Taste of Perth 2015 proved that this is a city of passionate and dedicated gourmands. Over 15,000 people braved strong winds and horizontal rain to enjoy icon dishes from our city’s best restaurants served up by the Head Chefs themselves.
It was a very wet weekend with only a brief few hours of sunshine during the Friday lunch session which was fortunately the session that I attended! The festival is divided into lunch and dinner sessions which allows you four hours to eat, drink and mingle with friends. Food is purchased using “Crowns” which one Crown equally the value of $1.
I was joined by my fellow blogging friends who, like me, know the importance of having a “Taste of Perth Game Plan”. Prior to attending each of us had read the full menu, decided on our chosen dishes and could visualise the basic map layout in our heads. This is serious business!
The lack of indication for the gluten free dishes on the menu was a slight source of frustration for me. Some stalls can develop reasonable sized queues and no one wants to wait in line to find out they cannot order anything. Not wanting my frustration to turn into disappointment, I created a Plan B in the case that my desired dishes were glutenised. Yes that is a word.
After a few snacks in the corporate lounge, we kicked off our designer degustation at Nobu with their icon dish of 9+ Wagyu Carpaccio served with a slightly gooey quail egg and a kick of aji amarillo aioli. My dish was gluten free adapted with the omission of soy-salt. Whilst some may baulk at the price to portion ratio of this dish, I assure you that it would take just one mouthful of that buttery meat to liquefy on your tongue to make you understand what real Wagyu is.
Nobu’s spicy aji amarillo aioli lingered on our palates making the perfect introduction to head to El Público’s stall for some Mexican. I had already had the pleasure of tasting their dishes at the sneak preview a few weeks back so I looking forward to more.
I loved the sweet freshness of the street corn charred and braised served with crema, chili, lime & fresh cheese.
Later that night on the evening session, the Boy was desperate to try El Público’s icon dish called the “Flavours of Mexico” as he hasn’t had the chance to chow down bugs since we last visited Thailand. The fried crickets were served with two shots of throat clearing mezcal.
Bib & Tucker had a few gluten free options on offer. The colourful rosella flower cured kingfish with beetroot, finger limes and beach herbs injected much needed vibrancy to the afternoon as the sun began to slink behind the rain clouds.
Their icon dish was Flinders Island wallaby shank served with textured puffed wild rice and pickled grape agrodolce. Head Chef Scott Bridger demonstrated how to prepare this dish in the Electrolux Taste Theatre where the aromas of his cooking only served to increase our appetites even more.
Moving on from Bib & Tucker, I couldn’t stop myself nabbing a bite sized serve of Modo Mio’s vitello tonnato as it is one of my favourite dishes from their restaurant. The tender, thinly sliced veal was drizzled generously with tuna and caper mayo, topped with a quail egg and finished with a splash of truffle oil. However it really was not much more than a mouthful.
As we all looked at our watches, we realised we were running out of time! I was feeling rather content and happily followed the consensus of the group to head to Asado.
I quickly deduced that Asado is the place to be if you are a meat lover. I stood in a trance for more than a few minutes watching the chefs meticulously cook thick chunks of sizzling marbled meat on the BBQ grill.
Eventually I broke away my gaze, presumably because my eyes were tearing from all the smoke and decided I had eaten enough to satisfy my savoury tastebuds. I was ready for a sugar hit.
I was in luck as Asado was one of the few stalls offering a dessert option. Their burnt banana dish was not gluten free as it came with a butter biscuit base. I was grateful that the chefs were happy to make me a special adapted versio.
The banana was caramelised with a satisfying crunchy layer but I have to say it was the dulce de leche that won me over. I know salted caramel is starting to be a bit old hat, but I still love it!
With the day nearly over and my stomach nearly overflowing into my oesophagus, I accepted that if I bought any more food it would need to come home in a doggy bag. Of course that wasn’t a problem, and with a surprisingly quick step for someone so full I managed to whisk over to Bistro Guillaume.
Last year Bistro Guillaume’s massive “macaron burger”, or macaroon as it was inaccurately called, was enough to out-macaron even me! This year it was replaced with a more digestable boxed “Duo” of salted caramel and strawberry macarons although they were still quite a decent size. Sugar high here we come!
As we were leaving Taste of Perth, we walked past the Honeycake stall and I noticed a little “gluten free available” sign on their table. I have attempted to try tasting the Honeycake for months and months after my dear friend Michelle from Foodie Cravings told me there is a gluten free option. Sadly every time I try to buy one they have sold out….but not this time! Oh my, I can now understand what Michelle was on about because it really is worth the hype!
Taste of Perth runs every year in May and brings out talent from our top restaurants all in one location. There are also many other wine and food producer stalls to visit, entertainment and VIP lounges for those wanting something a bit more special. Whilst it isn’t the cheapest food festival on the circuit it is one that I always thoroughly enjoy.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest at Taste of Perth and Electrolux. Some of her dishes were provided free of charge and some she purchased herself.
Nobu | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth
El Público | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Bib & Tucker | 18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle WA 6159 | (08) 9433 2147 | www.bibandtucker.net.au
Modo Mio | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/modo-mio/about
Asado | 34 Saint Quentin Avenue, Claremont WA 6010 | (08) 6424 9877 | asado.com.au
Bistro Guillaume | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au
The Honeycake | Shop 40, Fremantle Markets, Henderson Street, Fremantle WA 6959 | www.thehoneycake.com.au
For those of you that missed out on experiencing the glorious feast at Taste of Perth last year, my best advice for you is not to miss out again. Taste Festivals are one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and are held in a number of locations all around the world including Paris, London, Sydney and Moscow.
Taste of Perth made its début last year attracting over 16,000 hungry punters over the three days. This year’s Taste festival will be held from the 15th to the 17th of May at Langley Park and it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be even better than last year.
At Taste of Perth, you will be able to create your own designer degustation as many of Perth’s top restaurants will be participating in the event. The 2015 line-up will include some of my favourite venues such as Lalla Rookh, Bistro Guillaume, Bib & Tucker, Nobu, Next Door at No4, Print Hall, El Público and more.
To give an insight into what to expect this year at Taste, I was invited to attend “Taste on Tour”; a fun-filled roving dinner where I joined a small group of bloggers to visit three of the participating restaurants and sample some dishes on the Taste of Perth ’15 menu.
Our first venue for the evening was El Público in Highgate. El Público will have four dishes on offer at Taste, and I am happy to say all of them will be gluten free!
We started off with tasting the pork belly taco served with charred pineapple, salsa picante and chicharon. The taco was topped with shreds of pork crackling giving it a wonderful play on textures with a lot of depth of flavour.
The braised street corn dish will be a filling option for vegetarians and was served with cream, fresh cheese chill and lime.
For those festival goers needing something a bit meaty, El Público will also be serving their uber soft twice cooked lamb ribs with sesame, cucumber & lime.
After it’s sell out popularity last year, El Público will be bringing back their icon dish called “Flavours of Mexico”. This dish consists of a serve of their renowned fried crickets alongside two shots of village mescal.
Our next stop was Lalla Rookh in the CBD and to everyone’s surprise and delight a tram pulls up in front of El Público to transport us to our next destination!! We piled into the tram filled with giggles while our tram driver proceeded to get some pop music cranking loudly. So much fun!
Before long we arrived at Lalla Rookh, my favourite Italian restaurant in Perth. I love how Head Chef Joel Valvasori has a strong focus on using West Australian produce and am grateful that he will always effortlessly cater for me despite my dietary requirements meaning I never feel like I miss out.
Lalla will be serving their braised lamb shank as their icon dish for Taste this year. This dish is available by pre-order from the restaurant and has a level of cult popularity amongst the regulars.
It will be served with organic polenta made in a more traditional way with a texture that is almost like a light bread. Perfect for dunking in all that luscious, sweet lamby sauce.
After nearly exploding with full stomachs, we were greeted by our chirpy tram driver out the front of Lalla Rookh to transport us onwards to our final Taste on Tour location; Next Door @ No4 in North Perth. Despite protests from many of us of being way too full to be able eat anymore, it never ceases to amaze me how food bloggers can continue to push the boat out and keep eating!
No 4 Blake Street’s Head Chef Tom Randolph is passionate about using seasonal and local produce and will source many of his ingredients directly from the small-scale producers themselves.
The two gluten free options on No4’s Taste of Perth menu this year will be their signature No4 risotto and a 45 day dry aged beef. The risotto is a vegetarian option made with cauliflower, cocoa and topped with burnt rice crisps.
The organic grass-fed beef was tender enough to cut with a fork and was served with a fried egg, crispy kale and sprinkling of dukkha.
No4 will also return one of their sell out dishes to the menu this year; their Valrhona Chocolate Garden. This pot of chocolate decadence contains salted caramel, chunks of chewy peanut dacquoise and sandalwood rocks but is sadly not gluten free due to the chocolate soil.
I think the chef may have seen a jealous glint in my eye as I watched everyone’s eyes roll in ecstasy devouring their Gardens. Before long I was presented with a gluten free adapted version, sans soil but topped with shards of salted caramel chocolate instead. Thank you chef!
I will be giving away TWO double passes to Taste of Perth on my Facebook page over the next week valued $72 each.
To enter simply tell me which is your favourite restaurant attending Taste of Perth this year and why they are your favourite. You can write your answer in the comments section below or alternatively head to my Facebook Page.
The winners will be selected by the Boy and will be based on the most interesting and original answers.
Entries close Sunday 10th May 2015. This competition is open to residents of Australia only.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp attended Taste on Tour as a guest of Taste Festivals and 3am Thoughts.
el PÚBLICO | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House | Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 7077 | www.lallarookh.com.au
Next Door @ No 4 | 4 Blake St, North Perth, 6006 WA | (08) 9444 6678 | www.no4blakestreet.com.au
I have gotten right into the spirit of the Eat Drink Perth vibe this year and have been busy attending as many events as is sanely possible considering I also work full time, own a business and have two fur-children and a husband who hate being left neglected at home. Although my calendar this month is already chockers, when I saw a free gluten free cooking demonstration was to be held at the Library, I successfully swindled, bribed and coerced my colleagues into giving me some time in lieu so I could attend.
I arrived at the State Library a good fifteen minutes early so I could fiddle around with the settings on my new and somewhat unpredictable camera. After wandering around searching for the demo unsuccessfully, I asked the reception counter where it was being held. Showing my total naïvety I was quickly to learn that the State Library in the Perth Cultural Centre is NOT the same as the Perth City Library! With heavy camera gear, work clothes and hand bag in tow I ran across the city through the train station and down to the other end of the mall to arrive at Perth City Library flustered, sweating and puffed out. So much for having some time to adjust my camera settings!
The Library staff were so sweet and had reserved a seat for me in the front row knowing that I was with Eat Drink Perth. They welcomed me warmly as I took my seat only minutes before the chef Rebecca Kerr started her presentation.
The audience was made up mostly of people who had very little knowledge of what constituted a gluten free diet however they were keen to learn more about it. When Rebecca asked for a show of hands who in the crowd had Coeliacs or gluten intolerance there were only a couple of us.
She wanted to share with us her discovery of Masa Lista; a special type of flour made in Mexico from corn by using a process called nixtamalization. This is where the corn kernels are soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution which helps break down the glue like component of the corn’s cells walls. The end result is a flour that when added to water alone becomes very dough like and doesn’t need any additional ingredients to bind it together.
Without any need for special equipment or time to allow the dough to rise, Rebecca made little flat breads by combining the masa lista with water in a bowl and rolling them into balls. Each little ball was squashed flat and toasted on a hot grill until they were lightly browned on either side. Once they were cooked, the breads easily split in the middle with a knife to create a pocket which was then filled with some prepared home-made salsa, ham and cheese. For those with a sweet tooth Rebecca also brought some gluten free rum balls for us to try.
I had to dash straight out to work afterwards and had no time to grab myself lunch so I jetted into Maison Saint Honour and snuffled up some macarons to eat on the go.
Inspired by the simplicity of these stuffable tortilla-like things, I decided to try and hunt down some masa flour myself. I wanted to recreate this dish using a stuffing that was vegan, fructose friendly, and gluten free but most importantly was good enough to warrant topping with some lovely Pemberton Finger Limes the Boy bought as a gift for me on the weekend.
After a bit of fiddling around in the kitchen I came up with a bean free, vegan “mince”, added a tomato salsa, avocado purée and drizzled the lot with a coconut “yoghurt” and finger lime pearls. Head over to my blog post for the recipe!Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. This cooking demonstration was free to attend for all. More of Rebecca Kerr’s recipes can be found on her Facebook page Australian Gluten Free Cooking.
I recently attended a cooking demonstration by gluten free chef Rebecca Kerr as part of the Eat Drink Perth Festival. Like many others on a strict gluten free diet, she has longed for an easy, reliable bread recipe that produces something that tastes good. Gluten free bread is a temperamental food to bake and can often end up tasting too heavy and doughy or worse it ends up like a crumbly savoury cake. Commercially made gluten free bread often has a long list of ingredients many of which include sugars, artificial additives and preservatives. Rebecca discovered for herself a type of flour used in South American and Mexican cooking called masa lista. This is a particular type of flour made from corn by a process called nixtamalization were the corn is pre-cooked in an alkaline solution before being ground. This process releases the glue-like substance from the corn’s cell walls. This resultantly gives the flour an almost gluten-like property whilst still remaining totally gluten free. Basically all you need to do is mix the flour with water, knead it for a few minutes and hey presto; you get a workable dough that can be used to make flat breads.
Inspired by its simplicity I tracked down some Masa lista and made some bread for myself. I have been trying to reduce my meat and dairy intake so I made some vegan, fructose friendly tortillas using nut meat, tomato salsa and coconut “sour cream” to stuff the bread with. I garnished it with the very seasonal, beautiful Pemberton Finger Limes.
As all the stuffing for these breads is vegan and raw, if you wanted to turn this into a completely raw dish you could replace the bread with a lettuce leaf or some other large leaved fresh greens.
- 2 cups masa harina or masa lista
- 1 ½ cups of warm water
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoon tamari or gluten free soy
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes sliced into quarters, or vine ripened tomatoes diced
- 2 tablespoons coriander
- Jalapeños to taste depending on preference
- 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 1-2 ripe avocados, mashed
- 2 cups young coconut meat
- 2 cups pine nuts soaked for at least one hour
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ cup coconut water
- Mix masa and water together in a bowl and work together into a dough. If it appears too dry you can add some more water. Take a piece of the masa dough and roll into a firm ball the size of a gold ball then flatten into a thick disc. Cook on an oiled or non-stick hot grill until lightly browned and then flip and cook the opposite side. Once cooked you can carefully run a butter knife through the centre to split open like a pita bread.
- Process almonds and walnuts into a powder.
- Place nut meal into a mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss until evenly mixed
- Add all ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Assemble nut meat, tomato salsa, avocado puree, coconut sour cream into tortillas and top with finger lime pearls.
Thank you to Rebecca Kerr from Australian Gluten Free Cooking for the inspiration for this dish. The recipe for the nut meat is adapted from “Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen” by Ani Phyo, Da Capo Press (2007).
This event has now passed. My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page.
This Sunday it all kicks off at the Perth Cultural Centre for our inaugural Perth Food Truck Rumble. The food truck revolution has taken off in our city bringing street food from around the world and into our hungry hands. You will be surprised at the incredible number and variety of food trucks we have operating around Perth. At the Food Truck Rumble you will be able to experience street food from countries such as Brazil, Spain, France, Mexico, Italy and more. There will be Asian fusion trucks and even a few dessert trucks with sweet treats such as cupcakes, popsicles and most importantly macarons!
There will be 17 food trucks there on the day so to make life a little easier Perth Food Truck Rumble’s organiser Ai-Ling has kindly helped me compile a list of gluten free friendly and vegetarian trucks so you can arrive at this busy event ready and prepared!
I am gob smacked at the amount of gluten free food options these food trucks can provide and I guarantee that I’ll be so full by the end of the day I will be barely able to walk! I have tried to divide the options into the semblance of a three course meal so you can fit it all in!
My gluten free food truck degustation for this Sunday:
Comida Do Sul Brazilian Food truck will be serving Prato Feito, a famous Brazilian dish with picanha grill (beef steak), farofa (crushed, roasted Brazilian yam), black beans, rice, mandioca frita (fried cassava), vinaigrette and kale. The steak can be omitted to make this dish vegetarian. Their fries are also gluten free.
Both Mexican trucks Lil Tortilla Boi and Mojito Cantina will have a number of GF options. I cannot wait to try Mojito’s gluten free chilli dog nachos paired with
sweet potato spicy wedges. (I was informed on the day that these were not gluten free despite receiving advice pre-event that they were.)
I plan to wash this all down with some gluten free raw juice from The Juicist.
For those that are vegetarian but not gluten free; you also have the option of The Merrywell Food Truck who will be serving mac and cheese bites or head over to Franklin Foodies for their vegetarian Philly rolls stuffed with Italian marinated field mushrooms, bell peppers and melted cheese. Finally you cannot miss out on some vegetarian Jumplings, a taste sensation that has hit near cult status in Perth. Sadly the truck’s owner Roy is yet to perfect a gluten free version of Jumpling pastry which has been a work in progress for some time.
For a mid-afternoon interlude:
While I allow my stomach to make room for more, I am going to head over to Cocktail Gastronomy’s Molecular pop-up bar where their team will be conjuring up some magical cocktails including their signature liquid nitrogen espresso martinis, Bunsen burner torched lemon meringue pie and sous vide lychee mojitos.
After allowing some time for digesting, I plan to move onto something more substantial however I am yet to decide as there are a couple of great GF options. Both Little Caesar’s and Vince’s Mobile Wood Fire Pizza will have gluten free and vegetarian pizzas and if you are more of a burger-buff Hey Pesto can do both gluten free and vegetarian burgers. If you prefer to dine on something more healthy The Wagon will be churning out some scrumptious sounding vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals such as coriander chickpea tomato curry, Thai glass noodle salad and even some raw, vegan, chocolate fudge brownies!
By the end of the day my belly will be close to exploding point therefore I am going to have to select my dessert carefully. Should I try one of Delish Ice’s creatively flavoured popsicles or will the Boy’s ice cream addiction land me at Miss Tartufo for some gelato? Or will I predictably end my night with a mac attack and buy myself vast numbers of macarons from Miam Miam?Please be aware that this is a guide only and if you have a high level of gluten intolerance then always check with the vendors prior to purchasing. Due to working in the small confined spaces of a food truck, some vendors may not be able to guarantee that there is no cross contamination with gluten. Perth Food Truck Rumble will be held on Sunday 13th April 2014 as part of Eat Drink Perth at the Perth Cultural Centre off William Street in Northbridge from 11 am to 8 pm. Entry is free and food will range from $5-$15 per dish. Food Truck Rumble | Facebook | Twitter Addendum: My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page
I am known for my obsession with planning. Before going on a holiday I will spend weeks researching the best accommodation, the absolute “must eat” restaurants and other things to see and do which usually are predominately food orientated. This strong need for mapping out the future doesn’t necessarily come from a desire to control but more a fear of missing out. Yes, I suffer from FOMO. Although I am what some may consider an organisation freak, I can still have moments of spontaneity and when those care free moments involve food I am happy to throw all planning out the window. The Boy can be hard to convince to dine out during the week but when I mentioned the key words “Mexican” and “beer” he became very agreeable. Unbelievably we still hadn’t visited el PÚBLICO despite being regulars at their other popular joints Greenhouse and Cantina 663.
El Publico is one of the first “real” Mexican places to open up in Perth after a plague of El Paso-styled greasy spoons tarnished our streets for years. Their vision is to serve Mexican street food and both the owners and the chefs have travelled through Mexico to submerge themselves in its authenticity. They accept walk-ins and only take bookings for groups over six thus they fitted the bill perfectly to be the venue for our spur of the moment outing. They offer a number of vegetarian and gluten free options which are both cleared marked on the ever-changing seasonal menu. We started with the fried chickpeas with burnt tortilla salt and the crispy street prawns.
The street prawns were reminiscent of the fried insect stalls at the night markets in Thailand and are surprisingly moreish. They are a little prickly in the mouth so I do not recommend downing too many at one time or their teeny legs poke into the inside of your cheeks. I washed the salty critters down with a glass of 2011 Ventisquero Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley, Chile whilst the Boy drank a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
We ordered a bunch of share plates to be brought out staggered in a very sociable Mexican style of tapas dining. This proved to be conducive to meandering chatter between the Boy and me taking us both far away from our working week and into a relaxed and happy place. I wish the Boy would be keen on mid-week outings more often! Our cuttlefish was served on crisp tostada with a jalapeño and corn salsa. Fresh summer flavours tossed with soft pieces of cuttlefish left a refreshing spritz on the palate.
The salmon ceviche was similarly uplifting with cubes of raw salmon cured by the lime juice dressing buried in among chunks of tomato, avocado and coriander. A touch similar in its profile to the cuttlefish, it made me dream of the long summer months soon to come.
After two rounds of seemingly healthy and light dishes, it was time to get down and dirty with some tacos. Now I’m not talking about refried beans, avocado and tomato salsa. I’m talking about REAL tacos! There were a few to choose from that were suitable for me so we agreed to share the vegetarian option; the potato tacos.
Deep fried cubes of potato and cheese topped with the skinniest slivers of potato made a picture perfect handful. We were very tempted to order another round of these tacos and I recommend that if you see them on the menu again … DO IT!
By this point in the meal, my planning brain had already scanned the dessert menu and selected my choice so I would have been more than happy to move onto sweets. The Boy thought differently and with room in his belly for more he knew ordering another round would be easy. When it comes to having seconds, I suffer from a serious case of rubber arm.
One of the last vegetarian options left on the menu were the black bean quesadillas. Our waitress warned us that they were very filling which prompted the Boy to order them immediately. Four soft pillows of corn quesadillas filled with cheesy black bean goodness were topped with punchy green sauce. Yes, she was right, they were quite filling but despite my smaller size I can fit a large amount of food into me and we finished them without discomfort leaving room for dessert.
And what a dessert it was. Let’s hope THIS one never comes off the menu. Peanut butter parfait topped with rocks of dulce de leche that literally collapse in your mouth on contact with your tongue. It really was a killer.
Like as if we hadn’t eaten enough, to finish off our last drinks we nibbled on a couple of chocolate chilli truffles. The Boy wasn’t mad on these as they were quite bitter but he wouldn’t’ let me eat his for him so I guess they weren’t so bad. After our socks being knocked off by our dessert, it was really pointless eating anything else.
It may have taken us a while to get ourselves to el PÚBLICO but our visit has left me repeatedly wondering how soon we can head back. It has a heart and soul that is packed with spunk and effortless cool. And it has a neon donkey on the bar. Now everyone who knows me KNOWS how much I love donkeys!el PÚBLICO 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $9-18, Mains $24-28) Food: 4.5/5 (captures our seasonal produce and injects a little Mexico into it!) Service: 4/5 (funny, efficient and helpful with suggestions) Ambience: 4/5 (vibrant, happening and noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (small well thought out wine list….over 100 Tequilas behind the bar!) Total: 15.5/20
Our post wedding stopover in Singapore consisted of four days of non-stop eating, drinking and sleeping. After having our whole week in Thailand planned down to the minute, it felt like a luxury to be somewhere on holiday without any schedules and we made the most of it. One of the few tourist attractions I wanted to see was the new marine park S.E.A. Aquarium opened on Sentosa Island. Just a tip, there are two marine parks on Sentosa. The original one is called Underwater World is hideously out-dated and not worth wasting your time. S.E.A. Aquarium in Resorts World is the second addition and is contrastingly modern, huge and very impressive.
S.E.A. Aquarium is home to over 800 species of marine animals which are divided up into regions around the world. Amongst its many breathtaking tanks, S.E.A. has the world’s largest aquarium which you can view from a massive viewing panel measuring about 36 metres long and 8 metres in height. Swimming in this vast man-made structure are many of the gentle giants of the sea including a “flock” of graceful manta rays, leopard sharks, saw fish, mahi mahi and goliath groupers.
Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora is the Aquarium’s celebrity restaurant located inside the venue directly facing the main tank. Cat Cora is the only female chef from Iron Chef America and her signature dishes tend to reflect her Greek heritage and southern US upbringing. Her restaurant strives to help protect our world’s marine ecosystems and only serves sustainable seafood.
The marine park is quite a size and took us some time before we found ourselves at the restaurant by which we were informed we only had half an hour to order and eat our meals as they were to shut the restaurant for 1 hour before reopening for dinner service. To maximise our dining experience on such a strict time restriction we ordered three entrées to share between us and asked for them all to be brought out a once.
Cat Cora’s signature dish of sous-vide King Salmon may as well have been butter it was so soft. It needed no encouragement with a knife and was slipped onto our forks and down our hatches perhaps a little too quickly to truly allow us to appreciate its perfection. This slice of heaven was served with a generous scoop of sustainable black caviar, a dwarf little pear marinated in Prosecco and coated in crushed almonds, some tart vine tomato jelly and what was meant to be water cress but really looked more like chicory.
The tuna tataki salad was also made using sustainable tuna and came with cucumber mint yoghurt and curried oil. A couple of pixie sized pickled sumac onions created a bit more balance on the plate. Seared lightly on the outside the tuna was delicate and soft but nowhere near as impressively velvety as the salmon. Each condiment brought an interesting layer of flavours and left us feeling teased as we knew our half hour was soon to be up.
Our trio of soft tacos included a perfectly browned Hokkaido scallop with pineapple salsa, diced Japanese sweet prawn with asparagus verde and the third one came with more of that silky salmon topped with some avocado. Each taco tasted like its ingredients were plucked fresh from the sea making this was a hard dish to share as each taco was a stand-out in its own right.
As we tried to divide up each taco the aquarium suddenly burst into life. It was feeding time and the previously calm fish quickly grouped into schools and started to swim themselves into a frenzy. The manta rays began gracefully swimming large loop-the-loops scooping up all the debris from the mêlée. It was quite a sight to watch as we finished of our meals. We had barely raised the last mouthful to our lips when our waitress came over informing us we had to make our way to leave shortly. I found it odd that we weren’t allowed to sit in the empty restaurant for a bit longer to digest our food and gaze on the spectacle in the tank. Upon asking this request I was told there was some training held during the hour they are closed and so all customers have to leave.
Despite being a bit of a whirlwind experience for us we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Ocean. If fish are your thing, a visit to the S.E.A. Aquarium is an absolute must-see sight of Singapore. Be sure to book a reservation at the Ocean restaurant at a time that affords a more relaxed normal style of eating than we had.
Travelling to Singapore? Be sure to checkout the Lonely Planet Singapore City Travel Guide before you go!Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora S.E.A. Aquarium Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore | 65-6577 8888 | www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/ThingsToDo/MarineLifePark/SEAAquarium Price: $$ Food: 3.5/5 (not exactly a fine dining experience but fresh produce and clean presentation) Service: 2.5/5 (maybe would have been less abrupt if we had dined at a more appropriate time) Ambience: 4.5/5 (be sure to get a table next to the aquarium) Drinks: 3/5 (hard to fully assess as ordered a glass of house white in a hurry) Total: 13.5/20
As much as I love my hometown of Perth, its distance behind larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne can be reflected in a number of ways in the culinary world. We lack any widespread prevalence of gourmet food trucks, Latin American cuisine barely makes a mention, we often pay high prices for poor customer service and sometimes poor quality food and finally, up until very recently we have had very few small bars worth a visit that are open beyond bedtime.
But with the new licensing laws brought in things are a’changing for little Perth and more and more funky small bars are popping up around the city and its surrounds. I have followed Frisk Small Bar on social media for some months but with all the wedding preparations absorbing my every waking minute we have had very little time to go out and explore new bars such as these.
It’s funny how sometimes the more you think of someone or something, fate seems to bring you together. Like how you will think of a friend you haven’t spoken to for months and then you bump into them at the shops. Well, strangely enough along those lines I received an email from Frisk inviting me to come and join them for a drink or two on the house. After initially having to cancel due to injuring my neck at my hen’s day, we rescheduled for a Friday night that just happened to occur at the end of a very hectic week for both of us.
Many years ago, long before the building that houses Frisk was built existed a night club called DCs. It was something of an institution amongst my friends and I and we spent many of our weekends in our twenties partying under their roof until the sun came up. This is the place where many friendships were formed, relationships made and broken and brings a nostalgic smile to my face. When the building was originally bulldozed to make way for apartments it felt like an end of an era. As I took my seat at Frisk’s bar it dawned on me that I was sitting on what once was the dance floor and it made me so glad that at least it was put to good use.
Frisk’s bar houses more gins than you could shake a stick at so it seemed logical that this should be the theme of our night. I started off with the WA Gimlet; a refreshing cocktail made with locally distilled Westwinds Cutlass gin, fresh lime and basil and rose marmalade. The hints of herbs left a clean after-taste and put me in a brighter and energising mood for the evening.
The Boy’s cocktail was not on the menu and was one of our bartenders Will’s own creations. He called it his twist on a South side. Traditionally made with gin, sugar, mint and lemon, this thirst quenching beverage had Will’s own special mix of syrup containing chilli, cinnamon and other sweet spices. This lifted the whole perspective of this popular drink to another superior level. He used a “Mediterranean gin” called Gin Mare which is additionally quite fragrant and added further botanical layers of rosemary, olives, thyme and basil.
Although the Boy’s cocktail was in no way a girlie drink, one was definitely enough for him and he began to peruse over the beer menu. Allowing a re-run of Chompchomp roulette, Will and I selected the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for him to try. Neither of us had even heard of this beer before and we were surprised to it is considered one of the top craft breweries in the USA with their Pale Ale being the second best-selling craft beer in the US.
After my energising first round I was ready for something a bit more intense. I chose the Aphrodite’s Martini which contained Isfjord gin, Antica vermouth, Aphrodite Ginger bitters and grapefruit. Moving from a West Australian gin to one distilled in the Arctic I could taste the flavour becoming pronouncedly smoother. Further interesting flavours from the bitters brought hints of chocolate, coffee and chill which rounded off perfectly with the citrus notes of the grapefruit. A masterpiece but not one for the light hearted. A few more of these and I wouldn’t be heading into to work that following morning. Well at least not in any good form! Aphrodite’s Martini will remain on Frisk’s cocktail menu for the duration of March as part of the Eat Drink Perth 2013 celebrations.
A little peckish by this point in time, we were recommended to head over to Casa Mexicana El Compa. Having experience both highlights and lowlights of Mexican food when dining locally in Vic Park we were keen to see how others fared compared to our experiences.
We started off with some appetisers or “botana”. We chose four types of dips; guacamole, arroz a la Mexicana; red rice, carrot and peas, Frijoles Charros; slow cooked black beans with chorizo and Esquites; stripped sweet corn, mayo and piquin chile. None of the dips had very strong flavours and had to be supplemented with the free sauces provided on the side to avoid being too bland.
Our next dishes came highly recommended by our vivacious waitress; some “sopes”. These are a form of Mexican street food consisting of a fried corn tortilla topped a variety of different options. We chose the vegetarian sope topped with refried beans, lettuce, sour cream and cheese. The crunchy base gave way to an interesting mix of textures but once again I felt that the flavours were a little lacking and found myself heaping more of the complimentary sauces on top to give more depth and heat.
Following on from our sope, we ordered a couple of tacos to share. Having loved our experience of taco nopales at That Little Mexican Place we were keen to order them again. These were served with refried beans, cheese and coriander. I was able to taste more of the cactus’s flavour this time; they resembled a pleasant form of bitter green beans.
Our dose of meat for the night was the pork tacos. The soft handmade taco was topped with orange marinated slow cooked pork served with cubes of apple. I had to negotiate between the apple pieces as I try to avoid it due to a high fructose content leaving just the pork and the taco. I found the pork to be quite dry and tough considering it was slow cooked something that usually results in melt in your mouth tenderness.
Although I know we will be back to Frisk soon to try a few more of their wondrous ginny cocktails, with a number of good Mexican options around town we will probably give Casa Mexican a miss.Frisk! Small Bar Northbridge 103 Francis Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | www.frisksmallbar.com.au Price: $$ ($17-20 cocktails, $8-11 beer, $2-9 small bites) Food: Unable to assess Service: 4/5 (these guys know their liquor!) Ambience: 4/5 (busy for the whole time we were there, happy non-pretentious customers) Drinks: 9/10 (using the finest ingredients and a personal flair gives amazing results) Total: 17/20
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest at Frisk Small Bar and received all drinks complimentary however she paid in full for her meal at Casa Mexicana El Compa.
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.
My sister’s impromptu and random visit to Perth for New Year’s seemed to keep getting extended longer and longer. Surely she has a job back in Melbourne to return to? My sister and I had partied fairly hard and fast for five days straight leaving us both a bit scattered and sleep deprived. At the end point of all this, both the boy and I had to return to work whilst my sis remained on her indefinite holiday.
The problem is when you are of one of the only poor souls who have to return to work whilst being surrounded by those still in holiday mood; you completely lose your chance to chip away at your own personal sleep debt. Eventually you may find you get a second wind of energy (or be it a third wind, or in this case – I actually think I lost track of the number). The boy had matters made even worse for him by missing out on most of it after contracting a gastro bug that floored him for over five days.
After my literally scorching experience at Pancho’s, I really wanted to redeem Mexican cuisine for myself. Remaining local, we strolled down to the Broken Hill Hotel for a few pre-dinner drinks before heading to That Little Mexican Place. Immediately, the differences to the mainstream Pancho’s became glaringly apparent to me. Although TLMP was similarly filled to capacity, there was no fluoro paint on blackboards, there were no glowing happy hour cocktails, and there was most definitely no cheesy 80’s music playing. Instead we were greeted by a cosy and sublime vibe that left you feeling like you had stumbled upon one of Perth’s best kept little secrets. TLMP’s humble beginnings started with their tiny restaurant opening over on Fitzgerald Street in North Perth and in more recent years they have expanded over to the south into Vic Park. The owners have spent some time travelling around Mexico where they ate their way around the country to eventually return back to Perth bringing all the flavours and ideas back with them.
Being BYO, we stopped by the Broken Hill bottle shop and bought a bottle of West Cape Howe 2010 “Styx Gully” Chardonnay. I thought this subtly oaked wine produced by one my favourite wineries from the Great Southern region was sure to satisfy my sister’s palate but I was informed it was too fruity for her liking. I thought the citrus was as subtle as the oak but I’m no wine expert and everyone palate is different.
Service was bubbly and helpful with the waitress returning from the kitchen with a whole list of dishes suitable for our no gluten and no onion requirements. I was actually quite impressed with the amount of choice we had with ordering as the waitress explained that they make most of their dishes fresh.
Their guacamole is made fresh “a la mesa” (at your tableside) and is served with house made tortilla chips. Serving tableside always reminds me of Hell’s Kitchen – Chef Ramsey is a keen fan of this however our waitress looked much more relaxed in front of us compared to Ramsey’s contestants in his show! This guacamole was exceedingly better than that at Pancho’s, the serving was about three times the size and it was seasoned perfectly. Even better still, I received no oil burns or other injuries whilst eating it! (TLMP $16 compared to Pancho’s $15)
For entrée we ordered three dishes to share amongst the four of us in addition to the guacamole. The taquitos de Puerco was described as two crispy rolled tacos filled with shredded pork and topped with melted cheese and guacamole. Rather than drenching the crunchy little rolls in cheese and making them soggy, there was just an elegant drizzle and the taco was as crispy as a corn chip but wafer thin.
Tamales are a traditional Latin American dish made of “masa” which is a starchy type of dough that is steamed or boiled wrapped up in a leaf wrapper which is then discarded before eating. Tamales are often filled with a variety of things such as meat, cheese, fruit or vegetables. TLMP’s tamale was made with a duck confit dressed with an orange and chipotle salsa. This dish had a lot of warm in it due to the chipotle salsa which was strengthened by the acidity of the citrus. Very tasty.
We all got quite excited about the cactus tacos which escalated when we saw it was on the list of foods we could order! Despite all of us having a fair amount of travel under our belts – none of us had tried cactus before. These tacos were made using “nopales” which are from the fleshy pad like part of the prickly pear. They are a common feature in Mexican cuisine where they are farmed commercially. It was prepared with portabella mushrooms, a popular way to serve them, however I did find that the mushroom taste overpowered the flavour of the cactus. Not that I’m complaining – I absolutely love mushrooms – but I would have liked to be able to identify the flavours of the cactus. They are supposed to taste like a tarty version of green beans however our dish ended up with quite a mild and nutty flavour (possibly from the mushrooms). I will have to go back and try them again!
Continuing in my desire to establish a fair comparison of TLMP to Pancho’s, we ordered the sizzling prawns. Remember my experience back at Pancho’s? Think soggy vegetables, stale oil and defrosted seafood dripping in slop? Thankfully, as with rest of our dining experience at TLMP, this dish was a winner. The vibrant colouring of the achiote paste also gave this dish a very distinct flavour. The combination of spices produced a fair bit of heat which the boy doesn’t tolerate well and I looked over to see the familiar sight of him poking his tongue out in attempts to cool his mouth down! (Sizzling prawns: TLMP $22, Pancho’s $27)
Lamb shank dishes are nearly invariably off the menu for a fructose malabsorber due to the presence of onion contained in most stocks. So when we saw that the shanks also featured on our list of acceptable dishes – there was minimal discussion, it was a done deal. It was a very good choice. The meat fell off the bone easily and was exceedingly tender.
The triple cheese enchiladas were a bit of a naughty treat ordered due to our interest in jack cheese as this was another thing we hadn’t tried. Despite all the cheese, this dish was surprisingly not too oily or fatty. Because all the cheese melted into one, once again I found it difficult to place the taste of the jack cheese alone. Another excuse for a return visit I guess!
The ceviche was my least favourite dish of the evening. After experiencing such amazing spices and flavours contained in the other dishes we had ordered, delicate fish with sweet mango was simply overpowered by all the other excitement on my palate.
All the authentic Mexican desserts on the menu were not gluten free so reluctantly I had to order the only option which was the berry pannacotta. It was delicious but it wasn’t the right shape or texture for a pannacotta. I wish churros were gluten free!
By contrasting my two dining experiences at Pancho’s and That Little Mexican Place, I appreciate that I may appear to some to be comparing apples with oranges, or chalk and cheese; but here is a little piece of advice for those who believe they are happily sacrificing quality in the manner of a cheap night out at Pancho’s, you may be very mistaken. When comparing simple dishes like the guacamole and the sizzling prawns, TLMP won the fight hands down on both taste AND price. I guarantee I won’t return to Pancho’s again, but I certain my curiosity will drag me back to That Little Mexican Place. And probably more than once!Price: $$$ ($12-18 Entrée, $17-26 Mains) Food: 4/5 (a distinct lack of slops and sour cream) Service: 4/5 (very accommodating ) Ambience: 3.5/5 (a packed restaurant gives good vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (you can BYO your tequila and they make margaritas for you!) Total: 15.5/20 That Little Mexican Place | http://www.tlmp.com.au 279 Albany Highway, Victoria Park | (08) 9472 0767 382 Fitzgerald Street, North Perth | (08) 9227 5755
I have been keen to try the popular V Burger Bar for absolutely ages, so after creating much hype with the boy all day (including performing a little dance that he calls my Homer dance), we journeyed down to the Albany Highway café strip to give their burgers a shot. To my extreme disappointment I was to find they had run out of gluten-free buns! I was so devastated! I had been conjuring up images of sinking my teeth deep into a juicy burger for much of the day and nearly stamped my feet like a child in the middle of the restaurant due to my exasperation.
Walking out of the restaurant I could see the dismay on the boy’s face too. I know how much he loves nachos, so I made what ended up being a very bad decision and suggested we stroll over to Pancho’s Mexican Villa instead. We walked by all the tried and tested Thai and other Asian joints and walked down the dirty mall corridor into a packed and noisy restaurant.
Service started off a little slow leaving us sitting thirsty and peckish for long enough to notice. As I perused the menu I was pleased to see there were plenty of gluten-free options and figured that all I needed to do was stay well away from any salsas to avoid the onion. We started off with some strawberry daiquiris – this is the boy’s favourite drink when we were in Thailand. Unfortunately none of our memories came flooding back to us when presented with this toxic looking beverage. It came out a strange bright fluorescent red colour and was sickeningly sweet presumably with the A to Z of all things artificial. Not exactly my kind of drink but with a half of a bottle of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay already in me I was willing to compromise and just go with the flow.
For entrées we ordered some dips with corn chips and some potato skins to share. Our dips came out after a short delay without the accompanying potato skins entrée. As we chatted and tapped our feet to the horrific mix of 80’s tunes playing, we ate our first half of our entrée and I began to wish we had stopped at Little Ying Thai instead. The corn chips tasted commercially made and the dips were very oily and bland. The guacamole was basically just mashed avocado with minimal lemon juice, tomato, spices or salt added. The Queso dip tasted like the plastic cheese that you get in little cheese sticks for children’s lunch boxes but melted down into goop a bowl. I avoided most of the chilli con carne dip as I figured it would most likely have some onion in it. I had a very small taste of it which proved to be watery and as tasteless as the rest of the dips.
As we nibbled away and wondered where our skins were, a waiter zoomed past our table with a sizzling plate of hot food. As he walked past us big spats of hot oil came showering over the top of me and left a couple of blisters on my neck. I wasn’t sure if I was being a bit of a sook but it was stinging a fair bit! The boy gave a quick glance at my neck in the dim light and could see little blisters starting to form on my skin! I gestured to the waiter and explained to him what had happened. He said he would talk to his manager however unfortunately that was all we heard from him all night. No apology was forthcoming, nor was any discount or compensation offered.
Slowly but surely we managed to work our way through our fairly dismal entrées. We are normally fairly speedy eaters but these dips were by no means delicious. Finally our mains were brought to our table however we were still without our second entrée. We let the waiter know that we were expecting another entrée and we were informed that it was on the way.
I ordered the Cajun camarons – this was described on the menu as northwest sizzling prawns, dusted in spices, served with rice and vegetables. I figured a meat dish with spices and no sauces would be an easy way to avoid onion as it was already marked on the menu as gluten-free. The prawns came out sizzling in about half a cup of stale oil which drenched through the whole remainder of the dish. The vegetables that accompanied the meal consisted of a soggy slop of cooked grated carrot, zucchini and capsicum with micro-heads of mushy broccoli. It was so overcooked the vegetables had progressed in texture to become more of a stringy mash. The oil from the prawns soaked right through the vegetables to give everything on the plate an unpleasant and nearly rancid aftertaste. The rice was about the only thing edible on the plate and although that was a little overcooked; in my hunger I still ate it.
The boy ordered his beef nachos. They were unmemorable and a bit soggy and he had very little to comment about them at all.
Once we had both finished our main meals our second entrée finally appeared. At this point in time we had to laugh. I was expecting some crisp skins, ones that you could eat with your fingers – a little like wedges but less meaty, with maybe some kind of sauce (we chose beef). Nothing prepared me for the mountain of mush that was put in front of us. We started to eat it but found all the oil, cheese and sour cream piled high on top of a barely existent poor potato skin proved as inedible as the rest of our meals. I gestured to the waiter to take it away before I started to feel ill.
It has been nearly ten years since I have eaten Mexican – we ate it often when we lived in London as there were a couple of favourite places we used to visit. I am reluctant to even eat it again after this experience but we are going to give it another shot and hit up another Mexican place in my next blog …. Stay tuned……Price: $$ ($10-16 Entrée, $17-27 Mains) Food: 0.5/5 (near on revolting) Service: 2/5 (service with a smile and a scar to make sure you never forget) Ambience: 3/5 (a packed restaurant gives good vibe) Drinks: 2/5 (too toxic and artificial for me but cheap) Pancho’s Mexican Villa Restaurant 885 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9361 2135 | www.panchos.com.au