At the very tail end of my annual leave I received a spontaneous call from one of my dearest friends and business partner Chris to join her on a lunch date. She was freed of the responsibility of her little offspring for the afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. She wasn’t fussy where we went and let me choose the venue. With so many new bars popping up around town it is hard to keep up despite being a food blogger. One bar that has sparked my interest is Shadow Wine Bar located in the new Alex Hotel. Moving away from the current trend of tight spaces and walk-ins, Shadow Wine Bar fills a large space with dramatic black and white interiors, massively high ceilings and an industrial warehouse-gone-chic feel.
I tend to avoid making an early judgement on the fluidity of service for new venues like this, not only are the staff new but everything is new and everyone deserves time to land on their feet. So I excused our waiter’s error in telling me all the pasta dishes were gluten free along with a dish with a rye crumb. It was even easier to forgive him quickly when the rest of our service was accompanied with smiles and attentiveness.
We started with the potato crisp topped with fresh crab and a lemon aioli. These morsels were a mouthful of flavour however the potato didn’t hold up to the weight of its toppings and became a little soggy in the middle.
The pan-fried haloumi was a squeaky treat matched beautifully with slightly sweet, slightly sour pink grapefruit and peppery fresh watercress. A simple collection of ingredients that balanced elegantly.
The veal carpaccio was the winner of the day. Nearly translucent slices of veal were marbled with spider thin strands of white fat and tore apart like tissue paper across the plate. Truffle mustard drizzled generously on top gave a subtle hint of truffiliciousness.
Shadow Bar’s crispy pork jowl is a must for pork lovers. The crackling was browned to a tooth-chipping, crunchable texture while the underlying unctuous goodness melted in the mouth without any lingering aftertaste.
A meal with Chris is never complete without sweets. In fact, over nearly two decades of friendship I cannot recall ever eating with her and not ingesting something saccariferous. Not that I am complaining because I am no different. After a round of giggles from us both trying to pronounce “tart tartin” properly in French, Chris ordered the pear tart tartin. It was served with tonka bean ice cream which had a similar flavour to vanilla with a hint of caramel.
The only gluten free dessert option was the poached rhubarb served with a scoop of mascarpone and shards of meringue. Whilst my dessert certainly looked the part, I found its flavours to be underwhelming with the creaminess and tartness unbalanced due to a distinct lack of sweetness. It almost felt like there was a missing ingredient.
Our lunch experience at Shadow Wine Bar left me undecided on my opinion so the following day I brought the Boy back there for lunch for a second chance. Our waitress was much more clued on about what was gluten free and sailed me through the menu without hesitation. Sadly only a handful of the small plates could be adapted and despite being a hotel there was no gluten free bread available.
We started with the jamon iberico which was served with fresh bread on the side for the Boy and some very tasty pickles. Like the carpaccio, the meat was high quality and similarly soft and flavourful.
The fish of the day was two fillets of pan-fried King George Whiting with a puttanesca sauce made with olives, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I picked out the fructose loaded onions easily. As the Boy devoured his share he wondered why I had any reservations about this venue as he had only experienced winning dishes.
Our next dish was the braised lamb neck ragu and this cemented his positive opinion on Shadow. Served on a bed of soft polenta, the lamb was delicately textured, moist and rich and we both savoured each mouthful.
In contrast to Chris, the Boy doesn’t have a sweet tooth except for his weakness for ice cream. I was happy to settle for some cheese instead especially as I had seen two of my favourites of all time on the menu; namely Manchego and Brillat Savarin. These are two very different cheeses but are both ground-shakingly amazing. The cheeses were served at the perfect temperature to maximise their flavour but sadly there were no gluten free crackers or bread to accompany. I am hoping this is just one small oversight that they plan to resolve.
I am glad I returned back to Shadow Wine Bar as I can now appreciate it has oodles of potential. Housed in an impressive space, with a short to the point menu and serving wines by the glass or carafe Shadow Wine Bar proves that our little city Perth is finally growing up. I am hoping that they will progress to becoming a little more gluten free friendly so that people like me can enjoy more of their European styled menu.
Shadow Wine Bar
214 William Street, Northbridge WA | (08) 6430 4010 | www.shadowwinebar.com.au
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
You don’t have to be a regular reader of this blog to know that I love my mushrooms. Back in 2012, my passion for this versatile fungi led to me being selected as one of the two official Mushroom Mania bloggers for WA alongside Cynthia from The Food Pornographer. I was only just a newbie blogger at the time and it was one of my first sponsored gigs. I threw my heart and soul into it to ensure that it was worthwhile for both me and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Since then I have continued to participate in Mushroom Mania on an annual basis with this year being my third year. For 2014, the AGMA went with a much less structured format than in previous years simply giving me a wad of prepaid VISA cards to use at my leisure provided that I ordered and photographed food with mushrooms.
In my usual extravagant style, I poo-pooed the idea of just going to a restaurant and eating one or two mushroom dishes and approached a couple of Perth’s top chefs to hit me up with a specifically designed Mushroom Mania degustation. I started off my journey at the new Highgate restaurant St Michael 6003 where we were taken on a journey of crackles and pops with a few surprises.
For my second part of this journey, I contacted Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse to see if he was keen to participate. Amusé is by far and by large the best fine dining restaurant in Perth and this is proven by their succession of accolades won year after year. There is a significant waiting list to get a table but believe me it is worth the wait. We have visited Amuse several times over the years however this was to be the first time since I started blogging. Despite there being many years between visits, I can always be assured that my dietary requirements are not only just catered for, but that they remember them without me having to remind them. The level of attention to detail and customer service is quite out of this world and every visit we have been made to feel like we are special, even when I wasn’t wielding a heavy camera.
Our evening began as is always the custom at Amusé with a few rounds of “snacks”; the first of which were paper thin crackers made from quinoa and some gluten free choux filled with ooey gooey Gruyère cheese fondue. I literally squealed with delight as the liquid cheese dribbled down my fingers.
The second snack looked very innocent but was a powerhouse of flavour; a slice of pickled radish topped with smoked crème fraiche and finished with salmon roe. A faint dusting of leek ash deepened the smoky flavours.
For our last round of snacks we received a bowl of tomato consommé. This little cup of goodness balanced flavours together precisely, with sago and pickled crab meat for texture and a couple of carefully added drops of toasted shell fish oil.
The consomme was finished with fresh lovage, chervil and wild garlic. Lovage has a mild bitter flavour similar to celery and coupled well with the gentle aniseed taste of the chervil.
Both the Boy and I come from families with big appetites. This is in part why the two of us first fell in love. Although I am a small framed person, I can knock back a surprisingly large amount of food and it takes a fair amount of eating to fill me up. I actually think I lack the fullness switch in my brain.
I can always be guaranteed to receive freshly baked gluten free bread at Amusé but even better still, unlike many degustations, it never stops at a single serve. The Bannister Downs house churned butter was whipped to a foamy light texture and I could have nearly eaten it on its own without any bread. Despite knowing we had another eight courses ahead of us, neither of us could turn down the offer for more bread and butter.
For the main courses, Hadleigh chose a different type of mushroom to be the hero ingredient for each dish. The first mushroom to star on the menu were ceps, or porcini mushrooms. These mushrooms are considered by some to be the king of mushrooms and are highly regarded for their meaty texture and nutty, creamy flavour.
A perfect spear of white asparagus from Bickley Valley was paired with crispy house made guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheek.
Swirled across the plate were added contrasting flavours from salty bottarga mayonnaise, creamy buttermilk dressing and a nutty flaxseed gomasio. The dish was finished with wafer thin cep milk skins.
Our second course brought more chirrups of delight from me as the enoki mushroom took centre stage. There is something about these adorable mushrooms that never fails to excite me and I have been known to add them at random to a variety of my dishes at home, sometimes inappropriately. Under a blanket of precisely positioned enoki heads was a smooth squid congee made with local Busselton squid. Luscious umami flavours from a mushroom dashi added in sumptuous depth to the dish.
We moved onto a more richly flavour mushroom for the next course using shiitake with chicken rice. I do love my chicken rice but this was a very cultured masterpiece quite unlike any chicken rice I have ever relished in Singapore and beyond. It was a structurally wonderful version with many elements to it to provide that level of wow factor that you can always expect at Amuse.
Roast vinegar chicken and a purée of shiitake were cooked over coals giving a slightly charred taste and served on a bed of traditional Japanese sushi rice. Our waiter served the dish with a chicken broth that was poured tableside.
The chicken was velvety smooth which markedly contrasted the added surprise of crunchy puffed buckwheat and amaranth, crispy nori wafers and a luscious creamy egg emulsion. It was challenge for the senses but in totally good way; with silky, crunchy, meaty and smooth textures all in one mouthful. As one of my colleagues at work loves to say; it was a “party in my mouth!”
It was going to be hard to impress me more than the chicken rice did and while the next dish was divine, it didn’t manage to take away the highlight of its incredible predecessor. Going for something a bit more leftfield, Hadleigh created a dish using lamb sweetbreads and braised morels mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms have a very rich, earthy flavour which went perfectly with the milder tasting, tender sweet breads. It was served on a parsley gremolata and topped with crunchy shoestring fries and crispy salt bush.
With the subdued lighting in the restaurant, the final main course was the hardest to photograph and tested the boundaries of my camera’s capabilities. A Butterfield beef short rib was served with a medley of roasted oyster, pickled shimeji and raw button mushrooms.
Dollops of broad bean puree and black garlic “BBQ” sauce decorated around the plate looking deceptively innocent. The subtle flavours of the bean purée made the polarised sensations of syrupy sweet black garlic BBQ sauce take the Boy’s tastebuds by surprise.
Our pre-dessert was titled cumquat, walnut and apricot. It was one of the few dishes in our degustation without mushrooms as an ingredient and took on the resemblance of one in appearance instead. A very cute gesture. Using cumquat curd and cumquat meringue with smooth walnut ice cream and apricot sorbet, this was the perfect pre-dessert to cleanse our tantalised palate ready for the finale.
Upon reading our menu earlier in the night, I cannot deny I was thoroughly impressed with the addition of mushrooms into the dessert. I was also a teeny bit sceptical. However, if anyone could pull off using mushrooms in a sweet dish, I knew it would be Hadleigh!
A smoked mushroom and chocolate mousse covered in ginger and Geraldton Wax granita was served with whipped blood orange and a ball of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate sorbet wrapped in thin layer of crisp white chocolate.
To add a final bit of zing to the dish some blood orange sherbet tumbled over the top like a cascade of snow. Neither of us uttered a single word as we devoured each mouthful in a blissful state of rare silence.
To end our night of wonderment, we were given hot cups of fresh mint tea infused with native pepper berries. After all the colours of overindulgence, the tea helped kick start our digestion and we both drifted off into the beginnings of a food coma. The tea was paired with some vanilla infused West Australian desert limes and a couple of passion fruit and white chocolate drops for a kick of sweetness.
I cannot believe we left it this long between visits to Amusé, this being our fourth visit since they opened eight years ago. After each and every visit the two of us have walked away from a faultless evening. The service is exquisitely polished with every dish unique and equally incredible. If you haven’t been yet, you are seriously missing out.Disclaimer: This amazing degustation was funded by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of Mushroom Mania 2014. Full of fibre, flavour and containing many scientifically proven health properties, the mushroom is a food that should be on everyone’s weekly shopping list. We are fortunate enough in Australia to be able to source a wide variety of mushrooms to eat with each variety having its own individual flavour and texture. For more information head to the Power of Mushrooms website. Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte Street, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
Unlike me, the Boy is lucky enough to have his parents living in the same city as we do. This is a luxury I have missed out enjoying on since my late teens and I cannot deny I am a little bit jealous. While I know both Mum and Dad are a quick phone call away, it would be wonderful to be able to just drop in and say hi, or pop out for a casual lunch together. The Boy doesn’t tend to organise regular catch ups with his family and sometimes it takes a special occasion to be able to bring us all together. With his parents celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year, we all agreed to meet in the Swan Valley for lunch. As per usual the booking was left up to me so I chose RiverBank Estate in Caversham.
The Boy and I arrived a bit early, it is easy to forget how close this part of the Valley is to the city. It only took us twenty minutes to get there from our house in Vic Park. There aren’t many cities around the world that boast being this close to a vineyard region! We ordered some bread and Lescure butter while we waited for his family to arrive. The Boy’s dinner roll was so shiny it glimmered in the sun. My gluten free bread was also quite a treat; it was toasted in a sandwich press giving it a satisfying crunchy exterior yet the inside of the bread still remained soft.
There were a number of dishes on the menu that were either gluten free or able to be adapted. The chefs at RiverBank make all their meals fresh to order so changing or altering ingredients to accommodate for dietary requirements was not an issue for them. The Boy and I started with sharing two entrées together.
The house cured salmon was prepared using high quality fish topped with horseradish cream and beetroot jelly. The salmon had a luscious melt in the mouth texture without leaving any strong fishy aftertaste.
Our second entrée was the seared scallops served on a bed of roasted sweet potato and garlic purée. It was topped with some shards of crispy pancetta. The scallops were much more substantial sized than those I had recently with my Dad in Melbourne and left a wonderful creamy texture on the palate.
Both my mother-in-law and I ordered the fish of the day; a Gold Band snapper served with a summery celeriac and caper coleslaw. Our plates were an array of colour garnished with vibrant spring flowers that were nearly too pretty to eat.
The snapper was topped with a Japanese squid salad along with a spoonful of fresh Moreton Bay bug salsa. After all my recent excessive overeating this dish was just the perfect, light meal that I was looking for.
My father in law and sister both ordered the pork belly which I didn’t get a chance to grab a photo of but they were both very happy with their choices. The Boy and his brother both ordered the more hearty braised duck leg which was served with a polenta and rabbit terrine and sautéed wild mushrooms. This dish was also gluten free which allowed me to have a little nibble.
The duck was slightly overcooked making some of the meat a little dry. There was plenty of juiciness from the rich mushrooms to balance this out to a degree. The Boy also felt the polenta was a little bland in flavour.
The Boy’s family are big eaters and so I made sure to order some sides to make sure that they were all full by the end of the afternoon. Our waitress advised me that their chips cannot be guaranteed gluten free as the deep fryer may contain traces of gluten. However the duck fat potatoes were fried in the pan making them gluten free. I couldn’t help but reach over and grab a couple before they all vanished.
For our desserts the most popular dish across the table was the soft meringue which luckily was also the gluten free dessert option on the menu. It was served with poached pear slices, bright pink raspberry sorbet and Persian fairy floss, or “hair” as the Boy likes to call it. The meringue was fluffy, squishy and delicious all in one mouthful. A winner all around the table.
The Boy being his usual self opted for feeding his addiction and ordered a selection of ice cream and sorbet. No surprises there! It is hard not to please him with a bowl of ice cream and there were certainly no complaints.
RiverBank Estate proved to be the perfect spot for us to meet up with my in-laws for Sunday lunch. The meals were big enough to feed their Dutch appetites and the atmosphere was relaxed enough for us to while away the afternoon laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I look forward to finding another family occasion to bring them back!Disclaimer: As much as Chompchomp and the Boy would loved to be wealthy enough to say “lunch is on us” sadly they are still waiting to win first division lotto and hope that this will be happening in the near future. It’s only a matter of time really. Instead they opted to use their Entertainment card for a discount off the total bill. RiverBank Estate 126 Hamersley Road, Caversham WA 6055 | (08) 9377 1805 | riverbankestate.com.au
There are so many fantastic foodie events on around the City of Perth for the month of April as part of their Eat Drink Perth Festival. Many of the degustations and roving dinners start at over $150 per person and some are up over $200. For those that have money to burn on these events I can highly recommend heading to a few as they are well worth the expense. However I realise that this is not possible for everyone’s budget so I have tried to recreate the roving dinner experience using a collection of vouchers from the Eat Drink Perth Passport. The Eat Drink Perth Passport is a booklet containing a number of discount vouchers for use at venues located around the City.
My dear friend Tara and I managed to enjoy an extended four course lunch covering four different locations in the city for the grand total of $164.50 for two people including drinks. Yes, that is for two people! It works out to be close to half the price of the ticketed events. We called it our “DIY Roving Lunch” and I can highly recommend giving the concept a go before the Passport vouchers run out at the end of the month.
To set myself in the mood and to give me the freedom to enjoy a few drinks I decided to walk into the city from my house in Vic Park. It works out to be about a 90 minute stroll which ordinarily wouldn’t have been a problem however I foolishly didn’t check the forecast before heading out on foot. By the time I was halfway there I was sweltering. At this point I checked my phone to see that the day was well on its way to hitting a maximum of about 35 C.
By the time I arrived at our first checkpoint The Terrace Hotel, my face was as red as a beetroot and in no way was I looking glamorous enough for a ladies lunch. The Terrace was nearly fully booked and I was lucky to get us a table.
Within minutes of being seated we were given some complimentary bread; normal baguette for Tara and gluten free toasted bread for myself. We both ordered a glass of Madame Coco sparkling wine from the Aude Valley in France ($11 each).
Our voucher for The Terrace Hotel allowed us to buy one main meal off the à la carte menu and get the second one for free. We weren’t ready to launch into a main course immediately so we started with an entrée to share while we enjoyed our complimentary bread. The menu has a number of dishes marked gluten free however our waitress told us some of the other dishes can also be adapted.
We started with the seared scallops on a disc of richly flavoured Linley Valley pressed pork and scattered with capers and watercress. I was informed that the watercress is hand-picked from the chef’s own garden! On reflection at the end of the day, this scallop dish ended up being the highlight for both of us. The blend of soft scallop, creamy cauliflower purée, salty pork and peppery watercress balanced beautifully and it was presented immaculately. Each scallop was fresh, plump and tender and required very little effort to chew.
A number of the mains could be adapted to be gluten free however I wanted to choose the dish that required minimal alterations. Our waitress recommended the Cone Bay barramundi served with crispy skin and grilled to a buttery soft texture. Having first tried this top class barramundi at Eat Drink Perth’s launch party I knew I was in for special treat. The flesh is quite unlike your standard barramundi, with a soft clean finish.
The side dish that accompanied my fish included a baby Exmouth octopus and fennel salad, a half-cob of charred corn and a saffron poached prawn. An interesting combination but it worked. Being the WA Signature Dish official blogger for the Gascoyne region I felt proud to do my duty and have ingredients in my dish that came from the North West of our State.
Tara ordered the Amelia Park beef cheek. A thick nub of meat that had been slow cooked for 12 hours to the point it literally disintegrated under her fork. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my fish I cannot deny I was in envy of that luscious looking chunk of beef.
Her beef was served with some porcini gnocchi that were curiously deep-fried. Tara described them as a crispy skinned, porcini potato croquette and despite not being a traditional way to serve gnocchi she still enjoyed them. To add to more lovely earthy mushroominess, the gnocchi sat on a bed of sautéed oyster, Portebello and button mushrooms.
Despite a very attractive looking dessert menu at The Terrace, we paid our bill and moved onto our next venue; Cheeky Sparrow in Wolf Lane. Wolf Lane has come alive over the past twelve months with a number of great little eateries well worth checking out. I love the feel of being tucked away down a little laneway, it brings up memories of our time living in London where around every nook and cranny you find activity and life.
Cheeky Sparrow’s Eat Drink Perth Passport voucher offers a WA cheeseboard paired with a bottle of either Xabregas Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz for a total of $55. They have gluten free bread available too. The platter contained three Australian cheeses; Tarago River Shadows of Blue, Woodside Charleston Jersey Brie and Old Telegraph Road Mt Baw Baw Gouda.
Alongside the cheese was some Cabernet paste, an oozylicious hunk of raw honeycomb and a very generous mound of toasted gluten free bread. For those with fructose malabsorption, please avoid eating the amazing looking raw honey comb. We are not supposed to eat honey as it is high in fructose.
Our third stop was The Stables Bar for dessert. They offer a dessert tasting platter with the chef’s selection of three desserts for $18. This platter can be adapted to be gluten free.
The first dessert was a deconstructed wagon wheel with a combination of marshmallow, rich dark chocolate ice cream and a sweet raspberry sorbet.
The second component was an Eton mess with tumbles of fresh peaches and plums with meringue and apricot crisps.
The third element was a fluffy light passionfruit and cardamom cream mousse served with passionfruit jelly and a cup of pistachio mango lassi. The lassi was a little overly sour for my liking but I realise that is how they are meant to taste. I only had a small sip anyway as I cannot tolerate mango due to fructose. It was served with a gluten free hazelnut and pistachio biscotti.
Our final stop was for petit fours in the form of a macaron. Jean Pierre Sancho have a buy one get one free voucher in the Passport for their popcorn macaron flavour. With subtle hints of popcorn and a sweet macaron finish this was the perfect finale I needed before braving the sun for the long, slow walk home. By the time I hit the South Perth foreshore I gave up and was thankful that my loving husband empathised and came to pick me up to drive me the rest of the way home.For our DIY Roving Lunch we used the following Eat Drink Perth Passport vouchers: The Terrace Hotel: Buy one main meal and get one main meal free from the a la carte menu for lunch or dinner. Cheeky Sparrow: WA Cheese platter and bottle of Xabregas wine for $55, gluten free bread on request. The Stables Bar: Dessert tasting platter for $18, gluten free option available on request. Jean Pierre Sancho: Buy one popcorn macaron get one free for $2.50. Disclaimer: This roving lunch was funded for by the City of Perth as part of the Eat Drink Perth festival. The individual venues did not receive advance notice of my arrival. Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and runs for the whole month of April 2014. For more information head to the Eat Drink Perth website. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au Cheeky Sparrow 1/317 Murray St, Perth WA 6000 (entry off Wolf Lane) | 0405 550 286 | www.cheekysparrow.com.au www.thestablesbar.com.au Jean Pierre Sancho 878 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 6181 1904 | www.jpsancho.com.au
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
I never anticipated that my blog would have any degree of measurable success. Blogging wasn’t something I planned to do, nor does creative writing or photography play any part in my real career. Despite being a complete self-confessed amateur I have relished in watching Chompchomp metamorphosize from an ugly duckling into something I’m proud of. Reflecting back on my first and comparatively horrendous post I can see the blog undergo constant improvement. When I recently researched to find out the Hottest 100 Food Blogs of Perth, I was blown away that my blog is at Number 5! I hope that I can remain motivated to keep it ever-evolving so that my readers stay entertained and keen to return back for more. I am always happy for feedback so let me know if you think there is something I could change or add to the blog to improve it.
Another more unexpected and even better aspect of being a blogger has been the friendships that I have made along the way. One of my closest blogging friends Michelle from Foodie Cravings had been trying for weeks on end to organise a catch up with me and after a couple of false starts we finally matched up our busy schedules. We were both happy to travel to Fremantle and agreed to meet at Bread In Common.
I had heard much about Bread in Common but didn’t expect to be greeted by the wonderful airy modern open space of which it comprises. Situated in a renovated old Fremantle warehouse, it has lots of natural light flooding through at an angle onto large communal tables and they have a sociable menu designed for sharing.
In continuing my attempts at keeping my alcohol consumption as close to zero as humanly possible for sixty days, I was relieved that Michelle was also happy to abstain. It isn’t often that there are fructose friendly juices on the menu and looking on their menu I was happy to see I had options. It made it a lot easier to skip the wine when one of the juices I love making at home is up for grabs; a combination of carrot, orange and ginger juice. It makes such a refreshing drink for a hot summer’s day.
I was dismayed to learn that they do not have any gluten free bread to offer. The manager made kind apologies and indicated coyly that it could be possible if only I bought him a new oven. I initially wondered why they couldn’t at least temporarily source some from other local Fremantle bakeries such as Abhi’s until I realised their philosophy is to make everything in house where possible. Avoiding cross contamination of flours in one open plan kitchen would be very difficult.
Michelle and I simultaneously chose the duck fat roasted potatoes as our first pick. My stepmother’s duck fat potatoes are yet to be rivalled and are consistently out of this world. Bread in Common’s version ended up coming in a fairly close second attaining all the right layers of textures; from crispy to chewy, ending in a super fluffy soft centre. They are served with rosemary, whole roasted garlic cloves and some ketchup. Each garlic clove squeezed out like toothpaste onto my plate sealing the deal that no vampires would come near me that evening. Nor would my husband for that matter!
Michelle’s dish choice was the pork belly which she raved about from her previous visit. Each piece was delicately gelatinous and sticky sweet. Topped with a sweet green tomato chutney and on a bed of crunchy, slippery greens it was far too easy to eat.
Our lunch date was the first time I had eaten out without the Boy in tow for a while and it was refreshing to be able to order some non-vegetarian dishes without getting a high browed look from him! My choice was a dish of succulent Fremantle octopus served on a bed of green olive tapenade with cubes of fresh watermelon. It was topped with the unexpected treat of tiny shavings of crunchy hard pork crackling. Whilst I was happy to indulge in the crackling, I left the watermelon for Michelle to enjoy as it is high in fructose. In turn she was happy to leave any octopus pieces with suckers intact as she found the whole look of them disturbing.
Michelle had forewarned me to save room for dessert as she recalls them being worth relishing. I was impressed; I rarely plan my meals with this level of strategy which probably explains why I often end up overeating. I was not prepared for the visually exquisite surprise that each of our desserts provided.
My banana dessert contained all kinds of my favourite sweet things; caramelised bananas, cubes of torched marshmallow and blobs of softer meringue alternated with smaller dots of tart lemon curd. With such a variety of textures and flavours this dish played the risk of being too busy but each element complemented the other well and was perfectly orchestrated music to my mouth. I wanted more and quietly plotted in my mind how to get back before the menu is changed.
Michelle’s dessert was even more spectacular than mine with scoops of peanut mousse and chocolate brownie ice cream laying on a bed of Oreo “soil”. Dollops of brilliant red raspberry gel spotted about the plate with some sort of raspberry crumble tumbled over the top. It looked totally divine but alas is not gluten free for those wondering.
As time ticked into the late afternoon I had to decline the offer of coffee and opted for a peppermint tea instead. The tea was fresh and uplifting without any of the unpleasant metallic aftertaste that poorer quality peppermint tea often has.
Whilst I cannot deny I was somewhat disappointed I didn’t actually eat bread at Bread in Common, there were plenty of other gluten free options on the menu to fill up on. The desserts were particularly mind-blowing it’s worth returning back just for them.Bread in Common 43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle WA 6160 | (08) 9336 1032 | www.breadincommon.com.au Price: $$$ (Share plates $12-28) Food: 4/5 (creative concepts using fresh, local produce) Service: 4/5 (quick, efficient and well conversed with the menu) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy but buzzing, communal tables) Drinks: 3/5 (interesting but small wine list but of course didn’t get to try any!) Total: 14.5/20
The Precinct is one of my favourite locals; it only takes us about fifteen minutes to walk there from our house, it has an ever changing and interesting wine list and most importantly they are very gluten free and vegetarian focused. Whilst I have already written two full posts on our Precinct dining experiences, our recent visit to try their new menu warrants at least a little photographic mention on the blog. Please note this was eaten over two nights….;-)
Their new summer menu has moved away from the traditional structure of entrées and mains onto the more modern way of dining; share plates. More than half the menu is gluten free and there are over half a dozen vegetarian options that branch out well beyond the common offerings.
Every dish was a winner in our opinion but the best dish of all came as a nice surprise; the roasted garlic and mustard mushrooms using a combination of King oyster, Shiitake, Oyster, Swiss Browns. We ordered this dish on each visit as it was too good to miss out a second time round.
Their gluten free dessert options have had a total make over for which I am extremely grateful. Previously The Precinct’s gluten free desserts haven’t been anything I would rave about. Things have certainly changed for the better and upon reading the menu we struggled to choose one so we ordered both.
I would have been happy with either but we were both keen to share. My pavlova crumble was a pretty as a flower garden and I look forward to enjoying eating this on a regular basis!
Please note this was NOT a sponsored post. I just felt the urge to show off their new menu of my own accord!The Precinct 834 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9355 2880 | www.theprecinctvicpark.com.au
I am always a little torn having my homes in a number of places around our vast country. Having lived in Perth for most of my adult life it is obvious that this is the main place I love to call my home. However to add to this, my Mum lives in Adelaide and returning back there to the house I grew up in I get that familiar sensation like I am returning home. To complicate things further, my Dad has lived in Melbourne with my Step mum for nearly twenty years and in many ways staying with them also feels very homely! I often wonder when we eventually return back to London where the Boy and I lived for several years, would this feel like another home to me? How many places can one call home before it starts to get a bit over the top?
Over the past six months, I have been fortunate enough to have the need to return my “home” in Melbourne several times for my wedding dress fittings at Luci Di Bella. A bride needs sustenance for such endeavours and here are my recent top four Brunch Hot Spots in Melbourne.
Cooper & Milla’s
After a bit of an emotional experience at the first wedding dress fitting, Mum and I wandered down High Street in Armadale in search of some gluten free friendly fare. We stumbled upon Cooper and Milla’s and were drawn in by their spectacular window display of treats and salads.
Like children in a candy store we wandered in all wide-eyed and totally distracted by all the adorable cakes and tarts on the counter. I had to consciously remind myself that I had a wedding waistline to watch and physically forced my eyes away from the many delicious desserts. I shall make sure to return here again to sample some of their dulcet delights.
Thankfully not all their fare is sugar laden and piled high in the window was a stunning looking seared tuna Nicoise salad and once noticing it my attention was easily dragged away from the cakes and onto this seemingly healthy yet vibrantly coloured snack.
My Mum didn’t take much convincing and before long we were both enjoying the sunshine sitting outside at their alfresco dining area feeling proud of ourselves for our dietary choices.
The following day on Christmas Eve there was a lot of market shopping to do in preparation for our big day of feasting. Getting up bright and early the Boy and I walked down to the river with my Dad & Stepmum for some hearty breakfast. Right on the banks of the Yarra River near Federation Square is a gorgeous little spot Riverland.
My parents are regular locals there and the staff all know their three Cocker Spaniels by name. As we arrive one of the waitresses brings over a bowl of water for the pooches as Dad places our order to include toast for the dogs. (I might add that this is not something his diligent veterinarian daughter advocates as good nutrition for his dogs!)
Unfortunately they do not stock any gluten free bread so I always come prepared and bring a couple of slices of my own. They have always been happy to toast this for me. I love their poached eggs with roasted mushrooms topped with a big glob of feta. The mushrooms can be a little oily sometimes however and I occasionally need to blot the oil off with a serviette!
Lindt Chocolate Café
After a full day of last-minute Christmas shopping the Boy and I headed back home which took us up Collins Street and past the Lindt Café. Now before any of you say anything, I understand that this café cannot really be classified as a brunch spot but being a ridiculously obsessed Lindt chocolate addict I felt it would be negligent for me to pass this café by. The interior of the café is initially quite impressive with high ceilings and everything seemingly glittering in gold. We made our way through to the back of the store into the café and were shown to our seats. After this we appeared to become invisible for quite some time despite the appearance of adequate staff and minimal customers. I hate that feeling when you try to catch a waiter’s eye and they look right through you like you are not even there.
As this place is well known for its hot chocolate the Boy simply couldn’t resist. Piping hot milk served with molten Lindt chocolate on the side; this decadent treat filled the hungry hole in his belly satisfactorily. Not wanting to eat too much dairy as I tend to get eczema outbreaks, I avoided the milk and satisfied myself by licking the remaining chocolate from his little jug with my finger! Such bad manners!
After the hot chocolate the Boy protested that he really did not need the St Moritz cake I had strongly encouraged him to order. Hey, if I can’t enjoy any of the cakes (as they are not gluten free) at least I can live vicariously through his gastronomic experiences! Despite his complaints he still managed to eat his way through the silky layers of alternate dark, milk and white chocolate mousse each separated by a thin layer of almond cake. The cake was topped with ultra-thin squares of Lindt dark chocolate with a generous dusting with cocoa powder.
Now don’t be fooled into thinking I sat there empty handed watching the Boy indulge. Other than buying some chocolate for the road, my main reason for entering the café was to stop for a “Mac attack”. The Christmas Delice macaron is seasonally exclusive and is filled with Christmas spices and a white chocolate filling. Although it had a good layering of flavours it was a little lost on texture and lacked the thin outer crisp sensation. It also was an unusually shaped with one side half the size of the other!
After a memorable time on Christmas Day with my family eating and drinking all the excesses imaginable, Boxing Day quickly followed and I realised it was soon time for the Boy and I to jump on a jet plane and head home. I was torn between the emotions of being sad it was all over whilst excited that the next family celebration would be our wedding day! Despite feeling very hung over and sluggish, we managed to squeeze in a last minute brunch catch up with Mum at The European on Spring Street.
The European is one of my favourite regulars in the Melbourne CBD and this French-Spanish-Italian hybrid is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week making it easy to slip in a visit each Melbourne trip. Although they do not have gluten free bread, there are a number of gluten free breakfast options and their menu goes well beyond the standard choices. Their coffee is particularly moreish and after drinking the A to Z of booze the day before I quickly ordered a second macchiato while we waited for our meals.
As the three of us sat in the sun in silence I started to the caffeine course through my veins and push my sleepy brain kick into gear and wake up. We hadn’t seen Mum on Christmas Day as she had spent the day with my sister so we had much to catch up on; what we ate, what presents did we received and what memorable good times we all had. I was feeling a little on the queasy side so I ordered the goat’s cheese omelette which had all the light fluffiness my delicate stomach lining needed and helped make me feel human again.
The Boy wanted something a little more substantial and enjoyed his “Huevos madrileños”; baked eggs with black pudding and chorizo served with toasted ciabatta. I wish I had room for his choice as it looked amazing. I am in love with Spanish style baked eggs and his oozy gooey eggs didn’t disappoint. True food envy plagued me for most of the day and my only consolation was thanks to my gorging efforts the day before, I doubt I had any room in my tummy for them anyway!Cooper & Milla’s 1094 High Street, Armadale VIC 3143 | (03) 9500 8127 Price: $$ ($10-16.50 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (I need to get back and try some sweets!) Service: 3.5/5 (casual, no table service) Ambience: 3/5 (hive of activity, funky) Drinks: 3/5 Total: 14/20 Riverland Vaults 1-9, Federation Wharf, Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1771 | www.riverlandbar.com Price: $$ ($7-20 breakfast) Food: 3/5 (not bad, a little heavy on the grease, BYO gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (relaxed and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (sitting by the river watching boats go by…) Drinks: 3.5/5 Total: 14/20 Lindt Chocolat Café 271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9667 0900 | www.lindt.com.au Price: $$ Food: 3/5 (it’s Lindt chocolate, it was always going to be amazing, pity about the macaron) Service: 2/5 (get better service at McDonald’s) Ambience: 2/5 (surprisingly poor) Drinks: 4/5 (get the hot chocolate) Total: 11/20 The European 161 Spring Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9654 0811| www.theeuropean.com.au Price: $$ ($8-19 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (interesting breakfast options, no gluten free bread) Service: 4/5 (quick and efficient) Ambience: 3.5/5 (sit outside for breaky, a bit too dark inside) Drinks: 4.5/5 (coffee is the bomb!) Total: 15.5/20
Things are definitely on the onwards and upwards for foodies living here in Perth. This past year has seen a plethora of high quality dining establishments open their doors and it is certainly something to be proud of. We are fortunate enough to live only five minutes’ drive away from the Crown Metropol (formerly known as the Burswood Casino) where internationally famous chefs Neil Perry, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Guillaume Brahimi all have flagship restaurants residing there. Now it is never too hard to have a fancy meal out.
I made an initial reservation for the two of us at Bistro Guillaume during their opening week however this had to be postponed as I had forgotten we had already made plans to go out with some friends to Duende. After managing to secure a table on another weekend, the Boy informed me that I had booked on the same night as his High School Reunion and would have to cancel once again. By this point I am sure the reservation desk had red flagged me as an annoying customer! Third time lucky, we successfully synced our busy schedules and locked in date night.
It was the first time we had been back to the Casino since their massive renovations and its fresh new face lift has successfully dragged it out of the eighties into current times! We walked past Linneys on our way to The Merrywell for some pre-dinner drinks and like an insect attracted to bright light I couldn’t help but feel the powerful drag towards their sparkling boutique. Linneys designed my engagement ring and seeing as we needed to start looking at wedding rings soon I figured now was as good a time as any to begin.
As we browsed all their beautiful pieces, the store assistant kindly offered to clean my ring for me as this is a complimentary service offered to all owners of Linneys jewellery. Only minutes later “my precious” returned to me all glimmering and twinkling like it had never been worn! I was left torn between amazement at its shining beauty and shame on how dirty it had become! I need to visit Linneys more often!
Upon arrival to Bistro Guillaume we were shown to our booth which was perfectly located right in front of the kitchen. It was like having a television with an action movie playing for us to watch while we chatted away and ate our meal. I was further impressed when some complimentary gluten free bread was brought to our table. For once I wasn’t going to have to sit and watch the Boy eat his bread as I was too busy enjoying my own!
We commenced with the escargot en persillade, served the classic way my father used to make for us when we were young. Melted butter, herbs especially parsley and loads and loads of garlic formed a little pool in which each slippery morsel sat submerged. Beneath the overwhelming garlickyness I could still detect their subtle earthy flavour. Like calamari, if overcooked escargot becomes rubbery and inedible, these were cooked perfectly.
I love all oysters and have been known to make a complete glutton of myself if allowed. Following in the footsteps of my father, I could easily eat several dozen au natural in one sitting provided they are fresh. One of my favourite types of oyster is the Sydney Rock; this species of oyster are smaller, have a more intense and distinct flavour than Pacific Oysters and apparently take 2-3 times longer to reach maturity. Knowing that I have a tendency to order too much food, the boy managed to intercept me attempting to order a full dozen in addition to our two entrees and convinced me of a compromise of a half dozen to share. Each mouthful was as fresh as the sea leaving that lingering sweet, creamy aftertaste.
The recent heartbreaking news earlier this year on the horrific treatment of our cows in Bali slaughterhouses has struck very deep to both of our hearts. As a result our red meat intake has reduced dramatically and now I try to source our produce only from organic farms that are passionate about animal welfare. However seeing steak tartar on the menu, neither of us could resist, it’s up there with Sydney Rock oysters in awesomeness. I took some consolation that it was made with Dandaragan organic beef. For those not convinced about raw, finely diced beef you seriously have to give this a try. The meat was exceedingly fresh and literally dissolved in your mouth leaving no unpleasant meaty aftertaste. The serve was particularly huge and I would have preferred a few more of the crunchy potato crisps to scoop up all the deliciousness.
The venison tenderloin was out of this world. The rich nearly berry-like flavours of the venison melted beautifully into the beetroot sauce and this really was a match made in heaven. In my eagerness to devour it I accidentally splashed ruby red sauce about in a very unladylike fashion and was thankful to be wearing a dark coloured dress! I want to return to Bistro just to order this again.
The boy ordered the veal sweetbreads with a fricassee of mushroom and truffle. The soft creamy pillows of glands were a little too fatty for him but this was circumvented somewhat by the hearty and flavoursome sauce. There was a wide variety of mushrooms in his dish and you could clearly see the fairly generous servings of truffle buried in there.
Although I realise I am supposed to be limiting my calorie intake with our wedding day looming close, this is very difficult to achieve when you are approached by a handsome man with a thick French accent bearing a plate of cheeses. I confess I got a little lost on his cheese journey and may have accidentally ordered more than we really needed. Are you that surprised? I ordered Mont D’or, a soft but rich, washed rind cows cheese that just glooped onto the board; Roquefort, a well-loved blue sheep cheese; Sainte Maure, a classic raw soft goat cheese that we recently had at Duende; Caprin, a hard goat cheese with a distinct nutty taste that I often enjoy when visiting my dad; and Pyengana, an aged Tasmania cheddar.
As you can see, we had no trouble finding room for any of these cheese masterpieces. They were served at the perfect temperature and were even accompanied by toasted gluten free bread.
I have heard many great things about Bistro Guillaume’s desserts however unfortunately for me the majority of them are not gluten free. My only option other than the sorbet was the very un-French mini Pavlova with passionfruit cream and mango sorbet. I am a little on the pedantic side when it comes to my Pavlova’s texture; in a similar vein to a macaron, there needs to be an external crunch, and spongy middle and a gooey centre. This version exhibited a little too much crunch and not enough moist bounciness inside.
Bearing in mind the Boy is not a big desserts person, I was super jealous to hear he thought the profiteroles were the bomb. As our waiter poured thick molten chocolate sauce over the perfectly formed balls I figured if there was ever the temptation to poison myself with gluten then this was it. He took no hesitation informing me the pastry was crackling crisp on the outside and flaky light on the inside. Despite wanting a taste so desperately I resisted and was very thankful the following day.
Coming from a French background I may be a little biased in stating French cuisine is one of the best in the world and Guillaume has managed to capture its simple elegance without overindulgence. Fresh local ingredients, traditional recipes and impeccable service…..Bravo!Bistro Guillaume Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $18-28, Mains $30-45) Food: 4.8/5 (would have given a five if it wasn’t for the pav) Service: 5/5 (highly attentive without being in your face) Ambience: 4.5/5 (relaxed, comfortable bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (lots of French options!) Total: 18.3/20
It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming and friendly the food blogging community is. Here in Perth it is no exception and friendship is made easy through sharing two passions: food and blogging. We all immediately have something to connect over; so when Carolanne from Carol Anne’s Kitchen informed us all that she was moving to South Africa, plans for foodie farewells got well underway.
The first in our series of gatherings brought me back to the lovely Rochelle Adonis for High Tea. It has been nearly a year since I have indulged in her exquisite delights yet the experience remains relatively fresh in my memory. The attention to detail with every single morsel is one you cannot forget easily and she is more than happy to accommodate for us gluten free people. Additionally my ‘no onion’ request due to my fructose malabsorption posed absolutely no problems either.
Rochelle now serves the stunning Seventh Duchess Teas to accompany her High Tea. These artisan teas are “individually sourced from the finest tea gardens“. All teas are hand-picked and are free from anything artificial. I chose the Queen of Hearts herbal tea which is an exclusive blend made just for Rochelle. It contained lemongrass, vanilla beans, juniper, raspberry leaf, rosehips, blueberries, elderberries, pomegranate flowers and hibiscus. It was light, sweet and left no bitter after taste.
For my savoury course I received five delightful little dishes. A refreshing Thai salad was served in a glass cup topped with a son-in-law egg or “khai luuk kheuy”. This traditional Thai dish contains deep-fried hard boiled eggs topped with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing. In this version a cute pint-sized quail egg was used instead of the usual chicken egg. The sweet and sour taste of the tamarind was subtle enough to not be overpowering and left a clean sensation on the palate.
The ashed goat’s cheese pannacotta was a curious liquorice colour and it was a surprise to my senses as I was expecting something with such a bold colour to have a similarly strong flavour. Instead my palate was entertained with a soft tangy creaminess and I was left desperately wanting to lick every last portion off the spoon. I was informed the colouring was achieved using a black bamboo charcoal powder that is flavourless and allows the goat cheese to remain its wonderful unadulterated self. Rochelle sourced this herself when in Singapore recently.
“Fish and chips” were served as a perfectly shaped ball of wafer thin potato chips encasing a soft flaky portion of fish in the centre. It was like a savoury truffle! It was accompanied by aged balsamic vinegar made from an 8 year old Spanish cabernet called Forvm. This vinegar had a gentle berry-like flavour and you could easily smell the oak.
My remaining two dishes were poached prawns with cream of corn and a beetroot salad with Danish feta. The prawns had a distinct crunch to them to signify freshness and the cream corn was very mild in flavour so as not to take anything away from my enjoyment of the prawns themselves. The beetroot salad was a little fibrous for my liking so the creaminess of the Danish fetta was a welcomed addition.
To cleanse our palates we were given some lemon sorbet served on a cute little paddlepop. It had a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness refreshing us all ready for our dessert courses.
My gluten free dessert course was so pretty I didn’t quite know where to start. Everything looked so adorable and almost too good to eat. Don’t worry, that feeling didn’t last long and after a little photo-shoot my little gluten free beauties didn’t hang around for much longer!
The raspberry and coconut cake sundae was topped with crunchy corn crumbles and a tart raspberry dressing. The ice cream was buttery soft and just at the point that it melted on contact with my tongue.
Namelaka is a Japanese term for “creamy texture” and this technique is commonly used in the Valrhona chocolate kitchens. Rochelle has been a big fan of Valrhona chocolate for many years and once you have tasted their chocolate you will understand why. The soft ganache-like milk chocolate namelaka was smeared elegantly and topped with a delicate scoop of milk sorbet. I thanked my lucky stars that I can eat dairy as this was the epitome of dairy milk goodness.
The apple cloud with cider ice cream and pink lady apple gel delved a little into banned territory for my fructose malabsorption. I figured that surely there would be enough glucose in all these treats to counteract any fructose. The fragrant apple flavours were so gentle yet long lasting.
The pièce de résistance of my collection of goodies was Rochelle’s take on Eton mess. A crisp meringue shell dressed with caramel popcorn and one of the freshest blueberries around was filled with a dulcet gooey corn curd with a hint of lemony goodness. The standard non-gluten free course missed out on this darling and I’m sure I saw the glint of food envy in a few of the girl’s eyes! That’s not to say I wasn’t suffering from envy right back at their gorgeous churros and walnut baklava with orange blossom buttercream!
Yes, a year later Rochelle has done it again. I have suitably been wowed by her awesomeness and am desperate to return for a dessert degustation. After hearing a mouth-watering description from some of my companions over High Tea, I realise that I probably should wait until after the wedding for such calorific indulgence. Another thing to look forward to in my married life!Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007 | www.rochelleadonis.com Price: $$$ (High tea $45 for two courses and a palate cleanser, two pots of tea or coffee) Food: 5/5 (honestly this IS perfection) Service: 4/5 (although Rochelle admitted herself she has taken some time to warm to food bloggers, she was very open friendly and courteous) Ambience: 4/5 (bright, light and airy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (7th Duchess Teas are divine, we also BYO-ed French Champagne) Total: 18.5/20
I am always feeling like I’m so time-starved; something I’m sure many of you readers can empathise with. I never have enough time in my days and weeks to catch up with the friends I hold dear to my heart. There is only so much of that void in my life that I can successfully offset via networks like Facebook and as soon as I have some time off from work, I get busy lining up catch up dates with neglected friends and family. A fellow foodie Tara and I have both been going on and on about wanting to go to Pata Negra together for ages. I’m sure the first time we discussed it must have been last year some time!
Pata negra is a Spanish tapas bar owned by chef David Coomer of Star Anise fame which was a fine dining icon in Perth for more than a decade. Regrettably Star Anise closed their doors last year but thankfully her edgier sister Pata Negra has remained opened.
After a number of false starts, Tara and I finally managed to coordinate our busy schedules and it was all locked in for a girlie night out. Her husband offered to stay at home with their two adorable little girls, and the Boy even offered to drop us in so we could both drink! We really are lucky women!
Contrary to my usual organisation, I had failed to notify the kitchen of my dietary requirements in advance. I’m not sure how I missed doing this and thus was a bit apprehensive as I sheepishly apologised to our waitress saying that I am a “difficult” customer with a couple of allergies. She didn’t seem too concerned with this and went off to the kitchen to have a chat with the chef.
We decided it was absolutely essential to start with a glass of Billecart-Salmon champagne while we deliberated over the menu. As we became more and more overwhelmed by all the mouth-watering options our waitress came over to say that pretty much anything off the menu could be adapted for me (except obviously the bread and crumbed items). Given my recent run of limited options dining out I was literally blown away. “Like you mean anything? Wow!”
While we agonised what to order we asked for some marinated olives to be brought to the table, hoping some food would facilitate some decision making. I was so thankful this time round that our waiter was more than happy for me to use my flash to take photos as the interior lighting is quite dim. After all my fuzzy images from Marque, I really wanted to be able to relish in some focused pictorial memories. The olives contained a satisfying range of types, sizes and colours allowing a variety of tastes. It was served in adorable little antiquey dishes.
The beef was such a simple dish yet each ingredient was carefully selected to create wonderful tiers of strong yet complementary flavours. The meat was a stunning dark cherry colour and had micro-thin veins of marbled fat running through it evenly. The walnuts introduced a slight bitter taste which was softened by the silky fetta and sweetened by the beets. Exquisite.
Ok, I realise this dish probably doesn’t look like much, but for those mushroom fans out there – this is the bomb. After falling in love with Andaluz’s mushrooms (and going back for subsequent visits for more) I am tempted to say these are even tastier! Some of this decision is possibly facilitated by my passion for the Spanish cheese Manchego. The distinctive and slightly salty flavour of this sheep’s cheese is wonderfully unique and is something not to be missed. Add in some meaty, juicy mushrooms and you have something quite amazing to devour! I again marvelled at how such simple dishes consisting of such few ingredients could be so fabulous.
I first discovered the deliciousness of slow cooked eggs some time ago at Greenhouse. These eggs are cooked for about 40 to 45 minutes but at much lower temperatures producing a very soft but evenly cooked egg. If you love soft poached eggs you will think these are nothing short of perfection. The octopus was slightly tougher than I prefer but was still very tasty and the chorizo provided a good contrast in textures.
These quails were huge in size! I am so used to being served such tiny little birds but these richly flavoured quails must have been weight lifting in their time! The meat was so moist, easily falling of the bone and it went well with the accompanying nutty wild rice and lentils. Two generous blobs of buffalo mozzarella completed the dish ideally.
The pork was my least favourite dish of the evening however there wasn’t really anything majorly wrong with it except maybe the meaty part of the pork was a bit dry. I think I was so excited about the layering of tastes in our previously ordered dishes that I wanted it to happen again and again.
Our dessert was absolutely blissful. The meringue had all the right components – the crisp outer shell, the hollow crunchy under-surface and the spongy moist centre. After spooning some of the tangy blood plum sauce liberally over the top, it was supremely heavenly. I didn’t try the pistachio cream as it contained gluten but if Tara’s oohs and aaahs were any indication it must have been pretty good. This year I seem to really be having some great success at shortening my restaurant wish list however many of these places just haven’t lived up to my own hype. Pata Negra on the other hand exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Brilliant service, awesome company and fantastic food; I cannot wait to bring the Boy back here!Pata Negra 26 Stirling Highway, Nedlands 6009 | (08) 9389 5517 | www.patanegra.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (tapas style dishes $7-17, mains $35-65) Food: 4.5/5 (not a single dish disappointed) Service: 4.5/5 (helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable) Ambience: 4/5 (ambient lighting and a Spanish feel, some couches would be nice though) Drinks: 4.5/5 (very large wine list with a lot of Spanish and Portuguese options) Total: 17.5/20
For those who follow Urbanspoon you may be familiar with the “wish list” feature on everyone’s profiles. This is a handy way to earmark interesting restaurants for later reference. Whenever I have the freedom to book a dinner outing wherever, I try to whittle away at this ever lengthening list of mine.
The Boy and I had just started our holidays and I needed a Bestie time instalment before the two of us headed off to Bali for the week. After seeing some delicious pictures of my sister’s meal at Nine Fine Foods, I was reminded that this restaurant has been on my wish list for quite some time. Previous attempts to eat there had been thwarted by a variety of reasons, but this time it looked like we were good to go with an available booking.
I was so delighted with the prospect of eating some interesting Japanese fare but as I eagerly told my Bestie where I had booked us for dinner, I was met with a distinctly grim and nearly nauseous expression on her face. She had recently visited an all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant and the very thought of another slice of raw salmon was enough to turn her similar shade to our nephew on the way to Rottnest.
As I was yet to see her new residence in Perth, she suggested we enjoy some drinks at her house and then go to a local restaurant at a winery called Conti’s. Feeling a little guilty that our catch ups seem to always end up back at my house and not hers, we agreed this sounded like a good plan. On arrival to put us all in the mood, we drank some delicious Bombay Sapphire Gin accompanied by sparkling fruit juice and fresh lime. So refreshing and uplifting!
For a bit of a history lesson on Conti’s humble beginnings; Sicilian immigrant Carmelo Conti moved to Australia in the 1920’s where he grew veggies for the local market for just over a decade until he decided to diversify and planted vines in 1948. The Conti family have been making wines ever since and it has remained a family owned business which impressively is now entering its third generation of wine making.
The restaurant is housed in the original homestead built in 1927 where the family raised their eight children. The house is beautifully restored maintaining the stunning wide jarrah floorboards and high ornate ceilings that are typical of this era. I simply love old character homes, our own home was built in 1928 and shares many similar features.
The menu described itself as “a deliciously wholesome menu, commonly referred to as international French style combined with traditional Australian cuisine”. We all puzzled over this fact. Here we have a Sicilian family that are cooking French food with a traditional Australian twist? How does one cook such cuisine? My mind wandered with visions of steaming hot bouillabaisse, sumptuous foie gras, comical frogs leg’s and other French delights only to become perplexed how such distinct flavours could ever combine successfully with meat pies and lamingtons!
My Bestie and I are big lovers of oysters. One of our favourite ways to commence shopping expeditions together is to head into the City and make a beeline for the Oyster Bar in David Jones. Once we are fuelled with a few glasses of champagne and a dozen oysters we are both in the perfect frame of mind to shop. So on this evening, we were quick to decide that ordering a dozen to share was a must. Unfortunately, Conti’s oysters were definitely not freshly shucked nor were they actually fresh at all; in fact they tasted nearly off leaving an unpleasant aftertaste lingering on the palate.
Believe it or not. Under this bizarre mound of salmon pictured above lies a mushroom. You may just be able to see the dark earthy rim around the edge. Topped with a criss-cross made with Brie the visual presentation of this dish started to drag me back to the eighties. Despite the meal being a bit of an eye sore, it was actually fairly tasty in a hearty home cooking kind of way!
The Boy opted for garlic prawns. A simple dish that is easy to do well. In his rush to gobble them up he burnt his tongue. Doubtful he will learn a lesson, he is definitely the fastest eater I have ever met. He enjoyed his entree although he did feel the amount of onion was excessive. This is not one for the fructose malabsorbers!
The Bestie ordered the crumbed camembert. I didn’t get to try this as the crumb was not gluten free. I noticed each of us had the same styled side serves of salad that were similarly eighties themed.
I had never heard of a carpet bag steak until Bestie’s man Timmy started to describe it to me over NYE celebrations at the Greenhouse. Apparently it is an American dish that was very popular in Australia and NZ in the 70’s. Ah haa! The presentation of the meals is starting to make sense. This is where the traditional Australian comes into it all!
The other three all ordered this insane dish. It was met with mixed responses. The Boy initially said it was disgusting but on further questioning he said it was purely just the cooked slippery oysters that were embedded in the steak that he found gross. The rest of the dish was quite flavoursome. Unfortunately, the key component of the carpet bag steak is in fact the oysters, so I’m figuring overall this was a thumbs down. To be fair, the Boy hasn’t been the greatest advocate of oysters since an accidental ingestion of one that subsequently gave him food poisoning.
I ordered my venison rare. I struggle to eat beef or venison beyond rare as the meat loses its soft texture and delicateness. It was served medium rare and some of the medallions were heading towards medium and were fairly chewy. The meat was drowned in sauce which managed to inject some much needed moisture back into the neglected meat.
My meringue dessert comprised of an exploding volcano of strawberries tumbling out of a dry and stale meringue tartlet that tasted shop bought. Curiously balanced on top of this fruit eruption balanced a nearly phallic shaped cylinder of more meringue. Next to this a mint leaf was speared into the centre of a squirt of presumably canned cream. I was thankful that everyone was sharing their desserts as my choice was not enjoyable.
Timmy ordered the hazelnut gelato, once again there were some oddly positioned pieces of fruit decorating his plate, nearly resembling the elegant female form. The gelati was hard and icy, and tasted like it had spent a little too long in the freezer prior to serving.
The Bestie has the Brandy snap basket which I completely forgot to photograph as we had worked our way through a fair amount of Paul Conti’s crisp Unwooded Chardonnay. I did manage to sneak a couple of mouthfuls from her and it gave me definite dessert envy!
Overall for the price Conti’s desperately needs some shazam injected back into the kitchen. Their food appears tired and old fashioned, and some of the ingredients used were not fresh. Having the history behind them of being a self-sufficient farming family who grew everything for themselves, they even made their own cheese and milk; they should get back to their roots and carry this core value into their restaurant today?Conti’s Restaurant
529 Wanneroo Road, Woodvale 6026 | (08) 9409 1516 | www.paulcontiwines.com.au Price: $$$$ ($18-22 entrée, $31-38 Mains)
Food: 2.5/5 (need to update presentation and use fresh ingredients)
Service: 3/5 (pleasant and efficient)
Ambience: 3/5 (beautiful old homestead)
Drinks: 4/5 (definitely worth a try, maybe skip the food) Total: 12.5/20
For months I have been bursting out of my skin to get myself to Rochelle Adonis for her acclaimed high tea! So when my love and I attended a boutique little wedding expo at Mosmans recently I was attracted to her stall like a moth to a flame. Her passion and gentle nature increased her appeal to me even more and I immediately decided I wanted to have one of her exquisite cakes for our upcoming engagement party. This provided me with the perfect excuse to organise a girly afternoon out with some friends for the purpose of “engagement cake tasting”.
For us foodies in the know, we are all very thankful to have such a world class pastry chef of this calibre residing here in little Perth. Rochelle grew up in the French Canadian city of Montreal before moving to Sydney to train as a pastry chef. She then moved to London where she worked in an exclusive wedding cake boutique making cakes for the rich and famous including both the British and Saudi Royal families before she moved onto to Vienna to work in the prestigious Hotel Sacher.
Returning to Australia, she was acting head pastry chef at Forty One in Sydney before joining Matt Moran’s at Moran’s and then once he opened Aria as the head pastry chef there. She moved to WA in 2001 with the ambition of starting her own business and has grown from a small scale home kitchen beginning to the highly acclaimed boutique she has today.
Upon entering her studio, you will be distracted by all the eye catching photos decorating the walls with examples of her handy work. Each cake is prepared with upmost attention and care and they almost look like they couldn’t be real. The two long communal marble tables fill much of the room giving the feeling you are sitting in someone’s kitchen rather than a café. We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
The first course was savoury. After my recent enforced gluten indulgences, I thought it best that I stick with her gluten free options – I was after all actually taste testing for a party that will occur once I’m back on the straight and narrow gluten free. My plate contained a cup of creamed corn soup, a vegetable frittata, a cube of pork terrine and a falafel with some harissa. The soup was hot and seasoned perfectly warming us all up as we waited for our champagne to take over the job. The pork terrine had a dollop of horseradish and Dijon mayonnaise. The short sharp heat of the horseradish blended harmoniously with the lingering flavours of the terrine and was the highlight of the four.
The girls also had the pork terrine and the soup on their plates. Their gluten-filled options included a vegetable galette with goat’s cheese and Rochelle’s famous cucumber sandwiches using entirely homemade ingredients including her own handmade butter. The sandwiches looked so cute all cut up in perfect little rectangles sitting in a row.
Our second course was desert. My plate contained mint ice cream with Valrhona chocolate, raspberry jelly, meringue with lemon curd, blueberries and violet, and a blood orange salad on top of a moist butter cake with gooey brulee style custard. The ice cream was not overly sweet or sickly, nor was it too creamy. It had the perfect balance with a fresh minty aftertaste leaving a clean fresh feeling on the palate. My first glancing impressions of the raspberry jelly reminded me of Turkish Delight. Not being the biggest fan of this I was pleased to find an absence of Turkish’s signature delicate rose flavours replaced with a much preferred and rather strong tarty berriness. For those who know Chompchomp well – you will be aware I am a huge fan of all things berry. Well, berries generally come shaped in little balls – and I’m a sucker for food in little balls. The meringue was one of my favourites. It contained all the elements of a well-made meringue: crunchy, chewy and soft, and the accompaniment of sharp tangy lemon curd moved seamlessly into the gentle after notes of the more subtle violet and blueberries.
The blood orange salad tasted like Rochelle had successful managed to capture Spring in a cup! Seeing as our one week teaser of Spring weather has turned viciously back to wet winter windiness I was so thankful to be reminded glorious Perth Spring was just around the corner. Buried deep below the array of sweet blood orange and delicate petals was a layer of brulee and dense orange butter cake. I nearly stuck my fingers into the bottom of the bowl to clean out the last remnants.
By this point we had polished off a bottle of Moet, a bottle of Cattier and a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne and we were all in very fine form. We really didn’t want our experience to end and thus were determined to carry on with our celebrations. After pondering for some time at the counter, a number of us bought more little cakes, nougat and other delights to take home to share with our loved ones who missed out on the delightful experience. We then all skipped over the road to the Hotel Northbridge to continue our festivities. Oh boy what a contrast in standards of customer service, ambiance and food would we find there!
Venue 8/10 Food 9.2/10 Service 7.7/10Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007