At the very tail end of my annual leave I received a spontaneous call from one of my dearest friends and business partner Chris to join her on a lunch date. She was freed of the responsibility of her little offspring for the afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. She wasn’t fussy where we went and let me choose the venue. With so many new bars popping up around town it is hard to keep up despite being a food blogger. One bar that has sparked my interest is Shadow Wine Bar located in the new Alex Hotel. Moving away from the current trend of tight spaces and walk-ins, Shadow Wine Bar fills a large space with dramatic black and white interiors, massively high ceilings and an industrial warehouse-gone-chic feel.
I tend to avoid making an early judgement on the fluidity of service for new venues like this, not only are the staff new but everything is new and everyone deserves time to land on their feet. So I excused our waiter’s error in telling me all the pasta dishes were gluten free along with a dish with a rye crumb. It was even easier to forgive him quickly when the rest of our service was accompanied with smiles and attentiveness.
We started with the potato crisp topped with fresh crab and a lemon aioli. These morsels were a mouthful of flavour however the potato didn’t hold up to the weight of its toppings and became a little soggy in the middle.
The pan-fried haloumi was a squeaky treat matched beautifully with slightly sweet, slightly sour pink grapefruit and peppery fresh watercress. A simple collection of ingredients that balanced elegantly.
The veal carpaccio was the winner of the day. Nearly translucent slices of veal were marbled with spider thin strands of white fat and tore apart like tissue paper across the plate. Truffle mustard drizzled generously on top gave a subtle hint of truffiliciousness.
Shadow Bar’s crispy pork jowl is a must for pork lovers. The crackling was browned to a tooth-chipping, crunchable texture while the underlying unctuous goodness melted in the mouth without any lingering aftertaste.
A meal with Chris is never complete without sweets. In fact, over nearly two decades of friendship I cannot recall ever eating with her and not ingesting something saccariferous. Not that I am complaining because I am no different. After a round of giggles from us both trying to pronounce “tart tartin” properly in French, Chris ordered the pear tart tartin. It was served with tonka bean ice cream which had a similar flavour to vanilla with a hint of caramel.
The only gluten free dessert option was the poached rhubarb served with a scoop of mascarpone and shards of meringue. Whilst my dessert certainly looked the part, I found its flavours to be underwhelming with the creaminess and tartness unbalanced due to a distinct lack of sweetness. It almost felt like there was a missing ingredient.
Our lunch experience at Shadow Wine Bar left me undecided on my opinion so the following day I brought the Boy back there for lunch for a second chance. Our waitress was much more clued on about what was gluten free and sailed me through the menu without hesitation. Sadly only a handful of the small plates could be adapted and despite being a hotel there was no gluten free bread available.
We started with the jamon iberico which was served with fresh bread on the side for the Boy and some very tasty pickles. Like the carpaccio, the meat was high quality and similarly soft and flavourful.
The fish of the day was two fillets of pan-fried King George Whiting with a puttanesca sauce made with olives, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I picked out the fructose loaded onions easily. As the Boy devoured his share he wondered why I had any reservations about this venue as he had only experienced winning dishes.
Our next dish was the braised lamb neck ragu and this cemented his positive opinion on Shadow. Served on a bed of soft polenta, the lamb was delicately textured, moist and rich and we both savoured each mouthful.
In contrast to Chris, the Boy doesn’t have a sweet tooth except for his weakness for ice cream. I was happy to settle for some cheese instead especially as I had seen two of my favourites of all time on the menu; namely Manchego and Brillat Savarin. These are two very different cheeses but are both ground-shakingly amazing. The cheeses were served at the perfect temperature to maximise their flavour but sadly there were no gluten free crackers or bread to accompany. I am hoping this is just one small oversight that they plan to resolve.
I am glad I returned back to Shadow Wine Bar as I can now appreciate it has oodles of potential. Housed in an impressive space, with a short to the point menu and serving wines by the glass or carafe Shadow Wine Bar proves that our little city Perth is finally growing up. I am hoping that they will progress to becoming a little more gluten free friendly so that people like me can enjoy more of their European styled menu.
Shadow Wine Bar
214 William Street, Northbridge WA | (08) 6430 4010 | www.shadowwinebar.com.au
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!
I don’t know what it is about wet, windy nights that sometimes inspires me to want to leave the comfort of my home and eat out. Mostly when I get these fanciful urges, the Boy will sensibly put his foot down and insist we stay at home where it is warm and dry. However on occasions, for reasons I have yet to pin point, he will sporadically and unpredictably consent to my absurd proposition and off we go together with overcoats and matching umbrellas in hand. Whenever this glorious union in thought occurs, I get disproportionately excited like a child that has just been given an oversized bag of candy. I have to love this guy for always keeping me on my toes!
After a couple of teasing days of sunshine, our Perth weather turned sour and my bizarre desire to head out to a restaurant in the rain returned. I wanted to check out a relatively new bar opened in Applecross called Bad Apples Bar and after enticing the Boy with offers of beer and pizza he willingly accepted.
Bad Apples Bar have plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options which they have kindly indicated on their menu. They also have gluten free pizza bases for a couple of extra dollars on top of the normal pizza price. We started with their grilled haloumi topped with a pineapple salsa and olive crumb. The Boy commented that he thought haloumi and pineapple was an odd combination but I enjoyed the play on salty and sweet flavours it gave.
I rarely order pizzas at restaurants as I am somewhat nervous of the risk of cross contamination of gluten with the non-gluten bases in the same oven. Whilst my sensitivity to gluten is not as severe as some, I still have to ensure to be very careful. Just to be safe, I double checked with our waitress again about Bad Apple’s pizzas and she assured me that the kitchen staff take every precaution. Willing to accommodate the Boy’s vegetarian preferences I ordered us the mushroom pizza on a gluten free base.
The pizza was topped with some rocket pesto, goats cheese and overly zealous lashings of truffle oil. After we had finished eating our pizza, a glimmering puddle of oil remained pooled on our plate. Some restraint from the chef next time would be greatly appreciated!
I was thankful I had also ordered a salad which assisted to wash down some of the oiliness of the pizza. I convinced myself that I was being somewhat healthy by adding in a salad. The warm salad contained pan-fried root vegetables, lentils and chickpeas tossed with spinach and topped with more goats cheese. Crunchy lotus chips garnished the dish giving a little bit of flair and adding a textural contrast.
The Boy and I were having one of those nights where I wanted to finish up the night with cheese, and he wanted something sweet. To settle this debate we decided to flip a coin. Heads for dessert and tails for cheese. I was so keen for a bite of cheese that I stared at that coin so hard, trying to will it to land on tails. “HEADS!” the Boy shouts out. A bet is a bet and he won it fair and square, dessert it is then!
Quite chuffed with himself for winning the Boy chose the vanilla crème brulée to share. This was the only gluten free dessert on the menu. Even better still it came with a small bowl of lemon ginger sorbet to quench his relentless need for frozen desserts. It had a very mild flavour but the custard was silky smooth with the top layer making a satisfying crack of as we hit our spoons.
Bad Apples Bar is a popular venue along Riseley Street’s café strip. Despite the unpleasant weather of that evening, it was still filled with customers and we were actually lucky to secure a table.
Was it worth braving the elements for? Well, the service was bubbly and attentive but the food was a bit of hit and miss. Even though I was happy to eat a rare dinner of pizza, the taste of the excess oil lingered on my palate for most of the drive home. I guess you can’t win ‘em all!
Disclaimer: Whilst Chompchomp may admit that the Boy can sometimes be right, that does not under any circumstances mean she is consequently wrong. It is a perfectly normal desire to want to leave a dry, warm home in search of something better to eat.Bad Apples Bar 6/16 Riseley Street, Ardross WA 6153 | 0430 098 748 | www.badapplesbar.com.au
A couple of months ago I attended a very motivating seminar by Darren Rowse the founder of Problogger. This was the first time he had come to Perth to share some of the secrets of his blogging successes. Having already attended two Eat Drink Blog conferences I was unsure what I could learn in one seminar yet I came away refreshed with loads of new ideas and approaches. I was joined by a number of familiar faces from the blogging community including one of my close friends Michelle from Foodie Cravings. After the seminar finished the two of us were keen to brainstorm a few ideas and the most logical way to inspire the two of us is with food. Wanting to go somewhere nearby I suggested we try Three Five Three in Wembley as I heard on the grapevine that they have free popcorn. And that is enough to draw my attention!
I was not to be disappointed. Every table was already adorned with a joyous bowl of freshly popped corn. I have a number of weaknesses and my addiction to popcorn is not something I hide very well. I have been known on countless occasions to eat whole bags in one sitting and I am on a first name basis with the gourmet popcorn company Hot Pot Popcorn purely because I buy it so often. Three Five Three’s popcorn was lightly salted without any fancy flavouring but this still hit the spot for me regardless. Especially when it’s for free.
The menu is very gluten free friendly with a number of options for both entrées and mains. Michelle is a very easy-going person to dine out with and she is always happy limit herself to the gluten free dishes so we can share. We started with the minted haloumi served with smoked chipotle and a zesty salsa. The haloumi slices were grilled lightly and squeaked delightfully with every bite.
Upon the chef’s recommendation we also tried the bruschetta made using gluten free corn bread that the chef had only just baked earlier that morning. I enjoyed the bread’s doughy texture however I am obviously quite accustomed to the ups and downs of gluten free bread. Michelle wasn’t as excited by the corn bread and was happy for me to finish the dish off.
Since the Boy moved to eating a plant-based diet I sometimes find myself craving protein when I’m out and about. For my main dish I ordered the Hideaway Bay Tasmanian salmon served lightly pan seared on top of a nicoise salad of potatoes, olives and green beans. A spoonful of uplifting fennel and lemon salsa further brightened this happy dish leaving me with a lovely clean feeling on my palate. My salmon steak was a rich dark pink colour on the inside resulting in a silky smooth texture.
Michelle ordered the chilli mussels which was served in a South-eastern Asian style as opposed to the usual tomato based sauce often used. A light coconut cream broth flavoured with lemongrass and chilli emitted beautiful fragrant aromas across the table. With a smile on her face I could see it was just what she needed.
I have some friends that can be overwhelmed by the amount of food I have a tendency to order in restaurants but thankfully Michelle is not one of them and like me she always has room for dessert. We shared the Leatherwood honey pannacotta served with blood orange lychee granita and tangy mandarin sherbet. I absolutely loved the added surprise of pop rocks, really I am just a big kid at heart.
As we both walked back to our cars I was gobsmacked to see how late it has become. Neither of us had stopped to take a breath for hours, with both of us alternating between talking at one hundred miles an hour and stuffing our faces. I love that we are always on the same page and I am certain it won’t be long before we do it again!Three Five Three 353 Cambridge Street, Wembley WA 6014 | (08) 9387 5252 | www.threefivethree.com.au
There are some people who come and go in your life. And then there are some people who make such an impact on you that no matter how far you are separated from them geographically, your friendship remains as strong as ever. My dear friend Melinda is easily the bravest person I have ever met. Aside from being a gorgeous person with a crazy sense of humour who is fiercely loyal to her friends AND a wonderful mother to her child, she was also born with cystic fibrosis. Over the course of her life, step by step her lung function deteriorated to the point that her home became the hospital ward located hours away from her husband and daughter on the Eastern coast of New South Wales. I was lucky enough to travel to Sydney on a business trip back in late 2011 and be able to spend every afternoon hanging out with her in the hospital whilst she sat out the long and scary wait on the transplant list. After several false alarms where the doctors called off the surgery at the last moment, she finally received her double lung transplant at a time when nearly all hope was lost.
Having been unable to travel anywhere other than back and forth from hospital, the newly found independence that has come with her shiny new lungs is enough to prick a tear in anyone’s eye. For the first time in over a decade, she was declared fit to fly and so she jumped on a plane with her family to return to her home town of Perth to visit loved ones. It was a whirlwind trip of catch ups with everybody and I was so chuffed to be lucky enough to score a lunch date slotted into her busy schedule. I was joined by the Boy and my dearest friends Amber who was one of my two beautiful bridesmaids from our wedding last year. The three of us have all known Melinda for over ten years.
We stopped in at Boheme Bar and Restaurant in the City as it was a convenient centre point for the four of us to meet. I knew the price of their meals were good value for those on a travelling budget and I checked to make sure there were a couple of gluten free options on the menu for me. For my lunch I chose the pan seared Huon salmon with roasted artichoke, asparagus and Roma tomatoes with an orange and rocket salad. Unfortunately my salmon steak was too dry and overcooked for my liking.
Amber loves her tasting platters so it was no surprise to me that she chose Boheme’s version. It came at excellent value with four lamb meatballs spiced with cumin, three vegetarian arancini, mergeuez sausage, some spinach and tzatziki dip and grilled haloumi. She was unable to finish it all and was happy to share it with the rest of us.
The Boy ordered the vegetarian option of the hara bhara kebab; an Indian dish made from potatoes, peas and spinach. It was served with pea purée, spinach, cottage cheese, chickpea curry and raita. A scoop of basmati rice and a soft prata was served on the side. He enjoyed all the interesting elements of his dish and was glad it wasn’t too spicy for him.
Melinda ordered a small sized pizza topped with Spanish chorizo, smoked ham, semi sun-dried tomatoes, marinated olives and pimentos. After decades of sickness and medications giving her the poorest appetite it brought a big smile to my face to see her healthily tuck into the whole pizza on her own. She finished the entire pizza without any need for help. It reminded me how easy it is to take such simple pleasures in life for granted, like something as being able to enjoy your food.
It was the first time I had met Melinda’s absolutely adorable daughter Luca yet thanks to Melinda’s talented photography I felt like I already knew her. Having grown up with a very sick mother, Luca had the maturity and sense of humour that spanned well beyond her natural age. What made me love her even more was that she had an extremely impressive appetite for such a little girl and made quick work of her toasted ham and cheese sandwich and fries.
There weren’t any gluten free desserts on the menu but as the Boy and I were heading out that night for dinner later that night I was happy to give sweets a miss. The rest of the table was keen however and ordered the rhubarb and apple crumble and the home-made sticky date pudding.
Judging by the nearly licked plates at the end I am guessing both these desserts hit the spot. Whilst we had sat in the sunshine for hours it had truly felt only like minutes and I couldn’t believe our time together was over. My sides ached from laughing so hard and I’m certain that my mascara had run underneath my big dark shades from the tears such laughter had brought. I didn’t want the afternoon to end but at least I know that this time the period between catch ups will be short.Thanks for an amazing albeit short afternoon Mel, so chuffed to finally meet Luca, you both totally rocked my world and I cannot wait for us to hang together soon. xxxxxxxxxxxx The Boheme Bar and Restaurant 300 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9338 5000 | www.theboheme.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $12-22, Mains $17-38) Food: 2.5/5 (good variety of basic pub food, salmon could do with some loving) Service: 3/5 (minimal with no fuss) Ambience: 3/5 (dark, cooshy seats inside, large tables for groups in the sunshine outside) Drinks: 3/5 (simple range of wines and beers) Total: 11.5/20
One of the perks of being a food blogger is that we often receive invitations to attend various foodie events and launch parties. Free food and booze is enough to put a smile on anyone’s dial however sometimes there can be very few gluten free options for me to eat and it just ends up being one big tease. If it’s a high-profile cocktail style event I have occasionally omitted telling the organisers that I’m gluten free to avoid making a fuss. This brazen approach has sometimes worked and sometimes not. At the Taste Great Southern Launch Party my strategy was a complete fail. For the entire event I proceeded to be tortured by multitude of amazing dishes coming out of the kitchen and yet I couldn’t eat a single one. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Fuss or no fuss I need to eat!
The only thing I could eat were the natural oysters shucked fresh by Carl Thee Shucker. I positioned myself right up next to Carl and greedily gobbled them as he shucked them but unfortunately they ran out quite early in the night. Luck was surely not on my feasting side that night. By the end of the party I had drunk a disproportionate amount of wine to food and was in urgent need of a decent feed. We were just around the corner from Bivouac Canteen so thankfully I didn’t have to stagger too far. After a short wait we were seated at our table at which point I could I swear I could have nearly eaten my own arm I was THAT hungry.
Our waitress was absolutely gorgeous and helped me through my desperate state to see what could be done gluten free. She came up with a variety of options and due to my urgent hunger I pretty much ordered them all. Being a little obsessive with crispy skinned fish this was my immediate first choice. The barramundi had a buttery smooth texture underlying a crunchy, wafer thin layer of seared crispy skin. It was served with a salty, samphire citrus sauce. Alongside the fish was a currant, pine nut, feta and rocket salad with bright little pomegranate seeds dotted in for some tarty sweetness.
The baby carrots were firm enough to pick up whole yet soft enough to cut with a fork. They felt oddly decadent smothered with rich almond cream and a hint of spicy harissa. I never knew carrots had so much potential!
Amazingly the fried local whitebait with tahini yoghurt could be served gluten free. I rarely have such an opportunity to eat these little guys as they are usually dusted in wheat flour but this time round there was no holding me back. I relished in eating them head and all for the full flavour punch.
As my raging hunger took some time to settle down I realised that I was the one doing most of the eating as the Boy was already quite full from all the canapés served at the launch party earlier. In a moment of self-control I thought it a wise idea to order a salad to fill me up as our final choice. But I cheated a little, I mean who can go past a grilled haloumi salad? I’m sure it has elements of healthy in it, right? It was tossed in with watermelon, mint, pistachio and green olives. The spritzy orange blossom and fennel dressing left a light and refreshing taste on the palate convincing me that I had been good enough to justify ordering some dessert.
I ordered the peach and lavender fool without really knowing what sort of dessert a “fool” was but I love trying new things and it was one of the few gluten free options. I also asked for some Turkish delight on the side to which the Boy retorted “What do you want THAT for?” Turkish delight is something I detested for years until recently when I received some for the Sweet Swap and now I am totally converted. Pillows of firm jelly dusted with powder puffs of icing sugar left gentle scents of rosewater and orange on my satisfied taste-buds.
A “fool” turns out to be type of English dessert made by folding stewed fruit into whipped cream or custard. Bivouac used honeycomb yoghurt to mix in with the fruit and generously drizzled the lot with dark ruby red berry coulis. Shard of honey comb and sprinkles of lavender completed this creation but I confess it was all bit too much dairy for me. The Boy on the other hand was completely smitten and happily finished it off with a contented smile on his face.
I loved Bivouac’s spunk and groove; it typifies just how cool Northbridge is becoming. It is no longer the roughened playground of hardened partygoers but has a number of snappy eateries with their fingers firmly on the pulse. I can guarantee this is one place we will definitely be returning to.This is not a sponsored meal and Chompchomp paid for this meal in full. Bivouac 198 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9227 0883 | bivouac.com.au Price: $$ (Share plates $7-34, Pizzas $23-26 (not GF) ) Food: 4/5 (share plates of simple concepts with an interesting twist) Service: 4/5 (quick on their feet with hipster humour and smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (happening, busy and loud) Drinks: 4 /5 (excellent interesting choice of regional Aussie and Internationals) Total: 15.5 /20
For the first few years as a university student I lived just out of Fremantle and since then it has always felt like the stomping ground of my youth. Back in those days I was a bit quirky and leftfield meaning that I fitted in quite well with the other interesting types you could find walking through Freo’s old streets. Returning there brings back many memories of what was literally a life time ago for me. In those years gone by, the popular Little Creatures Brewery didn’t even exist and its predecessor was a massive crocodile farm of all things! You could pay to go in and have a look and I remember going through there with my Dad and finding the whole thing rather disturbing yet oddly fascinating.
I don’t often manage to encourage the Boy to come with me to Fremantle. It’s a shame because I love so much about it but with the horrendous parking and no similar fond memories of his own I can understand his reluctance. And more to the point, living in the Vic Park area it’s not like we don’t have plenty of our own more local options. It had been a long time since we had visited Little Creatures Brewery and after a three day juice fast I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice going there for my first day of real food.
I asked our waitress what was available to order gluten free and was given their gluten free menu with a variety of red crosses and scribbles added to indicate what I could eat. All pizzas and desserts were crossed out so we picked a couple of nibbles to share. Whilst nothing on the menu really excited me, share plates are a good excuse to be able to order multiple dishes so I was happy with that.
My happiness was short-lived. I never realised just how average the food at Little Creatures had become. Our beetroot salad came out minutes after placing our order. The beetroot was watery and flavourless like it had come out of a can.
Service was impressively quick despite the entire dining hall being packed to the brim and before long more of our plates came out. For the chickpea falafels, I requested for the pita bread to be served on the side to avoid gluten contamination. The side salad still had onion despite my request for its omission as it is high in fructose and I react if I eat it. The falafels were dry and similarly without much taste however once lavishly covered with the minted yoghurt they were edible. It was unfortunate that we only got a teeny bowl of the yoghurt as each falafel really needed to be smothered in the stuff.
The grilled prawn skewers were the absolutely low light of the meal and I left most of them for the Boy to eat. Even he was reluctant to do so and that is unusual as prawns are about the only animal protein he will still eat happily. Hard and chewy with the flavour of dirty dishwater even the romesco sauce did nothing to save these poor critters.
The grilled haloumi was the only dish we enjoyed. It is hard to get this squeaky dish wrong. The cheese was grilled to a lovely caramelised colour and served with fresh parsley and a lemon wedge. I was thankful we saved the best until last.
There were no gluten free desserts on the menu and I was in some ways relieved because I didn’t think I could get through more of their tasteless food. Instead I took us off in the direction of the Fremantle Markets in search of some macarons. We needed an instant injection of deliciousness to make up for all that unpleasant food. Maison Saint-Honoré never fails to disappoint me with a good old mac-attack hit. Their macarons have not only aced all those vital layers of textures but also had the more difficult and intricate complexity of flavours.
Diverging away from my usual choices I picked honeycomb, their flavour of the month and coconut, The Boy chose my old favourite salted caramel and a raspberry. We savoured them slowly as we walked through the bustle of the Fremantle Markets before making our way back to the car. At least our outing ended on a good note.
Upon reflection of my photos of Little Creatures’ gluten free menu on our way home I noticed that to make the prawn skewers gluten free, the romesco sauce was crossed out yet our gluten free version had it included. Had they changed the ingredients to make it gluten free and therefore served it to me or was it an error? Given my reaction that afternoon my guess is the former although I’m certain that the poor standard of food is bound to have caused a reaction in many people without gluten issues.Little Creatures Brewery 40 Mews Road, Fremantle WA 6160 | (08) 9430 5555 | www.littlecreatures.com.au Price: $$ (Small plates $8-12, Big plates $12-29) Food: 2/5 (cheap food for the beer drinking masses) Service: 3.5/5 (no fuss efficiency, attentive and energetic) Ambience: 3.5/5 (perfect for a Sunday sesh, great views with a buzzing Freo vibe ) Drinks: 3/5 (hard to judge unless you drink beer, short wine list has some drinkable options) Total: 12/20 www.maisonsainthonore.com Price: $ (Macarons $1.50 each, other French pastries available) Food: 9/10 (now that is what I’m talking about!) Service: 9/10 (being half French I’m a little biased but who doesn’t love a French accent?) Total: 18/20
This year has been such a hectic and emotional one which has flown by with the speed of light. It has been a whole year since the Boy finally managed to convince me after much persuasion to start writing a blog. After an initial few quiet months while in its fledgling state, it has now grown to be something I am proud to call my own. Many of my close friends are loyal regular readers and are always keen to be part of the Chompchomp phenomenon by joining me on my gastronomic expeditions around Perth.
My wedding expert friend Tara is one of these supportive people and she jumped at the opportunity of a night out with our respective others to Duende to celebrate my first blogiversary coupled with a bit of “wedding talk”.
It was one of those first glorious balmy spring days and I was drunk on the delightful sunshine and perhaps maybe also the bottle of Billecart the boy bought for us in the afternoon. I donned a short summery frock, slipped on some killer Diavolina platforms and bared my winter legs. Call it a stark rebuttal against any further threats of the dreaded cold weather!
We started at The Garden for a few rounds of drinks before heading over to Duende for dinner. Neither Tara nor her husband suffer from any dietary intolerance and were happy to order a selection of dishes that were suitable for me so we could all share. We started off with a bottle of gorgeously bright ruby coloured Pe Tinto Tempranillo, an organic and biodynamic wine from Portugal. We then proceeded to work our way through most of the gluten free options on the menu. Of which there were many!
The marinated olive selection contained over four different types with a broad range of textures and tastes to suit all of our palates. The chorizo had generous amount of heat in it and was thickly cut and juicy.
Patatas bravas are one of my favourite Spanish dishes. Parboiled potatoes are deep fried before being coated with a variety of spices, vinegar and red pepper. They can be served with a number of different types of sauces depending on the area of Spain and which can range from a tomato based sauce to more of an aioli style. These crispy slices of heaven had a generous paprika dusting and were seasoned with some lemony tasting vinegar. The level of spiciness was fairly mild and I would have preferred a bit more of a punch however the Boy was relieved with the relatively low heat.
The pork belly had a luscious creamy texture and literally melted into the polenta without any fatty aftertaste. The pear and plump muscatels gave a pleasant sweet note but I did my best to avoid these two fructose filled fruits.
The lamb rump was quite a surprise. I didn’t really read the menu carefully enough to be prepared for the enchanting sweet maple flavours from the fenugreek. It actually took us all a few moments to work out where the flavours came from! The rump was succulent and pink.
The pickled beetroots were hidden under a loose pile of fresh rocket, goat cheese and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are my favourite nut, in part due to my praline addiction but additionally it brings back indulgent teenage memories of eating Nutella by the jar full. Although an interesting dish this wasn’t one of the better ones.
Initially we were a little reserved in ordering the beef cheeks after hearing negative feedback from a friend that found them to be dry. Cheeks are a cheaper cut of meat with a higher proportion of fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone in them. Provided they are cooked correctly this generally means they are more delicious, though they do require a little time and care when cooking.
We were right in taking the gamble because our cheeks were incredibly flavoured, delicately tender and we really should have ordered two serves and maybe left out the beetroot.
The sensation of squeaky haloumi always brings a smile to my face. Coupled with rich smoky undertones of eggplant puree this simple dish was a crowd pleaser.
Px vinegar is made with the sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes and was the perfect combination with gorgonzola to top the earthy mushrooms. I know I’m a little biased as I have a mushroom addiction but these slippery little nuggets packed a powerful burst of flavour and I could have eaten many more had I not already stuffed my face with everything else!
We chose 3 out of the selection of five available French and Spanish cheeses and it was quite a feat narrowing it down to three. If I wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would have said one of each! Our choice included a semi-firm cow’s cheese Mahon from Spain and two French cheeses; Roquefort, a creamy blue sheep cheese and Sainte Maure, a soft buttery goat cheese.
For sweets we ordered the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream. Obviously these were not for me as they are full of all the gluten in the land; a fact my companions were very content with as it meant there was all the more for them!
After reading a multitude of positive reviews on Duende over the years I cannot believe it took me this long to try them for myself. They more than exceeded my expectations and have to be the best tapas I have experienced in Perth by far. We loved it so much that we actually headed back for a quick midweek bite later that following week! And yes….we ordered more of those patatas bravas.Duende 662 Newcastle Street, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9228 0123 | http://www.duende.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Tapas share dishes range from $4-25, we share 11 dishes/4 people = stuffed!) Food: 4.5/5 (if I had more room I would have tried more!) Service: 4/5 (dishes didn’t come out too quickly, friendly and helpful) Ambience: 4.5/5 (buzzing vibe, I could nearly imagine myself back in Spain…) Drinks: 4/5 (interesting wine list, plenty of by the glass options) Total: 17/20