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
My father-in-law’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it an occasion that is usually celebrated in a very relaxed style at their home. This year we were unable to attend the family gathering and proposed to take them out for lunch instead with just the four of us. Predictably for the time of year in Perth, the weather was absolutely glorious so I convinced everyone to head to the coast and meet at Il Lido Italian Canteen in Cottesloe.
The beach in Cottesloe is something to be proud of and in my humble opinion has to be one of the prettiest beaches in our state. The sky was as blue as the clear waters below it and the white expanses of sand were splashed with bright colours of beach towels and bikini clad sunbakers. There are people around the world who pay to go on holiday to be able visit locations like this and here we have it on our back door step. You cannot help but love Perth.
Il Lido is built in a 1935 heritage building and back in the 1940’s this site housed Lido Cabaret, which was the old-time equivalent to our modern day nightclub. Much of the interior has been kept intact with decorative high ceilings and windows facing out onto the beach. Il Lido has been on my ever growing wishlist of places to eat for some time having already been to both of their sister restaurants Duende and Gordon Street Garage a number of times.
Most of the small plates were already gluten free or were easily adaptable so we started off with a number of them to share before moving onto something more substantial. I have always been a huge lover of oysters as many of you may have noticed. Despite having tried them prepared countless different ways, until recently my favourite style has be “au natural”. That was until I tried Lalla Rookh’s incredible freshly shucked oysters with cucumber chilli granita. The combination of fresh saltiness and sweet iciness ending in a gentle spicy kick was more than just intriguing.
So when I saw something that sounded very similar on Il Lido’s menu I got quite excited. I should have however ordered them with no expectations because these oysters came with just a teeny dollop of melted sorbet not a shell full like I was expecting. Although the oysters were delightfully fresh, having such a small amount of sorbet made them lacklustre by comparison.
It must have been the day for carpaccio because I found myself unable to decide between the tuna and the beef. My solution was to simply order one of each. The tuna carpaccio was a complete hit. The dish was literally as pretty as a picture; chewy pieces of candied chilli, torn fresh orange and olives were scattered on top of thinly sliced fish. Each piece of tuna dissolved on the tongue leaving a surprisingly complex array of flavours on the palate.
The beef carpaccio was just as tender and was served with generous shavings of truffle sottocenere cheese along with lavish smears of horseradish cream. Each mouthful was as soft as silk and resulted in a brief period of silence across the table while we all gustated in pleasure.
I mean, who can say no to truffle cheese?
Our last starter of scallops had to be slightly adapted to be gluten free by omission of the “crumbs”. Plump scallops were hidden under piles of freshly tossed beans and greens. Whilst not the biggest scallops in town, each mouthful was browned to a warm caramel colour yet remained juicy and soft.
My father-in-law ordered himself the lamb cutlets for his celebratory birthday meal. The two meaty lamb chops came with light salad of fresh figs, spinach, basil, goats cheese and pine nuts all tossed enthusiastically to coat each component in tangy, creamy cheesiness.
My mother-in-law opted for a lighter meal, choosing the poached chicken salad with peaches, prosciutto, almonds and goats cheese. Her plate was piled high and ended up being a bigger serve than she had anticipated. I love how each of their salads came with a mix of seasonal fresh fruit and goats cheese, such a lovely combination to have on a hot summers day.
The Boy ordered the beetroot and goats cheese crespelle. Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of crepes, can be served as a savoury or sweet dish and are usually made using small sized pancakes folded with a sauce filling. By the time I had taken shots of his parent’s meals he was starting to get impatient giving me not much more than a millisecond to capture its vibrant colours.
I was in the same boat as my MIL and craved a light and healthy salad. I always eat way too much over Christmas and by the time New Year’s approaches I’m actually ready for a break! I chose the hickory smoked salmon with avocado, green beans and a yoghurt dressing. My helping was also generous with all the ingredients tumbled together evenly. I hate salads where the key ingredients are just dumped on top of the greens; everything needs to be tossed through!
My husband’s family are usually big eaters especially the men. It’s those long Dutch legs that need that extra filling up! I didn’t anticipate our big servings and ordered a couple of sides; crisp potato skins with paprika salt, aioli and a rocket, pear and parmesan salad. The potato skins are worth returning back for. Slightly spicy, super crunchy with just a hint of soft potato flesh these little numbers didn’t last long.
There were a couple of dessert choices that were gluten free including the pineapple upside down cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Having four mouths to feed on the table allowed me to order one of each knowing anything I couldn’t eat would still get eaten.
The pineapple cake was very moist and accompanied some poached pineapple and extra virgin olive oil ice cream that is made in house. The extra virgin flavour in the ice cream was not too over powering to be unpleasant and gave a pleasant fruity end to the tongue.
The Boy gobbled up a substantial part of his cake before I could get a fork in edgewise which generally is a good sign coming from someone who claims to not like desserts. The tall disc of cake came in a puddle of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces with honeycomb ice cream. I had a couple of mouthfuls and thought it was a little dry for my liking.
As both the Boy and I tend to work long hours, it isn’t often that we get to spoil either of our parents and it was totally worth it to see the beaming faces at the end of it all. To help all the food excesses digest we took a relaxing stroll along the coastline together and longed for the day to never end.
Il Lido was even better than we expected given our excellent experiences at Duende and variable meals at Gordon Street Garage. They have successfully emulated a casual beach side vibe yet serve stunning Italian “peasant” food that left the in-laws very impressed. I can guarantee we will be back.Il Lido Italian Canteen 88 Marine Parade, Cottesloe, WA 6011 | (08) 9286 1111 | illido.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrees $14-20, Mains $28-42) Food: 4.5/5 (focuses on simple Italian dishes with local, seasonal produce) Service: 4/5 (helpful with allergy choices, accommodating with alterations, full of smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but that is part of the atmosphere, indoor and outdoor options) Drinks: 4/5 (comprehensive wine list with many interesting Italian and Aussie options to suit all prices) Total: 16/20
Degustation is a French word which can be translated into meaning “a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods focusing on the senses using high culinary art”. I have always been a huge fan of tasting menus as they allow me to taste a myriad of different dishes and leave me so insanely full that I never feel like I missed out. This style of dining is one best done slowly with good company and conversation which makes me thankful that my dear husband loves “degos” as much as I do. As you can imagine, for my recent solo trip to Barcelona I became emotionally torn; do I have a degustation in a city known for its fabulous food ON MY OWN? Is that too weird? I had read great things about Michelin starred Restaurant Nectari where their Chef Jordi Esteve offers a gluten free tasting menu complete with matching wines. Nectari opened their doors nearly five years ago and since then they have worked toward earning a well-known reputation for their service and food leading to receiving their first Michelin Star in 2013.
I tried to visualise myself sitting alone in a restaurant eating a ten course meal and decided that although I could do it I would be less conspicuous at lunchtime. I arranged my booking via email before leaving Australia but on my arrival I was met with a few surprised looks, mainly because I was on my own and regrettably spoke negligible Spanish. I was ushered into the empty restaurant, looked around at the vacant seats and started to wonder if this was all a big mistake. I tried to remind myself that the Spanish eat out late, and that it would be normal to find a restaurant empty on a week day.
My nervousness was soon to pass as my waitress for the day approached me with such genuine warmth that I immediately felt at ease. I quickly learnt she was a cat person and before long we were exchanging feline stories in broken English. My amuse bouche was so colourful with four very different mouthfuls of deliciousness; a spoonful of fresh raw salmon with a sliver of creamy egg frittata, a fold of mango wrapped in jamón, fresh mandarin with mozzarella and a quail egg on top of olive purée. Some home-made gluten free olive and spiced tomato breads were also brought to the table with a selection of local olive oils to choose from.
In my excitement to share my first course on Instagram I completely forgot to take a photo with my SLR camera “Gordon” and therefore only have this iPhone shot. Sorry peeps! The soup was a mussel cream served with sesame and green oil. Even though it was served cold it had a rich, strong flavour. Hidden in the bottom was a single super sweet prawn.
The foie gras terrine was served with an unusual combination of watermelon coulis, pistachio and fresh strawberries. Each sliver was decadent and creamy with a sweet after-taste accentuated by the coulis. Crunchy almond biscuits with a hint of black pepper provided a textural contrast.
Staying true to the Chef’s traditional Spanish roots his next course was a glammed up gazpacho. Freshly poached lobster, caramelised roasted almonds, melon sorbet and jamón were all gently engulfed by the vibrant gazpacho as it was poured into my bowl tableside.
My palate was entertained with layers of fruity coolness interrupted intermittently by the crunch of a roasted nut or smoked piece of jamón. This was an outstanding dish.
The next course was described as “sting ray with carrot sauce and mussels”. I wished my Spanish was better so I could further enjoy the details that she described of this dish. Each piece of fish was delicate and soft, shredding easily under my fork. The sauce was surprisingly syrupy and sweet.
The following course was the only dish I didn’t thoroughly enjoy; prawn and mushroom dumplings with a seafood sauce. The dumplings were a little chewy and their contents were too salty for my liking.
Before the main course I was served a refreshing passionfruit sorbet “for my digestion” topped with a sugar crusted miniature mint leaf. After the briny dumplings it was a welcome cleanser for my taste buds.
The rack of lamb was served very rare which is thankfully just how I like it. I visualised in my mind some of my more conservative friends gasping at the deep red colour and lack of brown sear on the meat. It was served with a bright red pepper sauce and roasted green garlic. The green garlic was quite mild in flavour but even so I knew there would be no vampires attacking me on my walk back to the hotel.
The cheese plate included Tous del Tillers, Comte and Gorgonzola. Tous del Tillers is a raw cow’s milk cheese from the Catalan province of Lleida and had Brie-like bloomy rind and rich creamy centre. Comte is a semi-hard unpasteurised cheese from France and is thus is hard to obtain in Australia. It has a complex, nutty flavour and similar texture to Gruyère. Many of you will be much more familiar with Gorgonzola as this is a regular feature on many cheese platters back in Perth.
My dessert was quite an unusual surprise. A shimmering gold bullion shaped block of rich chocolate mousse sat comically on my plate. As I plunged my spoon into its foamy texture, thick cranberry liquor oozed out. It was magical and unexpected. The combination of tart and sweet was perfectly balanced and ended this experience on a high note.
As my petit fours was brought to the table I realised that I had journeyed through a whole ten course degustation on my own without once feeling bored or lonely. For someone who is normally highly gregarious I felt this to be a big achievement. I have to confess however the restaurant DID have WIFI allowing me to skate across a number of social media platforms for the duration of my meal. The lunch ended with the chef coming out to my table wanting to get my feedback and to make sure that I enjoyed my meal. A lovely personal touch.
Nectari RestaurantCarrer València, 28 08015 Barcelona | 932 26 87 18 | www.nectari.es Price: $$$ (Awarded One Michelin Star 2013, caters for gluten free) Food: 4.5/5 (presented exquisitely and passionately, fresh flavours with local influences) Service: 4/5 (one of the waitresses speaks reasonable English, otherwise best learn Spanish) Ambience: 3.5/5 (hard to assess as I dined at an unusual time in the middle of the week and day) Drinks: 4/5 (beautifully matched wines choosing predominately local wines) Total: 16/20
As I approach my blog’s second birthday in September this year, I have been reflecting back on what I have achieved in these past two years. Starting from humble and amateurish beginnings I have strived to improve both my writing and photography style and understand this will forever be a learning curve for me. This constant growth and development gives a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Blogging is and always will be my hobby and finding enough time alongside my day job as a small animal vet can sometimes be a bit of a challenge!
One of the aspects of my blog that I want to improve is my food photography skills. I look at my hideously boring food styling and poor quality restaurant photos and dream wistfully that I had natural talent. Billy Law from A Table For Two is one of those people blessed with such a gift. His photos are always clean and crisp, enticing you to dive deeper and deeper into his blog. He was a finalist on Master Chef and has scored that all elusive book deal that so many bloggers dream of.
His food photography workshops are well known by foodies over east and generally sell out well in advance. So when he announced that he was planning to bring the workshop over West I took no hesitation in signing up. Held at The Terrace Hotel we were treated to a two day insight into his trade secrets paired with good food, wine and lots of laughter.
The first day was aimed at a beginner’s level teaching us how to get the most of our cameras regardless of whether it was a point-and-shoot compact or a niftier DSLR. We went through the basics of composition, white balance and he provided some helpful post processing tips. Billy went around the table and individually looked at each of our cameras to help us familiar ourselves with the manual settings. I was able to put his suggestions straight to work as food was continuously being brought to us. We certainly didn’t go home hungry!
The second day was aimed at a more intermediate level and Billy showed us how to utilise props and lighting to get the best out of our shots at home. The attendees at this day included a wide range of people from passionate foodies and bloggers to professional photographers. The atmosphere was very informal and friendly and many of us exchanged business cards and twitter handles at the end of each day.
The Terrace Hotel staff knew they were serving a roomful of bloggers so I have refrained from reviewing these meals as it would be impossible for me to give an accurate unbiased review. Throughout the day we were treated to very personalised and friendly service and I walked away impressed with the level of attention. I am keen to return for a meal incognito to discover whether this is true for all patrons.
A big thank you to Billy for making the trip over to Perth!The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | http://www.terracehotelperth.com.au/
After landing in Singapore on the overnight flight from Perth I was accompanied by the Boy and one of my business partners Woki to attend a friend’s wedding at the Fairmont Hotel. Not willing to be discouraged by our lack of sleep we refused to waste our free day and spent most of it exploring the city. We conveniently ended our self-guided tour at Ku De Ta which is situated on the 57th level of one of the three Marina Bay Sands (MBS) towers. Sipping our drinks we watched a blanket of dark ominous clouds slowly envelop the city from our viewpoint on high and by the time the tropical storm reached us we were all seriously hungry. We headed back downstairs in search of some food.
Back on the ground floor foyer, we were served by a small framed, elegant woman who kindly took great trouble to ring around a few restaurants in the complex in search of a table. She managed to secure us a booking at Guy Savoy, one of the “celebrity restaurants” at the Casino. The only time available was just an hour away yet there we stood all wind-swept, sweaty and in no way presentable for fine dining.
Jumping in a cab the Boy, Woki and I made a mad dash to return to our hotel but as we crawled inch by inch through peak hour traffic I started to feel the tension among us rising. By this point, the monsoonal downpour was in full force and I could barely see the road in front of us. Jumping out of the cab to proceed on foot was completely out of the question!
Upon our return to Fairmont Hotel we quickly raced upstairs dripping wet to our rooms. With my heart pounding in excitement I flurried about spraying my hair with a ton of hair products and my face with a lathering of makeup. After the finishing touch of a smear of bright red lipstick I prayed my transformation into something more elegant was successful.
However, our building anticipation was not to end there. It almost felt like fate was against us as we ended up taking the wrong train, got off on the wrong station and then took a full circle route on foot of the entire MBS complex before we could actually find the restaurant. Let me tell you, it is not well signposted and MBS is huge!
A little flustered and nauseatingly hungry we were seated at our table ready for the fun to begin. Our meal was kick-started by a few adorable bite size canapés.
The gluten eaters received a pint-sized foie gras club sandwich and similarly Lilliputian cube of parmesan waffle.
My gluten free canapés included a spoonful of miniature cubes of beetroot sprinkled with black truffle on a herb purée and some finely grated apple with baby celery leaves on an almond crumble.
As we allowed these flavours to entertain our palate, our waiter wheels out an old polished wood trolley with a whole leg of Joselito’s Ibérico de Bellota Jamón. Ibérico jamón is a type of ham made from black Iberian pigs that are kept free range on pasture and oak groves where they feast on a diet of acorns, grass, herbs and roots. Joselito’s Ibérico jamón is world famous for being the best ham in world and wholesale prices start at around $600 for a small leg and can get well over $3000-4000 for an aged leg. They pride themselves on raising “happy pigs” and believe this is a major factor in their meat quality.
The waiter carved in front of us about a dozen slices straight off the bone. Dark purple in colour and with multiple thread-like veins of white fat coursing through the meat; the wafer thin slivers of ham nearly dissolved on contact with my tongue. Eating Joselito jamón is quite an unforgettable foodie’s experience and I highly recommend that you try it yourself if you ever have the chance.
The unusual pretzel shaped bread was unfortunately not gluten free and as there wasn’t any gluten free bread option I had to satisfy myself by just having a brief sniff of its fresh doughy aroma. I cannot deny it is always a little disappointing when I visit fine dining institutions such as this and a gluten free bread option is overlooked. Not that I really needed bread given the enormous meal we were about to enjoy!
Our Amuse Bouche was a chilled Vichyssoise-styled soup made from leek, potatoes and cream. The addition of fennel gave a slightly sweet and refreshing after-taste. Curiously hidden under the small mug of thick soup contained two little half spheres of fennel and leek “royale”, basically a smooth lime green custard topped with minuscule little micro herbs and pea sized blobs of herb purée. With the subtle sweetness of the fennel in the soup still lingering, this little dollop served to extend and enhance the ambrosial experience with utmost precision.
Both the Boy and Woki ordered the “crab with multi-coloured beetroot variations” for their entrée. The concept of this dish was to “marry land and sea”. The blood red and lemon yellow shavings of roasted beets were curled into cone like flowers. Each little beet “flower” was filled with a foamy light beetroot blancmange followed by delicate portions of the cooked Australian Spanner crab meat. Savoury shortbread crumble and flecks of beetroot crisps sprinkled over the dish to add more complexity.
Alongside the salad was served a warm golden beetroot tartlet containing hints of cardamom and orange. The pastry collapsed in the mouth like fairy floss. It lay on top of a wafer thin square of transparent paper that looked a bit like cellophane. We were informed this was salt paper and was entirely edible. Despite the tart being the accompaniment, both the boy and our companion agreed it was the star of the two components.
This photo of my entrée is not my own and is courtesy of the restaurant. My mosaic of poulard, foie gras and artichoke was by far and by large the highlight of the evening yet for some strange reason it completely bypassed me to take a photo. Like a bizarre form of savoury layer cake, thick door stop-sized slices of young fattened poulard, wedges of soft foie gras and similar textured artichoke sat relatively unimpressively on my plate. They were accompanied by two precisely equal sized blobs of black truffle vinaigrette. The appearance of this dish does in no way make one’s mouth water; which is perhaps why my photography was overlooked. However just one mouthful of these three simple ingredients with a conservative smear of the vinaigrette and you will change your mind forever. This dish was absolutely mind-blowing; the rich buttery elegance showed true respect for the ingredients with no need for embellishment.
As we waited for our mains to arrive out came a little prequel, some sort of intermission entertainment I guess; named the Chestnut Royale. Now I am quite partial to chestnuts, yet I rarely see them feature on the menus in Australia. They always conjure up memories of walking down the streets of Paris where street vendors roast them everywhere in the winter. This innocent looking dish was quite a taste sensation. A perfectly formed dome of smooth chestnut custard sat swimming in a light bed of chestnut milk. Carefully placed on top a milk glazed chestnut glistened under the dim lighting garnished with tiny little pygmy sized celery leaves and chestnut chips.
Woki thoroughly enjoyed his “Shoulder of Australian Wagyu in two preparations”. By using an oyster blade steak or “paleron” as it is called by the French, the meat contained wondrous marbling and flavour. The first portion was braised in a red wine jus topped with baby carrots and a black pepper mignonette. The second portion of beef was purely just seared and garnished with dollops of wasabi. Both portions of beef sliced like butter at room temperature as good Wagyu should.
The accompanying side dish of potato Maxim’s and bitter greens was comparatively lacklustre and did not wow Woki at all.
I ordered the pan seared duck breast with eggplant “gianduja” sauce and “au poivre”. I was informed by our waiter that in order to achieve the creamy pate-like texture of the meat the duck breast was seared, then cooked sous vide, and then finally seared again. On my plate balanced so carefully like a stack of cards were thin slivers of eggplant served with gianduja chocolate sauce. The sauce tasted a little reminiscent of Nutella due to its high hazelnut content. Tiny little purple delight flowers scattered amongst the eggplant giving a splash of colour and bitter flavour. The duck was richly flavoured and buttery tender and left me wanting more.
My side dish was potato tagliatelle; thin ribbon like curls of deep fried potato. This was the only dish I ate that I felt was a little lacking. Perhaps some seasoning would have improved this element however even if that were the case it felt a little mismatched to the fabulous duck dish.
The Boy ordered the “Saddle, rack and shoulder of lamb; Land and Sea”. Unfortunately for him, after being left relatively unimpressed with his entrée choice his main didn’t manage to suitably wow him either. The main part of his dish contained a roasted rack of lamb placed on an almond and hazelnut praline. The saddle of lamb was stuffed with bamboo clams and pan roasted. Next to the lamb I recognised some emerald-green samphire on his plate; something we were introduced to during our beautiful lunch at Millbrook Winery last year where the chef forages it from the banks of the Swan River.
The second part to his dish was his favourite. The shoulder of the lamb was braised and wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes and topped with sprinklings of purple potato crisps. I recall the waiter mentioned that this component contained melted onions so I didn’t get to taste it! This dish was apparently seasoned in the bamboo clam jus.
By this point in time in the night I was starting to receive a number of subtly concerned looks from the Boy and knew he was worried as to how much this meal was going to cost us. He is never been one to be a killjoy by any means and during our near fifteen years together we have shared some highly priced memorable meals together. But he is also a sensible man, and he knew all too well that just coming over to Singapore alone was breaking the budget so close to our wedding, so enjoying a four figure fine dining experience was definitely going to break the bank. A smart move from me at this would have been to proclaim total fullness and call it a night.
And then out came the cheese trolley. And all my sensibility went out the window. My thoughts of finances, savings and budgets temporarily felt incredibly less important. Our dinner companion Woki was no help either. Being a father to two little ones means he rarely gets to experience such incredible culinary excellence and wanted to make the most of our evening. After a long consideration we settled for three cheeses: the curious looking Mimolette, Fourme d’Ambert and most dear to my heart Saint Marcellin; a cheese produced by my late uncle Jeannot’s factory in the Alps of France.
The Fourme d’Ambert is a very mild blue cheese that is considered to be one of France’s oldest cheeses dating back to Roman times. It is a semi-hard cheese made with cow’s milk and has a luscious creamy texture and leaves a slightly sweet earthy mushroom after-taste.
The Mimolette had such a curious appearance that it was our wild card choice for the evening. The cheese looked like a cross between a rock melon and a dusty cannonball. It was a hard round ball with a pocked dimpled surface. I later learnt that the dimpled appearance is actually due to the activity of surface mites that burrow their way through the surface rind which in turn allows the cheese to breathe and mature. From the heart of this bizarre rock, our waiter scooped out some bright orange brittle cheese. It tasted quite unexpectedly sweet and caramelised, and felt like you were eating a hybrid of fudge and cheese, but in a good way.
Our portion of the Saint Marcellin cheese regrettably wasn’t warmed to room temperature and thus failed to relax into that sexy goo I have enjoyed many times before. I was very disappointed because for a number of years I have been talking up about this cheese to Woki. It is not easy to come by in Australia and this was his first time trying it.
For some reason the next two following pre-dessert dishes managed once again to escape my camera. I think I was a little distracted by my growing concern as the impending bill. Our first pre-dessert was so delectable that Woki jokingly exclaimed to the waiter that it was “no good” and that we all requested another one. His sarcasm was lost on our waitress and with a worried look she scuttled away to get us another serve.
We were too full to order a dessert but were tempted by the trolley of “petit fours”-styled mini-serves of ice cream, sorbet and biscuits and each tried a little portion for ourselves.
Just when we thought the near theatrical dining experience was over, as I sipped on my peppermint tea an Earl Grey Sorbet was delivered to our table for a final palate cleanse. Served on top of a black pepper crème anglaise the subtle flavours of the bergamot from the tea left a very refreshing end to our wondrous meal. Suffice to say, the Boy was right; we are still paying back our share of the meal to Woki!Guy Savoy The Shoppes, Atrium 2 L2-01, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8513 | www.guysavoy.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.7/5 (my choices were nearly faultless but there were some hits & misses at my table) Service: 5/5 (very knowledgeable and attentive with a noticeable lack of any pretension) Ambience: 3.5/5 (a little formal and stuffy but some fabulous views) Drinks: 4/5 (very extensive wine list but a considerable mark up on bottle prices) Total: 17.2/20
I’m on the final lap of my six and half weeks of this gluten induced ride through hell. My life has now been taken over by constant reminders of how poisoning this stuff is to my body. My previously clear skin is breaking out all over in unsightly eruptions of blotchy red sores and random areas of flakiness and I struggle to fall asleep at night as I’m so itchy all the time waking up repeatedly to start scratching. I am crossing my fingers that my skin can recover in time for our engagement party in 5 weeks or I may be investing in a big paper bag for my head! Aside from these hideous skin issues, my gut is crying out for a break having also endured way too much.
Italian cuisine is nearly impossible to enjoy gluten free so before I return to my GF way of life, I figured we should fit in night at Modo Mio Cucina Italiana, one of Burswood Casino’s new additions to their recently improved restaurant collection.
Giampaolo Maffini, the Head Chef at Modo Mio was head hunted from Milan and has over 20 years’ experience in the industry working all around the world including North America, Asia, Middle East and over ten countries in Europe at top-end restaurants such as the Raffles in Singapore and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain. He is passionate about Italian food, using fresh, preferably locally sourced ingredients and changing the menu monthly. I was impressed to see his dedication to his job as halfway through the dinner service he was out and about in the dining area talking to the customers. Not something I’ve seen at high profile restaurants in Perth very often.
The interior design of the restaurant felt very opulent yet not overly pretentious with leather table tops, matching seats and elegant chandeliers giving the anticipation of something amazing about to come.
The service was friendly and cheerful albeit a little under-attentive, there were a number of brief but noticeable delays that I wouldn’t expect in such a high caliber restaurant such as the waiting to place our orders, and wine and water glasses remaining empty. Don’t get me wrong – the waits weren’t horrendous, but they were significant.
We started off with ordering some garlic bread. Upon placing our order our waitress informed us that garlic bread at Modo Mio is not your traditional type of garlic bread but went on to describe what can only be reiterated as a garlic cheese puff. Out comes these crunchy “puffs” of crunchy but hollow buns with some gooey cheesy garlic inside. They were quite tasty … but a bit odd for fine dining. I’m not sure if I would recommend it.
For our starters we shared two dishes. The first dish was the beef Carpaccio served with Cipriani sauce, rocket salad and Parmesan – a simple but delicious dish if executed correctly. The beef was sliced paper thin and was delicately flavoured with the traditional Tuscan style sauce. I think a few more lashings of olive oil and/or sauce would have perfected this dish as it was a little bland. Our second entrée was the roasted veal in tuna caper sauce with a celery salad, quail egg, and black truffle. The presentation of the dish was excellent. The tuna sauce was very overpowering and lingered on the palate too heavily to taste the truffle properly. Nevertheless it was still an enjoyable dish.
Next we shared a pasta dish so we could both squeeze in mains and dessert. The boy chose for us the homemade cannelloni filled with veal, pork & ricotta, spinach sauce, smoked pancetta and beetroot. I was really excited about this dish as it sounded like it was going to be the bomb! Unfortunately I found this dish to be very salty and over-seasoned and was disappointed to see only one tiny piece of pancetta dressing the dish.
Our mains were definitely the highlight of the evening. I ordered the red wine marinated Angus beef tenderloin with pan fried foie gras, polenta & taleggio ravioli and Pommery mustard marmalade. Despite ordering a rare fillet it was served medium rare. Normally this would be a call for me to complain and send the dish back but I have to be honest – it was so absolutely amazing regardless and I didn’t have the heart to do it. The foie gras and the nutty Pommery marmalade gave incredible depth to the octave of flavours rocking around in my mouth and when you added in the tangy cheesiness of the Taleggio ravioli – it was a taste sensation. I can highly recommend this dish!
The boy ordered the oven baked lamb rack with a macadamia crust, thyme jus and butternut pumpkin flan. This was also a stand out dish for him shown by the fact I didn’t even get a taste! He said it was fantastic and made up for the other disappointing dishes.
The meals are were all a bit on the smaller side which I didn’t really mind as it meant we could fit all these courses in – but it is something to note if you like your plate heaped high with food. For dessert I thought I would plant another nail in the gluten coffin and try another chocolate fondant. After the disappointment of my previous fondant experience at Jezabelle’s I was determined to chase that experience for one last time while I could. Alas this fondant had no gooey centre either but I still managed to demolish the lot so can’t have been that bad! The boy is obsessed by anything that screams ice-cream, he is not really a dessert kind of guy so I wasn’t surprised to see him order the gelati…ho hum boring!
Overall we had an enjoyable night but I’m surely paying for it today tenfold. Suffice to say I won’t be overdosing on gluten and having Italian again in a hurry, but if I did I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Modo Mio to give another pasta dish a go……..
Service 6/10 Food 8.8/10 Venue 9/10Modo Mio Cucina Italiana Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Hwy, Burswood, 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | http://www.burswood.com.au/Restaurants/Modo-Mio/