Birthdays are meant to be celebrated and it is an incredible surprise to me that this humble blog has just turned four. Four human years converted into food blog years must equate to at least a decade. That is definitely a cause to crack open the champagne. Writing this blog has certainly been a colourful journey of eating amazing food, but also has seen me cultivate wonderful, lasting friendships and interact with some very passionate Perth business people and chefs. I have loved every minute of it.
For me, this year has been all about time and its ability to slip through my fingers like sand. Admittedly I am my worst enemy and perpetually keep taking on more than I realistically have time for. To add to this dilemma, I spent a decent chunk of my year debilitated with back pain which terminated all physical activity in my life at the time. Thankfully my back troubles are becoming something of the past, and I am embracing life with a new found zest.
Last Sunday I woke up quite early, hours before the Boy and the cats cared to be awoken and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was a stunning Spring morning so I snuck quietly out the front door and took my new bike for a spin around the river leaving the sleeping beauties snoring peacefully in a pile together. Upon returning home later I was chuffed to see the Boy up and about, ready to go out for breakfast. I was recently followed on Instagram by a new café called Layup Cafe that has just opened in Northbridge so we agreed to check it out.
Layup’s menu had plenty of gluten free options with a number of interesting dishes that moved away from the comparatively boring egg benny and big breakfasts. We selected a few dishes to share, all gluten free adapted.
The guacamole on toast came with smoked corn and pica de gallo and we elected to have it topped with optional slow cooked eggs. A few dollops of jalapeño custard decorated the side of the plate and this custard had just a gentle chili kick to it. Being a hater of all things spicy, the Boy didn’t trust my description of “very mild” and gave the custard a wide berth. He was determined to avoid tasting something too hot for his delicate palate.
Sadly these efforts were in vain as I didn’t get to warn him in time about the shichimi togarashi that accompanied the Sicilian anchovies.
After proudly thinking he dodged a bullet with the jalapeño custard, the Boy proceeded to dunk his charred gluten free bread in gooey slow cooked egg heaven before coating it liberally in the innocent looking red powder. He nearly choked in horror at the heat and proceeded to gulp gallons of water quickly.
After the subtle tease of the jalapeño custard I was much more game and dunked my generously coated bread confidently. It was a wonderful, nostril clearing experience that had me going back for more. Combined with the salty fishiness of the anchovies this was a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before and would happily try again.
Thankfully there was a cooling dish on the table to soothe the poor lad’s burning tongue. The breakfast pannacotta came on a bed of toasted gluten free muesli and goji berries topped with a strawberry compote and fresh berries.
I love having two courses for breakfast. This was something my dear friend and business partner Chis and I started doing long ago and that habit has stuck. Making the decision for sweet or savoury is far too difficult to do first thing in the morning so my advice is having both is the best way to go.
Layup Cafe only opened this month and it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling the high expectations of regular Perth breakfast punters. I loved their creative menu options and use of local produce and hope to return soon.
197-199 Brisbane Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | 0481 064 166 | Facebook
After graduating from high school I left Adelaide and moved across to Perth to study for my dream career in Vet Science. Being only seventeen at the time, my worldly possessions consisted of a suitcase of clothes, some hand-me-down pots and pans, a hand written note book with all of Mum’s family recipes and my stereo tape deck. I couldn’t imagine why I would need or want anything more; music and food were enough to keep me happy.
It was fortunate that I was so easily satisfied because for the next six years I got to experience what it is like to live below the poverty line on Austudy, Australia’s government funded student income. It is easy to learn to go without when you barely have enough income to eat and pay your rent, and it forces you to become much more resourceful.
Many years have passed since then and reflecting back I struggle to comprehend how on Earth I made ends meet on such a small amount of money. I am so grateful that through all my years of perseverance, sacrifice and hard work it has finally paid off. Whilst I can hardly call myself a “rich bitch”, I am enjoying a level of luxury that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of having in my student days.
The Boy has developed a similar appreciation for the finer things in life having originally also come from humble beginnings. He has recognised my last couple of years have been tough ones and so he decided to spoil me for my 40th birthday with a brand new AMG A45. After driving a 1999 Honda Civic for the past ten years now I feel like I’m in a fantasy land. I never thought I could be in love with something with no heartbeat but who am I kidding, I’m completely smitten. She is fast, has a satisfying loud sporty engine and comes complete with personalised plates.
Of course I now want to get behind the wheel at every given opportunity and our occasional weekend lunch dates generally involve a Sunday drive paired with a pit stop somewhere decent for food. In keeping with this concept we headed down to East Fremantle to check out May Street Larder, a new café from the creators of Bib & Tucker. Knowing Bib & Tucker’s food well I was anticipating good things.
As we waited for our table in the standing area, the barista called out to us to see if we wanted any coffees. We had been up quite late the night before and a hit of caffeine was just what I needed.
The Boy isn’t a coffee drinker which is something I will never quite understand. To each their own I guess. Once we were seated at our table he ordered himself a banana fig smoothie instead. It was not overly sweet and quite creamy, and he didn’t utter a single word until it was all gone.
I was keen to try the zucchini, lupin and lemon fritters. Lupins are a Western Australian grown product and were one of the main hero ingredients for last year’s WA Signature Dish. They are high in protein and fibre making them very filling.
My lupin fritters were topped with smashed avocado, savoury granola and a couple of poached eggs. The eggs were cooked magically with the fluffy whites encasing liquid gold yolks. We were seated on a communal table and I received a couple of bemused looks as I furiously photographed to capture ever second of my egg porn moment.
The lack of sleep was giving the Boy a small dose of indecisiveness over the menu until he saw a waiter with a pulled pork sandwich scoot past to a nearby table and then his choice was crystal clear. The pork shoulder was slow cooked to a near melting point and was ever so moist and flavoursome. The chipotle aioli wasn’t too intense for his sensitive tastebuds and he informed me he liked that it had a subtle sweetness to it. His sandwich also came with some May Street Larder house pickles along with very moreish deep fried sweet potato crisps.
Sadly this was a rare day where my appetite lacked its usual gusto due to a persistent hangover. Additionally my dish of lupin and zucchini fritters was so filling it left me no room for any sweets. I was so disappointed and consoled myself by wandering over to the counter to at least have a peek. What a shame! There were heaps of desserts for people like me; gluten free, vegan and raw options so I would have been spoilt for choice. Basically this simply means I will just have to come back again another day!
May Street Larder
Shop 23, 155 Canning Highway, East Fremantle WA 6158 | www.maystreetlarder.com.au
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.
I was no stranger to the tasty creations of this humble café having followed them on social media for some time. I had yet to actually set foot in the venue however as I tend to be a bit overly loyal to my Vic Park stomping ground. I was to find that this was a poor judgement as Sapore definitely is a winner, even for a gluten intolerant like me.
Regrettably my flu-stomach wasn’t up for a coffee. Sapore serve Fiori coffee which I am quite partial to as it is a tasty brew however this may be a good reason to return and sample their breakfast menu at a later date 😉 We started off with a cleansing freshly made juice of orange, carrot and celery. I asked for added greens into mine in the grim hope it would fix all my ills. Whilst it didn’t cure me I definitely felt a small increment better.
There is no hiding my obsession with mushrooms. I am sure it is this high level of addiction that has earned me the role as one of the official bloggers for the Mushroom Mania promotions three years running. It is easy to write about something I love.
Sapore’s trio of sautéed mushrooms was filled with an abundance of enoki, King oyster and field mushrooms, just like I make at home but enhanced by the fact that I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare it. I loved the fleshy texture of the King oysters with the near crunchiness of the enoki. Served with tangy goats cheese and drizzled in truffle oil I was certain THIS was the medicine I needed.
It was not a problem to make this dish gluten free and I appreciated that the chef recognised how small gluten free bread is and gave me three pieces instead of the expected two. A bargain really when you consider the price.
The Boy needed a similarly medicinal meal and ordered the heart-warming daily special; a creamy chicken risotto with mushrooms and mascarpone.
Whilst the Boy will rarely will eat meat, given how unwell he had been that week he felt he needed some protein to help him recover. It was the first decent meal we could hold down in days and it hit the spot right on the mark for both of us.
My regular readers will already know that I struggle to hold myself back from turning every meal into a multi-course bonanza. This time round however my delicate stomach submitted to the Boy’s pleas to restrain myself. I still needed to end on something sweet and the perfect way to do this was with a home-made macaron. Sapore change their macaron flavours regularly and the flavour of the day for our visit was salted caramel. It had excellent texture with a pronounced salty aftertaste. I wished I had room for more.
Sapore Espresso was something of a hidden gem to me. It is easy as a Vic Park resident to give preference to our local options and overlook those that are off the popular café strip but still nearby. This is definitely a place worth trekking over the train tracks for and I look forward to returning there to sample their breakfast.Chompchomp planned for this meal to be sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of her role in the Mushroom Mania campaign however she did not come prepared with her pre-paid VISA cards. She ended up paying for the meal in full herself. A shame because it really was a mushroom feast, however not to worry. It has left more money in the Mushroom Mania kitty for her to fund not one but two mushroom degos! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on these two incredible meals… Sapore Espresso Bar Opposite Belmont Forum, 275 Belmont Avenue, Belmont WA 6105 | 0410 572 066 | saporeespressobar.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
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.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
I don’t work in the city centre and with my chosen line of work it is unlikely that I ever will. I passionately love my job as a vet; I get to save lives and make a positive impact on individual animal’s welfare every day. However there is girlie part of me that would love to have a job where I could wear beautiful clothes, style my hair and grow my nails. Working with animals excludes all of these things, the job of a vet is far from the glamorous kitten hugging, puppy kissing career that some of you may believe it to be. Those of you who know me well will have been subjected to many of my gross and detailed stories involving unsavoury smells and body liquids!
In addition to vetting, I am also part of the practice’s senior management team and we meet together monthly with our most recent meeting falling on my rostered day off. Kindly embracing the spirit of Eat Drink Perth with me, my fellow colleagues Chris, Wayne and Liz were happy to journey into the city to have a work meeting at Venn Bar + Café located on Queen Street.
Venn serve a blend of 5 Senses coffee which is a guaranteed way to start my morning off on a good note. Better still they served my short macchiato short and traditional, just the way it should be. I hate it when baristas top up my macchiato with hot milk, that’s not how a macchiato should be! Let’s recall what macchiato actually means in Italian; a “stain”. A proper short macchiato should be a shot of espresso with a dash or stain of milk, not a cup full.
Chris and I have been breakfast buddies for many years and have enjoyed numerous outings together. As soon as I saw house braised beans and chorizo on the menu I guessed it would be her choice. I was not wrong. If it has chorizo or prosciutto and it is for breakfast, she will claim it for her own. Her serving size was more than ample and even someone with an appetite as big as hers couldn’t finish it all.
Liz chose the warm potato and Gruyère cakes with smoked salmon. I was glad she selected this as it was my second preference and it meant I got to try a little nibble. The potato cakes were thick and well-formed however they only had a very subtle flavour of Gruyère. The soft folds of salmon were topped with a chive and citrus yoghurt which lightened this otherwise quite stodgy and filling dish. Once again I noted this was a good value meal considering we were in the heart of the city.
I used to have avocado religiously every morning on my toast but in recent years I have had to drop that luxury from my daily life to avoid being the size of a small house. We eat out a LOT so when at home I try to eat as clean and lean as possible.
My free range poached eggs came with a spoonful of house made avocado butter and citrus sea salt. The total contrast in creamy smooth avocado and tangy saltiness was all these eggs needed. And yes, I got that all important yolk shot; always a win for me. They were served with house made gluten free bread.
Never serve a South African greens I’ve been told. Well at least not to my colleague Wayne. This is a man who deliberately removes his lettuce from his burgers before eating them. It was no surprise what he chose for his breakfast. Meat, meat and eggs. No greens, no fuss. He actually even picked the green garnish off his eggs and refused to eat it. Venn source their bacon from a local small goods company called Princi who specialise in free range bacon and other smallgoods. The cut was nearly as thick as a piece of steak and yet was richly flavoured and tender. Paired with the slab of bacon were pork chipolatas, eggs and a token vegetable that thankfully wasn’t green.
Our meeting ran a little later into the morning than planned meaning a third round of coffees was needed at which point the talk of sharing sweets was bantered across the table. There was only one gluten free choice available; an orange almond cake. It was moist and soft but I confess I have eaten enough orange almond cake to last me a life time. Nevertheless it filled the void for my sweet spot.
The gluten eaters were spoilt with the chocolate swirl cake which judging how quickly it got torn into two, three and then four pieces before vanishing in a whirl of crumbs I am figuring this was a positive sign.
Venn is a hip little venue tucked away in the back of the building behind the Venn store and is divided into a small ground floor dining area with a rooftop deck on the second level. I would love to return here for an evening and try some of their small bites. Their bar focuses on Australian wines and craft beers with some killer looking cocktails.For the 2014 Eat Drink Perth Festival, Venn Bar and Café have a couple of offers in the Eat Drink Perth Passport. Head over to the EDP website to find out where you can pick up your copy of the passport. Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This meal at Venn Cafe was not sponsored and was paid for in full. Venn Bar + Café 16 Queen Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9321 8366 | venn.net/bar
I 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.
As I looked at the forecast back home in Perth where it was predicted to hit 42°C I was thankful to be away for the weekend as Adelaide was blessed with the most perfect weather. Bar 9 was packed full and we had to wait around fifteen minutes for a table. It was bustling, noisy and full of life which is just the way I like to start my morning but I could see both the Boy and my step dad cringe a little at the decibels.
Bar 9 take their coffee quite seriously and purchase 5 Senses coffee roasted to order and then blended and aged on site. My short macchiato was richly flavoured with a complexity I wasn’t expecting and ending on a smooth aftertaste with hints of caramel. I was truly impressed by the quality of their coffee.
The menus were hidden inside Golden Books like they are back home at Mrs S and my menu was coincidentally inside one called “I love you, Mommy!”. Bless.
For a slim, tiny framed person my Mum can put away a decent amount of food despite retorts to the contrary. Sound familiar at all? I guess what they say about the apple falling from the tree has some merit. Mum ordered the charred asparagus spears on toast with poached eggs, slivered almonds and finely grated grana prado.
The Boy didn’t hold back and went straight for the ultimate decadence; creamy truffled mushroom ragu. Rich, meaty mushrooms were stewed into tender slippery morsels and drizzled with truffled honey.
My stepdad looked on with mild bemusement as I stopped the Boy mid-way through slicing into his poached eggs to catch the wonderful moment on camera. Being much more accustomed to such moments my Mum chuckled at my strangeness and explained to him what it was all about.
I ordered the house cured ocean trout with some initial regrets as I looked over at the Boys truffiliciousness. My jealousy was short lived as my dish provided more than just satisfaction from hunger relief. The gluten free bread came in small post-stamp sized pieces but this was made up for by providing three pieces. Each piece was adorned with vibrantly coloured trout which was as soft as velvet on the tongue.
My dish didn’t come with any eggs so not wanting to miss out I ordered one poached egg on the side. Once again I got the privilege off seeing it gently pop before oozing out golden perfection. Don’t you love how those simple things in life can often be some of the best?
You always know that the food is good when everyone across the table suddenly goes silent and for a brief few minutes we all sat in comfortable silence enjoying our breakfasts. Fueled and ready for a big day we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, into the car and headed off for a day in the McLaren Vale wine region.Bar 9 96 Glen Osmond Road, Parkside SA 5063 | (08) 8373 1108 | bar9.com.au/wp Price: $$ (Breakfast $11-18) Food: 4/5 (polished breakfast grub with a slightly fancier twist) Service: 3.5/5 (quippy and quick) Ambience: 3/5 (noisy and action packed) Drinks: 4.5/5 (go even just for the coffee) Total: 15/20
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.
Situated in a large warehouse style building, Typika import their own beans and roast them on site. In the centre of the dining area is a glass encased room housing their huge coffee roaster so you can watch their creations unfold before your eyes. We didn’t arrive until minutes before the kitchen was closing which made it far too late in the day for me to try their coffee. In fact, I was wired enough from work and didn’t actually need further stimulation to add to the mix. Instead we opted for a couple of fruit smoothies to accompany our nuts and olives whilst we waited for our food.
Within a couple of minutes of being seated our nibbles were brought to the table. The nuts contained a lovely mix of macadamias, cashews and almonds. They were spiced with smoked paprika, chilli, honey, garlic and sea salt. The serve was quite substantial in size.
Typika’s olives contain their own mix of kalamata and ligurian olives warmed with chilli, garlic, rosemary, cumin and slices of lemon. Soft and nearly velvety, the olive flesh slipped clean off the pit in one easy slurp. The amount of spice was fairly mild and I could easily have enjoyed a bit more kick.
The Boy wasn’t that thrilled with any of the vegetarian options and opted for the beer battered fish of the day. After reminding me that he “isn’t really a fish and chips person” I was surprised that he ordered it. If any serve of fish and chips was going to win him over this would have been it. Swirls of batter fried to a crisp golden colour coated each fillet of fish. It was served with battered chips and sweet potato wedges with a side serve of tartare sauce and a bottle of vinegar.
I have to admit I was a little envious of the appearance of his dish and longed to be able to at least sink my teeth into one bite. That was until later in the day when all that fried batter started to disagreed with him. Being on a plant based diet and no longer used to such fatty foods his digestive system uttered roars of complaints which spanned throughout our yoga class!
Unlike the hungry lad, I only felt like something light and enquired to our waitress which of the two gluten free scallop options on the menu could be adapted to be fructose friendly. The chef recommended the scallops with black pudding, minted pea puree and romesco sauce. They were happy to serve the romesco on the side as it contained garlic which is something a lot of FM’s have to limit.
Plump and only briefly seared each scallop was a little raw on the inside which fortunately is just how I prefer them although I realise others may prefer them more cooked through. The black pudding was cut into the skinniest slivers such that its flavour didn’t overpower the delicate scallops. The pea puree was a little under-seasoned but had enough of a hint of sweetness to allow the scallop’s fresh taste to shine.
I didn’t think it was fair to write a blog post on a coffee roaster without trying their coffee so as all that overtime gave me an extra day off in lieu I chose to head back to Typika Artisan Roasters solo. That day luck was not on my side as it turned out that a power line had come down across Stirling Highway making access nearly impossible with the Police blocking off the road completely. After getting lost winding my way through the back streets I finally managed to pop out upwind of the drama.
It was bustling for a late weekday morning and most tables were occupied. I sat down on my lonesome ready to get down to business. The drive had taken me a lot longer than I anticipated and I was champing at the bit for a coffee. Served with a bit more milk than I prefer for my short macs, my coffee was quite smooth and creamy however lacked the wow-factor that I expected from a self-proclaimed artisan roaster.
I um-ed and ah-ed whether I needed a second breakfast for about two full seconds before I called the waiter back to take my food order. I chose the Typika breakfast stack which included a shredded potato crisp, wilted spinach, avocado and house smoked ocean trout all topped with fried egg. Service was prompt and before I had finished my coffee my meal arrived. The waiter seems rushed and as he placed my dish on the table the whole mountain of food came toppling down in one messy and very un-photogenic pile. I sheepishly requested if it could kindly be send back to the kitchen for reconstruction.
I guessed at this point there was no way of remaining incognito for the purposes of my blog post. I winced a little at openly giving myself away and acting like a diva sending my food back. As I pricked my knife into my egg these thoughts quickly vanished to the back of my mind as I watch the bright yellow yolk porn dribble gracefully down my enormous stack. Oh yes.
Typika Artisan Roasters makes a nice modern change from the surrounding old-fashioned styled cafes in the Claremont area. Whilst their coffee was by no means incredible, it still hit the sweet spot for me. Their menu is very gluten free friendly and has a good variety of options beyond the standard eggs benny and big breakfasts.Typika Artisan Roasters 331 Stirling Highway, Claremont WA 6010 | (08) 9284 6088 | www.typika.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $12-21, Lunch $17-34) Food: 3/5 (a touch on the oily side, plenty of GF options) Service: 3/5 (quick, friendly but minimal menu knowledge for ingredients) Ambience: 3/5 (loud, busy, hive of activity) Drinks: 3.5/5 (great coffee but not blow-your-socks-off coffee) Total: 12.5/20
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.
Another more unexpected and even better aspect of being a blogger has been the friendships that I have made along the way. One of my closest blogging friends Michelle from Foodie Cravings had been trying for weeks on end to organise a catch up with me and after a couple of false starts we finally matched up our busy schedules. We were both happy to travel to Fremantle and agreed to meet at Bread In Common.
I had heard much about Bread in Common but didn’t expect to be greeted by the wonderful airy modern open space of which it comprises. Situated in a renovated old Fremantle warehouse, it has lots of natural light flooding through at an angle onto large communal tables and they have a sociable menu designed for sharing.
In continuing my attempts at keeping my alcohol consumption as close to zero as humanly possible for sixty days, I was relieved that Michelle was also happy to abstain. It isn’t often that there are fructose friendly juices on the menu and looking on their menu I was happy to see I had options. It made it a lot easier to skip the wine when one of the juices I love making at home is up for grabs; a combination of carrot, orange and ginger juice. It makes such a refreshing drink for a hot summer’s day.
I was dismayed to learn that they do not have any gluten free bread to offer. The manager made kind apologies and indicated coyly that it could be possible if only I bought him a new oven. I initially wondered why they couldn’t at least temporarily source some from other local Fremantle bakeries such as Abhi’s until I realised their philosophy is to make everything in house where possible. Avoiding cross contamination of flours in one open plan kitchen would be very difficult.
Michelle and I simultaneously chose the duck fat roasted potatoes as our first pick. My stepmother’s duck fat potatoes are yet to be rivalled and are consistently out of this world. Bread in Common’s version ended up coming in a fairly close second attaining all the right layers of textures; from crispy to chewy, ending in a super fluffy soft centre. They are served with rosemary, whole roasted garlic cloves and some ketchup. Each garlic clove squeezed out like toothpaste onto my plate sealing the deal that no vampires would come near me that evening. Nor would my husband for that matter!
Michelle’s dish choice was the pork belly which she raved about from her previous visit. Each piece was delicately gelatinous and sticky sweet. Topped with a sweet green tomato chutney and on a bed of crunchy, slippery greens it was far too easy to eat.
Our lunch date was the first time I had eaten out without the Boy in tow for a while and it was refreshing to be able to order some non-vegetarian dishes without getting a high browed look from him! My choice was a dish of succulent Fremantle octopus served on a bed of green olive tapenade with cubes of fresh watermelon. It was topped with the unexpected treat of tiny shavings of crunchy hard pork crackling. Whilst I was happy to indulge in the crackling, I left the watermelon for Michelle to enjoy as it is high in fructose. In turn she was happy to leave any octopus pieces with suckers intact as she found the whole look of them disturbing.
Michelle had forewarned me to save room for dessert as she recalls them being worth relishing. I was impressed; I rarely plan my meals with this level of strategy which probably explains why I often end up overeating. I was not prepared for the visually exquisite surprise that each of our desserts provided.
My banana dessert contained all kinds of my favourite sweet things; caramelised bananas, cubes of torched marshmallow and blobs of softer meringue alternated with smaller dots of tart lemon curd. With such a variety of textures and flavours this dish played the risk of being too busy but each element complemented the other well and was perfectly orchestrated music to my mouth. I wanted more and quietly plotted in my mind how to get back before the menu is changed.
Michelle’s dessert was even more spectacular than mine with scoops of peanut mousse and chocolate brownie ice cream laying on a bed of Oreo “soil”. Dollops of brilliant red raspberry gel spotted about the plate with some sort of raspberry crumble tumbled over the top. It looked totally divine but alas is not gluten free for those wondering.
As time ticked into the late afternoon I had to decline the offer of coffee and opted for a peppermint tea instead. The tea was fresh and uplifting without any of the unpleasant metallic aftertaste that poorer quality peppermint tea often has.
Whilst I cannot deny I was somewhat disappointed I didn’t actually eat bread at Bread in Common, there were plenty of other gluten free options on the menu to fill up on. The desserts were particularly mind-blowing it’s worth returning back just for them.Bread in Common 43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA 6160 | (08) 9336 1032 | www.breadincommon.com.au Price: $$$ (Share plates $12-28) Food: 4/5 (creative concepts using fresh, local produce) Service: 4/5 (quick, efficient and well conversed with the menu) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but buzzing, communal tables) Drinks: 3/5 (interesting but small wine list but of course didn’t get to try any!) Total: 14.5/20
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 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
Last year was the first time that I was selected to attend the Eat Drink Blog Australian Food Blogger’s conference and I spent three days in Adelaide eating more food than I ever thought was imaginable. And for those of you who know me you will appreciate that is a LOT of food! My blog was barely a year old at the time and I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many talented writers and photographers. Friendships that had previously only existed in cyberspace were materialised and new friendships were created. It opened my eyes to the strong sense of community and togetherness that food bloggers share and inspired me to improve my blog with the aspiration it would become something much more individualistic and personalised.
This year Eat Drink Blog was held on home ground at Perth City Farm where many of you may remember I visited to go behind the scenes for Mushroom Mania just a few months ago. Eat Drink Blog is a free conference for selected delegates and all costs are funded by sponsors and donors. Coordinating such a venture with zero start-up funding sounds like a horrendously difficult task yet despite this significant hurdle the Committee managed to create an experience that exceeded most people’s including my expectations.
Although a large part of the weekend involved a serious amount of eating; contrary to popular belief that isn’t ALL us food bloggers do. Behind each blog is a person with their own aspirations, core values and ambitions. Some bloggers are in search of a big break such as a cook book deal, some blogger’s ultimate goal is to score free meals or products and on the opposite end of the spectrum there are some bloggers who are so determined to do it on their own that they refuse to write anything sponsored be it a free product, meal or holiday.
At the end of the day’s motivating lectures and discussion panels, I reflected back to try to define where my blog falls on this spectrum. Whenever considering a sponsored post or free meal, I always stop to think very carefully about whether it is applicable to my blog content.
I bring myself back to my vision of why I created this blog in the first place: to connect with others with food intolerances and show them that you can still be a foodie despite the barriers and restrictions.
I ask myself “Would I pay to go and eat a meal here?” or “Would I use this product at home?” If I find myself answering Yes to this question, this prompts me to give the offer further consideration.
Ultimately one of the most important things I try to achieve when writing these types of reviews is to remain truthful, accurate and give you dear readers full disclosure. I am naturally quite a blunt and truthful character, so I feel that this honesty comes relatively easy to me but because of the potential bias for sponsored posts I never give these meals a score because this cannot be done accurately unless I’m incognito.
In total contrast to Eat Drink Blog’s more formal sit down dinner last year at the Hilton Adelaide, this year the team organised a pop-up dinner containing a number of Perth’s well-loved food trucks. Butty’s, Marcelita’s Empanadas, Jumplings, Delish Ice and Bangkok Jump Street all donated their time to provide an evening of highly addictive scrumptious street food. We even managed to twist a few rubber arms and get a West Winds Gin bar spontaneously created at the thirteenth hour after a series of thirsty gin-craving tweets from delegates earlier the day.
I MAY have played a central part in the last-minute gin-spiration! 😉
As the celebrations drew to a close for the evening, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and I headed into Must Wine Bar along with our newly found friend Coconut Joe for a couple of night caps before heading home. Michelle’s blog remains one of the most popular Perth based blogs and is usually one of my first go-to references to suss out new places to eat. I find her a wealth of knowledge for advice and guidance with blogging but even better she is a wonderful friend who can always make me laugh.
Although she does think I’m a little crazy. Just you wait until you read her Coconut Joe post and then we can discuss crazy!
Our final stop was at Enrique’s School for to Bull fighting where we continued in the spirit of the ongoing gin-theme for the evening. We were served Glorious Gin from Brooklyn based Breuckelen Distilling mixed with Kaffir lime leaves, fresh white grapefruit and the uplifting botanical flavours of Fentimans Tonic. Without any doubt it was the best G&T I have ever had and THAT is a big call! It provided the perfect ending to a fabulous day.
Organising an event of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, energy and efforts put in by the most awesome five Committee Members. My thanks and appreciation cannot be expressed enough in words and without these dedicated people none of EDB4 would have been possible.
Thank you 100 billion times over! You guys rock!
● Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse (Chair)
● Matt from Abstract Gourmet
● Bri from Eatmeetswest
● David from Food Blarg
● Chris from Bon Viveur
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!
Loris offered me a two-for-one deal as replacement for my dodgy voucher in a gesture of goodwill. I will never say no to a day in the Valley and despite the stormy forecast the Boy agreed to come along as my plus one. Loris’s concept of Speed Grazing is quite an original one and as a result she has consistently been awarded the number 1 ranking on TripAdvisor for Perth Activities for several years running. She keeps her tour group numbers small to ensure a personalised approach and visits nine different locations during each half day tour. She provides a coach pick up from either Wellington Street, Perth City or from Guildford.
We chose an afternoon tour and headed into the city a smidge earlier for a mac-attack. Not in any way related to the famous yellow double arches; a “mac-attack” is a termed coined by my now sadly estranged sister for those times when you just have to have to get your hands on a macaron. Paired with my usual short macchiato you could consider my version a double mac attack. We stopped in at Jean Pierre Sancho where I may have accidentally bought two macarons; my old time fav the salted macaron and my newest obsession passionfruit.
The Boy opted for a buttery, flaky toasted croissant but in his partially slumbered state he ordered a ham and cheese croissant instead of a vegetarian option. As we both sat on the couches soaking up what little sunshine there was that day he had to resort to prying open his crispy croissant to remove the offending slices of ham whilst trying not to accidentally tear it in half. After our mid-morning treat we strolled down to Wellington Street to join the rest of the tour group as the storm clouds gathered in a huddled grey mass in the sky; this weather is most unusual for Perth this time of year. On our way out to the Valley in the pouring rain, Loris shared with us some history of Perth and the Swan Valley region. The area has been producing wine for over 150 years and is the oldest wine region in Western Australia. Being so close to the Perth CBD and spanning over a relatively small area means it is much easier to visit a number of venues in a short space of time making Speed Grazing an easy task.
Our first stop on the tour was at Yahava Koffee Works. We were treated to a series of hot coffee tastings from their extensive range and then ended the experience on a sugar high with a cup of their “Ice Koffee”. This is a syrupy liquid made from a rich blend of Yahava’s Indian Tiger Mountain coffee, Indian chocory and some natural spices. I could easily imagine this sticky treat poured over a big bowl of vanilla and choc chip ice cream.
Our next stop was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Now I don’t want to sound like a naysayer as I am a dedicated lover of all things chocolate however in recent years I have come to appreciate the bean to bar concept of chocolate production. This is the signature ethos of companies like Bahen & Co, Gabriel and Melbourne based Matale. Without meaning to sound like a snob, I confess that by comparison to these quality small scale producers I find The Margaret River Chocolate Factory a touch over commercialised. That being said I also have great respect for this WA business in becoming such a massively successful company. Whilst their chocolate is not exactly cheap, it is very creamy and smooth and we couldn’t stop ourselves from purchasing a couple of truffles.
Our stop number three was at Cape Lavender, another business that also has a location down in Margaret River. I had informed Loris earlier in the week that I required gluten free food and she advised me that Cape Lavender would have some gluten free scones made especially for me.
Alas upon our arrival I was told that this wasn’t the case and so I had to settle for my glass of Lavender coloured Howling Wolves SixPointSix Cabernato 2013 instead. Quite an unusual little drop; they recommended serving this plonk as a cocktail in a tall glass over ice accompanied with a wedge fresh lime and a sprig of mint. I bought a bottle of it for drinking later so I could give this cocktail a whirl at home.
After our group demolished the plate of mini-scones we all shuffled next door to Mago Coffee. Mago is a family owned business and they have been roasting their own blends of coffee in the Swan Valley since the late 60s. Mago imports raw coffee beans from Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Kenya and Ethiopia in addition to a few other “secret locations”. I had already reached my maximum caffeine limit for the day so I didn’t get to try their brew but we did taste some of their freshly roasted nuts and bought a giant size bag of roasted hazelnuts still slightly warm.
Our next stop was the familiar Jarrah Ridge Winery. The Boy and I have been here a number of times with both my parents on separate occasions and I am a big fan of both their olives and their wines. As we arrived the manager served us little tasting dishes of their marinated olives and WA cheeses for us to nibble on as we worked our way through all the wines on offer. In a repeat of our previous visits, we walked away with two large vacuum packed bags of olives in hand along with a decent chinking of wine bottles.
Being a sufferer of fructose malabsorption our next stop at The House of Honey wasn’t really the place for me but for those that do not have to restrict their fructose this place is worth a visit. Proudly using only pure, unpasteurised and unadulterated varietal honeys there is a wide range of honey products on offer. There is also an active hive with a Perspex backing to allow viewing of the bees in action. I can now understand where the saying “busy bee” comes from because not a single bee in that hive stopped for a rest.
It was getting into the later part of the afternoon and all the food and wine tasting was beginning to make me feel sleepy. As we entered Mondos Nougat my eyes were drawn like a magnet to the macarons. Yes, I have a problem. We were given a sample of the nougat to taste but ended up buying another couple of squares to enjoy with our macarons.
Our second last stop was a farmer’s market stall selling a variety of fresh local produce ranging from strawberries to miniature herb plants. Unfortunately it was timed simultaneously with a torrential downpour meaning that no sooner had we all exited the minibus to peruse their offerings, we all very quickly came running back to the bus for shelter.
Our final stop was at the Iron Bark Brewery where Loris had called ahead for us with the tour group’s orders for pizzas. The Boy and I ordered a vegetarian gluten free pizza to share between the two of us which is not included in the price of the tour. On arrival we were given a voucher to get either a free beer tasting or a discount on a full serve of beer or wine. The price for a small pizza was $17.50 and the large was $23.50 with a $2 supplement for gluten free.
When our pizzas arrived we were puzzled to see that our small pizza was in fact just a regular sized pizza cut in half. As we looked up and down the table we saw that another tour guest had received our other half. What we found even more perplexing was that they wanted to charge us $17 for the half pizza! Erm I think not! A $34 vegetarian pizza! When we were at the counter ready to pay I suggested to our waitress that we should really only pay for half the price of a full gluten free pizza. The other tour guest that had eaten the other half could pay for remainder. I was given a look of contempt but after consulting with her frowning manager they both begrudgingly agreed. Oh dear.
Taste Bud Tours was a fabulous way to sample the wide variety of wine and produce available in the Swan Valley. I love how Loris sticks to Western Australian companies and she is a passionate and knowledgable advocate of the region. I can highly recommend her tours to anyone who wants to join a tour that is just a bit different from the norm and more personal.Taste Bud Tours | www.tastebudtours.com.au Jean Pierre Sancho 878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au Yahava Koffee Works 4752 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 8599 | www.yahava.com.au Margaret River Chocolate Factory 5123 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 1588 | www.chocolatefactory.com.au Cape Lavender 6 Cranleigh Street, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9250 7711 | www.lavenderonline.com.au Mago Coffee Lot 6, Cranleigh St, West Swan WA 6055 | (08) 9274 5871 | www.mago.com.au Jarrah Ridge Winery 651 Great Northern Highway, Swan Valley, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 6337 | www.jarrahridge.com The House of Honey & The Sticky Spoon Café 867 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 3635 | www.thehouseofhoney.com.au Mondo Nougat & Moorish Nuts 640 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 0111 | www.mondonougat.com.au Iron Bark Brewery 55 Benara Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 4400 | ironbarkbrewery.com.au
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.
Despite waiting for thirty minutes I was still undecided about my choice from the menu. The lay out of the menu is a little odd with three different time slots with varying overlap. Even after a couple of coffees it was hard to know where to look! We both agonised over it long enough for the waiter to come to our table twice to take our orders only to be met with two blank indecisive faces. It was a bee’s bum away from midday and logic drew me away from ordering some lunch as my hunger for some egg porn was uncontrollable. It’s not uncommon for me to have a second breakfast and I figured this was going to be one of those days.
There were a number of morning options that you could still order throughout the day and so my choice was a hot potato cake with smoked salmon, wilted spinach and a poached egg. Thankfully I was blessed and my burning desire for a sumptuous gooey egg was completely satisfied. The remainder of the dish was less than impressive however. The lemon butter was poured over my dish to the same exaggerated extent that the rain flooded the streets. The sheer amount of lemon butter would have been overwhelming had it not been that the potato cake was bland and poorly seasoned and was in dire need of a lift.
Whit had her own issues to contend with. Whilst egg porn was far from her mind, she was determined to have a lamb burger. She was on an unofficial mission to find the tastiest lamb burger in town so if it is on the menu, it must be devoured. That is until we were told they had run out of lamb; at twelve o’clock on a Monday. I could feel her disappointment from across the table and empathised; if there weren’t eggs on the menu to feed my addiction I was fairly confident I would pack up and go as I wanted them so bad.
As I nodded consolingly, Whit ended up choosing the lamb burger’s cousin; a pulled pork sandwich with Asian slaw and chilli jam. It turns out she is on a similar quest for the perfect pulled pork as she is with lamb. As she nibbled on her chewy, dry bun and flavourless pork my heart went out to her as my rays of golden egg enveloped everything on my plate. Looking at the torrential rain outside, my egg was to be the closest either of us would get to any sunshine that day.
As the pouring rain became apocalyptic outside, the whole of Napoleon Street completely filled up like a river breaking its banks. It looked like neither of us were heading anywhere else in a hurry. Brushing the let-down of the pulled pork aside, we looked about for a dessert menu to cheer up the taste buds.
Our dessert choice to share was a caramelised ginger rice pudding with the deceptive appearance of being a crème brûlée. We tapped and cracked the thin shell on top to reveal a thick creamy bed of dulcet rice pudding. Subtle hints of fresh lemony ginger added a bit of zing with even more tangy ginger in the scoop of ice-cream.
Encouraged by our winning dessert, we thought we would sit out the rain for a bit longer and have a round of coffee. We had already been chattering away for over four hours and I resigned to myself that my long list of tasks to do on my day off could simply wait for another day. With all the crazy crap that is going on in my life at the moment, whiling a day away in a café chatting with a newly found friend was much more enjoyable. As Whit took a sip of her coffee her face screwed up into contortions of displeasure border lining on pain. I reached over to grab her coffee for a taste; it was piping hot with an after-taste much like charcoal. What was to follow was something I’m sure can be defined as “how not to handle a disgruntled customer 101”. After three rounds of burnt coffee and a number of condescending comments implying that we obviously had no idea what a long macchiato tasted like, we were both left bewildered and mildly offended.
Customer service unfortunately still remains sorely lacking in some venues around Perth. With the recent opening of so many exciting and switched on eateries it would be wise for these restaurants to start improving or risk ending up getting left behind in the slipstream of other’s successes.
For the full story on what went down with the coffee saga head over to Whit’s account of our lunch on her blog: “Off the wall and into Vans”.Vans Café 1 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe WA 6011 | (08) 9384 0696 | www.vanscafe.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $13-23, Mains $18-42) Food: 2.5/5 (hits and misses) Service: 2/5 (1st rule of customer service: the customer is always right) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bright, airy and even with the gloom outside felt sunny) Drinks: 2/5 (burnt Crema coffee…..so sad) Total: 10/20
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.
The only down side of this success is that Esperance is a long way away from Perth! Selfish I know but gee I miss her! Recently she came back up to Perth for a few weeks of intensive training and we managed to squeeze in a few random catch ups. The Tuck Shop Café has been on my hit list for ages. Kindly remembering this fact, my Bestie suggested we meet there early on a weekday before we started work.
On perusing their menu I really wanted to try the black pudding which came with herbed ricotta and roasted tomatoes. I was dismayed to hear that it wasn’t gluten free so I order the same dish but with mushrooms to replace the black pudding instead. The grilled mushrooms were plump and fleshy with a rich earthy flavour. The ricotta was foamy light with just a slight hint of sweetness which combined well with the caramelised tomatoes. A single poached egg completed this dish.
The Bestie has recently changed to eating a vegetarian and gluten free diet and found there weren’t a lot of options for her on the menu. She chose to keep it simple and ordered poached eggs, roasted tomato and spinach.
We couldn’t help but order some sides of mushrooms and mushy peas too. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to order mushrooms on the side for breakfast. The mushy peas were a bit bland in flavour and needed more seasoning.
Two rounds of coffee and some tea later I glanced at the clock and realised our impromptu outing was nearly over as we both needed to head to our respective places of work feeling overly full and content. But wait; there is always room for dessert isn’t there? There were a couple of home-made gluten free cupcakes in the counter cabinet; a chocolate freckle and a berry cream cheese cupcake. Unable to decide which one the waitress convinced us to order both and cut each in half.
Each cupcake tasted neither heavy nor sickly sweet so despite already discussing how full we both felt before we knew it we had each eaten our respective halves. History repeats itself once more. I love that the two of us always manage to equally make pigs of ourselves; we are peas in a pod for sure. It serves to remind me that although physical distance separates us once again, we are always so close in spirit.Tuck Shop Café, Pie-House and Delicatessen 178 Newcastle Street, Northbridge WA 6000 | Facebook Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (need more GF and vegetarian options) Service: 3.5/5 (friendly, know their menu well) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great busy morning buzz) Drinks: 3.5/5 (They serve Toby Estate coffee) Total: 14.5/20
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.
Dear Friends is located on the rural flat lands of the Swan Valley and has featured in the Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant Guide and the Good Food Guide year after year. Chef Kiren focuses on utilising the variety of local and seasonal produce from the region sourcing directly from local farmers or foraged from the wild surrounds. The entrance to the restaurant is quaint and understated, bordering on old fashioned. For our seven course degustation I chose to have the matched wines and for each course sommelier Kelli took time to explain to me the origin of each wine and why she chose it.
The Boy and I now each have our own individual dietary requirements; obviously I’m still gluten free and fructose friendly but more recently the Boy is a vegetarian. I can see how some kitchens would baulk at having the two of us as their customers. Upon arrival we were immediately made to feel relaxed and at ease as our dietary requirements presented the Dear Friends team with no problems. More importantly each of our dishes were not just ones with alterations and deletions but were carefully planned; plated with elegance and originality.
Our first course consisted of some “tasters”; call them modern day amuse bouche if you like. There were super cheesy Manchego tacos containing some house made fresh cheese, crispy lupin chips topped with eggplant and Saratoga chips with balsamic vinegar. Despite being proud of both my father’s French heritage and all the cheeses that come from this fabulous country I have to confess Spanish Manchego is by far one of my favourite cheeses. It has such a distinctive flavour and the tacos made me reminiscent of my recent over indulgence in Barcelona.
My next course was a Welsh styled watercress soup. Watercress is supposed to aid with the digestion and this soup certainly did sit wonderfully warm in my stomach. The soft flaky blue swimmer crab contrasted with the strong pepperiness from the watercress leaving a fresh crisp taste on the palate.
My third course was the same as the Boy’s as it was a vegetarian dish. Who on Earth said vegetarian food was boring? Silky cubes of home-made soy tofu and locally grown Swan Valley field and oyster mushrooms sat upon a richly flavoured bed of smoky tomato puree. Some crunchy parsnip chips provided an interesting change in texture. This dish threatened to turn any meat eater into a vegetarian!
My next course of West Australian cuttlefish was served with tender tips of new season asparagus, Muchea grown Japanese turnips and shavings of fennel. I was intrigued by these turnips having never eaten them before as they were nearly as sweet as the fennel and as soft like potato. As I made my way through each of the generous wine matches I was glad this dish featured early in the meal. I tend to be a bit of a messy eater; which can worsen the more wine I drink. I could see the potential for me making a complete spectacle of myself and ending up with black ink purée everywhere.
As much as I am very respectful and proud of the Boy in his strong decision to become a vegetarian, I am yet to join him 100% and for my next course I could sense his disapproval at me eating animal flesh. I can console myself that Dear Friends source their organic free range pork from Margaret River Big Red Pork. Big Red’s pigs are kept in small family groups and run free range in the creek lines, grass lands and woodlands of their farm. They are fed on a natural diet of grasses, legumes, grains and grubs which gives the meat a characteristic dark colour. The Kassler pork loin was cured using a German technique which involves smoking and ripening the meat in brine for about 7-10 days. It was served with yellow squash and pickled cucumber. The cucumber gave some lovely sweetened acidity to the saltiness of the meat.
There was no missing out for the Boy as his next vegetarian course looked just as mouth-watering as mine. A near-translucent slow cooked egg sat nestled in amongst a variety of freshly foraged vegetables and herbs. As he cut into the egg, the yolk burst into life engulfing everything on his plate. Regrettably I missed the opportunity to take a picture of this egg porn moment as I was far too engrossed enjoying my cured pork.
My final main course was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Over the years I have worked my way through eating a variety of slow cooked meats but this was my first opportunity to enjoy a lamb cutlet prepared in this way. It was just as delicately soft as you could ever imagine. To complete the decadence it was finished with a bone marrow jus. Oh heaven! I was grateful for the lack of pretension and stuffiness as I just couldn’t help myself picking up the chop with my fingers and nibbling every last tasty morsel off the bone, not something I could get away with at every fine dining establishment. My Mum would shudder at the thought!
The Boy’s final main dish was a thick Glamorgan sausage served with Brussel sprouts, celeriac and broccoli. Glamorgan sausage is a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage made with cheese, leek, potato, cabbage, herbs and breadcrumbs. A fermented Chenin hollandaise sauce was drizzled luxuriously over everything on his plate.
It was now time to veer away from all these amazing savoury courses and enjoy some sweets. Our pre-dessert teaser consisted of two medallions of macadamia and white chocolate chiboust which is basically pastry cream lightened with egg white meringue. Light and airy, each portion of chiboust dissolved with a “poof” on the tongue. Dollops of kumquat curd and glazed kumquats gave a tart element to the dish along with the nutty sweetness of shavings of locally grown macadamias. The Boy also received a paper thin peppercorn tuille.
Our dessert was quite possibly one of the most stunning carrot cakes I have ever seen. Made with purple carrots it was scattered in soft crumbles around a scoop of carrot ice-cream and decorated with honey comb, marshmallows, fresh blueberries and cute little sour grass flowers. As my belly expanded over the top of my pants it was hard to believe our magical afternoon was nearly over.
However as many of you will know, it doesn’t matter how full I am I can always fit in cheese. The cheese course at Dear Friends is an optional extra but if you have the gumption to squeeze it in I can highly recommend it. Our three cheeses were Ubriaco al Vino Rosso, an Italian hard cheese from Northern Italy, a West Australian brie from Dellendale in Denmark and Colsten Bassett Shropshire Blue, a lesser known blue from the same cheese makers as the famous English Blue Stilton. Kelli continued to be far too generous and offered me not one but two different wine matches to go with our cheese; thank goodness I wasn’t driving!
The concept of enjoying a coffee after a degustation is always so appealing. However most of our dego experiences are in the evening so unless I want to lay wide awake in bed all night I tend to end up drinking tea instead. I look on in envy at those that can drink coffee after dinner and then fall blissfully asleep. Being a lunch time meal I was in luck this time round as the time to sleep was still a long way off. Knowing this was a rare opportunity I made sure I savoured every last drop.
It is easy to see why Dear Friends has maintained their position as one of Perth’s top restaurants for a number of years. Sommelier Kelli provides charming and faultless service whilst each dish clearly shows Kiren’s passion and love for his craft. A definite thumbs up from both of us; and as we walked away we were already planning our visit to their East Perth digs Co-Op Dining.Dear Friends Restaurant 100 Benara Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9279 2815 | www.dearfriends.com.au Price: $$$$ ($115 for a 7 course degustation, $70 for matched wine) Food: 5/5 (each dish was filled with wonderment despite our different dietary requirements) Service: 5/5 (charming, knowledgeable and with a humble sense of well-deserved pride) Ambience: 4/5 (you do feel like you are in the country) Drinks: 4.5/5 (seamless matching of wines) Total: 18.5/20
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.
As with all brides, the last few months before our big day flew past at the speed of light. No day seemed long enough and I forgot what it was like to relax. Some may say I got a bit pedantic about details however I prefer to see it as purely just ensuring everything was done properly and thoroughly. Consequently, despite previously being so paranoid that I wouldn’t be elegantly slim enough, in the last few weeks before the big day I could barely keep weight on for all the running around I did.
Our wedding invitations were designed by Jessica, one of the lovely designers at Annie P Paperie. My theme if you can call it that was “simple elegance”. I didn’t want any froo-froo, lace, feathers or glitter and opted for letter pressed stationary instead. Following with the Thai theme they designed me a simple “logo” of orchids intertwining gracefully around the edge of the page. I used this design throughout our wedding; on our invites, personalised canvas tote bags used for the welcome gifts, small gift note pads, menus and name place cards. The orchid design was sent to the Bella Figura in New York where they used antique cast iron presses to make the invitations the old-fashioned way.
After visiting many different resorts in Phuket during our previous trip in November 2011, we both agreed unanimously that Andara was the place of our dreams. Andara has two accommodation options in its expansive resort; they have massive privately owned villas perched up high on the mountains and then they also offer smaller, apartment style residences lower down the scarp by the beach.
Both are managed by the hotel and ooze luxury and attention to detail. We arrived about five days prior to all our wedding guests and initially stayed in one of their residences for a few days before moving into the opulent villa with our bridal party. Although the residences do not quite have the wow factor of the villa, each is still appointed with great care and attention. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a pool residence for these few days and on arrival received a bottle of champagne on ice.
Each residence has its own fully equipped kitchen, full sized fridge and all the utensils you would ever need while on holiday. Not that we did any cooking. For four days we busied ourselves organising welcome packs, choosing wedding music, practising our dance and finishing off all the important little wedding details whilst the hotel’s room service kept us well fed. The kitchen went above and beyond to diligently ensure all my allergies were strictly catered for without sacrificing on taste.
Breakfast for the residence guests is served at the hotel’s only restaurant Silk. They provide a combination of a continental style buffet coupled with a freshly cooked hot meal off their al la carte menu. Every morning the food and beverage manager would come over to our table and reassure me that my gluten free bread and muffins along with my hot meal was on its way. The gluten free muffins were sweet, coconutty and fluffy light and I had to stop myself from eating them all each morning. They were served warm and spread generously with Lescure butter they were close to heaven.
If I hadn’t already had my socks knocked off by the impressiveness of our wedding villa then the Andara residences would have had the same effect. However I knew we were soon to move into even bigger and better lodgings and the beauty of our suite was somewhat lost on me. Looking back now on our stay there I can appreciate what stunning accommodation it was and for a couple travelling on their own the suites are a more affordable way to stay at Andara.
In my next Wedding blog post I will take you through our breath taking Villa where overlooking the Andaman Sea the Boy and I declared our vows to the world and became husband and wife!
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
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.
Having never been here before on a weekend I was surprised to see the place was packed inside and out. Although the winter sun was shining brightly there was little warmth coming from its golden rays so we made ourselves comfortable inside under the heaters.
There were a few winter coughs and snuffles around the table so we all treated ourselves to a bowl of hot soup of the day to warm our bellies and sooth our throats. Unfortunately a few of the bowls that were brought to our table were lukewarm and had to be sent back to the kitchen to be reheated. The smooth and creamy corn soup provided excellent value at just $9 for a small bowl however I did think the one thin slice of accompanying gluten free bread was a bit on the stingy side. On previous occasions I have received a couple of slices with my soup, I’m not sure if they were on bread rations that day and were running out?
For my main I ordered the vegetarian frittata made with eggplant, fire roasted capsicum, basil, spinach and feta. It came with a massive side serve of salad containing sweet potato, pine nuts and fresh greens. The serving size was enormous and I starting wishing I didn’t order the soup as well. I guess I didn’t really need that extra piece of toast with my soup after all! The frittata could have done with a touch more seasoning and was very slightly burnt on the bottom. The huge salad was very filling even for my over-sized stomach and it was a struggle to finish it. Once again I felt this was value for money.
The Boy ordered the vegan burger. It contained a falafel patty with cashew cheese, beetroot relish and fire roasted capsicum. He was very disappointed with his choice and barely ate any of it. He said the bread was too hard and tasted almost stale; the burger patty was very soft and crumbled apart too easily and the relish was far too spicy for his liking. What a shame because it looked really tasty.
My mother in law ordered the mushroom tart with caramelised garlic, chevre and salmon. I didn’t really get a lot of adjectives from her describing its taste but I do know she enjoyed it and had no complaints.
My sister-in-law ordered the chermoula chicken salad. I have had this salad on a couple of occasions and once again the serving size is more than ample and will leave you contentedly full. Pieces of chermoula marinated chicken were served with a high mound of roasted sweet potato, beetroot, chickpeas, spinach, spiced yoghurt and a garlic walnut crumble. The flavours all work nicely together with a lovely balance of textures and a slight spicy kick.
One of the main reasons I came back to Taylor’s was that I knew they had a few gluten free options for dessert. However by the time I had eaten my soup, my huge plate of salad and my frittata I was bursting at the seams. When we were ordering our lunch earlier I spied a pile of rich cubes of gluten free chocolate brownies in the cake cabinet and was sure that between the Boy and I we could polish one off. Unbeknownst to me my young nephew had also decided that HE wanted a brownie too. When we returned back to the counter to order our coffee and cakes, the mound of brownies had been reduced to a mere single square! I figured that must be a signal to me to stop being greedy and let him order it for himself, not without stealing a few mouthfuls though! It was moist and very chocolatey, there would have been no way I could have eaten one to myself after all the food I had already chowed down.
I still haven’t quite made up my mind about Taylor’s Art and Coffee House; whilst their coffees and cakes are worth a visit the execution in the kitchen didn’t seem to handle the busyness of weekend brunch. I haven’t had such problems during my mid-week visits and I can assure you I will still return.Taylor’s Art and Coffee House 510 Great Northern Highway, Middle Swan 6056 | 0447 441 223 | http://www.taylorscafe.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 2.5/5 (awesome coffee & cakes but lukewarm soup and inedible vegan burger) Service: 3/5 (slow service but friendly enough, the barista is a character who shows passion & enthusiasm) Ambience: 3/5 (quaint, relaxed country feel) Drinks: 4/5 (the coffee won me over) Total: 12.5/20
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!
Now this is an easy task for me. Mushrooms have got to be one of my favourite ingredients and I am not lying when I say I eat them daily. Last year my Mushroom Mania posts were two very different experiences. Firstly we visited the stunning Millbrook Winery in Jarrahdale where after our meal the manager took us mushroom foraging and we then dined at Divido, Mouth Hawthorn where three out of four courses contained mushrooms including some black truffles!
This year I was keen to learn more about these highly nutritious fungi so I met up with Cris Douwes from Perth City Farm where their recently funded GRO project has commenced growing their own organic mushrooms. Perth City Farm is a not-for-profit organisation funded by government grants and is helped out by many volunteer workers. The mushrooms that they grow are served in local cafés and restaurants including their own café, and they also sell them in both fresh and dry forms at their weekend organic farmer’s market. The plan is eventually to expand this business commercially once they are happy they have their formula perfected.
I love seeing someone who is passionate about their job, we spend so much of our lives working it seems negligent to your own happiness to not follow in pursuit of something you love. Within minutes of meeting Cris I could tell that mushrooms really rocked his world. He was a wealth of knowledge and proudly showed us around the farm detailing how his mushrooms are grown.
Fungi are known to be the biggest organism on the planet with the fungi mycelia being able to spread over large distances over thousands of years. Mushrooms are the “fruit bodies” of fungi and are part of their reproductive state. In nature fungi have to compete with many other organisms. In order to maximise growth of mushrooms in a commercial situation, they must be grown on pasteurised substrate in a very controlled environment giving them exclusive access to all nutrients.
At Perth City Farm they lessen the impact coffee production businesses have on the environment by utilising coffee by-products to grow their gourmet mushrooms on. Left over coffee husks and grounds that would normally be discarded as rubbish are turned into nutritious soil compost. As the fungi grow on this substrate they recycle the by-products into what can then be sold as garden compost. To make the substrate for mushrooms to grow on, they have to pasteurise it to remove all other organisms. In summer this is achieved by use of their solar-powered “oven” which can reach temperatures of over 85 degrees Celsius in summer. In winter they are unable to achieve adequate temperatures with this oven and instead use a 44-gallon drum which they heat using steam that is powered by natural gas burners.
The sterile coffee by-product substrate is then inoculated with the mushroom’s spores (mycelium) in front of a laminar flow hood that was kindly donated by King Park. The laminar flow hood provides a sterile air environment to prevent any contamination. They currently have fungal cultures that are able to grow a variety of edible mushrooms including Pearl Oysters, Gold Oysters, Shiitake, King Oysters, Grey Oysters, Pink Oysters, Blue Oysters, Ulmarius and Phoenix. The inoculated bags of mycelium mixed with substrate are then kept in a climate controlled dark room and allowed to grow into a solid white brick called a “cake”. This is the fungi in its vegetative state and it will continue to grow until it runs out of nutrients.
In order to turn this hardened bag of fungi into the delicious fruits we call mushrooms it needs to be triggered into its reproductive state. There are four triggers needed for fruiting: fresh air exchange, light, temperature change (shock) and humidity. Cris informed us it is an art form to get the balance of these trigger factors in the “fruiting room” just right. As we cast our eyes around his fruiting room it looked like he was pretty close to cracking the code.
Just as we finished our tour the chef came over to us with a plate piled high with what looked at first glance to be pieces of chicken. My eyes widened as I learnt that the delightfully fleshy dish was actually made purely of oyster mushrooms that had been freshly harvested. The mushrooms were lightly sautéed using fresh organic herbs from their garden and topped with some goat cheese and crisp rocket. Even a seasoned mushroom lover like myself was left surprised how meaty this dish seemed and I can understand why some people call it the meat for vegetarians!
The Boy is an avid gardener and had dashed out in his lunch break to join us on the farm tour so he ordered a salad for something quick before returning to work. Richly coloured roast vegetables, more flavoursome herbs and chickpeas turned his vegetarian salad into a satisfyingly filling express lunch that he wolfed down before departing quickly.
The café staff were much too kind to us and refused to let us pay for our lunch despite our retorts so we decided to sneakily return the next day as a fee paying customer. I ordered some soft-boiled eggs with dukkah and gluten free buttered soldiers accompanied by some more grilled mushrooms. My eggs were perfectly dippable coating each strip of toast in yellow happiness. The dukkah was a flavoursome addition to this simple favourite. The farm’s fresh herbs featured again in the grilled field mushrooms dish although these were nearly as meaty as the oyster mushrooms the previous day.
Neither of us had woken up very well that morning and in my sleepiness I think I accidentally ordered the Boy Eggs Benedict instead of the requested vegetarian version; the Eggs Florentine. He wasn’t very impressed with the sight of meat on his plate and I felt a bit bad for my careless error. Aside for the unwanted addition of ham, the rest of the dish was very much to his liking most notably the house made hollandaise, which he found rich and buttery with a slight tang.
Perth City Farm Café is a must visit breakfasty-brunch spot in Perth. For those who have grown their own produce at home you will appreciate the freshness of their home-grown ingredients. Your body will love you for eating organic and most importantly you will be minimising the impact your meal has on the environment.This restaurant was reviewed as part of Mushroom Mania month which is happening all across Australia during July 2013. Head to the Power of Mushrooms website for loads of mouthwatering mushroom recipes plus if you write your own review on a mushroom dish you could win one of 40 $100 restaurant vouchers! Disclosure: Chompchomp dined at Perth City Farm with compliments of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Perth City Farm Café 1 City Farm Road, East Perth WA 6004 | 0418 594 408 | perthcityfarm.org.au Price: $ Food: 4/5 (home grown, seasonal fresh produce and gooey eggs) Service: 4/5 (everyone obviously loves working here) Ambience: 4/5 (feels like a country garden in the city) Drinks: 4/5 (Rubra coffee is a winner) Total: 16/20
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
The Boy ordered one of his time old favourites; the beef lasagna. Thick with meaty sauce and gooey cheese the lasagna connoisseur gave it the big thumbs up. We both vowed to return when both the kitchen and the coffee machine were switched on and see what these guys could do.
A few weeks later I attended Rob Broadfield‘s sold out seminar on food writing at the Hyatt with Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin. Rob gave us some useful tips on how to write captivating restaurant reviews worthy enough to publish in the well-known West Australian Good Food Guide. The day also served to give him an opportunity to scope for new reviewers as each delegate had to submit an 80 word café or bar review. I found it amusing that basically we were all paying for the chance to have an interview!
It started off a stunning morning with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze so I chose to walk into the city. Halfway through the four-hour seminar I began to regret this decision as my stomach let out some clearly audible grumblings and my head started to spin. Talking about food wasn’t helping my situation much either. As soon as the seminar was over I met up with the Boy and headed straight to Food For Me, Victoria Park for lunch.
Serving locally roasted Essenza coffee, the beans are ground on demand and you can smell the aroma as soon as you walk into the café. The coffee is quite sweet and creamy without any strong bitterness or bite.
Although they do serve gluten free toast I wasn’t in the mood for bread and chose the zucchini and corn fritters. I didn’t expect such a huge meal and with half a brilliant green avocado, tossed salad and two poached eggs I was thankful I did walk earlier in the morning. All that bridal weight loss was returning back to my hips in a very fast fashion. The fritters were filled brim full of corn, each ear popping with freshness in my mouth.
My poached eggs were satisfyingly gloopy and I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a quick yolk-porn shot. Heavenly. The preserved lemon, chilli and dill dressing had a sweet almost maple syrupy flavour to it and I had to resist licking the last of it off my empty plate before they were taken away.
The Boy nearly ordered himself a steak sandwich before he stopped himself and changed to a chicken burger instead. Juicy tenderloins were buried in the burger among some bacon, cheese and lettuce. Their breads are sourced from Barrett’s Bakery in Nedlands where they hand make all their bread without adding any additives. The burger bun was soft but resilient and despite the constant drip of mayonnaise and relish it retained its shape and body until the very end.
When we were up at the counter ordering our meals, our waiter talked up their gluten free brownies claiming them to be outrageously good. After finishing off the last of my fritters my curiosity got the better of me and I sidled back up to the counter to order one to share. Rich and moist, the brownie lived up to his hype and was laced with some tart raspberries to balance out the sweetness. There was no crumbliness common to gluten free slices and our spoons fought over the last mouthful.
Breakfast in Vic Park can often be a bit of hit and miss. Having visited Food For Me on a number of occasions now I can safely say they are on my list of hits. Loads of gluten free options, fresh mostly organic produce and friendly staff they really have got their recipe right. We will be returning for sure.Food For Me 877 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 6101 | (08) 9472 0333 | http://www.foodforme.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (loads of GF options, make sure you try their brownie!) Service: 4/5 (super positive friendly vibe) Ambience: 3/5 (try and nail a table outside in the sun) Drinks: 3.5/5 (creamy luscious coffee) Total: 15.5/20