made a weekender trip to see her for the first time since our wedding. Being a total foodie herself, Mum had planned a busy weekend of feasting starting off with a hearty breakfast at a gorgeous restaurant called Bar 9.
It isn’t often that the Boy wants to go out for a bite to eat and I turn him down. Being not just a mad foodie but also a food blogger means I am forever on the search to find myself decent content to publish. Ordinarily I will take every opportunity I can grab as not all our meals end up being blogworthy; be it because my photos aren’t good enough or maybe there just isn’t a story worth telling.
After working two full weekends in a row on top of my usual full working week, my overtime hours clocked through the roof. Tired, grumpy and in a rare moment of unsociability all I wanted to do was engross myself in front of the computer and work on my massive “blog-log” which is my term for the ever increasing back log of posts needing to be written. After barely seeing each other for the past two weeks, the Boy implored me to stop being so lazy, get up off my bum and go out with him for a late lunch. Having heard mixed reports about Typika Artisan Roasters in Claremont, we both agreed to go there and see for ourselves.
I never anticipated that my blog would have any degree of measurable success. Blogging wasn’t something I planned to do, nor does creative writing or photography play any part in my real career. Despite being a complete self-confessed amateur I have relished in watching Chompchomp metamorphosize from an ugly duckling into something I’m proud of. Reflecting back on my first and comparatively horrendous post I can see the blog undergo constant improvement. When I recently researched to find out the Hottest 100 Food Blogs of Perth, I was blown away that my blog is at Number 5! I hope that I can remain motivated to keep it ever-evolving so that my readers stay entertained and keen to return back for more. I am always happy for feedback so let me know if you think there is something I could change or add to the blog to improve it.
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.
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.
Last year was the first time that I was selected to attend the Eat Drink Blog Australian Food Blogger’s conference and I spent three days in Adelaide eating more food than I ever thought was imaginable. And for those of you who know me you will appreciate that is a LOT of food! My blog was barely a year old at the time and I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many talented writers and photographers. Friendships that had previously only existed in cyberspace were materialised and new friendships were created. It opened my eyes to the strong sense of community and togetherness that food bloggers share and inspired me to improve my blog with the aspiration it would become something much more individualistic and personalised.
Last year I entered a Facebook competition for a food magazine that will remain unnamed and in a nail-biting, head-to head battle with my blogging friend Carly from Perth Munchkin we both tied in first place. We each won a voucher for two for “Speed Grazing” in the Swan Valley with Taste Bud Tours. As often is the case, time got the better of me and before I knew it a whole year had flown by and our voucher was nigh on its expiration date. I contacted Loris the sole operator from Taste Bud Tours to book our day out before it was too late. But what developed was very odd indeed, it turns out that my voucher was in fact a counterfeit that was never officially issued! It turns out there were a number of dubious vouchers that were handed around the magazine’s office for competition prizes and staff rewards. What a scandal!
This weather is seriously wild. A torrential river cascading down what was once a road isn’t exactly something I expected to see here in sunny Perth. I’ve seen it a bunch of times in Melbourne and most definitely around South-East Asia but in Perth? It’s madness I tell you. I had arranged to meet fellow blogger Whitney from dineWHITme.com for a coffee at Vans Café in Cottesloe but due to her being something of a study-work-blog-aholic she was running insanely late. I suppose I could have rescheduled but instead I decided to kill half an hour until she arrived.
It is an unusual thing for me to do; sit alone in a café sipping coffee, eating a macaron and reading the paper. I am the type of person that rarely stops still for more than a second and thus it didn’t take me long to start chatting to the person sitting next to me about food, cats and vegetarians. By the time Whit rocked up my neighbour had written herself a long list of new restaurant tips that I had suggested down onto her newspaper and she glowed like someone possessing juicy insider information.
There are some people who genuinely have the talent of listening and empathising to others. Whilst this may be a skill one can try and develop; to truly master it you actually need to be a certain type of soft and caring personality type. My Bestie is one of those people and she has always been able to centre her attention on whoever she is speaking to with incredibly genuine sincerity. Recently she has taken on a job as a carer’s consultant where she provides both individual and group support to the carers in the Esperance area. Being somewhat of a free spirit in the past, this direction and responsibility has brought out a great sense of worth and pride within her. I cannot describe how happy it makes me to know she has finally landed on her feet and found her calling.
One of our best wedding presents that we received was a gift voucher for a degustation at Dear Friends Restaurant in Caversham. Dear Friends is owned and run by Welshman Kiren Mainwaring and his Canadian wife Kelli. My first introduction to this team’s talent was at the final Largesse dinner held at Petit Mort last year. For this charity event he created a spectacular and beautiful dish of air dried ham, Swan Valley yolk, ajo blanch and foraged herbs. Since this evening I have longed to make the trip to their restaurant in the Swan Valley to be wowed by his creations once again.
Part One: Finalising our Phuket Wedding Preparations!
Prior to getting engaged I often toyed around in my head with the idea of eloping off to somewhere exotic. Like many people I have a divided family with my real parents and my respective step parents not exactly being the best of friends. Having to brave getting all these loved ones in the same room sounded like a daunting feat and one that could prove best to avoid. Our engagement party at The George provided me with a safe way to test the waters and despite all the anxiety and tension in the build-up to the evening along with very disappointing customer service from the George’s staff; everyone managed to get along wonderfully. In fact we all had an absolute ball. It dawned upon me that I should give my family much more credit.
I am fortunate enough to work on the doorstep of the Swan Valley. This means that it is relatively easy to have some office meetings out and about and over the years we have developed a few favourites. Taylor’s Art and Coffee House has been one of those locations mainly due to their excellent coffee and interesting range of gluten free cakes. Their coffee is sourced from a small local company called Dark Star who roast their own imported beans on site in Northbridge. It is a full flavoured coffee that is perfect for an espresso or short mac, just how I like it.
Choosing a venue to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday was left up to me and with some winter sunshine on the forecast I suggested a trip to the valley. The Boy’s family appreciate eating big hearty meals in a casual relaxed dining atmosphere so I knew Taylor’s Art and Coffee House would fit the bill perfectly. No pretension or tiny plates of food.
This year is my second year that I have been selected as one of fourteen bloggers from around Australia to participate in Mushroom Mania. This is a campaign run by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association in the month of July every year where they join thousands of restaurants, cafes, bistros, pubs and clubs to celebrate the wondrous mushroom. They spread their message through both traditional and online media and run competitions where you can win $100 restaurant vouchers. For the past few years they have embraced food blogs as a way to communicate with foodies and recruit a handful of us to do what we do best, go out to restaurants, eat and shoot food then go home and write about it. The only catch is that we have to eat dishes containing mushrooms!
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
After such a magical time away in Thailand for our wedding, coming back to the humdrum reality of house work, cooking and cleaning felt like a kick in the face. To make matters worse, our maxed out cards and empty bank accounts meant we both had to return promptly back to work and start earning some cash. After a week of living like millionaires at Andara with a maid and a personal chef, the idea of returning to boring home cooked food sounded as tempting as eating my own arm.
The day before we both went back to work we begrudgingly headed off to our local greengrocer Scutti’s for our weekly food shop. It was the first time in nearly three weeks that we had to do such a chore and as we parked the car we were both looked longingly at each other for a solution. The idea of a temporary escape by delaying the shopping and heading over the road to a café for lunch sounded promising. Shoving my shopping list deep into my handbag we strolled over to Halo Espresso.
I am always a little torn having my homes in a number of places around our vast country. Having lived in Perth for most of my adult life it is obvious that this is the main place I love to call my home. However to add to this, my Mum lives in Adelaide and returning back there to the house I grew up in I get that familiar sensation like I am returning home. To complicate things further, my Dad has lived in Melbourne with my Step mum for nearly twenty years and in many ways staying with them also feels very homely! I often wonder when we eventually return back to London where the Boy and I lived for several years, would this feel like another home to me? How many places can one call home before it starts to get a bit over the top?