Taste of Perth 2015 proved that this is a city of passionate and dedicated gourmands. Over 15,000 people braved strong winds and horizontal rain to enjoy icon dishes from our city’s best restaurants served up by the Head Chefs themselves.
It was a very wet weekend with only a brief few hours of sunshine during the Friday lunch session which was fortunately the session that I attended! The festival is divided into lunch and dinner sessions which allows you four hours to eat, drink and mingle with friends. Food is purchased using “Crowns” which one Crown equally the value of $1.
I was joined by my fellow blogging friends who, like me, know the importance of having a “Taste of Perth Game Plan”. Prior to attending each of us had read the full menu, decided on our chosen dishes and could visualise the basic map layout in our heads. This is serious business!
The lack of indication for the gluten free dishes on the menu was a slight source of frustration for me. Some stalls can develop reasonable sized queues and no one wants to wait in line to find out they cannot order anything. Not wanting my frustration to turn into disappointment, I created a Plan B in the case that my desired dishes were glutenised. Yes that is a word.
After a few snacks in the corporate lounge, we kicked off our designer degustation at Nobu with their icon dish of 9+ Wagyu Carpaccio served with a slightly gooey quail egg and a kick of aji amarillo aioli. My dish was gluten free adapted with the omission of soy-salt. Whilst some may baulk at the price to portion ratio of this dish, I assure you that it would take just one mouthful of that buttery meat to liquefy on your tongue to make you understand what real Wagyu is.
Nobu’s spicy aji amarillo aioli lingered on our palates making the perfect introduction to head to El Público’s stall for some Mexican. I had already had the pleasure of tasting their dishes at the sneak preview a few weeks back so I looking forward to more.
I loved the sweet freshness of the street corn charred and braised served with crema, chili, lime & fresh cheese.
Later that night on the evening session, the Boy was desperate to try El Público’s icon dish called the “Flavours of Mexico” as he hasn’t had the chance to chow down bugs since we last visited Thailand. The fried crickets were served with two shots of throat clearing mezcal.
Bib & Tucker had a few gluten free options on offer. The colourful rosella flower cured kingfish with beetroot, finger limes and beach herbs injected much needed vibrancy to the afternoon as the sun began to slink behind the rain clouds.
Their icon dish was Flinders Island wallaby shank served with textured puffed wild rice and pickled grape agrodolce. Head Chef Scott Bridger demonstrated how to prepare this dish in the Electrolux Taste Theatre where the aromas of his cooking only served to increase our appetites even more.
Moving on from Bib & Tucker, I couldn’t stop myself nabbing a bite sized serve of Modo Mio’s vitello tonnato as it is one of my favourite dishes from their restaurant. The tender, thinly sliced veal was drizzled generously with tuna and caper mayo, topped with a quail egg and finished with a splash of truffle oil. However it really was not much more than a mouthful.
As we all looked at our watches, we realised we were running out of time! I was feeling rather content and happily followed the consensus of the group to head to Asado.
I quickly deduced that Asado is the place to be if you are a meat lover. I stood in a trance for more than a few minutes watching the chefs meticulously cook thick chunks of sizzling marbled meat on the BBQ grill.
Eventually I broke away my gaze, presumably because my eyes were tearing from all the smoke and decided I had eaten enough to satisfy my savoury tastebuds. I was ready for a sugar hit.
I was in luck as Asado was one of the few stalls offering a dessert option. Their burnt banana dish was not gluten free as it came with a butter biscuit base. I was grateful that the chefs were happy to make me a special adapted versio.
The banana was caramelised with a satisfying crunchy layer but I have to say it was the dulce de leche that won me over. I know salted caramel is starting to be a bit old hat, but I still love it!
With the day nearly over and my stomach nearly overflowing into my oesophagus, I accepted that if I bought any more food it would need to come home in a doggy bag. Of course that wasn’t a problem, and with a surprisingly quick step for someone so full I managed to whisk over to Bistro Guillaume.
Last year Bistro Guillaume’s massive “macaron burger”, or macaroon as it was inaccurately called, was enough to out-macaron even me! This year it was replaced with a more digestable boxed “Duo” of salted caramel and strawberry macarons although they were still quite a decent size. Sugar high here we come!
As we were leaving Taste of Perth, we walked past the Honeycake stall and I noticed a little “gluten free available” sign on their table. I have attempted to try tasting the Honeycake for months and months after my dear friend Michelle from Foodie Cravings told me there is a gluten free option. Sadly every time I try to buy one they have sold out….but not this time! Oh my, I can now understand what Michelle was on about because it really is worth the hype!
Taste of Perth runs every year in May and brings out talent from our top restaurants all in one location. There are also many other wine and food producer stalls to visit, entertainment and VIP lounges for those wanting something a bit more special. Whilst it isn’t the cheapest food festival on the circuit it is one that I always thoroughly enjoy.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest at Taste of Perth and Electrolux. Some of her dishes were provided free of charge and some she purchased herself.
Nobu | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth
El Público | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Bib & Tucker | 18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle WA 6159 | (08) 9433 2147 | www.bibandtucker.net.au
Modo Mio | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/modo-mio/about
Asado | 34 Saint Quentin Avenue, Claremont WA 6010 | (08) 6424 9877 | asado.com.au
Bistro Guillaume | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au
The Honeycake | Shop 40, Fremantle Markets, Henderson Street, Fremantle WA 6959 | www.thehoneycake.com.au
This week is the final week for Eat Drink Perth festivities and for my last official EDP hurrah I attended the “South of France” dinner at Blackbird Restaurant in East Perth. Blackbird is a quaint little place tucked away in the corner nook of Claisebrook Cove facing out onto the water. Their focus is on serving traditional rustic European dishes and they have an interesting wine list with a collection of both local and International wines.
The South of France Dinner includes a three course meal accompanied by a bottle of French wine to share for the very reasonable price of $55 per person. I notified the kitchen staff in advance of my gluten free dietary needs and found then to be more than happy to accommodate.
Our entrée consisted of a share plate with three traditional Southern French dishes; a mushroom truffle dip with fresh baguette, pissaladière and salad Nicoise. I am always so grateful that there are many restaurants in Perth that now offer gluten free bread. I accept that these offerings will often be stodgy and, well, gluten free-ish but beggars can’t be choosers they say! I’m just happy to be considered. However for this evening, to my delight, our waiter served our entrée plate accompanied with some gluten free baguette!
Crunchy on the outside, and soft and light on the inside, it actually tasted like real baguette! With Perth’s truffle season creeping up close, I am getting to desperate levels of anticipation for a three month truffle binge. Just a single smear of truffilicious dip on my gluten free baguette was enough to make my eyes beam wide and I started to bounce up and down in my seat with excitement like a child.
Pissaladière is a bit like a French alternative to pizza that is often served in bakeries in Nice on the southern coast of France. It consists of a thick dough topped with caramelised onions, olives, garlic and anchovies. My pissaladiere was adapted by replacing the base with gluten free baguette. Containing caramelised onion meant that this wasn’t exactly a fructose friendly morsel, but sometimes I find it hard to say no to such deliciousness. Although I knew I was going to suffer a bit from onion bloating later on, I temporarily cast aside my worries and got lost in the moment enjoying my gluten free treat.
The final dish on the share plate was a salad Nicoise with green beans, cherry tomatoes, boiled egg, chat potatoes and tuna aioli. The tuna aioli was creamy, rich and packed a powerful flavour kick to the more gentle fresh ingredients.
For the main course there was a choice of two dishes which were also designed to share. The options were either Coq au vin Blanc with Provençale rice, or, Bouillabaisse. My stepmum makes a killer version of both these dishes so it was a hard call to pick which one to order. After some careful deliberation we chose the bouillabaisse.
It was a wise choice. Chunky fillets of Red Emperor were cooked to a flaky perfection and joined cockles and prawns to bath in a bright and heart-warming broth. There was a slight chill in the night air and each mouthful of soup helped warm my bones.
Our dessert required only a slight adaptation to be gluten free with the standard dish consisting of little bite size tart aux pomme, or apple tarts with some fresh stone fruits and brandy cream. The chef made me a gluten free tart by fashioning a shell using a chunk of walnut cake.
Our midweek South of France dinner was one that we arrived with no expectations and walked away more than contented and satisfied.
Growing up with a patriotic French-born father resulted in French cuisine forming a considerable part of my childhood. My Dad grew up in the south of France and so food from this region is something I was taught to know well from a young age. Getting to enjoy some of these classic dishes at Blackbird brought back fond memories of my younger years and it was definitely a weeknight worth leaving the house for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp’s meal was paid for by the City of Perth as part of her official blogging duties for Eat Drink Perth 2015.
10 Eastbrook Terrace, overlooking Claisebrook Lake, East Perth, WA 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | blackbirdrestaurant.com.au
East Drink Perth Offer South of France Dinner: $55 per person for two people, three course with a bottle of French wine
Like many Australians, I have a mixed racial background. My father was born in France and is proudly patriotic, consequently I grew up listening to endless stories about the food, culture and history of my ancestors. One thing he taught me from an early age was that each region of France has their own signature dishes or types of cuisine that they proclaim to be famous for.
Brittany, or Bretagne is a historic province in the north-west of France that is rich in culture. In contrast to a lot of France where the locals will drink wine daily, the traditional drink of Bretons is cider with Brittany being the second largest cider producing region in France. They are also recognised for their crêpes and galettes which traditionally replaced bread as basic food. These are made with buckwheat flour and thus are gluten free.
Breizh Original Crêperie is a new pop up restaurant located on Leonard Street in Victoria Park. The building is used for a number of different pop up events over the course of the week with Breizh securing the venue for Saturday and Sunday nights.
Run by two French brothers this dynamic team aims to provide traditional French Bretagne food with a bit of a modern twist. They utilise simple, locally sourced ingredients and make everything in house themselves.
Although their savoury crepes are made with gluten free buckwheat flour, they do prefer that any severely intolerant or coeliac customers notify them 48 hours in advance so they can ensure to take extra precautions with the kitchen environment to avoid any cross contamination.
For our invited feast to follow with the tradition of Bretagne, the Boy organised some ciders for us to bring along and enjoy with our meals. Not exactly the most fructose friendly beverage but they do say when in Rome…
We started our meal with a serve of the apero; an appetiser galette to share with parsley, roasted garlic and olive oil with gooey melted Emmental cheese.
The buckwheat added a subtle nutty flavour and the crepes had a surprisingly crisp texture.
For our main we opted for the weekly special galette. Breizh post their changing weekly specials up on their website every week and include a new galette and crepe to keep the menu dynamic and interesting.
Our savoury galette was made with dried wild morel mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, fresh tarragon and parsley with a luxurious white wine cream sauce. Added to this was some melted Swiss cheese and sprinkles of toasted pine nuts. Again the outer most edge of my galette had a paper thin crispiness to it yet the centre was soft, gooey and rich in flavour. A taste sensation for sure.
For dessert we both chose a different type of crepe. These crepes can be made with either normal flour or buckwheat flour. For those wanting gluten free, ensure to inform your waiter on ordering that you want the buckwheat option.
One of the permanent items on the crepe menu is the salted caramel crepe. This was our favourite, despite its simplicity. It is made with homemade salted caramel sauce, and I recommend to go for the option of an added ice-cream scoop.
The weekly crepe special was also a winner and was topped with a cube of velvety strawberry parfait, drizzles of strawberry coulis and fresh whipped cream. This was a crepe for those with a strong sweet tooth. It was a warm night and we had to devour this treat quickly before the parfait turned into a puddle of pink syrup.
I have been informed that Briezh Original Crêperie are attempting to secure a more permanent location in Vic Park but at this stage it is not set in stone. In the meantime they are happy to be working out of Leonard Street and are spending their time focusing on producing quality crepes and galletes.
The little pop-up restaurant fills up quickly each week and I highly recommend heading to their website and pre-booking a table. Don’t forget to advise them in advance if you are gluten free too.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Breizh. Given the fact that this restaurant is within five minutes’ walk from her front door, she will be sure to happily return as a full paying customer. Always happy to eat a piece of my heritage 😉 Breizh Original Crêperie Pop Up Event Every Saturday and Sunday night from 6pm to 9pm | 1 Leonard Street Victoria Park WA 6100 | breizhoriginal.com.au
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
Taste of Perth is a three-day food festival held at Langley Park from the 2nd to the 4th of May 2014. The Taste Festivals are popular all around the world and this is the first year the amazing event finally arrives in Perth. It brings together in one location many of our city’s famous chefs allowing visitors to sample a multitude of signature dishes in a single experience.
The chef line-up for the weekend includes some of the best dining Perth has to offer such as Nobu, Greenhouse, Silks, Print Hall, Lalla Rookh, Bistro Guillaume, el Público , Co-op Dining, No4 Blake Street and Bib & Tucker.
There will also be a number of other gourmet food and beverage stalls, interactive attractions, master classes and cooking demonstrations for you to check out in between devouring multiple courses of do-it-yourself degustation. The event expects an attendance of over 15,000 foodies over the course of the weekend with a choice of either a lunch session under the sun or a dinner session under the stars. I attended the evening session as a guest on the Friday night along with my fellow Eat Drink Perth bloggers.
There were a number of gluten free options available with most of the kitchens having something on offer. Having listened to my husband talk up eating bugs after his positive experiences at a number of Thailand night markets I figured I should do him the honour and give them a go.
The fried crickets are served with chilli salt and tasted somewhat like whitebait with a crisp exterior and a distinctly soft but not unpleasant centre. They were very salty which enabled me to wash down the artisan mescal without too much effort, although I did call on Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse to help me out. Being a wonderful friend she was more than happy to oblige.
Ai-Ling’s recommendation for my next dish wasn’t one that I had originally planned to eat however it actually ended up being one of the best dishes of the night. This was No4 Blake Street’s lamb belly. Yes you heard it right, LAMB belly. It had all the alternating layers of flesh and fat you would expect from a belly but with the rich depth of lamb flavour instead of the more familiar pork. It was served with a pomegranate glaze, charred eggplant and fava bean tofu.
Not being a big meat eater these days I was keen to freshen up my palate with something vegetarian and moved across to the adjacent stall Bib & Tucker. Their vegetarian beetroot salad was also gluten free. It was an interesting play on textures with puréed, shaved and roasted beets tossed with Swiss chard, barrel aged feta, tiny little husks of crispy quinoa and tart pomegranate dressing. Within minutes of ordering this dish I was summoned by my group as it was time for us to return back to the VIP tent for the announcement of the Gala awards. I should have really given a bit more thought to my dish choice as I looked a bit awkward in the posh VIP area trying to eat messy salad while holding a camera, handbag and champagne. A large portion of it ended up on the floor along with my fork, and some of it on my friends! (Sorry Michelle! xx)
Regrettably there wasn’t anything gluten free to eat in the VIP lounge excluding the freshly shucked oysters. Not that I was sad I had to eat lots of oysters but a few more options would have been better, especially given the price of the tickets at $135 per person. Once the formalities of the evening had finished, I was happy to dash back out into the crowds to complete my crazed eating binge.
My next stop was Co-op Dining. I absolutely love the Mainwaring’s and everything they stand for; sustainability, local produce and seasonality. I already had marked on my menu the duck and chestnut soup as a hopeful gluten free option and was over the moon to hear my prediction was correct. Creamy thick chestnut soup warmed my chilled bones while the luscious chunks of duck confit soothed my soul. This was also one of my favourites of the night.
My group was starting to slow in pace at this point. We had already knocked back quite a few champagnes and wanted to make sure that our final selections were wise ones. The unanimous decision was for Nonna’s meatballs from Lalla Rookh. I prepared myself for the bad news that they were not gluten free and my suspicions were correct. Whilst the chef informed me there was only a “trace” of gluten, that little smidge is enough to ruin my night so I shimmied next door to Greenhouse.
Greenhouse could do a number of options gluten free which left me somewhat indecisive for a few brief moments before I settled on the paper bark smoked barramundi. Topped with bacon and on a bed of sauerkraut it was super tasty and surely it was also somewhat healthy. After eating the barramundi and bacon pieces out of the bowl I spared myself the fructose aftermath by only nibbling a small mouthful of the sauerkraut. It was just enough for me to enjoy the flavours before I reluctantly cast it away.
I had room for just one more. And to be honest I only had enough crowns to buy one more too. I opted for the piece de la resistance; Bistro Guillaume’s salted caramel macaron. This is no macaron for the light hearted and in fact I question whether this can actually be called a macaron at all. In fact I prefer to call it a salted caramel dessert burger. It filled my whole hand and took me several minutes to eat.
Whilst I was initially a little disturbed at the gigantic abomination I had purchased, with each bite that I took the whole concept of this dessert burger won me over. It was certainly something different and absolutely worth trying however I couldn’t see myself binging through a whole box of 20. It least not without making myself very sick!
Taste of Perth runs all this weekend and tickets can be purchased at the gate. Like many of these food festivals, food and beverages are purchased using a currency called “Crowns” which you can purchase on site very easily with cash or cards.
For more details head to the Taste of Perth website.Disclaimer: Chompchomp visited the Taste of Perth Festival as a guest of 3am Thoughts PR. My meals were purchased with my own money. Nobu Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth www.greenhouseperth.com www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/silks www.printhall.com.au www.lallarookh.com.au www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au www.elpublico.com.au www.co-opdining.com.au www.no4blakestreet.com.au www.bibandtucker.net.au
It is safe to presume that most people have been invited to a party for birthdays, engagements, Christmas and the like. Even food festivals get their own launch party these days. Cake clubs happen around the world on a daily basis and I am going to a blogger’s celebration of pork belly this week.
But have you ever heard of a party thrown specifically for an apple? Yes, that’s right. A party for a piece of fruit.
Well neither had I and when I received an invitation to Jazz Apple’s Taste the Crunch cocktail event at Bistro Guillaume I cannot deny that my first instinct was to politely decline. You see, although apples are gluten free and therefore entirely safe for me to eat, they are also full of fructose. Whilst fructose definitely won’t kill me I do get some rather unpleasant after-effects from indulging in it. The Boy does not suffer from fructose malabsorption and was conversely quite excited at the opportunity to attend. We grow apples in our own suburban backyard on cute little dwarf apple trees and he is a passionate green thumb. He was keen to see what sort of apple gets its own party. Being a loyal wife I agreed to attend the apple party with him.
The Jazz apple is a relatively new variety of apple which experienced a sell-out season last year. This year they are looking at having the biggest bumper crop to date and their producers in WA wanted to celebrate in style. A number of Perth foodies were invited to join them for a night of apple enhanced food and beverages.
The entire restaurant at Bistro Guillaume was adorned in hundreds of fresh Jazz apples while a groovy two piece jazz band beebopped away loudly.
Knowing that I was going to eat apple I prepared myself by chowing down a handful of glucose tablets. Glucose can, to a degree, help my gut absorb some fructose however this is only to a point. The bartenders busily worked away make a variety of elegant apple cocktails of which the apple Martini was my favourite, of course! 😉
The kitchen staff churned out plate after plate of Jazz apple laced morsels such as pork belly, salmon tartare and duck with pea purée. Each delectable mouthful ended with the sweet aftertaste of Jazz apple. The chef even made some gluten free adapted, apple topped crème brûlée just for me!
Although the amount of food provided was very generous I had to hold back somewhat as I knew if I got too carried away I was in for some serious fructose overload! At the end of the night on our way out we were given a show bag containing a six-pack of Jazz apples. I planned to take them into my work colleagues the following day to test them out.
Before heading home the Boy and I dropped into Rockpool for a quick bite to eat. It was easy getting a table and the waitstaff were very quick and attentive. I ordered my favourite of steak tartare however I was informed that the fat chips are cooked in the same oil as gluten containing foods so they are regrettably not gluten free. The Boy was more than happy to oblige by eating them for me. The steak tartare was reliably amazing; I have ordered this umpteen times and never been disappointed. Soft, nearly creamy in texture I got to enjoy every meaty mouthful to myself.
The Boy ordered the marron which was served with lightly poached plum, fennel purée, olives and a mint gel. His dish was nearly sweet enough to pass off as dessert and although I was happy with my carnivorous choice I did look on in envy.
No visit to Rockpool is complete without an order of their wonderful sides and I noticed a new one had appeared on the menu that I hadn’t seen before. It was described as wood fired grilled creamed corn with chipotle chilli butter and Manchego cheese. To be honest, all I needed to see was the mention of Manchego cheese and I was sold. Add in the flavour profiles of subtle smoke and spicy chipotle and it effectively turned this simple dish of creamed corn into a taste sensation.
On our way through the lobby to catch a taxi home we accidentally walked past the lobby lounge bar where there was a cake stand full of macarons on the counter. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Before I knew it I had bought one of every flavour as the Boy rolled his eyes at me. What a good man, he knows never to come between his wife and a macaron.
The next day at work I took in the Jazz apples and got the following verdict from my apple munching colleagues:“It reaches every taste-bud in my mouth and makes them go pop-pop-pop.” “It’s a party in my mouth” “It has a good balance between tart and sweet and the skin is as much a part of the apple eating experience as the flesh”
Love my work mates…thanks guys! 😉Chompchomp attended Bistro Guillaume as a guest of Jazz Apple. We paid for our meal at Rockpool in full. Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au www.rockpool.com/rockpool-bar-and-grill-perth www.crownperth.com.au/bars/bars/lobby-lounge/about
I cannot believe it is nearly six months since the Boy and I tied the knot in Phuket. I still have a long backlog of blog posts from our wedding holiday that I desperately need to finish. Normally I am such a disciplined person and I think part of my procrastination is because I’m sad that it’s all over and our lives have settled back down to normal. I have finally decided to bite the bullet and plan to complete the last of my wedding trip blog posts over the next few weeks including our time in Thailand which was followed by our four day eating binge in Singapore.
Once we arrived in Singapore glowing with post-nuptial love our serotonin levels were high and thus so were our appetites so we filled our days with sleeping, eating and drinking. For our wedding present to each other we both decided that a gift was far too traditional and wanted to have an experience together instead. Memories are always more precious than materialistic objects and some of my best memories are of course involving food. So the Boy suggested I pick anywhere regardless of price to enjoy a meal of a life time together.
In Singapore that is no easy feat. This is a city known for its fine dining and the decision wasn’t an easy one. Our last trip to Singapore we dined at Guy Savoy’s celebrity restaurant so I wanted to choose something other than traditional French and settled for Chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands. Ok so there IS a bit of French influence in Tetsuya’s style but it is very Japanese focused. A fusion of two of my favourite cuisines! A perfect way to celebrate the fusion of two people!
Waku Ghin serves a ten course degustation only and you are advised to book your table well in advance as they have a reasonable waiting list and only seat 25 people each evening. They have been awarded number 68 in the San Pelligrino World’s 100 Best 2013 and achieved 11th place in Asia’s 50 Best. I have always fantasised about having a world trip where we visit as many restaurants as possible off these lists, so it was fitting that one of them should feature on our wedding holiday (Note this is NOT our honeymoon!). I had emailed in advance to notify them of my gluten free requirement and asked them if they needed me to bring gluten free soy sauce with me. They do not have their own gluten free soy available so I was grateful I had been lugging it around in my luggage all the way from Perth.
After making a bit of a spectacle of myself at the bar by knocking my cocktail over with my animated flying hands we were shown to our dining room which only seated four people. A lovely Japanese couple were just finishing their meals and left shortly after we arrived giving us the whole room to ourselves.
Our chef for the evening came out and introduced himself before presenting to us a box filled with all the seafood delicacies we were about to commence devouring. Everything looks so exceedingly fresh and some creatures where still alive.
Our evening started with a salad of Buratta cheese with dried tomato, rocket and fennel. Burrata means “buttered” in Italian and you will understand where this fresh cheese got its name when you taste it. It literally oozes creaminess and paired nicely with the full rich flavour of the dried tomatoes. It was the perfect lead into the following much more opulent course.
Next up was one of Tetsuya’s signature dishes, the marinated Botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietra caviar. Mind blowingly creamy and luxuriously luscious this dish left us hanging on the edge of our seats for more. The balance of salty caviar, sweet shrimp and custardy uni was an orchestra of perfection.
Our next course was some slivers of slow cooked John Dory layered with smoked eggplant and drizzled with a richly flavoured chicken jus. The fish was slippery soft and melted in the mouth like sushi. I am a big fan of slow cooked anything; it introduces such a silky element of texture to ingredients unobtainable with traditional cooking methods.
Our fourth course was a steamed Alaskan Crab claw with lemon and olive oil. With such simple preparation and very few ingredients the secret of this dish’s success was in the freshness of the crab. The chef shows us the bright red crab claws before proceeding to steam them on a bed of rock salt on the grill right in front of us.
Once cooked to perfection he dressed them with just a light splash of lemon scented olive oil. And it needed nothing more. With four courses down and our eyes wider than saucers we sat on the edge of our seats ready for more.
Our next course was live Tasmanian abalone served simply with fregola, tomato and basil for the Boy with the fregola omitted for my gluten free version. This was my first time having fresh abalone. I found it a little disturbing watching the live abalone squirm before my eyes as the chef cooked it on the stove top.
I consoled myself with the thought that that surely these creatures don’t have enough awareness of self to suffer? I was surprised to find the abalone a little chewy and tough but not having tried it before I’m not sure if this texture was to be expected? Maybe the abalone eaters out there can educate me better.
The next course was certainly one of my favourites; braised Canadian lobster with tarragon. Although I have enjoyed Australian “lobster” countless times I only recently tried Maine lobster for the first time at Sky on 57. Anticipating it to taste much the same as crayfish I was astounded by the lobster’s delicate textured richness. I didn’t realise I would get to try it again so soon.
Waku Ghin prides itself on its fresh produce which is flown in fresh and often live each day. Our Canadian lobster was prepared in front of us braised in a robust flavoured tarragon sauce that is made with stock from the lobster’s shells. The rich sauce balanced the sweetness of the oh-so-tender lobster precisely. I cannot wait to eat lobster again sometime.
Wagyu is such an overused term in the restaurant world and I never realised how truly amazing it can be until we tried Waku Ghin’s version. They serve Ohmi Wagyu beef which comes from the Shiga prefecture in Japan. This type of Wagyu is considered to be distinctive from other types as it is the only type with fat that has “viscosity” which gives it that incredible dissolve-in-your-mouth sensation.
Cooked with utmost precision this meat needed minimal garnishes and was served simply with some freshly grated wasabi, garlic chips and light citrus soy. It had the texture of butter and was truly like no other cut of beef I have ever tasted. The chef was so flattered with our crooning that he offered us another serve which we both wildly agreed to.
It was hard to believe our evening was drawing to an end and we were up to our last savoury course. This last course was a bit of a let-down considering the repeated wow factors we had received consistently throughout our evening. The Boy was served a consommé with rice and snapper which was tasty but had no specific element that amazed him in any way.
My gluten free version didn’t even contain any fish. I received a small bowl of polenta with a scoop of ratatouille. I am a huge fan of ratatouille; it reminds me of my father’s cooking however considering the price of our meal I expected a replacement dish with a bit more effort.
Before being moved into the lounge room for desserts, we were given some gyokuro green tea. Gyokuro is considered by the Japanese as the finest green tea and has a very delicate, sweet flavour. The tea is grown under shade cover, usually made from reed or straw screens, for around three weeks before harvesting. Reducing the available sunlight alters the level of photosynthesis in the young leaf buds thus reducing the chlorophyll concentration in the leaves. This has a direct effect on the proportions of sugars, caffeine, amino acids and flavonoids resulting in a much milder and sweet taste.
For dessert we were moved in to the main dining area which overlooked the stunning skyline of the Marina Bay area. Our first dessert course was a salad of raspberry with wasabi and honey granita. This dish was more of a palate cleanser than anything else and whilst it was refreshing it didn’t have any of the elements of excitement we were anticipating.
The Boy’s main dessert came complete with a message of “Congratulations” for us smitten newly-weds. His chocolate mousse cake glistened like a mirror and I was so jealous it had gluten and I couldn’t steal a mouthful. Gluten schmooten….no fair!
My envy deepened as I looked down at my replacement option; a fruit platter. Whilst each piece of fruit had obviously been carefully selected and prepared it was still just a fruit platter nevertheless. I confess this was my only real disappointment of our evening.
Our night ended with some very moreish petit fours; vanilla and pistachio macarons, chocolate orange mousse, meringues and tangerine jellies. The kitchen kindly separated the gluten free ones to avoid any confusion. I was able to have most except for the orange and chocolate mousse which the Boy took great pleasure revealing to me how amazing it was via his facial expressions and rolling eyes.
Accustomed to missing out on some foods I still gain some level of enjoyment just by watching love ones eat so I requested to our waiter to bring us some more petit fours so I could watch my husband savour the flavours once more. It made a great series of photos but to maintain his privacy I’mu afraid you won’t get to see them!
Waku Ghin was quite possibly one of the most expensive meals we have ever eaten with the end bill entering the four digits for just two people. Was it worth it? Eight out of our ten courses left us amazed, impressed and totally nailed the wow factor that I would expect to receive for such a price. The two courses that lacked wow were still executed beautifully and I cannot fault them with anything specifically except for the fact they just weren’t incredible like the remainder. The service doesn’t skip a beat with a warmth and friendliness that you don’t always see at fine dining establishments.
My answer; yes it was worth every cent.Waku Ghin The Shoppes, Atrium 2, L2-02, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8507 | www.marinabaysands.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.5/5 (they just need a little bit of work on their desserts) Service: 5/5 (impeccable) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels exclusive and special) Drinks: 4/5 (a very extensive bar; with a very wide price range) Total: 18/20
On our way home from Phuket still loved up and emotionally high on wedding bliss, we stopped over in Singapore for a few days to unwind before heading home. We flew in Singapore accompanied by my Dad and Step mum who were also stopping over albeit only for a few hours. The thought of returning back to a heavy work load loomed dark over their minds so for one last hurrah we took to the incredible SkyPark up on the 57th level of the MBS building. There are two restaurants up in the clouds on SkyPark; Ku Da Ta and Sky on 57. As Ku De Ta served a buffet style lunch we chose to dine at Sky on 57 for a more classy experience with a view.
Our time in Phuket was the most amazing holiday of our lives and we were strongly determined to hold onto the last shreds of celebrations over a bottle of champagne. Still not accustomed to all the bling on my finger, I couldn’t help but take a little cheesy shot as it glimmered in the light. Excuse the shrivelled eczema hands thanks to years of eating gluten.
Head Chef Justin Quek’s style pulls from local Asian cuisines with some hints of European influences. Singaporean classics like Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hokkien Mee featured on the menu alongside more French inspired dishes like pan seared foie gras and mussel veloute. The view from the dining room expands across the whole end of the SkyPark’s end deck giving impressive views across the Marina Bay and the city skyline.
My salmon and oyster tartare tasted like a breath of the sea, fresh, salty and not overly fishy. It was beautifully presented with carefully blobbed pearls of mango and basil coulis polka dotted around my slate plate. The mango gave an added creamy sweetness that wasn’t too overpowering.
Dad and the Boy often share similar tastes in food. It was no surprise to me when they both ordered the soft-shelled crab, a dish that has reached near obsession level with the both of them. These critters were very meaty and the serving size for an entrée was substantial considering this was fine dining.
My Step mum ordered the Buri oh ceviche. Wafer thin slices of sustainably farmed Japanese Amberjack, or Hamachi fish sat on a bed of fresh micro-greens and colourful flowers. It was served with truffle vinaigrette however I couldn’t taste any truffle in the mouthful I tried. Her fish was similarly fresh and delicately soft.
My Dad and Step mum are generous people and love to spoil those they love. When Dad spotted the two of us pretending not to see the Maine lobster dish on the menu he asked us if we had eaten it before. I confessed I hadn’t the only crayfish I have eaten has been Australian in origin. Upon hearing this he insisted we all have the Lobster despite it being nearly three times to price of the rest of the mains choices. It was lightly sautéed in an Asian Pepper sauce and was nothing like any Cray fish I have had before. In a mouthful I understood what all the fanfare and fuss is about, it is surprisingly sweet and incredibly tender. Totally out of this world. I want more. It’s hard to believe this delicacy was once a food reserved only for slaves and prisoners!
We still had a bit of time to kill and looked around for our waitress to order some desserts. Unfortunately it would appear that in the afternoon the restaurant staff seemed to develop a little bit of amnesia and forgot about our existence as they vacuumed around us and moved tables. After a good 15 minutes we managed to catch their eye and finally order our desserts. We ordered two serves of the Milo ice-cream to share amongst the four of us. This dish was ultra-chocolaty with a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. Any excuse to squeeze in a bit of Valrhona chocolate is fine by me!
Once again there was a virtual cloak of invisibility surrounding our table while we were waiting to order our coffees and then again for said coffees to be brought to table. It was a little disconcerting that while we waited for over twenty minutes for our hot drinks most of the staff chatted and laughed standing by the bar. A sad drop in customer service compared to the beginning of the afternoon. The wait was long enough for my Dad to write nearly four pages full in my wedding guestbook. I was so touched to read later that night that he had remembered his speech from the wedding night off by heart and written it down word for word for me to keep forever.
Sky on 57Sands SkyPark, Tower 1, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8857 | Price: $$$ Food: 4.5/5 (exceptionally fresh ingredients, faultless preparation) Service: 2/5 (unfortunately didn’t match up to the incredible food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (wondrous views, dining room a little clinical) Drinks: 4.5/5 (champagne, what can I say?) Total: 14.5/20
It was the weekend before Christmas and I had flown into Melbourne a day earlier than the Boy in order to attend to some “secret wedding business”. It was for my final dress fitting at Luci Di Bella and despite enduring a terrible flight with crying babies, vomiting toddlers and a delay on the tarmac for nearly an hour I remained hyped with excitement.
My Dad and Stepmum’s apartment is very conveniently located just off Flinders Lane; meaning with a short skip and a jump you can find yourself submerged in one of Melbourne’s hottest spots for restaurants; PM24, MoVida, Chin Chin, Cumulus Inc, Coda, Ezard…need I go on?
Despite their close proximity, I have not had the fortune to visit many of these fine establishments as my family are also star entertainers. They are well known for throwing many fabulous dinner parties that often carry well on until the wee hours of the morning. As a result when I am in Melbourne, I rarely get the chance to check out the local eateries because there is too much good food to eat at home!
Arriving late on a Friday night we were all in agreeance that cooking would prove to be too much of a hassle and headed out to one of their favourites: The French Brasserie. We were greeted by the owner of the restaurant like we were family, which is not an uncommon occurrence when out with these two. They get a similar reception from many of the fresh produce sellers at the Prahran Markets which is something you wouldn’t expect in a big city like Melbourne. We were given some complimentary champagne to celebrate the beginning of the silly season with him and sat out in the alfresco dining area sipping away before being ushered to our table.
After enjoying some freshly shucked Sydney Rock and Pacific Oysters I started to feel the warmth of the champagne glow through my veins and all my stress from the crazy, hectic week slowly drained out of me. Living in separate cities makes it hard to keep my family up to date with all my wedding plans. As a result there was a lot of catching up for us to do! What made this moment even more special to me was that all my bridal babble was met with excitement and genuine interest. As not all my close family members have been by my side during this precious time, so their love and support has been worth its weight in gold. Or black truffle even 😉
Knowing there was a long weekend of Christmas feasting ahead of us we scanned the menu for something light. My Stepmum and I chose the filet de bouef. My thickly cut tender yearling eye fillet was seared to a firm crust on its surface yet carved smoothly like pate under my knife. An elegant smear of ruby red beetroot purée gave a hint of sweetness to the delicate meat. It was exactly what I felt like. The dish is normally accompanied by a long block of potato salardaise; potatoes cooked in duck fat. I was unfortunately informed that the potato contained gluten or onion, I can’t quite remember, but basically it wasn’t suitable for me. They served us an extra dish of French fries to make up for this.
Dad ordered the paillard de boeuf, a yearling beef minute steak served with marrow and bordelaise sauce. The decadent flavours of the bone marrow gave a richer and bolder flavour to the beef and if his dish wasn’t laden with onion I would have loved to have given it a try. I cannot remember that last time I tried bone marrow, possibly it was at the family table as a child? What a perfect start to what was to prove an incredible Christmas weekend. Let the eating begin!!French Brassiere 2 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1632 | http://www.thefrenchbrasserie.com.au/site/ Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-20, Mains $34-43) Food: 4.5/5 (ultra-fresh cuts of meat, faultless preparation) Service: 4/5 (I almost felt like family, I love that all the wait staff are French!) Ambience: 4.5/5 (hidden down a little lane way, has a bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (Dad picked the wine, it was something scrumptious from Bordeaux) Total: 17/20
After landing in Singapore on the overnight flight from Perth I was accompanied by the Boy and one of my business partners Woki to attend a friend’s wedding at the Fairmont Hotel. Not willing to be discouraged by our lack of sleep we refused to waste our free day and spent most of it exploring the city. We conveniently ended our self-guided tour at Ku De Ta which is situated on the 57th level of one of the three Marina Bay Sands (MBS) towers. Sipping our drinks we watched a blanket of dark ominous clouds slowly envelop the city from our viewpoint on high and by the time the tropical storm reached us we were all seriously hungry. We headed back downstairs in search of some food.
Back on the ground floor foyer, we were served by a small framed, elegant woman who kindly took great trouble to ring around a few restaurants in the complex in search of a table. She managed to secure us a booking at Guy Savoy, one of the “celebrity restaurants” at the Casino. The only time available was just an hour away yet there we stood all wind-swept, sweaty and in no way presentable for fine dining.
Jumping in a cab the Boy, Woki and I made a mad dash to return to our hotel but as we crawled inch by inch through peak hour traffic I started to feel the tension among us rising. By this point, the monsoonal downpour was in full force and I could barely see the road in front of us. Jumping out of the cab to proceed on foot was completely out of the question!
Upon our return to Fairmont Hotel we quickly raced upstairs dripping wet to our rooms. With my heart pounding in excitement I flurried about spraying my hair with a ton of hair products and my face with a lathering of makeup. After the finishing touch of a smear of bright red lipstick I prayed my transformation into something more elegant was successful.
However, our building anticipation was not to end there. It almost felt like fate was against us as we ended up taking the wrong train, got off on the wrong station and then took a full circle route on foot of the entire MBS complex before we could actually find the restaurant. Let me tell you, it is not well signposted and MBS is huge!
A little flustered and nauseatingly hungry we were seated at our table ready for the fun to begin. Our meal was kick-started by a few adorable bite size canapés.
The gluten eaters received a pint-sized foie gras club sandwich and similarly Lilliputian cube of parmesan waffle.
My gluten free canapés included a spoonful of miniature cubes of beetroot sprinkled with black truffle on a herb purée and some finely grated apple with baby celery leaves on an almond crumble.
As we allowed these flavours to entertain our palate, our waiter wheels out an old polished wood trolley with a whole leg of Joselito’s Ibérico de Bellota Jamón. Ibérico jamón is a type of ham made from black Iberian pigs that are kept free range on pasture and oak groves where they feast on a diet of acorns, grass, herbs and roots. Joselito’s Ibérico jamón is world famous for being the best ham in world and wholesale prices start at around $600 for a small leg and can get well over $3000-4000 for an aged leg. They pride themselves on raising “happy pigs” and believe this is a major factor in their meat quality.
The waiter carved in front of us about a dozen slices straight off the bone. Dark purple in colour and with multiple thread-like veins of white fat coursing through the meat; the wafer thin slivers of ham nearly dissolved on contact with my tongue. Eating Joselito jamón is quite an unforgettable foodie’s experience and I highly recommend that you try it yourself if you ever have the chance.
The unusual pretzel shaped bread was unfortunately not gluten free and as there wasn’t any gluten free bread option I had to satisfy myself by just having a brief sniff of its fresh doughy aroma. I cannot deny it is always a little disappointing when I visit fine dining institutions such as this and a gluten free bread option is overlooked. Not that I really needed bread given the enormous meal we were about to enjoy!
Our Amuse Bouche was a chilled Vichyssoise-styled soup made from leek, potatoes and cream. The addition of fennel gave a slightly sweet and refreshing after-taste. Curiously hidden under the small mug of thick soup contained two little half spheres of fennel and leek “royale”, basically a smooth lime green custard topped with minuscule little micro herbs and pea sized blobs of herb purée. With the subtle sweetness of the fennel in the soup still lingering, this little dollop served to extend and enhance the ambrosial experience with utmost precision.
Both the Boy and Woki ordered the “crab with multi-coloured beetroot variations” for their entrée. The concept of this dish was to “marry land and sea”. The blood red and lemon yellow shavings of roasted beets were curled into cone like flowers. Each little beet “flower” was filled with a foamy light beetroot blancmange followed by delicate portions of the cooked Australian Spanner crab meat. Savoury shortbread crumble and flecks of beetroot crisps sprinkled over the dish to add more complexity.
Alongside the salad was served a warm golden beetroot tartlet containing hints of cardamom and orange. The pastry collapsed in the mouth like fairy floss. It lay on top of a wafer thin square of transparent paper that looked a bit like cellophane. We were informed this was salt paper and was entirely edible. Despite the tart being the accompaniment, both the boy and our companion agreed it was the star of the two components.
This photo of my entrée is not my own and is courtesy of the restaurant. My mosaic of poulard, foie gras and artichoke was by far and by large the highlight of the evening yet for some strange reason it completely bypassed me to take a photo. Like a bizarre form of savoury layer cake, thick door stop-sized slices of young fattened poulard, wedges of soft foie gras and similar textured artichoke sat relatively unimpressively on my plate. They were accompanied by two precisely equal sized blobs of black truffle vinaigrette. The appearance of this dish does in no way make one’s mouth water; which is perhaps why my photography was overlooked. However just one mouthful of these three simple ingredients with a conservative smear of the vinaigrette and you will change your mind forever. This dish was absolutely mind-blowing; the rich buttery elegance showed true respect for the ingredients with no need for embellishment.
As we waited for our mains to arrive out came a little prequel, some sort of intermission entertainment I guess; named the Chestnut Royale. Now I am quite partial to chestnuts, yet I rarely see them feature on the menus in Australia. They always conjure up memories of walking down the streets of Paris where street vendors roast them everywhere in the winter. This innocent looking dish was quite a taste sensation. A perfectly formed dome of smooth chestnut custard sat swimming in a light bed of chestnut milk. Carefully placed on top a milk glazed chestnut glistened under the dim lighting garnished with tiny little pygmy sized celery leaves and chestnut chips.
Woki thoroughly enjoyed his “Shoulder of Australian Wagyu in two preparations”. By using an oyster blade steak or “paleron” as it is called by the French, the meat contained wondrous marbling and flavour. The first portion was braised in a red wine jus topped with baby carrots and a black pepper mignonette. The second portion of beef was purely just seared and garnished with dollops of wasabi. Both portions of beef sliced like butter at room temperature as good Wagyu should.
The accompanying side dish of potato Maxim’s and bitter greens was comparatively lacklustre and did not wow Woki at all.
I ordered the pan seared duck breast with eggplant “gianduja” sauce and “au poivre”. I was informed by our waiter that in order to achieve the creamy pate-like texture of the meat the duck breast was seared, then cooked sous vide, and then finally seared again. On my plate balanced so carefully like a stack of cards were thin slivers of eggplant served with gianduja chocolate sauce. The sauce tasted a little reminiscent of Nutella due to its high hazelnut content. Tiny little purple delight flowers scattered amongst the eggplant giving a splash of colour and bitter flavour. The duck was richly flavoured and buttery tender and left me wanting more.
My side dish was potato tagliatelle; thin ribbon like curls of deep fried potato. This was the only dish I ate that I felt was a little lacking. Perhaps some seasoning would have improved this element however even if that were the case it felt a little mismatched to the fabulous duck dish.
The Boy ordered the “Saddle, rack and shoulder of lamb; Land and Sea”. Unfortunately for him, after being left relatively unimpressed with his entrée choice his main didn’t manage to suitably wow him either. The main part of his dish contained a roasted rack of lamb placed on an almond and hazelnut praline. The saddle of lamb was stuffed with bamboo clams and pan roasted. Next to the lamb I recognised some emerald-green samphire on his plate; something we were introduced to during our beautiful lunch at Millbrook Winery last year where the chef forages it from the banks of the Swan River.
The second part to his dish was his favourite. The shoulder of the lamb was braised and wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes and topped with sprinklings of purple potato crisps. I recall the waiter mentioned that this component contained melted onions so I didn’t get to taste it! This dish was apparently seasoned in the bamboo clam jus.
By this point in time in the night I was starting to receive a number of subtly concerned looks from the Boy and knew he was worried as to how much this meal was going to cost us. He is never been one to be a killjoy by any means and during our near fifteen years together we have shared some highly priced memorable meals together. But he is also a sensible man, and he knew all too well that just coming over to Singapore alone was breaking the budget so close to our wedding, so enjoying a four figure fine dining experience was definitely going to break the bank. A smart move from me at this would have been to proclaim total fullness and call it a night.
And then out came the cheese trolley. And all my sensibility went out the window. My thoughts of finances, savings and budgets temporarily felt incredibly less important. Our dinner companion Woki was no help either. Being a father to two little ones means he rarely gets to experience such incredible culinary excellence and wanted to make the most of our evening. After a long consideration we settled for three cheeses: the curious looking Mimolette, Fourme d’Ambert and most dear to my heart Saint Marcellin; a cheese produced by my late uncle Jeannot’s factory in the Alps of France.
The Fourme d’Ambert is a very mild blue cheese that is considered to be one of France’s oldest cheeses dating back to Roman times. It is a semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk and has a luscious creamy texture and leaves a slightly sweet earthy mushroom after-taste.
The Mimolette had such a curious appearance that it was our wild card choice for the evening. The cheese looked like a cross between a rock melon and a dusty cannonball. It was a hard round ball with a pocked dimpled surface. I later learnt that the dimpled appearance is actually due to the activity of surface mites that burrow their way through the surface rind which in turn allows the cheese to breathe and mature. From the heart of this bizarre rock, our waiter scooped out some bright orange brittle cheese. It tasted quite unexpectedly sweet and caramelised, and felt like you were eating a hybrid of fudge and cheese, but in a good way.
Our portion of the Saint Marcellin cheese regrettably wasn’t warmed to room temperature and thus failed to relax into that sexy goo I have enjoyed many times before. I was very disappointed because for a number of years I have been talking up about this cheese to Woki. It is not easy to come by in Australia and this was his first time trying it.
For some reason the next two following pre-dessert dishes managed once again to escape my camera. I think I was a little distracted by my growing concern as the impending bill. Our first pre-dessert was so delectable that Woki jokingly exclaimed to the waiter that it was “no good” and that we all requested another one. His sarcasm was lost on our waitress and with a worried look she scuttled away to get us another serve.
We were too full to order a dessert but were tempted by the trolley of “petit fours”-styled mini-serves of ice cream, sorbet and biscuits and each tried a little portion for ourselves.
Just when we thought the near theatrical dining experience was over, as I sipped on my peppermint tea an Earl Grey Sorbet was delivered to our table for a final palate cleanse. Served on top of a black pepper crème anglaise the subtle flavours of the bergamot from the tea left a very refreshing end to our wondrous meal. Suffice to say, the Boy was right; we are still paying back our share of the meal to Woki!Guy Savoy The Shoppes, Atrium 2 L2-01, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8513 | www.guysavoy.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.7/5 (my choices were nearly faultless but there were some hits & misses at my table) Service: 5/5 (very knowledgeable and attentive with a noticeable lack of any pretension) Ambience: 3.5/5 (a little formal and stuffy but some fabulous views) Drinks: 4/5 (very extensive wine list but a considerable mark up on bottle prices) Total: 17.2/20
Things are definitely on the onwards and upwards for foodies living here in Perth. This past year has seen a plethora of high quality dining establishments open their doors and it is certainly something to be proud of. We are fortunate enough to live only five minutes’ drive away from the Crown Metropol (formerly known as the Burswood Casino) where internationally famous chefs Neil Perry, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Guillaume Brahimi all have flagship restaurants residing there. Now it is never too hard to have a fancy meal out.
I made an initial reservation for the two of us at Bistro Guillaume during their opening week however this had to be postponed as I had forgotten we had already made plans to go out with some friends to Duende. After managing to secure a table on another weekend, the Boy informed me that I had booked on the same night as his High School Reunion and would have to cancel once again. By this point I am sure the reservation desk had red flagged me as an annoying customer! Third time lucky, we successfully synced our busy schedules and locked in date night.
It was the first time we had been back to the Casino since their massive renovations and its fresh new face lift has successfully dragged it out of the eighties into current times! We walked past Linneys on our way to The Merrywell for some pre-dinner drinks and like an insect attracted to bright light I couldn’t help but feel the powerful drag towards their sparkling boutique. Linneys designed my engagement ring and seeing as we needed to start looking at wedding rings soon I figured now was as good a time as any to begin.
As we browsed all their beautiful pieces, the store assistant kindly offered to clean my ring for me as this is a complimentary service offered to all owners of Linneys jewellery. Only minutes later “my precious” returned to me all glimmering and twinkling like it had never been worn! I was left torn between amazement at its shining beauty and shame on how dirty it had become! I need to visit Linneys more often!
Upon arrival to Bistro Guillaume we were shown to our booth which was perfectly located right in front of the kitchen. It was like having a television with an action movie playing for us to watch while we chatted away and ate our meal. I was further impressed when some complimentary gluten free bread was brought to our table. For once I wasn’t going to have to sit and watch the Boy eat his bread as I was too busy enjoying my own!
We commenced with the escargot en persillade, served the classic way my father used to make for us when we were young. Melted butter, herbs especially parsley and loads and loads of garlic formed a little pool in which each slippery morsel sat submerged. Beneath the overwhelming garlickyness I could still detect their subtle earthy flavour. Like calamari, if overcooked escargot becomes rubbery and inedible, these were cooked perfectly.
I love all oysters and have been known to make a complete glutton of myself if allowed. Following in the footsteps of my father, I could easily eat several dozen au natural in one sitting provided they are fresh. One of my favourite types of oyster is the Sydney Rock; this species of oyster are smaller, have a more intense and distinct flavour than Pacific Oysters and apparently take 2-3 times longer to reach maturity. Knowing that I have a tendency to order too much food, the boy managed to intercept me attempting to order a full dozen in addition to our two entrees and convinced me of a compromise of a half dozen to share. Each mouthful was as fresh as the sea leaving that lingering sweet, creamy aftertaste.
The recent heartbreaking news earlier this year on the horrific treatment of our cows in Bali slaughterhouses has struck very deep to both of our hearts. As a result our red meat intake has reduced dramatically and now I try to source our produce only from organic farms that are passionate about animal welfare. However seeing steak tartar on the menu, neither of us could resist, it’s up there with Sydney Rock oysters in awesomeness. I took some consolation that it was made with Dandaragan organic beef. For those not convinced about raw, finely diced beef you seriously have to give this a try. The meat was exceedingly fresh and literally dissolved in your mouth leaving no unpleasant meaty aftertaste. The serve was particularly huge and I would have preferred a few more of the crunchy potato crisps to scoop up all the deliciousness.
The venison tenderloin was out of this world. The rich nearly berry-like flavours of the venison melted beautifully into the beetroot sauce and this really was a match made in heaven. In my eagerness to devour it I accidentally splashed ruby red sauce about in a very unladylike fashion and was thankful to be wearing a dark coloured dress! I want to return to Bistro just to order this again.
The boy ordered the veal sweetbreads with a fricassee of mushroom and truffle. The soft creamy pillows of glands were a little too fatty for him but this was circumvented somewhat by the hearty and flavoursome sauce. There was a wide variety of mushrooms in his dish and you could clearly see the fairly generous servings of truffle buried in there.
Although I realise I am supposed to be limiting my calorie intake with our wedding day looming close, this is very difficult to achieve when you are approached by a handsome man with a thick French accent bearing a plate of cheeses. I confess I got a little lost on his cheese journey and may have accidentally ordered more than we really needed. Are you that surprised? I ordered Mont D’or, a soft but rich, washed rind cows cheese that just glooped onto the board; Roquefort, a well-loved blue sheep cheese; Sainte Maure, a classic raw soft goat cheese that we recently had at Duende; Caprin, a hard goat cheese with a distinct nutty taste that I often enjoy when visiting my dad; and Pyengana, an aged Tasmania cheddar.
As you can see, we had no trouble finding room for any of these cheese masterpieces. They were served at the perfect temperature and were even accompanied by toasted gluten free bread.
I have heard many great things about Bistro Guillaume’s desserts however unfortunately for me the majority of them are not gluten free. My only option other than the sorbet was the very un-French mini Pavlova with passionfruit cream and mango sorbet. I am a little on the pedantic side when it comes to my Pavlova’s texture; in a similar vein to a macaron, there needs to be an external crunch, and spongy middle and a gooey centre. This version exhibited a little too much crunch and not enough moist bounciness inside.
Bearing in mind the Boy is not a big desserts person, I was super jealous to hear he thought the profiteroles were the bomb. As our waiter poured thick molten chocolate sauce over the perfectly formed balls I figured if there was ever the temptation to poison myself with gluten then this was it. He took no hesitation informing me the pastry was crackling crisp on the outside and flaky light on the inside. Despite wanting a taste so desperately I resisted and was very thankful the following day.
Coming from a French background I may be a little biased in stating French cuisine is one of the best in the world and Guillaume has managed to capture its simple elegance without overindulgence. Fresh local ingredients, traditional recipes and impeccable service…..Bravo!Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $18-28, Mains $30-45) Food: 4.8/5 (would have given a five if it wasn’t for the pav) Service: 5/5 (highly attentive without being in your face) Ambience: 4.5/5 (relaxed, comfortable bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (lots of French options!) Total: 18.3/20
“The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” Elizabeth Foley
As a child I attended a school in Adelaide that started from pre-primary right through to Year 12. As a result there were a handful of us students who graduated from high school after spending 13 full years of schooling together. To add to that amazingness, a reasonable proportion of us who lived locally also went to the same kindergarten meaning we have known each other since we were only 4 years old!
I had planned to take a year off from study after matriculation therefore I felt no urgency to say goodbye to my lifelong friends at our valedictory dinner. To my shock my university deferral request was declined at the thirteenth hour and I had just a mere weeks’ notice to pack up my life and move to the other side of Australia where I knew nobody.
Cut to more recent times and thanks to social media I have reconnected with a lot of these friends of yesteryear and have delighted in catching up on nearly twenty lost years of contact. As most of us have dispersed ourselves around Australia and the wider world much of our contact with each other has been purely internet based. Consequently I’m sure you can imagine my total excitement when one of my childhood besties from this group informed me she was coming to Perth for the weekend on conference. She planned to stay with another close school friend of ours who has recently moved over here to Perth. Despite this other friend’s relocation, I have unfortunately only managed to catch up with her once since she settled here. I was so happy to be able to see them both; it looked like we were in for a great night out!
Of course I was nominated to select the venue so I suggested starting with a couple of rounds of drinks at Five Bar after which we would head across the road to Must Wine Bar, one of my favourite restaurants in Perth by far.
A lot can change in 18 years, and although we were extremely close for most of our childhood I wondered if we would easily reconnect or would there be some pauses of uncomfortable silence? I was almost a little nervous with anticipation that afternoon but immediately upon seeing her, my heart melt and there were no barriers or awkwardness. We embraced in a loving hug and I felt my eyes go a little hot with joy!
Over an hour zoomed by in the space of what felt like minutes as we all chattered away about old times; both good and bad. We finished our drinks and headed over to Must. I wasn’t the only one with food allergies this time round and I had chosen Must not only because they have amazing food, but because their ability to cater for people like me has never posed a problem.
All three of us girls ordered the prosciutto di Parma and beetroot salad for entrée. Soft, thin folds of sweet but salty prosciutto flopped gently on the plate with crisp radicchio. The flavours matched seamlessly with the dulcet beetroot and more briny parmesan.
The Boy’s eyes lit up when he saw the chicken liver parfait was truffled. I am so chuffed we both share this addiction. He received a reasonable sized serve for one but probably could have done with a touch more thick fluffy brioche to lovingly smear his parfait on.
For mains one of my friends and I both ordered the confit duck leg which was served with a parsnip purée, sautéed Brussel sprouts, black pig bacon and a Madeira jus. The duck was meltingly tender yet robust with the flavours further enriched by the black pig bacon. Black pig bacon comes from the Berkshire breed of pig which has a different proportion of intramuscular fat giving the meat a more flavoursome and moist texture compared to standard bacon. The Madeira jus gave a subtly sweet end on the palate.
The Boy and my other friend ordered the Must pork sausages. Two thick juicy sausages sat perched atop of a creamy sweet potato purée. Some confit fennel and herb salad completed this simple yet extremely tasty dish.
The night seemed to go by so quickly and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the time and it was creeping close to midnight! “Time flies when you’re having fun” as my Mum loves to say! We all agreed we were satisfyingly full and skipped dessert in favour of just tea and coffee. I was proud of Perth’s gastronomic capabilities to suitably impress my dear friends; I have a foodie reputation to uphold after all! I can always rely on Must to deliver from all angles: the food, the wine, the service, the ambience and most importantly an ability to accommodate allergies. An absolute must on everyone’s bucket list!Must Wine Bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $24-30, Mains $39-46) Food: 5/5 (After enjoying numerous meals here I cannot remember a bad one.) Service: 4.5/5 (Attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4.5/5 (Sublime, classy and very French) Drinks: 4.5/5 (Extensive quality wine list, knowledgeable staff. Well, they are a wine bar.) Total: 18.5/20
I was lucky enough to secure three tickets to the last of the series of the Largesse dinners. These fabulous degustation evenings have formed a near cult following in Perth and are known to sell out within minutes of going on sale. So what on Earth is Largesse you ask?
Imagine the Head Chefs from six award-winning restaurants from around Perth donating their talents and time to each create one dish to contribute toward a six course extravaganza. Better still each course is then matched with exquisite wines and most importantly all of the proceeds from the evening go toward a charity of the host chef’s choosing. This year the charity of choice was The Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The six chefs are Scott O’Sullivan from Red Cabbage Food and Wine, Kiren Mainwaring from Dear Friends, Jason Jujnovich from Divido, Stephen Clarke of Clarkes of North Beach, Todd Stuart from Petite Mort and last but most definitely not least Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amusé.
This year the night was hosted at Petit Mort which is located in Shenton Park where the popular Star Anise resided for many years. The evening had such a buzz of excitement about it and as I gazed around the room I wondered which faces belonged to other fellow Perth bloggers I knew were attending. I have only been a blogger for about nine months now and have been blown away by the sense of camaraderie and open friendship that exists in this small little community of foodies. My eyes have only really been opened to this supportive side of blogging since joining Twitter last month. Weirdly despite this short space of time, I feel like I already know these people without even having met them.
We were informed that the first two courses were to be swapped in order because Chef Scott needed some extra time to prepare his dish. We were told he apparently lost track of time due to watching a UFC final! This got a round of chuckles from the guests.
Our first dish was air dried ham with Swan Valley Yolk, ajo blancho and foraged herbs. This dish had a number of textural elements which all tied in magically with the fresh gooey yolk. Ajo blanco is a Spanish soup made with crushed almonds and garlic; it was delicately dolloped around the plate and added in a creamy nutty texture to the crunchy herbs and chewy ham.
Our next dish was house-smoked trout, chilli squid and saffron. I was dismayed to see my gluten free version had the squid completely omitted. This meant I only really got half the dish which was quite disappointing considering that with small degustation courses each component is an important element for the overall experience of the dish. I would have preferred if the chef could have perhaps prepared my version gluten free rather than just leaving the squid off completely. Nevertheless the smoked trout was exquisitely soft and buttery leaving no oily aftertaste on the palate. My dining companions who received the full version of the dish commented that the chilli was not a strong enough feature and was barely noticeable.
The next dish was a pasta dish which is obviously not gluten free so Chef Jason from Divido kindly went to the effort of creating a completely different alternate option for me. I received braised rabbit with lentils. The rabbit had obviously been nurtured and cared for in the cooking process because I have never had such tender rabbit before; it had the soft texture of high quality smoked ham. So simple yet so well executed.
The boys had Radicchio Tortellini served with melted Fontina drizzled over it. I was informed that although you could clearly taste that the tortellini was freshly made, it was slightly undercooked and too firm; there was no slippery oyster textures between the teeth here!
The braised venison shin was my second favourite dish of the evening. I simply could not fault it whatsoever. It was accompanied by “Foie gras espuma” where we were told that the chef combined the decadent foie gras with Anglais sauce and piped it out of a canister like whipped cream. The richly flavoured shin meat simply melted in my mouth and if I wasn’t seated at a communal table I might have been tempted to lick this plate clean.
There was a little interlude in the evening at this point allowing a few fellow foodies Perth Munchkin and Gastromony to pop over to our table to introduce themselves. It was awesome to finally put some faces to the blogs that I have been following and I look forward to reading their posts on this fabulous night.
The palate cleanser consisted of ginger and beetroot water. Although this could have been improved by serving at a colder temperature it was definitely uplifting and refreshing.
Pressed duck is a very traditional French dish where the whole entire duck organs and all is partially roasted then put through a special “duck press” to squeeze out the juices which are then used for the sauce. This duck was richly flavoured but in the aftermath of the delicate venison shin its texture felt a little chewy and dry by comparison. It was accompanied by two types of wild mushrooms: the funnel shaped chanterelle and the strong tasting cepe. These were the perfect accompaniment and gave more depth to the dish with their earthy tones.
The dessert was by far and by large the highlight of the evening for me. It reaffirmed to me why Restaurant Amusé remains my most revered dining establishment in Perth. Chef Hadleigh always manages to create food art that is not only visually stunning, but does incredible things to your palate. His dish “chocolate, caramel and sorrel” spanned across a wide range of exquisite textures, temperatures and flavours. The dish started with crunchy, crisp sorrel meringue that completely dissolved on contact with your tongue, onto cool firm chocolate ice-cream that nearly had the chewy texture of a chocolate truffle, and finally ending of a bed of warmed gooey caramel. To finish off the decadence there were fine shavings of white chocolate crumbs over the top to introduce another layer of alternate texture and flavour.
The last of the Largesse evenings was an experience I’m glad I didn’t miss; a night of talented chefs showcasing their abilities in the name of a worthy charitable cause. Although I know the Chefs all said this is their last, surely they can start up something new and similar in concept? The evening has inspired me to visit those restaurants out of the six that I haven’t been to yet and more importantly I want to get back to Amusé for what will be the fourth time! Last time we were we spent nearly six glorious hours overindulging ourselves in a night I will never forget.Red Cabbage Food + Wine 49/15 Labouchere Rd, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9367 5744 | redcabbagefoodandwine.com.au Dear Friends 100 Benara Rd, Caversham 6055 | (08) 9279 2815 | www.dearfriends.com.au Divido 170 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9443 7373 | www.divido.com.au Clarkes of North Beach 97 Flora Terrace, North Beach 6020 | (08) 9246 7621 | www.clarkesofnorthbeach.com.au Petite Mort 225 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park 6008 | (08) 9388 0331 | www.petitemort.com.au Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte St, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
I hadn’t seen my Bestie since our last outing together a few weeks ago when we went hunting for my wedding dress. Once we finally did manage to meet up, we had so much to catch up on that it was hard to know where to start. I was excited to hear all about her new yoga business venture that she was embarking upon. I have never seen her so inspired and passionate about something before and it makes me so happy that she has found her calling in life. Not everyone gets to experience such satisfaction.
Late last year during the whole post-Engagement party debacle we stopped in at The Sentinel for a couple of drinks while we were waiting for The George’s manager to get back to us with the whereabouts of my iPod. In sharp contrast to the abrupt, unfriendly service we had received only minutes before at The George; the Sentinel staff all greeted us cheerily as we entered. This jovial attitude left a lasting impression on our memories.
Recalling our previous experience, we decided to return back for a quick lunch in between errands in the city. The Sentinel is owned by Stephen Scaffidi who also owns the popular Bar One. Sentinel’s dining areas are stunning, sophisticated and oh so suave – I simply love all that dark polished wood and massively high ceilings. Initially when the restaurant first opened early 2011 they received a scathing review by The Australian’s veteran food critic John Lethlean. John scored them a measly 1 out of 5. Luckily for them since then it appears they have picked up their game receiving much better recent reports in local restaurant reviews and blog posts.
We bubbled in to the swanky restaurant chitty chatting away like only besties can. Over the moon to be having some quality “bestie-time” as we like to call it we were determined to make the most of this quick and impromptu catch up. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the chef of my allergies and so I was prepared to be given limited choices off their menu. To my surprise, our waiter and the kitchen worked together to provide us with a number of options to choose from and were not bothered at the potential nuisance of my requests.
As we waited for our food to arrive, our waiter brought to the table some complimentary, freshly toasted gluten free bread with whipped butter. This is not something that happens often and I was suitably impressed. As it was only a Monday afternoon, we both initially hesitated as we gazed over the wine list until we saw some champagne and from then on our rubber arms didn’t need any twisting. Glasses of Mumm champagne in hand we settled in quickly and managed to cover a lot of conversational ground in a short space of time, spanning from weddings to people management through to newsletter writing and coconut water! (Which by the way I am totally addicted to at the moment.)
Kate and I planned to share a few entrees together and seeing as I didn’t get the quinoa dish I wanted recently at Cullen Wines I was keen to try The Sentinel’s version. Kate has been a fan of quinoa for years and has been trying to convince me how awesome it is for some time. It was served with roasted beetroot and dollops of tangy smoked goat’s cheese perched on top of some pickled radish. I am starting to understand what she has been going on about – if prepared with the right foods it is a lovely treat. I did however struggle to taste the smoky notes of the goat’s cheese, they were too subtle.
We also ordered the marinated octopus served with julienned carrot and fennel with a fresh lemony chilli dressing. The octopus was lovely and soft without any chewiness. My only gripe was the serving size – way too small for something this tasty (and for the price I guess)!
For our third dish we chose the steak tartare. This is something I have enjoyed a number of times at Rockpool and been blown away every time with its buttery texture and gentle flavours. Recently the Boy and I have been part-time vegetarians so it actually felt a little odd if not a bit scary to eat this dish once again. To make matter less palatable the meat wasn’t quite as fresh as I would prefer if raw. The crisp and peppery watercress helped somewhat to disguise the tainted flavour of the meat.
The potato chips served with this dish were nothing like what we were expecting. I was anticipating some frites, something I consider a classic combination with steak tartare. Instead there were a neat stack of potato crisps. They were cut incredibly paper-thin to the point of being translucent but unfortunately they tasted like stale oil and not much else. This potentially amazing but simple dish was very poorly executed.
Overall our lunch was enjoyable but with a few hits and misses and I would be keen to go back to sample a greater selection of their food in order get a better idea on their overall quality. The service was friendly and efficient and I look optimistically to my next visit.
Like Me on Facebook!Sentinel Bar and Grill 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 6103 0507 | http://www.sentinelbar.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Entrees/snacks $4.50-21.50, Mains $26.5-45) Food: 2.5/5 (raw meat has got to be fresh) Service: 3.8/5 (brilliant and enthusiastic) Ambience: 4.5/5 (lovely warm décor, very swanky feel to it) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive and interesting wine list) Total: 15.3/20
Bearing in mind that our mini-break to Bali was a spontaneous and relatively unplanned trip the holiday’s budget was a little tighter than I am normally accustomed to. It was our fourth night and we had already eaten at some very impressive restaurants such as Ku De Ta and La Lucciola. These were wonderful meals but they came at prices that are comparable to those back in Perth. To add to the situation it is only a year before our wedding date (WOOT!) and the boy was getting justifiably concerned about our spending habits knowing full well that we still had our Sydney trip the following week!
Once again by recommendation, this time from one of our travelling companions who came with us last year in Phuket, we made the journey in the torrential monsoon rain to the more built up southern part of Seminyak to Chez Gado Gado. On entry into this opulent venue I started to worry that I had inadvertently chosen another pricy restaurant. Thankfully after scanning the menu I was relieved to see that things were all very reasonably priced despite the external appearance of the restaurant being quite fancy.
We were greeted promptly by the maître D who had been kindly informed in advance by our hotel reception of my dietary requirements. She explained she would get the chef to come to our table so I could discuss the menu directly with him. The executive chef is Quirijn Rademaker, a Dutchman who has been working at Gado Gado for the past 4 years having previously come from Shy restaurant in Jakarta. He was keen and energetic and offered to adapt a number of options off his menu for me. I was eyeing off the terrine of smoked and cured salmon with crab, pomelo and sour cream vinaigrette. He said although the terrine is not suitable, he could make me a salmon carpaccio and accompany it with a dill mustard cream, fresh fennel and the pomelo. I haven’t tried salmon with citrus before – it sounds like a pretty weird thing to combine, but surprisingly it really worked and I was suitably impressed.
The boy ordered the lobster ravioli which I obviously couldn’t taste but looked really flavoursome. Having eaten out for a number of nights in a row, he was starting to get a little weary of my repeated and incessant questions regarding the taste of his meals so I didn’t get much of a description from him other than “delicious”.
After such fresh and saporous entrees, unfortunately our main meals were lacklustre by comparison. The potato gratin was served lukewarm and tasted like it had been re-heated. The jus contained onion so the chef made an alternate sauce for me that was too peppery and didn’t balance well with the sweetness of the beetroot and duck. None of the dish was unpleasant by any stretch of the imagination, just mismatched and poorly combined.
We had also ordered some sides of sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with mint and garlic. These sides were seemingly forgotten and I had to remind the waiter that we ordered them. They didn’t come out until we had finished our mains completely. The sautéed mushrooms were juicy and tasty but the zucchini was soggy with excessive oil and was intensely overloaded with garlic. After overdosing on our garlic we had no room left for dessert and tried to make the most of the break in the rain and head back to the villa. As soon as we had paid the bill and were heading out the front door to hail ourselves a cab – the heavens opened up again and the tropical downpour continued! We got thoroughly soaked!
Travelling to Bali? Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet Bali and Lombok Travel Guide before you go!Like Me on Facebook! Chez Gado Gado Jalan Camplung Tanduk, (Dhyanapura) 99, Seminyak, Bali, 80361 INDONESIA | (+62) 361 736966 | www.gadogadorestaurant.com Price: $$ (Entrees 88-164K Rp/$9-17 AUD, Mains 146-295K Rp/$15-30 AU) (incl. tax & service charges) Food: 3/5 (has potential – overall not bad) Service: 3/5 (slow on drinks service and forgot side dishes) Ambience: 3/5 (would be awesome to watch the sunset on the deck weather permitting) Drinks: 2.5/5 (cocktails were fairly average) Total: 11.5/20
I really need to start looking for a wedding dress! Or at least I need to start to have some sort of vision on what I am looking for! It all seems like a bit of an overwhelming task to begin so thankfully my bridesmaid Amber took the lead and knowing my style she kindly booked an appointment for me with Donna Tobin. The task of co-ordinating all three of us (Kate, Amber and I) proved more difficult than we thought as on the day each of us ran late for our own individual reasons. This resulted in us arriving nearly 45 minutes late for our appointment. We sheepishly entered the old bungalow style house in Subiaco apologising profusely all hot and sticky from the rush.
After browsing through her collection I chose four different styles to try on and in nearly a blink of an eye our time was up! I had officially entered this weird world of bridal and was starting to really enjoy myself! We walked away with some valuable ideas on things to look for in our next dress expedition and chatted excitedly about them as we headed down to Rokeby Road in search of a thirst quencher!
After a short few steps we arrived out the front of Bistro Felix – a familiar favourite of mine. I have dined here a number of times and always been impressed with whole package – great service, food and prices. They have a “petit lunch” menu which you can enjoy two courses for $40 or three courses for $45 including a glass of house wine. Excellent value right in the heart of Subiaco! We relaxed into the bistro feel of the place while we cooled our parched throats with some buttery sparkling wine (which I cannot recall the name!).
The Boy and I have recently been on a bit of a vegan detox which has left me craving fish, fish and more fish. Consequently I went a bit overboard and ordered fish for both my entrée and my main. Very unconventional but so satisfying! The home cured gravlax was tender and slightly sweet however could have done with a touch more creamy sauce gribiche.
Amber ordered the “wild game” terrine which was made from pork and had pistachios speckled through it. It was topped with some port and apple chutney and served with some toasted brioche. It looked so meaty and she was very happy with her choice.
Kate decided to go vegetarian and ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad with artichoke, sun-dried tomato and aubergine. Her dish was beautifully balanced and she was delighted to note that every component of her salad was served at the perfect cool temperature with no pockets of tepid food to mar any of the flavours.
My main was so simple but executed perfectly, two fillets of garfish with a lightly dressed salad and some fresh lemon. It complemented my entrée just how I wanted it to and I was left satisfied with my fish fix.
Amber had the wild mushroom risotto which was packed full of meaty mushrooms of all types and topped with shaving of parmesan. I was very envious of this dish!
Kate had the Toulouse sausage which is a traditional pork sausage from the South-western part of France. Her meal was a decent size with a fat juicy pork sausage sitting atop of some creamy Paris mash. It was garnished with a colourful array of flowers that she shared around for all of us to nibble on for fun.
Of course I had to order the mushroom sides. As many of your dear readers will know I have a strong affinity for mushrooms and seeing as I couldn’t have the risotto this was the next best thing! They were served in the cutest little Scanpan pot and were so succulent. Hidden in the pot amongst the mushrooms were also some little gems of whole roasted garlic cloves which oozed out their pasty contents into the pan giving even more flavour!
The girls had the chocolate and caramel tart which was so decadent and rich. Both of them struggled to finish their dessert after their decent sized mains. I ordered the crème brûlée (which I had NO trouble eating by the way!). After my previous lumpy experience of this dish at Celyta’s where instead of caramelising the surface they poured blobs of toffee on top, this was a wonderful and much more traditional reprieve to my taste buds. Always a favourite, I will look forward to continuing to return to Bistro Felix for more long lazy lunches in the future.Bistro Felix 118-120 Rokeby Road, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9388 3077 | www.bistrofelix.com.au Price: $$$$ (Petit lunch menu 2/3 courses $40/$45, Dinner entrees $22-26, Mains $37-41) Food: 4.8/5 (excellent value, would go back just for the mushrooms!) Service: 4/5 (fairly attentive, occasionally needed prompting for topping up our wine) Ambience: 3.7/5 (great bistro vibe – love the artwork on the walls) Drinks: 4/5 (big wine list – lots of options) Total: 16.5/20
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For those who follow Urbanspoon you may be familiar with the “wish list” feature on everyone’s profiles. This is a handy way to earmark interesting restaurants for later reference. Whenever I have the freedom to book a dinner outing wherever, I try to whittle away at this ever lengthening list of mine.
The Boy and I had just started our holidays and I needed a Bestie time instalment before the two of us headed off to Bali for the week. After seeing some delicious pictures of my sister’s meal at Nine Fine Foods, I was reminded that this restaurant has been on my wish list for quite some time. Previous attempts to eat there had been thwarted by a variety of reasons, but this time it looked like we were good to go with an available booking.
I was so delighted with the prospect of eating some interesting Japanese fare but as I eagerly told my Bestie where I had booked us for dinner, I was met with a distinctly grim and nearly nauseous expression on her face. She had recently visited an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant and the very thought of another slice of raw salmon was enough to turn her similar shade to our nephew on the way to Rottnest.
As I was yet to see her new residence in Perth, she suggested we enjoy some drinks at her house and then go to a local restaurant at a winery called Conti’s. Feeling a little guilty that our catch ups seem to always end up back at my house and not hers, we agreed this sounded like a good plan. On arrival to put us all in the mood, we drank some delicious Bombay Sapphire Gin accompanied by sparkling fruit juice and fresh lime. So refreshing and uplifting!
For a bit of a history lesson on Conti’s humble beginnings; Sicilian immigrant Carmelo Conti moved to Australia in the 1920’s where he grew veggies for the local market for just over a decade until he decided to diversify and planted vines in 1948. The Conti family have been making wines ever since and it has remained a family owned business which impressively is now entering its third generation of wine making.
The restaurant is housed in the original homestead built in 1927 where the family raised their eight children. The house is beautifully restored maintaining the stunning wide jarrah floorboards and high ornate ceilings that are typical of this era. I simply love old character homes, our own home was built in 1928 and shares many similar features.
The menu described itself as “a deliciously wholesome menu, commonly referred to as international French style combined with traditional Australian cuisine”. We all puzzled over this fact. Here we have a Sicilian family that are cooking French food with a traditional Australian twist? How does one cook such cuisine? My mind wandered with visions of steaming hot bouillabaisse, sumptuous foie gras, comical frogs leg’s and other French delights only to become perplexed how such distinct flavours could ever combine successfully with meat pies and lamingtons!
My Bestie and I are big lovers of oysters. One of our favourite ways to commence shopping expeditions together is to head into the City and make a beeline for the Oyster Bar in David Jones. Once we are fuelled with a few glasses of champagne and a dozen oysters we are both in the perfect frame of mind to shop. So on this evening, we were quick to decide that ordering a dozen to share was a must. Unfortunately, Conti’s oysters were definitely not freshly shucked nor were they actually fresh at all; in fact they tasted nearly off leaving an unpleasant aftertaste lingering on the palate.
Believe it or not. Under this bizarre mound of salmon pictured above lies a mushroom. You may just be able to see the dark earthy rim around the edge. Topped with a criss-cross made with Brie the visual presentation of this dish started to drag me back to the eighties. Despite the meal being a bit of an eye sore, it was actually fairly tasty in a hearty home cooking kind of way!
The Boy opted for garlic prawns. A simple dish that is easy to do well. In his rush to gobble them up he burnt his tongue. Doubtful he will learn a lesson, he is definitely the fastest eater I have ever met. He enjoyed his entree although he did feel the amount of onion was excessive. This is not one for the fructose malabsorbers!
The Bestie ordered the crumbed camembert. I didn’t get to try this as the crumb was not gluten free. I noticed each of us had the same styled side serves of salad that were similarly eighties themed.
I had never heard of a carpet bag steak until Bestie’s man Timmy started to describe it to me over NYE celebrations at the Greenhouse. Apparently it is an American dish that was very popular in Australia and NZ in the 70’s. Ah haa! The presentation of the meals is starting to make sense. This is where the traditional Australian comes into it all!
The other three all ordered this insane dish. It was met with mixed responses. The Boy initially said it was disgusting but on further questioning he said it was purely just the cooked slippery oysters that were embedded in the steak that he found gross. The rest of the dish was quite flavoursome. Unfortunately, the key component of the carpet bag steak is in fact the oysters, so I’m figuring overall this was a thumbs down. To be fair, the Boy hasn’t been the greatest advocate of oysters since an accidental ingestion of one that subsequently gave him food poisoning.
I ordered my venison rare. I struggle to eat beef or venison beyond rare as the meat loses its soft texture and delicateness. It was served medium rare and some of the medallions were heading towards medium and were fairly chewy. The meat was drowned in sauce which managed to inject some much needed moisture back into the neglected meat.
My meringue dessert comprised of an exploding volcano of strawberries tumbling out of a dry and stale meringue tartlet that tasted shop bought. Curiously balanced on top of this fruit eruption balanced a nearly phallic shaped cylinder of more meringue. Next to this a mint leaf was speared into the centre of a squirt of presumably canned cream. I was thankful that everyone was sharing their desserts as my choice was not enjoyable.
Timmy ordered the hazelnut gelato, once again there were some oddly positioned pieces of fruit decorating his plate, nearly resembling the elegant female form. The gelati was hard and icy, and tasted like it had spent a little too long in the freezer prior to serving.
The Bestie has the Brandy snap basket which I completely forgot to photograph as we had worked our way through a fair amount of Paul Conti’s crisp Unwooded Chardonnay. I did manage to sneak a couple of mouthfuls from her and it gave me definite dessert envy!
Overall for the price Conti’s desperately needs some shazam injected back into the kitchen. Their food appears tired and old fashioned, and some of the ingredients used were not fresh. Having the history behind them of being a self-sufficient farming family who grew everything for themselves, they even made their own cheese and milk; they should get back to their roots and carry this core value into their restaurant today?Conti’s Restaurant
529 Wanneroo Road, Woodvale 6026 | (08) 9409 1516 | www.paulcontiwines.com.au Price: $$$$ ($18-22 entrée, $31-38 Mains)
Food: 2.5/5 (need to update presentation and use fresh ingredients)
Service: 3/5 (pleasant and efficient)
Ambience: 3/5 (beautiful old homestead)
Drinks: 4/5 (definitely worth a try, maybe skip the food) Total: 12.5/20
I have a penchant for excesses. A friend once coined a term to describe me as “all or nothing”. It is the source of both extreme happiness and great trouble in my life. Currently my focus is on surviving this gluten challenge whilst trying to avoid going overboard. Easier said than done. The Doctors recommendation has been to eat a meagre two to three slices of wheaty wheatyness daily for six weeks. This all started out very well, but the all or nothing has quickly taken over and despite it making me so ill, when I’m out for a wonderful dinner I go out of control.
In a manner of pre-empting the evening eating excesses, I thought I’d get my bloated self out into the glorious sunshine and run around like a freak around the river with the concept that the more calories I burned the more I could eat that night. Unfortunately the whole dietary indiscretion thing is not very conducive to my running efforts, and it was more so a rather pathetic jog where numerous non-poisoned runners zoomed past me totally in their zone. I’m so jealous. Only three more weeks to go. Hey at least I can eat real food! After nearly six weeks of enjoying his long service leave payout, my love has decided to return to the workforce and has successfully passed through a rigorous interview process to be accepted for a job he is really keen to have. With hopes for a even brighter future what better way for us to celebrate than with good food and some bubbles!
After flipping through the Entertainment Book we booked a table at Chapter One Brasserie in Subiaco. Chapter One is a relaxed and unpretentious restaurant run by a husband and wife team; Hayley and Jason Walker. Hayley has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and this became apparent as throughout the night she confidently flitted from table to table ensuring everyone was enjoying themselves and their meals. We both immediately warmed to her bubbly personality and her pride in her restaurants success. The chef Jason trained at the London Hilton before going to work with a number of Europe’s famous chefs including Marco Pierre White. This European influence comes through strongly on his menu with some hearty dishes including rabbit pie and duck with foie gras.
We started our evening with a baguette and butter. The baguette had a wonderful crunchy exterior with fluffy lightness inside, something one really misses out on when on a gluten free diet. It would have enhanced my whole experience if the bread wasn’t cold. Or the butter for that matter. Cold butter does not make for very elegant eating.
We moved on to our next course to share the Tasting plate. This contained four shot glasses of pea and ham soup, some grilled polenta with a tomato salsa, some vol-u-vents, chorizo and some asparagus spears. The soup was served hot and was a much needed hit of warmth in my belly after the disappointment of the cold baguette. It was thick and creamy and the ham was meaty with minimal fat. It was a tad quirky that the spoons served with the soup didn’t fit into the little glasses. The polenta was soft on the inside but grilled to a flavoursome brown and was the most enjoyable item on the plate next to the soup. The chorizo was good but nothing special. The vol-u-vents were disappointing as they were luke warm and the puff pastry had no crunch to it.
After reading some others reviews on the net raving about Chapter One’s Blue manna crab angel hair pasta, we decided to once again make pigs of ourselves and order a second entree. Well the Italians do it don’t they? And aren’t we meant to be celebrating? Memories of cold dishes slipped into the back of our minds as we slurped our way through this amazing dish. I highly recommend. It truly shows looks can be deceiving as the strong crab flavours worked their magic over our palate. Hayley claims their secret is in the sauce and she is most definitely not mistaken there. Oh boy, I was really going to pay for all this glutenness tomorrow!
For mains we both ordered the braised rabbit & wild mushroom pie, with parsnip puree and a sage jus. I can understand why this dish remains on his ever changing menu as it was executed perfectly. This time round the pastry was buttery and feather light (and hot), and the rabbit was tender and succulent. We also ordered the warm beetroot and goats cheese salad. I felt there was an excess on onion in this dish, not really necessary given the abundance of strong tart taste of the goats cheese.
Unsurprisingly I was convinced we had room for dessert. That doesn’t actually mean there was room in my stomach but refer to my original point I made at the beginning of this blog. All or nothing. I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) have it any other way! I ordered the berry and creme fraiche tart and the boy ordered some sort of butterscotch cheesecake.
The berry tart was well balanced with both sour and sweet flavours however the pastry base was very hard and half of my dessert went flying across the table when I tried cutting into it. The boy found it quite entertaining as once again you could easily see my place at the table as in front of me was a collage of colours ranging from the pale green of the pea soup to the brilliant ruby red of the berries. Apparently he thinks this is a regular occurrence. Overall the evening was very enjoyable and I will dream of the crab pasta well into my gluten free days.
Venue 7.5/10 Service 9/10 Food 8/10Chapter One Brasserie 292 Hay St, Subiaco, 6008 | (08) 9388 1323 | www.chapteronebrasserie.com.au
To assist the chef in planning for my meal alterations and adjustments, I always try to ensure to inform the kitchen of my allergy requirements in advance when I book the table. Unfortunately despite giving the restaurant 3 days’ notice about this, when I was trying to order my entrees I was informed by the wait staff that all the sauces in all the dishes contained onions. Despite our lovely waiter Sebastian going out of his way to help me, going back and forth from the kitchen with options, the response from the chef was a resounding “no” for even the slightest alteration. Not even melting some garlic butter was possible. Maybe I’ve been spoilt recently eating out – but this reinforces to me how I appreciate a good chef is one that can accommodate and adjust dishes rather than churn out the standard meals.
I also question whether the reason the meals cannot be altered because they are already pre-prepared? So despite all the entrees looking delectable, the only dish I was able to have was the Asparagus, cherry tomato and radicchio salad with Ravigote dressing. This was a small portion, dressed nicely but not satisfying when you look at the rest of our table’s meals!
Others ordered the Escargot a ma façon (Snails cooked my way), Pan fried duck liver with pea puree and Scallop and truffle filo torte with fennel salad and balsamic dressing. Thankfully the rest of the meals were able to be ordered without a hitch.
For mains I had the Tournedo Rossini: WA Beef tenderloin, foie gras, mushroom duxelle, served on mashed potato (without the jus). The cut of meat was of reasonable quality and cooked correctly. I did however notice that my portion of foie gras was twice as generous when compared my non-allergic partner’s so perhaps this was the chef’s way of making it up to us!
Another ordered the Margaret River Wagyu Beef Rump served with mash potato and green peppercorn sauce. The Wagyu was soft and delicate as it should be although cooked slightly under the request of rare. Another ordered the Pork trotter stuffed with chicken and wild mushroom, mash potato and a Shiraz jus. For desserts we shared the Ile Flottante and again we were given a larger serve – we asked for one to share and they brought us out two and said it was an extra sized single portion. We were only charged for one. Once again a big thumbs up to the wait staff who really tried to make it up to us for the problem with the entrees. Overall it was an enjoyable night and we all walked away with satisfied full bellies.
Service 9/10 Food 7.5/10 Venue 7/10P’tite Ardoise Bistro
283 Beaufort St, Highgate, 6003 | (08) 9228 2008
In continuation of my previous review I would like to let my readers know that the chef has contacted me regarding our meal last night. We accidently left one of our bottles of wine at the restaurant and he wanted to let me know so that I could return to collect it. He also apologised that our dining experience was not up to scratch and extended an invitation for a repeat visit with advance notice of my menu choices so he could be better prepared with appropriate stocks and sauces. He mentioned he did not know of my dietary requests until the day and therefore did not have time to discuss with me prior. I have to say in receiving the call; I was very impressed to see such passion and dedication to customer service and a true effort to redeem a reputation. I shall most definitely be returning …. watch this space….
With only one hours’ notice to the kitchen for my no wheat/no onion requirements I was delighted to be greeted by our waitress as we were sat down at our table with an amended menu with suitable options and accompanying alterations. This attention to detail was seen throughout the night with attentive and friendly customer service.
Blackbird is a cosy little restaurant oozing charm and character and the atmosphere was perfect for us to both unwind after a long week over some delicious food. I started with the Special of the Day, a portion of smoked salmon served on a bed of fennel with cumquats and lime. This dish was very light and refreshing to the palate – quite uplifting. The boy had the confit of duck and pistachio terrine. The confit was flavoursome and not dry and balanced well by the more gentle flavours of the terrine.
For main we both had the seared line caught ocean trout with quail eggs – mine accompanied by mash and his accompanied by a risotto cake. The trout was cooked perfectly; it flaked apart under my fork and melted in my mouth like butter. Definitely the highlight of the evening. We progressed onto the cheeses – quite a generous serve which we both struggled to finish. A good selection of Roquefort, hard Dutch goat’s cheese and my favourite of the three La buche d’affinois. There were no GF accompaniments for the platter but this did not matter as I came prepared with some GF crackers in my bag (I had already perused the cheese menu prior to arrival!)
We ended the night with a pannecotta to share. This was the least enjoyable dish as it collapsed into a puddle of puree minutes after serving. It tasted like very sweet fruit puree – not entirely inedible, but certainly not what we felt like. Without either of us saying anything to the waitress, upon seeing our dish she apologised and told us she would take it off the bill for us as it was not acceptable. Like I said – their service was very attentive.
Service 9/10 Food 8.5/10 Venue 8/10Blackbird Restaurant Suite 4, 10 Eastbrook Terrace, East Perth, 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | www.blackbirdrestaurant.com.au