“Take me back to Barcelona!” These are words that escape my mouth on more than one occasion. My love affair with Spain first developed back in the 90’s when the Boy and I went backpacking around Europe together for the summer. We were uninhibited by shackles of any debt or responsibility and traveled nearly six months roaming from city to city without any real plan. We stayed in hostels and I successfully survived living out of a backpack with only two pairs of shoes to choose from. I laugh at this fact when I think of how I travel now; with suitcases the weight of bricks complete with multiple pairs of shoes, boots, jackets, dresses, running gear, party outfits, lap tops and camera equipment. My how time can change people!
More recently I traveled alone to Barcelona on conference and despite being ten years between visits, I slipped back into my hedonistic state within the first day. Simply I ate, and I ate and I ate. There wasn’t a single meal that didn’t excite me and my only regret was not bringing the Boy with me.
People in Barcelona don’t eat three square meals like us Aussies tend to prefer, and more curiously they eat at the strangest times of day with most restaurants not opening their doors until 9 pm at night. During the day for those who want a snack, there are a multitude of “pintxos” bars serving a variety of small bites of tapas with a wooden stick skewered in the middle of it. At the end of your meal, the waitress would count your sticks to determine your bill.
Pintxos have started to take off in Perth with a couple of options around town. It is somewhat comforting to know I don’t have to travel too far to get a little piece of Barcelona. I was recently invited to dine at Pinchos in Leederville for a bloggers lunch.
Run by the same team behind Jus Burgers, Pinchos takes that concept of all day bites to the Spanish level, with a multitude of morsels to fill your hungry belly. They have a separate food intolerances menu making ordering very easy.
We ordered a bunch of my favourites including boquerones y pulpo; white anchovies and octopus served with ribbons of zucchini, chilli and grapes. The octopus was not as tender as that in Spain but then I have set very high standards for myself. I loved the addition of sweet grapes. The Boy added even more sweetness to his by drizzling the honey from the chorizo pintxos on top.
Another Spanish thing I adore is manchego cheese. This aged hard sheep cheese has a very characteristic flavour and I ate it by the truckload in Barcelona. The De la Casa salad, or house salad, is made with thin slices of manchego tossed with iceberg lettuce and a sherry vinaigrette. A simple but addictive dish that I could easily eat every day.
We wanted to try a few of Pincho’s cured meats but I was mindful that there were a number of other dishes I was desperate to order. We agreed to compromise and order a “taste of four for one”. Our plate included Jamon Serrano, Morcon, Chistorra and Fuet Anise.
Our favourite two on the meat plate were the Jamon Serrano and the Chistorra. Chistorra is a traditional sausage from the Basque region made from minced pork and flavoured with garlic, salt and paprika.
Both of the two daily specials were able to be adapted gluten free so we chose the Bienmesabe fish with stuffed squid. Served in two components, the fish was delicately tender and infused with gentle spices on a bed of roasted cherry tomatoes and capsicum.
The stuffed squid were particularly delicious, stuffed with a sweet fig paste and drizzled in caramelised balsamic. My only gripe was I was left wanting more.
A Spanish tapas feast is never complete without a slice of tortilla. In Spain a tortilla is not a form of flatbread, but instead comprises of a thick omelette with chunks of potato and other ingredients cooked through. They are generally gluten free and an easy quick snack for a Coeliac on the go. Pincho’s tortilla is served with some salad and made a substantial meal on its own.
We were far too full for dessert but as always I was left with the need to end with something sweet on my palate. We ordered a couple of chocolate and sherry fig truffle to finish. They were soft and melted in the mouth leaving a creamy sensation to roll over my tongue for a lingering moment.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp dined as a guest of Pinchos. Her opinions and photos are her own and she will not be influenced by the fact her meal was at no cost. In a desperation for a little bit of Barcelona without the cost of an airfare, she has already returned in cognito and found the quality of the food and service to be consistent.
749 Newcastle Street, Leederville WA 6007 | (08) 9228 3008 | pinchos.me
I recently traveled to Tasmania on a two-week working holiday to help out at a colleague’s cat-only veterinary clinic. The Australia Day long weekend was conveniently embedded in the middle of my trip and so the Boy flew over on the Friday to join me. I was getting paid holiday pay from my work in addition to my locum wage from the cat clinic so I decided to splurge and booked us two nights accommodation at the luxury resort Saffire Freycinet on the east coast of Tasmania.
Saffire Freycinet is a two and a half hour drive north of Hobart through some very picturesque landscapes. The road is windy and undulating making it slow going but is enjoyable to do at a leisurely pace. The Freycinet peninsula is a stunning part of Tasmania with much of this area now turned into a National Park to preserve its natural beauty. The landscape is made of massive eroded mountains of granite known as The Hazards, Mt Graham and Mt Freycinet. These mountains are thought to be over 400 million years old and are home to many native wildlife creatures.
The climate is some of the mildest in Tasmania with temperatures often much warmer than the rest of the island. We left the torrential rain, wind and cold temperatures behind us in Hobart to enjoy some much needed sunshine and clear skies.
Saffire offer all-inclusive rates at their ultra-private location where we found our every whim catered for. We originally booked a Luxury Suite but were upgraded on arrival to a Signature Suite which contained all the features of the Luxury Suites but with the addition of a larger living space, a relaxing deck lounge and a bathroom overlooking Great Oyster Bay.
It is a wise plan to arrive at Saffire with an empty stomach as all the meals are included; expect a three course breakfast and lunch followed by a seven course degustation for dinner every day. Yes, you heard me, a dego every day. It was hard going. 😉
Lunch and breakfast is served in Palate restaurant which offers stunning views of the Hazards. It was such a treat to head there early for dinner and watch the sun slowly set over the mountains.
The menu for each evening’s degustation is changed daily with the chef focusing strongly on using local and seasonal produce.
A bottomless minibar and alcoholic beverages from a selected list also came at no extra charge. I swear we both gained a number of kilograms in our three day stay. My dietary requirements were very well attended to right down to the lovely touch of gluten free afternoon tea being delivered to our room each day.
The staff form a very well-polished team as the number of guests at the resort is quite small allowing for very individualised and personal treatment to everyone. It is easy to see they all really loved their jobs and there wasn’t a single staff member who didn’t gush over their love for the region.
There are a number of activities to do at the resort with many of them inclusive at no extra charge; such as archery, escorted hikes, oyster farm tours and more. There are also a number of signature experiences, however these came at an additional cost.
One evening we chose to go on the signature Sunset Cruise on one of Saffire’s own boats. Our captain negotiated us through a few rough seas to find us a quiet cove where he cracked out the Tasmanian sparkling wine to share around along with oysters and smoked salmon. He also had a pre-packed separate collection of gluten free snacks for me to enjoy.
Our favourite activity was the oyster farm tour. The Boy and I donned some funky waders and walked out into the water to see up close how oysters are grown.
Our guide showed us expertly how to shuck an oyster and then proceeded to shuck a bunch of them plucked straight from the sea. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!
For those wanting to burn off some of your increased calorie intake, there are numerous hikes to do either escorted or alone through the mountains.
Saffire also have an open-range Tasmanian Devil enclosure where we got to see the resident group of devils feed and interact with other.
These devils originally formed part of a breeding colony and have since retired to live out their days in the luxury of Saffire’s massive natural enclosure.
It was a sad moment checking out of our room at Saffire as this is a place that I never wanted to leave. Every single moment felt like total luxury although I dare say we ate way too much food!
Our Saffire package included daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, a very well stocked complimentary mini bar and a selection of alcoholic beverages. Our room had free Wi-Fi internet access and we were given a credit of $150 for the Spa. Our luxury suite cost $1800 per night, and we were upgraded to a Signature suite $2100 at no cost.
Saffire Freycinet | 2352 Coles Bay Road, Coles Bay, Tasmania 7215 | www.saffire-freycinet.com.au
For those of you that missed out on experiencing the glorious feast at Taste of Perth last year, my best advice for you is not to miss out again. Taste Festivals are one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and are held in a number of locations all around the world including Paris, London, Sydney and Moscow.
Taste of Perth made its début last year attracting over 16,000 hungry punters over the three days. This year’s Taste festival will be held from the 15th to the 17th of May at Langley Park and it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be even better than last year.
At Taste of Perth, you will be able to create your own designer degustation as many of Perth’s top restaurants will be participating in the event. The 2015 line-up will include some of my favourite venues such as Lalla Rookh, Bistro Guillaume, Bib & Tucker, Nobu, Next Door at No4, Print Hall, El Público and more.
To give an insight into what to expect this year at Taste, I was invited to attend “Taste on Tour”; a fun-filled roving dinner where I joined a small group of bloggers to visit three of the participating restaurants and sample some dishes on the Taste of Perth ’15 menu.
Our first venue for the evening was El Público in Highgate. El Público will have four dishes on offer at Taste, and I am happy to say all of them will be gluten free!
We started off with tasting the pork belly taco served with charred pineapple, salsa picante and chicharon. The taco was topped with shreds of pork crackling giving it a wonderful play on textures with a lot of depth of flavour.
The braised street corn dish will be a filling option for vegetarians and was served with cream, fresh cheese chill and lime.
For those festival goers needing something a bit meaty, El Público will also be serving their uber soft twice cooked lamb ribs with sesame, cucumber & lime.
After it’s sell out popularity last year, El Público will be bringing back their icon dish called “Flavours of Mexico”. This dish consists of a serve of their renowned fried crickets alongside two shots of village mescal.
Our next stop was Lalla Rookh in the CBD and to everyone’s surprise and delight a tram pulls up in front of El Público to transport us to our next destination!! We piled into the tram filled with giggles while our tram driver proceeded to get some pop music cranking loudly. So much fun!
Before long we arrived at Lalla Rookh, my favourite Italian restaurant in Perth. I love how Head Chef Joel Valvasori has a strong focus on using West Australian produce and am grateful that he will always effortlessly cater for me despite my dietary requirements meaning I never feel like I miss out.
Lalla will be serving their braised lamb shank as their icon dish for Taste this year. This dish is available by pre-order from the restaurant and has a level of cult popularity amongst the regulars.
It will be served with organic polenta made in a more traditional way with a texture that is almost like a light bread. Perfect for dunking in all that luscious, sweet lamby sauce.
After nearly exploding with full stomachs, we were greeted by our chirpy tram driver out the front of Lalla Rookh to transport us onwards to our final Taste on Tour location; Next Door @ No4 in North Perth. Despite protests from many of us of being way too full to be able eat anymore, it never ceases to amaze me how food bloggers can continue to push the boat out and keep eating!
No 4 Blake Street’s Head Chef Tom Randolph is passionate about using seasonal and local produce and will source many of his ingredients directly from the small-scale producers themselves.
The two gluten free options on No4’s Taste of Perth menu this year will be their signature No4 risotto and a 45 day dry aged beef. The risotto is a vegetarian option made with cauliflower, cocoa and topped with burnt rice crisps.
The organic grass-fed beef was tender enough to cut with a fork and was served with a fried egg, crispy kale and sprinkling of dukkha.
No4 will also return one of their sell out dishes to the menu this year; their Valrhona Chocolate Garden. This pot of chocolate decadence contains salted caramel, chunks of chewy peanut dacquoise and sandalwood rocks but is sadly not gluten free due to the chocolate soil.
I think the chef may have seen a jealous glint in my eye as I watched everyone’s eyes roll in ecstasy devouring their Gardens. Before long I was presented with a gluten free adapted version, sans soil but topped with shards of salted caramel chocolate instead. Thank you chef!
I will be giving away TWO double passes to Taste of Perth on my Facebook page over the next week valued $72 each.
To enter simply tell me which is your favourite restaurant attending Taste of Perth this year and why they are your favourite. You can write your answer in the comments section below or alternatively head to my Facebook Page.
The winners will be selected by the Boy and will be based on the most interesting and original answers.
Entries close Sunday 10th May 2015. This competition is open to residents of Australia only.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp attended Taste on Tour as a guest of Taste Festivals and 3am Thoughts.
el PÚBLICO | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House | Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 7077 | www.lallarookh.com.au
Next Door @ No 4 | 4 Blake St, North Perth, 6006 WA | (08) 9444 6678 | www.no4blakestreet.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
This is my second year to join the team of official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival which is an annual event held over five weeks in Perth City and its surrounds. Eat Drink Perth is a festival where there is something for everyone with all sorts of brilliant foodie events held every day ranging from degustations to walking tours, bar wars to cooking classes and there is even a Food Truck Rumble. We are now half way through the festival and reflecting back over the past few weeks I am happy I have managed to cram a lot in despite my non-blog working life being super busy. I have attended the annual Gluten Free Expo, an intimate long table diner by The Creatives, eaten some velvety raw desserts at CNR and watched a friend eat nearly 900 grams of pork knuckle at Brotzeit.
In return for our writing and photography efforts for the festival, each blogger has been kindly delegated complementary tickets to some events that we listed on our individual top ten festival picks. For me this included an opportunity to attend Frisk Small Bar’s Martini and Oysters night.
Along the same lines that I don’t understand people who don’t like cats, I don’t understand those that don’t like oysters. They are so succulent and juicy, slightly sweet and slightly briny all in one mouthful and I could easily eat my body weight of them if I was given the chance.
Normally I love pairing oysters with French champagne however in all honesty I am generally happy pairing champagne with almost anything! For a change, I was interested to see how the oysters paired with a Martini as this was a combination I haven’t tried before. Would the Martini complement the flavours of the oysters or would it be too overpowering and just drown them out?
The bar team at Frisk can churn out some of the best cocktails in town and I had confidence that they could pull this combination off with a hit. They have one of the most enormous and amazing gin collections that I have even seen and I figured that if anyone could match a cocktail to an oyster they would be the ones to achieve it.
And my gut feeling was right. I was soon to discover that sipping Martinis with oysters is indeed a perfect match with the flavour of each seemingly enhanced by the other. The botanical crispness of the martini meant it didn’t overpower the creamy oysters and my palate ended with a harmonious briny finish. This is a combination definitely worth trying again provided I can muster up the will power to say no to champagne. And that is never easy!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth ’15 and enjoyed her oysters and martini courtesy of the City of Perth. For more details of Eat Drink Perth events head to their website.
Martinis & Oysters Every Thursday during Eat Drink Perth ’15 at Frisk Small Bar, 103 Francis St, Northbridge WA 6003
It is a known fact, I don’t know how to relax. I almost always have at least 101 things on the go at any one point and this can be both extremely exciting and stressful. Although I have no one to blame for being so busy but myself, yet I cannot help but look upon my feline fur-kids with envy as they happily laze entire days away sleeping, cuddling and lounging about. They are true experts in relaxation. After years of recurrent illness and always being “sickly”, I have finally learnt that to keep up this crazy pace without falling apart it is crucial to take time to nourish my body with excellent nutrition.
Part of this commitment to myself has included switching to eating a more plant-based diet, and whilst I would never claim to be a true vegetarian, we certainly do find ourselves eating less and less meat as the years go on. And for once in my life I can honestly say I don’t really miss it.
A couple of weeks ago I had some surgery to remove a suspicious looking mole from the sole of my foot. While I waited for the pathology results to come back, I madly ticked over in my mind nearly all perceivable potential outcomes, both good and bad. I decided to start to mentally prepare myself in case they needed to perform a much more invasive repeat surgery to take wider margins. All the while my carefree alter-ego sat on my shoulder saying “Settle down woman, it’s just a weird looking mole!”.
And thankfully that imaginary brazen smart-arse was right, there was no evidence of any cancer in my biopsy. Relieved, elated and very grateful, I immediately proceeded to plans with the Boy to head out that evening and celebrate together. Having recently attended a few too many boozy events lately, we both wanted a meat free dinner. I chose CNR Kitchen as I knew they had a lot of vegan, vego and gluten free options on their menu.
We started with the raw vegan tasting plate. It came with a collection of items including Moroccan savoury cakes, dolmades with cashew mint aioli and a serve of raw vegan Pad Thai. It also had a small serve of their house-made dehydrated corn chip crackers with fresh guacamole and pineapple salsa to dunk them in.
The tasting plate was a simple but satisfying dish and would be a great option to order for those who haven’t eaten raw food before. I will have to remember that when on my next pub crawl with my meat-eating friends. The Moroccan savoury cakes contained a careful balance of spices and were my favourite part of the tasting plate despite there being one slight problem. They didn’t hold together very well at all and combined with my usual level of clumsiness, my cakes crumbled apart after the first bite making them very messy to eat.
As I dunked the last half of my Moroccan cake into the cashew mint aioli it crumbled into numerous pieces and fell into the bowl of dip. The Boy could barely stifle his chortle as he grinned and watched my useless attempts to scoop out my crumbs. They still tasted just as good!
Thankfully I managed to eat my raw nachos much more elegantly as my house made corn chips had enough strength and substance to withstand a decent amount of toppings. The added sweetness of the pineapple into the salsa was a winning element and you would have never guessed the cashew sour cream was actually dairy free.
In the dim lighting of the evening I struggled to get a good shot of the eggplant lasagne. This was a vegan version of the Boy’s favourite meal and yet wasn’t missing any flavour despite the lack of any meat. I was actually inspired a few days later to make my own grain free, dairy free lasagne at home.
The lasagne was packed full of veggie goodness with layers of pumpkin, eggplant, mushroom and zucchini flavoured with a rich tomato and black olive marinara and house made macadamia ricotta. I loved the sweet potato crunchy curls tumbled on top.
For dessert we ordered a small selection of the raw desserts. One of the slices I ordered was the chilli chocolate slice but I nearly got in trouble for ordering it by the Boy. He is not a fan of chilli at all and cannot handle anything more than the most mildest of mild heat; lucky for us this slice had just a subtle hint of oomph in it and so thankfully there were no complaints.
The banana cream cake was decadently indulgent and for once I was happy it was only a small serve. Raw desserts can be very rich and even someone with a huge an appetite like me can be easily satisfied with smaller portions.
For someone who must eat gluten free, CNR Kitchen is a welcoming reprieve from all the gluten ladened dude food and Asian eateries located around in Northbridge. I will definitely be reminding myself of their presence next time I’m out partying and become tempted to risk eating a taco or burger. I know that my body will thank me in the morning.
CNR Kitchen are active participants in Eat Drink Perth festivities and hosted a raw dessert teaching class a couple of weeks ago when the Festival began. Attendees were taught how to make a number of delicious sugar free, dairy free and gluten free raw desserts. Of course this was accompanied by taste testing everything.
CNR’s second raw food class is held this week on Tuesday April 7th and for this session they will making dairy free cheese, milk, cream and ice cream using nuts. To find out more head to the Eat Drink Perth website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is an official blogger for Eat Drink Perth ’15. Whilst the Eat Drink Perth blogging team are kindly each gifted a number of event tickets from the City of Perth, Chompchomp just cannot help but get into the Perth City mood and attend more than just what she is given. I mean who doesn’t love food festivals! Consequently, she paid for this meal in full.
Northbridge Piazza, 44 Lake Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9228 8861 | cnr.net.au
The Creatives is a new networking platform in Perth launched by Stacey Clark Stylist early last year and this vibrant team have been responsible for running a number of workshops in addition to hosting stunning sell-out long table dinners. Their gorgeous boutique dinners work on following the seasons and focus on showcasing local produce and wine in a wonderfully relaxed and positive atmosphere.
Each dinner has been held in a beautiful space in Perth and it is no surprise that tickets come in high demand. As part of the Eat Drink Perth festival this year, The Creatives held their Autumn Table dinner in the City in the historic Moana Chambers building.
It is an impressive space with a stunning jarrah staircase with wrought iron balustrades leading into a wide open plan area with massively high ornate ceilings. Our long table was set out on the balcony overlooking Hay Street Mall, with an aptly timed cool autumn breeze.
We started off our evening with some pre-dinner drinks by Whipper Snapper Distillery. I found the lime and ginger moonshine cocktails gorgeously refreshing such that I probably went a little too hard too fast and had to pace myself afterwards. Old habits seem to die hard!
The night had such a friendly vibe with a distinct lack of the pretention and elitism that I can sometimes see at such events. Guests were there with open hearts and minds with strangers being treated like dear friends. As we mingled amongst ourselves, the lovely team from Stacey Clark Stylist handed around some scrumptious nibbles provided by Kent Street Deli.
My favourite was the prosciutto & zucchini pies with feta. They were obviously a hit with the Boy too as I’m sure I saw him gobble a number before turning to me with wide eyes and nodding “These are really good!”
Our second rounds of starters were spinach and walnut toasts with smears of creamy goats curd and topped with beetroot and a sprinkling of honeycomb.
I was so appreciative that the chef made some separate gluten free versions of these using some toasted gluten free multigrain bread. I love it when I don’t miss out!
Following with the casual feel for the evening, our mains were served in a shared manner giving the feeling you were actually at a family get together rather than a ticketed event. I wished I wasn’t working the following morning otherwise I could have easily drank the night away with our friends new and old.
For mains there were a couple of meats and a couple of vegetarian options. The Bridgetown lamb was wrapped around chorizo and roasted to a gorgeous ruby red. The meat was beautifully tender and moist.
The ribs were a particular hit amongst the meat eaters and as I glance down our table I was impressed to see most guests had a significant sized pile of bare bones of each of their plates. Good company, a light autumn breeze and simple but delicious food is enough to ramp up anyone’s appetite.
Whilst I did enjoy the meats, it isn’t something I eat much off these days and I’m happy to enjoy a small serve accompanied by a much larger serve of something more plant based.
The zucchini noodles filled this green need for me and were literally dripping in flavour with pesto, tomatoes and olives. I make a mean version of zucchini noodles at home which is hard to beat but I will humbly say these noodles came damn close.
Desserts were provided to us by Sugar and Nice and consisted of a collection of autumn tarts, pies and other delights. Focusing on seasonal fruits not all were fructose friendly, but in the love of the moment I swallowed a couple of glucose tablets and joined in the fun.
The carrot cake Pavlova was the eye-catcher of the evening with candied heirloom carrots and a hint of spice in the gooey meringue centre. It was hard to participate shamelessly in the crooning and gushing over this beauty as it was brought to the table.
The apple ribbon hazelnut tart was gluten free and yet it had a crust that would fool any Coeliac; it was buttery, firm and far from crumbly. Having had many an argument with gluten free shortcrust pastry over the years, I admired the perfect execution and had to stop myself going back for seconds so I could save room for the rice pudding.
I consoled myself with a single serving of apple tart by drizzling my slice with generous lashing of thick buttermilk caramel.
The final dessert was a creamy rice pudding made with coconut milk, cardamom and dark coloured blood plums. If I had the room I would have eaten the whole bowl but sadly I had to accept that all good things come to an end. More to the point, one person can only eat so much.
The dinner had been more than adequately catered and at the end of the evening as guests were leaving we each received a little doggy bag of left over morsels to enjoy the next day. I was once again reminded how warm and welcoming it was, just like a family gathering.
I love secret pop-up dinners and have been an obsessed follower of WA-based Fervor for a number of years. Having attended my first Creatives long table dinner, I can now happily say I have another crew to stalk on social media and I look forward to trying to secure tickets to the next Creatives event.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth this year however she chose to purchase her tickets to The Creatives Dinner at her own expense. It was worth every cent 😉
This year is my second year as the official blogger for the Gluten Free and Healthy Living Expo. The expo was held this weekend over two days at the Perth Convention Centre and received a fantastic turn out on both days. The stallholders have caught on to the concept that people love free stuff and at nearly every exhibit there was something to try. I strongly recommend arriving at the expo with an empty stomach! For those who make the mistake of having breakfast beforehand, there are some great discounts so you can fill up your show bag and enjoy them later on.
It makes such a pleasurable experience to attend a food expo and to not have to worry about cross contamination with gluten! 2015 brought a number of newcomers to the expo to join all the gluten free fun and I was pleased to see there were also a number of new FODMAP friendly products available.
Here are my top ten highlights for 2015. For my full album of photos head to my Facebook page.
1. Lupin Foods – www.lupinfoods.com.au
After my involvement with last year’s WA Signature Dish I am no stranger to Lupin Foods. It was used by Rhiannon Birch as one of the hero ingredients for her winning dish of Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust.
Lupin Foods is a proud Western Australian company founded in 2012 and have grown to a high level of popularity in a short space of time. Lupin is not only gluten free but high in protein and dietary fibre in addition to being very easily digestible.
They had a couple of different options to taste at their stall including sweet apricot balls and a variant of hummus made with lupin instead of chickpeas. They were also the proud winners of the Expo’s best Display Award for this year.
My favourite sample was their pomegranate and lupin salad which was made to be like a couscous salad. It is the first gluten free “couscous” I have had that isn’t gluggy and had a wonderful fluffy texture. I made sure to go home with a bag of Lupin Flakes to make this dish for myself at home.
2. Turban Chopsticks – www.turbanchopsticks.com.au
Turban Chopsticks are another Western Australia company that drew the crowds at the show. With a constant stream of hot food pouring out of their tiny makeshift kitchen it was hard to walk past the stall without drooling.
Turban Chopsticks are a family business who have helped simplify meal preparations for busy people with food intolerances. Their meal kits make it so easy to conjure up dinner without too much effort but still with maximum flavour. Their tropical Thai coconut rice was highly addictive and I cannot wait to make some more.
3. Sue Shepherd – shepherdworks.com.au
I was very excited to see Dr Sue Shepherd lecturing this year. Dr Shepherd is an Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietician and Advanced Accredited Nutritionist and is recognised as one of the world’s leading dietician in the areas of Coeliac Disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
She is one of the pioneers in researching and understanding the low FODMAP diet which in turn has helped so many sufferers of IBS around the world. She gave talks on the FODMAP diet and on Coeliac Disease versus IBS to a full audience. There wasn’t a spare seat in the house.
4. The huge range of new fructose friendly products that are available!
Many of you will be familiar with Kez’s Kitchen gluten free products. They make a range of gourmet gluten free biscuits sold in major supermarkets however most of them contain dried fruit making them not suitable for those on a low FODMAP diet. They have now brought out a product called “Cereal Bites” that is low in fructose and has received the FODMAP Friendly logo to prove it.
Another new product I discovered was Rick Grant’s Seasoning Mixes. Rick has brought out a range of gluten free, onion free, and garlic free seasoning mixes to please both Coeliac and FODMAP bellies. I bought myself all four to try; Tempura Batter mix, Wedges Seasoning mix, Chicken Seasoning mix and Fish Seasoning mix. I will let you all know how I go!
5. Well & Good stand – www.wellandgood.com.au
The Well & Good stand are strong performers at the expo every year with a guaranteed chance at sampling most of their premixes all freshly baked.
There is often queues of children lining up for their free cupcakes and I cannot help but smile that these food intolerant kids can finally get a chance to do what some take for granted.
A new Well & Good product I hadn’t seen before was Rye-less Rye bread. It has the added goodness of spirulina and sunflower seeds and had a wonderful texture and flavour.
6. Vintage Style Cakes & Cookies – www.vintageglutenfree.com.au
I may be a little biased in my love for Vintage Style Cakes & Cookies as they are a regular attendee at our local Vic Park Farmers Markets. The company was only established last year and has since hit cult levels of popularity for some Perth residents. My favourites include their carrot cake, lemon slice and the jelly cakes. I will often confuse my in-laws when I bring some of these cakes along to family lunches as they don’t believe me that they are gluten free!
7. Solomon’s Cafe – solomonscafe.com.au
Solomon’s Café is based in Mount Lawley on Beaufort Street and serve delicious gluten free, dairy free, organic meals made from scratch in their kitchen. The Boy and I ate a meal at Solomon’s earlier last year where I got to enjoy gluten free gnocchi and healthy raw zucchini noodles. At the Expo they offered some meals for hungry punters.
We tried their buckwheat tuna wraps made with cashew cheese and salad. I washed mine down with a carrot and ginger juice adapted to be fructose friendly by the omission of apple.
8. Coles Supermarkets
Being the main sponsors for the Expo the Coles stand was a buzzing hive of activity. In addition to a having a mini-store selling all their Coles-branded gluten free products there were a couple of stands offering free sampling.
There was also a main stage with Master Chefs Michael Weldon and Courtney Roulston performing cooking shows held throughout the day. They also engaged in some popular interactive cupcake decorating classes for the children.
9. Barilla – www.barilla.net.au
Barilla only launched their gluten free pasta range last year and are slowly rolling out to selected stores across the state. I was lucky enough to be sent samples to try and made vegan truffle mac and cheese and creamy vegan mushroom pasta.
I have been busting to refill my pantry with more Barilla pasta as it is the closest to “normal” pasta that I have tasted since going gluten free. I have been told that the Barilla gluten free range is now stocked in Woolworths and it will not be long before they will start appearing in Coles too so look out for them on the shelves!
10. Delish Ice – delishice.com.au
Our final pit stop at the Expo was for a cooling ice-pop from Delish Ice. This is one of my favourite food trucks in Perth; the girls are always uber-cool, dressed impeccably suave, never stop smiling and pump out some seriously delicious flavours. They always have something in their freezer that will be gluten free and fructose friendly and are more than happy for me to taste test before I buy.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp attended the Coles Gluten Free & Healthy Living Expo 2015 as the official blogger and received a free double pass to attend the event. This year’s event was held as part of the Eat Drink Perth Festival.
Invited blogger events can be unpredictable; some events are so well organised and thoroughly enjoyable such that we end up staying for the evening and then there are some events that end up being total fizzers resulting in us slinking off elsewhere to find better food and fun. I recently attended one of the later type of events which left me with two other blogger friends Kristy from Queen of Bad Timing and Carly from Perth Munchkin desperate for some decent eats. Each accompanied by our better halves we only had to utter the words “German Beer House” and all boys were super keen to make a night of it.
After taking our seats at the newly opened Brotzeit German Bier Bar, there was a bit of confusion with respect to their menu. My first impression was that ordering would be an easy task as there are a number of “GF” marked options. However, after being asked by our waiter “how severe is your gluten intolerance?” I realised that people like myself need to be a bit more careful. A number of the GF marked dishes on their menu are actually only made gluten free by adaptations illustrating how important it is to explain to the waiter dietary requirements before ordering.
The Boy and I are mostly vegetarians and always feel a little apprehensive when confronted by a menu filled with meat. Brotzeit do not offer many non-meat options so accepting defeat we ordered the waiter’s recommendation of the Ripperl; Honey Bavarian Pork Ribs. Unlike my peers, my knees do not buckle at the mere mention of pork and it takes a decent porky dish to win me over. Our Bavarian ribs were not overly fatty with plenty of tender meat on the bones. The sauce was finger licking good and although I haven’t be converted to a die hard pork fan just yet, I would happily eat these again.
Our second dish was the Würstelplatte; a sausage platter that can be made gluten free on request. We received a generous portion of authentic German sausages including flavours like spicy chicken, grilled pork, pork cheese, pork and veal, and garlic pork. It came with some salad and sauerkraut. No one believed that we could finish both dishes but in true style we did, albeit we could barely walk afterwards.
The most impressive looking dish on our table was Carly’s husband’s pork knuckle; a behemoth sized 900 grams of oven roasted ham hock served with potato salad, sauerkraut and their highly touted special sauce. There was no way one man could eat all that pork surely? I was totally impressed with his efforts but could see the relief on his face when our waiter offered him a doggy bag to take the left overs home.
Kristy ordered the slow roasted lamb shank, this was also a large serve with 400 grams of lamb, but her plate appeared pint-sized beneath the shadow of the pork knuckle. The meat collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was served with cranberry red cabbage and napkin dumplings.
Before we all slipped into a protein induced coma on the floor of the restaurant, we staggered up to the counter to split the bill before journeying home. But things were not end for the Boy and I so soon. As we slowly rolled down back William Street to our car with stomachs bursting at the seams we walked past the new Koko Black chocolate store. Before I could stop myself I was wandering around the store like a princess in a diamond store; eyes wide, hands waving about in excitement and thoughts of my meaty fullness cast far, far aside.
The Boy and I made a small selection of hand made chocolate truffles with the wise idea of having some for now and saving some for later. Of course when we pulled into our driveway at home there was not a single chocolate left. We will never learn!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid for her meal in full. This post was also published on the Eat Drink Perth 2015 website.
Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9321 6654 | www.brotzeit.co
Koko Black Perth City
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9226 3929 | www.kokoblack.com
It is my dream to be a cat vet, not just any ordinary vet, but one that just deals with cats. So when a locum job came up at the Hobart Cat Clinic I jumped at the opportunity. Not only would I get a fortnight of feline exclusivity, but I would get to visit one of the most beautiful parts of our country; Tasmania. For the first week I was solo as the Boy was only flying over for the second week. As is often the case when I’m on my own, I find myself gravitating toward food as my comfort. To my delight I found out that Hobart loves night markets too.
Hobart Twilight Markets runs fortnightly from October through to March every year in the coastal suburb of Sandy Bay. Fortunately for me this was directly on route home from work and so I thought I would just drop in and check it out. Along with most of Hobart it seemed. Parking was a challenge and after driving around for nearly half an hour I manage to find a somewhat legal park on a verge.
Finding gluten free options wasn’t exactly easy as there were large queues at every food stall and I had to line up just to be able to ask as there weren’t any indications made on their chalkboard menus. Needless to say what I did try was worth the wait. Hobart Oyster House’s freshly shucked oysters were out of this world and came in a number of size options. A simple dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon and I was in heaven.
After slurping my way through a half dozen oysters, I checked out what the Vietnamese stall from Chikko Café had to offer. They were serving a number of fresh Banh Mi which were selling like hot cakes in addition to some prawn rice paper rolls. They were happy to serve my rolls without the hoisin sauce and replaced it with a gluten free sweet chilli sauce instead.
The vegetarian stall Makan Lagi had a number of international dishes available including some gluten free inari filled with vegetarian contents.
My favourite snack of the evening was Pav-Lova’s amazing single serve Pavlovas. All gluten free friendly with flavours like brown sugar and lime, lemon and coconut and espresso it was very hard to choose which one to try. Times like these I really miss the Boy as I know his presence means I can order two! I eventually settled for the brown sugar and lime.
It had all the right elements of pavlova textures, an air-light crisp shell with a centre of softer mallow. The crystallised lime gave a mouthwatering tang to cut through all the sweetness. I didn’t think I would finish it all, but before I knew it the whole pav was gone.
Satisfied with a full belly I found my way back to the car to return to my house sit companion, Ozi the Cornish Rex. He is such a lovely old man who loves the simple things in life, sunshine, cuddles and smoked salmon 😉
Hobart Twilight Markets | Facebook
17 Sandy Beach Road, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005
Every second Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm, October to March.
This year I am very excited to come on board again as one of the official bloggers for Perth’s biggest food festival Eat Drink Perth. This year the festival runs for five fun-filled weeks and kicks off on the 18th of March. All across the City of Perth there will be loads of foodie events with something to suit everyone’s budgets and tastes.
There are a number of gluten free friendly events for Eat Drink Perth 2015 meaning there will be no time for any dieting for me! Here’s my Top Ten Picks for this year!
1. Night Noodle Market
Wednesday 18th-Sunday 29th March, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge | Free entry| Evenings, start and finish times vary | EDP program details
Night Noodle Markets have taken off on the Eastern Coast and now it’s time we joined in the fun. This family friendly outdoor event will be held over twelve consecutive night so you will have no excuse to miss it!
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22nd March, Perth Convention Centre, 21 Mounts Bay Rd, Perth | Pre purchase tickets: Adult $12+booking fee, Coeliac WA member $5 | 9.30am-4pm | EDP Program details | www.glutenfreeinwa.com.au
Being gluten free, it is a rare occasion for me to be able to eat everything on offer at a food expo! There will be over 50 exhibitors this year with seminars and cooking demonstrations too. I will be the official blogger for the Gluten Free Expo again this year and will be running a very exciting competition in the lead up to the event.
Last year’s Food Truck Rumble was a scorching hot day and many punters were left waiting in long queues for their food in the sun. Now in its second year, the dedicated Rumble team have ensured to address all the issues that came up last year. There will be nearly twice the number of food trucks, live entertainment and most importantly, there will be plenty of shade.
4. Chef Collaboration Dinner
This one-off collaboration dinner brings celebrity chefs Adriano Zumbo, Matt Stone and Shaun Presland together for a night to remember. The evening will be held on all three levels of Print Hall giving you an amazing foodie experience you will never forget.
5. Bar Wars
Saturday 18th April, Chung Wah Laneway (Northbridge Piazza) | Free entry | 2pm-10pm
Come and see the bar teams from Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting and Angel’s Cut by the Trustee battle it out to see who really IS the best bar of them all.
6. Buddha’s Birthday & Multicultural Festival
This annual event has been running for seventeen years and its popularity has increased steadily over more recent years. There will be a variety of activities for everyone including a multicultural vegetarian food fair, cultures and arts, ceremonials, rituals, music and dance.
7. Martinis & Oysters
Frisk Small Bar churns out some of the best cocktails in Northbridge and I can vouch their martinis are the bomb. Why not drop into to see them any Thursday during Eat Drink Perth and you can enjoy a Martini with some succulent fresh oysters?
I love secrets but I am absolutely useless at keeping them. Kinfolk are well known around the world for hosting boutique secret pop-up dinners. They will create an evening that will focus on using local and seasonal produce in a long table shared style of dinner. Each dish will be matched with handcrafted wines, ciders and beers.
Saturday 11th April, Secret location to be disclosed just before the event | $160 | 6pm | Bookings essential | Book tickets
I have been a massive fan of Fervor ever since I attended one of their amazing degustations at last year’s Eat Drink Perth. Fervor’s dishes are centred on using native Australian plants and other locally sourced WA produce. I love that Fervor’s vision is not just to showcase what amazing flavours are out there in the Australian bush but to also always ensure sustainability of what they harvest whilst respecting our environment and supporting our local communities. The night includes a 10-12 course degustation with matched wines, beers and cider.
10. Desserts Class: Paleo, Vegan & Raw
The raw dessert trade has really taken off in Perth with many cafes offering a raw option in their cake cabinet. But did you know that raw desserts are actually really easy to make yourself? Learn how to make delicious desserts free of sugar, dairy and gluten including rumballs, Ferraro Rocher ice-cream pots, tiramisu and banana cream pie. You will get to taste test everything and take all the recipes home to try for yourself.
Eat Drink Perth is a food and beverage festival that runs from March 18 to April 24 2015. For more details of events head to their website at visitperthcity.com.au/eatdrinkperth.
Disclaimer: Chompchonp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth 2015. See the full list of bloggers here. She is also the official blogger for the Coles Gluten Free & Healthy Living Expo 2015.
This year is my second year to be chosen as the official blogger for the Coles Gluten Free Food & Healthy Living Expo for Perth. For many individuals, the diagnosis of Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance can be very overwhelming. Not only do you have to learn in detail what you can and cannot eat, but additionally you have to scrutinise every meal that you don’t prepare yourself for fear of it being cross contaminated with gluten. It only takes a tiny crumb of gluten to set off a Coeliac’s symptoms with simple things like shared toasters and cutting boards being common culprits.
Although I found sticking to an exclusively gluten free diet challenging at first, once I started to feel my health and energy levels return I realised that this diagnosis was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. My anaemia resolved, my skin rashes healed and my mind never felt more clear.
Being strictly gluten free, it is a rare luxury to be able to attend a food expo where I can eat everything safely. This year Perth’s annual Gluten Free Food & Healthy Living Expo is held on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of March 2015 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and everything at the event is 100% gluten free.
There will be twelve seminars given over the two days and I am most looking forward to listening to Sue Shepherd. A Coeliac sufferer herself, Dr Shepherd is one of Australia’s leading expert dieticians. She will give two talks; “The FODMAP Diet” and “Coeliac Disease vs IBS: The Importance of the Correct Diagnosis”.
There will also be some lively cooking sessions from ex-Masterchef finalists Michael Weldon and Courtney Roulston who return to the Expo again this year. There will also be some cooking demonstrations with Laila Gampfer from Rawsome, Rick Grant and Latasha Menon from Latasha’s Kitchen.
For those who haven’t attended a Gluten Free Expo before, check out my top ten favourites post from last year’s Gluten Free Expo here.
For your chance to WIN a free double pass to the Coles Gluten Free Food & Healthy Living Expo plus a massive hamper filled with goodies from exhibitors at the show, share with us who your favourite exhibitor at the show will be and why in the comments section below. Good luck!
The lucky winner of this competition will receive:
- ● A double pass to the Gluten Free & Healthy Living Expo 2015
- ● Plus a hamper containing gifts from exhibitors at the show:
- ● Lupin Foods
- ● 2 x 480g bags of Lupin Flake
- ● Orgran
- ● 3 x Orgran Pasta packs
- ● Leda Nutrition
- ● 1 x Gojos, 1 x Choculence, 1 x Minton, 1 x Rumballs, 1 x Multipack – Strawberry, 1 x Multipack –TripleBerry, 1 x Multipack –Apple, 1 x Dunkies, 1 x Choc Chip 250g,1 x Arrowroot, 1 x Gingernut, 1 x Golden Crunch
- ● Loni’s Allergy Free
- ● 1 x Loni’s Allergy Free Cookbook
- ● Rawsome
- ● 2 x Carawmel Slice, 2 x Choc Mint Slice, 2 x Rawkus bites, 2 x Raffa Jaffa, 2 x Lovebite Slice
- ● Barilla
- ● 1x box of Barilla Gluten Free Penne, 1x box of Barilla Gluten Free Elbows, 1x box of Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti, 1x jar of Arrabbiata sauce (gluten free)
- ● 1x Barilla vintage pasta tin, 1x Barilla apron
- ● Lupin Foods
Competition Terms and Conditions
Competition is open to all Chompchomp readers who have an Australian postal address. The winner will be chosen by myself and the Boy based on the most interesting and creative answer written in the comments section below. Entries close 5.00pm Wednesday 18th March 2015.
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED!
Coles Gluten Free Food & Healthy Living Expo
Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 March, Perth Convention Centre, 21 Mounts Bay Rd, Perth | 9.30am-4pm
Pre purchase tickets: Adult $12+booking fee, Coeliac WA members $5 www.glutenfreeinwa.com.au
The IGA Taste Great Southern festival is held every year in February through to March in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. It is a celebration of all the wonderful food culture from this beautiful part of our State with over 70 individual events being held across the region.
Taste Great Southern is a food and wine festival with something to suit all types of foodies ranging from elaborate degustation dinners, beach BBQs, cooking demonstrations by famous chefs and farmers markets. There is even an Oyster Festival. Yes, an entire festival dedicated to oysters.
I recently attended the Perth launch for Taste Great Southern held at The Terrace Hotel. I was approached prior to the event with the job offer of being the official photographer for the night. The whole concept of being a paid photographer surprised me as I consider myself anything but a pro.
I arrived at the Terrace Hotel as early as possible to enable me to set up some shots before the guest arrived and to get a feel for the venue. Unfortunately, thanks to the sun my debut as a paid photographer was not an easy task. Lighting can be a photographer’s best friend or it can be their worst enemy and in this case light was no means my friend. From the beginning to the very end of the event, the sun bore down at blinding angles making the job of taking beautiful photos much more difficult than I had anticipated.
When the guests arrived, the hotel staff began to bring out a number of exquisite bite sized morsels made using fresh Great Southern produce.
As everyone started to fill up on the canapes, Chefs Pete Manifis, Don Hancey and Kenny McHardy began to cook up a storm.
Whilst I enjoyed being a professional for one night, I have realised that I still have a lot to learn and by the end of the job I was thoroughly exhausted. Unlike all attending guests including the Boy, I didn’t have much of a chance to eat over as I was too busy running about trying to get the best shots.
The Boy suggested we go and sit inside in The Terrace’s restaurant and share something more substantial before heading home. Famished and weary it was an offer I could hardly refuse. The hotel staff were very accommodating with my dietary requirement guiding me through a number of options suitable off their menu. As I looked around the dimly lit restaurant I chuckled to myself, I had gone from one photography nightmare to another. First too much bright light, and now nearly none at all!
We haven’t eaten any oysters that can even remotely compare to the amazing ones we ate on our travels last month to Tasmania. In fact the last batch I bought hoe for us to eat were very close to being putrid. Nevertheless we decided to take a punt and order half a dozen. Thankfully, these were deliciously slurpalicious and fresh.
Neither of us felt like a full main course so we shared a plate of seared scallops served with blood orange and baby carrot purée and grapefruit beurre blanc.
We also ordered the Black Angus sashimi was served with pickled daikon radish, ponzu dressing, wasabi mayonnaise and kale crisps. The meat was slightly sweet and tender and melted on contact with my tongue.
For dessert we shared the passionfruit parfait with strawberries and meringue. The parfait was a bit icy in texture and lacked any of the creaminess that a parfait should have. Whilst I did enjoyed the tang of the passionfruit I would have preferred the parfait to have a smoother consistency.
The Taste Great Southern food and wine festival runs from the 19th of February until the 29th of March this year across the Great Southern Region. There is a comprehensive event list available on their website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of the Taste Great Southern launch and was paid to take the photographs for the night.
The Terrace Hotel
237 St Georges Tce, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au
Not everyone marries their best friend and I am so grateful that I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of those lucky ones. Whilst our life is by no means perfect, for the major things we are invariably on the same page. Where we want to live. Our love for animals. Our passion for fine food. Particular black truffles and chocolate. Our core values. And, our love for staying at luxury lodges and hotels! 😉
For our Christmas present to each other we chose to forgo buying each other materialistic stuff, I mean who really needs stuff? We both work and play hard, sometimes too much so, such that our best gift to each other is just spending quality time together. I was once again reminded that I married my soul mate when he agreed without hesitation to go stay at the Lake House in Daylesford for a couple of nights squeezed in between our family Christmas in Melbourne and a friend’s wedding on New Year.
We booked a Luxury Package for two nights in a waterfront suite. Our package included breakfast and dinner for both nights and some spa treatments to enjoy together.
Our room overlooked the lagoon and the shores of Lake Daylesford and facilitated complete relaxation with a very comfortable king sized bed, sofa and armchairs. There were a pair of sunbeds out on our deck however the weather was scorching hot and no sane person would have basked in that heat.
There was a bottle of chilled complimentary champagne ready for us on arrival. The minibar was stocked with a small number of locally sourced drinks and nibbles, Salus Spa’s own sparkling mineral water and a Nespresso coffee machine. Unlike some of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, the minibar was not included as part of our stay. Considering the price was comparative with other Lodges, it would have been a nice touch if it was.
The bathroom was spacious with a dual shower, double spa bath and heated bathroom floors. There was a modest sized flat screen television, an iPod docking station to play our tunes and free in room Wi-Fi access.
Every evening between 6 pm to 8.30 pm cocktails are served in the Argyle Library along with some complementary canapés. I was hoping that the canapés would keep coming for as long as we ordered drinks however we quickly learnt that you get one round of delicious canapés and then that is it.
I am guessing they expect you to move through into the restaurant at that point. Nobody ever seems to understand that our appetites are not those of normal people!
After enjoying a round of nibbles and a few more rounds of Campari spritzers, we headed out for a walk around the Lake before returning to our suite for dinner. There are two Lakes to walk around each taking less than half an hour on a shaded and pretty path.
Our package included an in-room supper for two on the first evening with two glasses of house wine. We weren’t expecting such a feast to arrive and this seemed to make up for the feeling of wanting more of those canapés earlier on.
Everything was adapted to be gluten free including gluten free bread and crackers. There was creamy pea soup, an antipasto platter, a cheese platter and plate of fresh fruit.
Breakfast is included for both mornings of our stay and consisted of a continental buffet in addition to a choice of a main dish from their a la carte menu.
The buffet had an array of freshly baked pastries, sliced meats and cheeses with a few gluten free and vegetarian options.
For my main dish I ordered the house baked beans with goats cheese, wilted spinach and poached eggs on gluten free toast.
The beans had wonderful depth of flavour but sadly the gluten free toast let the dish down being quite tasteless and crumbly in texture.
We had minimal plans for our weekend, in fact I was hoping to do very little other than relax but as is always the case with us we cannot help but do a little exploring. The Daylesford Sunday Market operates each Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm and contains a wide range of stalls selling all sorts of antique bric-a-brac, locally grown produce, clothing and crafts. We already had suitcase filled with loot from Christmas so I made do with purchasing a refreshing beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Oh, and I bought a book about cats
We also visited Lavandula, a Swiss Italian lavender farm. It was a melting 40 degrees Celsius and we lingered only long enough to smell the fragrant flowers, scull a lavender lemonade in the shade and then retreat back to our air-conditioned car.
For our second evening at Lake House, our package included an eight course degustation with matched wines in the restaurant. We started the evening off again in the Library with some canapés before taking a seat by one of the large windows to watch the reflections of the setting sun across the Lake.
Our degustation took us on a journey using local seasonal food some of which is harvested from their own gardens. This is a restaurant that has repeatedly earned two hats and as our dishes started to roll out I began to see why.
Our amuse bouche consisted of a mouthful of veal tartare and mojama which is a salt cured tuna. This was served with some bonito aioli on a nori crisp so light it dissolved on the tongue like a wafer.
Our second course of spanner crab and white fish sashimi had a Nobu-esque twist with the addition of jalapenos and an elegant dollop of green gazpacho. Some tapioca pearls on the side added another element of texture.
The next course was a pasta dish which meant I received something different in replacement. The Boy’s pasta was a bug agnolotti, which are similar to ravioli. It was served with house made kimchi butter emulsion and crisp shallots.
My gluten free alternative was some mixed tempura served with the kimchi. I was so chuffed that they could do the tempura gluten free as this is so commonly off the menu for me. It was crispy and light and the kimchi had a decent kick to it.
The next dish was inspired by Chef Alla’s Russian heritage and we were told that a variation of this dish is always on the menu. Smoked eel is considered a delicacy and features in many Russian dishes.
The eel was sourced from the Victoria based Skipton eel factory. Wrapped in pancetta the smoked eel was paired with some locally grown organic beets and served alongside a toothsome mustard crème fraiche. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
The next dish was some addictive little morsels of tempura quail wrapped in nori.
They were accompanied by dollops of umeboshi puree, coriander puree, wasabi mayonnaise and the cutest coriander flowers.
Our final main dish was locally sourced pasture fed beef; cooked carefully and slowly such that it had the consistency of melting butter. The hearty flavours of the beef had an added surprise of some chilli and togarashi for an interesting kick.
Pre-dessert consisted of a platter named “Playtime”. This consisted of a number of little palate cleansers including a strawberry compote with white chocolate sorbet and strawberry granita, a “plum shot” and blackcurrant marshmallow lollipops.
For our final course, the Boy and I had different dishes as mine had to be adapted to be gluten free. The Boy’s “Summer Ramble” was a garden of gorgeous components and I was gutted there was no more natural light for a stunning photo. His dish had pistachio sponge, almond praline, almond milk pannacotta, honey ice cream, almond tuille chocolate bark berries AND honey comb….all on one plate. It looked heavenly and despite all the different elements it didn’t taste over complicated or flamboyant.
I could have nearly developed a case of food envy if it wasn’t for my rich peanut butter parfait. It was topped with sesame ganache, peanut praline and sesame ice cream. A perfectly balanced blob of lemon curd added a hint of acidity and a black sesame tuille gave it some crunch and texture.
We had such a relaxing stay at Lake House in Daylesford giving the perfect amount of “us” time that we needed together. Having stayed in a number of Luxury Lodges around Australia now, I would have liked to have seen a bit more luxury in our rooms to justify the room price and feel that in these sort of “never want to leave” styled lodges a complementary minibar can encourage you to really enjoy your accommodation more.
We found the Spa to be of a high quality and actually went back for a second massage in the couple’s room. The restaurant is well deserved of its Good Food Guide Hats and is worth a visit even without a stay in the Lodge. Their wine list is enough to impress my father which is saying something and I heart how they focus on local and seasonal produce.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp and the Boy paid in full for a Lake House Luxury Package for $1200/night. This package included two night accommodation in a Waterfront Suite, light supper for the first evening and a degustation with matched wine on the second night, a full breakfast each morning and a massage and facial at Salus Spa.
4 King Street, Daylesford, Victoria 3460 | www.lakehouse.com.au
Some people choose to mix their work life with their personal life and others prefer to keep them totally separate. I imagine that it would be easy to separate the two if you didn’t hold any passion or joy in your working hours. For me, I tend to submerge myself in my career, sometimes to the level of obsession, such that it is impossible to not develop friendships with both my colleagues and my clients. Occasionally I manage to combine both careers in one, connecting all the dots by creating a friendship with a client from the vet hospital that also happens to read my blog. Conversation runs very freely when you can talk to me about the two things I love the most…..food…..and cats!
Of course the logical thing to do when you have succeeded in finding this trifecta of friendship is to spend quality time to eat together. So, after a few false starts due to busy schedules, we managed to tally up a night to head out with my friends-clients-fellow crazy cat ladies to Cocos Restaurant in South Perth. Being a closet crazy cat man the Boy was happy to join us for dinner for a night of cat talk. Surprisingly despite Cocos being something of a Perth icon I had never eaten at there and welcomed the suggestion.
Cocos Restaurant overlooks the Swan River to gaze onto the expanding Perth City skyline. That is, mind you, if you can secure a table riverside. It is a deceptively large restaurant packed full of tables and wasn’t exactly the fine dining location that I had pictured in my mind. Our table was tucked away at the back of the restaurant with naught but a glimpse of the city lights. The menu showcased a lot of local WA produce with marron and Dhufish featuring alongside Cone Bay barramundi. I was informed by our waitress that there are a number of gluten free options.
I started with the duo of salmon; two types of cured salmon plated out generously and served with a citrus, fennel and herb salad. The outer layer of salmon was cured in beetroot and ginger which imparted a sumptuous red hue to the fish and the inner layer was cured with vodka and Pernod. Some of the fish pieces were a little dry on the edges like they had been prolongedly exposed to air however each mouthful still left a clean aftertaste on the palate without any stale fish odour.
The Boy was feeling peckish and ordered the duck risotto for a more substantial entrée. Soft pinkish strips of pan seared duck breast topped a creamy orange and thyme risotto. The citrusy flavours made this a lighter style of risotto perfect for a first course. One of our friends ordered the beef Carpaccio served with baby capers, chilli, truffle oil and manchego crisps and it was the hugest serve of beef Carpaccio I have ever seen. It was not an entrée for the light-hearted and she kindly offered much of her dish to share as she couldn’t finish it!
For main I chose the Geraldton Dhufish. I realise that eating fish for both entrée and main is a little one sided and maybe narrow minded but there are some days that I just really feel like seafood and figure that I need to listen to my body! The Dhufish fillet was ever so slightly overcooked leaving part of the fillet a little dry. It was served with a tossed salad of Swiss chard and roasted beets.
The Boy ordered the beef fillet on a parsnip and onion puree with a red wine jus. His meat was cooked precisely to order rare and sliced effortless like butter.
One of our friends ordered the saffron linguini pasta with sautéed Moreton Bay Bug tails. It had a bit of a kick to it with added chilli.
My gluten free dessert option was the vanilla pannacotta which was served in an hour shaped glass so I couldn’t test the jiggle factor. There were a lot of contrasting textures to add interest to this dish with strawberry jelly, fresh strawberries, crisp meringue and strawberry ice cream. Happy with this option indeed.
Also ordered at the table was the Bombe Alaska which sadly it wasn’t gluten free so I didn’t get to taste it. It consisted of a chunk of sticky date pudding and homemade honey macadamia ice cream encased in swirls of meringue in a puddle of addictive butterscotch sauce. I cannot deny I was a bit jealous!
It was no surprise the Boy ordered himself the selected homemade ice creams and sorbets although he was a bit perturbed by the “hair” on top of his dessert. He loves to proclaim that he is not a fan of Persian fairy floss yet he always seems to eat it when it’s on his plate so I’m guessing it wasn’t too bad!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp has no shame in admitting that she is a crazy cat lady, additionally that she loves hanging out with crazy cat ladies, that she is married to a crazy cat man and, basically, that cats rock her world. Here’s a picture of her dinner companion’s adorable boy Ralph to cement this statement. A very handsome lad indeed.
Coco’s Riverside Bar and Restaurant
85 The South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WAZ 6151 | (08) 9474 3030 | http://www.westvalley.com.au/
For some reason over the last couple of years I have become accident-prone. Don’t be alarmed, there has been no major incidents, but more of a succession of annoying injuries that have prevented me from running which in turn makes me very grumpy. To name a few, there has been a handful of broken ribs, multiple occasions of recurrently broken toes, countless bumps to the head, plantar fasciitis and most recently during our Melbourne trip, a torn quadriceps. It has got to the stage that I get more of an eye roll than any sympathy from the Boy because seriously…it is never ending and according to him somewhat preventable.
For my most recent injury it was a case of me being overambitious, which again the Boy believes is a common occurrence. My stepmum invited me out on a run with her one morning. As we walked out the door my father was chanting out retorts that she doesn’t really run suggesting I was in for an easy outing.
Eighteen rounds of interval training at a flat out sprint later I was left out of breath with a stitch and sweating profusely. My stepmum had barely worked up a sweat and had to slow down so I could keep up the pace.
Two days later, still stiff and sore the Boy and I hit the shops to do some clothes shopping. It is a rare event that the both of us are in the mood to shop and this day our minds were perfectly in sync. Winning. Just as we were getting into the swing of things with a number of bags in hand, I crouched down to pick up a pair of jeans and felt something in the front of my leg go “twang!”. Sharp bolts of pain radiated up my leg and I struggled to pull myself up.
And thus our shopping expedition ended. Within minutes a very focal hard area of swelling and bruising came up on the front of my leg and I was unable to extend my leg out. Yup, I tore a quad. Awesome.
As my eyes watered with pain the Boy tried to distract me from my injury with offers of a lunch date instead. We were minutes shuffle from Supernormal on Flinders Lane so I plucked up my courage and hobbled along gritting my teeth. Supernormal serve Modern Asian share plates, with a lot of Chinese influenced dishes as a result of the Head Chef’s time spent in Hong Kong.
As we were seated we were given some complementary pumpkin seeds to nibble on while the waiter went through the gluten free options for me. I was finding it very hard to concentrate with pain shooting up and down my leg and not knowing whether I should sit or stand I kept shuffling about at our table with an unattractive grimace on my face. To buy us some time the Boy ordered some pickled vegetables and oysters to start along with a strong hit of gin for me. I downed a couple of pain killers in one gulp and waited for my pain to subside.
As the gin coursed its way through my veins, my pain gave way to discomfort allowing me to sit back on my bar stool and knock back some Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters. I could take my focus away from my torn muscle and concentrate on the menu enough to select a couple of larger dishes to share. We started with the silken tofu with marinated eggplant and coriander after being advised it was gluten free. It wasn’t until the waitress actually brought the cooked dish to our table that she then paused and exclaimed “Oh! This isn’t gluten free!” and whisked it away quickly. I wish I hadn’t got to smell and see the dish because it looked amazing and I really felt like I had missed out. Boo hoo to gluten.
I had heard many good things about Supernormal’s lobster rolls so you can imagine my joy when our apologetic waitress told me they could do a gluten free version of this dish using a lettuce leaf cup instead of the brioche bun. The Boy ordered the standard version which although small for the price did get a number of exclamations and groans of pleasure out of the man.
Whilst not getting to enjoy the texture and flavour on the brioche bun, I was hardly missing out with the sang chow bow styles lettuce cups. The lobster was sweet, fresh and all the colours of delicious. For a brief moment there I could almost forget I was a cripple again. Food has a wonderful way of making things better in the short term.
I will definitely be returning for a few more rounds of these next trip to Melbourne hopefully without any injuries to distract me!
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIA 3000 | (03) 9650 8688 | www.supernormal.net.au
For our short Christmas trip home to Melbourne we managed to fit in two separate Christmas family celebrations, a friend’s wedding, five days of pre and post wedding celebrations and a spot of shopping. I also successfully squeezed in a quick brunch date with Mum before she flew back to Adelaide and we returned to Perth. We met up out the front of a café called Top Paddock in Richmond on Boxing Day. There was already a reasonable queue heading out the door and round the street so I put our name down and we stood and waited outside in the sunshine. Despite a long queue, the restaurant achieved a quick table turnover and before long we were seated.
Still in a post-Christmas day food daze I could barely focus on the menu in front of me. There were a lot of gluten free options and much of the produce used was obtained direct from the producers locally in Victoria.
Mum has always been an eggs benny fan and consequently ordered hers without a moment of hesitation. It was served with pulled ham hock rather than the usual sliced ham. The pork was soft and flavoursome but sadly her poached eggs lacked any egg porn ooze.
I opted for the gin and limed cured Huon ocean trout fillet served with pickled baby beets, a couple of cubes of potato gallete, goats curd and poached eggs. Each component was awkwardly placed about my plate, without any real relation to each other.
I was in better luck with my eggs and was spoilt with a delightfully sunny cascade of goo after nervously poking a hole into it with my knife.
Is it normal to put such a high level of expectation on something as simple as a perfectly poached egg? Maybe, but then that comes with the territory of being a food connoisseur maybe.
The Boy was very pleased with his choice of a fresh Queensland soft-shelled crab roll. Served in a Brioche bun with a fennel and dill salad, the bun had a satisfying crunchy exterior and light puffy inside with a subtly sweet flavour. In my tired and overindulged state I could have nearly shed a tear hearing how good it was as there wasn’t any remotely gluten free about this dish for me to try.
The service at Top Paddock was much quicker than we had anticipated leaving us with a small amount of time to share a bite of something sweet. I love two course breakfasts. There were a couple of gluten free options in addition to some raw and vegan treats too.
I chose the raw peppermint slice as I wanted to critique it compared to my own version. When it came to the presentation this slice definitely won over mine, it was pretty. I always like to think that my food has a rustic charm however some may prefer to describe it as border lining on amateur. Despite its neat and cute appearance, I cannot deny my raw peppermint slice has a better flavour and always leaves me wanting more. With this slice I was satisfied with just a shared mouthful between three. Maybe that is a good thing.
When I was ordering dessert for us, I wasn’t sure if my mum would be into the whole raw, vegan thing and ordered a safe option of a gluten free lemon and berry cheesecake. There was nothing sugar-free about this one and it came complete with a hit of central berrylicious goo in the middle.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp doesn’t get to spend even half the time she wants with her mum. Consequently she will always try to pay, thinking that the gift of food somewhat makes up for their time apart. What makes this tricky is her mother feels the same and this time round insisted it was her turn to pay. Thanks Mum xx
658 Church Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 | (03) 9429 4332 | toppaddockcafe.com
Reflecting back on last year I have a mixed bag of emotions. It was a roller-coaster experience of opportunity coupled with some of my darkest times in years. I expected 2014 to be a wonderful year of post–wedding bliss but sadly the Boy and I were not that lucky. A family feud that commenced in the months before our wedding resulted in my family fragmenting apart, and then to add to this heartbreak my business came very close to a similar fate. Worst of all, one of my friends was tragically killed in a horrific car accident.
Whilst trying to deal with all of this turmoil, I injected my energy into writing and saw this humble blog blossom into something even my critical mind can be proud of.
As direct result of such a year I neglected spending time with many of my friends. The only occasions I would see many of them would be at invited foodie events and even then this would be a rushed and distracted moment in time.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend my time more wisely and make more effort to hang with those I heart. Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and Perth Food Truck Rumble is one of the first food bloggers that I became close friends with. We first met after both being accepted to attend Eat Drink Blog ‘12 in Adelaide. Both being a little quirky in our own individual ways, we connected immediately and have been great friends ever since.
Following with my New Years promise to myself, I met with Ai-Ling for a ladies lunch at Circa in Mount Lawley. Being able to chat without all the fan fare of an official foodie event was such a better way to share company. I need to make time to do this more often.
Circa do not indicate on their menu gluten free options however after a brief chat to our waitress she was confidently able to let me know what I could have. She showed a deeper level of understanding of what constitutes a gluten free dish explaining that some dishes don’t contain gluten however they will still have some contamination and therefore would not be suitable for Coeliacs and those very sensitive.
The chicken parfait was served with toasted gluten free bread. We were kindly offered normal bread for Ai-Ling to enjoy and each serve of bread was served on separate plates to ensure no mixing of crumbs. The parfait was velvety smooth and reminded me of the enormous dish Mum always makes for us around Christmas time. She does everything from scratch and we eat parfait on toast for days until it’s all devoured.
For our main we shared the roasted duck, a tender slightly pink breast served on cauliflower purée and charred cabbage with a sweet apricot jus. Not the most fructose friendly of choices but I have been eating so much vegan dishes in my post-Christmas guilt that I was craving some poultry.
Sadly we ran out of time to hit the dessert menu. I don’t think there was a silent moment for the whole two hours that we sat together and it felt like our time was over in a flash. Of all the lessons I learnt last year, one of those is that life can be short. Sometimes a lot shorter than you were ever expecting. Taking time out from the rat race of life to laugh, connect and share with those you love is so important.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for this meal as a gesture of friendship however also because Ai-Ling actually ran out of time and had to race off for an appointment. Time really did escape us!
Growing up in a small family unit means that when it breaks apart, the blow is a harder one to deal with. Having less people for the impact to disperse energy leaves each individual with a harder knock. This Christmas we travelled back to Melbourne to spend time with my family however the logistics of who sees who and when became even more complicated than ever before. My sister and I non-amicably parted ways in the lead up to my wedding, not my choice, and although time has passed the wounds still remain fresh for us both. To further complicate the issue, my parents are divorced which means we would normally spend Christmas with them each individually, dining with Dad on Christmas Eve and with Mum on Christmas Day.
Being estranged from my sister meant this usual arrangement would not be possible. Consequently, the plan was for the Boy and I to have Mum’s company for Christmas Eve whilst my sister spent time with our father, and then we would swap over for Christmas Day.
We organised to have Mum for the full day so I could maximise our time together, starting with a beautiful lunch booked at Stokehouse City. Being only minutes walk from where we staying it was the perfect location.
We both arrived laden with bulky gifts and beaming Christmas cheer smiles. I have laboured too long over the sadness of our family situation and am actively trying to move forward and embrace what moments I have with a positive mind.
Mum and the Boy started with the seared Harvey Bay scallops for entrée. This was an interesting mix of flavours with cauliflower purée, strawberries, macadamias and crisp pancetta.
I chose the steak tartare served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, horseradish and mascarpone. Plump, super sweet ruby grapes and wafery potato crisps garnished the dish. The beef was freshly diced and had a very clean aftertaste. This was a modern take of a classic done exceptionally well.
For our main course both Mum and I chose the John Dory fillet. I knew there was going to be some hard core feasting over the next few days and figured starting off eating light would be a kind way to ease my gut into it. The fish was tossed with peppery watercress, toasted almonds and local mussels and served on a bed of richly flavoured Romesco sauce.
The Boy ordered the O’Connor’s pasture fed beef tenderloin served perfectly rare to order and topped with a cascade of smashed roasted potatoes and herbs.
Feeling brief pangs of sadness that I wouldn’t be joining Mum for our traditional lunch at Vue de Monde the following day, I decided to push the boat out and managed to coerce her into ordering both cheese and desserts. I know, I know. I said I would stop this habit as I have put on too much weight this year but then isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
For dessert, we ordered the two gluten free options and shared them amongst the three of us. The lemon and raspberry Eton mess was like a garden of deliciousness with tumbles of fresh berries, champagne jelly and buttermilk ice cream. I nearly regretted electing to share as I savoured every mouthful.
Our second choice was “The Bombe”, Stokehouse’s take on a Bombe Alaska. It made a stunning sight although my drunken photography didn’t really do it justice. Sadly the toasted meringue tasted a bit too gluey and not very fresh. The meringue layered over a centre layer of strawberry sorbet and a white chocolate parfait base.
With full bellies and fuelled with champagne we exchanged our gifts before gathering them all up and walking over to the cinema to see a movie of Mum’s choice. It was late when the movie finished but knowing we wouldn’t get to see each other the following day none of us wanted this day to end. To finish the evening we travelled up to the Atrium Bar on level 35 at the Sofitel to enjoy a few nightcaps before finally bidding farewell and turning it in.
The following day was Christmas Day. Back in the day when I spent this with my sister, it would often be a day of extremes and drama; certainly not all bad but definitely not all good. Some people just don’t cope well under pressure and invariably I would end up bring the scapegoat for most of the day’s hiccups and problems.
Although it was sad and out of place to not be with Mum, this new way of doing Christmas Day was such a relaxed and chilled affair that it almost didn’t feel real.
We ate all day as one always does on Christmas; feasting on roasted goose, baked ham and the most addictive duck fat potatoes. But all this was done without a single element of drama.
Our hosts for the day were my Stepmum’s sister and her husband. My Stepmum’s sister is a master in the kitchen as well as also being the author of the blog Cioccolata Bella.
Everything was made from scratch using local seasonal produce where ever possible, much of it just from her backyard veggie patch.
There was even some gluten free mince pies and plum pudding for me to enjoy. In fact, another guest was Coeliac so there weren’t just token gluten free options, everyone was very mindful of avoiding contamination in the kitchen.
Reflecting back in the peace of mid-January, I appreciate that our return home for Christmas wasn’t what I am used to in years gone by yet despite this change I still got to spend quality time with those I love. And that is the most important thing.
7 Alfred Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000 | (03) 9525 5555 | stokehouse.com.au/city
Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held each year in the Margaret River wine region. It has become a yearly favourite for locals and a huge drawcard for people interstate and internationally. Last year the festival clashed with some dates we had booked for a close friend’s birthday celebration in Lombok, so I thought we were only going to be able to make it down for the Friday. My usual plan of attack when attending a food festival is a crazed I-must-eat-all-the-things caper. I hate the thought that I might miss out on something delicious and end up booking back to back events like a lunatic. This approach often comes at a significant cost and thus our budget for these weekends is usually quite substantial.
When it dawned upon me that I only had a single day for Gourmet Escape, I thought I would push the boat out and chose one of the most expensive events: The International Cabernet Tasting at Cape Mentelle with James Halliday as a guest speaker and matched food by highly acclaimed chefs Jacques Reymond and Hadleigh Troy.
I should have known that it is impossible to try and plan your social life six months in advance. As it drew closer to the month of Gourmet Escape our travel plans fell through and subsequently the whole weekend opened up for us. One door closed and another door opened. I preceded to book a flurry of events and are yet to look at the damage it made on my credit card. I even bought tickets to a Fervor degustation for the evening after the Cabernet Celebration! This proved to be a learning lesson that I can no longer do two big food events in one day.
I have never been to an official wine tasting event before and whilst I am very experienced at drinking wine, I am a total amateur when it comes to tasting and describing wines. Cape Mentelle’s International Cabernet tasting is an event that has been running for over thirty years and at each event they select international wines from vintages from a specific year.
There were twenty wines selected for blind tasting from the vintage 2011. Cameron Murphy, the Estate Director at Cape Mentelle advised us that 2011 was a challenging year for many wine growing regions around the world resulting in some top labels not releasing a Cabernet or requesting that their wines were not to be included in the line-up for this event.
The wines were divided into three “brackets” and after tasting each bracket, we would congregate outside under the vines and listen to some top wine critics from around the country analyse and give their opinions. It was a very serious affair and once the tasting got under way the only noise I could hear were clinks of glasses hitting together and the occasional slurp from professional tasters spotted around the room.
We were given note books and pencils to take our own notes and with the ban on talking this gave me an opportunity to actually think about what I was tasting from each glass.
It took a couple of hours to get through the three brackets of wine accompanied by the wine critic’s discussions by which point I was desperate for something to eat. There was some plain bread and pear slices available to cleanse the palate between each bracket which I obviously couldn’t eat. After the tasting were completed, the list of wines were revealed for us to see. It was a proud moment to see that most of the critic’s best wine choices were from local WA wineries. Where the world had a bad vintage, our state seemed to come out with flying colours. Go WA!
Wines in order of tasting:
- Ridge Montebello (Napa Valley, USA)
- Woodlands (Margaret River, Australia)
- Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ (Frankland River, Australia)
- Mount Mary (Yarra Valley, Australia)
- Château Pichon – Longueville Baron, (Paulliac, Bordeaux)
- Domaine A (Tasmania, Australia)
- Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
- Wendouree (Claire, Australia)
- Spottswoode (Napa Valley, USA)
- Cloudburst (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cape Mentelle (Margaret River, Australia)
- Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet (Barossa, Australia)
- Château Palmer (Margaux, Bordeaux)
- Moss Wood (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Château Haut Brion (Graves, Bordeaux)
- Xanadu ‘Stevens Road’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Far Niente (Napa Valley, USA)
- Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien, Bordeaux)
- Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
With the formalities of the event over, we relaxed outside under the trees. There was free flowing Verve on pour coupled with some canapés to get us into the mood before lunch. For those first few brief minutes there was no gluten free option on offer and I watched the Boy devour his obscenely amazing smelling marron roll to himself. I was so hungry I nearly had shoestrings of saliva dripping down my face. Working my way through twenty wines has a way of doing that to my appetite! Thankfully I wasn’t kept waiting long and my own gluten free adapted marron roll made its way out of the kitchen before the Boy even had a chance to finish his.
The most popular canapé served was by far the Arkady lamb breast. Hardly an elegant morsel to eat at the best of times, I was lucky not to be wearing most of what I ate. Or maybe that was just the drool. After skipping breakfast followed by downing all those wines, I am assuring you I ate quite a few of these babies! 😉
After multiple rounds of lamb and marron, we made our way down onto the lawn where a beautiful white marquee was erected for lunch. We had live entertainment and the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial compared to the intense concentration and silence during the tastings.
Our first course was a velvety textured, slow cooked ocean trout served with a tomato and basil dressing, lemon celeriac remoulade and spiced marinated cucumber. After a morning of heavy reds, it was a nice interlude to lighten up the palate. The trout was matched with Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012.
For the main course we received a tender Butterfield beef short rib alongside some charred carrots and pine nut cream. To pair with this dish all twenty of the 2011 Cabernets that we tasted earlier were brought out and poured liberally until the late afternoon. I appreciated why this event cost so much as they were very generous with the serves.
We ended our incredible day with a cheese board containing some of my favourite French cheeses; Marcel Petite Gruyere de Comte, Fourme d’Ambert and Jouvence Brie Fermier. I was even given gluten free crackers on the side which was thoughtful of the chefs.
The Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting was an incredibly unique experience and something quite unlike anything I have done before. It is a long day of drinking with the event starting at 10am and running into the late afternoon. It attracted both serious wine buffs and amateurs like me and had a non-pretentious and relaxed vibe…provided you do not talk during the tasting (note to self).
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for her ticket to the Gourmet Escape International Cabernet Celebration 2014. And, for those enquiring….no, she did not fall on her head at this event. She did however discover that Jacques Reymond is her father’s dopplerganger and consequently filled by Cabernet she MAY have waltzed over to the famous chef with the Boy armed with a photo of her father on her phone to enlighten Jacques of this fact. Suffice to say Jacques had swilled his own substantial quantity of Cabernet that afternoon and was left somewhat confused by our excitement. She will let you decided for yourselves.