After graduating from high school I left Adelaide and moved across to Perth to study for my dream career in Vet Science. Being only seventeen at the time, my worldly possessions consisted of a suitcase of clothes, some hand-me-down pots and pans, a hand written note book with all of Mum’s family recipes and my stereo tape deck. I couldn’t imagine why I would need or want anything more; music and food were enough to keep me happy.
It was fortunate that I was so easily satisfied because for the next six years I got to experience what it is like to live below the poverty line on Austudy, Australia’s government funded student income. It is easy to learn to go without when you barely have enough income to eat and pay your rent, and it forces you to become much more resourceful.
Many years have passed since then and reflecting back I struggle to comprehend how on Earth I made ends meet on such a small amount of money. I am so grateful that through all my years of perseverance, sacrifice and hard work it has finally paid off. Whilst I can hardly call myself a “rich bitch”, I am enjoying a level of luxury that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of having in my student days.
The Boy has developed a similar appreciation for the finer things in life having originally also come from humble beginnings. He has recognised my last couple of years have been tough ones and so he decided to spoil me for my 40th birthday with a brand new AMG A45. After driving a 1999 Honda Civic for the past ten years now I feel like I’m in a fantasy land. I never thought I could be in love with something with no heartbeat but who am I kidding, I’m completely smitten. She is fast, has a satisfying loud sporty engine and comes complete with personalised plates.
Of course I now want to get behind the wheel at every given opportunity and our occasional weekend lunch dates generally involve a Sunday drive paired with a pit stop somewhere decent for food. In keeping with this concept we headed down to East Fremantle to check out May Street Larder, a new café from the creators of Bib & Tucker. Knowing Bib & Tucker’s food well I was anticipating good things.
As we waited for our table in the standing area, the barista called out to us to see if we wanted any coffees. We had been up quite late the night before and a hit of caffeine was just what I needed.
The Boy isn’t a coffee drinker which is something I will never quite understand. To each their own I guess. Once we were seated at our table he ordered himself a banana fig smoothie instead. It was not overly sweet and quite creamy, and he didn’t utter a single word until it was all gone.
I was keen to try the zucchini, lupin and lemon fritters. Lupins are a Western Australian grown product and were one of the main hero ingredients for last year’s WA Signature Dish. They are high in protein and fibre making them very filling.
My lupin fritters were topped with smashed avocado, savoury granola and a couple of poached eggs. The eggs were cooked magically with the fluffy whites encasing liquid gold yolks. We were seated on a communal table and I received a couple of bemused looks as I furiously photographed to capture ever second of my egg porn moment.
The lack of sleep was giving the Boy a small dose of indecisiveness over the menu until he saw a waiter with a pulled pork sandwich scoot past to a nearby table and then his choice was crystal clear. The pork shoulder was slow cooked to a near melting point and was ever so moist and flavoursome. The chipotle aioli wasn’t too intense for his sensitive tastebuds and he informed me he liked that it had a subtle sweetness to it. His sandwich also came with some May Street Larder house pickles along with very moreish deep fried sweet potato crisps.
Sadly this was a rare day where my appetite lacked its usual gusto due to a persistent hangover. Additionally my dish of lupin and zucchini fritters was so filling it left me no room for any sweets. I was so disappointed and consoled myself by wandering over to the counter to at least have a peek. What a shame! There were heaps of desserts for people like me; gluten free, vegan and raw options so I would have been spoilt for choice. Basically this simply means I will just have to come back again another day!
May Street Larder
Shop 23, 155 Canning Highway, East Fremantle WA 6158 | www.maystreetlarder.com.au
The Precinct is one of my favourite locals; it only takes us about fifteen minutes to walk there from our house, it has an ever changing and interesting wine list and most importantly they are very gluten free and vegetarian focused. Whilst I have already written two full posts on our Precinct dining experiences, our recent visit to try their new menu warrants at least a little photographic mention on the blog. Please note this was eaten over two nights….;-)
Their new summer menu has moved away from the traditional structure of entrées and mains onto the more modern way of dining; share plates. More than half the menu is gluten free and there are over half a dozen vegetarian options that branch out well beyond the common offerings.
Every dish was a winner in our opinion but the best dish of all came as a nice surprise; the roasted garlic and mustard mushrooms using a combination of King oyster, Shiitake, Oyster, Swiss Browns. We ordered this dish on each visit as it was too good to miss out a second time round.
Their gluten free dessert options have had a total make over for which I am extremely grateful. Previously The Precinct’s gluten free desserts haven’t been anything I would rave about. Things have certainly changed for the better and upon reading the menu we struggled to choose one so we ordered both.
I would have been happy with either but we were both keen to share. My pavlova crumble was a pretty as a flower garden and I look forward to enjoying eating this on a regular basis!
Please note this was NOT a sponsored post. I just felt the urge to show off their new menu of my own accord!The Precinct 834 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9355 2880 | www.theprecinctvicpark.com.au
I have lived in the Vic Park area for nearly twenty years and have loved watching the neighbourhood develop and grow. It is a great place to live for numerous reasons but in my humble opinion one of the biggest selling factors is the variety of restaurants and cafes sitting right on our doorstep. I’m certain we nearly have the “A to Z” of international cuisine and so we never seem to run out of options. One of our regular haunts in the past has been The Precinct; a casual but funky eatery only a short fifteen minute stroll from our front door. The past few months my life has been exceedingly complicated and stressful and so when my Bestie proposed to me to catch up with another mutual close friend of ours Shannon I leaped at the opportunity to be able to switch off and relax. To make things even easier for me, Shannon was more than happy to travel over to our stompin’ ground and let us go local. Getting a booking at the last-minute on a Friday night can be tricky and after several phone calls to different restaurants I was starting to think we were out of luck. Finally we had success and managed to secure a table at the Precinct, seeing as we hadn’t been there for a several months we were happy to return.
As we sat down to order I cringed at the fact that our table had such a constellation of specific dietary requirements; one of us was gluten free, fructose friendly (me), one was a vegetarian (the Boy) and finally there was a gluten free vegetarian (my Bestie). As we seemingly pounded our friendly waitress with 101 questions she proved to be totally unflappable and remained generously accommodating despite having to do a couple of round trips to the kitchen to check on ingredient details for us.
I have a tendency to get a bit obsessed with certain food and popcorn is one of those. I have been known to devour a whole packet in one sitting and have loved that it has featured on the bar snack menu at The Precinct for some time. Theirs is strongly flavoured with rosemary and lemon pepper making it extremely addictive. To feed my addiction further, it is sold in take home bags enabling me to grab a roadie on my way out.
It is not often that fritters are gluten free but these were also vegan meaning we could all eat them. No animal was harmed in the making of these little crispy balls. Despite not containing any cheese or meat that would ordinarily make these delicious, the fritters were flavoursome with a crackly thin crumb and a piping hot soft centre.
It is unusual for me to have a small appetite and I guess this may be a reflection of the turmoil and stress in my life over recent weeks. Consequently I was happy to see the portion size for the Tasmanian salmon was fairly small. Accompanied by a fennel salad, confit tomatoes and a blob of rocket pesto it was just the light meal my wobbly stomach needed however in more jovial times I may have been left feeling a bit peckish. I prefer my salmon to be slightly rare and was dismayed to see this chunk was cooked all the way through. I consoled myself with the fact that at least the skin was brittle thin and crunchy.
Shannon has recently undergone a very successful diet and life style change that has enabled her to improve both her health and well-being immensely. Being so well behaved with her eating habits for so long she decided to treat herself and ordered herself the pork belly. The crackling was snippety snap hard and browned to a delicious honey colour. The flesh was somewhat tender but I think the portion size was a bit overwhelmingly large for someone who has been eating an abundance of healthiness of late. It was served with a potato puree and a pea, mint, apple and cabbage salad.
Earlier on this year I subjected the Boy to a six week Raw Food experiment. Instead of our usual vegetarian Meatless Monday, I turned it into a raw food and vegan version. I called it “The Raw Food Meatless Monday Man Challenge”! Some of my dishes included raw noodles and every time I made them his eyes would light up with glee. He was elated to see that vegetable spaghetti featured on The Precinct’s menu for the evening. Julienned zucchini and carrot sat atop thick wedges of pumpkin with raisins tossed through for more sweetness. I had to fight him for a mouthful to taste.
The Bestie is also vegetarian and ordered the baked mushroom risotto with truffle oil. To add some greenery to her choice she also ordered some green beans.
Not wanting to end the evening with a savoury taste in our mouths, us girls agreed to share a gluten free brownie complete with ice cream. Whilst the brownie was gluten free, the ice cream was unfortunately not meaning Shannon got to enjoy the scoop all to herself. Our waiter ensured it was served separate from the brownie to avoid any contamination. It was a big wedge of a brownie and was more than ample for the three of us to share. I did find it a bit dry and wished I could enjoy some ice cream to wash it down.
The Boy ordered the ice cream sandwich. These are made in house and I love how they mark The Precinct logo on the top. It reminds me of years long gone by where they were one of my favourite after dinner treats. I used to walk down to our local deli with our flat mate and we would buy an ice cream each for ourselves and one for the Boy who always stayed at home. And if it wasn’t an ice cream sandwich, it was a hazelnut roll. Happy days!
The Precinct remains one of my favourite locals on the Vic Park strip. Their service is always bubbly and energetic, their wine list is interesting, and although their food won’t blow your mind it is still creative, fresh and ever changing. They are happy to accommodate for all the tricky dietary needs; be it vego, vegan, fructose friendly or gluten free.The Precinct 834 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9355 2880 | www.theprecinctvicpark.com.au/ Price: $$ (Entrees/snacks $7-19, Mains $22-29) Food: 3/5 (simple, interesting and fresh) Service: 3.5/5 (these guys are always so enthusiastic) Ambience: 3.5/5 (good to find somewhere without fluoro lights on the Vic Park strip) Drinks: 4.5/5 (great list, lots of European choices of wines and beers) Total: 14.5/20
I originally starting blogging as a natural progression from my love of food photography and eating out. Finding a restaurant that caters for peeps like me with food intolerances without compromising the wow factor rocks my world. Naturally over time my blog has morphed to begin to include the occasional recipe. Whilst I have never claimed to have talent in the kitchen I do enjoy cooking things from scratch and my need to alter and change recipes due to my intolerances has developed into a passionate love of cooking. When I received an invite to the launch of the Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes I was intrigued and excited to see what these classes were all about.
Cooking classes are a fabulous way to improve your skills and what better way to learn than from the masters themselves. The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are an initiative organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Chamber has recently just finalised their list of certified Italian restaurants in Perth that have qualified for the internationally recognised Ospitalita’ Italianana quality assurance seal. This is a certification recognised by the Italian Government to protect the traditions of Italian agricultural and food products and value Italian gastronomic culture. The guidelines to achieve accreditation are very strict and amongst more than 1000 certified restaurants around the world, 11 of those are here in lil’ Western Australia!
The certified restaurants in WA are:
- * Galileo Buona Cucina, Shenton Park
- * Gargano Restaurant, Nedlands
- * Italians, Dianella
- * Maretti Caffe Cucina, Mosman Park
- * Maurizio’s Restaurant, Perth
- * Millioncino, Perth
- * Modo Mio, Crown Casino
- * Osteria Dei Sapori, Nedlands
- * Paradiso Restaurant, Attadale
- * Perugino Restaurant, West Perth
- * Villa D’Este Restaurant, West Perth
In true Italian style, there was far too much food for the evening launch and we were thoroughly stuffed with all the finger food before it even got to the main dishes. Not that it stopped any of us of course. Although a lot of the food was not gluten free, the smooth talking waiters made sure the suitable options kept heading my way. I feel rude turning food down and when it all tastes this good, well what can you do?
The prawn and pancetta prawns were the absolute bomb. Sticky balsamic drizzled over crunchy prawns wrapped in crisp salty pancetta. I’m sure I downed at least half a dozen of these babies.
The first two mains of ravioli and gnocchi were off the menu for me and I got a lot of sympathetic looks from the others as they slurped and scoffed down what I can only presume was really good!
I made up for it with the following main dishes which resultantly meant I ended up with very little photographic proof as I was too busy stuffing my face. The rack of lamb was the biggest winner for me; marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano they were the juiciest chops I have ever eaten (and that is a big call). I ended up eating way too many.
The night ended with some perfectly set pannacotta and without waiting for all those chops to hit the bottom of my stomach I downed one of each flavour. My favourite was definitely the pistachio pannacotta with berry sauce. What a total pig. I was glad the Boy drove us home as I slipped into a little nap on the drive back.
The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are held at the Accento Showroom, 256 Stirling Highway in Claremont. There will be 6 evening classes each hosted by one of the local chefs from the Ospitalita’ Italianana certified restaurants.
The cooking classes run from the 20th May until the 9th September 2013. All classes start at 6.30pm and you will all get to enjoy you meal at the end of the class. The cost per class is $90 and includes matched wines, or it’s $500 for the full course of six. Click here for more information.Chompchomp was an invited guest of the ICCI and was able to enjoy this feast free of charge. Getting a free feed does not however buy my praise and I strive to ensure accurately documenting my experiences without bias.
We rocked up obliviously late for lunch just as Food For Me was near their closing time hoping to grab a bite to eat. I still hadn’t twigged that they were about to shut and began to peruse the menu at which point the waiter politely informed me the kitchen was closed. Not perturbed in any way he kindly smiled and offered to reheat some of the food from the cabinet for us. After apologising profusely for our ignorance we accepted his offer.
I selected the spinach frittata with bacon, pine nuts and feta plus a beetroot and spinach salad. The frittata was light and set firmly without being chewy or unpleasant. The salad was obviously reaching the end of its life span but seeing as we had rudely barged our way in at the thirteenth hour I figured this to be expected at this time of day.
The Boy ordered one of his time old favourites; the beef lasagna. Thick with meaty sauce and gooey cheese the lasagna connoisseur gave it the big thumbs up. We both vowed to return when both the kitchen and the coffee machine were switched on and see what these guys could do.
A few weeks later I attended Rob Broadfield‘s sold out seminar on food writing at the Hyatt with Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin. Rob gave us some useful tips on how to write captivating restaurant reviews worthy enough to publish in the well-known West Australian Good Food Guide. The day also served to give him an opportunity to scope for new reviewers as each delegate had to submit an 80 word café or bar review. I found it amusing that basically we were all paying for the chance to have an interview!
It started off a stunning morning with clear blue skies and a crisp breeze so I chose to walk into the city. Halfway through the four-hour seminar I began to regret this decision as my stomach let out some clearly audible grumblings and my head started to spin. Talking about food wasn’t helping my situation much either. As soon as the seminar was over I met up with the Boy and headed straight to Food For Me, Victoria Park for lunch.
Serving locally roasted Essenza coffee, the beans are ground on demand and you can smell the aroma as soon as you walk into the café. The coffee is quite sweet and creamy without any strong bitterness or bite.
Although they do serve gluten free toast I wasn’t in the mood for bread and chose the zucchini and corn fritters. I didn’t expect such a huge meal and with half a brilliant green avocado, tossed salad and two poached eggs I was thankful I did walk earlier in the morning. All that bridal weight loss was returning back to my hips in a very fast fashion. The fritters were filled brim full of corn, each ear popping with freshness in my mouth.
My poached eggs were satisfyingly gloopy and I couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a quick yolk-porn shot. Heavenly. The preserved lemon, chilli and dill dressing had a sweet almost maple syrupy flavour to it and I had to resist licking the last of it off my empty plate before they were taken away.
The Boy nearly ordered himself a steak sandwich before he stopped himself and changed to a chicken burger instead. Juicy tenderloins were buried in the burger among some bacon, cheese and lettuce. Their breads are sourced from Barrett’s Bakery in Nedlands where they hand make all their bread without adding any additives. The burger bun was soft but resilient and despite the constant drip of mayonnaise and relish it retained its shape and body until the very end.
When we were up at the counter ordering our meals, our waiter talked up their gluten free brownies claiming them to be outrageously good. After finishing off the last of my fritters my curiosity got the better of me and I sidled back up to the counter to order one to share. Rich and moist, the brownie lived up to his hype and was laced with some tart raspberries to balance out the sweetness. There was no crumbliness common to gluten free slices and our spoons fought over the last mouthful.
Breakfast in Vic Park can often be a bit of hit and miss. Having visited Food For Me on a number of occasions now I can safely say they are on my list of hits. Loads of gluten free options, fresh mostly organic produce and friendly staff they really have got their recipe right. We will be returning for sure.Food For Me 877 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 6101 | (08) 9472 0333 | http://www.foodforme.com.au/ Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (loads of GF options, make sure you try their brownie!) Service: 4/5 (super positive friendly vibe) Ambience: 3/5 (try and nail a table outside in the sun) Drinks: 3.5/5 (creamy luscious coffee) Total: 15.5/20
Last week’s blogging silence was a result of our world being turned upside-down due to one of our darling little boys falling ill. Like some other couples our age, we don’t have any human children. In fact there is a very good chance that we never will. Instead, our children are two adorable Burmese cats named Rollie and Eddie (or Roland and Edward when they are naughty!). For those who are unaware of the delight of a Burmese – imagine an animal that is somewhere at the half way point between being a dog and a cat! They sit on command for their treats, they always come when called even if they are not hungry, they both sleep under the bed covers with us every night (sometimes with their head on the pillow) and they will be waiting patiently at the door for our return from work. They will alternate between each other being my constant shadow around the house, and are both happiest when their life includes copious amounts of cuddles and company.
We call Rollie the “complicated child”. I figure there is always one in every family. From a young age he developed a form of obsessive compulsive disorder called fabric chewing. Oriental breeds of cats such as Siamese and Burmese are thought to be genetically predisposed to this condition. We generally keep this condition under control with plenty of “environmental enrichment”. There are a number of ways in which this can be done – the more the better. In order to mimic their natural predatory behaviour, they both have to “hunt” for their food each morning as it is hidden around the house. We ensure our house has a lot of “vertical space” with numerous ledges, tunnels and vantage points to view the world from above in addition to keeping the house filled with kitty happy pheromones using a couple of plug-in diffusers containing Feliway. They have a basket of toys to choose from which ends up scattered around the house by the end of most days, and finally we try our best to avoid letting him have any access to his favourite materials however this is easier said than done.
Despite these strategies, in situations that involve changes within the household his OCD behaviour can start to return, most notably when we have guests stay in the house. Unfortunately during my sister’s recent stay, Rollie managed to get hold of a bathing suit and devoured part of it which then obstructed in his stomach requiring emergency surgery to be removed. Being in an extremely emotional and worried state, I knew it was unwise for me to perform the surgery myself, so I asked my dear friend and trusted colleague Chris if she could come into work and operate for me. Despite it being her day off, she rushed in to the hospital with no questions asked. After initially stabilising our little son with intravenous fluids and pain relief, he went into surgery and thanks to Chris’s gentle yet lightening quick skills he was in the recovery ward before I knew it. The boy and I are both so eternally grateful to her for doing such an amazing job of saving Rollie’s life.
As a gesture of our thanks, I invited Chris out for breakfast at Piccos Kitchen. The two of us often go out for breaky together and we are always on the hunt for new and interesting locations and menus. I have been here once quite some time ago with the boy and recall for once his comments on his food went beyond the normal “nice” or “ok” into the realms of “really delicious”. Not a common occurrence. We were greeted by the friendly staff and our coffees arrived very quickly. My espresso was at the perfect temperature and I noted they use Rubra coffee, a fair trade company that is based locally in Perth. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the kitchen of my no gluten, no onion requirements so I asked the waitress if she could assist me in narrowing down my selection off their creative and mouth-watering menu. She immediately then went to the kitchen and got the chef Sharna, who was more than keen to help me create something delicious. When I asked her if the haloumi and zucchini fritters with house smoked salmon were going to be suitable for me, she informed me that they contained wheat flour. This was of no concern to this passionate and extremely accommodating young chef. She kindly offered to especially create for me a gluten free variety of the original menu item and off she disappeared into the kitchen. She returned with a number of different non-wheat flours to check if they were going to be ok for me – we opted for a combination of millet and rice flours, both are gluten free.
Although Sharna had warned us to expect a bit of a wait, our meals came out pretty quickly especially when you consider she was creating something new. Both of our plates were heaped high with food, if you want a decent sized breakfast you will most definitely get your value for money here. Without gluten to bind everything together, a lot of gluten-free carby things like fritters and breads can have a tendency to crumble and fall apart. These zucchini and haloumi fritters held their shape and texture really well. Piled high on top of the fritters was the house smoked salmon with dill and capers, and big handfuls of fresh rocket and herbs.
Chris ordered the Spanish scrambled eggs with roast capsicum and tomato relish, Spanish chorizo and sourdough. Her meal was also a generous size although in keeping with our usual breakfast outing tradition, we did manage to save a tiny bit of room to share a little bit of sweets. We ordered the flourless orange cake. It was incredibly moist and zesty and despite the fact we both felt like we would explode from fullness, we kept on eating it until it was all gone!
Thankfully back at home our lives are starting to return to normal. After a sleepless week of caring for our convalescing child, his little quirky behaviours started to return one by one. Finally last night when he attempted to steal our pizza (his LOVES pizza), we knew he was thankfully well on the road to a successful recovery.
THANK YOU SO MUCH CHRIS – YOU ARE THE BEST! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXPiccos Kitchen 38 Peninsula Road, Maylands 6051 | (08) 9272 4491 | www.facebook.com/PiccosKitchen Price: $$$ ($12-22 Breakfast, $18-29 Mains) Food: 4.5/5 (fresh locally source produce, lots of flavour, creative options) Service: 5/5 (went above and beyond) Ambience: 3.5/5 (hard to assess on a quite Monday morning) Drinks: 4/5 (great coffee – they also do take-away coffees) Total: 17/20