Reflecting back on last year I have a mixed bag of emotions. It was a roller-coaster experience of opportunity coupled with some of my darkest times in years. I expected 2014 to be a wonderful year of post–wedding bliss but sadly the Boy and I were not that lucky. A family feud that commenced in the months before our wedding resulted in my family fragmenting apart, and then to add to this heartbreak my business came very close to a similar fate. Worst of all, one of my friends was tragically killed in a horrific car accident.
Whilst trying to deal with all of this turmoil, I injected my energy into writing and saw this humble blog blossom into something even my critical mind can be proud of.
As direct result of such a year I neglected spending time with many of my friends. The only occasions I would see many of them would be at invited foodie events and even then this would be a rushed and distracted moment in time.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend my time more wisely and make more effort to hang with those I heart. Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and Perth Food Truck Rumble is one of the first food bloggers that I became close friends with. We first met after both being accepted to attend Eat Drink Blog ‘12 in Adelaide. Both being a little quirky in our own individual ways, we connected immediately and have been great friends ever since.
Following with my New Years promise to myself, I met with Ai-Ling for a ladies lunch at Circa in Mount Lawley. Being able to chat without all the fan fare of an official foodie event was such a better way to share company. I need to make time to do this more often.
Circa do not indicate on their menu gluten free options however after a brief chat to our waitress she was confidently able to let me know what I could have. She showed a deeper level of understanding of what constitutes a gluten free dish explaining that some dishes don’t contain gluten however they will still have some contamination and therefore would not be suitable for Coeliacs and those very sensitive.
The chicken parfait was served with toasted gluten free bread. We were kindly offered normal bread for Ai-Ling to enjoy and each serve of bread was served on separate plates to ensure no mixing of crumbs. The parfait was velvety smooth and reminded me of the enormous dish Mum always makes for us around Christmas time. She does everything from scratch and we eat parfait on toast for days until it’s all devoured.
For our main we shared the roasted duck, a tender slightly pink breast served on cauliflower purée and charred cabbage with a sweet apricot jus. Not the most fructose friendly of choices but I have been eating so much vegan dishes in my post-Christmas guilt that I was craving some poultry.
Sadly we ran out of time to hit the dessert menu. I don’t think there was a silent moment for the whole two hours that we sat together and it felt like our time was over in a flash. Of all the lessons I learnt last year, one of those is that life can be short. Sometimes a lot shorter than you were ever expecting. Taking time out from the rat race of life to laugh, connect and share with those you love is so important.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for this meal as a gesture of friendship however also because Ai-Ling actually ran out of time and had to race off for an appointment. Time really did escape us!
After nearly sixteen years of togetherness, the Boy and I still manage to find ways to surprise each other. Gestures of love can be as small as grabbing an unrequested favourite snack at the local deli right through to spontaneous bouquets of flowers, presents and most excitingly degustations! The Boy has always claimed to not be a dessert person however over recent months I realise this is not actually the case. He certainly doesn’t like your more traditional stodgy cakes and puddings but he is more than happy to fight me spoon for spoon for something fancier and somewhat de-constructed.
For Valentine’s Day this year I thought I would take a punt and secretly book us a table at Rochelle Adonis for their sensuous aphrodisiac laced dessert degustation. Having already blogged about Rochelle Adonis several times, I didn’t want to ruin the mood of our romantic evening with a series of photo shoots and although I brought my camera with me I didn’t really take my photography seriously. Our evening turned out to be such a beautiful experience that despite the poor quality of my images I am happy to swallow my pride and share it with you. You may notice that the quality of photos deteriorates further more as the night goes on and my attention gets dragged away.
Every course was careful created to enhance the love in the air using ingredients designed to tantalise the senses. We had our own private table out in the courtyard surrounded by fairy lights and scented candles. It felt like we were in our own little world and let all our cares and worries of the week wash away as we soaked up the romantic atmosphere.
Our first course started off with glasses of Mumm champagne paired with spoons of dreamy coloured spheres. Each sphere was flavoured differently and burst in the mouth to reveal three flavours; strawberry and slow gin, mango and triple sec, and clove, honey apple and whisky.
It felt like a boozy version of bubble tea which many of you know I absolutely love. In fact any food or drink that involves little burstable spheres excites me!
The second component to this course was hidden in two bright red envelopes. Inside each envelope was a square of paper thin Rochelle Adonis nougat and a pen with edible ink.
We wrote little love notes to each other and exchanged before eating them. The nougat was softly flavoured with clove and nutmeg.
As the sun set, we were left with only the flickering light of the candles and soft glow of the fairy lights so we inched our chairs closer together ready for the next course. It was titled “Orange flower honey, peach and almond”. As pretty as I would always expect from this team, this dish contained a soft crumbled base of malted almond crumbs, poached peach slivers, honey, cinnamon and ginger. It was finished with a smooth peach and cognac gel and garnished with shards of peach meringue.
The third course was one of my favourites; lovingtons. It was no problem for the chef to convert this gorgeousness to be gluten free and I was thankful for their efforts. A lovable heart-shaped lamington played centre stage for this dish and it was filled with yuzu curd and dipped in raspberry gel. It lay innocently on a raspberry “cloud” that contained a surprise of lychee parfait inside it. Mango puree and mandarin snow added sweet and citrusy notes to the dish. It was garnished with blueberries, lychee and raspberries. This had a serious wow factor!
To break the dessert degustation into two, our next course was a savoury course; cheese. Well cheese IS part of a proper dessert isn’t it? This was the only course that the gluten free option looked any different from the Boy’s. For everything else the chef managed to make our dishes appear the same. There was no missing out for me on this dego! The Boy received Fourme d’Ambert filled cannoli with a fig and salsa verd, whipped triple cream goats cheese infused with caraway and porcini with a beetroot sponge, and his favourite a gruyere stuffed zucchini flower.
The highlight of my gluten free cheese course was humbly described by our waitress as a gruyere cheese toasty. It was a small, wafer thin rectangle of gluten free bread topped with cheese that in all honesty initially made me think … “Really?”
That was until I bit into it.
How could something so thin and little still contain all the vital aspects of texture and flavour of a perfect cheese toasty? The outside was crunchy crisp, the inside oozed gooey, cheesy goodness and there was enough flavour to knock my socks off.
There were two other components on my cheese course. Creamy blobs of Cashel blue contrasted wondrously with the sweetness of fresh figs and salsa verd. The Lingot triple cream goats cheese was served deconstructed with gluten free quinoa croutons and golden baby beets.
To move our palates back to the realm of sweets we were provided with one of Rochelle’s signature styled sorbets. Everywhere we go recently we have been drinking Pimm’s cocktails laced with fresh fruit and it was a lovely coincidence to see it feature in the sorbet.
Perfectly light and nearly fizzy, the sorbet was made with strawberry and orange and coated with borage snow. Cleansed and refreshed we were ready for more dessert!
While waiting for our next course we couldn’t help ourselves from opening our salted caramels and devouring them. Unlike a lot of chewy hard caramels these were buttery soft and dissolved in the mouth. They were a perfect match with the Stella Bella Pink Muscat I had sneakily stashed in my handbag in case we drank our way through the provided champagne.
Our pre-dessert was made from blood plums, apricot and rosemary. A tart strap of blood plum “leather” and compote was paired with a creamy rosemary white chocolate mousse, green apple gel and apricot “fluff”. It was a gentle transition to take us to the last but not least course.
As our final dish arrived I was amazed that despite enjoying six courses of dessert, I was left just as satisfied as if it were a “normal” degustation. Each plate had brought with it a mini-journey for the senses and I was excited to see how it all would end. Regrettably for you dear readers, my mind was taken far away from focusing on obtaining you some beautiful photos, in fact it seemed far away from focus altogether! I was too lost in enjoying the emotions and happiness we both felt for each other and in the sheer enjoyment of this last scrumptious finale. The last dish was titled “Roses and red and violets are blue, once I had a shattered heart and now I’m with you.”
Using Valrhona’s 64% Ariguani chocolate the chef created an incredible “shattered mousse” adorned with rose petals. It was sided by a chunk of Rochelle Adonis’s signature chocolate cake blushed with brilliant coloured strawberry powder. Next to these delicacies sat a tear drop shaped ampoule that was filled with rose water. The idea was to shatter the ampoule over the dessert enhancing it with gentle flavour.
I have been told by others that have previously done a dessert degustation that it isn’t for the light hearted. However after sharing this experience with someone who claims to not even be into desserts I can safely say this is not the case. Our evening was one of the best nights out we have had in a long time and couldn’t have come at a better time for us.Happy Valentine’s to the best husband in the world. You are my best friend and my one true love. I love you and I love my life with you. Rochelle Adonis’s dessert degustation was $338 per couple and included a bottle of Mumm champagne. We would both like to extend a massive thank you to the whole team at Rochelle Adonis for making this one of our best Valentines to date; you have excelled yourselves once again. For more on Rochelle Adonis head over to my previous posts: High Tea at Rochelle Adonis October 2011 Returning to Rochelle Adonis for High Tea September 2012 Rochelle Adonis’s House Warming Party July 2013 Rochelle Adonis | (08) 9227 0007 | 2 St Albans Avenue, Highgate WA 6003 | rochelleadonis.com
Having food intolerances can be a real pain if you also happen to be a foodie. Over the years I have learnt not to get fixated with a particular dish on the menu as there is always a good chance that I won’t be able to eat it. Some restaurants are compassionate of our allergic needs and clearly identify the gluten free dishes on their menu which makes ordering food so much easier. I look forward to the day I see a fructose friendly marked menu.
Thankfully, my fructose malabsorption causes me much less severe symptoms than my gluten intolerance does. Provided that I strictly avoid all gluten, I can afford to occasionally be a little lenient on the fructose. We were recently invited to Foodie Craving’s Crust Gourmet Pizza store in Mount Lawley to give feedback on their new free WIFI installed in store. The event didn’t start until 8pm so the Boy and I decided to stop en route to Solomon’s Café on Beaufort Street. The concept of an entirely gluten free restaurant is one that already gives me warm fuzzies, but at Solomon’s Café it is also all organic AND dairy free – it almost sounds too good to be true!
Knowing we had an evening of pizza feasting ahead of us, we planned to have a light snack only but as is often the case we may have ended up ordering a bit more than we necessarily needed.
Maybe I should just blame it on the meal sizes? When I chose the raw zucchini pasta, I certainly wasn’t expecting the towering mountain that came to the table. Nor did I plan ahead and ask for the omission of onion. Having eaten raw zucchini pasta on several occasions myself at home, I have grown to really love the texture and will make a great effort to make sure each “pasta” strip is made from the entire length of the zucchini to give long luxurious spaghetti-like strands. For this time round I was disappointed to find my pasta was made from short, comparatively fat pieces of zucchini that would have only been about 6-7 centimetres long. It felt a bit like I was eating a grated zucchini salad. It was tasty, but not what I was anticipating.
The beetroot gnocchi was much more satisfying although that may be in part because I so rarely get to order gnocchi as most are made using wheat flour. They tasted a little doughy yet still had a light texture and matched well with the vegan pesto drizzled lavishly over the top.
As soon as I saw there were vegan nachos on the menu I had a gut feeling the Boy would order this for himself. I was quietly hoping he wouldn’t as we had only recently shared raw nachos at The Raw Kitchen the week before. I like to have interesting and different dishes to photograph and write about but he just wasn’t having it. It was a much bigger serve than The Raw Kitchen and he preferred the salsa as it was more flavoursome.
Continuing in our quest to try and abstain from alcohol for sixty days we each ordered a healthy antioxidant packed drink. I chose the “Bloody Detox” juice squeezed full of fructose friendly beetroot, carrot, celery, parsley, ginger and lemon. The Boy chose the vegan but creamy mango lassi made with mango, coconut milk, cinnamon, cardamom.
Pleasantly but not overly satiated we strolled up Beaufort Street to Crust. I was glad I had left a bit of room for some pizza as they always have plenty of gluten free options for me. The purpose of the evening was to trial run their new free in-store WIFI to assess how useful it would be for their customers and if it was easy to access without guidance.
As we made ourselves comfortable on the alfresco tables some starters were brought out including the gluten free oregano verdi and parmesan squares. All my vegan efforts were thrown out the window as I couldn’t refuse the offer of such cheesy deliciousness like this. Crust’s gluten free bases taste incredibly “normal” and fellow blogger Jacqui from Pantry in Suburbia commented how she couldn’t even tell it was gluten free.
After polishing off some starters we ran through an online questionnaire using the free WIFI. It was very simple to connect across the variety of devices everyone were using and the Internet speed was much quicker than my Optus 3G network. For the gluten free pizza option we chose the Szechuan Chilli Prawn. Crunchy spicy seasoned prawns were scattered generously over the gluten free pizza base along with fresh capsicum, bocconcini and sweet chilli, and then garnished with fresh lemon and chilli. This pizza has a bit of a kick to it and I highly recommend it for those who like a bit of heat.
Crust’s dessert pizzas unfortunately cannot be made gluten free as the gluten free bases are made off site in a gluten free environment to minimise any contamination. I looked on in envy as every devoured the Black Forest Crumble; a decadent dessert pizza layered with custard, mud cake and black cherries, topped with baked crumble, drizzled with berry coulis and dusted with icing sugar. Given that our small table managed to eat its way through two of these, I am guessing they were pretty damn good. Gluten free dessert options at Crust include their chocolate mousse and all their ice cream flavours. The chocolate mousse is by far my favourite. I love how there are numerous little chocolate nibs buried in the mousse.
Solomon’s Café is definitely worth a visit for anyone with dietary issues as the menu is designed for us. Better still they use organic ingredients without the high price tag you would expect. Whilst not all our dishes had a wow factor, I loved how I could order pretty much anything off the menu like back in the days before I knew about my intolerances. Total freedom without all the health issues that used to come with it!Solomon’s Café 487 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 7995 | Facebook Price: $$ (Mains $20-36, Sides/Small bites $5-12) Food: 3/5 (would prefer more vego options given niche target market) Service: 3.5/5 (slow to bring out meals however were packed) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy and vibrant) Drinks: 3.5/5 (both juice and smoothie options, fructose free options) Total: 13.5/20 www.crust.com.au
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
Many of you know I’m a big Rochelle Adonis fan, even Rochelle herself! So I was delighted to be invited to her “house warming” party on a blustery winter night at her new premises on Beaufort Street, Highgate. Located in a gorgeous character home and decorated with her exquisitely fine taste there was free flowing Mumm champagne for all and a gorgeous spread of all things sweet and adorable.
For more on Rochelle Adonis head over to my High Tea reviews:
High Tea at Rochelle Adonis October 2011
Returning to Rochelle Adonis for High Tea September 2012
Rochelle Adonis | (08) 9227 0007 | 2 St Albans Avenue, Highgate WA 6003 | rochelleadonis.com
A wonderful part of being a food blogger is discovering and connecting with other food blogs. The downside of this is that it is a time consuming business and on top of running a business, working full-time and maintaining my own blog; it is sometimes an uphill battle finding the time to read all posts from those I have grown to love and enjoy. Consequently I find myself grouping favourite blogs into the “must reads”, “read when you have time” and “visit occasionally” categories.
Chew Town is definitely in the first category for me. Not being excessively prolific in her posts, she posts often enough to support my interest without making it impossible for me to stay up to date. Her photography is breathtaking and she deservedly won 2nd prize for the photography awards at the Eat Drink Blog conference last year. But it’s not just her blog that is awesome. In sharing a number of common interests we created a foundation for the pen-pal styled friendship common to the blogging community which was finally made a reality thanks to the magic that was Eat Drink Blog 2012.
Originally from Perth, Amanda returned to the West for the silly season and thus we were determined to catch up despite my insane roster placing me on a run of 11 out of 12 days straight. The only time we could tally up was the morning of New Year’s Eve and we met at The Beaufort Street Merchant for some brunch. The Boy was sweet enough to drop me off and so bidding him farewell I said I’d meet him back at the same spot in an hour and a half.
I ordered the Chorizo and Manchego Spanish omelette. Foolish me, in my excitement and chatter I forgot to request no onion and it was a predominate ingredient. I still managed to successful pick the onion out and enjoy my meal. My serving size was absolutely enormous and would have easily fed two people even without the onions! Topped with a fresh crisp rocket salad and thick syrupy balsamic dressing this dish was quite an impressive sight. The toasted gluten free bread was spongy and light, with that springy resilience normal toast eaters take for granted.
Amanda ordered the toasted bagel which was served with hot smoked trout, slippery scrambled eggs and buttered leeks. Again the serving size was huge and all my hopes for getting her to help finish my own giant sized meal were squashed as she had trouble finishing her own.
Now those that know me well can appreciate that I can talk. Well, suffice to say Amanda gives me a run for my money. In what felt like half an hour, no less than two and half hours passed us by during which I had failed to observe 5 missed calls from the Boy who meanwhile was waiting in the heat out in the car for me. Eeeek. Am I the worst fiancé ever? After a number of failed attempts at contacting me, he decided to abandon ship and strolled up to the Queens where I found him enjoying a pint of beer under the water misters. Sheepishly guilty I hurried off to the bar to order the poor hungry man some food and more beer. I didn’t get a chance to stroll through the store at the back of The Beaufort Street Merchant and will be sure to return with an empty stomach and more time in the near future.The Beaufort Street Merchant 488 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 6299 | http://www.beaufortmerchant.com/ Price: $$ (Breakfast $15-22) Food: 4/5 (interesting options for breaky, large serves, fresh produce) Service: 2.5/5 (slow with taking drinks orders and with delivery of food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great vibe, noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (coffee strong and not too bitter) Total: 14/20
Many of you may know I grew up in Adelaide, the City of Churches. At the young and impressionable age of seventeen I left my family and friends behind in order to head west to study veterinary science. Although initially moving to the opposite side of our great continent was not easy, Perth has given me amazing opportunities, plenty of sunshine and most importantly has found me the love of my life.
In my earlier years in Perth I remained in close contact with very few of my school companions. In fact in all honesty, until the creation of Facebook I only stayed in touch with just one school friend; Lenni. Despite our homes being geographically separated by thousands of kilometres, over the years we have always managed to see each other at least once every twelve months or so.
When we were living in London she detoured to see me from Greece where she had attended a family wedding. We lived in a poky little bed-sit in South-east London which was situated upstairs from the 24 hour veterinary hospital in which I worked at. We only had enough room to fit a single blow up mattress on the floor and by the end of every night it would ensure to deflate itself. Dear Lenni never uttered a complaint. No room for luxury during these times!
Another time she flew over for a whirlwind trip down to Margaret River and Pemberton. Eager to show off my newly adopted home, I tried to squeeze everything into a tight 3 day schedule. For those who know these areas you will understand what a crazy schedule this was. We covered a LOT of ground!
Whenever I was visiting Mum in Adelaide, Lenni would always manage to fit me into her hectic on-call schedule for some late night drinks and a bite to eat. No matter how long between impromptu visits we would always manage to spend the whole time laughing and chattering late into the night. I would often wake up the next day with sore stomach muscles from too much giggling.
Fate has a way for bringing good friends together and in recent years Lenni’s career has also brought her to this state of opportunity. Being well overdue to see each other we met up one weeknight at Cantina 663 in Mount Lawley to enjoy some good food, wine and conversation.
I love eating out with someone who really enjoys their food. It is so much more pleasurable to take the time to savour all the flavours of a meal as opposed to quickly wolfing everything down. Better still, it allows you to analyse and really appreciate what you are devouring. Lenni is a gracefully slow eater and meals with her are always at an extended relaxed pace. Cantina 663 is perfect for this style of eating as much of their dishes are designed to share.
There was initially much confusion from our waiter upon ordering our food. At first, he gave me the impression that he was quite familiar with fructose malabsorption and advised me that there was only a couple of small nibbles I could have and nothing on the main menu. He told me as a replacement the chef was happy to specially make me a risotto for my main instead. As he walked away from our table I was left feeling a little bewildered as I have previously been able to eat a number of their menu items as much of it is gluten free. What made things worse was I didn’t feel like a risotto at all yet didn’t want to seem like a complaining ungrateful customer!
On further questioning I discovered that my waiter had presumed that fructose malabsorption meant I had a fruit allergy and couldn’t eat anything with any fruit at all. As many of the dishes contained citrus or lemon juice he thought that they would all be unsuitable. After giving him a brief run down on fructose malabsorption, he returned to the kitchen armed with a wealth of information on this frustrating condition and found out that there was indeed a lot more on the menu that I could eat. What a relief. I was starting to get a bit worried for a moment there!
The buttery smooth smoked salmon rillettes had the consistency of creamy pâté and smeared elegantly over the crusty charred bread. There was no gluten free bread available but when I booked the table a few days prior the waitress kindly advised me in advance and welcomed me to bring my own…which of course I forgot! Paired with crunchy liquoricy preserved fennel and a bottle of Grenache this was perfect dish to kick start our night.
The sauce for the roasted mushrooms contained onions so the chef served this on the side. Despite omitting this potentially key ingredient, the earthy mushrooms were still bursting with rich port flavoured juices. Shreds of buffalo mozzarella cut through the acidity of the dish leaving a lingering creaminess on the palate. A simple dish done well.
Lenni had the crisp pork belly with cotechino, potato hash and pickled onions. Nestled in amongst all these ingredients were finger like slivers of sweet Pink Lady apple. The crackling was as hard as toffee and snapped satisfyingly in the mouth with an audible crack. The meat lacked any unpleasant porky after-taste and the fat had emulsified to a custard-like texture. I was lucky enough to try a small sample denuded of any sauce and could see why she finished every morsel on her plate despite being very full!
I enjoyed the pan-fried barramundi served with an almond butter sauce laced with baby capers. The fish was normally accompanied with artichokes and asparagus which presumably wasn’t onion free so the chef made me a large garden salad instead. The fish had thin crispy skin yet the flesh remained flaky and delicate requiring minimal effort to reduce into bite size morsels. The nearly sweet almond sauce made this ordinarily light meal much more satisfying and I was contentedly full by the end.
Fructose malabsorption is by no means an easy intolerance to understand, and to an untrained ear the requirements are complicated and difficult. I was impressed that although our waiter’s initial presumptions regarding my diet were incorrect he put in the effort to understand the facts and find me something I would enjoy. We will most definitely be back again.
More on Cantina 663: Birthday Dinner at Cantina 663, Mount Lawley (March, 2012)Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | www.cantina663.com Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (they really need to consider stocking gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (bubbly, efficient, but a little confused with my food intolerances) Ambience: 4/5 (warm and cosy inside on a cold rainy night) Drinks: 4/5 (Interesting Portuguese, Spanish & Italian wines. Perfectly matched to the food) Total: 16/20
The Beaufort street festival has grown incredibly since its inception nearly three years ago thanks to a lot of hard work by a group of very dedicated people. Last year more than 80 000 people attended and this year’s attendance is expected to tip at about 100 000! The Festival captures the unique flair of the local community by embracing four faces of creative culture: independent local music, arts, fashion and food.
I am so disappointed that I will be missing the Festival this year as I will be overseas in Singapore, however just like the Mundaring Truffle Festival I will get there eventually! Thankfully I can still partake in a lot of the pre-Festival celebrations and the first of these was the Crust Pizza Tasting Session!
Foodie Craving’s Mount Lawley Crust Gourmet Pizza store will be positioned right in the heart of the Festival so she wanted some foodie opinions on what would be the best sizes and flavours to serve up to punters on the day. I was nominated as the gluten free taster and was more than happy to help 😉
We were entertained by the fabulous tunes of the stunning Nikki Dagostino on her accordion as we all stuffed our faces with lots and lots of piping hot pizzas.
My quest to find great tasting gluten free pizza has paralleled with Lancelot’s search for the Holy Grail. Up until this night I have been unable to find a gluten free pizza that has a base that doesn’t taste gluten free. Many of them have a strong doughy aftertaste; like they haven’t been cooked properly yet the crust is often very hard and chewy.
To my satisfaction, Crust’s gluten free bases tasted, well, like normal pizza! Even the scrutinising tastebuds of the Boy thought they were really delicious! He normally despites gluten free pizzas with a passion yet he helped eat most of my four full sized specially made pizzas with me. I spoke in detail with Foodie Cravings regarding their food preparation and was pleased to hear that her kitchen staff seem well versed in understanding gluten cross contamination and wear gloves to carefully handle the bases. A big (cheesy) thumbs up from me!
Of all the pizzas I tried, my favourite two were not the ones I would have expected. I am normally a supreme with anchovies kind of girl but I have to say my favourites were actually the vegie supreme and the pesto chicken club. Needless to say I did still enjoy them all. My night ended with some decadent gluten free chocolate mousse while the others devoured some incredible looking dessert pizzas. My goodness we were all so full by the end!
A big thankyou to Michelle and her hard working kitchen team for feeding us for the night and I hope we returned the favour by helping her select the finalists for the Festival!Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar Mount Lawley 69 Walcott St Mt Lawley 6050 | (08) 9227 1288 | www.crust.com.au
“The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” Elizabeth Foley
As a child I attended a school in Adelaide that started from pre-primary right through to Year 12. As a result there were a handful of us students who graduated from high school after spending 13 full years of schooling together. To add to that amazingness, a reasonable proportion of us who lived locally also went to the same kindergarten meaning we have known each other since we were only 4 years old!
I had planned to take a year off from study after matriculation therefore I felt no urgency to say goodbye to my lifelong friends at our valedictory dinner. To my shock my university deferral request was declined at the thirteenth hour and I had just a mere weeks’ notice to pack up my life and move to the other side of Australia where I knew nobody.
Cut to more recent times and thanks to social media I have reconnected with a lot of these friends of yesteryear and have delighted in catching up on nearly twenty lost years of contact. As most of us have dispersed ourselves around Australia and the wider world much of our contact with each other has been purely internet based. Consequently I’m sure you can imagine my total excitement when one of my childhood besties from this group informed me she was coming to Perth for the weekend on conference. She planned to stay with another close school friend of ours who has recently moved over here to Perth. Despite this other friend’s relocation, I have unfortunately only managed to catch up with her once since she settled here. I was so happy to be able to see them both; it looked like we were in for a great night out!
Of course I was nominated to select the venue so I suggested starting with a couple of rounds of drinks at Five Bar after which we would head across the road to Must Wine Bar, one of my favourite restaurants in Perth by far.
A lot can change in 18 years, and although we were extremely close for most of our childhood I wondered if we would easily reconnect or would there be some pauses of uncomfortable silence? I was almost a little nervous with anticipation that afternoon but immediately upon seeing her, my heart melt and there were no barriers or awkwardness. We embraced in a loving hug and I felt my eyes go a little hot with joy!
Over an hour zoomed by in the space of what felt like minutes as we all chattered away about old times; both good and bad. We finished our drinks and headed over to Must. I wasn’t the only one with food allergies this time round and I had chosen Must not only because they have amazing food, but because their ability to cater for people like me has never posed a problem.
All three of us girls ordered the prosciutto di Parma and beetroot salad for entrée. Soft, thin folds of sweet but salty prosciutto flopped gently on the plate with crisp radicchio. The flavours matched seamlessly with the dulcet beetroot and more briny parmesan.
The Boy’s eyes lit up when he saw the chicken liver parfait was truffled. I am so chuffed we both share this addiction. He received a reasonable sized serve for one but probably could have done with a touch more thick fluffy brioche to lovingly smear his parfait on.
For mains one of my friends and I both ordered the confit duck leg which was served with a parsnip purée, sautéed Brussel sprouts, black pig bacon and a Madeira jus. The duck was meltingly tender yet robust with the flavours further enriched by the black pig bacon. Black pig bacon comes from the Berkshire breed of pig which has a different proportion of intramuscular fat giving the meat a more flavoursome and moist texture compared to standard bacon. The Madeira jus gave a subtly sweet end on the palate.
The Boy and my other friend ordered the Must pork sausages. Two thick juicy sausages sat perched atop of a creamy sweet potato purée. Some confit fennel and herb salad completed this simple yet extremely tasty dish.
The night seemed to go by so quickly and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the time and it was creeping close to midnight! “Time flies when you’re having fun” as my Mum loves to say! We all agreed we were satisfyingly full and skipped dessert in favour of just tea and coffee. I was proud of Perth’s gastronomic capabilities to suitably impress my dear friends; I have a foodie reputation to uphold after all! I can always rely on Must to deliver from all angles: the food, the wine, the service, the ambience and most importantly an ability to accommodate allergies. An absolute must on everyone’s bucket list!Must Wine Bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $24-30, Mains $39-46) Food: 5/5 (After enjoying numerous meals here I cannot remember a bad one.) Service: 4.5/5 (Attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4.5/5 (Sublime, classy and very French) Drinks: 4.5/5 (Extensive quality wine list, knowledgeable staff. Well, they are a wine bar.) Total: 18.5/20
It was my birthday weekend and I decided to treat myself with a three-day eating and drinking fiesta with the Boy and a few of our close friends. Our first night was a very casual affair at our local Victoria Park favourite Little Ying Thai. My bestie and her man came along with us but as it was a weeknight we all managed to contain ourselves from getting too carried away.
On our second night we seized the rare opportunity for an outing with the Boy’s Best Man along with my two Perth-based bridesmaids. His Best Man works FIFO on a number of mining sites so we don’t get to hang out with him nearly as much as we would like to. Last year during one of Mum’s visits to Perth we took her to Cantina 663 and were all really impressed with our memorable meal. Since then I have been really keen to go back and so I suggested going there to one of my bridesmaids Amber. It turns out Cantina has been on her wish list for some time. Perfect!
Decked out in my brand new outfit from Abercrombie and Fitch (courtesy of my Dad and Stepmum) and feeling like a million bucks, we headed out on the town for a night of fun. We were supposed to start off with meeting everyone at the Flying Scotsman for some pre-dinner drinks but we both took way too long getting ready and subsequently had to head straight to Cantina.
Cantina 663 serves European style food with predominately Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences. They pride themselves on having a fortnightly changing menu that reflects what’s seasonally available locally and they strive to source organic and ecologically sustainable produce when they can.
The wait staff exude edgy style and are energetic and friendly. Our table’s waitress for the evening was very proficient and her passion for food was obvious as she discussed the suitability of each dish with me even prior to chatting with the chef. She was even familiar with the condition fructose malabsorption which I was impressed with. She happily communicated back and forth with the kitchen to assist in creating an adapted family style menu that was ample food for all of us to enjoy despite my allergies.
The pork rillettes were decadently rich and oh so moreish and this dish was the first thing to disappear. I had brought along some Schar brand Italian gluten-free bread with me in preparation as I recall from our last experience that a lot of Cantina’s dishes would be much more delicious smeared on bread and they currently do not carry gluten-free bread. I delighted in lashing thick layers of the pork on my charred grilled bread. The pickled beans were surprisingly sweet and were the ideal match with the pork.
Because a lot of the dishes on the menu contained onion, the chef offered to especially make for me a fig and goats curd salad. Apparently this dish used to be on their menu and was very popular. Fructose malabsorbers do have to be a little careful with eating figs, but to be honest this salad would have been scrumptious even without them…I have to confess I did eat just a few as I figured can tolerate a very small amount without too much problems. Gluten is my real enemy.
The salumi platter was entirely gluten-free however she informed me that two of the meats may contain onion as they are not made on the premises. I cannot remember all that was on there but I do remember some luscious dark bresaola, spicy chorizo and soft delicate jamon amongst others. It was served with house pickles which were quite tasty and not too acetic or briny.
Unfortunately for me the zucchini flowers were off the menu as they were battered in flour before frying so I missed out on this wondrous looking dish. I was quite jealous as they looked incredible and were demolished very quickly. I was told the batter was fluffy and light and there was so much flavouring in the stuffing. Instead I ordered the tin of pollastrini sardines piccanti served with fresh lemon and my charred gluten-free bread. I used to love sardines on toast as a child and these little fishies brought back great memories. I was nearly the only one who ate these – I guess you really have to be a hard-core fish fan to eat sardines. They also had a bit of a kick to them with the added chilli.
After stuffing our faces with all our entrees, we ordered a couple of mains to share between us. I originally wanted to order the risotto but the rice is parboiled with stock during prep and the stock contained onion. Instead I opted for the pan fried barramundi. The fish was so heavenly and was cooked to a perfect buttery smooth consistency and had crispy crunchy skin. I can honestly say pan fired barramundi is right up there in my top five favourite fish so perhaps I’m a little biased with my praise for this dish. Putting my approval of the fish aside though, even its accompaniments were so appetising in their own right and pushed me and the girls well into the realms of being seriously full!
The boys ordered the gnocchi which although it was a small serve it left them quite satisfied. We also ordered a couple of sides to go with our mains, the spinach and avocado with walnut dressing and the roasted zucchini with tahini yoghurt. Considering these dishes were just meant to be sides – they were so good I could have easily had a whole serve of either to myself! Especially the zucchinis; they were slightly caramelised during roasting and literally burst in your mouth with every bite.
Once again, I can see its obvious why Cantina 663 consistently receives great ratings on Urbanspoon and other restaurant review sites as they have everything going for them: great food, dynamic staff, flexibility with catering for allergies and they are situated in an awesome location. This remains a definite fav for Chompchomp!FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK! Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | http://www.cantina663.com/ Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (as many dishes are served with bread it would be great if they stocked GF) Service: 4.5/5 (efficient, quick and knowledgeable) Ambience: 4/5 (bustling energy but air con struggled in the heat) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive wine list with a lot of interesting options) Total: 17/20
Spontaneity is an uncommon occurrence for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, in fact quite the contrary it’s just that I can’t help but plan and organise things. I hate the thought that an element of enjoyment is missed out due to lack of foresight. But as I was running to my car during the heaviest part of the down pouring rain I got this burning desire to go out for the evening. We both work long hours and often have hectic busy days so most weeknights tend to be a sombre experience of crashing on the couch, eating dinner and watching television. I sat in my car drenched right through to the skin in my work clothes and phoned the boy who was still at work, half expecting him to decline the offer with protests of exhaustion and lack of motivation. His immediate response was yes! Wa-toot!
On the previous weekend, a group of us had a pub crawl up Beaufort Street and on our way to the Flying Scotsman we all dropped into Five Bar for a refreshing beverage to quench us for the uphill stagger to the Scotto. I remember making a mental note to return to try their tapas and so we did.
As you walk into Five Bar you almost feel like you are in someone’s oversized living room. There is a mismatched collection of lounge chairs, ottomans and crates to relax on and the interior is decorated with a similarly eclectic collection of lamps and oddities. As I sipped on my Hendricks and tonic, I felt all the tensions of my day smoothly melt away.
The menu is quite small with the majority of the dishes designed to be shared tapas-style. After requesting to our waitress for suitable gluten-free and onion free options, this menu unfortunately further narrowed down to a smaller handful of dishes.
The marinated olives contained a crowd pleaser selection of pitted and non-pitted, black and green, and in all sizes from jumbo through to the teeny-weeny Arbequina olives. They were all of excellent quality and very moreish.
The beef Carpaccio was dressed with cornichons, goat’s curd and capers, pine nuts, some fresh herbs and EVOO. The beef was sliced perfectly paper-thin but was a bit dry and lacked a little flavour. This was somewhat compensated for by the tarty goat’s curd however that shouldn’t really be the aim of this dish. A few extra lashings of olive oil may have improved this dish.
We were informed after ordering the chorizo that it may contain onions so I gave this a miss and let the boy munch his way through the generous sized serve. It seemed to be quite tender and juicy and disappeared with no complaints.
The slow-roasted mushrooms with Danish fetta, balsamic and chives were definitely one of the better dishes. I am a bit of a self-confessed mushroom addict. I really love their rich savoury flavour; in fact it would be safe to say I eat them daily. These mushrooms were roasted wonderfully. The chef has managed to capture and enhance all that delicious mushroomness I enjoy and the subtle tang of the balsamic gently cut through these flavours to then be followed by the more lingering creaminess of the fetta. We ended up ordering seconds!
The final tapas dish we ordered were the sweet potato frites served with a Moroccan spiced mayonnaise. These were very tasty albeit also a tad oily. Nevertheless I could have eaten more of them if I could fit them in!
We ended the evening with a duo of macarons – vanilla and coffee. After overindulging on some amazing macarons from Choux earlier in the week, unfortunately these ones were a bit of a disappointment. I enjoy the contrast of the crispy outer shell with the chewy nearly gooey centre. These ones were consistently chewy all the way through and showed none of the contrast in textures macarons are meant to have.
Given the popularity of tapas in Perth at the moment we are spoilt for choice. I walked away from Five Bar thinking there are better quality options for the price we paid and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to return there.
Venue 8.5/10 Service 7.8/10 Food 7/10Five Bar 560 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley | 0467 534 267