One thing I have learnt from the Boy is that I need to take more time out to relax. Relaxing does not come naturally to me and generally the only way I can do it is if I am forced. Last weekend we drove down to the South West to stay at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, a five-star beach front resort only minutes’ drive from Dunsborough and Yallingup.
The reason for our single night stay at Bunker Bay was to sample the resorts’s launch of their new High Tea. High Tea is available at Pullman Bunker Bay resort every day of the week until the 20th of December, and Executive Chef Grant Murray is more than happy to accommodate for guests like myself with dietary requirements.
We sat out on the sunny deck overlooking the wonderful ocean view where we could see glimpses of majestic whales out in the bay. Regrettably I didn’t come prepared with a zoom lens to capture their beauty.
Being able to enjoy gluten, the Boy’s high tea was plated separately to mine to avoid cross contamination and as our waitress brought over our tiers of food we both let out a sigh of pleasure. Each plate was an array of vibrant spring colour and neither of us could wait to tuck in!
Chef Murray enthusiastically spoke to us about his focus on utilising fresh, seasonal produce and wherever possible he will obtain his ingredients locally. All the pastries and baked items are made in their own kitchen, with our muffins and scones coming just out of the oven that morning.
My gluten free savoury course included a cucumber, tarragon and chicken sandwich made with compressed cucumber to give more flavour. The tomato salad contained tomatoes that were grown especially for the restaurant on a property only a few kilometres away. Nothing beats the taste of home-grown tomatoes.
There was no sensation of feeling like I was missing out on a gluten free diet, with my second tier of baked goods tasting just as good the Boy’s looked. My scone didn’t crumble apart like many gluten free versions and my muffin was still warm.
My final top tier of high tea was the prettiest of all, decorated in fresh edible flowers and plump blueberries. My mini tartlets were filled with juicy fresh Western Australian mango. The little meringues had all the layers of textures that a quality meringue must have; a powder poof crunchy shell with a sumptuous gooey centre. Perfection.
The Boy’s standard high tea looked very similar to mine, except that of course it contained gluten. This is the second time he has joined me for high tea and whilst I doubt he will start swilling hot tea any time soon, I can be sure he will happily join me on my next one.
The Boy’s dessert course was just a pretty as my gluten free version, and included a selection of macarons, profiteroles and chocolate mousse cake.
For our accommodation we stayed in a garden view studio villa. Our room was elegantly appointed with a comfortable, king sized bed and a fully equipped kitchenette. Not that we ever needed it to cook for ourselves!
The bathroom was spacious and modern, complete with fluffy bathrobes and slippers along with luxury amenities for those who forgot their toiletries.
Being such a brief stay, we decided to dine at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Other Side of the Moon for our evening meal. Our bubbly natured waitress was very knowledgeable with respect to what was gluten free and what could be adapted on the menu.
We started off our evening with some natural oysters from Coffin Bay served with shallot vinegar.
For our entrée, we opted to share the local South West tasting plate for two. For those with less agreeable dining companions, this tasting plate was also available as a single serve for a lower cost. In the centre of the plate was a gluten free adapted serve of Geographe Bay squid fried with a spicy Asian herb salad and nahm jim dressing. We were advised to start in the middle of the plate and work our way out.
The second tasting was a Swiss brown mushroom filled with confit Baldivis rabbit on bacon and Jerusalem artichoke purée.
We ended the tasting experience with some thin slices of Margaret River venison carpaccio and local pickled onions. Of course I left the onions for the Boy to gobble as I’m not good with the added fructose. A gluten free crouton with olive tapenade accompanied the small serve of venison.
The Boy ordered the duo of beef for his main course. A lightly pan-seared Harvey beef tenderloin accompanied a pot of beef cheek daube. A scoop of truffle mash and cute little heirloom carrots added in some vegetable goodness and was drizzled in a Capel Vale Cabernet Sauvignon jus.
We also ordered a side of fries which our waitress told us would be cooked in clean oil to avoid any gluten contamination. The Boy suggested that perhaps an order of fries on top of all the rest of the food we had eaten so far may be considered somewhat excessive. I was pleased to see our waitress was on the same page as me as she agreed that not only is there a second stomach for desserts, that there is in fact a specific “potato stomach” to fit in potatoes in all forms: be that fries, chips, wedges, whatever, wherever 😉
For my main choice, I ordered the daily special of roasted duck breast. It was served on a bed of quinoa, parsnip purée, and locally grown golden beets. The duck was delicately tender and soft, literally melting in my mouth without a hint of dryness.
Whilst I had big ambitions of pushing the boat out for the evening and having both dessert and cheese, when it came to the crunch I sadly realised I only had room for one or the other. It was a hard choice as there were a decent selection of local and imported cheese on offer. I turned to the Boy for guidance. He had already spotted the Simmo’s ice cream menu with no less than ten flavours to choose from. It was decided. We would have dessert.
The daily dessert special was light, refreshing and perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth. A lemon-scented toasted marshmallow cloud with fresh mango and lychee gel on lime granita had an interesting tango of sweet and citrus flavours. I reluctantly let the Boy taste a mouthful as he even more reluctantly let me sample his ice creams. He is generally very easy going with letting me eat off his plate, except when it is ice cream. He becomes very territorial of every mouthful!
The following morning we opted for a light room service breakfast before taking a stroll around the beautiful resort. There is a 24 hour room service menu offering lots of gluten free options including pizzas and other main meals for late night snacking. The beach is only a short walk from the villas, and is such a beautiful spot with the characteristic stunning white sands and clear blue water that the region is well known for.
After a enjoyable walk along the beach, the Boy and I headed to the resort spa; Vie where we had booked a massage in the couples room along with a Pevonia signature facial. It has taken me some time to convert the Boy to enjoy spa treatments but each time he comes along he warms further to the concept.
Sadly, our whirlwind weekend was coming to an end and prior to departing we took some time to relax in the bistro area of the resort where they have a tapas menu serving small plates that highlight on the local produce that is seasonally available. Again there were both gluten free and vegetarian options available.
Our vegetarian dish of roasted cauliflower was exceedingly addictive with charred grilled piquillo peppers, toasted macadamia and pomegranate. It came with creamy tahini for a tangy hit of extra flavour. I loved the presentation with lots of splashes of colour and fun.
Our second dish of Fremantle octopus was adapted to be gluten free by the omission of chorizo. It was paired with smoked yoghurt, local olives, edamame and grilled tomato. I have a tendency to be quite fussy with my octopus having be very spoilt in my time in Spain. It is far too common that it is not prepared well and the meat ends up being as chewy as an old sock. This octopus did not disappoint my critical opinions, each piece was deliciously tender and did not give my jaw a work out to chew. It was a perfect way to end our very short stay.
For much of the drive home to Perth, the Boy and I talked about making plans for when we could next return to stay at Bunker Bay. It is rare that we simultaneously relax together and despite such a short stay, this trip was a success. The resort has enough options to be able to stay there and not leave, but is located so close to the wineries and tourist sights for the Margaret River region such that if you don’t want to stay put you don’t have to. Suffice to say we have already booked our next trip 😉
High Tea at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort is available at the resort’s bistro until 20 December 2015.
Cost is $37 per person with a Dilmah specialty tea, barista-made coffee or hot chocolate, or $45 per person to add a glass of sparkling wine. Kid’s Menu available for children up to 12 years. Bookings require 48 hours’ notice with pre-payment at the time of reservation. With advance notice, dietary requirement can be catered for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of Pullman Bunker Bay resort and received her night accommodation and high tea for two at no cost. She paid in full for her dinner at Other Side of the Moon, for the tapas at Tapestry and for her Spa treatments at Vie.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, 42 Bunker Bay Road, Naturaliste WA | (08) 9756 9100 | Website
I love being part of unique dining experiences. I find the excitement of the unknown combined with the knowledge that it is a once off event makes the evening feel so special. Alphabet Soup Dining is a Perth-based pop-up restaurant run by chef Melissa Palinkas who is also the Executive Chef and part owner of Young George in East Fremantle. Melissa started Alphabet Soup because she wanted to offer a quirky degustation style meal where she could let her creativity run free. She holds a dinner event once monthly in locations all around Perth and has popped up in places like Milk’d in Maylands, Cutlery Draw in Manning, Frisk! Small Bar and 399 Bar in Northbridge and most recently at Canton Lounge in the City.
I have wanted to attend an Alphabet Soup dinner for some time so when I saw that chef Melissa was holding a truffle themed dinner this was my immediate cue to book us in. I can never say no to truffle. Before booking I checked that the event could cater for gluten free and was happily assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Alphabet Soup events are based around a six course meal and the menus are published online just a few days before the event. After being seated for the evening, we received a couple of rounds of “snacks” that were not on the menu as a surprise. Our first treat was a reverse crayfish truffle sushi roll using locally caught Mindarie cray. The cray meat was tender and sweet having been cooked sous vide with truffle in the bag to infuse a strong flavour.
Our second surprise snack was a basket of miso lamb ribs, also cooked sous vide in a bag with truffle. The meat slid off the bones easily and the Boy and I sat speechless, both far too busy for words as we sucked and slurped each rib until it was clean.
Our next dish was a little theatrical; sake cured ocean trout with truffle with a yuzu and coconut salad. The portions of ocean trout were suspended on a miniature hanging line with pint-size pegs. Super cute.
The trout was matched with a pomelo mojito, made with Havana 7, pink grapefruit, lime and crème de menthe. It was an interesting experience having a meal matched with not just wines, but also a collection of cocktails.
Who said eating gluten free meant you had to miss out? My truffle chicken karage was made using tapioca flour and tasted just like the real thing. Two crispy morsels were accompanied by some truffled Japanese mustard aioli topped with black sesames. This was finger licking good chicken that left no grease on my hands, my only gripe was that I was left wanting more.
My fried chicken yearning was quickly forgotten upon the arrival of the next dish; broken truffle sticky rice with a 62 degree egg. It is hard not to fall madly in love with the magical combination of slow cooked eggs and truffle, and thankfully there are a number of chefs in Perth that have caught onto this simple decadence.
It is guaranteed that this combination will never fail to make me swoon, those flavours are perfectly married in heaven. Poised with my camera in hand, my predictable squeal of delight emitted when the Boy cut into his yolk was met with his usual eye roll. I may be a little over the top with my love for yolk porn, especially after a few cocktails.
For our next dish, we enjoyed a pork and truffle dumpling served in a richly flavoured dashi broth with fresh shiitake mushrooms. To finish the dish, shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle cascaded on the surface adding a stronger hit of truffiliciousness.
I was to learn that the element of surprise is the norm for the Alphabet Soup dinners. Our next course was yet another secret item that was not found on the menu. I really love surprise dishes! A super tender, baby carrot was cooked in truffle dashi before being grilled and then served with an XO sauce ash.
Our final main course was the seared duck breast, cooked Chinese BBQ style with truffle mushrooms, edamame and of course, fresh truffle.
The duck breast was crispy thin on the outside yet remained tender pink and buttery moist on the inside.
To freshen up our palates ready for dessert, we were given a bite sized spoonful of mandarin and yuzu jelly. It was uplifting and refreshing, combining perfectly with my jazzed up G&T made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon and jasmine tea.
Our dessert brought me back to my childhood when Mum and I would go to the Adelaide Central Markets to do our weekly food shopping. My reward for being the good daughter who would come along and help her mother would always be some sort of treat we shared before going home. Most weeks we would end up walking over to Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and finding something delicious. These were the days I was oblivious to the fact gluten was killing me, and in my ignorance I would eagerly look forward to the times we would get ourselves a steam pork bun.
For our final course with Alphabet Soup, the Chef made a special batch of gluten free truffle and pear steam buns just for me. The buns were made using potato, corn flour and rice flour giving an authentic doughy, but fluffy texture. We were given truffle honey and Anglaise sauce to drizzle lavishly over our buns. It was a perfect way to end our evening.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening out with Alphabet Soup and will be watching out for her next event. There was all the right elements of entertainment, quirkiness and originality that I had hoped for with some extra surprises to boot. Chef Mel effortlessly catered for my dietary needs without making me feel like I missed out on any of the degustation experience. Thanks Melissa!
Alphabet Soup | www.alphabetsoupdining.com
Canton Bar | 532 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 8887 | www.cantonbar.com.au
The Boy is the youngest in a family of three boys. His oldest brother still lives in Perth, but his other brother is a nuclear physicist who lives in Boston. His brother has lived in the US for over ten years and sadly is unlikely to ever return to Australia permanently. Every couple of years, his brother tries to return back to Perth with his lovely American wife to spend time with the family. Because American employees don’t receive as much annual leave as we do in Australia, they both struggle to get time off work and will save up their leave for a few years before being able to visit us.
This year was their first family visit to see us in over three years which was made even more special as it was also the first trip since the birth of their adorable daughter Noelle. The Boy and I had been busting to meet our little niece ever since she was born, especially after having to cancel our planned 2014 USA trip where we were going to go and stay with them in Boston.
To maximise quality time with his brother’s family, the Boy and his brother organised a family mini-break in Margaret River staying at the secluded Merribrook Retreat. While I already knew my brother-in-law enjoyed fine wine, I had never spent enough time with him to know if he was a foodie like us. You can imagine my pure delight when I discovered that both him and his wife were super keen to join us on a degustation for lunch while down south. I booked us in at Studio Bistro in Yallingup.
I notified the chef in advance of my dietary requirements and they were more than happy to accommodate for me. Studio Bistro’s degustation offers six courses for $95 or $135 with matched wines. We had already been wine tasting at a number of vineyards earlier in the morning and were in the mood for a bit of fun so we all chose the matched wines.
We started off with an amuse bouche of exquisitely fresh steak tartare made with succulent, tender Cape Grim grass-fed beef. The steak tartare was served with an emulsion containing a subtle kick of tabasco.
Our first course was an asparagus gazpacho served with a thick blue cheese cream that was poured table side. I love interactive dishes, they always make for more interesting photography provided I’m quick enough!
The aromatic butteriness of the blue cheese cream made this one of those dishes that leaves you wanting to lick the bowl at the end. Crispy jamon iberico added wonderful textural contrasts to the dish.
Our next course sent me further spiraling into a state of heavenly bliss. Many of my regular readers will know how I am totally obsessed with slow cooked eggs. I would actually be happy to eat a degustation with them included in every course. My chunks of slow cooked silky salmon were arranged around a slow cooked free range hen’s egg and drizzled in syrupy teriyaki.
My hen’s egg was picture perfect with a nearly translucent egg white and ooey gooey yolk porn centre. The salmon was topped with rice crisps that were made from scratch in house. The chef explained to me that to make them he boils the rice until all starch come out and then rolls the rice out between sheets of baking paper. He then dehydrates these sheets of squished rice at 50 degrees for 17 hours before being fried to serve. The rice crisps were puffy and light, dissolving like prawn crackers on my tongue.
Our next dish was made using local, free range pork from Big Red Pork. Unlike many intensive pig farms, Big Red pigs are raised in family groups in a more natural environment of paddocks filled with woodlands, creek lines and pasture. This allows the pigs to forage for food like in the wild. Their natural diet gives the meat a darker colour when compared to intensive, less humanely farmed pork.
The pork was served in two ways; a cube of twice cooked pork belly paired with a soft mound of pork cheek and a generous amount of garlic confit and vanilla dressing.
I loved how not only does Studio Bistro focus strongly on using locally farmed and grown Western Australian produce, but that they also ensure to source their meat from organic free range farms where the animals live humanely and are ethically farmed.
Our final main course consisted of a delicately soft portion of slow cooked organic Blackwood Valley lamb rump served with a yellow curry whip and fried sweetbreads. Fresh cooked peas and shavings of coconut gave this dish an interesting fusion of flavours. The rump came accompanied by a lamb gyoza, which meant I couldn’t eat it due to the dumpling pastry. However the chef must have pre-empted my disappointment in advance and kindly plated some of the dumpling filling onto my dish so I didn’t feel like I missed out at all.
The degustation dessert wasn’t gluten free so I chose to have the cheese course instead. There were three cheeses on the platter; Manchego, Heysen Blue and Wensleydale which were served with gluten free crackers, quince paste, walnuts and some fruit. Manchego is a hard Spanish cheese that is made from sheep’s milk and is one of my most favourite cheeses of all time. Heysen Blue is a mild, fruity blue cheese that is made in the Adelaide Hills with cow’s milk. Wensleydale is a classic, crumbly cows from Yorkshire in the UK.
As our lunch drew to an end, we were joined by the Boy’s parents and of course our gorgeous little niece. Upon seeing my little niece, I was surprisingly satisfied that I had eaten enough for the day and left the rest of the adults sitting at the table to join my niece in the gardens. Fueled by a number of glasses of wine I proceeded to leap about and dance with her to music on my iPhone before eventually we both tumbled on the grass puffed out and giggling madly. Such fun times, it is hard when distance separates you from those you love but hopefully we can get over to visit them in Boston soon.
7 Marrinup Drive, Yallingup, WA | (08) 9756 6164 | www.thestudiobistro.com.au
Excitement is mounting as the truffle season is about to kick off for the winter. This year West Australia is in for a bumper crop as our conditions have been close to perfect for maximum yield and quality. For those of you who have yet to fall in love with this mysterious black “fruit of a fungus” you are truly missing out. For gourmands around the globe it is highly sought after and has earned the name “black gold” due to it high price. This high value is enhanced by the fact it grows very seasonally and has a short shelf life due to losing its aroma and flavour very quickly.
Every year there is an annual food and wine festival called Truffle Kerfuffle that is held in Manjimup, in the heart of the Southern Forests truffle growing region in WA. The three day festival allows national and international tourists to live it up for a weekend of luxurious truffle excesses. This year’s festival will run over the last weekend of June from the 26th to the 28th of June and tickets to the events are selling out quick.
Many of our state’s top chefs will be attending the event helping promote what an incredible region the Southern Forests has become, not just for their truffles, but for other sought after produce including chestnuts, buckwheat, finger limes, marron, cherries, cheeses and fine wines.
In the lead up to Truffle Kerfuffle I recently attended a preview event truffle masterclass with Chef Kiren Mainwaring from Co-Op Dining. Kiren and I share similar passions when it comes to food and wherever possible he sources his ingredients locally and seasonally. He has always taken such individualised care for my dietary needs, even at big events where it must be such a hassle to make one dish to order.
Being a small group we were taken behind the scenes into the kitchen of Co-Op Dining to get a true chef’s table experience. Not a bad way to spend my rainy Wednesday afternoon indeed!
Kiren talked us through a couple of methods that can be used to preserve truffles as their potency starts to diminish significantly after just four days. Having said that, working in the kitchen of a fine dining establishment means that he is spoilt with the luxury of not needing to preserve his truffles and uses them fresh for the duration of the season.
For those that have dined at Co-op, I imagine you would have already gone goo-goo gaa-gaa over Kiren’s slow cooked egg yolk. He cooks the yolk at 55°C for 45 minutes to yield a yolk that is technically cooked but with the consistency as if it is raw. It makes for a perfect blogger’s yolk porn shot which even in the tight constraints of someone else’s’ kitchen, I simply couldn’t resist.
The yolk snuggled on a bed of broccoli puree surrounded by crispy puffed basmati and buckwheat. This gave the ultimate play on textures with the egg’s creamy silkiness contrasting with the crunchy grains. Generous shavings of fresh black truffle gave this dish an extra depth that rocketed it into absolute heaven.
Our second dish showcased more ingredients from the Southern Forests region that are also seasonal to this time of year. Pemberton grown Jerusalem artichokes formed the base of the dish featuring both as a puree, and also cubed and fried in smoked pork fat for that added oomph of umami flavour. Roast chestnuts signal the beginning of winter for me and added a wondrous nutty element to this dish.
It was finished off with shaved parmesan, crisp onion skins and grated fresh truffle. For this dish Kiren grated the truffle finely as he wanted the truffle flavour to evenly disperse throughout the dish.
It is only three weeks to go until Truffle Kerfuffle and this year I am so excited to be taking my Dad and stepmum along with us. Living in Melbourne, they have never explored outside of Perth and I am nervously proud of what we are soon to show them. They are both well-travelled foodies who have spent much of their careers as fashion designers hitting up the hottest places in the trendiest cities around the world. Hopefully I can impress them!
Truffle Kerfuffle runs from the 26th to the 28th of June 2015. Tickets for the festival and associated events can be purchased from their website at www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au
Check out my comprehensive post from last year’s TK at www.chompchomp.com.au/2014/07/southern-forests-truffle-kerfuffle-truffle-festival-2014
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Truffle Kerfuffle and Offshoot Creative
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
For our short Christmas trip home to Melbourne we managed to fit in two separate Christmas family celebrations, a friend’s wedding, five days of pre and post wedding celebrations and a spot of shopping. I also successfully squeezed in a quick brunch date with Mum before she flew back to Adelaide and we returned to Perth. We met up out the front of a café called Top Paddock in Richmond on Boxing Day. There was already a reasonable queue heading out the door and round the street so I put our name down and we stood and waited outside in the sunshine. Despite a long queue, the restaurant achieved a quick table turnover and before long we were seated.
Still in a post-Christmas day food daze I could barely focus on the menu in front of me. There were a lot of gluten free options and much of the produce used was obtained direct from the producers locally in Victoria.
Mum has always been an eggs benny fan and consequently ordered hers without a moment of hesitation. It was served with pulled ham hock rather than the usual sliced ham. The pork was soft and flavoursome but sadly her poached eggs lacked any egg porn ooze.
I opted for the gin and limed cured Huon ocean trout fillet served with pickled baby beets, a couple of cubes of potato gallete, goats curd and poached eggs. Each component was awkwardly placed about my plate, without any real relation to each other.
I was in better luck with my eggs and was spoilt with a delightfully sunny cascade of goo after nervously poking a hole into it with my knife.
Is it normal to put such a high level of expectation on something as simple as a perfectly poached egg? Maybe, but then that comes with the territory of being a food connoisseur maybe.
The Boy was very pleased with his choice of a fresh Queensland soft-shelled crab roll. Served in a Brioche bun with a fennel and dill salad, the bun had a satisfying crunchy exterior and light puffy inside with a subtly sweet flavour. In my tired and overindulged state I could have nearly shed a tear hearing how good it was as there wasn’t any remotely gluten free about this dish for me to try.
The service at Top Paddock was much quicker than we had anticipated leaving us with a small amount of time to share a bite of something sweet. I love two course breakfasts. There were a couple of gluten free options in addition to some raw and vegan treats too.
I chose the raw peppermint slice as I wanted to critique it compared to my own version. When it came to the presentation this slice definitely won over mine, it was pretty. I always like to think that my food has a rustic charm however some may prefer to describe it as border lining on amateur. Despite its neat and cute appearance, I cannot deny my raw peppermint slice has a better flavour and always leaves me wanting more. With this slice I was satisfied with just a shared mouthful between three. Maybe that is a good thing.
When I was ordering dessert for us, I wasn’t sure if my mum would be into the whole raw, vegan thing and ordered a safe option of a gluten free lemon and berry cheesecake. There was nothing sugar-free about this one and it came complete with a hit of central berrylicious goo in the middle.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp doesn’t get to spend even half the time she wants with her mum. Consequently she will always try to pay, thinking that the gift of food somewhat makes up for their time apart. What makes this tricky is her mother feels the same and this time round insisted it was her turn to pay. Thanks Mum xx
658 Church Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 | (03) 9429 4332 | toppaddockcafe.com
In a time long gone by, before I was forced to give up gluten, I was a girl who loved quiche. There used to be a deli that I drove past on my way to work and once or twice a week I would stop in there and buy a slice of their home made quiche to take to work for lunch. It was a thick based quiche filled with a variety of different ingredients which changed every day, plenty of egg and flaky pastry crust. Not exactly the pinnacle of healthy eating but something I would really look forward to each time I bought it.
Those days are well and truly over and the times that I enjoy my quiche are so few and far between that it feels even more like a special treat. When I was first diagnosed, I struggled with creating a workable gluten free pastry as it can be much more temperamental and sensitive to handling. As a compromise I searched for a pastry free, grain free alternative to use as a quiche base and stumbled upon the idea of using polenta instead. After trying this for the first time, the concept stuck and this recipe became ingrained as one of my regulars even after I worked out how to make gluten free pastry that tasted good. Since that day, my polenta quiche has made many appearances in various forms and has even converted the gluten eaters of the family.
I love following the seasons and eating what’s fresh and local. At the moment we have an overload of zucchini which gave me the perfect inspiration for my second Christmas dish for Belmont Forum’s Twelve Days of Bloggers Christmas. We tend to eat vegetarian at home but for those meat eaters out there, this polenta quiche would go beautifully with some pan fried pancetta added in. And for those on a paleo diet, change the yoghurt to coconut cream and leave out the cheese. 😉
- 1½ cups gluten free vegetable stock
- 1¼ cups water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1¼ cups polenta
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 & ½ cups plain Greek yoghurt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small zucchini cut into ribbons
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 190 C.
- Bring the stock and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every few minutes to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Stir in the cheese, egg and pepper.
- Grease a 25 cm quiche pan with olive oil. Have a glass of cold water ready to help mould the polenta into the quiche base. Spoon the polenta into the pan and press it out with your hands or a spoon, pushing it up the sides. You can dip your hands or the spoon into the cold water to help set the polenta as you go. Set the pan aside for 15 minutes to cool then form an even rim about 1.5 cm thick with moist fingers, pressing firmly.
- Whisk the yoghurt, eggs, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper together until well-combined. Place the zucchini ribbons in the prepared quiche pan. Pour the yoghurt mixture evenly over the zucchini. Sprinkle over the top with goat cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake the quiche until the top turns golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
Since leaving the East coast as a fresh faced teenager to pursue a career in veterinary science, I quickly learnt to depend on only myself. While I already had an innate level of independence at that age, being separated from my parents by thousands of kilometres had a way of perfecting this skill. Nearly two decades have passed since then and I’m now at a point in my life now where I realise being fiercely self reliant isn’t always a good thing. Recognising that I need and am needed by my close family members seems much more relevant, especially given the distance that separates some of us. I haven’t lived in the same city as either of my parents since I departed long ago and can sometimes go for over twelve months before I cast eyes on their lovable faces. As we all get older, I am realising that I need to make more effort to spend quality time with each of them individually.
It has been years since Mum has come over to visit us in Perth and even longer since she came over with her other half, Jack. They both adore our South West region and requested that we take them down to “The Margaret’s River” as Mum loves to call it. No amount of convincing can get her to call it otherwise.
It is rare for us to be able to relax together so to celebrate this occasion I booked us in at Vasse Felix winery for a long lazy lunch. On our way to Vasse Felix we stopped off at Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Company.
Neither Mum nor Jack are big wine drinkers so the Boy and I tried to avoid boring them to pieces with winery after winery. Bettenay’s do have some wines on offer in addition to some luscious liqueurs and, of course, loads of nougat. Their nougat is all handcrafted with gorgeous flavours including cherry and coconut, and my favourite chocolate mint.
After each purchasing a bundle of nougat we headed off to one of Margaret River’s most popular caves; Lake Cave. It has been ages since the Boy and I have gone down into the caves yet every time we do we are reminded what a natural beauty it is.
Lake Cave has one of the only “suspended tables” in the world which weighs several tonnes and forms a breathtaking sight floating in the air casting its refection in the ripples of water below. This cave is one of the deepest in the region so be prepared to walk down and then back up a fair number of steep stairs. There are rest points along the way for those less fit and able.
There were enough stairs to work up anyone’s appetite and after the Caves we headed straight to Vasse Felix for lunch. It was a long weekend and I was grateful that I had pre-booked because every winery that we passed along the way looked packed with cars.
Vasse Felix have an à la carte menu or alternatively if you select dishes marked on the menu with a star you can enjoy three courses for a set price of $65.
There were a handful of gluten free options and one vegetarian dish for each course. Upon arrival our waitress brought out some fresh bread and cultured butter. There was no gluten free bread available so they kindly brought out some marinated olives for me to nibble on while my family hungrily feasted on the bread.
The marinated olives are sourced from a local olive farm called 34 Degrees South and were served warm. I loved how the olive flesh slithered off the pit easily and consequently I downed most of the bowl before I realised that I should probably share.
Mum and Jack both ordered the omelette for entrée. Cooked sous-vide with mirin, it was served with new season asparagus and locally foraged mushrooms. The egg was browned to a glowing caramel colour and garnished with chilli threads, tiny crumbles of popcorn and togarashi. Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper and thankfully it wasn’t too hot for my Mum’s palate. The omelette was a gluten free dish however to avoid all three of us having the same dish, I ordered the other gluten free option which was the quail.
I struggled somewhat get a good photo of my entrée due to the sun coming in at an angle on my deep bowled dish. Maybe I need to bring a reflector with me when I’m out dining? Is that too crazy? My quail breast was cooked sous-vide with a confit leg and served on a bed of quinoa, zucchini and olives. It was topped with what I first thought was shaved parmesan but soon found out was feta shaved in liquid nitrogen. It had an unexpected creaminess that dissolved on contact with my tongue. To enhance the delicateness of this light dish some caper puree added some punch into the flavours.
For his entrée, the Boy decided to pop his ramen cherry. Ramen hasn’t really taken off in Perth to the extent it has over in Sydney and therefore neither of us have tried it before. Using house made ramen noodles, this dish was given a South-west twist using Manjimup marron and local fresh water crustaceans. A soft gooey quail egg and some fried nori finished it off and as the aromas wafted to my side of the table I was so envious that I couldn’t even taste one mouthful. Damn you gluten!
For those of you who have yet to try Cone Bay barramundi, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These fish are farmed in unique environmental conditions in the north west of Australia that imparts a very clean, and sweet taste.
The fish came with a potato fondant and shards of translucent potato glass topped with luxurious drizzles of smoked oyster butter. It was nearly as good as truffle butter. Nearly I said! There was also a little bit of fructose naughtiness with locally foraged charred leeks and leek foam.
Mum and Jack both ordered the lamb shank for their main, such peas in a pod those two! The locally sourced lamb was cooked sous-vide over 48 hours making it uber-soft in texture however sadly it was served lukewarm. I offered to get the waitress to take it back to the kitchen but my Mum didn’t want to make a fuss. The lamb was accompanied with a black barley risotto and ratatouille made of smoked tomato petal, tomato fondue, picked red onion and eggplant purée.
Although the Boy predominantly will stick to his vegetarian diet at home, like me he can on occasions crave meat. Ordering himself the kangaroo loin today was one of these days.
The loin was served rare and was as lean can be without an ounce of detectable fat present. It was served with textures of beetroot, wattleseed crackers and oil made from dandelions foraged on the property.
Our mains were decent sized meals so after stuffing our faces with the addictive duck fat potatoes there was only a small amount of room left for dessert. We agreed to share a couple of petit fours plates between the four of us however the only gluten free element on the plate was the passionfruit macaron. There was only one macaron on each platter but the waitress was kind enough to put an extra one on there for me.
The Boy was absolutely smitten by the bite size ice cream sandwich made with cinnamon ice cream. Many of us food bloggers claim to have a second stomach for dessert and whilst I was reasonably full, one macaron was not going to cut it even if it was one of my favourite flavours.
Consequently I ordered the gluten free dessert option to share with the Boy. I love abstract desserts, plates of multiple elements that you can mix and match on your tastebuds at your leisure. Fluffy portions of cardamom chiffon cake and silky chocolate cremeaux were paired with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Passionfruit caramel and gel added a tart sweetness with chocolate soil and dehydrated mouse contrasting with velvety cocoa bitterness. Heavenly to say the least. My claims for being full surpassed me as I competed with the Boy for every spoonful.
The weekend went by all too quickly, time honestly does fly when you’re having fun. There is no one in the world that can make me laugh the way my Mum can and I realise that I need to stop running the rat race of life and take time out to giggle with her more often.Disclaimer: Despite Mum and Jack insisting on trying to pay for everything, the Boy and I managed to sneak in paying our own way for lunch. Blame it on that independent streak of mine. I want to thank Mum, Jack and my beloved for sharing such a wondrous weekend away. Our times together are always cherished xxxx Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Co Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Road, Cowaramup, WA 6284 | (08) 9755 5539 | www.margaretrivernougat.com.au Lake Cave Caves Road, Forest Grove WA 6284 | (08) 9757 7411 | www.margaretriver.com/operators/7706 Vasse Felix Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au
Australia has just announced the inception of its very first Humane Food Region. Being a patriotic Western Australian I was so proud to learn that this region was the Swan Valley. The Humane Food movement is an initiative from the RSPCA to recognise businesses that are committed to using food that can be defined as animal welfare friendly. This means more than just labelling products as cage free eggs and free range pork. It translates to these animals being able to have a better quality of life and respects their need to be able to live in an environment that is more natural for them.
Whilst the obvious solution to avoid these animal’s potential suffering is to switch to eating a vegan diet, it is not realistic to expect the entire general population to make this paradigm shift. The Humane Food movement aims at achieving the highest animal welfare standards possible in these industries in order to ensure that these innocent creatures are treated kindly and live a happier life without fear and stress.
The RSPCA have a very stringent process to be accredited as a Humane Food producer and lists all of their accredited businesses on the Choose Wisely website.
Currently there are 30 restaurants in the Swan Valley region that have signed up with the City of Swan to support the Humane Food region program and this list is growing in number each week.
I was invited to attend the Humane Region launch party at Sandalford Estate last week. The evening was catered for by Sandalford with plenty of gluten free options for me to nibble on.
After a warm welcome from TV personality Verity James, we received a lovely speech from Lynne Bradshaw who is the president of RSPCA WA. Her passion for animal welfare spans back for decades and she has worked for the RSPCA for over ten years.
After the speeches were finished we got under way with the evening’s entertainment; the cook off! Six of the region’s top chefs agreed to participate using only humanely sourced produce.
Kiren Mainwairing from Dear Friends and Coop Dining cooked a slow cooked duck egg with steamed bio-dynamic vegetables, sun choke chips and fennel pollen.
Slow cooked eggs are one of Kiren’s signature dishes and I am sure you have heard me rave on about them in the past as they are out of this world. With a delicately translucent egg white and perfectly molten yolk we stood around to watch the judging panel croon over every mouthful.
Mike Price from Sittella Winery made a stunning dish of poached higher welfare chicken breast with avocado and a creamy tarragon sauce. This was topped with a sautéed Moreton Bay bug tail. Using the rest of the chicken, Mike made a compressed chicken leg terrine and topped it with wafer thin crispy skin, fried liver and baby carrots.
This dish was considerably more substantial in size and I could see that the judges each trying to pace themselves so they wouldn’t be stuffed at the end! This dish was entirely gluten free and Mike was kind enough to hand a whole dish over to me to enjoy. I promptly ran off into the crowd with a beaming smile looking for the Boy to share it with.
The lovely smiling Caroline Taylor from Taylor’s Art and Coffee House made her very popular Italian eggs. She illustrated beautifully that you don’t have to use elaborate cooking techniques and loads of ingredients to make a dish that everyone will enjoy especially if Don Hancey’s beaming smile was anything to go by!
Her Italian eggs are made with whipping cream, chorizo, Danish feta and button mushrooms. Also being a gluten free dish she kindly gave me a portion to try. It was the perfect balance of flavours and has inspired me to return back to Taylor’s to have my own full serve to myself.
Manu Fillaudeau from Fillaudeau’s Restaurant prepared smoked Linley Valley free range pork ribs shredded with cabbage stew, turned carrots and potatoes. His dish was also gluten free however before I could steal a mouthful the judges had torn their soft bread rolls apart and dunked it in the richly coloured stew. I didn’t want to risk any gluten contamination so I consoled myself by nabbing a singular potato.
Fiona Lamont from Lamont’s made a very simple but incredibly flavoursome dish of parmesan chicken tenderloins with roast tomatoes, avocado and spinach. I was feeling very well kept as she also put aside a little gluten free portion without any crumb so I could try it too. The chicken was as tender as butter literally melting in my mouth.
The final dish was made by Dean Williams from Sandalford Wines. He created San Choy Bau using Linley Valley Pork accompanied by prawn eggs rolls. This dish was not gluten free so I didn’t get to have a nibble but would be easy to adapt using gluten free soy and Hoi sin sauces.
This wasn’t an event designed to be competitive so there was no winner to announce. I am sure the panel members were pleased with this fact as it would have been hard to choose. I loved how each dish reflected the chef’s individuality across a wide range of cuisine styles. Looks like the Boy and I have a few more places in the Valley to add to our wish list!Chompchomp was an invited guest of the City of Swan. Dear Friends is currently closed. Kiren’s other restaurant is Co Op Dining (read my reviews for Dear Friends and Co-op Dining) 2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au/ Sittella Winery 100 Barrett Street, Herne Hill WA 6056 | (08) 9296 2600 | www.sittella.com.au Taylor’s Art & Coffee House (read my review) 510 Great Northern Highway, Middle Swan WA 6056 | 0447 441 223 | www.taylorscafe.com.au
Fillaudeau’s Restaurant Located in Pinelli Wines, 30 Bennett Street, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 7733 | www.fillaudeaus.com.au Lamont’s Swan Valley 85 Bisdee Road, Millendon WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4485 | www.lamonts.com.au/venues/swan-valley Sandalford Estate Winery 3210 West Swan Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9755 6213 | www.sandalford.com
Being the only food blogger in the family means the decision on where to go for dinner is invariably left up to me. I am by no means complaining about this allocated role however it does mean that my choices are often somewhat biased towards what I want to eat. For the Boy’s birthday this year, I wanted to make sure it was somewhere HE wanted to go. Upon his request I gave him a short list of choices and left him to do his own research. His first choice was Chefz Table however at the last minute they called to inform us that the restaurant was unexpectantly closing for the weekend. With only two days to find somewhere to book, I was worried we would be stuck with nowhere to go but fortunately managed to grab a table at the Boy’s second choice the Wild Duck in Nedlands.
We have visited the Wild Duck a couple of times when they were located in Albany. On our most recent visit we even managed to wow my stepdad by giving him his first experience of a degustation meal complete with fancy foams and gels. The Boy has very fond memories of Albany and was happy to see how this creative restaurant has managed moving up to the big smoke.
Our evening began with the chef’s amuse bouche, a Thai influenced fish cake with a herb aioli. This tasty morsel wasn’t gluten free. My gluten free replacement was a single but super fresh oyster from Franklin Harbour.
These South Australian oysters are always so plump and creamy and never fail to excite me. I also chose to have the matched wines with our degustation however I couldn’t help myself from starting the meal with an additional glass of bubbles. In hindsight, I should remember that when doing a degustation with matched wines, I don’t NEED that extra glass of bubbles.
Our first course was a cute little mug of broccoli soup. It was wintry cold and rainy outside and the warming soup was a perfect choice to ease us into an evening of eating and birthday celebrations. The thick creamy soup had a hint of sweet from the swirl of balsamic reduction and ended with a familiar tang from the crumbled Meredith Dairy goats cheese.
Our second entrée was the beef carpaccio. The paper thin slices of brilliant, ruby red beef dissolved on my tongue in a second. Textural contrasts with some shaved fennel and watercress added layers of flavours which were accentuated by fresh horseradish and beetroot. The dish was finished with a sumptuous drizzle of slow cooked egg yolk. We had barely been there an hour and already we had enjoyed some of my favourites of all time; fresh oysters, champagne and slow cooked egg.
Next up was the confit salmon. A perfect bite of salmon slow cooked at 42 degrees proved to be just as outstanding as our previous dishes. I loved how each dish contained elements of contrasting textures and flavours. Served with the salmon were pickled and charred cucumber and fresh samphire which added both crunchy and salty aspects to the palate. This was all smoothed out beautifully by some dollops of crème fraiche and drizzles of a dill infusion oil.
Unlike many of my fellow pork-obsessive bloggers, I don’t eat a lot of pork and I would rarely choose it unless it was part of a tasting menu. Consequently when I do eat it, it has to be pretty damn good for me to enjoy it. Wild Duck’s confit pork belly is prepared using slow cooking techniques over 16 hours resulting in a buttery soft texture and no greasy porky aftertaste. The crispy skin cracked exuberantly in my mouth making me giggle too loudly thanks my increasingly intoxicated state.
The pork belly was served with a steamed pork bun which for me was adapted to be gluten free by leaving out the dumpling skin and serving me just the stuffing. Some grilled polenta, smooth sweetcorn purée, cubes of warm apple jellies and a crunchy apple and micro herb salad completed the dish.
Wild Duck offer a couple of optional extras with their degustation and in our usual state of gluttony we agreed to order both. The first optional course was a rabbit roulade with dates and pistachio alongside a red wine braised rabbit croquette. This dish was unable to be changed to be gluten free so the chef offered to make me something different.
My replacement dish was a duo of beef. Winter really is the time to get slow cooking and one of the best cuts of beef to slow cook is the cheek. My first time I tried cheek was moons ago prior to my blogging days at the Loose Box in Mundaring and I will never forget this memorable meal. Wild Duck’s dish was similarly heart-warming with wondrous soft shreds of beef cheek accompanying a charred nub of Black Angus fillet. It was served with a fondant potato, beetroot and cauliflower crumble, sousvide honey thyme carrots and a cauliflower purée.
I had restrained from eating for most of the day to save room for dinner and it was becoming progressively obvious to the Boy that I was quite drunk. My voice volume was slowly increasing and my attention to detail to my photography had all but expired. The Boy reached across the table to grab my camera and flipped quickly through some of my shots whilst raising his eyebrows at me. I slurped up my sorbet noisily and returned his gaze with a coy smile.
Consequently details of our final main dish is a little foggier than I would prefer and the angling of my photo is somewhat clumsy. A fillet of crispy skinned duck breast was paired with cubes of grilled speck bacon, aniseed poached pears and braised honey carrots. Coloured smears of carrot purée and creamed peas made this dish quite a substantial one, this wasn’t a degustation where we went home hungry.
Our second optional course was the pre-dessert; a picture perfect lemon soufflé with coconut ice cream. It was powder puff light and I could nearly hear the “poof” as I plunged my spoon in the ramekin. In fact I vaguely recall mimicking that “poof” noise as I tucked into it.
Our evening ended with the Wild Duck’s chocolate delice; a decadent mousse made from cream, eggs and chocolate. Scattered across my plate like Willy Wonka’s garden were wibbly-wobbly strawberry jellies, strawberry sponge and crunchy meringue kisses adorned with blobs of yoghurt parfait, fresh strawberries and bright pink strawberry powder. A bright and cheerful way to end a joyful evening together.
Happy Birthday to my best friend and my one true love. I love you and I love my life with you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Chompchomp paid for this meal out of her own pocket however at the end of the night the Boy reminded her to use their digital version of the Entertainment card to receive a $40 discount of the total bill. Wild Duck 35 Hampden Road, Nedlands WA 6009 | http://www.wildduckrestaurant.com/ $$$$ (Seven course degustation $105, nine course degustation $130, $50 extra for matched wines)
We had packed our bags, dropped the fur-children off at the Vet Hospital for boarding, parked the car in the long-term car park at the airport and were finally ready to check-in for our flight to Exmouth. That was until we found out the bad news; we had missed our flight. I had muddled up our departure times with that of our original booking meaning our plane was well on its way to Exmouth without us. Angry with myself for such stupidity and frustrated that there was no further flights out that day, the last thing I wanted to do was to go home to an empty cat-less house.
The Boy could see I was close to tears and in a humble attempt at diffusing the situation he suggested we go somewhere for a late breakfast and unwind. I felt the need to get away from my familiar surroundings as everything homely reminded me of my mistake. After briefly consulting Urbanspoon on my phone I randomly chose for us to visit Ingredient Tree in Wembley.
The small café was nearly at full capacity with tables of families, couples and the odd loner busily working on their iPad. We seated ourselves at one of the communal tables near the window giving me plenty of natural light, a must for decent food photography!
Ingredient Tree serve Genovese Coffee which is a blend of high quality beans roasted with the aim to produce a one size fits all styled beverage that is suitable to drink both as an espresso as well as something more milky. I ordered my usual short macchiato and although it was a little wait for our coffees to arrive, it was a much welcomed shot of warmth to calm my frazzled nerves. We waited some time to place our orders to be followed by a reasonably longer wait for our meals. I figured that maybe they were not used to a busy Saturday morning however I did note one staff member spent most of his time chatting outside in the sun while customers waited.
The Boy ordered the salmon served with beetroot fritters, horseradish cream and two poached eggs. His fritters had lots of flavour however he felt their consistency didn’t live up to his expectations as they were a little wet and undercooked. He commented he felt the dish had a lot of potential but just wasn’t quite prepared right.
His poached eggs gave a half-sized eruption of yolk porn as some of his yolk had started to solidify. It was still enough of an ooze of goo to satisfy his poached egg cravings.
I ordered the quinoa patties made with quinoa, pumpkin and lentils. It was topped with wilted spinach, slow roasted tomatoes and two poached eggs. A couple of spoonfuls of house made capsicum relish were dolloped on the side for extra flavour. Like the Boy, I also thought my dish had a lot of potential however my quinoa patties were sloppy in texture turning to mush under my fork.
My stress of the morning made me forget to ask for omission of any onion. Lo and behold, I was out of luck for the day as the patties were filled with large chunks of onion. These chunks helped the patties to fall apart even more however this actually was a blessing in disguise as it meant it was easy for me to pick the onion pieces out. The relish added a lovely mustardy sweet flavour to the dish and I am certain if the patties were prepared more lovingly this dish would have been delightful.
It was definitely a morning for a two course breakfast. As you probably already know, most of my breakfast outings end in dessert. In fact most of any outing with me ends in dessert.
And what is the problem with that I ask?
After another delay waiting for service, we were informed that there were no more gluten free cakes or desserts remaining as they had sold out. Looking at the delicious counter of sweets I cannot deny I felt a flicker of anger again at myself…..why do I have to miss out? Damn you gluten!
Thankfully our waiter saved the day as in addition to their own home-baked goodies they stock some of the Rawsome raw desserts. He brought over their product list so I could find one that wasn’t too heavy on the fructose content. I chose the Love Bite slice which one of the items that is free of dates. A lot of types of dried fruit which can run total havoc with my fructose malabsorption so I really try to avoid them. The slice did however contain some agave nectar which also isn’t ideal for me but a small amount is tolerable once in a while.
The Boy chose the Choc Mint Slice which does contain dates so I left it for him to enjoy for himself. We are both big fans of raw desserts and while I know they are often quite high in calories, I love that I never feel any sugar “comedown” after eating them as all their ingredients are natural and unprocessed. Over to the side of the café is a shop section selling a collection of gourmet ingredients from both local and international producers. Of course after we finished eating our treats I couldn’t help myself and went over for a little browse where I found a variety of interesting gluten free products that found their way into my basket.
Ingredient Tree have a number of interesting options for breakfast and I am hoping that I just caught them on an off day. If our dishes were executed better, both would have certainly been worth returning back for. Maybe those sell-out gluten free cakes will bring me back for a second time.Chompchomp dined at Ingredient Tree on her own budget. The rest of her budget was blown in fees in order to be able to catch the next flight out to Exmouth. Ingredient Tree 87a Herdsman Parade, Wembley WA 6014 | (08) 9287 1100 | www.ingredienttree.com | Facebook Price $$ (Meals $13-21)
Last year during the Gourmet Escape food and wine festival in Margaret River I attended a dinner event with Miles Irving, an Englishman known worldwide for promoting foraging of wild produce. In the aftermath of the evening I found no desire to write about my experience largely because the food served for the evening was bland and tasted more like catering than fine dining. And let’s be honest, what’s a blog post without pretty pictures? What also uninspired me was I felt the attitudes of the evening toward sustainability for our precious wildlife ecosystems was somewhat lacking. I was left disappointed and wanting to know more about what our native food tastes like without damaging our delicate environment. Enter Fervor.
Fervor is a family run business who specialise in providing unique pop-up dining experiences that are held at a variety of locations around Western Australia. They are dedicated to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, a philosophy that I immediately can connect with. They are huge supporters of local small businesses and are passionate in helping enhance the community feel in the regional towns they visit. Many of their signature dishes are centred on using native Australian plants that are obtained from small-scale producers or collected with permission from private properties. They are extremely mindful of sustainability and will limit what they take to avoid negatively impacting the environment. For Eat Drink Perth this year, they graced us people of Perth with their presence for one amazing night that was suitably held on the rooftop at Greenhouse, a restaurant on St Georges Terrace that is also focused on these concepts.
Every tiny detail of the evening proudly showcased produce from this great State of ours. On arrival we were served gin from the Grove Distillery in the Margaret River region. If you are ever in the South West, I highly recommend a visit to The Grove. Their staff are dynamic and entertaining and if you enjoy flavoured liqueurs, you will find more than a few to tickle your taste buds. The Grove gin was served with tonic and fresh pearls of finger limes from Marvick Native Farms in Moore River.
The evening was very intimate with only 30 guests which encouraged relaxed conversation to spark up between strangers. While we enjoyed our gin a number of small canapés were offered around. Included were twigs of crispy saltbush that looked like they would be barely palatable yet they were tastier than any packet of chips I’ve ever eaten.
One of my favourite canapés was the pickled dried youlk, a type of Australia tuber that is similar to a potato. The youlk was paired with Samphire powder and small little dried native apples called muntries. The macadamia crisps had a light, dissolving texture similar to that of a prawn cracker and were dusted with macadamia snow and roasted crushed macadamias. The macadamias are sourced from Treeton Road’s macadamias in South West of WA.
Set up next to our long table was the chef’s pass where the talented team plated up all of our dishes with tender love and attention. It enhanced the informality of the evening as in between each course all the guests would gather around the chefs mesmerised while they created such beautiful masterpieces before our eyes.
Our first course was a single poached Albany oyster obtained from a sustainable farm in southern Western Australia. It was garnished with ruby saltbush berries and finger lime vinaigrette. The oyster slid out of the shell effortlessly and left a wonderful fresh taste in the mouth. It was paired with a glass of South Coast Cider from the Old Coast Road Brewery in Myalup.
Our second entrée was an Esperance scallop served with fermented riberries and juice, sea celery oil and macadamias. Riberries are a type of Australian Lilly Pilli with a tart flavour with subtle hints of cinnamon and cloves. They complemented the more savoury flavours of the macadamia and gentle sweet creaminess of the scallop. This was matched with a 2006 Semillon from Cape Naturalist winery. This winery only produces a small amount of hand crafted wines of very high quality. Their Semillon had a hint of oak and ended with a beautiful citrusy finish.
As the sun set and the combination of good food and drink filled our veins, the mood became even more ambient. I learnt that some of the guests at our table were die-hard Fervor fans having come all the way from Mukinbudin, a wheat belt town halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie. They were lucky enough to have had Fervor come to their tiny town for a sell-out night which encouraged one of the couples to invite them back to cater for their wedding. Hearing stories about how their Fervor dinner experience brought all the town together was so heart-warming.
Our next course was a Yallingup marron with lemon myrtle emulsion and handmade sea salt. This piece of marron was incredible enough to rival that which we had at Co-op Dining for our anniversary dinner last year. Tender and super sweet, the marron was sourced from a local winery where is sustainably farmed in dams. It was paired with Eagle Bay Brewery’s Pale Ale which I did not drink as it wasn’t gluten free.
Our first main course involved a bit of guest involvement which is a great way to add another level of entertainment to the evening. Local crab with Samphire was served in terracotta pots with a slow cooked, unopened egg and fire roasted bread. My gluten free requirement was not overlooked and I received my own serve of gluten free bread with separate butter to avoid contamination.
I gently cracked open my egg and let it carefully slide into my dish with the crab before slicing into the soft yolk and watching it slowly envelop everything on the plate. My heart nearly stopped a beat it was THAT good.
The next main dish of kangaroo tail required a fair bit of artistic plating by the chef and his team so once again we gathered around the pass to be fascinated by their effortless creations. Fervor chose to use kangaroo as it is abundant in Western Australia and they source it from a bio-dynamic, free range producer. The plates were vibrantly decorated with rich marron coloured slashes of Wild Rosella purée in addition to red gum ash, crispy salt bush and macadamia.
Amongst my various food intolerances and allergies, I have learnt the hard way that I am strangely allergic to kangaroo. My reaction is similar to that I imagine someone with a nut allergy would have. My throat swells up and I have trouble swallowing; it is altogether unpleasant. Consequently I requested an alternate meat and was offered lamb instead. This course was paired with a beautiful drop of ruby red 2006 Merops Ornatus.
Our palate cleanser was a scoop of eucalyptus ice which was refreshing and cleared the palate for the two courses of dessert.
The first dessert centred on the quandong, an extremely diverse and unique Australian fruit that is related to sandalwood. The fruit is quite versatile providing both edible flesh around the nut in addition to a more interesting flavoured kernel inside the nut.
Our dessert was carefully constructed on pieces of rock with layers of coal toasted meringue, quandong kernel cream, quandong relish and quandong sherbet garnished with preserved quandongs. The flavour was reminiscent of a cross between a sweet apricot and more sour tasting rhubarb.
Our second dessert was served in small little jars that contained a puff of sandalwood smoke that wafted out when you opened it. Inside the jar contained smooth milk ice cream and wattle seed curd topped with shards of fresh local honeycomb and crystallised sea lettuce.
The smoky taint gave a beautiful rounded finish to the array of textures and flavours. This finale was paired with a 2011 Cane Cut Riesling from Cape Grace one of my favourite wineries in Margaret River.
In a perfect way to end the meal, a collection of petit fours were handed around the table including wattle seed lamingtons and strawberry gum truffles. Only the truffles were gluten free so I figured I deserved more than just a few of them and helped myself to a handful. I was told the lamingtons were ever so light and fluffy and the wattle seed imparted an interesting coffee flavour to them.
As tea and coffee were served, Chef Paul and his sister Bree made some closing remarks to thank us all for joining them on such a beautiful evening in Perth. Their passion and energy was so inspiring and it was such a beautiful thing to have the privilege to be part of it all. I love that their Fervor vision is not only to showcase to guests what amazing flavours are out there in the Australian bush but to always ensure sustainability of what they harvest whilst respecting our environment and supporting our local communities.
Fervor | Australian pop-up dining | www.fervor.com.auFervor was held at The Greenhouse Perth on the 6th April 2014 for Eat Drink Perth. This was not a sponsored event and Chompchomp paid full price for her ticket at $225 per person all inclusive. Fervor travel all around Western Australia, check out their website for their next pop-up location. Held at Greenhouse Perth 100 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9481 8333 | www.greenhouseperth.com
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
The latter half of last year was emotionally and physically draining for me due to some major, yet to be resolved issues at my work. It is hard to believe that this year of rock bottom lows also contains what was undoubtedly THE best day of my life; my wedding day! I’ve resigned myself to accept that such extremes of ups and downs were simply what 2013 had in store for me. Such is life as they say.
In the lead up to Christmas our workload began to increase rapidly and with everything else that was going on around me I could feel myself close to a burnout. I took a proactive approach and booked a week of leave at the last minute to divert a mental disaster. During this week off I was invited to attend a Royal Canin seminar for a veterinary talk held at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Seeing as I didn’t have to work the next day I decided to catch a cab into the city so I could enjoy a few drinks courtesy of Royal Canin. When I let the Boy know of my plans, he kindly offered to drive me there instead and so we headed in a bit earlier to grab a bite to eat together.
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House is only a couple of blocks walk away from the Pan Pacific and has been on my wish list for ages. The Head Chef Joel Valvasori and I follow each other on Twitter and Instagram and I have already suffered several episodes of food envy from looking at his drool worthy food photos.
We entered Lalla Rookh via their side entrance through the wine store which I initially thought was actually the whole restaurant. As we continued to walk through to the bar area I was surprised at each turn how big the place is. Their venue spans over multiple different areas including an open bar area, a lounge area, a sun lit courtyard and a more romantic, formal dining room. They serve an all-day menu which is a useful fact to know if you happen to be hungry and stuck in the city in that in-between time after lunch and before dinner.
We were on a strict short time frame with less than an hour to order, eat and be on our way. Their menu was filled with loads of gluten free options including pizza so I was spoilt for choice. When I placed our order I informed our waitress we only had limited time and she was very accommodating with this. We ordered a collection of little share dishes starting off with the freshly shucked oysters. I am usually a traditionalist when it comes to my oysters; they just need to be super fresh, natural and naked with just a squeeze of lime. Each of these oysters were topped with some icy cold cucumber chilli granita and salmon roe but even to my critical, purist tastebuds this combination was a delight.
A hint of sweet, a hint of spice and a mouthful of creamy fresh oysterness. Perfection.
I was literally gobsmacked to see that all their pizzas were gluten free. There wasn’t just a gluten free OPTION; the Chef decided boldly that ALL the pizzas would be available as either standard or gluten free. I LOVE this guy! I figured it would be totally negligent of me to not order one to try. Simple but tasty our pizza was topped with tomato sugo, olives, Sicilian anchovies and blobs of luscious melted fior de latte, a type of fresh mozzarella. The base wasn’t doughy tasting and held its form until the last bite.
To balance out the less healthy option of pizza I made the token gesture of ordering us some salad. We are still in asparagus season here in Perth and whilst I cannot go nuts on this vegetable due to its moderate fructans content, I find I can tolerate a small amount without any issues. The asparagus spears were soft without being soggy and served with a softly boiled egg and shavings of Trentingrana which is a hard Italian cheese similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Our final and relatively random choice was the baked fior de latte stuffed lemons with Sicilian anchovies. The obvious way to eat these lemons was to squeeze the ooey-gooey cheesy stuffing out with our teeth and leave the rind. For some reason however, I blame it on my foggy state of mind, I decided to try eating them whole including the rind and skin. The Boy looked on in surprise and found my resulting facial expressions somewhat entertaining. Although quite chewy, I strangely enough didn’t actually mind eating the entire thing although I doubt I could eat my way through two.
As I quickly looked at the clock I estimated we just had enough time (and room) to fit in dessert. There were a couple of gluten free options but the pannacotta vera with roasted cocoa and walnut crumble got my attention. Perfectly jiggly and smooth, this traditional Italian dessert was executed in its true glory. The sugar kick snapped me out of my depressive slumber for long enough to be chaperoned by the Boy on my power walk down to the Hotel for my seminar.
We were both left pleasantly surprised with our experience at Lalla Rookh. Having only got to try a few of their share dishes, my interest for them has definitely strengthened and I look forward to returning for a more formal meal in the future.Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 7077 | www.lallarookh.com.au Price: $$ (Small bites $4-16, Mains $25-38) Food: 4/5 (well versed in gluten free, could consider sourcing GF bread) Service: 4/5 (quick, efficient and super friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (pick your own ambience! There is an area for everyone!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (some interesting Australian and International wines by the glass or bottle) Total: 16.5/20
My past experience of Korean food has been limited to the typical BBQ style restaurants that have been spotted around Perth for years. As most of these places heavily marinate their meats in soy based sauces I have avoided them because I presumed my gluten free options would be limited. When I received an invitation from Head Chef Leo to dine at his new Korean restaurant The Gaya Applecross, I came very close to dismissing this offer as a waste of my time. Luckily before doing so, I had a quick look at their menu and was blown away to see not only were there many gluten free options but over 80% of the menu was in fact gluten free!
The Gaya Applecross is tucked away in a cluster of restaurants on Kearns Crescent off Riseley Street in Ardross. We visited them on a week night and arrived to find the higgledy piggledy parking area packed to the brim. I would dread to see how busy it looks on the weekend. There was a surprising hive of activity about and on a brief glance into some of the other restaurants I noticed that they all looked relatively full of customers. The Gaya is BYO which allowed us to bring one of the many bottles of wine we recently splurged on during our recent two Margaret River trips. We chose a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Clairault Winery as I figured its medium bodied flavour and subtle oak would be a fair match to the very beef orientated menu.
Before ordering we were given a complementary serve of rice pancake. I noticed that other tables around me also received this complementary dish so this freebie is standard for all customers. With a thin crisp exterior and a chewy soft centre these triangular nibbles were a perfect teaser for what was to come next.
After ordering a succession of starter dishes, our food soon began coming out one by one and was always presented with a warming smile. The salmon gravlax was an interesting fusion of Korean and European ingredients. Leo informed me they marinate the fish for at least 48 hours in a mixture of gin and plum juice. Topped with tobiko-laced mayo and capers and nestled between spoonfuls of wakame each mouthful was extremely rich in flavour.
Being gluten free, it is not often that I get to enjoy arancini balls. The standard varieties of these Italian canapés are generally crumbed in wheat flour meaning it’s off the menu for me. Of the few I have had gluten free; it seems that it is hard to achieve the classic hard crunchy shell coupled with a creamy cheesy risotto centre. For these arancini, Chef Leo mastered getting the all-important textures right despite restricting himself to only using gluten free flours. I loved the unusual mix of Italian and Korean flavours of basil pesto risotto rice, pan-fried kimchi and dollops of sweet berry sauce. If we hadn’t already ordered so much food I could have eaten a couple more.
Luckily I didn’t because I had already gotten a little carried away and ordered a LOT of the gluten free starters already. In my defence, I am not used to visiting Asian restaurants and being so spoilt for choice. The next starter we tried was the beef cream roll which was another Westernised version of a Korean cold beef roll salad. Thinly sliced, marinated beef was wrapped carefully around spears of asparagus, capsicum, cucumber, enoki mushrooms and cream cheese and topped with crisp garlic chips.
Japchae is a traditional Korean street food made of sweet potato noodles stir fired in sesame oil with various vegetables and sometimes also beef. The Gaya presented this dish a little differently by wrapping the noodles along with beef, carrot and mushroom in rice paper and then re-frying them to make them into some sort of fat dumpling.
Despite their reasonable size they were still easy to eat and really tasty. This was one of my favourite starters.
After the excitement of the previous starters, the fish jijimi was probably my least favourite entrée. This dish consisted of fillets of cod lightly battered in glutinous rice flour and served with soy mayo. The fish was light and fluffy but the dish lack the punchy originality that was present in all our previous offerings.
I was nearly at full capacity by this point having shared no less than six starters and half a bottle of wine. I could have easily got away with squeezing in a shared main and dessert with the Boy but he had a keen appetite and insisted on ordering his own main. While agonising over our choices, we were given another complementary little dish as a palate cleanser. The items on this dish are changed regularly to keep it interesting so don’t expect to be served the same as me if you visit. We received some spicy tomato, pickled cabbage with apple and a ball of grated cooked sweet potato.
There weren’t any vegetarian main options for the Boy to choose from and as he isn’t a totally strict vegetarian he opted for the “36 Pork”. Rather than serving a pork crackling-encrusted style of porky dish that features on so many menus both Asian and Western; the Gaya do things a little different. The whole pork belly is marinated for 12 hours before being cooked sous-vide for a further 24 hours. The end result is near translucent, delicate pork flesh that is as soft as jelly. It was paired with sweet potato puree, glazed apple and smears of fermented soy bean paste. I hadn’t tried soy bean paste before however I have since learnt that it is one of the most commonly used condiments in authentic Korean cuisine.
The dish was topped with roasted garlic chips and a Korean chive salad. Korean chives are shorter and thicker than those found in Western dishes and are added to many Korean dishes for their claimed health properties. Traditional Korean herbal medicine will use chives for strengthening liver function, improving circulation, relieving back pain and treating colds and other ailments. Leo explained that he includes the chives in his dishes in order to provide his customers with these health benefits.
I ordered the “TTeokgalbi”, a dish taken from the Korean Royal court cuisine that is centred on beef rib patties. The meat from beef spare ribs is minced and marinated before being grilled on the hot plate. It was served with a variety of different yet interesting elements including some chewy, cinnamon dusted rice cakes that somewhat reminded me of the honey puffs we used to buy from the Greek stall as a child in the Adelaide Centre Markets.
Other elements in my TTeokgalbi included a scoop of smooth, creamy yoghurt potato salad and some rubbery pickled oyster mushrooms. The pickled mushrooms were stuffed with cucumber and capsicum and I nearly mistook them for some sort of dumpling. They had a strong sour taste that wasn’t entirely unpleasant and balanced the sweet and spicy elements nicely. The whole unusual creation was topped with a sunny side up fried egg. All the different components in my dish certainly kept me amused however I did feel the beef didn’t taste any more remarkable than any other well-made patty I’ve had.
On the home straight and truly stretched at the seams we had another look at the menu to order one dessert each. This really was gluttony in its extreme. All the dessert options were gluten free so we were free to share each other’s selections. I ordered the “Gaya Ho-Tuck” which was an elegant version of a type of pancake sold by street food vendors in Korea.
These small round nuggets are stuffed with brown sugar, sunflower seeds, peanuts and pine nuts and then deep fried. Before serving they are dusted with cinnamon and more sugar and torched to caramelise the surface to a near black colour. Soft and fluffy on the outside yet chewy, nearly gooey on the inside these were right up my alley and got snuffled up pretty quickly.
I had already fallen in love with the look of the “Red Misu” thanks to a number of fellow blogger’s beautiful photos so I encouraged the Boy to order himself this instead of his usual ice cream. This curious little dish is Chef Leo’s take on tiramisu with a neat little Korean twist. The sponge was still deeply seeped in Baileys and coffee as one would expect for a tiramisu but there was the surprise element of added red bean paste. The dessert was carefully presented in a miniature pot complete with chocolate soil and pebbles. Some may say this dish was simply too adorable to eat but its cuteness didn’t stop either of us further stuffing our faces despite our bulging waistlines.
I am always suspicious to make a conclusion about a restaurant on the basis of a free meal as the chef knows in advance he is under scrutiny. However looking around the fairly busy dining room I could see plenty of happy customers enjoying their paid experience.
The Gaya offers something a bit different to your standard sizzling Korean restaurant with softly spoken, efficient service, oodles of gluten free options and creative, carefully presented food. Add to that it’s BYO licence and you can be sure I will be bringing my friends back here for a satisfying but inexpensive night out.The Gaya Applecross Shop 3 & 4, 3 Kearns Crescent, Ardross WA | (08) 9364 8887 | www.the-gaya.com Chompchomp dined as a guest of The Gaya Applecross. As it is too difficult to be 100% subjective with a complementary meal I will refrain from giving a review or score and this is purely just a documentation of my experience.
For those of you living in Perth, think back to what it used to be like on a weeknight in our City five years ago. Once the day ended and the clock hit five, all the bustling daytime cafes and bars would shut and everyone would head straight home. Before long the streets of our capital would be stark empty and it was like you were standing in a ghost town. A rapidly growing city with a population of over one million people and yet we turned our backs on our own city centre!? Thankfully things didn’t stay that way forever and after some government incentives like the new small bars laws and the construction of flashy inner city apartment blocks; little sparks of life started popping up everywhere throughout the city. This energy has now burst into full flame and the memory of Perth’s once deserted streets is just an embarrassment of the past.
One of the most exciting new developments in the city is Brookfield Place situated on St Georges Terrace. This complex is based around the BHP skyscraper and is an entertainment hub filled with high end restaurants and bars. Print Hall is one of the more sophisticated new eating locations within the complex and is housed in the beautiful heritage listed Newspaper House. Print Hall recently won six awards at the Australian Hotels Association Western Australia Hospitality Awards for Excellence and has also received one star in the 2014 Good Food Guide. The kitchen team is led by David Coomer of iconic Star Anise fame and Executive chef Shane Watson and these talented guys are very focused on using Western Australian produce to serve European influenced dishes.
My first visit to Print Hall was earlier in the year when we stopped for a couple of quick drinks before seeing David Attenborough’s live show at the Perth Convention Centre. Immediately upon entering the bar I was wowed by its opulence and sense of grandeur; it is massive by Perth standards. Situated at one end of the luxurious bar is a permanent oyster bar manned by the lovely Jerry Fraser who is also known as the “King of Oysters”. Jerry is there nearly every day freshly shucking oysters on demand for hungry diners in addition to serving a variety of super fresh local seafood. On this night however we missed out on meeting the man himself and got his more than competent side kick Tony.
Like moths attracted to a bright light the Boy and I gravitated over to the neon “Jerry’s Oysters” sign and sat ourselves in front of Tony at the bar. Looking at my clock I saw we had exactly one hour until the show began and ambitiously ordered the biggest and most expensive seafood platter to share; “The Print Hall”. The Boy gave me a bit of a high brow look but didn’t make any attempts to stop me ordering it.
Tony assured us he would have our platter ready for us in a jiffy and made quick work preparing everything giving us plenty of time to make a total mess of ourselves as we devoured it.
Our enormous platter was piled high with all the delights of the sea including a full Western rock lobster, Blue Ridge marron, Blue Manna crab, Tiger prawns, mussels, cambinata yabbies and oysters. Nothing beats the taste of freshly shucked oysters in my humble opinion; I can eat them by the dozen. These combined with nearly every other tasty crustacean from the sea it was enough to send us both into a dizzy head spin. It was a fabulous experience and worth every single cent.
After our brief but awesome experience at Print Hall Bar, I was very eager to return. My Dad and Stepmum are two very well-travelled foodies who live in the heart of Melbourne just off Flinders Lane where they are surrounded by the City’s top end restaurants. I knew they would be hard to impress so when they came over for a whirlwind business trip to Perth I took a punt and booked a table in the Print Hall Dining Room.
We started the night off with a round of cocktails upstairs in the Apple Daily Bar overlooking Print Hall’s long bar. Dad and the Boy both ordered the daily special cocktail which was made with apple and rosemary. Not really the Boy’s thing however as you may know he is a purist strawberry daiquiri fan. This drink wasn’t pink enough for him!
I ordered the White Lady Boy made with white spirits, yuzu and ginger. It was topped with pretty little flowers and was fresh, light and far too easy to knock back. I could have gulped another down if it wasn’t a work night! My Stepmum ordered Milk of the Poppy with pandan, mandarin and coconut and her drink tasted like an alcoholic version of something you get off the dessert tray at Dim sum. Just minus the cubes and balls.
After our drinks we were escorted back downstairs to the Print Hall Dining Room. My heart sunk a little as I looked around and saw the dim level of ambient lighting as I knew my photography skills were in for a test. Not to worry, I’m always up for a challenge and what better way to create a beautiful mood than to turn the lights down real low?
After listening to our waitress give us a very polished but somewhat lengthy description of the three champagnes served by the glass, she brought our complementary amuse bouche to the table. A curious zesty tasting disc of fresh cheese made from a mixture of mascarpone, cream, feta and yoghurt and garnished with dried black olives, roasted parmesan, dill pollen and some fresh dill. It was so soft that it begun to melt sumptuously on the plate.
To scoop the cheese up we were given an enormous cracker that looks like something from another planet. It was gluten free and made from potato, tapioca and brown rice flours. It had a similar texture to a prawn cracker being light and easy to start. It was fun passing it around taking turns to snap off a piece.
We chose to have the four course meal option for $110 per person as there was something on the menu for everyone including both vegetarian and gluten free options. To start off with Dad and I chose the Blue Manna crab with curried egg, cucumber and avruga caviar. The crab was so sweet it was almost like eating dessert and the addition of the avruga gave it a wonderful salty finish. My gluten free version omitted the crisp bread however my dish didn’t feel unfinished without it. Our waitress gave me another giant sized cracker in case I wanted that textural crunchy component.
The Boy and my Step mum chose the tartare of Point Samson scampi. It came with a flavoursome carrot, ginger and orange puree and tiny slivers of seaweed and micro herbs.
The Boy chose the vegetarian option of wood grilled black salsify for his second course option. Black salsify is a root vegetable that belongs to the dandelion family and is also known as the oyster plant because it has an oyster like taste when it is cooked. It is considered to be very nutritious containing proteins, fats, essential amino acids, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, E and C. It was served with brilliant green kale, hot smoked ricotta and meaty oyster mushrooms.
The remainder of us chose the roasted pigeon breast for our second course. The pigeon was cured in gin, juniper and sage and then roasted to a luscious ruby red rare. To further enhance the rich colours and flavours, a chunk of creamy rare seared chicken liver was buried in amongst the tender breast along with sweet pickled and pureed beetroot.
Some slightly bitter cooked radicchio leaves were also tossed in there giving a wonderfully diverse tickle to my taste-buds. As I savoured every twist and turn of this dish’s elements I looked up to see both my Dad and Stepmum’s facial expressions indicating they were doing the same!
The main course fish of the day was Red Emperor and have to I apologise to you my dear readers as you will only get to see and hear about one main dish despite there being a number of other beautiful options on the menu. It is a rare occasion that I dine out with my family and we all order the same thing but we did this time round. When I first moved out of home at the tender age of seventeen, the first whole fish I ever attempted to cook was an enormous Red Emperor. It barely fit into my oven and my fellow flat mates looked on with suspicion and doubt. Thankfully the fish turned out perfectly, I proved them all wrong and my love for this fish has stayed ever since. Print Hall did not disappoint and I was served an exquisitely cooked thick wedge of juicy fish topped on a neat pile of wood grilled mussels and squid. Brightly coloured and aromatic sofrito introduced a bit of a South American feel to this dish and it was so good I nearly wanted to lick my plate clean.
To accompany our mains a side serve of salad and a bowl of duck fat potatoes were brought to the table. Now if you bear in mind that my Stepmum has a well-known reputation amongst both friends and family for making the best duck fat potatoes these potatoes were up for some scrutiny. Thankfully they were damn good and although my Stepmum’s are definitely better, it was a pretty close call!
For dessert the Boy ordered the pumpkin pie with pepita sponge and maple ice cream. Not being a much of a sweet tooth, he isn’t really one to get into the whole concept of de-constructed desserts and I guarantee the only reason he chose this was because it said maple ice cream on the menu. He is very easily pleased for his sweets; give him ice cream and it will satisfy him every time.
For my dessert our waitress recommended for me to have the Valrhona chocolate mousse as she felt this was the best gluten free option to have. It sounded nothing short of amazing; Valrhona chocolate mousse, hazelnut, single origin coffee crème and milk sorbet. I have to say however, after enjoying a succession of very impressive courses, my dessert actually left me feeling somewhat under-whelmed. Even my chocoholic Stepmum agreed with me that it wasn’t that exciting. Please don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with it; it just didn’t feel special like everything else did. After all our other dishes totally exceeded our expectations it was a shame to end the night on a bit of a fizzer.
Overall we were both very impressed on each of our evenings at Print Hall . These guys have nailed all the essential key elements for success; polished, knowledgeable service, interesting and creative food with fresh locally sourced produce where possible and an ambience that makes you feel like you are dining somewhere quite special. I look forward to returning but maybe I will go for lunch next time so that I can actually take some decent photos of their beautiful food!Apple Daily Bar & Eating House 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0088 Print Hall Bar and Dining Room 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6282 0000 | www.printhall.com.au Price: $$$$ (2 courses $70, 3 courses $90, 4 courses $110, dego $150)) Food: 4.5/5 (creative but with classic elements) Service: 5/5 (faultless) Ambience: 4.5/5 (very romantic and opulent, just not great for a food blogger’s photos!) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive wine list, thank god Da chose because I got lost in it all) Total: 18.5/20
Something many of you may not know about me is that I am a quarter Chinese. My grandfather Wun on Tong immigrated from the Canton province in China to New Zealand in the 1930’s to flee the changes in government. He met my Irish grandmother in Auckland; they married and had a family of three children with my mum being the youngest. As is sometimes the way, their marriage unfortunately wasn’t meant to be and she left the children to be raised by their loving but hard working father. Sadly I never got to meet my grandfather as he passed away before I was born but my mum has very fond memories of him and has shown me some gorgeous photos of him. He was quite a handsome man!
My Chinese ancestry is one I know little about and I wish I had more knowledge of this side of my family. I love traditional Chinese food culture and I am not averse to trying unusual dishes however I am often heavily restricted with what I can actually eat because of gluten. Soy sauce is used ubiquitously in Asian cuisine however I am yet to see a bottle of gluten free soy sauce on supermarket shelves in any of the Asian countries I have visited.
Recently on our return from our Thailand wedding we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Singapore. One evening we dined at their Cantonese restaurant Cherry Garden and I was blown away how capable they were at accommodating my gluten free requirements.
I don’t usually like eating at the hotel we stay in excluding breakfast but with our post-wedding exhaustion kicking in we were both happy to be able to dine out without having to go very far. On arrival at Cherry Garden we were warmly greeted and taken to our table. We were offered some crispy fish as a complementary starter. They were like prawn crackers; crunchy, quite salty and very tasty. Fish pretzels!
One of my favourite Cantonese starters is chilled jelly fish. This is considered a delicacy and is usually prepared with oil, vinegar, chilli, sesame seeds and soy sauce. The chef was happy to make this dish gluten free for me. The jelly fish had the perfect texture and was resilient without any excessive chewiness. It wasn’t too spicy either meaning both the Boy and I could enjoy it together. We have mismatched chilli tolerances; he can barely tolerate any whilst I enjoy a bit of kick. Our polarised taste buds can run us into trouble sometimes when we share spicy meals.
Our next dish was a “trilogy of hand-picked mushrooms “. There were shiitake mushrooms in a spicy garlic vinegar emulsion and some Monkey head mushrooms in a tangy sweet and sour sauce.
The third and best part of this dish was the deep fried enoki mushrooms. Frying these tiny little things turned them into semi-translucent crisps that almost reminded me of whitebait. Being such a mushroom addict I was in seventh heaven, the combination of these three morsels made it a truly delectable dish. As we gobbled up the portions we were glad we didn’t choose the set menu as we would have never got this dish.
After walking past a number of bird’s nest stores earlier in the day, we were intrigued enough to try this delicacy for ourselves. Edible bird’s nests are among one of the most expensive animal products in the world with an average nest selling for about $US 2500 per kilo. When added to a soup, the bird’s nest forms a gelatinous substance. I was surprised at how mild its flavour was and it had quite a firm texture. The addition of crab and egg white gave the soup a lovely sweet after taste however I went bit nuts with adding the chilli oil to my soup, added too much and ended up nearly coughing up a lung.
Our next dish wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I ordered chilli crab anticipating it to be whole pieces of crab however out came a creamy crab soup. The Boy’s soup was served in a Mantou which is a type of Chinese bun and for mine they replaced this with some gluten free bread on the side. Considering how many fine dining Western restaurants don’t bother sourcing gluten free bread I was very impressed to be served some here. The soup was so velvety smooth and despite not being what I wanted I was not left disappointed.
Our final main dish was braised homemade tofu with monkey head mushrooms and green vegetables. The tofu was set with seaweed on top and was incredibly silky. It makes such a difference in texture when the tofu is made in house.
At this point our attention was drawn away from our own table and over to the couple next to us. The waiter had just brought out a spectacular looking dessert complete with dry ice. The smoke was tumbling down off the edge of their table and was mesmerising. I hoped that we could order one too. I was in luck once more. The waiter said that it would be possible to do a similar dessert gluten free. This would have to be the first time I have eaten a gluten free meal in a Chinese restaurant and not felt like I miss out whatsoever.
Our dessert consisted of cherries marinated in two Chinese rice wines: Nui er hong and Kuei hua chen. It was served with refreshing lychee sorbet. After so many courses it was good to end on something light but sweet.
Our experience at Cherry Garden was a polished one from beginning to end. It was a little on the pricey end but we did eat a number of delicacies and receive impeccable service. Their ability to adapt their traditional dishes to be gluten free was done with a can-do attitude and at the end of the night our waiter came over and gave me a fresh long stemmed rose to keep. A sweet gesture that brightened up our hotel room for the duration of our stay.www.mandarinoriental.com Price: $$$ Food: 4.5/5 (totally adapted for GF, wonderful flavours) Service: 5/5 (very polished without stuffiness) Ambience: 3/5 (a little dark and not a lot of other diners) Drinks: 3.5/5 (inflated mark ups on wine prices as often in hotels) Total: 16/20
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