This blog post is the second in my series for this year’s Mushroom Mania. The month kicked off in full force commencing with my visit to the picturesque Millbrook Winery where we wined and dined until we nearly exploded. We even managed to successfully forage some wild field mushrooms from their stunning property. From there my madness for mushrooms continued and I posted my first recipe detailing how I cooked up these freshly picked delights. Don’t forget you can also go a little mushroom mad as there are over 2000 participating restaurants all over Australia serving up a variety of mushroom themed recipes. You can even win a $150 dinner voucher; see the end of this post for more.
I cannot deny that for once in a blue moon neither one of us were up for a night out. The Boy had been struggling to shake off a flu that had lingered all week. He had resultantly dosed himself up on cold and flu which only served to give him a few hours of relief each time. I had managed to only catch a very mild bout of his illness presumably because I had already been sick several times this year. However I had inadvertently poisoned myself with some gluten the night prior at the Good Food and Wine Show. One hour before we were to leave the house my whole face randomly broke out in large welts and my eyes puffed up like those of a gold fish. Not the makings for an attractive couple really, were we?
Refusing to be beaten, I prayed for dim lighting as the Boy chowed down on more cold and flu and out we headed to Divido in Mount Hawthorn. The restaurant glowed with subdued soft lighting and although I knew the quality of my photos were going to suffer a little, I was much relieved to be able to hide under its cloak of poor visibility.
On the weekend Divido offer an option of either degustation for $95 or a three course meal for $80. Neither of us felt like we had the room for a full dego so we opted to extend the three courses to four as an in-between compromise. Better still, this enabled me to select three wonderful mushroom dishes to enjoy! While we waited our waiter brought some handmade sourdough with olive oil and balsamic to our table. It smelt absolutely amazing! Being unable to eat normal bread for many years now, I’m not ashamed to at least enjoy its smell. The Boy gave me funny looks as I picked up a soft piece of bread and deeply inhaled its glorious aroma. Surely he must be used to my antics by now?
My first entrée was the beef carpaccio. I was crossing my fingers I wouldn’t get the same overly lemony acidic version I received at Villa D’Este recently. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed; soft elegantly thin slices of dark red beef were complimented with richly flavoured porcini mushrooms and topped with the freshest greenest rocket I have seen for a while. Shavings of parmesan polished this dish off to perfection.
The Boy ordered the baked Cloudy Bay clams. This was served in its clay pot and contained some interesting combinations of flavours with tomato, okra and fennel seeds. It had a garlic breadcrumb crust adding in a crunchier texture to the softer elements underneath.
I realise I have already made most of you drool over my fabulous mushroom risotto at Millbrook Winery last week, however I couldn’t go past ordering it again this time round after our waiter informed me it contained some Manjimup black truffle. The inside of a truffle always amuses me as recall our pathology wet lab classes back in Vet School. The intricate patterning of the black truffle reminds me somewhat of the cross-section of a brain.
Luckily for me these thoughts have absolutely no effect on my appetite, it takes a lot more than that to put me off my food as many of my work companions can tell you! The rice wasn’t gluggy whatsoever and maintained its “al dente” texture while still having that creaminess of a good risotto. I was delighted at the generosity of shavings of truffle despite this only being an entrée serve. The earthy flavours of the truffles lingered long on my palate and I was so pleased there would be more to come in my choice of main.
The Boy was obviously in the mood for some seafood and ordered the pansotti with prawns, local blue swimmer crab and mussels for his next dish. Pansotti are a type of triangular-shaped ravioli and these were filled with the Greek purée skordalia. The poor guy had such a blocked nose he was unable to tell me what sort of skordalia was inside the soft folds of fresh pasta, but traditionally it is usually made from garlic, potatoes and some vinegar.
My main meal was the fish of the day, and gazing across the room I could see I wasn’t the only one who thought it sounded good. A fresh flaky fillet of locally caught Pink Snapper was baked inside baking paper, a style the Italians like to call “al Cartoccio”. Cooking al Cartoccio helps to maintain the dish’s moisture and preserves the intensity of its natural flavours. Inside my paper package was a multitude of mushrooms including porcini, field, shitake, enoki and button mushrooms. They each had their own degree of potency in taste and texture. Of course the highlight was more (yes more) shaving of black truffle.
The Boys’ main dish of wood roasted duck was served with buckwheat polenta and a porcini sauce with mustard fruits and spring onions. The duck was moist and tender, falling off the bone easily and I had to beg him for a small mouthful to taste. I’m not sure if his taste buds were a little dulled by his flu because he wasn’t as wowed by this dish as I would have expected given its mouth-watering appearance. My single taste of it was divine so I going to consider that he just may not have been able to sense all the flavours properly through his snuffles and sickness. Poor love.
For sides we ordered the spiced pumpkin with chick peas, mint and almonds. This dish was surprisingly moreish and despite our bursting waistlines we managed to finish it all off. The chickpeas tasted really fresh not quite like any I have tasted before, and the Moroccan style spices coated each piece of pumpkin perfectly.
At this point, we really didn’t have much room left for more food. To be honest, in hindsight we really should have stuck to one entrée each not two! Why do we always order too much food? After a brief gaze over the dessert menu, I couldn’t really see anything that was obviously gluten free so I asked our waitress for some advice. She went off to have a chat to the chef and soon returned to let me know that although nothing on their menu was gluten free, the chef was happy to make a gluten free alternative called zabaione especially for me. I was told that the chef has done this many times before for gluten free customers. I really love chefs with this can-do attitude!
After a short wait, out comes the most gorgeous looking dessert for me to enjoy. For once my dessert was the envy of all instead of the other way round! Zabaione is a dairy free, gluten free Italian egg custard made from egg yolks, sugar and Moscato. It was accompanied by strawberry compote, scoops of soft icy sorbet and topped with some pistachios. Heaven! Give me zabaione any day!
Although the Boy’s walnut torta looked pretty good, but I can’t deny I felt it appeared a little lacklustre in comparison to my deliciousness! It came with a scoop of cardamom ice cream and was drizzled in sticky Muscat compote. He was way too full to finish it off but made a pretty good effort considering how unwell he was. He had barely eaten anything the past few days so I was happy to see him eat a good hearty meal. Fingers crossed this is the last of the winter ailments and we can both get back on track for some healthiness again.
This restaurant was reviewed as part of Mushroom Mania month which is happening all across Australia during July 2012. There are over 2000 participating restaurants including many all over Western Australia. The website also has some delicious mushroom recipes so make sure you check it out.
You don’t have to be a blogger to win either! Just write a short review on a mushroom dish you enjoyed during the Mushroom Mania Month of July and you could win a $150 Best Restaurants of Australia Gift Card.
Click here for details.
Chompchomp dined at Divido with compliments of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association.Divido 170 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9443 7373 | www.divido.com.au Price: $$$ (Three courses $85, Degustation $95 or $140 with matched wines) Food: 4.5/5 (flexible chef, hearty Italian dishes with a modern flair) Service: 4/5 (occasionally a bit disjointed but very knowledgeable and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (cosy, inviting and relaxing) Drinks: 4.5/5 (lots of champagne to choose from. Very happy with this!) Total: 17/20
I was woken up abruptly at around 3am feeling very nauseous and sweaty with my stomach churning and cramping. I had a big day ahead of me with a number of appointments booked at bridal boutiques and I refused to accept that anything could ruin this special day. I gobbled down some antacid tablets and managed to scull a few mouthfuls of Gaviscon. I lay still in bed hoping that my increasing desire to vomit would pass and that I would at least get a couple more hours of sleep before I had to rise in the morning for what would be a very busy day!
The sun rose a few sleepless hours later and I continued to try to force myself into believing I felt ok but to no avail. Our first appointment time crept up way too quickly such that I was relieved to get a message from Kate saying she had slept in and was running late as I was struggling to get going myself. She cancelled the first booking for me and embarking in the pouring rain we managed to make it to our second booking. Woozy and achy I worked my way through so many dresses as best I could and prayed I wouldn’t vomit when the assistant cinched the dress as tight as she could to “show off my figure”. The problem with our first two boutiques was that their display dresses were all size 12s and they were all far too large, so the girls in the store would clamp the dress with a bundle of clips and pins. From this I was supposed to be able to visualise what the right size dress would look like! A very difficult task indeed, especially with a gastro developing in the mist.
As an interlude to all this rushing around Kate suggested we look along Scarborough Beach Road for a gluten-free café she recalled seeing previously. We initially stopped in at the New Norcia Bakehouse where the only gluten-free options they had to offer were a selection of cakes. Given the state of my stomach I wasn’t one to brave the stickies and we continued further down the road. We stumbled upon Cultural Tastes which is both a shop and café rolled into one.
I walked in presuming that my on-the-spot demands for no wheat, no gluten, no onion and all the rest would be too big an ask for such a small quaint little café. To my delight I was met with a series of “of course, no problems” to all of my requests – no onion in the omelette, gluten-free toast, and finally a freshly juiced fruitless, fructose friendly drink made especially for us with carrot, celery and ground coriander.
Our omelette came out quickly and was fresh and piping hot, full of delicious roasted vegetables and packed with flavour. The side salad was crisp and dressed thoroughly but not excessively so. The gluten-free bread was the only downside of the meal and could be improved.
Our juices were divine. Iced and not watery; the dash of ground coriander gave it an ideal flavour boost. They were a refreshing improvement on my own concoctions at home for sure. Thankfully our rest stop saved the day and gave me enough energy to solder on and continue our journey.
Our last stop was at Fara Couture, where our appointment had fortunately been changed to later in the day. This allowed my darling bestie/personal chauffeur for the day to take me home for an exhausted slump on the couch for a few hours before braving the bridal world once more. We received a warm and animated welcome from Fara herself who had opened the store on her day off for us and another bride to be. I noted her dresses were all a little bit different from the bog-standard ones we had looked at over the course of the day. I also liked the idea she makes them all herself rather than outsourcing overseas. We have definitely found a couple of potentials but I’m not ready to stop looking by any means yet…..Cultural Tastes 167 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9242 1688 Price: $$ (I was too sick to remember to take a pic of the menu but it came to $40 for 2 omelettes, 2 juices and a coffee) Food: 3/5 (great omelette, they need to source better GF bread though) Service: 3.2/5 (not overtly friendly but very accommodating) Ambience: 3/5 (quaint little courtyard out the back in the sunshine) Drinks: 3.5/5 (I didn’t get to try their coffee due to my illness but the juice was excellent) Total: 12.7/20