There are so many fantastic foodie events on around the City of Perth for the month of April as part of their Eat Drink Perth Festival. Many of the degustations and roving dinners start at over $150 per person and some are up over $200. For those that have money to burn on these events I can highly recommend heading to a few as they are well worth the expense. However I realise that this is not possible for everyone’s budget so I have tried to recreate the roving dinner experience using a collection of vouchers from the Eat Drink Perth Passport. The Eat Drink Perth Passport is a booklet containing a number of discount vouchers for use at venues located around the City.
My dear friend Tara and I managed to enjoy an extended four course lunch covering four different locations in the city for the grand total of $164.50 for two people including drinks. Yes, that is for two people! It works out to be close to half the price of the ticketed events. We called it our “DIY Roving Lunch” and I can highly recommend giving the concept a go before the Passport vouchers run out at the end of the month.
To set myself in the mood and to give me the freedom to enjoy a few drinks I decided to walk into the city from my house in Vic Park. It works out to be about a 90 minute stroll which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem however I foolishly didn’t check the forecast before heading out on foot. By the time I was halfway there I was sweltering. At this point I checked my phone to see that the day was well on its way to hitting a maximum of about 35 C.
By the time I arrived at our first checkpoint The Terrace Hotel, my face was as red as a beetroot and in no way was I looking glamorous enough for a ladies lunch. The Terrace was nearly fully booked and I was lucky to get us a table.
Within minutes of being seated we were given some complimentary bread; normal baguette for Tara and gluten free toasted bread for myself. We both ordered a glass of Madame Coco sparkling wine from the Aude Valley in France ($11 each).
Our voucher for The Terrace Hotel allowed us to buy one main meal off the à la carte menu and get the second one for free. We weren’t ready to launch into a main course immediately so we started with an entrée to share while we enjoyed our complimentary bread. The menu has a number of dishes marked gluten free however our waitress told us some of the other dishes can also be adapted.
We started with the seared scallops on a disc of richly flavoured Linley Valley pressed pork and scattered with capers and watercress. I was informed that the watercress is hand-picked from the chef’s own garden! On reflection at the end of the day, this scallop dish ended up being the highlight for both of us. The blend of soft scallop, creamy cauliflower purée, salty pork and peppery watercress balanced beautifully and it was presented immaculately. Each scallop was fresh, plump and tender and required very little effort to chew.
A number of the mains could be adapted to be gluten free however I wanted to choose the dish that required minimal alterations. Our waitress recommended the Cone Bay barramundi served with crispy skin and grilled to a buttery soft texture. Having first tried this top class barramundi at Eat Drink Perth’s launch party I knew I was in for special treat. The flesh is quite unlike your standard barramundi, with a soft clean finish.
The side dish that accompanied my fish included a baby Exmouth octopus and fennel salad, a half-cob of charred corn and a saffron poached prawn. An interesting combination but it worked. Being the WA Signature Dish official blogger for the Gascoyne region I felt proud to do my duty and have ingredients in my dish that came from the North West of our State.
Tara ordered the Amelia Park beef cheek. A thick nub of meat that had been slow cooked for 12 hours to the point it literally disintegrated under her fork. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my fish I cannot deny I was in envy of that luscious looking chunk of beef.
Her beef was served with some porcini gnocchi that were curiously deep-fried. Tara described them as a crispy skinned, porcini potato croquette and despite not being a traditional way to serve gnocchi she still enjoyed them. To add to more lovely earthy mushroominess, the gnocchi sat on a bed of sautéed oyster, Portebello and button mushrooms.
Despite a very attractive looking dessert menu at The Terrace, we paid our bill and moved onto our next venue; Cheeky Sparrow in Wolf Lane. Wolf Lane has come alive over the past twelve months with a number of great little eateries well worth checking out. I love the feel of being tucked away down a little laneway, it brings up memories of our time living in London where around every nook and cranny you find activity and life.
Cheeky Sparrow’s Eat Drink Perth Passport voucher offers a WA cheeseboard paired with a bottle of either Xabregas Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz for a total of $55. They have gluten free bread available too. The platter contained three Australian cheeses; Tarago River Shadows of Blue, Woodside Charleston Jersey Brie and Old Telegraph Road Mt Baw Baw Gouda.
Alongside the cheese was some Cabernet paste, an oozylicious hunk of raw honeycomb and a very generous mound of toasted gluten free bread. For those with fructose malabsorption, please avoid eating the amazing looking raw honey comb. We are not supposed to eat honey as it is high in fructose.
Our third stop was The Stables Bar for dessert. They offer a dessert tasting platter with the chef’s selection of three desserts for $18. This platter can be adapted to be gluten free.
The first dessert was a deconstructed wagon wheel with a combination of marshmallow, rich dark chocolate ice cream and a sweet raspberry sorbet.
The second component was an Eton mess with tumbles of fresh peaches and plums with meringue and apricot crisps.
The third element was a fluffy light passionfruit and cardamom cream mousse served with passionfruit jelly and a cup of pistachio mango lassi. The lassi was a little overly sour for my liking but I realise that is how they are meant to taste. I only had a small sip anyway as I cannot tolerate mango due to fructose. It was served with a gluten free hazelnut and pistachio biscotti.
Our final stop was for petit fours in the form of a macaron. Jean Pierre Sancho have a buy one get one free voucher in the Passport for their popcorn macaron flavour. With subtle hints of popcorn and a sweet macaron finish this was the perfect finale I needed before braving the sun for the long, slow walk home. By the time I hit the South Perth foreshore I gave up and was thankful that my loving husband empathised and came to pick me up to drive me the rest of the way home.For our DIY Roving Lunch we used the following Eat Drink Perth Passport vouchers: The Terrace Hotel: Buy one main meal and get one main meal free from the a la carte menu for lunch or dinner. Cheeky Sparrow: WA Cheese platter and bottle of Xabregas wine for $55, gluten free bread on request. The Stables Bar: Dessert tasting platter for $18, gluten free option available on request. Jean Pierre Sancho: Buy one popcorn macaron get one free for $2.50. Disclaimer: This roving lunch was funded for by the City of Perth as part of the Eat Drink Perth festival. The individual venues did not receive advance notice of my arrival. Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and runs for the whole month of April 2014. For more information head to the Eat Drink Perth website. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au Cheeky Sparrow 1/317 Murray St, Perth WA 6000 (entry off Wolf Lane) | 0405 550 286 | www.cheekysparrow.com.au www.thestablesbar.com.au Jean Pierre Sancho 878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au
Having food intolerances can be a real pain if you also happen to be a foodie. Over the years I have learnt not to get fixated with a particular dish on the menu as there is always a good chance that I won’t be able to eat it. Some restaurants are compassionate of our allergic needs and clearly identify the gluten free dishes on their menu which makes ordering food so much easier. I look forward to the day I see a fructose friendly marked menu.
Thankfully, my fructose malabsorption causes me much less severe symptoms than my gluten intolerance does. Provided that I strictly avoid all gluten, I can afford to occasionally be a little lenient on the fructose. We were recently invited to Foodie Craving’s Crust Gourmet Pizza store in Mount Lawley to give feedback on their new free WIFI installed in store. The event didn’t start until 8pm so the Boy and I decided to stop en route to Solomon’s Café on Beaufort Street. The concept of an entirely gluten free restaurant is one that already gives me warm fuzzies, but at Solomon’s Café it is also all organic AND dairy free – it almost sounds too good to be true!
Knowing we had an evening of pizza feasting ahead of us, we planned to have a light snack only but as is often the case we may have ended up ordering a bit more than we necessarily needed.
Maybe I should just blame it on the meal sizes? When I chose the raw zucchini pasta, I certainly wasn’t expecting the towering mountain that came to the table. Nor did I plan ahead and ask for the omission of onion. Having eaten raw zucchini pasta on several occasions myself at home, I have grown to really love the texture and will make a great effort to make sure each “pasta” strip is made from the entire length of the zucchini to give long luxurious spaghetti-like strands. For this time round I was disappointed to find my pasta was made from short, comparatively fat pieces of zucchini that would have only been about 6-7 centimetres long. It felt a bit like I was eating a grated zucchini salad. It was tasty, but not what I was anticipating.
The beetroot gnocchi was much more satisfying although that may be in part because I so rarely get to order gnocchi as most are made using wheat flour. They tasted a little doughy yet still had a light texture and matched well with the vegan pesto drizzled lavishly over the top.
As soon as I saw there were vegan nachos on the menu I had a gut feeling the Boy would order this for himself. I was quietly hoping he wouldn’t as we had only recently shared raw nachos at The Raw Kitchen the week before. I like to have interesting and different dishes to photograph and write about but he just wasn’t having it. It was a much bigger serve than The Raw Kitchen and he preferred the salsa as it was more flavoursome.
Continuing in our quest to try and abstain from alcohol for sixty days we each ordered a healthy antioxidant packed drink. I chose the “Bloody Detox” juice squeezed full of fructose friendly beetroot, carrot, celery, parsley, ginger and lemon. The Boy chose the vegan but creamy mango lassi made with mango, coconut milk, cinnamon, cardamom.
Pleasantly but not overly satiated we strolled up Beaufort Street to Crust. I was glad I had left a bit of room for some pizza as they always have plenty of gluten free options for me. The purpose of the evening was to trial run their new free in-store WIFI to assess how useful it would be for their customers and if it was easy to access without guidance.
As we made ourselves comfortable on the alfresco tables some starters were brought out including the gluten free oregano verdi and parmesan squares. All my vegan efforts were thrown out the window as I couldn’t refuse the offer of such cheesy deliciousness like this. Crust’s gluten free bases taste incredibly “normal” and fellow blogger Jacqui from Pantry in Suburbia commented how she couldn’t even tell it was gluten free.
After polishing off some starters we ran through an online questionnaire using the free WIFI. It was very simple to connect across the variety of devices everyone were using and the Internet speed was much quicker than my Optus 3G network. For the gluten free pizza option we chose the Szechuan Chilli Prawn. Crunchy spicy seasoned prawns were scattered generously over the gluten free pizza base along with fresh capsicum, bocconcini and sweet chilli, and then garnished with fresh lemon and chilli. This pizza has a bit of a kick to it and I highly recommend it for those who like a bit of heat.
Crust’s dessert pizzas unfortunately cannot be made gluten free as the gluten free bases are made off site in a gluten free environment to minimise any contamination. I looked on in envy as every devoured the Black Forest Crumble; a decadent dessert pizza layered with custard, mud cake and black cherries, topped with baked crumble, drizzled with berry coulis and dusted with icing sugar. Given that our small table managed to eat its way through two of these, I am guessing they were pretty damn good. Gluten free dessert options at Crust include their chocolate mousse and all their ice cream flavours. The chocolate mousse is by far my favourite. I love how there are numerous little chocolate nibs buried in the mousse.
Solomon’s Café is definitely worth a visit for anyone with dietary issues as the menu is designed for us. Better still they use organic ingredients without the high price tag you would expect. Whilst not all our dishes had a wow factor, I loved how I could order pretty much anything off the menu like back in the days before I knew about my intolerances. Total freedom without all the health issues that used to come with it!Solomon’s Café 487 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 7995 | Facebook Price: $$ (Mains $20-36, Sides/Small bites $5-12) Food: 3/5 (would prefer more vego options given niche target market) Service: 3.5/5 (slow to bring out meals however were packed) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy and vibrant) Drinks: 3.5/5 (both juice and smoothie options, fructose free options) Total: 13.5/20 www.crust.com.au
Yelp is a company that operates a local search website focused on user reviews much like Urbanspoon, however it encompasses all types of businesses not just restaurants and cafes. Whilst Yelp originated in the US nearly ten years ago, it has more recently landed upon our shores in Australia and has grown steadily in its popularity since. Each capital city has its own dedicated team of promoters who host a number of fun events for their “Yelp Elite” reviewers with the aim to help raise the profile of local businesses. I don’t often blog about these events however my most recent experience at Five Bar has made me want to share my renewed opinion of this venue with you.
I first visited Five Bar back in my early blogging days in November 2011. I cannot believe how much my writing style and photography have developed since then! Whilst I didn’t have anything truly negative to say about that visit, I did find I was very limited with what I could eat that would suit my food allergies. There was a distinct lack of flexibility with kitchen staff and as a result we didn’t return. When I recently received an invitation to their new Spring menu launch I was intrigued to see how they would handle my requirements this time round.
After being greeted by the always smiling Yelp team, Five Bar’s manager Andy welcomed us warmly and talked us through the philosophy and history behind Five Bar. Later in the evening he came over to me to chat and explained that in previous years gone by his kitchen staff weren’t as familiar in working with customers with food allergies as his current staff are today. He carefully advised me what I could and couldn’t enjoy off their tasting menu and assured me that the kitchen would organise a couple of extra gluten free dishes just for me.
I was happy to see two of my favourite gluten free dishes from my previous visit remained on the menu as regulars; the roasted field mushrooms and the addictive sweet potato fries. The mushrooms are normally served on bread but are just as tasty on their own. The sweet potato fries come with a coriander mayo and are the type of chips you would fight someone over for the last one. The kitchen appeared to be well rehearsed in churning out a number of gluten free options for me over the course of the evening. Now whilst I understand that at a free sponsored event it is impossible to document an honest, accurate review of the food because the chef knows that people will be scrutinising it; I wouldn’t have thought that a total change in attitude towards food allergies would be something that you could fake.
There was a distinct Asian influence with a lot of the dishes making them light and easy to eat, the perfect food to match with a casual Sunday session with friends. The coriander and avocado ceviche with cucumber and crispy salmon skin tasted as fresh as summer and I was informed by the beer drinkers it matched perfectly with the chosen beers from Feral Brewery.
To wrap up the night, Steve from Feral Brewery gave us a very animated and passionate summary of what his microbrewery Feral is about. You can read about my recent visit to Feral Brewing Company here.
It may not come as a surprise to you that after eating all this food the Boy and I still wanted more. I take this food blogging career very seriously; it’s not a successful foodie outing until I am bursting at the seams. I am one of those strange people that actually really enjoys the feeling of being overly full. Thankfully the Boy and I were joined by a couple of other like-minded food bloggers; Whitney from dineWHITme and Sandy from Hungry Again. The four of us bundled ourselves up in jackets and scarves and traipsed down Beaufort Street to the Beaufort Street Merchant.
As always the Merchant had plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options to satisfy our needs. I particularly liked their chick pea chips. Thick cut like polenta, they were fluffy light inside almost like tofu.
Whit and Sandy shared the potato gnocchi which we were informed they considered it to be the best gnocchi in town. With added truffled Swiss Brown mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts and comte cheese it may have been a fair statement. Oh gluten why do you have to be in gnocchi?
I ordered the vitello tonnato; thinly sliced veal dressed with a thick tuna mayo, crispy capers and crumbed mozzarella that I was assured by our waiter was gluten free. I also ordered some baby potatoes on the side which came with Brussel sprouts and truffled mayo. I must admit that as I ate each indulgent ball of crumbed mozzarella, there were alarm bells going off in the back depths of my brain saying: “Warning! Warning! Gluten alert!”. I mean since when are crumbed mozzarella balls gluten free? However courtesy of the sultry dim lighting, excesses of wine and abundance of good conversation my subconscious’s attempt to save me was wasted.
The Boy ordered the organic spelt salad which almost looked too healthy to be tasty but I was assured that not only did his body thank him but so did his taste buds. The spelt was tossed through some spicy Harissa along with coriander, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and radish.
This night was one of those rare occasions where was no room for dessert and as the Boy and I both had to start work the following day at an obscenely early hour we were happy to call it a night. The penny didn’t drop that I had eaten gluten until much later into the wee hours of the morning when I was woken by the delightful effects that gluten casts upon me. Suffice to say my next day at work was quite a grim one. Gluten makes me very fuzzy in the head and it is no surprise that I ended up crashing my car on the way home from work! Damn you gluten! I was left feeling very disappointed as I have always thoroughly enjoyed my visits to the Beaufort Street Merchant. Not anymore. On a brighter note, I’ll be sure to be returning to Five Bar.www.fivebar.com.au www.beaufortmerchant.com
I originally starting blogging as a natural progression from my love of food photography and eating out. Finding a restaurant that caters for peeps like me with food intolerances without compromising the wow factor rocks my world. Naturally over time my blog has morphed to begin to include the occasional recipe. Whilst I have never claimed to have talent in the kitchen I do enjoy cooking things from scratch and my need to alter and change recipes due to my intolerances has developed into a passionate love of cooking. When I received an invite to the launch of the Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes I was intrigued and excited to see what these classes were all about.
Cooking classes are a fabulous way to improve your skills and what better way to learn than from the masters themselves. The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are an initiative organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Chamber has recently just finalised their list of certified Italian restaurants in Perth that have qualified for the internationally recognised Ospitalita’ Italianana quality assurance seal. This is a certification recognised by the Italian Government to protect the traditions of Italian agricultural and food products and value Italian gastronomic culture. The guidelines to achieve accreditation are very strict and amongst more than 1000 certified restaurants around the world, 11 of those are here in lil’ Western Australia!
The certified restaurants in WA are:
- * Galileo Buona Cucina, Shenton Park
- * Gargano Restaurant, Nedlands
- * Italians, Dianella
- * Maretti Caffe Cucina, Mosman Park
- * Maurizio’s Restaurant, Perth
- * Millioncino, Perth
- * Modo Mio, Crown Casino
- * Osteria Dei Sapori, Nedlands
- * Paradiso Restaurant, Attadale
- * Perugino Restaurant, West Perth
- * Villa D’Este Restaurant, West Perth
In true Italian style, there was far too much food for the evening launch and we were thoroughly stuffed with all the finger food before it even got to the main dishes. Not that it stopped any of us of course. Although a lot of the food was not gluten free, the smooth talking waiters made sure the suitable options kept heading my way. I feel rude turning food down and when it all tastes this good, well what can you do?
The prawn and pancetta prawns were the absolute bomb. Sticky balsamic drizzled over crunchy prawns wrapped in crisp salty pancetta. I’m sure I downed at least half a dozen of these babies.
The first two mains of ravioli and gnocchi were off the menu for me and I got a lot of sympathetic looks from the others as they slurped and scoffed down what I can only presume was really good!
I made up for it with the following main dishes which resultantly meant I ended up with very little photographic proof as I was too busy stuffing my face. The rack of lamb was the biggest winner for me; marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano they were the juiciest chops I have ever eaten (and that is a big call). I ended up eating way too many.
The night ended with some perfectly set pannacotta and without waiting for all those chops to hit the bottom of my stomach I downed one of each flavour. My favourite was definitely the pistachio pannacotta with berry sauce. What a total pig. I was glad the Boy drove us home as I slipped into a little nap on the drive back.
The Accento Italian Cooking Master Classes are held at the Accento Showroom, 256 Stirling Highway in Claremont. There will be 6 evening classes each hosted by one of the local chefs from the Ospitalita’ Italianana certified restaurants.
The cooking classes run from the 20th May until the 9th September 2013. All classes start at 6.30pm and you will all get to enjoy you meal at the end of the class. The cost per class is $90 and includes matched wines, or it’s $500 for the full course of six. Click here for more information.Chompchomp was an invited guest of the ICCI and was able to enjoy this feast free of charge. Getting a free feed does not however buy my praise and I strive to ensure accurately documenting my experiences without bias.
Having only just celebrated my first blogiversary last month, I consider myself somewhat of a newcomer to Perth’s food blogger ranks. What has truly amazed me and touched my heart profoundly is the strong sense of community amongst fellow bloggers. Despite my inexperience, I have been graciously greeted with open arms not just by other fresh(wo)men like myself, but by those with popular, well-established and recognised blogs. It certainly does make a fresh change from the comparatively serious and introverted veterinary world.
Four bloggers from Perth including yours truly were selected to attend the third annual Eat.Drink.Blog conference this year in Adelaide. In preparation for our highly anticipated weekend away, we met up during the week prior for dinner to talk “blogger’s stuff” and of course to eat!
After a few restaurant options were toyed around, we ended up agreeing on West End Deli in West Perth. Snuggled in the residential end of West Perth, West End Deli is a quaint little bistro owned by a husband and wife duo; Justin and Christine Peters. I had been here once several years ago and confess my previous experience back then wasn’t very memorable. I vaguely recall the kitchen appearing to have strong reluctance to adapt any dishes for me and that we waited well over 45 minutes for our breakfast meals only for them to forget our coffees. Twice. Having said that, this was quite some time ago and I know one should try to avoid forming a strong judgement from just one experience.
It’s incredible how the same dining room, with all the same interiors, can change its whole persona at night. The casual, sunlit café I remember from previously had magically transformed into a sombre, intimate and classy bistro. It wasn’t long before we all arrived and with glasses of wine in hand we relaxed into the vibe. Some unexpected amuse bouche were brought to our table; a crisp homemade wonton piped with creamy herb and goats cheese and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Being unable to eat the wonton, a plump little ball of pear filled with the cheese was offered to me as a replacement. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or fussy, I quickly chowed down on a glucose tablet before I slipped my juicy treat into my mouth. Being such a small amount of pear, it is easy to counteract the fructose with a small dose of glucose. For times like these, I carry these tablets everywhere with me.
Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse started with the potato and pickled sardine terrine topped with a curl of crème fraîche and a poached yabby tail.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings was initially reluctant to order herself an entrée as we had already earmarked a couple of dishes on the dessert menu and she sensibly wanted to pace herself. The ricotta gnocchi managed to twist her rubber arm when the waitress informed her it would be no trouble to omit the candied olives and replace with an alternate ingredient. The gnocchi were light, mini sized pillows, tossed in fresh sage and garlic and tumbled over a thick smear of pesto sauce.
I chose the slow cooked egg for entrée as my obsession with these gelatinous beauties continues. Perched on a nest of crumbled bacon it was accompanied a pea mash flavoured with white anchovies and lashings of truffle oil. Weblike shavings of Reggiano cheese were sprinkled on top. I struggled to do this dish justice with my photography in the flickering candle light however suffice to say my palate was rewarded. This breakfast-esque spin on bacon and eggs was a winner.
Moni from Gastromony chose the elegantly plated charred octopus. Coated with a thin chermoula crust it came with pear and walnut salad and a smear of blood orange. Kudos to her assistance with taking a photo for me as my go-go gadget arms couldn’t reach across the table without losing some degree of decorum. I still get a little embarrassed and feel awkward taking photos of people’s meals as deep in my heart I feel like a novice.
Ideas of pork belly and spatchcock failed to get past the consideration stages for any of us and we all opted for the snapper for mains. The fish was seared to a butter smooth consistency and balanced precariously over some prawns and mussels. A thin saffron coloured broth gave a subtle perfumey bitterness to sharpen the softer flavours of this dish. Tarry coloured squid ink brandade was blobbed on top and gave a pleasant piquant aftertaste. Brandade is French sauce made from an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil.
The girls all ordered the potted cheesecake for dessert. It was served in the same adorable little pots that I saw Rochelle Adonis’s salted caramel mousse recently. Apparently she imports them from France. What was much more curious about this dish was that next to the pot laid an innocent little tube labelled “Squeeze Me” containing salted dulche de leche.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I wondered if my new found friends would slowly start shrinking in their seats to become miniature pint-sized versions of their former selves. Thankfully the only surprise to follow was the unexpected layer of popping candy on top of the cheesecake. No one had any trouble finishing off their desserts which is always a good sign.
I was informed by our waitress that none of their desserts on the menu were gluten free however in complete contrast to my experience at West End Deli many moons ago, the chef kindly rose to the occasion and wasn’t going to let me miss out by any means. I was offered a honey vanilla parfait served with a caramelised warm banana. Grateful for their efforts once more, I didn’t bother going through the finer details that fructose malabsorbers cannot have honey. I presumed the amount would indeed be small anyway so I sneakily crunched on another couple of glucose tablets. My parfait was a little icy and hard for my liking but this was made up for by the dulcet banana.
I have to be honest; my recent experience at West End Deli has turned my opinion around for the better. They were accommodating for our varied requests and their service was discrete yet warm and welcoming. As we left the kitchen staff bid us all farewell from the open plan kitchen; a nice touch. I think I am going to have to give their breaky another try.West End Deli 95 Carr Street, West Perth, WA 6005 | (08) 9328 3605 | www.westenddeli.net.au Price: $$$ ($25-35 per meal, BYO) Food: 7.5/10 (flexible with requests, small menu executed well) Service: 4/5 (attentive without being obtrusive, warm and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (very dark ambiance, would be romantic for couples) Drinks: Unable to assess as BYO. Total: 15.5/20
What a horrific week it’s been for me! This persistent stomach bug has put me out of action for the whole week!. It started brewing on my wedding dress shopping day with my bestie and then developed more dramatically into a further two days at home in bed. I always get racked with guilt whenever I take a sick day as everyone else’s work load increases to compensate for my absence. So when I woke up on the fourth day and managed to hold a piece of toast down I figured surely I must be good to go. I was wrong and a few hours later my manager sent me home ashen-faced and dizzy.
Being our first Easter off together in several years, I had booked a weekend getaway with the Boy down in Margaret River which also happened to coincide with our 14th anniversary celebration. Prior to falling sick I was so excited about this little minibreak and was looking forward to a few days of eating, drinking and romantic fun. As I sat unusually quietly in the car on the drive down, I accepted that although I am not feeling at my best I was not going to let it ruin our holiday.
We didn’t arrive until the late afternoon on Good Friday by which I was too tired to consider the notion that I may want to blog about our accommodation so dear readers please forgive me for the lack of any photos. We stayed at Chandeliers on Abbey in Yallingup and were quite impressed with the quality of the chalet – it had a fabulous sound system with speakers throughout the chalet, warmed bathroom tiles, and a fridge stocked with fresh milk, OJ, eggs and butter. The kitchen was well equipped and there were candles all about the chalet to help give more atmosphere.
After relaxing on the deck for some time, we headed out to Gnarabar Bar and Bistro which was seemingly one of the only places I could find open on a Good Friday. Situated just out of Margaret River Township near the Gnarabup beach, the bar was humming with life and nearly full capacity. The staff seemed a little run off their feet and perhaps also a tad disorganised.
Seeing a menu clearly marked with gluten-free options always instills hope for an easy ordering experience. If gluten-free dishes are regular menu items then this indicates to me that the kitchen must be familiar with correct food preparation for us more challenging customers. I ordered the gluten-free option of chilli salted calamari with Thai chilli jam and lime. I just wanted a light snack for entrée as my stomach had shrunk from my lack of food intake during the week as a result of being so unwell.
When my dish arrived, it was coated in batter and for some reason I thought there was a chance it wasn’t actually gluten-free. I asked the waiter who assured me this was gluten-free batter and I was totally fine to eat it. Fortunately my usual ritual of photo taking delayed me starting to eat this dish as a few minutes later the same waiter came out of the kitchen looking a little flustered exclaiming I can’t eat it and that it WASN’T gluten free. I couldn’t believe my ears! If I hadn’t double checked with the waiter, and then paused to take photos, I would be back to square one with my stomach ills and our romantic weekend would have been ruined. It astounded me that the kitchen allowed this error to occur!
The Boy order the pan-fried gnocchi with rabbit and shiitake mushrooms. I told him not to wait for my replacement meal to arrive before commencing so he could enjoy his while it was still hot. The gnocchi was soft and not too doughy and he said the rabbit was tender and sweet. My dish didn’t end up being brought out to the table until well after he had polished off his gnocchi.
It didn’t actually look a grand deal different from the previous dish but the Boy had snuck a taste of the one with gluten and said it tasted different. Seeing as my appetite wasn’t the best I was happy to share some of my calamari with him rather than have him stare hungrily at me while I ate. I’m not sure what happened to my “chilli jam” as my calamari was served with some aioli…maybe I read the menu wrong. The calamari was fairly bland and not seasoned very well, and although most pieces were tender there were a few chewy ones in there.
There was only one main dish on the menu that was able to be prepared both gluten and onion free and unfortunately it was a fairly unexciting looking chicken breast dish. Thankfully I was informed by our waitress that it wasn’t a problem for the chef to make any of the entrée dishes into a full main meal size for an extra ten bucks. I was impressed with the size of the meal that was to follow. Juicy meaty Moroccan spiced quail served on a creamy pumpkin purée with an olive, feta and parsley salad. The spices were not too overpowering for my delicate gut and the quail were super-sized and succulent.
The boy ordered the 10 hour braised beef cheek with parmesan polenta for his main meal. He was quite disappointed in his choice as the meat was unexpectedly dry and chewy; not tender or flavoursome as he imagined.
There was no way I was going to fit in a third course until I had given myself another day or two for my stomach size to re-expand to its previous size so we skipped dessert – an unusual occurrence for me indeed! We returned to our cosy chalet and flaked out for what was to be one of the best night’s sleep either one of us has had in over a week. Bliss.
For what it is, a casual beach pub, the Gnarabar fits the bill. However despite us using our Entertainment Book discount, we both felt we could get better quality food at better value at many of the beautiful wineries we visited over the following few days. Additionally the oversight of serving me gluten accidentally is of considerable concern not just for me but for other gluten intolerants out there. If I hadn’t asked, I would have found out the hard way a few hours later.
Follow Me on Facebook!Gnarabar Bar and Bistro Margarets Beach Resort, 1 Resort Place, Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, WA 6285 | (08) 9757 1583 | www.gnarabar.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-17, Mains $28-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2/5 (dodged a gluten bullet!) Service: 2.5/5 (friendly but haphazard and disorganized) Ambience: 2.5/5 (bubbling pub vibe, needs more dim lighting too bright in restaurant area) Drinks: 3/5 (some great MR choices, need more by the glass options) Total: 10/20
It was my birthday weekend and I decided to treat myself with a three-day eating and drinking fiesta with the Boy and a few of our close friends. Our first night was a very casual affair at our local Victoria Park favourite Little Ying Thai. My bestie and her man came along with us but as it was a weeknight we all managed to contain ourselves from getting too carried away.
On our second night we seized the rare opportunity for an outing with the Boy’s Best Man along with my two Perth-based bridesmaids. His Best Man works FIFO on a number of mining sites so we don’t get to hang out with him nearly as much as we would like to. Last year during one of Mum’s visits to Perth we took her to Cantina 663 and were all really impressed with our memorable meal. Since then I have been really keen to go back and so I suggested going there to one of my bridesmaids Amber. It turns out Cantina has been on her wish list for some time. Perfect!
Decked out in my brand new outfit from Abercrombie and Fitch (courtesy of my Dad and Stepmum) and feeling like a million bucks, we headed out on the town for a night of fun. We were supposed to start off with meeting everyone at the Flying Scotsman for some pre-dinner drinks but we both took way too long getting ready and subsequently had to head straight to Cantina.
Cantina 663 serves European style food with predominately Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences. They pride themselves on having a fortnightly changing menu that reflects what’s seasonally available locally and they strive to source organic and ecologically sustainable produce when they can.
The wait staff exude edgy style and are energetic and friendly. Our table’s waitress for the evening was very proficient and her passion for food was obvious as she discussed the suitability of each dish with me even prior to chatting with the chef. She was even familiar with the condition fructose malabsorption which I was impressed with. She happily communicated back and forth with the kitchen to assist in creating an adapted family style menu that was ample food for all of us to enjoy despite my allergies.
The pork rillettes were decadently rich and oh so moreish and this dish was the first thing to disappear. I had brought along some Schar brand Italian gluten-free bread with me in preparation as I recall from our last experience that a lot of Cantina’s dishes would be much more delicious smeared on bread and they currently do not carry gluten-free bread. I delighted in lashing thick layers of the pork on my charred grilled bread. The pickled beans were surprisingly sweet and were the ideal match with the pork.
Because a lot of the dishes on the menu contained onion, the chef offered to especially make for me a fig and goats curd salad. Apparently this dish used to be on their menu and was very popular. Fructose malabsorbers do have to be a little careful with eating figs, but to be honest this salad would have been scrumptious even without them…I have to confess I did eat just a few as I figured can tolerate a very small amount without too much problems. Gluten is my real enemy.
The salumi platter was entirely gluten-free however she informed me that two of the meats may contain onion as they are not made on the premises. I cannot remember all that was on there but I do remember some luscious dark bresaola, spicy chorizo and soft delicate jamon amongst others. It was served with house pickles which were quite tasty and not too acetic or briny.
Unfortunately for me the zucchini flowers were off the menu as they were battered in flour before frying so I missed out on this wondrous looking dish. I was quite jealous as they looked incredible and were demolished very quickly. I was told the batter was fluffy and light and there was so much flavouring in the stuffing. Instead I ordered the tin of pollastrini sardines piccanti served with fresh lemon and my charred gluten-free bread. I used to love sardines on toast as a child and these little fishies brought back great memories. I was nearly the only one who ate these – I guess you really have to be a hard-core fish fan to eat sardines. They also had a bit of a kick to them with the added chilli.
After stuffing our faces with all our entrees, we ordered a couple of mains to share between us. I originally wanted to order the risotto but the rice is parboiled with stock during prep and the stock contained onion. Instead I opted for the pan fried barramundi. The fish was so heavenly and was cooked to a perfect buttery smooth consistency and had crispy crunchy skin. I can honestly say pan fired barramundi is right up there in my top five favourite fish so perhaps I’m a little biased with my praise for this dish. Putting my approval of the fish aside though, even its accompaniments were so appetising in their own right and pushed me and the girls well into the realms of being seriously full!
The boys ordered the gnocchi which although it was a small serve it left them quite satisfied. We also ordered a couple of sides to go with our mains, the spinach and avocado with walnut dressing and the roasted zucchini with tahini yoghurt. Considering these dishes were just meant to be sides – they were so good I could have easily had a whole serve of either to myself! Especially the zucchinis; they were slightly caramelised during roasting and literally burst in your mouth with every bite.
Once again, I can see its obvious why Cantina 663 consistently receives great ratings on Urbanspoon and other restaurant review sites as they have everything going for them: great food, dynamic staff, flexibility with catering for allergies and they are situated in an awesome location. This remains a definite fav for Chompchomp!FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK! Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | http://www.cantina663.com/ Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (as many dishes are served with bread it would be great if they stocked GF) Service: 4.5/5 (efficient, quick and knowledgeable) Ambience: 4/5 (bustling energy but air con struggled in the heat) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive wine list with a lot of interesting options) Total: 17/20
It was New Year’s Day and I woke up a bit weary-headed and totally famished. We had started our New Year’s Eve night off at the Greenhouse enjoying some good tunes, food and company then all continued partying on back at our house after they shut at 2am. The night was made even better because my sister had flown all the way over from Melbourne to join us for the week.
Looking at the casualties scattered around my house that morning it seemed that I was not the only one that was border-lining on starvation either. My sister and I were craving something much more delicious than my fridge could offer us so; accompanied by Big Bones we set off on our search. Unsurprisingly, the boy chose to stay at home nursing his sore head which was a result of the excesses of the prior evening. We had arranged to meet my bestie and her other half at the OBH for some hair-of-the dog drinks later in the evening so we figured head towards the beach and see what we could find.
Not a lot was open around the Claremont area so after some time of driving around we were pleased to see most of the restaurants along the iconic coastal road in Cottesloe were open. Cottesloe beach is internationally renowned for its beauty and lifestyle. Having had many a pleasant breakfast at the beachside café Barchetta before, I convinced everyone to stop in there for a nibble before we recommenced punishing our poor bodies with further frivolities at the Obie.
As we were seated at our table we all realised we were starting to fade fast and were really in desperate need of some sustenance. Our waitress was friendly enough despite the fact she looked like she was suffering from her own post-celebratory pain. She verbally stumbled throughout the whole process of taking our order and she kept repeating herself several times. We ordered some lemon peppered baby calamari but requested for them to be served gluten-free. She warned us the dish wouldn’t taste as nice without the “powder” so we explained to her that we are used to making compromises and we are actually very grateful to the kitchen for willing to adapt. Unfortunately we should have heeded her advice as she was indeed correct, this dish was quite disappointing. The calamari was tasteless without the crumb and was in desperate need for some seasoning of sorts. It was served with a rocket and herb salad which was similarly flavourless and unexciting.
We also ordered the chilled king prawn salad which was served with cherry tomatoes, orange, spinach and crispy pancetta. The prawns were fresh and a decent size, the pancetta wonderfully crispy and crunchy, and the sweet vincotto dressing married perfectly with the addition of juicy pieces of orange. It was a perfectly fresh and uplifting hangover cure.
Big Bones ordered the house made porcini mushroom gnocchi with braised rabbit and chevre cheese. This dish was not exactly what he expected and consisted of a long plate of braised rabbit topped with four gnocchi which were dolloped with the goats’ cheese. The rabbit was apparently quite dry and was in dire need of some more love and attention in its preparation in order to make the most of its delicate flavours. The gnocchi were also a little dry and perhaps not that fresh.
Finally to share we ordered a bowl of cinnamon kumara fries. These were the highlight of the meal, I have never tried the combination of cinnamon with the kumara before and it was a match made in heaven. It was served with a preserved lemon and basil aioli which only made them even more moreish!
Once the food started to line our stomachs, the thoughts of the last night’s overindulgences faded away into a distant memory so we shared a zesty bottle of Mount Langi Ghiran “Cliff Edge” Pinot Gris. With the cool wind gusting around us from the ocean, we sat back and relaxed as someone fossicked around in the sand with her metal detector. I wondered if she would actually find anything of value. Observing her complete lack of expression of her face in the distance, I highly doubt it!
After finishing our meals we sat waiting for over ten minutes to be offered dessert menus and coffees. After seemingly becoming invisible to all staff, Big Bones gestured over to a waitress and requested dessert menus. A further five minutes passed and she forgotten again to bring them over so we had to ask her again. By the time we actually were given the menus in our hot little hands it was getting well into the evening and we were very late for our drinking session across the road. Refuelled we traipsed over the road to recommence our celebrations where we had left off earlier in the wee hours of the morning. We are going to need to do some serious detoxing in the New Year!Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-24, Mains $25-39) Food: 6.5/10 Service: 3/5 Venue: 4/5 Total = 13.5/20 Barchetta 149 Marina Parade, Cottesloe 6011 | (08) 9385 2411 | http://www.barchetta.com.au/