One thing I have learnt from the Boy is that I need to take more time out to relax. Relaxing does not come naturally to me and generally the only way I can do it is if I am forced. Last weekend we drove down to the South West to stay at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, a five-star beach front resort only minutes’ drive from Dunsborough and Yallingup.
The reason for our single night stay at Bunker Bay was to sample the resorts’s launch of their new High Tea. High Tea is available at Pullman Bunker Bay resort every day of the week until the 20th of December, and Executive Chef Grant Murray is more than happy to accommodate for guests like myself with dietary requirements.
We sat out on the sunny deck overlooking the wonderful ocean view where we could see glimpses of majestic whales out in the bay. Regrettably I didn’t come prepared with a zoom lens to capture their beauty.
Being able to enjoy gluten, the Boy’s high tea was plated separately to mine to avoid cross contamination and as our waitress brought over our tiers of food we both let out a sigh of pleasure. Each plate was an array of vibrant spring colour and neither of us could wait to tuck in!
Chef Murray enthusiastically spoke to us about his focus on utilising fresh, seasonal produce and wherever possible he will obtain his ingredients locally. All the pastries and baked items are made in their own kitchen, with our muffins and scones coming just out of the oven that morning.
My gluten free savoury course included a cucumber, tarragon and chicken sandwich made with compressed cucumber to give more flavour. The tomato salad contained tomatoes that were grown especially for the restaurant on a property only a few kilometres away. Nothing beats the taste of home-grown tomatoes.
There was no sensation of feeling like I was missing out on a gluten free diet, with my second tier of baked goods tasting just as good the Boy’s looked. My scone didn’t crumble apart like many gluten free versions and my muffin was still warm.
My final top tier of high tea was the prettiest of all, decorated in fresh edible flowers and plump blueberries. My mini tartlets were filled with juicy fresh Western Australian mango. The little meringues had all the layers of textures that a quality meringue must have; a powder poof crunchy shell with a sumptuous gooey centre. Perfection.
The Boy’s standard high tea looked very similar to mine, except that of course it contained gluten. This is the second time he has joined me for high tea and whilst I doubt he will start swilling hot tea any time soon, I can be sure he will happily join me on my next one.
The Boy’s dessert course was just a pretty as my gluten free version, and included a selection of macarons, profiteroles and chocolate mousse cake.
For our accommodation we stayed in a garden view studio villa. Our room was elegantly appointed with a comfortable, king sized bed and a fully equipped kitchenette. Not that we ever needed it to cook for ourselves!
The bathroom was spacious and modern, complete with fluffy bathrobes and slippers along with luxury amenities for those who forgot their toiletries.
Being such a brief stay, we decided to dine at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Other Side of the Moon for our evening meal. Our bubbly natured waitress was very knowledgeable with respect to what was gluten free and what could be adapted on the menu.
We started off our evening with some natural oysters from Coffin Bay served with shallot vinegar.
For our entrée, we opted to share the local South West tasting plate for two. For those with less agreeable dining companions, this tasting plate was also available as a single serve for a lower cost. In the centre of the plate was a gluten free adapted serve of Geographe Bay squid fried with a spicy Asian herb salad and nahm jim dressing. We were advised to start in the middle of the plate and work our way out.
The second tasting was a Swiss brown mushroom filled with confit Baldivis rabbit on bacon and Jerusalem artichoke purée.
We ended the tasting experience with some thin slices of Margaret River venison carpaccio and local pickled onions. Of course I left the onions for the Boy to gobble as I’m not good with the added fructose. A gluten free crouton with olive tapenade accompanied the small serve of venison.
The Boy ordered the duo of beef for his main course. A lightly pan-seared Harvey beef tenderloin accompanied a pot of beef cheek daube. A scoop of truffle mash and cute little heirloom carrots added in some vegetable goodness and was drizzled in a Capel Vale Cabernet Sauvignon jus.
We also ordered a side of fries which our waitress told us would be cooked in clean oil to avoid any gluten contamination. The Boy suggested that perhaps an order of fries on top of all the rest of the food we had eaten so far may be considered somewhat excessive. I was pleased to see our waitress was on the same page as me as she agreed that not only is there a second stomach for desserts, that there is in fact a specific “potato stomach” to fit in potatoes in all forms: be that fries, chips, wedges, whatever, wherever 😉
For my main choice, I ordered the daily special of roasted duck breast. It was served on a bed of quinoa, parsnip purée, and locally grown golden beets. The duck was delicately tender and soft, literally melting in my mouth without a hint of dryness.
Whilst I had big ambitions of pushing the boat out for the evening and having both dessert and cheese, when it came to the crunch I sadly realised I only had room for one or the other. It was a hard choice as there were a decent selection of local and imported cheese on offer. I turned to the Boy for guidance. He had already spotted the Simmo’s ice cream menu with no less than ten flavours to choose from. It was decided. We would have dessert.
The daily dessert special was light, refreshing and perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth. A lemon-scented toasted marshmallow cloud with fresh mango and lychee gel on lime granita had an interesting tango of sweet and citrus flavours. I reluctantly let the Boy taste a mouthful as he even more reluctantly let me sample his ice creams. He is generally very easy going with letting me eat off his plate, except when it is ice cream. He becomes very territorial of every mouthful!
The following morning we opted for a light room service breakfast before taking a stroll around the beautiful resort. There is a 24 hour room service menu offering lots of gluten free options including pizzas and other main meals for late night snacking. The beach is only a short walk from the villas, and is such a beautiful spot with the characteristic stunning white sands and clear blue water that the region is well known for.
After a enjoyable walk along the beach, the Boy and I headed to the resort spa; Vie where we had booked a massage in the couples room along with a Pevonia signature facial. It has taken me some time to convert the Boy to enjoy spa treatments but each time he comes along he warms further to the concept.
Sadly, our whirlwind weekend was coming to an end and prior to departing we took some time to relax in the bistro area of the resort where they have a tapas menu serving small plates that highlight on the local produce that is seasonally available. Again there were both gluten free and vegetarian options available.
Our vegetarian dish of roasted cauliflower was exceedingly addictive with charred grilled piquillo peppers, toasted macadamia and pomegranate. It came with creamy tahini for a tangy hit of extra flavour. I loved the presentation with lots of splashes of colour and fun.
Our second dish of Fremantle octopus was adapted to be gluten free by the omission of chorizo. It was paired with smoked yoghurt, local olives, edamame and grilled tomato. I have a tendency to be quite fussy with my octopus having be very spoilt in my time in Spain. It is far too common that it is not prepared well and the meat ends up being as chewy as an old sock. This octopus did not disappoint my critical opinions, each piece was deliciously tender and did not give my jaw a work out to chew. It was a perfect way to end our very short stay.
For much of the drive home to Perth, the Boy and I talked about making plans for when we could next return to stay at Bunker Bay. It is rare that we simultaneously relax together and despite such a short stay, this trip was a success. The resort has enough options to be able to stay there and not leave, but is located so close to the wineries and tourist sights for the Margaret River region such that if you don’t want to stay put you don’t have to. Suffice to say we have already booked our next trip 😉
High Tea at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort is available at the resort’s bistro until 20 December 2015.
Cost is $37 per person with a Dilmah specialty tea, barista-made coffee or hot chocolate, or $45 per person to add a glass of sparkling wine. Kid’s Menu available for children up to 12 years. Bookings require 48 hours’ notice with pre-payment at the time of reservation. With advance notice, dietary requirement can be catered for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of Pullman Bunker Bay resort and received her night accommodation and high tea for two at no cost. She paid in full for her dinner at Other Side of the Moon, for the tapas at Tapestry and for her Spa treatments at Vie.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, 42 Bunker Bay Road, Naturaliste WA | (08) 9756 9100 | Website
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/
Like many Australians, I have a mixed racial background. My father was born in France and is proudly patriotic, consequently I grew up listening to endless stories about the food, culture and history of my ancestors. One thing he taught me from an early age was that each region of France has their own signature dishes or types of cuisine that they proclaim to be famous for.
Brittany, or Bretagne is a historic province in the north-west of France that is rich in culture. In contrast to a lot of France where the locals will drink wine daily, the traditional drink of Bretons is cider with Brittany being the second largest cider producing region in France. They are also recognised for their crêpes and galettes which traditionally replaced bread as basic food. These are made with buckwheat flour and thus are gluten free.
Breizh Original Crêperie is a new pop up restaurant located on Leonard Street in Victoria Park. The building is used for a number of different pop up events over the course of the week with Breizh securing the venue for Saturday and Sunday nights.
Run by two French brothers this dynamic team aims to provide traditional French Bretagne food with a bit of a modern twist. They utilise simple, locally sourced ingredients and make everything in house themselves.
Although their savoury crepes are made with gluten free buckwheat flour, they do prefer that any severely intolerant or coeliac customers notify them 48 hours in advance so they can ensure to take extra precautions with the kitchen environment to avoid any cross contamination.
For our invited feast to follow with the tradition of Bretagne, the Boy organised some ciders for us to bring along and enjoy with our meals. Not exactly the most fructose friendly beverage but they do say when in Rome…
We started our meal with a serve of the apero; an appetiser galette to share with parsley, roasted garlic and olive oil with gooey melted Emmental cheese.
The buckwheat added a subtle nutty flavour and the crepes had a surprisingly crisp texture.
For our main we opted for the weekly special galette. Breizh post their changing weekly specials up on their website every week and include a new galette and crepe to keep the menu dynamic and interesting.
Our savoury galette was made with dried wild morel mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, fresh tarragon and parsley with a luxurious white wine cream sauce. Added to this was some melted Swiss cheese and sprinkles of toasted pine nuts. Again the outer most edge of my galette had a paper thin crispiness to it yet the centre was soft, gooey and rich in flavour. A taste sensation for sure.
For dessert we both chose a different type of crepe. These crepes can be made with either normal flour or buckwheat flour. For those wanting gluten free, ensure to inform your waiter on ordering that you want the buckwheat option.
One of the permanent items on the crepe menu is the salted caramel crepe. This was our favourite, despite its simplicity. It is made with homemade salted caramel sauce, and I recommend to go for the option of an added ice-cream scoop.
The weekly crepe special was also a winner and was topped with a cube of velvety strawberry parfait, drizzles of strawberry coulis and fresh whipped cream. This was a crepe for those with a strong sweet tooth. It was a warm night and we had to devour this treat quickly before the parfait turned into a puddle of pink syrup.
I have been informed that Briezh Original Crêperie are attempting to secure a more permanent location in Vic Park but at this stage it is not set in stone. In the meantime they are happy to be working out of Leonard Street and are spending their time focusing on producing quality crepes and galletes.
The little pop-up restaurant fills up quickly each week and I highly recommend heading to their website and pre-booking a table. Don’t forget to advise them in advance if you are gluten free too.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Breizh. Given the fact that this restaurant is within five minutes’ walk from her front door, she will be sure to happily return as a full paying customer. Always happy to eat a piece of my heritage 😉 Breizh Original Crêperie Pop Up Event Every Saturday and Sunday night from 6pm to 9pm | 1 Leonard Street Victoria Park WA 6100 | breizhoriginal.com.au
Unlike me, the Boy is lucky enough to have his parents living in the same city as we do. This is a luxury I have missed out enjoying on since my late teens and I cannot deny I am a little bit jealous. While I know both Mum and Dad are a quick phone call away, it would be wonderful to be able to just drop in and say hi, or pop out for a casual lunch together. The Boy doesn’t tend to organise regular catch ups with his family and sometimes it takes a special occasion to be able to bring us all together. With his parents celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, we all agreed to meet in the Swan Valley for lunch. As per usual the booking was left up to me so I chose RiverBank Estate in Caversham.
The Boy and I arrived a bit early, it is easy to forget how close this part of the Valley is to the city. It only took us twenty minutes to get there from our house in Vic Park. There aren’t many cities around the world that boast being this close to a vineyard region! We ordered some bread and Lescure butter while we waited for his family to arrive. The Boy’s dinner roll was so shiny it glimmered in the sun. My gluten free bread was also quite a treat; it was toasted in a sandwich press giving it a satisfying crunchy exterior yet the inside of the bread still remained soft.
There were a number of dishes on the menu that were either gluten free or able to be adapted. The chefs at RiverBank make all their meals fresh to order so changing or altering ingredients to accommodate for dietary requirements was not an issue for them. The Boy and I started with sharing two entrées together.
The house cured salmon was prepared using high quality fish topped with horseradish cream and beetroot jelly. The salmon had a luscious melt in the mouth texture without leaving any strong fishy aftertaste.
Our second entrée was the seared scallops served on a bed of roasted sweet potato and garlic purée. It was topped with some shards of crispy pancetta. The scallops were much more substantial sized than those I had recently with my Dad in Melbourne and left a wonderful creamy texture on the palate.
Both my mother-in-law and I ordered the fish of the day; a Gold Band snapper served with a summery celeriac and caper coleslaw. Our plates were an array of colour garnished with vibrant spring flowers that were nearly too pretty to eat.
The snapper was topped with a Japanese squid salad along with a spoonful of fresh Moreton Bay bug salsa. After all my recent excessive overeating this dish was just the perfect, light meal that I was looking for.
My father in law and sister both ordered the pork belly which I didn’t get a chance to grab a photo of but they were both very happy with their choices. The Boy and his brother both ordered the more hearty braised duck leg which was served with a polenta and rabbit terrine and sautéed wild mushrooms. This dish was also gluten free which allowed me to have a little nibble.
The duck was slightly overcooked making some of the meat a little dry. There was plenty of juiciness from the rich mushrooms to balance this out to a degree. The Boy also felt the polenta was a little bland in flavour.
The Boy’s family are big eaters and so I made sure to order some sides to make sure that they were all full by the end of the afternoon. Our waitress advised me that their chips cannot be guaranteed gluten free as the deep fryer may contain traces of gluten. However the duck fat potatoes were fried in the pan making them gluten free. I couldn’t help but reach over and grab a couple before they all vanished.
For our desserts the most popular dish across the table was the soft meringue which luckily was also the gluten free dessert option on the menu. It was served with poached pear slices, bright pink raspberry sorbet and Persian fairy floss, or “hair” as the Boy likes to call it. The meringue was fluffy, squishy and delicious all in one mouthful. A winner all around the table.
The Boy being his usual self opted for feeding his addiction and ordered a selection of ice cream and sorbet. No surprises there! It is hard not to please him with a bowl of ice cream and there were certainly no complaints.
RiverBank Estate proved to be the perfect spot for us to meet up with my in-laws for Sunday lunch. The meals were big enough to feed their Dutch appetites and the atmosphere was relaxed enough for us to while away the afternoon laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I look forward to finding another family occasion to bring them back!Disclaimer: As much as Chompchomp and the Boy would loved to be wealthy enough to say “lunch is on us” sadly they are still waiting to win first division lotto and hope that this will be happening in the near future. It’s only a matter of time really. Instead they opted to use their Entertainment card for a discount off the total bill. RiverBank Estate 126 Hamersley Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 1805 | riverbankestate.com.au
Since leaving the East coast as a fresh faced teenager to pursue a career in veterinary science, I quickly learnt to depend on only myself. While I already had an innate level of independence at that age, being separated from my parents by thousands of kilometres had a way of perfecting this skill. Nearly two decades have passed since then and I’m now at a point in my life now where I realise being fiercely self reliant isn’t always a good thing. Recognising that I need and am needed by my close family members seems much more relevant, especially given the distance that separates some of us. I haven’t lived in the same city as either of my parents since I departed long ago and can sometimes go for over twelve months before I cast eyes on their lovable faces. As we all get older, I am realising that I need to make more effort to spend quality time with each of them individually.
It has been years since Mum has come over to visit us in Perth and even longer since she came over with her other half, Jack. They both adore our South West region and requested that we take them down to “The Margaret’s River” as Mum loves to call it. No amount of convincing can get her to call it otherwise.
It is rare for us to be able to relax together so to celebrate this occasion I booked us in at Vasse Felix winery for a long lazy lunch. On our way to Vasse Felix we stopped off at Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Company.
Neither Mum nor Jack are big wine drinkers so the Boy and I tried to avoid boring them to pieces with winery after winery. Bettenay’s do have some wines on offer in addition to some luscious liqueurs and, of course, loads of nougat. Their nougat is all handcrafted with gorgeous flavours including cherry and coconut, and my favourite chocolate mint.
After each purchasing a bundle of nougat we headed off to one of Margaret River’s most popular caves; Lake Cave. It has been ages since the Boy and I have gone down into the caves yet every time we do we are reminded what a natural beauty it is.
Lake Cave has one of the only “suspended tables” in the world which weighs several tonnes and forms a breathtaking sight floating in the air casting its refection in the ripples of water below. This cave is one of the deepest in the region so be prepared to walk down and then back up a fair number of steep stairs. There are rest points along the way for those less fit and able.
There were enough stairs to work up anyone’s appetite and after the Caves we headed straight to Vasse Felix for lunch. It was a long weekend and I was grateful that I had pre-booked because every winery that we passed along the way looked packed with cars.
Vasse Felix have an à la carte menu or alternatively if you select dishes marked on the menu with a star you can enjoy three courses for a set price of $65.
There were a handful of gluten free options and one vegetarian dish for each course. Upon arrival our waitress brought out some fresh bread and cultured butter. There was no gluten free bread available so they kindly brought out some marinated olives for me to nibble on while my family hungrily feasted on the bread.
The marinated olives are sourced from a local olive farm called 34 Degrees South and were served warm. I loved how the olive flesh slithered off the pit easily and consequently I downed most of the bowl before I realised that I should probably share.
Mum and Jack both ordered the omelette for entrée. Cooked sous-vide with mirin, it was served with new season asparagus and locally foraged mushrooms. The egg was browned to a glowing caramel colour and garnished with chilli threads, tiny crumbles of popcorn and togarashi. Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper and thankfully it wasn’t too hot for my Mum’s palate. The omelette was a gluten free dish however to avoid all three of us having the same dish, I ordered the other gluten free option which was the quail.
I struggled somewhat get a good photo of my entrée due to the sun coming in at an angle on my deep bowled dish. Maybe I need to bring a reflector with me when I’m out dining? Is that too crazy? My quail breast was cooked sous-vide with a confit leg and served on a bed of quinoa, zucchini and olives. It was topped with what I first thought was shaved parmesan but soon found out was feta shaved in liquid nitrogen. It had an unexpected creaminess that dissolved on contact with my tongue. To enhance the delicateness of this light dish some caper puree added some punch into the flavours.
For his entrée, the Boy decided to pop his ramen cherry. Ramen hasn’t really taken off in Perth to the extent it has over in Sydney and therefore neither of us have tried it before. Using house made ramen noodles, this dish was given a South-west twist using Manjimup marron and local fresh water crustaceans. A soft gooey quail egg and some fried nori finished it off and as the aromas wafted to my side of the table I was so envious that I couldn’t even taste one mouthful. Damn you gluten!
For those of you who have yet to try Cone Bay barramundi, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These fish are farmed in unique environmental conditions in the north west of Australia that imparts a very clean, and sweet taste.
The fish came with a potato fondant and shards of translucent potato glass topped with luxurious drizzles of smoked oyster butter. It was nearly as good as truffle butter. Nearly I said! There was also a little bit of fructose naughtiness with locally foraged charred leeks and leek foam.
Mum and Jack both ordered the lamb shank for their main, such peas in a pod those two! The locally sourced lamb was cooked sous-vide over 48 hours making it uber-soft in texture however sadly it was served lukewarm. I offered to get the waitress to take it back to the kitchen but my Mum didn’t want to make a fuss. The lamb was accompanied with a black barley risotto and ratatouille made of smoked tomato petal, tomato fondue, picked red onion and eggplant purée.
Although the Boy predominantly will stick to his vegetarian diet at home, like me he can on occasions crave meat. Ordering himself the kangaroo loin today was one of these days.
The loin was served rare and was as lean can be without an ounce of detectable fat present. It was served with textures of beetroot, wattleseed crackers and oil made from dandelions foraged on the property.
Our mains were decent sized meals so after stuffing our faces with the addictive duck fat potatoes there was only a small amount of room left for dessert. We agreed to share a couple of petit fours plates between the four of us however the only gluten free element on the plate was the passionfruit macaron. There was only one macaron on each platter but the waitress was kind enough to put an extra one on there for me.
The Boy was absolutely smitten by the bite size ice cream sandwich made with cinnamon ice cream. Many of us food bloggers claim to have a second stomach for dessert and whilst I was reasonably full, one macaron was not going to cut it even if it was one of my favourite flavours.
Consequently I ordered the gluten free dessert option to share with the Boy. I love abstract desserts, plates of multiple elements that you can mix and match on your tastebuds at your leisure. Fluffy portions of cardamom chiffon cake and silky chocolate cremeaux were paired with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Passionfruit caramel and gel added a tart sweetness with chocolate soil and dehydrated mouse contrasting with velvety cocoa bitterness. Heavenly to say the least. My claims for being full surpassed me as I competed with the Boy for every spoonful.
The weekend went by all too quickly, time honestly does fly when you’re having fun. There is no one in the world that can make me laugh the way my Mum can and I realise that I need to stop running the rat race of life and take time out to giggle with her more often.Disclaimer: Despite Mum and Jack insisting on trying to pay for everything, the Boy and I managed to sneak in paying our own way for lunch. Blame it on that independent streak of mine. I want to thank Mum, Jack and my beloved for sharing such a wondrous weekend away. Our times together are always cherished xxxx Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Co Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Road, Cowaramup, WA 6284 | (08) 9755 5539 | www.margaretrivernougat.com.au Lake Cave Caves Road, Forest Grove WA 6284 | (08) 9757 7411 | www.margaretriver.com/operators/7706 Vasse Felix Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au
Despite knowing that the menu at Ace Pizza is devoid of gluten free pizza options, this has been a venue that has remained on my wish list for some time. Don’t be fooled by their name, whilst I’m told Ace’s pizzas are far from shabby it’s their share plates that I was keen to try. Being paid monthly means when we hit the end of the month we are scratching for a cheap place to eat out without compromising on our needs for quality or flavour. I was hoping Ace Pizza would fulfil this basic need.
Dishes are certainly cheap, reasonably sized and served with lickity split, no fuss speed. Perhaps too much so as within about ten minutes of placing our order all of our dishes had made their way to our table. There were a number of gluten free and vegetarian options to suit both our needs however as is often the case, we ordered far too much food.
The grilled corn was a refreshing way to start with each of the juicy cobs lavishly drizzled in thick chilli mayo and balsamic.
The beet salad came with crunchy walnuts and dollops of whipped salted ricotta. The ricotta had the texture of soft serve giving a great play in textures with the remaining ingredients.
I was in a rare mood for a morsel of red meat and ordered the chop chop beef without the bread. There was sadly no gluten free replacement for the bread which would have been a nice touch. I confess that after having eaten the steak tartare a bunch of times at Rockpool I am yet to find a match of that calibre elsewhere in Perth. Whilst Ace’s chop chop beef was enjoyable it lacked the smooth finesse and fresh aftertaste of Perry’s signature version. I reminded myself that it was also half the price.
The squid was my favourite dish of the evening with the surprising element of super crunchy deep fried chickpeas mixed with rings of squid all drizzled in generous lashings of chilli aioli. I love it when you don’t have to ask for more aioli! The Boy and I have a bad habit of eating quickly and before we gave our stomachs a chance to register what we had already eaten, we jumped ahead to ordering another dish; the crispy potatoes with Nduja mayo.
Nduja is a spicy spreadable type of Italian pork sausage typically made using the shoulder, belly and jowls along with the stomach lining (tripe). I wasn’t sure how this would work in a mayo. Basically it turns the mayo into some sort of strange meat sauce. The Boy was horrified at the mere sound of this yet once the dish was brought to our table he couldn’t resist a taste. The spuds were perfectly crispy with soft velvety centres and the “meat sauce” was in no way overwhelming. I decided I was certain there would be no room for any more food after this.
Exploding at the seams we paid our super cheap bill and with some spare change in our pockets we agreed to waddle up the street to Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting for a night cap. On Sundays, Enrique’s serves their signature sangria for $5 per person – a total bargain. It is served with a cute little jar of sherbet for an added element of zing.
After a round of drinks I became aware that I did indeed have a teeny bit more room to end our night of cheap gluttony. Neither of us could agree on whether we ordered sweet or savoury so to avoid a squabble we ordered one of each. The Boy’s choice was a hard goats cheese; Queso de cabra Pedro Ximenez. This is a smooth semi-soft cheese that is bathed in Pedro Ximenez wine for four months. It was quite a dense almost elastic cheese with a slightly sweet flavour.
My choice was the gluten free dessert option. Hardly surprising really, I mean, shouldn’t I make use of that second stomach of mine? 😉 The gluten free dessert option was a Pannacotta served with honeycomb, salted caramel ice cream and chocolate soil. I was initially confused by our first waiter who told me that the chocolate soil wasn’t gluten free. Thus when it was served to us with the soil I humbly asked for it to be sent back to the kitchen. I hate being a pain in restaurants but it’s not like I can just eat around the gluten on the plate!
Returning from the kitchen our second waiter had double checked with the chef and thankfully assured me that the whole dish was actually gluten free. I nervously ate it hopeful that I was given the right advice, whilst grateful that I could eat it as it was the bomb! I had absolutely no ill effect that evening and have since contacted management who confirmed that this is correct, the dish is completely gluten free. Bit of a mix up but it was all good in the end.
Ace and Enrique’s are both affordable places to hit up for a decent meal when you’re on a bit of a budget but want more than just fast food. The music is pumped up loud, the lights are dimmed and the service is quick and friendly.Chompchomp dined at Ace and Enrique on her meagre end of month budget with an equal contribution from the Boy. Ace Pizza 448 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0499 448 000 | www.acepizza.com.au Price $$ Share plates $6-32, Pizzas $15-26 (no GF pizza available)
Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting 484 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0438 248 414 | Facebook
Geographical separation has never had any impact on the bond I have with my best friend, Kate. Through the course of our fifteen years of Bestie-hood we have only lived in the same city for about half this time. We are not that good at regularly calling each other on the phone, in fact we are both shockers, yet within seconds of hearing each other’s voice we immediately lapse into our crazy way of talking that no one else on this Earth can ever seem to replicate. It’s actually like our own language. We have a way of bringing out the best in each other and I know that if anyone can turn my frown upside-down it will most definitely be Kate.
Twelve months ago Kate returned to her home-town of Esperance to complete her yoga teacher training with the aim to open her own yoga studio specialising in kid’s yoga. I envisaged this to be a slow process and was so surprised and excited to hear that less than a year after she moved away her studio was ready to be opened. I am so proud of her determination to make this long-term dream a reality and upon hearing the brilliant news I promptly booked some last minute flights to zip down and spend the weekend with her.
We booked accommodation at the Esperance Island View apartments which is located on the Esplanade and is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom apartment had two storeys with a large kitchen and living area, and most importantly excellent heating. This is something I have learnt to appreciate after our recent stay in Pemberton for Truffle Kerfuffle at an unnamed chalet location that had no heating other than a pot belly stove!
For our first night together we walked down to the Pier Hotel, a massive pub with separate bistro and bar areas, a cocktail lounge and the only night club in town. We sat down in the toasty bistro area by the open fire and made ourselves quite cosy.
The bistro menu has gluten free items clearly marked on the menu and most of the salad bar was also gluten free. Our waitress was kind enough to double check everything for me which was a thoughtful gesture. We each started off with a serve of drunken oysters. Served three ways, the oysters were surprisingly fresh and salty.
My favourite oyster of the three was the tequila shot which was served with a generous splash of tomato juice. The Jack Daniels Kilpatrick oyster was everyone’s least favourite. I found the bacon to be dry and flavourless with a barely discernible taste of bourbon. Not such a bad thing as I don’t particularly like bourbon.
My choice for main course was the Thai style barramundi, a grilled barra fillet cooked in curry sauce with basil, chilli and coconut cream. It is normally served with a pistachio and capsicum couscous but the gluten free option offers chips or mash as a replacement. Whilst it was quite an unsightly dish, the fish was cooked beautifully and the curry sauce was not overpowering. It would have been better paired with some steamed rice instead of mash.
With a day and a half to explore, we saw only a brief snippet of Esperance and its surrounds yet what I did see left me blown away by this remote town’s rugged beauty. Imagine long stretches of beaches with the whitest sand in Australia where the water is so vividly blue it almost doesn’t look real. It was breathtaking. One of the most special moments we shared was seeing a mother whale and her calf in the bay at Hellfire beach. Every time a tail fin would gracefully plunge out of the water both of us couldn’t hold back emitting loud sighs of amazement. I regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me!
Being in the middle of winter, Esperance’s weather can be unpredictable and can turn from clear blue skies to thundering storms quicker than I expected. After walking the Rotary Lookout circuit walk on Wireless Hill, we stopped to catch our breath in a little gazebo and watched a storm coming in over the coast for just long enough to avoid getting wet. Once the rain hit, we journeyed back into town for an afternoon snack at Taylors Beach café before popping into see her parents.
Taylors Beach café is situated overlooking the Bay of Isles and has been a local icon for many years. They have live music on Sunday afternoons and are open seven days. We only wanted a light snack to go with our drinks as we were heading out for dinner later that evening.
We started off with some French bubbles which is something of a tradition for the two of us. We have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have on bottles of exquisite French champagne so I figured we needed to keep on with our tradition to some degree; even if Grandin isn’t strictly Champagne it is French! 😉
Taylors have a small bites menu however unfortunately I was sternly informed that there was only one dish that could be served gluten free; the grilled scallops. There were six scallops served in the shell lightly grilled and seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I made the error of eating some of the garnish in the middle of the dish which left a mouldy flavour in my mouth, ruining any further enjoyment of the scallops. The Boy and Kate took heed and avoided eating any greens meaning their scallop experience was much more enjoyable.
Fuelled with the warmth of a round of drinks, we visited her parents for a brief lesson on clipping cat’s claws. Betty Lois and Doris are ex-farm cats who are affectionately known collectively as The Girls. They were on their best behaviour which made for short work of my vet consult allowing us to celebrate with another round of drinks before heading out on the town to the Loose Goose for dinner.
The Loose Goose is one of the fine dining options in town and offers set dinner prices of $45.50 for one course, $57.50 for two courses and $67.50 for three courses. This price includes complimentary herb or garlic bread and a side salad or vegetables with the main meals. They did not have any gluten free bread on offer.
In our usual celebratory mode, we all chose to enjoy three courses. It is not often that we get to dine out together and the logical approach was to make the most of it. The Boy’s starter was a thick slab of Camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. A rather inelegant blob of mild chilli plum sauce accompanied the cheese adding a touch of fruity sweetness. This wasn’t a type of dish I ever expected him to order, in fact I cannot recall the last time I saw him order ANYTHING in puff pastry. However if his moans of delight were anything to go by, I can see he will likely order this again given the chance!
Kate ordered the sweet potato salad served warm with marinated mushrooms, French cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and julienned snow peas. It was a vegetarian’s feast and I couldn’t help myself from reaching across and nabbing a slice of soft creamy sweet potato.
I ordered the half dozen fresh natural oysters which I was hoping were obtained locally from WA but unfortunately I was told they were imported from South Australia. Regardless of the greater distance they travelled to reach my plate each oyster gave me a mouthful of fresh seawater without any unpleasant fishy after-taste.
The Boy was on a roll with this pastry fetish as his main course was also wrapped in puff pastry. His dish was titled “real barramundi” and consisted of a thick fillet of barramundi cooked with prawns and garlic butter and then wrapped in pastry.
His fish came with a potato gallete and more lashings of creamy garlic sauce. No vampires came near us that night!
Kate wasn’t too impressed with the main dish choices as she is not really much of a meat eater so she requested for the chilli squid entrée to be served as a main size. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige. Her chilli squid was served in a Greek style cooked with tomato, capsicum and a hint of chilli. It was topped with some crumbled feta and black olives. She paired it with brilliant emerald green choc-mint cocktail made with Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Midori. We downed a few of those together that night!
I ordered the special of the day; the King Snapper Tom Yum. Having travelled a reasonable amount in Thailand, this clear, sweet and sour soup is one of my Thai favourites and I was counting on flashbacks of our time in the tropical sunshine. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dish I received which was more like a red fish curry than a Tom Yum. The sauce was a more modern interpretation made using coconut cream and was served with rice, like a curry. After my initial surprise, I actually didn’t mind it at all. For a curry, it was richly flavoured with all the layering of tastes that a well-made Thai dish should have. The fish was softly cooked and flaked apart gracefully and I was close to licking the bowl clean by the end.
As we arrived at dessert time, I was grateful for having a second stomach as I was totally stuffed. Whenever the three of us are out together, Kate and I will often try and guess what the Boy will order. He will then try to meet our suggestions with an air of total mystery and nonchalance. We are renowned for usually getting it right and simultaneously chanted that he would choose the Death by Chocolate. After a few minutes of playing coy and pretending we were completely wrong our waitress came up to take our order and lo and behold; he orders the Death by Chocolate. It was a rich doorstop-sized block of chocolate cake served warm and drizzled with oozing chocolicious ganache.
Both of us girls ordered the dessert special; the Loose Goose chocolate pot. Despite asking for gluten free, mine was initially served with some chocolate biscuit crumbled on top. Thankfully the Boy pointed this out to me before I had finished taking my photos and I avoided getting gluten poisoning.
Our waitress was extremely apologetic and promptly swapped it over for me. The chocolate pot was a huge serve of which neither of us needed to finish it all. Of course we both did polish off the lot which made our dancing attempts later on at the Pier nightclub not exactly easy!
The following morning we gathered ourselves together for a refreshing coastal walk. There is a walking track along most of the town’s coastline with gentle undulating hills and some of the most breathtaking views of the beaches. If I hadn’t binged so much the night before it would have made a fabulous running track to burn off those excess calories.
Sadly our weekend had nearly drawn to an end so before we headed back to the airport, Kate took us for a drive to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve. She is a master at pleasing everyone and given I had already had a fulfilling foodie weekend, she wanted to take us somewhere that she knew the Boy would love.
The reserve has a well maintained boardwalk which takes you right out onto the lake giving gorgeous views of the reflections of the trees on the water.
There was an abundance of bird life that the Boy spotted with great ease; wildlife watching is something of a talent of his and he takes great pleasure in being the first to spot any signs of life. Once again I regretted not travelling with the appropriate camera lens!
While the Boy wandered off ahead in search of birds and frogs, my Bestie and I took our time to treasure our last hour together.
Whilst it had been a whirlwind trip this is something the two of us have grown accustomed to over the years. Previously we would both end up being shattered by the end of our rushed catch up due to our desperate attempts at making the most of our time by indulging in all the excesses.
Nearly decades later, our best-friendship has reached a point where we know we have each other for support no matter where we live and what we are doing. Our times together are becoming much more cherished and the influence of her yoga practice on living a healthy life is having a positive impact on both of us. It is a beautiful point in our lives to be.
Despite being all “zen” about my best friend living so far away, as I watched her leave us at the Esperance airport, I shed more than just a few tears. 😥To the bestest bestie; we had such a fabulous weekend with you in your hometown of Esperance. Let’s hope the time until we meet again is short. Whaa-toot!
Chompchomp travelled to Esperance on her own budget purely just to be with her bestie. She is confident that no one in town knew of her blog’s existence and was happy to be completely incognito. Pier Hotel The Esplanade, Esperance Western Australia 6450 | (08) 9071 1777 | www.pierhotelesperance.net.au www.taylorsbeachcafe.com.au loosegooseesperance.com.au
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
After spending a few days exploring the sunny town of Carnarvon, the Boy and I packed up our 4WD hire car and drove back to Exmouth. Exmouth is a four hour drive north from Carnarvon depending on your chosen route. In my usual manner I had pre-planned our trip to take us up the more direct route along the coastal road so we could stop in at beautiful Coral Bay. Unfortunately we were unlucky enough to have our Northwest trip coincide with some of the worst flooding the region has seen in years which meant that this coastal road was closed. Our alternate route took us further inland which added a little bit of extra time to our trip. Although I was a bit disappointed not getting to visit Coral Bay, I got to see some Outback Australian scenery that was totally new to me.
Plus there was the added entertainment of spotting random livestock and wildlife to photograph along the way…
Our Exmouth accommodation was at the 4.5 star Novotel Ningaloo which is the only resort located along the Sunrise Beach and is considered one of the most luxurious options to stay in town. Every hotel room and apartment are positioned to try and maximise views of the water with the ocean and marina both only meters away from our apartment’s doorstep.
We stayed in one of the two bedroom self-contained apartments which had a spacious open plan with the perfect layout for a family with two children. In addition to our type of lodgings, the resort also has two types of hotel rooms, one bedroom apartments and bungalows and their largest accommodation, the two story two bedroom bungalow directly overlooking the beach.
Our apartment had a comfortable King sized bed in the master room with twin beds located in the second bedroom. There was a pillow menu on offer however we didn’t notice this until late in the evening when there were minimal options left. Housekeeping advised us apologetically that our stay coincided with a full house and were given first priority on pillow options for the following morning. The bathroom opened out onto the bedroom with bi-folding doors and had a spa bath with separate shower. There were a variety of Accor branded amenities available.
The kitchen was equipped with most of the basic utensils that you would need for cooking including a stove, microwave, dishwasher and full sized fridge for storing all your leftovers. Despite having good intentions to cook up some local seafood to eat, we never even got around to boiling the kettle!
After spending the afternoon on the road in poor weather conditions neither of us had any desire to hit the town so we made a reservation at the resort’s restaurant Mantaray’s. Although this is the poshest resort in Exmouth, I was relieved to be greeted with a relaxed vibe without any luxury venue pretension.
We had been nibbling on gluten free snacks that I had bought in Carnarvon on the road trip so in a rare moment of restraint we ordered just one entrée to share along with a half a dozen oysters. The prawn cocktail entrée was made using local Exmouth prawns, fresh avocado, cos lettuce and seafood sauce. Whilst not being the most generous of serves for the price, each prawn was super fresh and we literally fought each other over the last one.
The Boy ordered the vegetarian fettuccini for his main course. There was no scrimping on the vegetables in this one with piles of snow peas, carrot, zucchini, rocket, tomatoes and fresh basil with a creamy lemon and pine nut sauce. It was the type of dish that makes him content with his choice of eating a vegetarian diet.
I ordered the local fish of the day, a pan fried snapper served on a bed of creamy pea risotto and pea purée. Crunchy wafers of crisp pancetta topped the dish and added a much needed contrast in textures. The fish was cooked tenderly and fell apart under my fork in delicate flaky chunks.
As I figured that the oysters didn’t counted as a meal I justified ordering dessert on the pretence we had only shared one entrée. I mean, oysters are just an amuse bouche aren’t they? I was thrilled to hear the gluten free dessert options offered were more than the usual standards like crème brûlée and flourless chocolate cake. I chose the raspberry mille-feuille; layers of sweet raspberry mousse and gluten free chocolate cake topped off with a paper thin layer of milk chocolate. It was all very decadent and smooth leaving me dreaming of eating it over and over for most of the following day.
The Boy’s ice cream addiction has come out of its dormancy with full force. These days I am struggling to convince him to order anything else for dessert unless it accompanies ice cream. I will admit this makes me a bit annoyed now that we can no longer share two gluten free desserts, but to be honest I also find it quite endearing. He is normally so easy going and just goes with the flow so to see him so obsessed with something is unusual.
For someone who loves her luxury accommodation, I didn’t think I would find anything of the sort up in the Northwest of Australia. I had prepared myself for motels with grim coloured furniture and postage stamp sized towels. I was more than pleasantly surprised at Novotel Ningaloo and after staying at fairly simple lodgings in Carnarvon it was a welcome relief. We would love to return to stay there next visit to Exmouth and hope our next trip accompanies some better weather!Chompchomp was an invited guest of the Novotel Ningaloo as part of her WA Signature Dish involvement. She was offered a heavily discounted industry rate to stay in the two bedroom apartment in exchange for providing Novotel with some professional photography services around the resort. Sods law meant that for the duration of her stay in Exmouth there were intermittent storms, grey skies and a lot of rain. Consequently her rushed photography taken during the rare snippets of sunshine were not exactly her greatest work. She humbly paid for her meal at Mantaray’s restaurant in full as this was not part of the deal. Novotel Ningaloo & Mantaray’s Bar Restaurant Madaffari Drive, Exmouth WA 6707 | (08) 9949 0000 | novotelningaloo.com.au
Enjoying gluten free Italian cuisine in a restaurant is a rare luxury for me. Whilst it is easy to make gluten free pasta dishes at home, the number of Italian restaurants that can accommodate us are few and far between. Nearly three years ago, my gastroenterologist insisted I return to eating gluten for nearly seven torturous weeks in order to take the necessary biopsies for Coeliac disease testing. It was a hard slog with every day becoming an effort as the “poison” of gluten decayed my health.
In a pathetic attempt at maintaining a glass half full attitude, I decided to make the most of this time and eat all the gluteny foods that I had been missing for years. I consumed copious amounts of pasta, croissants, donuts and real bread for the duration of my gluten challenge. The fine dining Italian restaurant Modo Mio had only just opened at the Crown and so off I headed with the Boy to eat fresh pasta and bread while I still could. Just a side note, for those who choose to click on the link and read this old post of mine; please be warned! It is one of my very first posts I published back when I was on the steepest part of this blogging learning curve. I find it somewhat cringeworthy to read but remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere.
Years later I was approached by Crown Perth to return to Modo Mio for a subsidised return visit. I was interested to see how this fine dining establishment could handle a gluten free customer such as myself and so I gratefully accepted the invitation.
It had been a mad working weekend filled with emergencies and drama so the thought of sitting in an ambient restaurant with my favourite person sounded like the perfect recipe to unwind. We were warmly greeted and shown to our table which oddly happened to be exactly the same table we sat at back in October 2011. A weird coincidence indeed!
Our waitress for the evening came over to introduce herself and answer any questions regarding the menu. She knew all the dishes in depth and proceeded to talk me through each one advising what was gluten free or how they could be adapted. I was pleasantly surprised that despite being a cuisine I thought wasn’t very gluten free friendly I had an abundance of options. There was even gluten free bread AND pasta available.
We started with the trio of salmon entree. I could immediately see Modo Mio have lifted their game since they opened a few years ago. Our dish was beautifully presented with each component as fresh as the next. In the centre of the plate was a mound of soft salmon tartare tossed with citrus, cucumber and sour cream. Each mouthful disappeared in a second with subtle salty flavours accentuated by the occasional burst of a salmon roe egg.
At the far end of the dish sat two silky smooth rolls of salmon perched on cucumber discs and filled with sour cream. One was topped with fresh dill and the other with crunchy poppy seeds. The Boy knows how much I love the sensation of poppy seeds splitting between my teeth and so he allowed me take that one as he reached for the other.
The final component of the salmon trio was not the easiest portion to share. A hard-boiled egg was filled with more of the satiny smoked salmon and topped with a decadent spoonful of Oscietra caviar. We carefully halved the portion to ensure we each got an equal amount of the decadent topping. Not a bad mouthful of luxury for the price!
We had specifically planned to share just one entrée so we could also have a plate of pasta before we hit main course. I mean, how can I NOT order pasta when she offered me a gluten free version? Our waitress had recommended that the best dish on the menu to have with the gluten free penne was the “spaghetti ai fruitti di mare” or, seafood pasta.
Gluten free pasta can be temperamental to cook however I noted ours was exquisitely “al dente”. Each tube was liberally coated in richly flavoured chilli tomato sauce and buried deep in the dish was a generous serving of mussels, cockles, fish, squid and octopus.
Abandoning all cares that I needed to leave some room for both our main and dessert, I tucked into the pasta greedily like a child with an ice cream on a hot day. This was an uncommon treat that I wanted to enjoy to the maximum.
For my main dish I ordered the “doppio barramundi”, or double barramundi. This dish originally comes with Parma ham saccottini which are little parcels of pasta filled with Parma ham, and therefore it needed to be adapted to be gluten free. The chef kindly replaced the saccottini with some buttery greens and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Each of the two fillets of barramundi were clean tasting without any of the muddy aftertaste that this fish can sometime have. The dish was simply finished with a thick sage and caper butter sauce.
The Boy also ordered fish for his main choosing the seared snapper. A thick chunk of crispy skinned snapper on a bed of the smoothest mash was topped with a flavoursome eggplant caponata. A couple of portions of crumbed calamari, roasted cherry tomatoes and a light drizzle of saffron aioli finished the dish.
I wasn’t anticipating such generously sized main meals as I’m accustomed to most fine dining establishments serving smaller portions. Consequently I ordered one side dish for us; the fresh made mashed potato with sautéed button mushrooms. Although I knew the Boy had already mash in his dish, I wanted some I could enjoy without any gluten contamination. Plus, who can go past sautéed mushrooms? Not me.
Many of you may have heard me mention about the Boy’s love of ice cream. It is an addiction that spans back for as long as I have known him. He waxes and wanes with his ice cream intake in a similar all-or-nothing fashion like I do with chocolate. Modo Mio’s ice cream trio of amarena cherry marble, vanilla and Nutella did not disappoint my beloved ice cream connoisseur.
I opted for one of my favourite traditional Italian desserts; a pannacotta. It was perfectly formed with an exquisite ability to jiggle about without losing its shape despite my repeated attempts as I wobbled my plate about the table. It passed my test and I knew I made the right choice.
It was served in a cherry and rhubarb consommé giving alternating sweet and tart flavours. We went silent as we tucked into our final dish for the evening. All you could hear was the repeated chink of our spoons against our plates as we scooped up each mouthful, both wistfully off in our own private thoughts of decadent dessertland.
I love returning to a restaurant and seeing how they have grown and developed, especially when it is for the better. Whilst there wasn’t anything overtly negative with our first visit to Modo Mio, we did experience slow, inattentive service and our meal lacked any wow factor.
In total contrast, our most recent visit we were very impressed with the quality of the food and the attentive, knowledgeable service. We also found Modo Mio’s prices quite reasonable considering its location in the Crown complex. We will look forward to returning again in the future.Chompchomp dined as a guest of Crown Perth. She was offered a meal of the value of $150 however in her usual gluttonous state she couldn’t hold herself back and ordered a further $100 worth of food and drink. She was more than happy to pay the remaining balance of their meal herself. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review and did not let the wait staff know the purpose of her visit. Modo Mio Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/modo-mio/about Price: $$$$ Entrees $25-33, Pasta $27-34, Mains $31-51
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
Prior to travelling up to the North West corner of Australia for the WA Signature Dish Gascoyne regional final, I wanted to touch base with the region’s designated chef Peter Manifis. Peter will be judging the four finalists in a cook off in order to select the winning dish that will represent the Gascoyne for the finale. He will then spend time closely with the regional winner mentoring and training them to give them the best chance at winning the competition.
Peter is the part owner and Executive chef for InContro, one of the fine dining local restaurants in my area. The restaurant is located on the South Perth Esplanade and overlooks the Swan River facing towards the Perth City skyline. It makes such a romantic spot for an evening meal offering uninterrupted views of the city lights twinkling away on the water. The Boy and I have celebrated many special occasions at InContro so I was excited when I found out that I was to be working with Peter. Upon meeting him I was inspired to see someone even more enthusiastic and energetic than I am. Those of you who have met me will know that this is really quite an achievement!
Whilst I understand that Chefs are often very busy people, I was grateful he took time out to have a chat with me and share some of his insights into our city’s food industry. We visited the restaurant on a sunny afternoon so we could kick back and enjoy an InContro seafood feast, something that they are very well known for here in Perth. Here’s what Peter had to say to me……
Peter, you are obviously a very passionate foodie, when and how did this love affair with food start?It all started with my grandparents owning fruit and vegetable shops in Perth when I was very young, food has always been in my blood. Moving on to my parents having fish and chip shops, a fish factory, processing plant and selling fish in my early years from age 2 – 15. I have grown up very involved in the food industry. Then of course I got my apprenticeship at the Loose Box.
You underwent your chef’s training at the highly acclaimed Loose Box under the guidance of Chef Alain Farbregues who is recognised as one of our city’s best French chefs. How has working with Alain influenced your career today?Working with Alain has had a great influence on my work and career. It has given me discipline, a good work ethic and enhanced my passion for food. Working under Alain gave me all round knowledge of the basics of the European style of cooking this then gives the grounds for everything else to follow. This is priceless.
Over the past few years we have seen Western Australia grow into a State of avid foodies with an abundance of fantastic new venues opening and food festivals being held all over the State. What excites you about the food scene here in Western Australia?The food scene here in Western Australia is fantastic and I was part of it before it started to get so fancy. It excites me to know that I stayed here in WA to help be a small part of what is such an amazing food industry we have today.
Your restaurant In Contro in South Perth has the reputation for being one of Perth’s top seafood restaurants with much of your produce sourced from our State’s North West. What are you favourite ingredients from the Gascoyne region and what makes it so special?My favourite ingredients are, Shark Bay wild prawns and Plantation vegetables. I am so passionate about this as I get to see the love people put into this produce and this reflects in what we get delivered to the restaurant. This is really special for me.
WA’s Signature Dish is an exciting competition hosted by Buy West Eat Best over the next few months. This competition is open to amateur cooks who love food and cooking but are not professional chefs. The aim is to find the ultimate recipe that puts our State on the plate. You have been chosen to be the mentor chef for the Gascoyne region’s finalist. What is your best advice for the four contestants attending the regional cook off held in Carnarvon next Monday?My advice is this, Regional produce! Use as much of it as you can and just keep it as simple as possible, let the produce speak for itself.
I hear you will be starring on the chef line up for this winter’s Truffle Kerfuffle Festival. I am a total truffle addict and have already booked up our weekend to be full of trufflicious indulgence. How will you be involved with this exciting event?I am also a massive truffle fan and always get involved with anything truffle. I am one of four chefs who will have truffle potato stand. We are cooking two major dinners for over 200 guests cooking a selection of canapés and protein and celebrating the produce with truffle.
Finally, I have dined in your restaurant many times over the years and always found your staff to be very helpful with respect to my gluten intolerance. Do you have any family members with food allergies or intolerances?None of my family members have any allergies or intolerances, however, I do have staff members and customers who do. I also find that as I work on the restaurant floor as well as the kitchen I understand and appreciate people’s requirements and feel they deserve food which is just as varied and exciting as for people who can eat everything. This is why I try to be innovative and always create new and exciting dishes to accommodate everyone. Chompchomp is the official blogger for the Buy West Eat Best WA Signature Dish Competition. Disclaimer: Chef Peter Manifis kindly offered the above meal for us at InContro for a discounted rate. Thank you Peter, we were not expecting such generosity. In Contro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WA 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au
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
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
We had only been back in Perth from our tropical holiday in Vietnam for 24 hours and yet we were at it again. Eating. Although we covered a fair bit of ground exploring Vietnam and seeing all the sights, the thing that we did most was eat food. All the food. We both have a shared habit of overeating whilst on holidays and this holiday won hands down for being the feast of the century. Consequently, on our journey homeward there was a lot of talk between us about juice fasts, diets and eating a lot less in general. But old habits die-hard and after running around on some errands in City we found ourselves at The Heritage for a late afternoon lunch.
I am a girl who loves her French champagne however I could hardly say that Moet is my favourite. In fact, I have been known on occasion after drinking a glass or two of a more refined champagne to bad mouth it. The Heritage serve glasses of Moet priced at a very drinkable $15 a glass so despite my tendency to champagne snobbery I could hardly say no. We paired it with a dozen freshly shucked oysters from Frankland Harbour in South Australia. Served perfectly with wedges of fresh lemon and Tabasco sauce, each mouthful slipped down our gullet leaving us with a breath of fresh sea air.
I was craving salad like a health freak and consequently got a bit over excited ordering us a couple of options. Considering the serving size they were all very decently priced ranging from $9-17. The green salad came with plump grilled mushrooms, avocado and asparagus and although it wasn’t much to look at it hit the spot for me. Fresh herbs such as mint and parsley were generously tossed through giving considerable flavour. When placing our order I forgot to mention to our waitress that I cannot eat onion but the pieces were large enough for me to pick out.
The richly coloured salmon was cured in-house with sugar, salt and spices before being smoked with hickory chips giving a buttery smooth texture and subtle sweet, smoky after-taste. It was perched atop of slice of sweet watermelon and dotted with salmon roe, microherbs and watermelon foam.
Initially we had good intentions to exhibit portion control and planned to just order ourselves a couple of light dishes however our holiday binge eating had effectively stretched the size of our stomachs and our waistlines. This meant that after finishing off our oysters, the salmon and all the salads we were still left wanting more.
Another round of champagne seemed like a wise idea and so to go with our drinks we ordered the somewhat healthy “Grand Platter” which comes with four oysters, four scallops and four prawns to share along with some dipping sauces and seaweed salad. I was informed that the sauces were all gluten free but the seaweed salad was not.
The prawns were small, brightly coloured and crunchy fresh. One of our tests to assess the freshness of a prawn is to suck out the head. A prawn head from a super fresh specimen is an absolute culinary delight; do not knock it until you have tried it. Do however make sure you avoid trying this with a not-so-fresh critter as you will be unlikely to want to attempt it again.
Having dessert at the end of a meal is another hard habit to break and I blame my Mum for inheriting her sweet tooth. I struggle to finish a meal on a savoury note and this was no exception. After a small amount of to-ing and fro-ing by our waitress to the kitchen to determine what desserts were gluten free, I was advised to order the crème brûlée.
Crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts and I’m so lucky that it is usually gluten free. The Heritage’s version is a reasonable sized serve and could have easily been shared between the two of us. The custard was set beautifully and ended with a creamy finish.
The Boy predictably chose the selection of house made sorbets and ice cream for his dessert. He is never really a dessert person unless it’s ice cream. Or so he keeps telling me. That didn’t seem to stop him from helping finish off my overly generous serve of luscious brûlée.
The Heritage is a lovely mix of the formality and classiness characteristic of their neighbours Print Hall and The Trustee with a more casual styled and priced menu. Their fresh faced staff are enthusiastic and helpful and I look forward to returning.For the 2014 Eat Drink Perth Festival, The Heritage will be holding a Wine Maker’s Dinner with food matched with Champagne from Piper & Charles Heidsieck on Tuesday 8th April 2014 at 6.30pm. Price is $149 per person for a three course dinner with matched champagne. Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This meal at The Heritage is not sponsored and I paid for it in full. www.theheritageperth.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $15-36, Mains $29-41) Food: 3.5/5 (classic and comforting European dishes with a modern twist) Service: 4/5 (very attentive and welcoming) Ambience: 4/5 (classy, classic and with character) Drinks: 4/5 (number of very affordable Australian & French wines ) Total: 15.5 /20
I need to give you a word of warning before you commence reading this post. If you are even just half the chocoholic that I am, some of the following images may cause a rapid heart rate, salivation and excitement. Across Australia tomorrow Chocolateria San Churro officially launch their new winter menu and last week I kindly agreed to take a hit for the team and attend their preview evening.
San Churro is an Australian business first created in Melbourne in 2004 by founders Kelly Smith and Giro Maurici who were inspired whilst travelling by the traditional breakfast in Spain of thick hot chocolate and churros. The company has since grown to 37 stores across five states including eight cafes here in Perth; Northbridge, Vic Park, Subiaco, Fremantle, Mandurah, Hillarys, Rockingham and Leederville. Whilst churros are unfortunately not gluten free, I was enlightened to find there are still a number of chocolaty treats I can enjoy.
While we waited for the remaining guests to arrive we were given a “tapas” plate to share. I discovered a new taste sensation that I cannot WAIT to return to San Churros for. Dunk a macaron in drippalicious molten chocolate; it is all the colours of sickly sweet wrong yet it left me feeling like I could conquer the world. The Boy looked on in bemusement while I dripped chocolate everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It was on my elbows, my forehead and even my camera.
Our first course was the new cinnamon breakfast churros which are made fresh daily in the morning and fried to order. Whilst I obviously didn’t get to taste any of them, the Boy quite enjoyed his although he did say that it wouldn’t really be something he would eat for breakfast. He usually eats healthy salads and fruit.
My replacement for the churros was another macaron which was served very apologetically. I laughed. As if I would ever be disappointed with being given more macarons.
Our second course included smaller sample tastings of their two new milkshakes. I was glad that we didn’t get the full-sized serves as there was no way we could have got through it all. Our first milkshake was the iced salted caramel. Fresh milk and vanilla ice cream were mixed together with swirls of dulce de leche and topped with whipped cream and chocolate. These babies were gulped down in seconds.
The popularity of salted caramel means it is a flavour that has been done to death by many kitchens but the next milkshake flavour was something a bit more interesting; salted chocolate coconut. Made with milk chocolate, shredded salted coconut, coconut syrup and dark choc chips this taste sensation put any salted caramel to bed. Let’s hope this is the new trend for 2014 because it is a whole new level of addictive sweet saltiness.
Our third course was the new sundaes however neither of them were gluten free. Consequently they kindly made me an adapted version of the new salted caramel ice cream sundae. The normal version contains white chocolate ice cream with warm salted caramel fudge, melted milk chocolate and crusted chocolate malt balls. My sundae was adapted to be gluten free by changing the ice cream flavour to vanilla and replacing the malt balls with smashed chunks of salted caramel macarons. The warmed salted caramel and melted milk chocolate were still layered in there as they were gluten free. The alternate textures of smooth ice cream, macarons, gooey caramel and crunchy chocolate was out of this world. I was informed that this adaptation would cost extra due to the addition of the macarons.
Moving onto the fourth course we were introduced to the new addition to their cake cabinet; the “Chocolate Volcano”. This dessert was not gluten free meaning the Boy got a whole Volcano to himself however after being generously filled with San Churro’s churros, macarons, chocolate, sundaes and milk shakes he was getting close to being absolutely stuffed.
I cut into the centre of the pudding for him and our eyes widened as luscious chocolate lava erupted out of the centre and dribbled out onto his plate. The pudding was served warm and despite our fullness the Boy managed to get through at least half of it before lowering his fork and admitting defeat.
My gluten free cake was one that is already on their menu however I was told it is very popular and not just those who eat gluten free. Rich and decadent, even I couldn’t get through one solo as the serving size is quite large. The centre of the cake was very moist with a subtle almond flavour.
We were onto the final stretch at the fifth course and by this point I could hear a few groans coming from the other side of the table. We had well and truly out-chocolated ourselves leaving no room for our final course.
The Boy was served a mug of San Churro’s traditional Spanish hot chocolate. They import this drink from Spain were it is made to an authentic Spanish recipe. This is not a hot drink for the light hearted as it is basically a mug of thick, molten chocolate. It is also not gluten free so I left the Boy to attempt to devour it on his own. The new versions of this drink take it to an even higher level of indulgence than before using a choice of three toppings; marshmallows and chocolate syrup, crusted malt balls or choc biscuit crumble. The Boy ate a few spoonfuls meekly before giving up for good.
I received a milk coverture hot chocolate instead which was light and foamy along similar lines to the standard hot chocolate many of you know well. I managed a few more mouthfuls than the Boy did with his drink before also putting my cup down with a sigh. I had been beaten by chocolate. And it was good.Chocolateria’s new Winter Menu launches on Monday 31st March, 2014 across all stores. Chompchomp attended San Churro’s Winter Menu preview night as a guest. However having been to San Churro as a customer several times already, I can guarantee I will continue to love their chocolate just as much when I return and have to pay for it. Chocolateria San Churro Northbridge 132 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9328 3363 | http://www.sanchurro.com/
In order to operate as a successful veterinary hospital, good teamwork is absolutely essential. No single individual is more important than any other and each one of our staff members, from our receptionists to our nurses through to our vets, all have key roles in caring for our patients and their humans. To help further develop our teamwork skills, every year our business puts on a Team Building Day. It is always a day of fun and adventure ending with prizes, food and lots of laughter. Our most recent day involved an Amazing Race-styled car rally across the Northern suburbs of Perth with volunteers help enlisted from husbands and wives to man all the check points. We climbed rock faces, cuddled koalas and collected a variety of trinkets and tokens to end the day at our Practice Manager’s beach shack in Ledge Point.
Now despite my retorts to the contrary, I will secretly admit to you that I have a strong competitive streak. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be placed in a team with a well-balanced group; a similarly competitive perfectionist with strong attention to detail, an exuberantly positive life enthusiast that randomly sings at every opportunity and a very pregnant peace-keeper that is easily one of the kindest hearted people I know. We named ourselves the “Innovation Commandos” and kitted ourselves out complete with toy guns and camouflage armbands. The four of us raced around together to each checkpoint and by the end of the day not only had we successfully completed every task and arrived in good time, we also had a theme song. To our further excitement and joy at the end of the Awards Ceremony, our team was announced as the winning team. Woot!!
Other than fame and glory, our winning prize was a voucher for dinner at the Rose & Crown Hotel in Guildford. The following months after the Team Building Day we repeatedly attempted to arrange a night where we were all free however this proved to be more difficult than herding cats.
Have you ever tried to do that?
At the very end of the voucher period we finally managed to coordinate a night where three of us could attend dinner and the fourth would join us at the end for dessert. It turned out to be a beautiful night but unfortunately they put us on a table inside where it was relatively dark and quiet. All the better to make noise I say!
The Rose & Crown are gluten free friendly and have a menu specifically for us to choose from. For entrees we opted to share the ploughman’s plate and a serve of seared scallops. Our waitress initially offered to serve the plate with gluten free bread but shortly afterward returned to apologise that they had run out.
The Ploughman’s plate had a collection of tasty morsels including potted salmon, cured meats, a thick chunk of cheddar cheese, a wedge of chicken and pistachio terrine and pickled vegetables. I asked for the wafers and crusty French baguette to be served on the side however they were placed on the same platter. I still managed to negotiate my way around the offending items and enjoy part of the platter.
The seared scallops were served on chunks of warm chorizo and a bed of cauliflower purée. Whilst small in size, each scallop was plump and juicy. The cauliflower puree lacked the strong, fairly distinct taste that is usual to this vegetable making it lusciously smooth and creamy.
One of our team members was yet to arrive at the restaurant meaning there was an extra scallop. As I looked up to see the Boy enviously eyeing them off and there was just no way we could leave him suffering. When he thought no one was looking I caught him sneaking a quick finger over onto my plate to swipe an extra smear of the purée. I overlooked this action and pretended it never happened so he could enjoy more of its deliciousness with me.
The Boy chose the crispy skinned salmon for his main dish which was served with soba noodles, an Asian herb salad, capsicum relish and tom yum jelly. It was at the upper end of his tolerance for spiciness as he is not a big fan of chilli. The salmon had a lovely darker reddish tint in the centre and flaked apart easily.
Our jovial singing team member chose the twice-cooked pork belly for her main choice. Within minutes of serving her the dish our waitress returned to collect it as was plated incorrectly missing the potato, rosemary and leek galette. After a quick visit back to the kitchen her plate came back complete.
The pork belly was as tender as the Boy’s salmon and knowing it was one of the gluten free options I was also tempted to steal a mouthful to try. It was topped with a rich Pedro Ximénez glaze to add sweetness to those wonderful porky flavours and I wasn’t surprised to hear she enjoyed every mouthful.
Before I had time to obsess over the pork too much my steak arrived. Since the Boy has converted to eating a plant-based diet, beef has become an occasional treat for me. The Rose & Crown offer a few different cuts of steak to choose from. I chose the 250-gram Kilcoy eye fillet served with the potato galette and café de Paris butter. It was a shame they didn’t source the beef from somewhere more locally as we have a lot of premium beef producers in WA. Nevertheless my fillet was buttery soft and I could literally cut it with a bread knife.
My fellow perfectionist chose the roasted lamb rack for her main. We all wowed and cooed as her plate came out piled high with food. It nearly looked like it was enough to feed two! Her tender lamb cutlets were served with carrots, stringless beans, confit potatoes, babaganoush and chimichurri.
As we enjoyed our last mouthfuls of main course we agreed how full we felt and were nearly bursting at the seams. Just when I became convinced there was no way we couldn’t eat anymore, we received a text message from our absent and previously pregnant team member to say she was on her way complete with husband in tow. I sighed and was grateful I wore a fat dress because this boat was obviously going to be pushed out real hard! This was to be a rare moment of baby-free time for the new mum. Having checked out the menu online she asked us to pre-order her a “nannie” for dessert. Not quite knowing whether this was a slip of her subconscious thought or just a predictive text error none of us quite knew what sort of dessert this was and so we opted to wait for her to join us and clarify.
It turned out that she actually meant the message to say to order the banoffee dessert and it was not a bizarre call for some parental help at home! We all had a chuckle and perused over the menu for our own choices. Her iced banoffee terrine came with drizzled caramel syrup and double cream.
Hyperactive people have a way of doing crazy things and despite being both late and a weeknight, our in-house vocalist ordered herself the Affrogato. Freshly brewed espresso coffee, vanilla ice-cream and a shot of Baileys Irish cream all served individually is in my humble opinion the only way to serve this treat and I wished I could handle my coffee in the evening so I could have joined in the fun.
Being quite full I was hoping to share a dessert with the Boy but he had other plans and unsurprisingly ordered himself a sizable bowl of gelato. Ice creams and gelato have always been his weakness and as his loving wife, who am I to interfere with that? There were a number of flavours to choose from and he selected chocolate and strawberry. It was topped with chunks of home-made honeycomb.
A popular dessert choice at our table was the lemon curd meringue. Served with a velvety scoop of raspberry sorbet and berry coulis this had all the right elements of tang and sweet.
My gluten free dessert was the once famous Chocolate Nemesis, which is a hybrid of part cake, part mousse chocolate indulgence that resembled a replica of Mount Doom from Mordor. I was confronted by a towering mound of silky rich chocolate with contrasting colours of lime crème fraiche and blackberry plum liquor compote dripping down its sides. I can guarantee this dish tasted a hell of a lot better than it looked! In fact, it was nothing short of amazing. Chocolate Nemesis you are not my enemy, you are my hero!
The Rose & Crown is a beautiful old hotel that has been renovated to maintain its character and charm. Their food is casual enough to still be considered pub food but with a touch more finesse and effort than you would expect. The courtyard is worth a visit in summer and is a great place to while your Sunday afternoons away with a glass of Chardonnay in hand.Rose & Crown 105 Swan Street, Guildford WA 6055 | (08) 9347 8100 | www.rosecrown.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-23, Mains $33-48) Food: 3.5/5 (reasonable for pub food with many GF choices) Service: 3/5 (friendly but a little scattered) Ambience: 3/5 (depends where you sit, courtyard recommended in summer, main dining room in winter) Drinks: 3/5 (small wine list focusing on Australian wines) Total: 12.5/20
After nearly sixteen years of togetherness, the Boy and I still manage to find ways to surprise each other. Gestures of love can be as small as grabbing an unrequested favourite snack at the local deli right through to spontaneous bouquets of flowers, presents and most excitingly degustations! The Boy has always claimed to not be a dessert person however over recent months I realise this is not actually the case. He certainly doesn’t like your more traditional stodgy cakes and puddings but he is more than happy to fight me spoon for spoon for something fancier and somewhat de-constructed.
For Valentine’s Day this year I thought I would take a punt and secretly book us a table at Rochelle Adonis for their sensuous aphrodisiac laced dessert degustation. Having already blogged about Rochelle Adonis several times, I didn’t want to ruin the mood of our romantic evening with a series of photo shoots and although I brought my camera with me I didn’t really take my photography seriously. Our evening turned out to be such a beautiful experience that despite the poor quality of my images I am happy to swallow my pride and share it with you. You may notice that the quality of photos deteriorates further more as the night goes on and my attention gets dragged away.
Every course was careful created to enhance the love in the air using ingredients designed to tantalise the senses. We had our own private table out in the courtyard surrounded by fairy lights and scented candles. It felt like we were in our own little world and let all our cares and worries of the week wash away as we soaked up the romantic atmosphere.
Our first course started off with glasses of Mumm champagne paired with spoons of dreamy coloured spheres. Each sphere was flavoured differently and burst in the mouth to reveal three flavours; strawberry and slow gin, mango and triple sec, and clove, honey apple and whisky.
It felt like a boozy version of bubble tea which many of you know I absolutely love. In fact any food or drink that involves little burstable spheres excites me!
The second component to this course was hidden in two bright red envelopes. Inside each envelope was a square of paper thin Rochelle Adonis nougat and a pen with edible ink.
We wrote little love notes to each other and exchanged before eating them. The nougat was softly flavoured with clove and nutmeg.
As the sun set, we were left with only the flickering light of the candles and soft glow of the fairy lights so we inched our chairs closer together ready for the next course. It was titled “Orange flower honey, peach and almond”. As pretty as I would always expect from this team, this dish contained a soft crumbled base of malted almond crumbs, poached peach slivers, honey, cinnamon and ginger. It was finished with a smooth peach and cognac gel and garnished with shards of peach meringue.
The third course was one of my favourites; lovingtons. It was no problem for the chef to convert this gorgeousness to be gluten free and I was thankful for their efforts. A lovable heart-shaped lamington played centre stage for this dish and it was filled with yuzu curd and dipped in raspberry gel. It lay innocently on a raspberry “cloud” that contained a surprise of lychee parfait inside it. Mango puree and mandarin snow added sweet and citrusy notes to the dish. It was garnished with blueberries, lychee and raspberries. This had a serious wow factor!
To break the dessert degustation into two, our next course was a savoury course; cheese. Well cheese IS part of a proper dessert isn’t it? This was the only course that the gluten free option looked any different from the Boy’s. For everything else the chef managed to make our dishes appear the same. There was no missing out for me on this dego! The Boy received Fourme d’Ambert filled cannoli with a fig and salsa verd, whipped triple cream goats cheese infused with caraway and porcini with a beetroot sponge, and his favourite a gruyere stuffed zucchini flower.
The highlight of my gluten free cheese course was humbly described by our waitress as a gruyere cheese toasty. It was a small, wafer thin rectangle of gluten free bread topped with cheese that in all honesty initially made me think … “Really?”
That was until I bit into it.
How could something so thin and little still contain all the vital aspects of texture and flavour of a perfect cheese toasty? The outside was crunchy crisp, the inside oozed gooey, cheesy goodness and there was enough flavour to knock my socks off.
There were two other components on my cheese course. Creamy blobs of Cashel blue contrasted wondrously with the sweetness of fresh figs and salsa verd. The Lingot triple cream goats cheese was served deconstructed with gluten free quinoa croutons and golden baby beets.
To move our palates back to the realm of sweets we were provided with one of Rochelle’s signature styled sorbets. Everywhere we go recently we have been drinking Pimm’s cocktails laced with fresh fruit and it was a lovely coincidence to see it feature in the sorbet.
Perfectly light and nearly fizzy, the sorbet was made with strawberry and orange and coated with borage snow. Cleansed and refreshed we were ready for more dessert!
While waiting for our next course we couldn’t help ourselves from opening our salted caramels and devouring them. Unlike a lot of chewy hard caramels these were buttery soft and dissolved in the mouth. They were a perfect match with the Stella Bella Pink Muscat I had sneakily stashed in my handbag in case we drank our way through the provided champagne.
Our pre-dessert was made from blood plums, apricot and rosemary. A tart strap of blood plum “leather” and compote was paired with a creamy rosemary white chocolate mousse, green apple gel and apricot “fluff”. It was a gentle transition to take us to the last but not least course.
As our final dish arrived I was amazed that despite enjoying six courses of dessert, I was left just as satisfied as if it were a “normal” degustation. Each plate had brought with it a mini-journey for the senses and I was excited to see how it all would end. Regrettably for you dear readers, my mind was taken far away from focusing on obtaining you some beautiful photos, in fact it seemed far away from focus altogether! I was too lost in enjoying the emotions and happiness we both felt for each other and in the sheer enjoyment of this last scrumptious finale. The last dish was titled “Roses and red and violets are blue, once I had a shattered heart and now I’m with you.”
Using Valrhona’s 64% Ariguani chocolate the chef created an incredible “shattered mousse” adorned with rose petals. It was sided by a chunk of Rochelle Adonis’s signature chocolate cake blushed with brilliant coloured strawberry powder. Next to these delicacies sat a tear drop shaped ampoule that was filled with rose water. The idea was to shatter the ampoule over the dessert enhancing it with gentle flavour.
I have been told by others that have previously done a dessert degustation that it isn’t for the light hearted. However after sharing this experience with someone who claims to not even be into desserts I can safely say this is not the case. Our evening was one of the best nights out we have had in a long time and couldn’t have come at a better time for us.Happy Valentine’s to the best husband in the world. You are my best friend and my one true love. I love you and I love my life with you. Rochelle Adonis’s dessert degustation was $338 per couple and included a bottle of Mumm champagne. We would both like to extend a massive thank you to the whole team at Rochelle Adonis for making this one of our best Valentines to date; you have excelled yourselves once again. For more on Rochelle Adonis head over to my previous posts: High Tea at Rochelle Adonis October 2011 Returning to Rochelle Adonis for High Tea September 2012 Rochelle Adonis’s House Warming Party July 2013 Rochelle Adonis | (08) 9227 0007 | 2 St Albans Avenue, Highgate WA 6003 | rochelleadonis.com
I never anticipated that my blog would have any degree of measurable success. Blogging wasn’t something I planned to do, nor does creative writing or photography play any part in my real career. Despite being a complete self-confessed amateur I have relished in watching Chompchomp metamorphosize from an ugly duckling into something I’m proud of. Reflecting back on my first and comparatively horrendous post I can see the blog undergo constant improvement. When I recently researched to find out the Hottest 100 Food Blogs of Perth, I was blown away that my blog is at Number 5! I hope that I can remain motivated to keep it ever-evolving so that my readers stay entertained and keen to return back for more. I am always happy for feedback so let me know if you think there is something I could change or add to the blog to improve it.
Another more unexpected and even better aspect of being a blogger has been the friendships that I have made along the way. One of my closest blogging friends Michelle from Foodie Cravings had been trying for weeks on end to organise a catch up with me and after a couple of false starts we finally matched up our busy schedules. We were both happy to travel to Fremantle and agreed to meet at Bread In Common.
I had heard much about Bread in Common but didn’t expect to be greeted by the wonderful airy modern open space of which it comprises. Situated in a renovated old Fremantle warehouse, it has lots of natural light flooding through at an angle onto large communal tables and they have a sociable menu designed for sharing.
In continuing my attempts at keeping my alcohol consumption as close to zero as humanly possible for sixty days, I was relieved that Michelle was also happy to abstain. It isn’t often that there are fructose friendly juices on the menu and looking on their menu I was happy to see I had options. It made it a lot easier to skip the wine when one of the juices I love making at home is up for grabs; a combination of carrot, orange and ginger juice. It makes such a refreshing drink for a hot summer’s day.
I was dismayed to learn that they do not have any gluten free bread to offer. The manager made kind apologies and indicated coyly that it could be possible if only I bought him a new oven. I initially wondered why they couldn’t at least temporarily source some from other local Fremantle bakeries such as Abhi’s until I realised their philosophy is to make everything in house where possible. Avoiding cross contamination of flours in one open plan kitchen would be very difficult.
Michelle and I simultaneously chose the duck fat roasted potatoes as our first pick. My stepmother’s duck fat potatoes are yet to be rivalled and are consistently out of this world. Bread in Common’s version ended up coming in a fairly close second attaining all the right layers of textures; from crispy to chewy, ending in a super fluffy soft centre. They are served with rosemary, whole roasted garlic cloves and some ketchup. Each garlic clove squeezed out like toothpaste onto my plate sealing the deal that no vampires would come near me that evening. Nor would my husband for that matter!
Michelle’s dish choice was the pork belly which she raved about from her previous visit. Each piece was delicately gelatinous and sticky sweet. Topped with a sweet green tomato chutney and on a bed of crunchy, slippery greens it was far too easy to eat.
Our lunch date was the first time I had eaten out without the Boy in tow for a while and it was refreshing to be able to order some non-vegetarian dishes without getting a high browed look from him! My choice was a dish of succulent Fremantle octopus served on a bed of green olive tapenade with cubes of fresh watermelon. It was topped with the unexpected treat of tiny shavings of crunchy hard pork crackling. Whilst I was happy to indulge in the crackling, I left the watermelon for Michelle to enjoy as it is high in fructose. In turn she was happy to leave any octopus pieces with suckers intact as she found the whole look of them disturbing.
Michelle had forewarned me to save room for dessert as she recalls them being worth relishing. I was impressed; I rarely plan my meals with this level of strategy which probably explains why I often end up overeating. I was not prepared for the visually exquisite surprise that each of our desserts provided.
My banana dessert contained all kinds of my favourite sweet things; caramelised bananas, cubes of torched marshmallow and blobs of softer meringue alternated with smaller dots of tart lemon curd. With such a variety of textures and flavours this dish played the risk of being too busy but each element complemented the other well and was perfectly orchestrated music to my mouth. I wanted more and quietly plotted in my mind how to get back before the menu is changed.
Michelle’s dessert was even more spectacular than mine with scoops of peanut mousse and chocolate brownie ice cream laying on a bed of Oreo “soil”. Dollops of brilliant red raspberry gel spotted about the plate with some sort of raspberry crumble tumbled over the top. It looked totally divine but alas is not gluten free for those wondering.
As time ticked into the late afternoon I had to decline the offer of coffee and opted for a peppermint tea instead. The tea was fresh and uplifting without any of the unpleasant metallic aftertaste that poorer quality peppermint tea often has.
Whilst I cannot deny I was somewhat disappointed I didn’t actually eat bread at Bread in Common, there were plenty of other gluten free options on the menu to fill up on. The desserts were particularly mind-blowing it’s worth returning back just for them.Bread in Common 43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA 6160 | (08) 9336 1032 | www.breadincommon.com.au Price: $$$ (Share plates $12-28) Food: 4/5 (creative concepts using fresh, local produce) Service: 4/5 (quick, efficient and well conversed with the menu) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but buzzing, communal tables) Drinks: 3/5 (interesting but small wine list but of course didn’t get to try any!) Total: 14.5/20