A wonderful part of being a food blogger is discovering and connecting with other food blogs. The downside of this is that it is a time consuming business and on top of running a business, working full-time and maintaining my own blog; it is sometimes an uphill battle finding the time to read all posts from those I have grown to love and enjoy. Consequently I find myself grouping favourite blogs into the “must reads”, “read when you have time” and “visit occasionally” categories.
Chew Town is definitely in the first category for me. Not being excessively prolific in her posts, she posts often enough to support my interest without making it impossible for me to stay up to date. Her photography is breathtaking and she deservedly won 2nd prize for the photography awards at the Eat Drink Blog conference last year. But it’s not just her blog that is awesome. In sharing a number of common interests we created a foundation for the pen-pal styled friendship common to the blogging community which was finally made a reality thanks to the magic that was Eat Drink Blog 2012.
Originally from Perth, Amanda returned to the West for the silly season and thus we were determined to catch up despite my insane roster placing me on a run of 11 out of 12 days straight. The only time we could tally up was the morning of New Year’s Eve and we met at The Beaufort Street Merchant for some brunch. The Boy was sweet enough to drop me off and so bidding him farewell I said I’d meet him back at the same spot in an hour and a half.
I ordered the Chorizo and Manchego Spanish omelette. Foolish me, in my excitement and chatter I forgot to request no onion and it was a predominate ingredient. I still managed to successful pick the onion out and enjoy my meal. My serving size was absolutely enormous and would have easily fed two people even without the onions! Topped with a fresh crisp rocket salad and thick syrupy balsamic dressing this dish was quite an impressive sight. The toasted gluten free bread was spongy and light, with that springy resilience normal toast eaters take for granted.
Amanda ordered the toasted bagel which was served with hot smoked trout, slippery scrambled eggs and buttered leeks. Again the serving size was huge and all my hopes for getting her to help finish my own giant sized meal were squashed as she had trouble finishing her own.
Now those that know me well can appreciate that I can talk. Well, suffice to say Amanda gives me a run for my money. In what felt like half an hour, no less than two and half hours passed us by during which I had failed to observe 5 missed calls from the Boy who meanwhile was waiting in the heat out in the car for me. Eeeek. Am I the worst fiancé ever? After a number of failed attempts at contacting me, he decided to abandon ship and strolled up to the Queens where I found him enjoying a pint of beer under the water misters. Sheepishly guilty I hurried off to the bar to order the poor hungry man some food and more beer. I didn’t get a chance to stroll through the store at the back of The Beaufort Street Merchant and will be sure to return with an empty stomach and more time in the near future.The Beaufort Street Merchant 488 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 6299 | http://www.beaufortmerchant.com/ Price: $$ (Breakfast $15-22) Food: 4/5 (interesting options for breaky, large serves, fresh produce) Service: 2.5/5 (slow with taking drinks orders and with delivery of food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great vibe, noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (coffee strong and not too bitter) Total: 14/20
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
It was an early start the following morning after the Eat Drink Blog conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide with many of us nursing hangovers from all the excesses of food and drink. The organising committee had planned things well with baristers on the ready handing out freshly brewed coffee to bleary eyed delegates. A massive breakfast spread was provided by Red Door Bakery and The Yoghurt Shop and included a moist gluten free frittata for me to enjoy.
The lecture content over the day provided me with many useful take home tips ranging from food photography, food styling, ethics, working with PRs, SEO and some legal advice. As many of my fellow bloggers have already posted extensive wrap ups of the lecture content, in order to prevent saturating the web with repeat content I suggest you head over to the Eat Drink Blog website for the links.
No food blogging conference is complete without copious amounts of food. Although we may have been fed and watered very well the previous night at the conference dinner and then again that morning; nothing prepared us for the vibrant pop up lunch downstairs in the Adelaide Central Markets.
All produce on offer was proudly South Australian and included the most enormous pan of aromatic paella, gluten free cured meats, freshly cooked ham, local cheeses and artisan breads.
There was even a freshly baked loaf of gluten free Laucke bread accompanied by its own, non-contaminated cutting board and knife. It was a spongy fluffy loaf with the consistency of real bread!
The onslaught of delectable food continued well into the afternoon. Natasha from Playing House had kindly stayed up all hours the night before busily baking our afternoon tea spread. Cake pops, chocolate mousse and some adorable little mini cakes which surprisingly vanished quickly even though I’m sure most of us were at maximal stomach capacity!
The flourless orange cake was moist and zesty and although my expanded belly was starting to give the impression I was with child, I actually had to stop myself from going back for seconds.
Sadly all good things must always come to an end and coming down off my sugar rush my emotions ran high. In an out of character moment I swear I felt a tear prick in my eye as it dawned on me that this fantasy weekend was truly over. Many of the delegates had planes to catch, families to return to and lots of fresh new motivation to blog. After a flurry of farewells, hugs and promises to eat together once again we all departed to return back to our real lives.
Thanks once again to the Eat Drink Blog 2012 committee:
Thanks also to all the generous sponsors. Without your help this free conference would never have happened.
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
After spending the afternoon with Dianne Jacob at her food writing workshop, I whizzed back to my Mum’s house, whipped on a frock and headed back out to the Eat Drink Blog Conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide. I was joined by the rest of the WA “Team”; Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and Moni from Gastromony along with some interstate blogging friends.
The Hilton’s Executive Chef Dennis Leslie themed the evening based on a South American fiesta with the idea of making the meal “fun”. It was set out on the terraced pool deck in the open air up high amongst the sky scrapers (well, they are more like just tall buildings in Adelaide!). It was a warm and humid night and the deck was lit up like a Christmas tree with fairy lights.
Feeling like superstars, we were ushered out onto the terrace where we watched views of the sun setting sun over the Adelaide Hills. A whole lamb slowly rotated around on a spit and the mouth-watering smell of barbequed meats filled with air. As lamb sliders were passed around and devoured rapidly by all, our waiter informed me that a gluten free option was on its way for me. After what felt like hours, he returned with a massive gluten free bun filled like slippery wedges of freshly carved meat.
In my hunger and eagerness to devour my gluten free adaptation, I shoved a large door stop of lamb into my mouth imagining that it would be easy enough to chew. I seemingly underestimated the size of this chunk of flesh and was unable to open my mouth wide enough to chew it. Not wanting to make a spectacle of myself, I proceeded to try to swallow the piece whole. It plugged my gullet like sock in a drain and I couldn’t breathe. Gasping as discretely as possible, I quickly grappled for my wine and chugged down a couple of mouthfuls but to no avail.
By this point I’m sure I must have been turning a shade of blue and shamefully turned away from the table to dramatically hoik up the elongated piece in a most inelegant manner. Oh my god, how embarrassing. Thank goodness I was surrounded by friends. From then on forth, I was very particular to cut my food into tiny, mouse sized pieces for the remainder of the evening.
Although by this point we did feel a little ripped at the seams, the sight of yet another chocolate fountain had lost some of its original appeal earlier that day and we started to yearn for something a bit more interesting. After receiving a tip off from a local regarding the whereabouts of a late night dessert bar; the four of us were dead set on fitting just one more course in. Everyone can always find room for dessert. We all jumped into a cab and headed across town to Devour Dessert Bar.
The burnt milk pannacotta had an exquisite blackberry gel centre that exploded out like goo when I plunged my spoon into its wobbliness. It was served on a bed of peanut butter crunch which gave a wonderful texture contrast to the jiggling pannacotta. I am not normally a fan of peanuts but the crunch reminded me of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes which in my pre-gluten free days I use to adore. I could have eaten of whole bowl of that peanut butter crunch.
The peanut butter and jelly macaron was too chewy and lacked the familiar “poof” sensation when I bit into the outer shell. I presumed they may not have been very fresh or alternatively refrigerated for too long. Although I felt the macaron wasn’t up to scratch, the rest of my dessert was so good that despite being the least keen person to visit Devour, I was one of the only ones who finished everything on my plate! Overloaded, overindulged and very satisfied we all headed home to get some sleep in preparation for a big day of conference the next morning.
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
As much as I would love to be spending more of my time eating and blogging like most food bloggers I have a day job. I am a veterinarian who is as passionate about my career as I am about food. In order to stay abreast of this ever evolving field I regularly attend veterinary conferences and congresses. Forever thirsty for new information and ways to better practice medicine, these conferences are often quite intense for me and I have been known to go through a whole biro pen from furiously scribbling down extra notes in the margins of our proceedings.
While I have been a vet for over ten years I have only been blogging for just over a year and my abilities to write and take photos still have a long way to go before I would consider myself “good”. Keen to improve my skills as an amateur I was over the moon to be invited to join 80 fellow bloggers to attend the third annual Eat Drink Blog Conference (EDB) this year. Better still the conference was to be held in Adelaide, the city I grew up in and where my darling mother still lives.
Vets are not unsociable folk by any means; however the extroverts are few and far between meaning at a conference I would be lucky if I managed to network with a small handful of colleagues each time. In stark contrast, the energy and excitement amongst the Eat Drink Blog delegates was infectious. Being more isolated in Perth, there were many bloggers that I had never met. Yet over the past twelve months together we have shared life’s ups and downs via our blogs and social media. Such a warm and welcoming bunch of people filled the room and I sensed a strong sense of community amongst us from the outset.
This year was to be the first year that the conference spanned over two days and I cannot sing enough praise to the dedicated team of people responsible for making Eat Drink Blog such a successful weekend.
I spent much of my adolescent years in Adelaide and the Adelaide Central Markets holds a very dear place in my heart. In the early stages of coping with a broken home, my Mum and I always found solace visiting the markets together. Not only did our scant food budget thrive on the cheaper produce, the atmosphere and buzz was always enough for us to temporarily forget our pains and absorb the vitality. Returning to the markets some twenty years later conjured up a mix of emotions as this was one of the highlights of one of the darker times of my younger years.
Our tour included visits to a number of South Australian owned businesses and many of these were family run having been in the Central Markets for generations.
After the market tour, delegates had the option of joining a winery tour in the Barossa or McLaren Vale, or to participate in a food writing workshop by acclaimed writer Dianne Jacob. As much as the imagery of a road trip with a bunch of food obsessed bloggers sounded like a dream come true, I genuinely want to improve my writing abilities and thus opted for the workshop.
Coming over from wet weather and storms in Perth I wasn’t prepared for the stifling hot day in Adelaide and prickled with sweat as I peeled off my layers walking in the sunshine. Killing time before the workshop we fortunately stumbled upon Dessert Story; a Taiwanese dessert restaurant. Desperate for something refreshing I ordered the Kiwifruit crushed ice. To my surprise out came a towering pyramid of syrupy bright green ice with chunks of kiwifruit tumbling down the sides like cartoon lava. I was unable to finish it partly due to its gargantuan size and partly due to its sickening sweetness.
For anyone interested in becoming a food writer, be it a professional journalist or an unschooled blogger, I can highly recommend attending one of Dianne Jacob’s food writing workshops or at least reading her book “Will Write for Food”. She made us all reflect critically on our writing styles and gave us lots of techniques to improve our style and find our “voice”. Throughout her three hour workshop, she made us all participate in exercises which although hard to do on the spot were effective at illustrating her points.
This is my description of eating a sweet potato chip using adjectives, simile and some emotional significance. Bear in mind this had to be written on the spot!
“The crown of my tooth nearly shatters like glass under the impact of the snap. I start to salivate as I anticipate a piquant brininess only to be left underwhelmed by the subtlety, wimpy aftermath. I breathe a deep sigh of relief as memories of my recurrent nightmares of rotting teeth fade back to the distant cobwebs of my mind. “
The other big take home point for me was the fact that gushing is boring. It’s easy to write a review about a fantastic meal and a terrible one. But most meals are neither of these and fit into somewhat of a grey area. What distinguishes the more talented writers is their ability to write about these grey areas and still manage to capture their readers.
I have my new challenge. Mark my words; there will be no more “delicious”, “yummy” or “cooked to perfection” on Chompchomp from here forth!
Having only just celebrated my first blogiversary last month, I consider myself somewhat of a newcomer to Perth’s food blogger ranks. What has truly amazed me and touched my heart profoundly is the strong sense of community amongst fellow bloggers. Despite my inexperience, I have been graciously greeted with open arms not just by other fresh(wo)men like myself, but by those with popular, well-established and recognised blogs. It certainly does make a fresh change from the comparatively serious and introverted veterinary world.
Four bloggers from Perth including yours truly were selected to attend the third annual Eat.Drink.Blog conference this year in Adelaide. In preparation for our highly anticipated weekend away, we met up during the week prior for dinner to talk “blogger’s stuff” and of course to eat!
After a few restaurant options were toyed around, we ended up agreeing on West End Deli in West Perth. Snuggled in the residential end of West Perth, West End Deli is a quaint little bistro owned by a husband and wife duo; Justin and Christine Peters. I had been here once several years ago and confess my previous experience back then wasn’t very memorable. I vaguely recall the kitchen appearing to have strong reluctance to adapt any dishes for me and that we waited well over 45 minutes for our breakfast meals only for them to forget our coffees. Twice. Having said that, this was quite some time ago and I know one should try to avoid forming a strong judgement from just one experience.
It’s incredible how the same dining room, with all the same interiors, can change its whole persona at night. The casual, sunlit café I remember from previously had magically transformed into a sombre, intimate and classy bistro. It wasn’t long before we all arrived and with glasses of wine in hand we relaxed into the vibe. Some unexpected amuse bouche were brought to our table; a crisp homemade wonton piped with creamy herb and goats cheese and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Being unable to eat the wonton, a plump little ball of pear filled with the cheese was offered to me as a replacement. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or fussy, I quickly chowed down on a glucose tablet before I slipped my juicy treat into my mouth. Being such a small amount of pear, it is easy to counteract the fructose with a small dose of glucose. For times like these, I carry these tablets everywhere with me.
Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse started with the potato and pickled sardine terrine topped with a curl of crème fraîche and a poached yabby tail.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings was initially reluctant to order herself an entrée as we had already earmarked a couple of dishes on the dessert menu and she sensibly wanted to pace herself. The ricotta gnocchi managed to twist her rubber arm when the waitress informed her it would be no trouble to omit the candied olives and replace with an alternate ingredient. The gnocchi were light, mini sized pillows, tossed in fresh sage and garlic and tumbled over a thick smear of pesto sauce.
I chose the slow cooked egg for entrée as my obsession with these gelatinous beauties continues. Perched on a nest of crumbled bacon it was accompanied a pea mash flavoured with white anchovies and lashings of truffle oil. Weblike shavings of Reggiano cheese were sprinkled on top. I struggled to do this dish justice with my photography in the flickering candle light however suffice to say my palate was rewarded. This breakfast-esque spin on bacon and eggs was a winner.
Moni from Gastromony chose the elegantly plated charred octopus. Coated with a thin chermoula crust it came with pear and walnut salad and a smear of blood orange. Kudos to her assistance with taking a photo for me as my go-go gadget arms couldn’t reach across the table without losing some degree of decorum. I still get a little embarrassed and feel awkward taking photos of people’s meals as deep in my heart I feel like a novice.
Ideas of pork belly and spatchcock failed to get past the consideration stages for any of us and we all opted for the snapper for mains. The fish was seared to a butter smooth consistency and balanced precariously over some prawns and mussels. A thin saffron coloured broth gave a subtle perfumey bitterness to sharpen the softer flavours of this dish. Tarry coloured squid ink brandade was blobbed on top and gave a pleasant piquant aftertaste. Brandade is French sauce made from an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil.
The girls all ordered the potted cheesecake for dessert. It was served in the same adorable little pots that I saw Rochelle Adonis’s salted caramel mousse recently. Apparently she imports them from France. What was much more curious about this dish was that next to the pot laid an innocent little tube labelled “Squeeze Me” containing salted dulche de leche.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I wondered if my new found friends would slowly start shrinking in their seats to become miniature pint-sized versions of their former selves. Thankfully the only surprise to follow was the unexpected layer of popping candy on top of the cheesecake. No one had any trouble finishing off their desserts which is always a good sign.
I was informed by our waitress that none of their desserts on the menu were gluten free however in complete contrast to my experience at West End Deli many moons ago, the chef kindly rose to the occasion and wasn’t going to let me miss out by any means. I was offered a honey vanilla parfait served with a caramelised warm banana. Grateful for their efforts once more, I didn’t bother going through the finer details that fructose malabsorbers cannot have honey. I presumed the amount would indeed be small anyway so I sneakily crunched on another couple of glucose tablets. My parfait was a little icy and hard for my liking but this was made up for by the dulcet banana.
I have to be honest; my recent experience at West End Deli has turned my opinion around for the better. They were accommodating for our varied requests and their service was discrete yet warm and welcoming. As we left the kitchen staff bid us all farewell from the open plan kitchen; a nice touch. I think I am going to have to give their breaky another try.West End Deli 95 Carr Street, West Perth, WA 6005 | (08) 9328 3605 | www.westenddeli.net.au Price: $$$ ($25-35 per meal, BYO) Food: 7.5/10 (flexible with requests, small menu executed well) Service: 4/5 (attentive without being obtrusive, warm and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (very dark ambiance, would be romantic for couples) Drinks: Unable to assess as BYO. Total: 15.5/20