The Boy is the youngest in a family of three boys. His oldest brother still lives in Perth, but his other brother is a nuclear physicist who lives in Boston. His brother has lived in the US for over ten years and sadly is unlikely to ever return to Australia permanently. Every couple of years, his brother tries to return back to Perth with his lovely American wife to spend time with the family. Because American employees don’t receive as much annual leave as we do in Australia, they both struggle to get time off work and will save up their leave for a few years before being able to visit us.
This year was their first family visit to see us in over three years which was made even more special as it was also the first trip since the birth of their adorable daughter Noelle. The Boy and I had been busting to meet our little niece ever since she was born, especially after having to cancel our planned 2014 USA trip where we were going to go and stay with them in Boston.
To maximise quality time with his brother’s family, the Boy and his brother organised a family mini-break in Margaret River staying at the secluded Merribrook Retreat. While I already knew my brother-in-law enjoyed fine wine, I had never spent enough time with him to know if he was a foodie like us. You can imagine my pure delight when I discovered that both him and his wife were super keen to join us on a degustation for lunch while down south. I booked us in at Studio Bistro in Yallingup.
I notified the chef in advance of my dietary requirements and they were more than happy to accommodate for me. Studio Bistro’s degustation offers six courses for $95 or $135 with matched wines. We had already been wine tasting at a number of vineyards earlier in the morning and were in the mood for a bit of fun so we all chose the matched wines.
We started off with an amuse bouche of exquisitely fresh steak tartare made with succulent, tender Cape Grim grass-fed beef. The steak tartare was served with an emulsion containing a subtle kick of tabasco.
Our first course was an asparagus gazpacho served with a thick blue cheese cream that was poured table side. I love interactive dishes, they always make for more interesting photography provided I’m quick enough!
The aromatic butteriness of the blue cheese cream made this one of those dishes that leaves you wanting to lick the bowl at the end. Crispy jamon iberico added wonderful textural contrasts to the dish.
Our next course sent me further spiraling into a state of heavenly bliss. Many of my regular readers will know how I am totally obsessed with slow cooked eggs. I would actually be happy to eat a degustation with them included in every course. My chunks of slow cooked silky salmon were arranged around a slow cooked free range hen’s egg and drizzled in syrupy teriyaki.
My hen’s egg was picture perfect with a nearly translucent egg white and ooey gooey yolk porn centre. The salmon was topped with rice crisps that were made from scratch in house. The chef explained to me that to make them he boils the rice until all starch come out and then rolls the rice out between sheets of baking paper. He then dehydrates these sheets of squished rice at 50 degrees for 17 hours before being fried to serve. The rice crisps were puffy and light, dissolving like prawn crackers on my tongue.
Our next dish was made using local, free range pork from Big Red Pork. Unlike many intensive pig farms, Big Red pigs are raised in family groups in a more natural environment of paddocks filled with woodlands, creek lines and pasture. This allows the pigs to forage for food like in the wild. Their natural diet gives the meat a darker colour when compared to intensive, less humanely farmed pork.
The pork was served in two ways; a cube of twice cooked pork belly paired with a soft mound of pork cheek and a generous amount of garlic confit and vanilla dressing.
I loved how not only does Studio Bistro focus strongly on using locally farmed and grown Western Australian produce, but that they also ensure to source their meat from organic free range farms where the animals live humanely and are ethically farmed.
Our final main course consisted of a delicately soft portion of slow cooked organic Blackwood Valley lamb rump served with a yellow curry whip and fried sweetbreads. Fresh cooked peas and shavings of coconut gave this dish an interesting fusion of flavours. The rump came accompanied by a lamb gyoza, which meant I couldn’t eat it due to the dumpling pastry. However the chef must have pre-empted my disappointment in advance and kindly plated some of the dumpling filling onto my dish so I didn’t feel like I missed out at all.
The degustation dessert wasn’t gluten free so I chose to have the cheese course instead. There were three cheeses on the platter; Manchego, Heysen Blue and Wensleydale which were served with gluten free crackers, quince paste, walnuts and some fruit. Manchego is a hard Spanish cheese that is made from sheep’s milk and is one of my most favourite cheeses of all time. Heysen Blue is a mild, fruity blue cheese that is made in the Adelaide Hills with cow’s milk. Wensleydale is a classic, crumbly cows from Yorkshire in the UK.
As our lunch drew to an end, we were joined by the Boy’s parents and of course our gorgeous little niece. Upon seeing my little niece, I was surprisingly satisfied that I had eaten enough for the day and left the rest of the adults sitting at the table to join my niece in the gardens. Fueled by a number of glasses of wine I proceeded to leap about and dance with her to music on my iPhone before eventually we both tumbled on the grass puffed out and giggling madly. Such fun times, it is hard when distance separates you from those you love but hopefully we can get over to visit them in Boston soon.
7 Marrinup Drive, Yallingup, WA | (08) 9756 6164 | www.thestudiobistro.com.au
The Creatives is a new networking platform in Perth launched by Stacey Clark Stylist early last year and this vibrant team have been responsible for running a number of workshops in addition to hosting stunning sell-out long table dinners. Their gorgeous boutique dinners work on following the seasons and focus on showcasing local produce and wine in a wonderfully relaxed and positive atmosphere.
Each dinner has been held in a beautiful space in Perth and it is no surprise that tickets come in high demand. As part of the Eat Drink Perth festival this year, The Creatives held their Autumn Table dinner in the City in the historic Moana Chambers building.
It is an impressive space with a stunning jarrah staircase with wrought iron balustrades leading into a wide open plan area with massively high ornate ceilings. Our long table was set out on the balcony overlooking Hay Street Mall, with an aptly timed cool autumn breeze.
We started off our evening with some pre-dinner drinks by Whipper Snapper Distillery. I found the lime and ginger moonshine cocktails gorgeously refreshing such that I probably went a little too hard too fast and had to pace myself afterwards. Old habits seem to die hard!
The night had such a friendly vibe with a distinct lack of the pretention and elitism that I can sometimes see at such events. Guests were there with open hearts and minds with strangers being treated like dear friends. As we mingled amongst ourselves, the lovely team from Stacey Clark Stylist handed around some scrumptious nibbles provided by Kent Street Deli.
My favourite was the prosciutto & zucchini pies with feta. They were obviously a hit with the Boy too as I’m sure I saw him gobble a number before turning to me with wide eyes and nodding “These are really good!”
Our second rounds of starters were spinach and walnut toasts with smears of creamy goats curd and topped with beetroot and a sprinkling of honeycomb.
I was so appreciative that the chef made some separate gluten free versions of these using some toasted gluten free multigrain bread. I love it when I don’t miss out!
Following with the casual feel for the evening, our mains were served in a shared manner giving the feeling you were actually at a family get together rather than a ticketed event. I wished I wasn’t working the following morning otherwise I could have easily drank the night away with our friends new and old.
For mains there were a couple of meats and a couple of vegetarian options. The Bridgetown lamb was wrapped around chorizo and roasted to a gorgeous ruby red. The meat was beautifully tender and moist.
The ribs were a particular hit amongst the meat eaters and as I glance down our table I was impressed to see most guests had a significant sized pile of bare bones of each of their plates. Good company, a light autumn breeze and simple but delicious food is enough to ramp up anyone’s appetite.
Whilst I did enjoy the meats, it isn’t something I eat much off these days and I’m happy to enjoy a small serve accompanied by a much larger serve of something more plant based.
The zucchini noodles filled this green need for me and were literally dripping in flavour with pesto, tomatoes and olives. I make a mean version of zucchini noodles at home which is hard to beat but I will humbly say these noodles came damn close.
Desserts were provided to us by Sugar and Nice and consisted of a collection of autumn tarts, pies and other delights. Focusing on seasonal fruits not all were fructose friendly, but in the love of the moment I swallowed a couple of glucose tablets and joined in the fun.
The carrot cake Pavlova was the eye-catcher of the evening with candied heirloom carrots and a hint of spice in the gooey meringue centre. It was hard to participate shamelessly in the crooning and gushing over this beauty as it was brought to the table.
The apple ribbon hazelnut tart was gluten free and yet it had a crust that would fool any Coeliac; it was buttery, firm and far from crumbly. Having had many an argument with gluten free shortcrust pastry over the years, I admired the perfect execution and had to stop myself going back for seconds so I could save room for the rice pudding.
I consoled myself with a single serving of apple tart by drizzling my slice with generous lashing of thick buttermilk caramel.
The final dessert was a creamy rice pudding made with coconut milk, cardamom and dark coloured blood plums. If I had the room I would have eaten the whole bowl but sadly I had to accept that all good things come to an end. More to the point, one person can only eat so much.
The dinner had been more than adequately catered and at the end of the evening as guests were leaving we each received a little doggy bag of left over morsels to enjoy the next day. I was once again reminded how warm and welcoming it was, just like a family gathering.
I love secret pop-up dinners and have been an obsessed follower of WA-based Fervor for a number of years. Having attended my first Creatives long table dinner, I can now happily say I have another crew to stalk on social media and I look forward to trying to secure tickets to the next Creatives event.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth this year however she chose to purchase her tickets to The Creatives Dinner at her own expense. It was worth every cent 😉
Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held each year in the Margaret River wine region. It has become a yearly favourite for locals and a huge drawcard for people interstate and internationally. Last year the festival clashed with some dates we had booked for a close friend’s birthday celebration in Lombok, so I thought we were only going to be able to make it down for the Friday. My usual plan of attack when attending a food festival is a crazed I-must-eat-all-the-things caper. I hate the thought that I might miss out on something delicious and end up booking back to back events like a lunatic. This approach often comes at a significant cost and thus our budget for these weekends is usually quite substantial.
When it dawned upon me that I only had a single day for Gourmet Escape, I thought I would push the boat out and chose one of the most expensive events: The International Cabernet Tasting at Cape Mentelle with James Halliday as a guest speaker and matched food by highly acclaimed chefs Jacques Reymond and Hadleigh Troy.
I should have known that it is impossible to try and plan your social life six months in advance. As it drew closer to the month of Gourmet Escape our travel plans fell through and subsequently the whole weekend opened up for us. One door closed and another door opened. I preceded to book a flurry of events and are yet to look at the damage it made on my credit card. I even bought tickets to a Fervor degustation for the evening after the Cabernet Celebration! This proved to be a learning lesson that I can no longer do two big food events in one day.
I have never been to an official wine tasting event before and whilst I am very experienced at drinking wine, I am a total amateur when it comes to tasting and describing wines. Cape Mentelle’s International Cabernet tasting is an event that has been running for over thirty years and at each event they select international wines from vintages from a specific year.
There were twenty wines selected for blind tasting from the vintage 2011. Cameron Murphy, the Estate Director at Cape Mentelle advised us that 2011 was a challenging year for many wine growing regions around the world resulting in some top labels not releasing a Cabernet or requesting that their wines were not to be included in the line-up for this event.
The wines were divided into three “brackets” and after tasting each bracket, we would congregate outside under the vines and listen to some top wine critics from around the country analyse and give their opinions. It was a very serious affair and once the tasting got under way the only noise I could hear were clinks of glasses hitting together and the occasional slurp from professional tasters spotted around the room.
We were given note books and pencils to take our own notes and with the ban on talking this gave me an opportunity to actually think about what I was tasting from each glass.
It took a couple of hours to get through the three brackets of wine accompanied by the wine critic’s discussions by which point I was desperate for something to eat. There was some plain bread and pear slices available to cleanse the palate between each bracket which I obviously couldn’t eat. After the tasting were completed, the list of wines were revealed for us to see. It was a proud moment to see that most of the critic’s best wine choices were from local WA wineries. Where the world had a bad vintage, our state seemed to come out with flying colours. Go WA!
Wines in order of tasting:
- Ridge Montebello (Napa Valley, USA)
- Woodlands (Margaret River, Australia)
- Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ (Frankland River, Australia)
- Mount Mary (Yarra Valley, Australia)
- Château Pichon – Longueville Baron, (Paulliac, Bordeaux)
- Domaine A (Tasmania, Australia)
- Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
- Wendouree (Claire, Australia)
- Spottswoode (Napa Valley, USA)
- Cloudburst (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cape Mentelle (Margaret River, Australia)
- Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet (Barossa, Australia)
- Château Palmer (Margaux, Bordeaux)
- Moss Wood (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Château Haut Brion (Graves, Bordeaux)
- Xanadu ‘Stevens Road’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Far Niente (Napa Valley, USA)
- Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien, Bordeaux)
- Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
With the formalities of the event over, we relaxed outside under the trees. There was free flowing Verve on pour coupled with some canapés to get us into the mood before lunch. For those first few brief minutes there was no gluten free option on offer and I watched the Boy devour his obscenely amazing smelling marron roll to himself. I was so hungry I nearly had shoestrings of saliva dripping down my face. Working my way through twenty wines has a way of doing that to my appetite! Thankfully I wasn’t kept waiting long and my own gluten free adapted marron roll made its way out of the kitchen before the Boy even had a chance to finish his.
The most popular canapé served was by far the Arkady lamb breast. Hardly an elegant morsel to eat at the best of times, I was lucky not to be wearing most of what I ate. Or maybe that was just the drool. After skipping breakfast followed by downing all those wines, I am assuring you I ate quite a few of these babies! 😉
After multiple rounds of lamb and marron, we made our way down onto the lawn where a beautiful white marquee was erected for lunch. We had live entertainment and the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial compared to the intense concentration and silence during the tastings.
Our first course was a velvety textured, slow cooked ocean trout served with a tomato and basil dressing, lemon celeriac remoulade and spiced marinated cucumber. After a morning of heavy reds, it was a nice interlude to lighten up the palate. The trout was matched with Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012.
For the main course we received a tender Butterfield beef short rib alongside some charred carrots and pine nut cream. To pair with this dish all twenty of the 2011 Cabernets that we tasted earlier were brought out and poured liberally until the late afternoon. I appreciated why this event cost so much as they were very generous with the serves.
We ended our incredible day with a cheese board containing some of my favourite French cheeses; Marcel Petite Gruyere de Comte, Fourme d’Ambert and Jouvence Brie Fermier. I was even given gluten free crackers on the side which was thoughtful of the chefs.
The Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting was an incredibly unique experience and something quite unlike anything I have done before. It is a long day of drinking with the event starting at 10am and running into the late afternoon. It attracted both serious wine buffs and amateurs like me and had a non-pretentious and relaxed vibe…provided you do not talk during the tasting (note to self).
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for her ticket to the Gourmet Escape International Cabernet Celebration 2014. And, for those enquiring….no, she did not fall on her head at this event. She did however discover that Jacques Reymond is her father’s dopplerganger and consequently filled by Cabernet she MAY have waltzed over to the famous chef with the Boy armed with a photo of her father on her phone to enlighten Jacques of this fact. Suffice to say Jacques had swilled his own substantial quantity of Cabernet that afternoon and was left somewhat confused by our excitement. She will let you decided for yourselves.
Revolving restaurants hit widespread popularity back in the seventies and I even remember as a child growing up in the eighties the whole concept still sounded super modern and space aged. These days many of them around the world have closed after bearing badges of being labelled tourist traps with high prices and poor quality food.
C Restaurant is Perth’s only revolving restaurant and is situated up on level 33 of the St Martins Tower in the heart of the CBD. Our first visit to this restaurant was many moons ago back when it was called Hilite 33 for one of my very first dates with the Boy.
Back in those days the BankWest building was the only tall skyscraper in the city and it never ceases to amaze me how much our city has grown. Whilst the Boy and I have fond memories of our earlier meals dining there in the late nineties, we eventually stopped going as we found their attention to detail and quality of food started to decline.
I recently received an invitation to return to C Restaurant to try their new Spring menu. I was initially reluctant to accept this offer given our last few meals there but then I reminded myself that that was indeed some time ago.
Unlike the much higher priced weekend menu, C Restaurant’s mid-week menu offers a four course meal for the relatively bargain price of $99. There were a number of options available including vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. How often do you see a dedicated vegan menu in a fine dining venue?
For those who have never seen Perth from the heights of one of our sky scrapers, a visit to C Restaurant is justified by just the view alone. Over a ninety minute period you will get a full 360 degree view of our beautiful city. I recommend to come for an early dinner so you can see one rotation with daylight and one with the night lights.
To my relief and somewhat surprise the food at C was more than just good. It was enough of a reason to visit even without the view. Each dish was plated with a number of different components with the Boy’s Wagyu and my lamb both being done “two ways” with a number of different sauces spotted around the plate.
This technique always risks appearing over complicated if the flavours are not balanced well but the chef pulled it off. Better still a lot of the menu focused on utilising some brilliant West Australian produce including my favourite dish for the night, a delicate soft marron with pillows of velvety scallops and an organic citrus quinoa salad.
Toward the end of the night in a true Martine moment I managed to drop my phone on top of my chestnut meringue before managing to take a reasonable photo.
For a split second the perfectionist in me was tempted to send it back in order to get a better shot before my logic took over. Suffice to say, smashed meringue tastes just as good as intact versions.
The Boy was happy to follow my specific request to order himself the chocolate fondant for his dessert. Whilst I cannot get to enjoy the taste of such a treat due to all that evil gluten, just being able to watch him cut into its centre and squeal as the molten chocolate oozes out was enough to excite me.
I think the concept of a revolving restaurant has won back some ground with me; whilst there were a number of tourists dining around us there wasn’t a vibe of this restaurant being exclusive designed for such a market. We found the service to be attentive without being obtrusive, and the food was more than a pleasant surprise.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of C Restaurant receiving the offer of a meal with one beverage for her and the Boy free of charge. My opinion are my own and I have not embellished or enhanced the story. And yes, I did actually drop my iPhone onto my dessert and snap it in half. C Restaurant Level 33, 44 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9220 8333 | crestaurant.com.au
Many of you know that my day job is totally unrelated to food. I am a vet, and this means a career of long hours, late nights and a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Attaining a work life balance has always been a battle for me and the Boy plays a huge role in making me see the bigger picture. Whilst I would never neglect to care for a patient that needs me, to be at my best I need to stay fit and well rested otherwise, like many of my colleagues, I face burn out.
Depression is rife among veterinarians, in our profession we are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person. A frightening fact, yet, one that most people in our industry have had to face one way or another.
Having been together for nearly seventeen years, the Boy and I know each other too well and he can sniff out the beginnings of me getting close to my breaking point from miles out. As I reached the end of working nine consecutive long days he suggested we take time out from our weekend chores and plan a weekend long lunch.
Normally I am the one that will select where we eat out due to the ever hungry thirst for content this blog can create. Conversely, the Boy is not interested in hitting the hot spots but would rather take any opportunity for a drive into the countryside. He proposed we head back to the Bickley Valley so I promptly booked us a table at the Vineyard Kitchen located at Brookside Winery.
I recall visiting this beautiful winery during the Bickley Valley Harvest Festival however on that day they were fully booked and so we only got to taste and purchase their wines. Over a year had passed and I was very keen to return.
We started off at the cellar door where we were warmly greeted by the owners Peter and Fay Fels. Their smiles were so infectious that before we knew it we were working our way through tasting all of their wines. Our favourites were the 2012 Methode Champenoise and the 2012 ‘One Acre Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are a number of gluten free and vegetarian options on the restaurant menu with a strong focus on local produce some of which is grown on their property themselves. I started with the roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée.
A whole roasted beetroot had been cored in the centre, filled with goats cheese and served warm. There was a thin layer of crackable toffee over the top but it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. It was an interesting dish and totally worked as a creative but hearty vegetarian entrée.
The Boy ordered the pan-fried sardines which were crumbed and served with a light salad. A random choice for him as although I love sardines, I cannot say I ever would have considered him to be a fan. Regardless of this he still enjoyed them but admitted it wasn’t really his thing.
For my main dish I ordered the twice cooked duck leg. The duck meat slithered of the bone without any encouragement and was served on a generous bed of creamy porcini and mascarpone risotto. The skin had a thin crispiness to it such that I temporarily cast away all my recent concerns about weight gain and ate the lot. You only live once right?
On our recent trip to Esperance the Boy fell in love with things wrapped in filo, sampling baked Camembert cheese and a fish and prawn curry both wrapped in this flaky treat. Upon seeing the slow cooked lamb shoulder parcel on the menu he caved into a rare moment of meat eating.
Unlike me, the Boy is a man of few words, and my best way at measuring a dish’s awesomeness factor is by the amount of head nods and moans. The lamb shoulder scored high in both of these important measurements!
As we ordered dessert I was told by our jovial waiter that the gluten free mixed berry clafoutis would be a twenty minute wait. This was actually a small blessing in disguise as I was nearly bursting at the seams with all the food we had eaten so far.
Clafoutis is one of those French desserts that makes me feel a little nostalgic for my ancestry and upbringing. Traditionally made with cherries, this dish works well with any slightly zingy, juicy fruit.
The Vineyard Kitchen’s clafoutis was worth the wait. The balance of tart and sweet flavours was executed perfectly with plump berries embedded in the thick, slightly wobbly baked almond batter. I get so excited when my gluten free dessert is interesting!
The Boy ordered the dark chocolate peanut butter pie with vanilla ice cream, presumably in part because it came with ice cream. Whilst the two of us have an enormous amount of compatibilities, one of our few differences is our palate for desserts. He can really take or leave them and will always be satisfied with a simple bowl of ice cream.
Having wanted to visit the Vineyard Kitchen for such a long time there was a risk that it wouldn’t live up to the hype I created in my mind. But despite the long wait to return back for lunch, it was impossible not to fall in love with this place. The quaint gardens, the warm welcome at the cellar door, the prompt and relaxed service and most importantly the award-winning wines accompanied with sumptuous food were all key ingredients in teleporting me from a state of frazzled burn out to total relaxation.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of her husband, otherwise know as “The Boy” and was lucky enough to also score a case of wine from him to continue to drink once she arrived home. Vineyard Kitchen 5 Loaring Road, Bickley WA 6076 | (08) 6162 2070 | www.thevineyardkitchen.net.au
Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and their launch party The First Feast was held at Brookfield Place last Monday. The event attracted all the who’s who of the food industry as seven of the star venues from around Brookfield Place took the guests on a culinary journey complete with signature cocktails, entertainment and substantial amounts of food. As one of the team of four official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth I joined the festivities for a night of fun.
The evening commenced outdoors under the stars with pre-dinner cocktails served by Bar Lafayette and Choo Choo’s. A gorgeous Perth based swing band called the Darling Buds of May churned out some hip-swinging tunes under the eerie blue lighting whilst the mixologists at the bar vigorously shook, muddled and stirred up some of the prettiest cocktails in town.
It was hard to know what our amuse bouche actually looked like under the deep blue hue of the lights but it certainly packed a bomb of flavour. It was created by the guest of honour Matt Golinski using a number of ingredients that are Western Australian grown. Bite sized spoonfuls of soft spanner crab mixed with crushed macadamia, ginger and coconut were piled neatly on a betel leaf and topped with pearls of finger lime. The heart-shaped leaf made it easy to roll up and eat somewhat delicately even for someone as uncoordinated as myself.
After a few rounds of Moscow Mule cocktails we were all ushered into the foyer of Brookfield Place to what I can only describe as the longest long table I have ever seen. Seating 250 guests it spanned from one side of the vast foyer to the other. Our tables were already set with our entrées which were created by Sushia Izakaya; a Japanese restaurant who pride themselves on using fresh produce to prepare dishes that are a fusion of traditional and modern Japanese flavours.
The majority of the table received the Hamachi carpaccio of Kingfish sashimi in an Asian styled pesto with yuzu soy and wafu gelée. I was told that whilst the fish was very soft it tasted like it had been plated a little too soon in advance and had consequently been sitting at the table for some time before we were seated.
As I gazed up and down the longest long table I noticed that for once I wasn’t the only one with food allergies and there was in fact three of us in a row with alternate dishes to the Kingfish. My gluten free option of pork belly was served cold and each cube of meat had a near gelatinous texture that melted on contact with my tongue. It was topped with a ginger salsa and came with a mound of pickled daikon. I love my Japanese pickles and was overjoyed at the size of my heap on the plate.
Queen of Bad Timing’s Kristy cannot eat capsicum and so she was served gyu tataki, or seared beef. It was served with garlic chips, chives, momiji orosh, scallions and ponzu sauce.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings needed something cooked as she has a little Junior Burger Boy in the oven. Whilst the staff didn’t get the memo of her pregnancy dietary requirements in advance the kitchen were super quick on their feet to whip her up some gyu kushiyaki, or beef skewers. Marinated in kinolo teriyaki sauce each morsel looked exquisitely soft. Gazing over at her plate I had a brief moment of carnivorous food envy and she tweaked each piece off the skewer and devoured it.
The mains were provided by The Trustee Bar and Bistro as a shared style of dining with the dishes being placed in the centre of the table. I was somewhat surprised that for such a high profile event the mains were not plated individually however shared dining does make the night more social and interactive by encouraging strangers to share stories.
All the mains and sides were gluten free allowing me to try them all. The Cone Bay barramundi was by far my favourite, obviously in part due to the addition of truffle but also because it was such a quality piece of fish cooked faultlessly.
The cheese platter created by The Heritage came in a variety of forms to suit everyone’s dietary requirements. The standard option consisted of some crumbled Papillon Roquefort with Roquefort foam, cabernet poached pear and a thyme salted doughnut. For my gluten free version the doughnut was omitted.
Being pregnant, Foodie Cravings cannot eat soft cheese she received a wedge of Swiss Gruyère instead of the blue cheese.
The “Whisky and Cigars” dessert was created by Print Hall. The jar of crème caramel embodied all the rich honey flavours of Lochen Ora whisky leaving subtle lingering hints of spice of the palate. The chocolate cigar wasn’t gluten free however I was told it had very distinct smoky tobacco flavours and was an acquired taste that not all enjoyed. I cannot deny it makes me happy to know my gluten free component was the best part! 😉
Being a Monday evening many of us were holding ourselves back on our alcohol consumption knowing that we would have to drag ourselves out of bed to go work the following day. However as glasses of Bobeche’s famous Iced Tea were brought to the table I resigned myself to the fact that I would wake up in the morning to find myself in Struggletown. Made with Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray gin, Pampero Blanco Rum, Cherry Heering, sweet spice tea, fresh lemon and lemonade this was one Long Island Iced Tea too good to pass on. It was also one that made me grateful I didn’t drive that night! Whilst the Tea wasn’t served in their signature tea cups being a small bar I can imagine they are unlikely to own 250 cups to be able to use on that single evening!Chompchomp was invited to The First Feast as a guest and will be one of the official four bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. For the whole month of April there will be events, activities and discounts on food and beverages all across the city. Check out the Eat Drink Perth website for all the latest news.
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
At my business we run an externship with the veterinary students every year which gives us the opportunity to put them through their paces. It provides a great way for them to gain further experience and confidence before they head out into the big wide world of employment. It is often during these externships that certain individuals shine and a couple of years back one of these externships led to our decision to offer the student a job.
Since officially joining our team, she has continued to impress us all with her standard of knowledge and dedication to her career. There have been many nights she has stayed back late with no complaints, come in on her days off and pitched in to help others without being asked. She is a valued team member who appears to be fast tracking herself to success. As a token of our appreciation I took her out for dinner with a couple of my business partners.
Thankfully she is also a foodie so I gave her a list of a couple of restaurants to let her choose the venue. She chose one of her favourites; Nine Fine Food. This was my second time returning to Nine Fine Food after visiting them earlier in the year with my dearest blogging friends. Most of my photos from this first visit didn’t turn out very well due to my excessive consumption of espresso martinis at an event prior. My shaking, caffeinated hands produced a number of quite interesting artefacts however very few of the resulting photos were what I would call “blog worthy”. I was keen for a second chance to get it right.
In addition to their standard menu, Nine Fine Food offers two set menus: “Tokutoku” a three course meal for $53 per person or “Osusume” which is four courses for $63. We all chose the Tokutoku. I remembered from my last visit that Nine Fine Food provide gluten free soy and was chuffed that I didn’t need to bring along my own. It is these small things that make me happy. I had the fresh sashimi for my entrée and noticed that my serve was considerably smaller than when I had previously ordered it off the à la carte menu. This made sense as the à la carte version is $10 more expensive than the remainder of the entrée options. Each carefully sliced piece of fish was delicate enough to give that melt-in-the-mouth amazingness that will always elicit a moan of pleasure from me as it hits my tongue. Fresh sashimi is surely one of my favourite things.
During my previous visit I ordered the confit duck leg and this dish is quite a treat so I was excited to see that Chris ordered it. It was a hard decision for me to not order it again as I know how good it is but I was determined to try something new. The duck is marinated in five-spice and served with lightly grilled scallops, sweet potato mash, a tempura onion ring and pumpkin purée. A ruby-red reduction made from red wine and mirin wine splashed contrasting colour against the mash across her plate. Jealous!
Gluten free mains choices are limited as many of the meats are pre-marinated in sauces containing gluten. The chef seemed more than obliging to adapt things for me however so I ordered the salmon and scallops. The Atlantic salmon was cooked in two ways; one piece was roasted and one was lightly fried. It was served with some grilled scallops topped with tobiko caviar on a bed of citrusy Yuzu mascarpone. The normal gluten version also contains a panko fried mixed seafood cake which was omitted for me. Vibrant edamame, pomegranate seeds and fresh grapes decorated the plate adding interesting little bombs of flavour and colour.
The “pork and pork” dish is not for the faint hearted and I would only recommend it for genuine pork lovers. The three different presentations of pork made this the perfect dish for my meat loving, veggie hating South African business partner. A sizable cube of twice cooked, milk braised pork belly accompanied slices of tender grilled pork fillet and some tempura bacon. Yes, you heard right, I said tempura bacon. Now I don’t really get into my pork but THAT was enough to make me swoon. The day I find somewhere that can make me gluten free tempura….it’s game on. Fry me some bacon!
Our star team member of the night ordered the “chicken and lamb”. This was a dish containing multiple interesting elements including some marinated crunchy kara-age chicken, poached chicken breast, grilled lamb fillets and portions of vegetable cake. A sweet syrupy balsamic soy dressing was drizzled over the tender pieces of lamb to finish things off.
I cannot go past any matcha flavoured desserts, they really are the bomb. Even just your run of the mill, matcha ice-cream will get me excited despite not being the biggest ice-cream fan. During my first visit to Nine Fine Food I was introduced to matcha brûlée and despite the food blogger within me chanting that I already HAD a good photo of this dessert meaning I should order something different to give you dear readers more food porn to drool over…..I ordered it again.
And it was so good!
And I’m not sorry.
The others all ordered the Kuro Goma gelato which is made from black sesame. Chris also opted for the additional chocolate banana roll which cost an extra $5. Her plate looked something like a dessert garden with fresh fruit scattered about for decoration.
Nine Fine Food is exceedingly good value for both the quality of the food and service. Even better still, they are a BYO restaurant leaving you with the only drama being what wine to choose to match with your food. Unfortunately many of their beautiful dishes are not naturally gluten free and they require some degree of adaptation resulting in components being removed and not replaced. Hopefully as the chef has now made the move to offering gluten free soy to diners, he will soon move to offering more gluten free dishes that do not require changing to accommodate for people like us.Nine Fine Food 227-229 Bulwer Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9227 9999 | www.ninefinefood.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $16-18, Mains $34, 3 course set $53) Food: 7/10 (would have scored higher if more GF options) Service: 3.5/5 (discrete and unobtrusive, the let to food take the stage Ambience: 3.5/5 (moody, dim-lit and quite romantic) Drinks: BYO Total: 14/20
In March this year, I married the love of my life in the most magical fairy-tale wedding of my dreams. Because we chose to get married in Thailand, our wedding was not legally recognised back in Australia unless we made a pre-wedding pilgrimage to Bangkok to arrange the necessary papers. Prior to getting hitched, the Boy and I had already spent more than ten years together and we had always celebrated our anniversary in April often with much greater enthusiasm than for either of our birthdays. It seemed logical to us, that upon our return from Thailand we would arrange a very private official ceremony back in Perth specifically on our anniversary date. This enabled us to invite special friends that weren’t for able to join us in Thailand. It also means we now get to celebrate TWO anniversaries! 😉
In total contrast to the extreme detailed organisation of our Thailand wedding, this second wedding was a much more casual affair. Ann Lord, a lovely celebrant I met at a Wedding Upmarket day helped with the proceedings. We found a patch of grass in Burswood Park and without all the fanfare, anxiety, nerves or build up we repeated our vows once more.
To celebrate the legalisation of our marriage, we booked a Loft room at the Crown Promenade to enjoy one more night of luxury before we started making a serious attempt at paying off all our wedding debt! I had called in the morning to request an earlier check in and was told by the reception desk that this was not a problem. Unfortunately upon our arrival this was to prove not true; we were informed our room wasn’t ready for another hour and to make ourselves comfortable with our suitcases in tow in the lobby area.
This would have frustrated me greatly if I hadn’t managed to find to find myself a beautiful collection of macarons to snack on. Seeing as I no longer had to fit into wedding dresses, I slipped back into my excessive ways and ordered a whole box to share with the Boy. By the time the reception staff gestured to us that our room was ready, all the macarons were gone.
The loft room has an expansive balcony that gives glorious panoramic views of the city’s skyline. It was not as breathtaking as the views from our Andara villa in Thailand, but it was by no means shabby.
The loft itself is of considerable size with a living room, dining room and well stocked kitchen complete with a full mini-bar. There was an iPod docking station for music and flat screen TVs screens in the living room, bedroom AND the bathroom. Not that we watched any television that is!
The bathroom is ginormous with separate his and her vanities, wall to floor mirrors and a lovely deep spa bath. The flat screen television is positioned directly facing the spa…how relaxing would it be to sink yourself into bubbles while watching a movie. And drinking bubbles of course!
The bedroom is similarly spacious with a full King sized bed and reading area overlooking the city scape. The curtains successfully make the room pitch black no matter what time of day meaning a late checkout can be well utilised to gain those extra ZZZs if you need. We certainly did.
After the very short ceremony, we all headed over to the main casual pub of the Crown complex; The Merrywell. The Merrywell’s style of cuisine has been coined “dude food” by a number of professional food critics and whilst I don’t really like this terminology it does describe it well.
Artery clogging Mexican cheese fondues, fish tacos, burgers and hot dogs regularly feature on their changing menu. At the time we went, the waitstaff were not overly familiar with what dishes were gluten free and what wasn’t, but I have since noticed they now offer gluten free buns with their burgers so I presume they have improved their understanding.
One of my favourite snacks of the night was the lollipop Buffalo wings served with a rich blue cheese fondue and celery sticks. I am pretty sure I slurped at least half a dozen of these wings off the bone each one mouthful at a time. All my bridal grace was thrown out the window!
The drinking session progressed fairly late into the night and by following morning the Boy and I were nursing a fairly rocking hangover. But we didn’t mind one bit because it was official.
From this point we are now legally “Mr and Mrs”.
Just the very thought of this fact was enough to cast away most of our pain and we eased our stomachs back into the real world with some ultra-healthy room service. My egg white omelette was so fluffy is nearly looked like an Aerobar and it came with some roasted shiitake mushrooms, avocado, feta and fresh micro herbs. Washed down with a black coffee I was re-energised and ready to officially be a Mrs!A big shout out of thanks to my dear friend Tara for taking most of the above photos. On the day I decided to give Chompchomp a night off and Tara was more than happy to take over the job role of photographer. She got some awesome shots and I am very appreciative. xxx Crown Metropole Perth, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979 | (08) 9362 8888 We stayed in a Loft room and took advantage of their advance purchase rates which gives a significant discount off the standard rates. The full price for this room is around $1250 per night. The Merrywell, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979| (08) 9362 7551
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
One of our best wedding presents that we received was a gift voucher for a degustation at Dear Friends Restaurant in Caversham. Dear Friends is owned and run by Welshman Kiren Mainwaring and his Canadian wife Kelli. My first introduction to this team’s talent was at the final Largesse dinner held at Petit Mort last year. For this charity event he created a spectacular and beautiful dish of air dried ham, Swan Valley yolk, ajo blanch and foraged herbs. Since this evening I have longed to make the trip to their restaurant in the Swan Valley to be wowed by his creations once again.
Dear Friends is located on the rural flat lands of the Swan Valley and has featured in the Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant Guide and the Good Food Guide year after year. Chef Kiren focuses on utilising the variety of local and seasonal produce from the region sourcing directly from local farmers or foraged from the wild surrounds. The entrance to the restaurant is quaint and understated, bordering on old fashioned. For our seven course degustation I chose to have the matched wines and for each course sommelier Kelli took time to explain to me the origin of each wine and why she chose it.
The Boy and I now each have our own individual dietary requirements; obviously I’m still gluten free and fructose friendly but more recently the Boy is a vegetarian. I can see how some kitchens would baulk at having the two of us as their customers. Upon arrival we were immediately made to feel relaxed and at ease as our dietary requirements presented the Dear Friends team with no problems. More importantly each of our dishes were not just ones with alterations and deletions but were carefully planned; plated with elegance and originality.
Our first course consisted of some “tasters”; call them modern day amuse bouche if you like. There were super cheesy Manchego tacos containing some house made fresh cheese, crispy lupin chips topped with eggplant and Saratoga chips with balsamic vinegar. Despite being proud of both my father’s French heritage and all the cheeses that come from this fabulous country I have to confess Spanish Manchego is by far one of my favourite cheeses. It has such a distinctive flavour and the tacos made me reminiscent of my recent over indulgence in Barcelona.
My next course was a Welsh styled watercress soup. Watercress is supposed to aid with the digestion and this soup certainly did sit wonderfully warm in my stomach. The soft flaky blue swimmer crab contrasted with the strong pepperiness from the watercress leaving a fresh crisp taste on the palate.
My third course was the same as the Boy’s as it was a vegetarian dish. Who on Earth said vegetarian food was boring? Silky cubes of home-made soy tofu and locally grown Swan Valley field and oyster mushrooms sat upon a richly flavoured bed of smoky tomato puree. Some crunchy parsnip chips provided an interesting change in texture. This dish threatened to turn any meat eater into a vegetarian!
My next course of West Australian cuttlefish was served with tender tips of new season asparagus, Muchea grown Japanese turnips and shavings of fennel. I was intrigued by these turnips having never eaten them before as they were nearly as sweet as the fennel and as soft like potato. As I made my way through each of the generous wine matches I was glad this dish featured early in the meal. I tend to be a bit of a messy eater; which can worsen the more wine I drink. I could see the potential for me making a complete spectacle of myself and ending up with black ink purée everywhere.
As much as I am very respectful and proud of the Boy in his strong decision to become a vegetarian, I am yet to join him 100% and for my next course I could sense his disapproval at me eating animal flesh. I can console myself that Dear Friends source their organic free range pork from Margaret River Big Red Pork. Big Red’s pigs are kept in small family groups and run free range in the creek lines, grass lands and woodlands of their farm. They are fed on a natural diet of grasses, legumes, grains and grubs which gives the meat a characteristic dark colour. The Kassler pork loin was cured using a German technique which involves smoking and ripening the meat in brine for about 7-10 days. It was served with yellow squash and pickled cucumber. The cucumber gave some lovely sweetened acidity to the saltiness of the meat.
There was no missing out for the Boy as his next vegetarian course looked just as mouth-watering as mine. A near-translucent slow cooked egg sat nestled in amongst a variety of freshly foraged vegetables and herbs. As he cut into the egg, the yolk burst into life engulfing everything on his plate. Regrettably I missed the opportunity to take a picture of this egg porn moment as I was far too engrossed enjoying my cured pork.
My final main course was undoubtedly one of the highlights. Over the years I have worked my way through eating a variety of slow cooked meats but this was my first opportunity to enjoy a lamb cutlet prepared in this way. It was just as delicately soft as you could ever imagine. To complete the decadence it was finished with a bone marrow jus. Oh heaven! I was grateful for the lack of pretension and stuffiness as I just couldn’t help myself picking up the chop with my fingers and nibbling every last tasty morsel off the bone, not something I could get away with at every fine dining establishment. My Mum would shudder at the thought!
The Boy’s final main dish was a thick Glamorgan sausage served with Brussel sprouts, celeriac and broccoli. Glamorgan sausage is a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage made with cheese, leek, potato, cabbage, herbs and breadcrumbs. A fermented Chenin hollandaise sauce was drizzled luxuriously over everything on his plate.
It was now time to veer away from all these amazing savoury courses and enjoy some sweets. Our pre-dessert teaser consisted of two medallions of macadamia and white chocolate chiboust which is basically pastry cream lightened with egg white meringue. Light and airy, each portion of chiboust dissolved with a “poof” on the tongue. Dollops of kumquat curd and glazed kumquats gave a tart element to the dish along with the nutty sweetness of shavings of locally grown macadamias. The Boy also received a paper thin peppercorn tuille.
Our dessert was quite possibly one of the most stunning carrot cakes I have ever seen. Made with purple carrots it was scattered in soft crumbles around a scoop of carrot ice-cream and decorated with honey comb, marshmallows, fresh blueberries and cute little sour grass flowers. As my belly expanded over the top of my pants it was hard to believe our magical afternoon was nearly over.
However as many of you will know, it doesn’t matter how full I am I can always fit in cheese. The cheese course at Dear Friends is an optional extra but if you have the gumption to squeeze it in I can highly recommend it. Our three cheeses were Ubriaco al Vino Rosso, an Italian hard cheese from Northern Italy, a West Australian brie from Dellendale in Denmark and Colsten Bassett Shropshire Blue, a lesser known blue from the same cheese makers as the famous English Blue Stilton. Kelli continued to be far too generous and offered me not one but two different wine matches to go with our cheese; thank goodness I wasn’t driving!
The concept of enjoying a coffee after a degustation is always so appealing. However most of our dego experiences are in the evening so unless I want to lay wide awake in bed all night I tend to end up drinking tea instead. I look on in envy at those that can drink coffee after dinner and then fall blissfully asleep. Being a lunch time meal I was in luck this time round as the time to sleep was still a long way off. Knowing this was a rare opportunity I made sure I savoured every last drop.
It is easy to see why Dear Friends has maintained their position as one of Perth’s top restaurants for a number of years. Sommelier Kelli provides charming and faultless service whilst each dish clearly shows Kiren’s passion and love for his craft. A definite thumbs up from both of us; and as we walked away we were already planning our visit to their East Perth digs Co-Op Dining.Dear Friends Restaurant 100 Benara Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9279 2815 | www.dearfriends.com.au Price: $$$$ ($115 for a 7 course degustation, $70 for matched wine) Food: 5/5 (each dish was filled with wonderment despite our different dietary requirements) Service: 5/5 (charming, knowledgeable and with a humble sense of well-deserved pride) Ambience: 4/5 (you do feel like you are in the country) Drinks: 4.5/5 (seamless matching of wines) Total: 18.5/20
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/
There are many memories I have about food from my childhood and most of those involve my father. Like many Frenchman he appreciates quality over quantity and cringes at the idea of ordering food from children’s menus. He believes that kids have just as much right to taste the finer food in life as the adults do. Growing up I was the child that was always keen to eat anything whereas my sister was exceedingly fussy. My dad embraced having a least one child with the same attitude to food as him and from a young age had me eating snails, sashimi and oysters amongst other delicacies.
One of my favourite restaurants he would take me to was a Teppanyaki restaurant located near his house in Prahran, Melbourne. Japanese cuisine was yet to take off back in Adelaide making this theatrical dining experience so new and entertaining to my young and impressionable mind. Since then Japanese in all its styles; sushi bars, Izakaya and Teppanyaki BBQs have taken off like a rocket in popularity to become commonplace and finding one that can maintain enough balance of tradition with modern flair isn’t that easy. Fuku Omakase Teppanyaki is located next door to the popular Tsunami in Mosman Park and has been a restaurant on my wish list since its opening about eight months ago.
We have visited their sister restaurant Tsunami many times and although we haven’t returned for a few years I have never been disappointed with a meal there yet. So when I received an invitation to attend their bloggers dinner at Fuku it was an offer just too good to refuse. Fuku offer a degustation style menu, or omakase as the Japanese call it. There are three options: the “Good” which is $100 for 4 courses, the “Better” which costs $135 for 8 courses or the “Best” which is $220 for 10 courses. You can also choose to have matched sake from their impressive wall of bottles for $75 per person.
On arrival you get the feeling you are about to be part of something special. An intercom button must be pressed at the front door to gain entry upon which glass sliding doors automatically open to let you into the restaurant. We were openly greeted by our hosts for the evening owner Brett Carboni and his manager Milan and shown to our seats. Warm lighting and a single row of chairs facing the two Teppanyaki BBQs made this feel like a very intimate experience and immediately my mind started ticking over what celebration of sorts I could plan here. The Boy’s 40th is only a few years away……food for thought. Literally!
Gary our chef for the evening was so humble and gracious and I warmed to him immediately. He patiently answered all our annoying bloggers questions regarding each dishes details and took due care that my meals remained gluten free. Our first course was presented in a lacquered bento box reminiscent of Nobu and contained gorgeous little flash-fried Kawa Ebi and some crunchy sun-dried nori. Kawa Ebi are pint sized freshwater shrimp and tasted similar to the fried school prawns we recently tried at The Stables Bar. These crispy morsels are eaten whole as easily as a bowl of pretzels. Washed down with some sake my hopes were high for a night of feasting for the eyes and the palate.
Being someone who apparently borderlines on OCD at times, I love the perfection and neatness of Japanese food. Everything is presented so immaculately and without clutter or messiness. Our second course contained four carefully plated elements. The standard dish contained slivers of soft Wagyu beef with a sweet white sesame dressing, some marinated red emperor with octopus, a tempura oyster with a refreshing ginger salsa and the most curious addition that initially I mistook for a garnish; soba noodle tempura.
The noodle tempura was fashioned like a cherry blossom tree and looked almost too pretty to eat. Although as crunchy as uncooked pasta it had great flavour I found myself not only munching through mine but stealing the Boys “tree trunk” and munching that too. For my gluten free version the tempura oyster was replaced with a meaty scampi topped with some tobiko.
No Japanese meal is complete without sashimi. Absolute freshness is key as its raw simplicity leaves little room for disguise with sauces and other gimmicks. Chef Gary recommended starting with the snapper with Japanese pickle to clear our palates first allowing maximum appreciation of the remaining pieces. Both the tuna and the salmon dissolved on contact with the tongue and both the Boy and I groaned simultaneously in delight.
Having to have my meals adapted to be gluten free means one of two outcomes; I’m either jealous for what I miss out on, or others around me are jealous for my substitution. You never know which way it will go. The rest of the guests were served quail with Szechuan sauce wrapped in a soba bean pancake. The quails are farmed organically in the Hunter Valley and are supposed to be the biggest quails in the world. Not that that makes them gigantic by any dimensions I’m sure.
As I watched everyone eat their dishes with gusto, I hoped my gluten alternative gave me the same level of eye rolling pleasure. I watched the chef chop up a lamb cutlet in a flash of knives in eager anticipation. It was served with a potato galette and a ball of grated beetroot flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Now it’s easy to imagine tuna sashimi dissolving in the mouth but have you had that experience with lamb? Each cube disintegrated like butter leaving the sweet taste of miso sauce lingering on my tongue. My manners went out the window and I picked up the bone with my fingers and I gnawed off every last bit of meat.
While some guests were a little nervous at the concept of eating a prawn head, I reassured them that once you have tried them you will never go back. The subtle flavours of prawn meat are humbled by the intensity of the head and my family all consider it somewhat of a delicacy. This dish was served with uni butter which is made from sea urchins. Rich and decadent, uni butter is like the foie gras of the sea and imparted a luscious complex depth of flavour.
As the fish of the day was being prepared, owner Brett commented with a little snigger that this dish was one of the more amusing dishes of the evening. I caught a glimpse of the cheeky glint in his eye as our dish was presented to us.
As I turned to look at our plates the penny dropped. I’m not sure I will be able to look at eggplant in the same light again! It brought several giggles to the table and made the Boy pause for a few seconds before he could bring himself to eat it. The fish of the day was a wedge of swordfish served with a Japanese citrus (Yuzu) and miso sauce.
The final main course allowed our chefs to show us the real entertainment of Teppanyaki style dining. It was hard to catch all the action on film as fast flashes of flames, knives and food were expertly flicked and chopped across the hot plate. The Wagyu beef is the real McCoy sourced from the award winning Mayura Station; one of the top producers in the country.
Having had the chance to eat “real” Wagyu recently at Waku Ghin in Singapore I feel like I can truly appreciate how eye-boggling amazing this meat can be. Whilst this was not in the ball park of the brilliance we ate in Singapore, the buttery cut was still mind blowing and this quality is not one you will find easily here in Perth. (PS My Waku Ghin review is on its way!!)
My final course was a cute collection of a vanilla crème brûlée, a warmed molten chocolate drink, curious mountain peach and a plume of wasabi foam. I am a little biased with my opinion on things like wasabi foam. I have been known to mix wasabi with foods like Camembert and Lindt chocolate just to see what it’s like and ended up loving it so it comes as no surprise the wasabi foam rocked my world. The brûlée had a thin crackable top with a smooth underbelly and the peach was unusually refreshing.
The other guests enjoyed their gluteny dessert of a Yuzu cheesecake. Yuzu is Japanese citrus fruit that is tart in flavour much like a grapefruit. This dish was also served with the chocolate drink, wasabi foam and mountain peach.
And so the journey came to an end. Fuku was everything I imagined it to be and I was left feeling a warm glow of happiness I get from a truly satisfying degustation. I look forward to splashing out on the “Best” menu sometime in the future! A big thank you to Brett, Milan and Gary for providing the Boy and I with such an enjoyable evening.Fuku – Omakase and Teppanyaki 20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park WA 6012 | 0403 470 964 | http://thefuku.com/
Chompchomp dined as a guest of Fuku. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is complementary. When I return incognito for the “Best” dego I may give a score.
One of the most frustrating things about being a business owner is losing a good staff member. What makes it even harder is when not only are you sad to see them leave the business but you know you will also miss them as a friend. As a final bid farewell to one of our valued team members we all made the trek to the Swan Valley on a sunny Sunday to The Cheese Barrel. There was a great turn out and we all made ourselves comfortable in the downstairs area on the abundance of couches and cushions.
Located next door to Olive Farm Wines just off Great Northern Highway, The Cheese Barrel has a tremendous menu of cheese from all around the world. They have themed cheese boards such as “Blue Lovers Paradise” or “Soft Cheese Sensation” or alternatively you can order a regional board from Australia, France, Spain or Italy. For those more specific with their cheesy needs individual cheeses can be purchased in 50 gram portions or larger.
My head nurse ordered the Tarago Shadows of Blue, a mild blue mould cheese made with cow’s milk from Gippsland, Victoria. This was one of my favourite cheeses of the day; rich and creamy with a slight tang. Despite the large 100gm serving, this cheese was one of the first to disappear. I even caught a few who proclaimed they don’t like blue cheese sneaking back sheepishly for seconds.
I will be travelling to Barcelona in eight weeks on conference so I thought I’d break away from my French roots and get myself into the flamenco mood. When it comes to cheese I am highly patriotic to my French ancestry however there are a number of Spanish cheeses I shamelessly hold very close to my heart. Or should I say mouth.
The first cheese on this platter was a semi-hard goat’s cheese Murcia Al Vino. This was quite unlike anything I have had before. It has a really creamy flavour yet its texture is elastic and almost buoyant. The rind is a rich plum colour due to being washed in wine giving an interesting fruity after-taste The second cheese on the platter is one I am all too familiar with and love very dearly; Manchego. This versatile semi-hard sheep cheese is one of my all-time favourites and has the distinctive sweet flavour typical of sheep’s cheese. I received gluten free crackers on the side however there was still bread on my platter. To avoid contamination I suggest they avoid mixing the two on the same platter.
Moving around to the second half of the cheese board were two cow’s milk cheeses. The Queso San Simon is a semi-hard smoked cheese from the north-west of Spain. The smoky flavours are quite subtle and delicate and it also has a surprisingly creamy texture for a semi-hard cheese. The blue cheese on the Spanish plate is the Queso Valdeon. I recall trying this for the first time at Clarke’s of North Beach last year with the in-laws. This time the Valdeon tasted like it needed to be left to come to room temperature for another half hour as the flavours were somewhat dulled. It was definitely overshadowed by the creamy deliciousness of the Tarago Shadows of Blue.
Not being familiar with any Olive Farm wines, I ordered an Olive Farm “Wine Flight” to accompany my cheese. Each wine was carefully matched to each cheese to enhance the experience. I’m not going to pretend I know how to describe wines and I’m sure the Olive Farm have done a better job on their tasting notes!
Some of the girls ordered the Soft Cheese Sensation board which was sadly also served a little too cold. It almost seemed like sacrilege to see heroes like La Buche D’Affinois and Brillat-Savarin served firm and erect with minimal shine in their centres. The pernickety side of me also noticed spelling errors on the menu, another minor oversight perhaps.
I am told the macarons were the bomb. They are imported from France, cost $2.20 each and are worth every cent. I totally regret not trying them. At this point our party started to disband with a few of us keen to carry on the festivities. Reluctant to continue drinking this far from home with my car I attempted to convince them all to head into the city but to no avail. Eventually they opted to remain in the valley and I headed home. Not wanting my day to end once I got home I persuaded the Boy to walk down to one of our locals The Balmoral pub to carry on drinking.
Walking down the Albany Highway rekindled my appetite and by the time we arrived at The Balmoral I was super hungry. There were only limited share dishes available gluten free so we shared two serves of the scallops served in the shell topped with chorizo and marinated red pepper. The scallops were fairly small but soft and tender however the chorizo was flavourless and fatty.
Trying to pace myself so I could fit in desert I ordered a light meal for dinner; the char-grilled quail salad. The plump bird was served juicy and pink. The bed of salad was scantly tossed with some occasional crisp prosciutto, warm potatoes and mixed greens. A little more of the flavoursome ingredients wouldn’t have gone astray in this dish.
The Boy has been trying to move away from eating red meat but the lure of a steak at a pub is hard work. This time round he came very close to ordering the Surf and Turf before once again stopping himself and choosing the warm lamb and quinoa salad. His salad arrived at the table piled high on his plate with a generous serving of shredded lamb, spinach, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds feta, dried figs and a subtle hint of mint. The word salad never conjures up thought that the meal would be filing but thanks to the higher protein content of quinoa he was so full that he nearly talked me out of ordering dessert.
I said nearly. After a couple of months of carefully watching what I ate, now there is no holding me back! The white chocolate and bailey crème brûlée sounded like it would be the perfect way to end a long day of eating and drinking. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted very bland with no evidence of any white chocolate or baileys flavours at all. The vanilla ice cream was icy and super sweet.
The Boy defaulted back to his one of his favourites for dessert; the ice cream sundae. Those of you who know him well understand that ice cream is to him what chocolate is to me. His sundae looked like something out of the eighties, and was served with three dishes of sauces; dark chocolate, berry coulis and “butterscotch sauce”. The butterscotch sauce had an odd khaki green colour to it and tasted like molten treacle. It was meant to be topped with nuts and chocolate shavings but there was barely half stingy a teaspoon sprinkled on top. Not a recommended dish even for kids.
Overall the Balmoral is a great casual pub to pop in for a local drink with your mates. There are two courtyards outside and they always have a great vibe and it is the perfect place to enjoy a sun downer in summer. Their food is trying to lift its game above basic pub fare with a few hits and misses along the way.The Cheese Barrel
920 Great Northern Highway, Millendon, WA 6056 | (08) 9296 4539 | http://www.thecheesebarrel.com.au/Price: $ Food: 2.5/5 (astounding list available, but needs to be served at the right temperature) Service: 3/5 (quick, helpful) Ambience: 3/5 (overlooks a small patch of forested reserve) Drinks: 3/5 (only tried a few wines) Total: 11.5/20 The Balmoral Hotel 901 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9355 4533 | http://www.thebalmoral.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Entrees $7-23, Mains $22-35, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 2.5/5 () Service: 2.5/5 (our waitress was lovely…but very forgetful) Ambience: 3/5 (casual pub vibe) Drinks: 3/5 (the essentials) Total: 11/20
It is finally getting close enough to our wedding to start to feel the buzz and excitement and relieved to say I think I am pretty well set. Well, at least for the important stuff!. I have found the perfect dress from Luci Di Bella, I am blessed with two of the most awesome bridesmaids who also have fabulous dresses, I have a choice of stunning Dior or Jimmy Choo bridal shoes and our wedding venue at Andara, Phuket is something dreams are made of. Best of all; I have found the most amazing man who I could have ever wished to marry. Naw, that’s enough gushing for one post I think!
My engagement ring was designed at Linneys; a well-known West Australian jeweller famous for their Broome pearls and Argyle diamonds and it seemed fitting to return there for our wedding bands. We both arrived wide-eyed and smiling as the reality of our big day approaching fast sunk in. We helped each other deliberate over all the beautiful wedding band designs and each ended up selecting ones we both loved.
It seemed ridiculous to go home straight away while on such a high so we strolled over hand in hand like newly found lovers over to the Subiaco Hotel to relax with a few drinks and a bite to eat.
It was still early in the evening and strangely neither of us had very big appetites. Maybe it was due to all the Slim Pasta we have eaten lately because it is quite an unusual occurrence for either of us. Perhaps the knowledge we didn’t have much time left to get our bride and groom bodies in fit shape played a factor. We both ordered some small dishes to share.
Our food took an exceedingly long time to arrive and our quick drinks started to drag out into the evening. The quail breasts served on kebabs were stringy and dry making them very hard to eat. I didn’t try the eschalots for obvious fructose reasons however the Boy felt that they greatly improved the dish and he didn’t feel it was as great a failure as I did.
The barbecued lamb ribs were sticky and tender, slithering off the bone easily and leaving a sweet caramel after-taste in the mouth. The addition of sharp tangy pomegranate brought an exciting extra level of flavour and we were both thankful there was an even number of ribs because I’m sure we would have fought over the last one.
The balsamic poached chicken salad was nothing spectacular but served its purpose to cleanse the palate after a taste overload from the ribs. Anything more complex may have been a bit much to eat all at the same time.
I didn’t think to ask if the chickpea dish contained onions and alas it was full of it so I didn’t try much of this one. The chick peas were lacking in flavour and had a very soft texture making me suspicious they may have come from a can. The addition of avocado saved this dish.
I have never been big fan of Geláre waffles; not even back in the day when I was oblivious to my gluten intolerance and could have eaten them to my heart’s content. But let’s be honest, you don’t have to be a fan of waffles to be stopped dead in your tracks by that sweet aroma that wafts out of their stores onto the facing street.
As we walked down Rokeby Road toward Geláre on our way back to car I recalled they recently started offering gluten free waffles. Once we were hit by the fragrance of maple dough, I turned to the Boy and suggested we try them.
He declined, not really being a dessert type of guy, so I ordered a small gluten free waffle with maple syrup and cream. I planned to just have a couple of mouthfuls then walk away. Wasteful I know but I need to fit into that wedding dress! It has been many years since I tried a normal waffle to compare but this one had all the layers of texture I vaguely recall makes a good waffle. It was crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. I put my spoon down and stared into the distance daydreaming for a few minutes. Before I knew it the Boy had eaten the lot! So much for not wanting to share!Subiaco Hotel 465 Hay Street, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9381 3069 | www.subiacohotel.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $15-25, Mains $25-37) Food: 2.5/5 (interesting menu but hit and miss execution) Service: 2.5/5 (a long delay until our food was served despite an empty dining room) Ambience: 3.5/5 (relaxed, lots of natural light) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list) Total: 11.5/20 www.gelare.com.au Price: $ Food: 8/10 (tasted like normal waffles to me!) Service: 3/5 (quick, efficient and with a smile) Ambience: 2/5 (sticky, dirty tables) Total: 13/20
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
After spending the afternoon with Dianne Jacob at her food writing workshop, I whizzed back to my Mum’s house, whipped on a frock and headed back out to the Eat Drink Blog Conference dinner at the Hilton Adelaide. I was joined by the rest of the WA “Team”; Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and Moni from Gastromony along with some interstate blogging friends.
The Hilton’s Executive Chef Dennis Leslie themed the evening based on a South American fiesta with the idea of making the meal “fun”. It was set out on the terraced pool deck in the open air up high amongst the sky scrapers (well, they are more like just tall buildings in Adelaide!). It was a warm and humid night and the deck was lit up like a Christmas tree with fairy lights.
Feeling like superstars, we were ushered out onto the terrace where we watched views of the sun setting sun over the Adelaide Hills. A whole lamb slowly rotated around on a spit and the mouth-watering smell of barbequed meats filled with air. As lamb sliders were passed around and devoured rapidly by all, our waiter informed me that a gluten free option was on its way for me. After what felt like hours, he returned with a massive gluten free bun filled like slippery wedges of freshly carved meat.
In my hunger and eagerness to devour my gluten free adaptation, I shoved a large door stop of lamb into my mouth imagining that it would be easy enough to chew. I seemingly underestimated the size of this chunk of flesh and was unable to open my mouth wide enough to chew it. Not wanting to make a spectacle of myself, I proceeded to try to swallow the piece whole. It plugged my gullet like sock in a drain and I couldn’t breathe. Gasping as discretely as possible, I quickly grappled for my wine and chugged down a couple of mouthfuls but to no avail.
By this point I’m sure I must have been turning a shade of blue and shamefully turned away from the table to dramatically hoik up the elongated piece in a most inelegant manner. Oh my god, how embarrassing. Thank goodness I was surrounded by friends. From then on forth, I was very particular to cut my food into tiny, mouse sized pieces for the remainder of the evening.
Although by this point we did feel a little ripped at the seams, the sight of yet another chocolate fountain had lost some of its original appeal earlier that day and we started to yearn for something a bit more interesting. After receiving a tip off from a local regarding the whereabouts of a late night dessert bar; the four of us were dead set on fitting just one more course in. Everyone can always find room for dessert. We all jumped into a cab and headed across town to Devour Dessert Bar.
The burnt milk pannacotta had an exquisite blackberry gel centre that exploded out like goo when I plunged my spoon into its wobbliness. It was served on a bed of peanut butter crunch which gave a wonderful texture contrast to the jiggling pannacotta. I am not normally a fan of peanuts but the crunch reminded me of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes which in my pre-gluten free days I use to adore. I could have eaten of whole bowl of that peanut butter crunch.
The peanut butter and jelly macaron was too chewy and lacked the familiar “poof” sensation when I bit into the outer shell. I presumed they may not have been very fresh or alternatively refrigerated for too long. Although I felt the macaron wasn’t up to scratch, the rest of my dessert was so good that despite being the least keen person to visit Devour, I was one of the only ones who finished everything on my plate! Overloaded, overindulged and very satisfied we all headed home to get some sleep in preparation for a big day of conference the next morning.
This year has been such a hectic and emotional one which has flown by with the speed of light. It has been a whole year since the Boy finally managed to convince me after much persuasion to start writing a blog. After an initial few quiet months while in its fledgling state, it has now grown to be something I am proud to call my own. Many of my close friends are loyal regular readers and are always keen to be part of the Chompchomp phenomenon by joining me on my gastronomic expeditions around Perth.
My wedding expert friend Tara is one of these supportive people and she jumped at the opportunity of a night out with our respective others to Duende to celebrate my first blogiversary coupled with a bit of “wedding talk”.
It was one of those first glorious balmy spring days and I was drunk on the delightful sunshine and perhaps maybe also the bottle of Billecart the boy bought for us in the afternoon. I donned a short summery frock, slipped on some killer Diavolina platforms and bared my winter legs. Call it a stark rebuttal against any further threats of the dreaded cold weather!
We started at The Garden for a few rounds of drinks before heading over to Duende for dinner. Neither Tara nor her husband suffer from any dietary intolerance and were happy to order a selection of dishes that were suitable for me so we could all share. We started off with a bottle of gorgeously bright ruby coloured Pe Tinto Tempranillo, an organic and biodynamic wine from Portugal. We then proceeded to work our way through most of the gluten free options on the menu. Of which there were many!
The marinated olive selection contained over four different types with a broad range of textures and tastes to suit all of our palates. The chorizo had generous amount of heat in it and was thickly cut and juicy.
Patatas bravas are one of my favourite Spanish dishes. Parboiled potatoes are deep fried before being coated with a variety of spices, vinegar and red pepper. They can be served with a number of different types of sauces depending on the area of Spain and which can range from a tomato based sauce to more of an aioli style. These crispy slices of heaven had a generous paprika dusting and were seasoned with some lemony tasting vinegar. The level of spiciness was fairly mild and I would have preferred a bit more of a punch however the Boy was relieved with the relatively low heat.
The pork belly had a luscious creamy texture and literally melted into the polenta without any fatty aftertaste. The pear and plump muscatels gave a pleasant sweet note but I did my best to avoid these two fructose filled fruits.
The lamb rump was quite a surprise. I didn’t really read the menu carefully enough to be prepared for the enchanting sweet maple flavours from the fenugreek. It actually took us all a few moments to work out where the flavours came from! The rump was succulent and pink.
The pickled beetroots were hidden under a loose pile of fresh rocket, goat cheese and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are my favourite nut, in part due to my praline addiction but additionally it brings back indulgent teenage memories of eating Nutella by the jar full. Although an interesting dish this wasn’t one of the better ones.
Initially we were a little reserved in ordering the beef cheeks after hearing negative feedback from a friend that found them to be dry. Cheeks are a cheaper cut of meat with a higher proportion of fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone in them. Provided they are cooked correctly this generally means they are more delicious, though they do require a little time and care when cooking.
We were right in taking the gamble because our cheeks were incredibly flavoured, delicately tender and we really should have ordered two serves and maybe left out the beetroot.
The sensation of squeaky haloumi always brings a smile to my face. Coupled with rich smoky undertones of eggplant puree this simple dish was a crowd pleaser.
Px vinegar is made with the sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes and was the perfect combination with gorgonzola to top the earthy mushrooms. I know I’m a little biased as I have a mushroom addiction but these slippery little nuggets packed a powerful burst of flavour and I could have eaten many more had I not already stuffed my face with everything else!
We chose 3 out of the selection of five available French and Spanish cheeses and it was quite a feat narrowing it down to three. If I wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would have said one of each! Our choice included a semi-firm cow’s cheese Mahon from Spain and two French cheeses; Roquefort, a creamy blue sheep cheese and Sainte Maure, a soft buttery goat cheese.
For sweets we ordered the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream. Obviously these were not for me as they are full of all the gluten in the land; a fact my companions were very content with as it meant there was all the more for them!
After reading a multitude of positive reviews on Duende over the years I cannot believe it took me this long to try them for myself. They more than exceeded my expectations and have to be the best tapas I have experienced in Perth by far. We loved it so much that we actually headed back for a quick midweek bite later that following week! And yes….we ordered more of those patatas bravas.Duende 662 Newcastle Street, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9228 0123 | http://www.duende.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Tapas share dishes range from $4-25, we share 11 dishes/4 people = stuffed!) Food: 4.5/5 (if I had more room I would have tried more!) Service: 4/5 (dishes didn’t come out too quickly, friendly and helpful) Ambience: 4.5/5 (buzzing vibe, I could nearly imagine myself back in Spain…) Drinks: 4/5 (interesting wine list, plenty of by the glass options) Total: 17/20
I have very fond memories of my last time at Matilda Bay Restaurant with two of my favourite people in my life; the Boy and my dearest Mum. It was Christmas Day lunch some years ago and it remains one of our most relaxing and stress-free Christmas’s to date. So when the Boy invited me to join him there on a business dinner recently I didn’t have to hesitate in my response!
Being so food obsessed is proving to be my Achilles heel by hindering my success in achieving the svelte bride body that I want. I have a bad habit of over eating and seem to enjoy the feeling of being insanely full. My solution is simply to focus on eating less for the last six months in the lead up to the big day. This night out was to be the last night of uninhibited eating before the frustrations of restriction begun so I wanted to go out with a bang.
You can only imagine my disappointment when a few hours before we were to all meet for dinner, the Boy was informed by email that the invitation didn’t extend to partners. Knowing how much I was looking forward to the evening and presuming the refusal was due to a strict budget, the Boy explained that we were not expecting a free meal and I was more than happy to pay my own way. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for the agency and after receiving a fairly patronising reply the Boy’s blood started to boil.
Not wanting to disappoint his food obsessed wife-to-be, he softened the blow of the bad news to me by offering to still take me out somewhere nice. We toyed with the idea of getting a table right next to the one I got booted off at Matilda Bay purely for entertainment value. However after briefly thinking about this further we figured that probably wouldn’t gone down so well! After a few unsuccessful calls to some favourite venues, he managed to secure us a reservation at InContro in South Perth. We even managed to get a table with city and river views. (My apologies in advance for the photos…even Gordon didn’t cope in such low level lighting!)
InContro offers a style of dining they call “piccolo dining” which is a bit like a Mediterranean version of tapas. They create small dishes for the entire table to share and it is brought to the table in a tiered rack reminding me of years gone by where I shared High Tea with my Dad and stepmum at Brown’s Hotel in London. After discussing my allergies with our waitress, she offered for the chef to select appropriate dishes to make up a two courses of a piccolo experience. Not being in the mood for anything specific, the Boy and I both smiled at each other and chose to go ahead with her recommendation. I love surprises!
Each course contained three carefully selected and quite interesting dishes using lots of fresh seasonal local produce. The succulent frenched Dorper lamb cutlets were topped with Moroccan spiced cauliflower. The sweet tasting cumin paired harmoniously with the tender lamb leaving me wishing we had more.
Our seared scallops were plump with a crisp browned surface and a nearly creamy centre of amazingness. On a bed of pea puree and topped with crispy shreds of prosciutto these little morsels were nearly as moreish as the cutlets. I was pretty excited about what else was to come.
Our third entrée was simply described as a lobster salad. A fairly decent serve of decadent lobster sat innocently hidden underneath a handful of shredded greens. Further hiding below the lobster was bite sized chunks of thoroughly dressed avocado, tomato and fresh herbs. Although this dish wasn’t much to look at, each mouthful was bursting with flavour.
The sticky Black Angus short rib was the “to die for” dish of the evening. Unfortunately my photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked them to due to the beef sitting at the top of the three levelled tier. Not being a very tall person I really struggled to steady my camera. Of course my lack of hand stability that had nothing to do with the three glasses of Billecart I had drunk previously. Not at all.
The meat didn’t just fall off the bone it slivered off and dissolved in the mouth like cotton candy. The marinade was thick, sticky and subtly sweet and neither of us could help ourselves as we scraped the remaining sauce off the board with our forks, trying to savour its flavour for as long as possible.
In my excitement of this final night of excess I had not bothered to go through the nitty gritty of my fructose malabsorption with our waitress. I had purely just requested no gluten or no onion. Thus I did have to sift through our pork dish to avoid the little cubes of pear. The pork belly had just the right balance of fat, meat and crackling and didn’t leave any unpleasant porkiness taste in my mouth. The crackling gave a satisfyingly loud crunch as I bit into it.
The salad to accompany our mains dishes contained shaved fennel, pear and candied walnut. Again I had to dodge the pear (my own fault) which was easy enough to do. The salad was light and refreshing on the palate after the two heavier meat dishes.
For dessert the Boy ordered his ice cream as per usual; as you may already know it is fairly uncommon for him to ever order anything else for dessert. I settled for the only gluten free dessert option which was the polenta cake with butterscotch ice cream. It was moist and didn’t crumble apart but the butterscotch ice cream was a little sickly sweet for my liking.
InContro is a great local option if we feel like a night out with a bit more class than casual. We have dined here on several occasions over the years and have never been disappointed with either the food or service and they take good diligence in catering to those with allergies. Of course we will be back.InContro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au Price: $$$$ (Piccolo $9-16/dish, Entrees $22-28, Mains $35-48) Food: 4.5/5 (sticky beef ribs were out of this world) Service: 4/5 (attentive, efficient despite a full house) Ambience: 5/5 (views of Perth city skyline, how can it get better?) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list but I confess I stuck to my Billecart all night!) Total: 17.5/20
My soon to be parents-in-law are always complaining that they never get to spend enough time with us. Both the Boy and I have pretty hectic careers, so when we do actually have a bit of spare time, we want to spend it out and about enjoying good food and company. So when Christmas approached us last year, instead of buying his parents a gift, we offered to take them out to a fancy meal all expenses paid.
Just as we managed to lock in a weekend for our dinner, we were blessed with our brand new little niece who was born on the other side of the world in Texas! The Boy’s parents jumped on the first plane out to the States and didn’t return back for three months! We were all so envious of them as they got to meet her and we cannot wait to eventually get over there ourselves.
Upon their return to Australia I was keen to book our outing as soon as possible. This was meant to be their Christmas present after all! The timing worked out quite well because we were in the thick of the truffle season and neither of them had ever had either degustation OR truffles before! I booked at Clarke’s of North Beach as it is local to their house.
Those who have met me you know I am a bit of a talker; however my dearest mother in-law gives me a run for my money in the talking stakes. As a result my usual attentive listening skills were lost amongst all our animated gas bagging and I missed much of the descriptions of our dishes! I will do my best to remember. Forgive me if my distracted palate is incorrect.
The Amuse Bouche was a braised beef shin with cauliflower foam. It contained very interesting combinations of textures; with shredded tender shin accompanied by barely existent foam and the crisp crunch of calamari. It entertained our palates perfectly and we were ready for more.
We opted for the truffle supplement which meant that once every dish was served, our waiter came over to our table donning white cotton gloves and shaved fresh black truffle over each of our dishes. The Linley Valley pork belly entrée was beautifully cooked; the fat was soft like custard and the surface of the crackling had a caramelised shimmer to it. It was sprinkled with “crackle dust” and a variety of textures of apple decorated the plate.
The next entrée was a sliver of King George Whiting, scallop and snapper mouse. The whiting was pan-fried to give a subtle crisp to its surface which contrasted beautifully with the smooth mousse and succulent pillow of scallop. Although not specified on the menu there was also some fresh salmon which added an oilier almost satiny element to this dish. Shavings of fresh black truffle once again graced our plates. The Boy’s Dad swallowed this dish in a few quick mouthfuls, but his Mum deliberated in taking her time, differentiating out all the different flavours. She was learning the art of degustation quickly!
Our next dish was an optional one and when I saw the words “slow cooked egg” on the menu my heart leaped with excitement. My introduction to slow cooked eggs happened quite some time ago at Greenhouse and since then I insist on ordering them wherever I see them. They are like the holy grail of poached eggs to me and I am so elated when I see them feature on menus other than just for breakfast!
In order to successfully cook a slow cooked egg, one must cook them at a much lower temperature of about 60 degrees for 1 hour. The end result is like an improved version of a perfectly poached egg. The egg white has a nearly translucent appearance and the yolk is perfectly molten. Imagine this served over a pulled ham hock cassoulet! The cassoulet was wonderfully deep and rich in flavour but unfortunately there was no gluten free replacement for the brioche for me, considering the price of our meal this was a bit of a disappointment ($155 per person, not including BYO wines). I watched enviously as my family all mopped up the delicious juices pooling in the bottom of their plates.
Some may remember my most recent degustation at Petit Mort for the last in the series of Largesse dinners. For these amazing dinners the Head Chefs from six award-winning restaurants from around Perth donated their talents and time to each create one dish to contribute toward a six course extravaganza. All of the proceeds from the evenings went toward a charity of the host chef’s choosing. The head chef of Clarke’s Stephen Clarke was one of these six chefs and his braised Venison shin with Foie Gras Espuma was a definite show stopper for us all.
The foie gras espuma featured again in this dish but a much larger more generous glob was piped out this time round! The confit leg was encased in chicken mousse to make it into a boudin (sausage) and the buttery breast tasted nearly too soft to be duck! We were all so glad we chose to have these two supplement dishes as they were each outstanding and really completed the meal experience.
Where’s the lamb gone you ask? When I returned from the bathroom, our next course had already been served and everyone had decided to start tucking in without me. I sat down quickly and followed suit savouring every morsel on the plate. It wasn’t until I started scraping the plate clean that I realised I had completely forgotten to take a photo! It’s been a while since I’ve done that! Sorry dear readers! The new season lamb was incredibly delicate and tender. The boulangère potatoes were just like my mum used to make with the chewy outer crust and inner discs of potato encased in slippery creaminess.
I was in for some fortunate luck with our cheese course. The plate included a massive FIVE different cheeses: Miguel (a semi-soft cow’s cheese from Portugal), Valdeón (a blue made with goat and cow’s milk from Spain), Buche d’Affinois (a beautifully smooth and buttery surface-ripened cheese made with cow’s milk in France), Will Studd Brillat Savarin (a classic French triple cream brie from France) and Queso Manchego (a hard sheep’s cheese from Spain). Already a plate with five cheeses is pretty exciting but even better still amongst these portions were not just one but two of my favourite cheeses of all time!
Brillat Savarin is in my humble opinion one of the creaminess and most luscious of the French brie. Thankfully it is a regular resident at my local greengrocer’s Scutti in South Perth so I can spoil myself whenever I wish. My waistline may tell you otherwise though! My other favourite cheese is the Spanish sheep’s cheese Manchego. It is a firm compact cheese with a well-developed, slightly salty flavour and has that characteristic aftertaste of sheep’s cheese that I really enjoy. The cheese was accompanied by some crisp lavosh – once again there were no gluten free alternatives here.
For our pre-dessert we were all in for a fun surprise. My dish was a strawberry espuma with raspberry gel and the rest of my family received an Irish coffee espuma. Sprinkled over all of our dishes was something that took us back to our early childhood: popping candy! After such a decadent and luxurious meal, it was very entertaining for us all to sit there like amused school kids noisily cracking and popping away!
I was amazed that for the whole ten course experience only the two courses that had to be significantly altered for my dietary requirements were the desserts. Not being the odd one out greatly enhanced my evening as I didn’t feel like my dishes had key elements omitted (with the exception of a brioche alternative). My family’s dessert course was described as caramelised mandarin tart, raspberry gel, mandarin macaron and sorbet.
Before I had time to feel any macaron jealousy I discovered that scattered across my own plate was even more popping candy! Stretched across the plate was a colourful array of sumptuous morsels including raspberry gel, pistachio nougat, chocolate ice cream, mandarin jelly cubes and some more strawberry espuma. I wasn’t sure which element to savour the most as they were all so different yet so delicious.
As our evening drew to a close I was left with the feeling of complete satisfaction that we had thoroughly and deservedly spoilt our parents. We drove them home in a comfortable silence full of so much trufflicious food. Clarke’s is definitely a great choice for special occasions….it just might break the bank a little!www.clarkesofnorthbeach.com.au/ Price: $$$$$ (Basic degustation $120 including cheese course and Manjimup truffle, supplementary courses an additional $15/20 each) Food: 8.5/10 (exquisitely prepared, need to provide bread/crackers for us GF-ers) Service: 4.5/5 (attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4/5 (don’t judge a book, enter to find a warm, unpretentious atmosphere) Drinks: N/A (BYO – I tried to cater for the ranging wine palates of the group, starting with Perrier Jouët, then Millbrook Viognier 2009 and ending on Moss Wood Cab Sav 2009) Total: 17/2