Being a Mushroom Mania blogger, I feel like a proud ambassador for the mighty mushroom and consequently it was no surprise to me when I received an invitation to attend the Australian Mushroom Grower Association’s Celebration Dinner as part of their “Mushrooms Support Pink” campaign. This campaign is aimed at helping raise awareness for breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We were treated to a four course meal with mushrooms featuring in every dish to show off what a versatile and flavoursome food they are.
Over the course of the evening, we were encouraged to enter a raffle to help raise money for cancer research with a number of small pink prizes to go around. The Boy managed to win himself a pink whisk!
None of starters were gluten free and for the first ten minutes of the evening I watched enviously as everyone crooned over the delicious nibbles. After what felt like hours but was really was only minutes, the chef brought me an adapted plate of goodies to eat.
For entrée, we received a wild mushroom consommé with gluten free gnocchi, pickled shimeji mushrooms and tomatoes. It was an unusual mix of flavours and light on the palate.
One of our speakers for the evening was Glenn Cardwell, an accredited dietician who has worked for the National Heart Foundation and has made frequent TV and radio appearances. He talked to us about some interesting research that has shown a potential reduced incidence of breast cancer in women who eat mushrooms regularly. He was advocating eating just three mushrooms a day to gain these lifesaving anti-cancer benefits.
The main course was a slow cooked fillet of West Australian butterflied beef. The beef was very tender and cut like butter. I would have preferred mine to be slightly rarer however I did noticed the Boy’s serve was cooked more to my liking.
The beef was served with a medley of vegetables including fondant potato, white asparagus, baby carrot, cherry tomato and the cutest little nameko mushrooms. A rich Madeira jus was drizzled on top.
Our second speaker for the evening was the General Manager of the AMGA. He talked about his travels in the States where he appreciated how severe the USA is afflicted with obesity and poor nutrition. The need to improve the average American’s diet has led to the of the concept of “blendability”. This is where mushrooms are used to transform meals by chopping them finely to the texture of mince meat and adding them to popular, meat based products like burgers, tacos, meatballs and pasta sauces. When used in this way, not only are mushrooms a natural flavour enhancer but they also help significantly lower the total caloric and fat content of the meal in addition to adding a lot of excellent nutritional value.
As the evening drew to a close, our desserts arrived and we were all curious to see how they could incorporate mushrooms into this course. The non-gluten free option included a chocolate tart and mushroom meringue served on mushroom Anglaise, and raspberry sorbet with candied dried mushrooms.
My gluten free adapted plate was sorely lacking in any mushroomy goodness with a moist Eve’s pudding with warm custard sauce and a wibbly wobbly yoghurt Pannacotta.
Noelene, our MC for the night felt so bad that I didn’t get to try any of the mushroom desserts. Without me even needing to ask, she kindly chased up the chef to find out if any of the components could be assembled gluten free. Within a few minutes I was served some of the mushroom Anglaise with a few candied mushrooms on top. The candied mushrooms were chewy like a firm toffee and I would have loved to have taken a jar home with me!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Pavilion Restaurant West Coast Institute, Joondalup Campus, E Block, 35 Kendrew Crescent, Joondalup WA 6027 | (08) 9233 1770
You don’t have to be a regular reader of this blog to know that I love my mushrooms. Back in 2012, my passion for this versatile fungi led to me being selected as one of the two official Mushroom Mania bloggers for WA alongside Cynthia from The Food Pornographer. I was only just a newbie blogger at the time and it was one of my first sponsored gigs. I threw my heart and soul into it to ensure that it was worthwhile for both me and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Since then I have continued to participate in Mushroom Mania on an annual basis with this year being my third year. For 2014, the AGMA went with a much less structured format than in previous years simply giving me a wad of prepaid VISA cards to use at my leisure provided that I ordered and photographed food with mushrooms.
In my usual extravagant style, I poo-pooed the idea of just going to a restaurant and eating one or two mushroom dishes and approached a couple of Perth’s top chefs to hit me up with a specifically designed Mushroom Mania degustation. I started off my journey at the new Highgate restaurant St Michael 6003 where we were taken on a journey of crackles and pops with a few surprises.
For my second part of this journey, I contacted Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse to see if he was keen to participate. Amusé is by far and by large the best fine dining restaurant in Perth and this is proven by their succession of accolades won year after year. There is a significant waiting list to get a table but believe me it is worth the wait. We have visited Amuse several times over the years however this was to be the first time since I started blogging. Despite there being many years between visits, I can always be assured that my dietary requirements are not only just catered for, but that they remember them without me having to remind them. The level of attention to detail and customer service is quite out of this world and every visit we have been made to feel like we are special, even when I wasn’t wielding a heavy camera.
Our evening began as is always the custom at Amusé with a few rounds of “snacks”; the first of which were paper thin crackers made from quinoa and some gluten free choux filled with ooey gooey Gruyère cheese fondue. I literally squealed with delight as the liquid cheese dribbled down my fingers.
The second snack looked very innocent but was a powerhouse of flavour; a slice of pickled radish topped with smoked crème fraiche and finished with salmon roe. A faint dusting of leek ash deepened the smoky flavours.
For our last round of snacks we received a bowl of tomato consommé. This little cup of goodness balanced flavours together precisely, with sago and pickled crab meat for texture and a couple of carefully added drops of toasted shell fish oil.
The consomme was finished with fresh lovage, chervil and wild garlic. Lovage has a mild bitter flavour similar to celery and coupled well with the gentle aniseed taste of the chervil.
Both the Boy and I come from families with big appetites. This is in part why the two of us first fell in love. Although I am a small framed person, I can knock back a surprisingly large amount of food and it takes a fair amount of eating to fill me up. I actually think I lack the fullness switch in my brain.
I can always be guaranteed to receive freshly baked gluten free bread at Amusé but even better still, unlike many degustations, it never stops at a single serve. The Bannister Downs house churned butter was whipped to a foamy light texture and I could have nearly eaten it on its own without any bread. Despite knowing we had another eight courses ahead of us, neither of us could turn down the offer for more bread and butter.
For the main courses, Hadleigh chose a different type of mushroom to be the hero ingredient for each dish. The first mushroom to star on the menu were ceps, or porcini mushrooms. These mushrooms are considered by some to be the king of mushrooms and are highly regarded for their meaty texture and nutty, creamy flavour.
A perfect spear of white asparagus from Bickley Valley was paired with crispy house made guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheek.
Swirled across the plate were added contrasting flavours from salty bottarga mayonnaise, creamy buttermilk dressing and a nutty flaxseed gomasio. The dish was finished with wafer thin cep milk skins.
Our second course brought more chirrups of delight from me as the enoki mushroom took centre stage. There is something about these adorable mushrooms that never fails to excite me and I have been known to add them at random to a variety of my dishes at home, sometimes inappropriately. Under a blanket of precisely positioned enoki heads was a smooth squid congee made with local Busselton squid. Luscious umami flavours from a mushroom dashi added in sumptuous depth to the dish.
We moved onto a more richly flavour mushroom for the next course using shiitake with chicken rice. I do love my chicken rice but this was a very cultured masterpiece quite unlike any chicken rice I have ever relished in Singapore and beyond. It was a structurally wonderful version with many elements to it to provide that level of wow factor that you can always expect at Amuse.
Roast vinegar chicken and a purée of shiitake were cooked over coals giving a slightly charred taste and served on a bed of traditional Japanese sushi rice. Our waiter served the dish with a chicken broth that was poured tableside.
The chicken was velvety smooth which markedly contrasted the added surprise of crunchy puffed buckwheat and amaranth, crispy nori wafers and a luscious creamy egg emulsion. It was challenge for the senses but in totally good way; with silky, crunchy, meaty and smooth textures all in one mouthful. As one of my colleagues at work loves to say; it was a “party in my mouth!”
It was going to be hard to impress me more than the chicken rice did and while the next dish was divine, it didn’t manage to take away the highlight of its incredible predecessor. Going for something a bit more leftfield, Hadleigh created a dish using lamb sweetbreads and braised morels mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms have a very rich, earthy flavour which went perfectly with the milder tasting, tender sweet breads. It was served on a parsley gremolata and topped with crunchy shoestring fries and crispy salt bush.
With the subdued lighting in the restaurant, the final main course was the hardest to photograph and tested the boundaries of my camera’s capabilities. A Butterfield beef short rib was served with a medley of roasted oyster, pickled shimeji and raw button mushrooms.
Dollops of broad bean puree and black garlic “BBQ” sauce decorated around the plate looking deceptively innocent. The subtle flavours of the bean purée made the polarised sensations of syrupy sweet black garlic BBQ sauce take the Boy’s tastebuds by surprise.
Our pre-dessert was titled cumquat, walnut and apricot. It was one of the few dishes in our degustation without mushrooms as an ingredient and took on the resemblance of one in appearance instead. A very cute gesture. Using cumquat curd and cumquat meringue with smooth walnut ice cream and apricot sorbet, this was the perfect pre-dessert to cleanse our tantalised palate ready for the finale.
Upon reading our menu earlier in the night, I cannot deny I was thoroughly impressed with the addition of mushrooms into the dessert. I was also a teeny bit sceptical. However, if anyone could pull off using mushrooms in a sweet dish, I knew it would be Hadleigh!
A smoked mushroom and chocolate mousse covered in ginger and Geraldton Wax granita was served with whipped blood orange and a ball of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate sorbet wrapped in thin layer of crisp white chocolate.
To add a final bit of zing to the dish some blood orange sherbet tumbled over the top like a cascade of snow. Neither of us uttered a single word as we devoured each mouthful in a blissful state of rare silence.
To end our night of wonderment, we were given hot cups of fresh mint tea infused with native pepper berries. After all the colours of overindulgence, the tea helped kick start our digestion and we both drifted off into the beginnings of a food coma. The tea was paired with some vanilla infused West Australian desert limes and a couple of passion fruit and white chocolate drops for a kick of sweetness.
I cannot believe we left it this long between visits to Amusé, this being our fourth visit since they opened eight years ago. After each and every visit the two of us have walked away from a faultless evening. The service is exquisitely polished with every dish unique and equally incredible. If you haven’t been yet, you are seriously missing out.Disclaimer: This amazing degustation was funded by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of Mushroom Mania 2014. Full of fibre, flavour and containing many scientifically proven health properties, the mushroom is a food that should be on everyone’s weekly shopping list. We are fortunate enough in Australia to be able to source a wide variety of mushrooms to eat with each variety having its own individual flavour and texture. For more information head to the Power of Mushrooms website. Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte Street, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
There has been much buzz around the recent opening of the new restaurant St Michael 6003 in Highgate. Scott O’Sullivan from Red Cabbage and Todd Stuart from Petite Mort have paired together to open this suave new joint located in Jackson’s old digs on Beaufort Street. Former Red Cabbage sous chef Adam Sayles has taken the reins to produce something intriguingly refined, modern and creative. This individuality has not gone unnoticed by high-profile foodies with St Michael recently starring in the weekly Hot Plates feature on the Gourmet Traveller website.
Last year for the Mushroom Mania campaign, one of my sponsored meals was a mushroom degustation at Red Cabbage and this year I was hopeful that their brand new sister restaurant would be willing to do something similar. I was very appreciative that Chef Adam was happy to come on board and create a couple of mushroom dishes for us to enjoy.
St Michael offers small share plates in addition to a more elaborate seven course tasting menu. After gazing slowly over their menu I turned to the Boy to see what he wanted eat for the evening; did he want to share a few dishes or would he prefer to go the whole hog and order the dego?
Without hesitating he replied “Well, the dego of course!” I love that we are so like-minded with our food obsessions! A match made in heaven <3
We started off with the salt and vinegar crackers which had been made so fresh that they still crackled and popped loudly as they sat on our table. Made from pork skin they bubbled on my tongue like prawn crackers creating that deliciously tingling sensation. So much fun.
Our starting course consisted of thin slices of house made corn beef prepared using 300 day grain fed Ranger Valley beef flank. The corn beef accompanied some air dried bresaola and fermented vegetables.
This dish left a surprisingly light, cleansing feeling on the palate and was an uplifting way to start a degustation. The beef had luscious marbling giving it a melt in the mouth, buttery texture.
Our next dish starred our hero ingredient; the mushroom. Tender soft Manjimup marron pieces were charred lightly and plated like a magical garden with pickled white shimeji mushrooms along with delicately peppery turnips and nasturtium flowers.
I had just enough time to grab a quick capture of this gorgeous dish before our waiter gently poured a flavoursome shiitake dashi made with mirin and organic gluten free tamari.
The dashi added a rich layer of unami that harmonised and enhanced the flavours of the marron and mushrooms elegantly. I could feel the nourishing warmth radiating right through me to the tips of my fingers. For a brief moment there was silence across the table as the Boy and I slurped up every last millilitre of the Japanese broth.
The quail breast was pressed between thin slices of Serrano ham and served lightly charred with honey roasted carrots and carrot purée. The quail had a lovely silken velvety texture, I have never eaten quail that delicately tender before.
My final main course was the lamb shoulder made using locally sourced WA lamb from Karagullen. This dish also featured our hero ingredient for the evening containing plump, meaty oyster mushrooms nestled in with dollops of goats curd.
To top it all off my dish was garnished with generous shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle. Truffle mania dies hard with this girl, and I couldn’t hold back my squeals of delight.
The cheese course was served with similar style and flair to those we have enjoyed at Red Cabbage. Forget about your standard cheese platter with wedges of cheese, crackers and quince. This dish was as interesting as its predecessors. Creamy chunks of Cashel blue cheese accompanied some pear sorbet, roast celeriac and white chocolate ganache. The dish was garnished with salted walnuts and cubes of compressed pear.
Our dessert was simply titled “yoghurt sorbet” and was quite the exquisite surprise, totally addictive and texturally satisfying. Amid the single scoop of lightly tangy sorbet were multiple droplets of fruit and herbs frozen in liquid nitrogen. As soon as each particle hit my mouth they would start to dissolve giving me alternate bursts of vibrant flavour including strawberry, pear, peach, orange, mango, passionfruit, parsley, mint and basil. It was mind-blowing.
This dessert excited me so much that I wasn’t ready for our meal to end but alas we had already eaten out way through our seven courses. I sheepishly asked our waiter if I could possibly have another round of something sweet. Maybe some petit fours to go with my tea?
He happily obliged and we were given a bowl of curious asymmetrical blocks of peanut butter, salted caramel and chocolate. They were also frozen in liquid nitrogen and looked like they would be hard to bite into as they were still covered in an icy mist. Looks can be deceiving and with each bite, I discovered the inside of these chunks still remained wondrously soft and velvety.
There is no doubt I will be returning to St Michael as they offer something quite different to their surrounding competitors. They allow diners to enjoy a touch of high end fine dining without having to commit to a whole degustation or experience the formality and pomp.Mushroom Mania campaign. Chompchomp has been delighted to be part of this campaign for three years running as she is a huge advocate for all things mushroom. She would also like to thank all the team from St Michael for coming on board with creating a mushroom themed degustation. St Michael 6003 483 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 1177 | Facebook Price: Small bites $8-18, Mains $15-30, 7 course tasting menu $89
The Boy and I were struck down with the killer Flu of the Year this month and it completely knocked the stuffing out of us. Everything became a huge effort and suffice to say life wasn’t much fun. At the tail end of our sickness we decided to cheer ourselves up and head out to the Avon Valley for the Toodyay Food Festival. Toodyay is roughly an hour’s drive from our house and when we got about half way both of us became overwhelmingly tired and nauseous.
It took about five minutes of us whingeing to each other before we realised the insanity of what we were trying to do. Walking around a food festival when I could barely stand up followed by another hours drive home sounded more like torture than enjoyment. We agreed this idea was a little ambitious and turned the car back around. As we headed home I realised we had nothing in the fridge because I had originally anticipated we would be stuffing our faces at the festival. We took a detour through Belmont and landed at Sapore Espresso.
I was no stranger to the tasty creations of this humble café having followed them on social media for some time. I had yet to actually set foot in the venue however as I tend to be a bit overly loyal to my Vic Park stomping ground. I was to find that this was a poor judgement as Sapore definitely is a winner, even for a gluten intolerant like me.
Regrettably my flu-stomach wasn’t up for a coffee. Sapore serve Fiori coffee which I am quite partial to as it is a tasty brew however this may be a good reason to return and sample their breakfast menu at a later date 😉 We started off with a cleansing freshly made juice of orange, carrot and celery. I asked for added greens into mine in the grim hope it would fix all my ills. Whilst it didn’t cure me I definitely felt a small increment better.
There is no hiding my obsession with mushrooms. I am sure it is this high level of addiction that has earned me the role as one of the official bloggers for the Mushroom Mania promotions three years running. It is easy to write about something I love.
Sapore’s trio of sautéed mushrooms was filled with an abundance of enoki, King oyster and field mushrooms, just like I make at home but enhanced by the fact that I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare it. I loved the fleshy texture of the King oysters with the near crunchiness of the enoki. Served with tangy goats cheese and drizzled in truffle oil I was certain THIS was the medicine I needed.
It was not a problem to make this dish gluten free and I appreciated that the chef recognised how small gluten free bread is and gave me three pieces instead of the expected two. A bargain really when you consider the price.
The Boy needed a similarly medicinal meal and ordered the heart-warming daily special; a creamy chicken risotto with mushrooms and mascarpone.
Whilst the Boy will rarely will eat meat, given how unwell he had been that week he felt he needed some protein to help him recover. It was the first decent meal we could hold down in days and it hit the spot right on the mark for both of us.
My regular readers will already know that I struggle to hold myself back from turning every meal into a multi-course bonanza. This time round however my delicate stomach submitted to the Boy’s pleas to restrain myself. I still needed to end on something sweet and the perfect way to do this was with a home-made macaron. Sapore change their macaron flavours regularly and the flavour of the day for our visit was salted caramel. It had excellent texture with a pronounced salty aftertaste. I wished I had room for more.
Sapore Espresso was something of a hidden gem to me. It is easy as a Vic Park resident to give preference to our local options and overlook those that are off the popular café strip but still nearby. This is definitely a place worth trekking over the train tracks for and I look forward to returning there to sample their breakfast.Chompchomp planned for this meal to be sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of her role in the Mushroom Mania campaign however she did not come prepared with her pre-paid VISA cards. She ended up paying for the meal in full herself. A shame because it really was a mushroom feast, however not to worry. It has left more money in the Mushroom Mania kitty for her to fund not one but two mushroom degos! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on these two incredible meals… Sapore Espresso Bar Opposite Belmont Forum, 275 Belmont Avenue, Belmont WA 6105 | 0410 572 066 | saporeespressobar.com.au
Following a gluten free diet has become second nature to me. Ingesting just a tiny crumb of gluten has such a profound effect that there is simply no point me risking a reaction. Our whole household is gluten free to avoid any contamination and the Boy is more than happy to eat a gluten free diet with me.
In contrast, my sensitivity to eating dairy products is not so black and white and I can tolerate small amounts. Being able to eat a little bit now and then leads me into a false sense of confidence as it isn’t something I have to avoid totally like gluten, I just try to minimise my intake. I have never been good at minimisation and generally prefer to take the all-or-nothing approach with most things in life, especially food. Progressive day to day carelessness in restricting my dairy intake is generally brought to a grinding halt after one of my hedonistic cheese binges. These joyous cheesy evenings always result in my skin becoming so inflamed and sore that I can barely stretch my fingers fully open. Consequently I have learnt to try to only eat dairy on special occasions.
Being a massive lover of mushrooms, one of my favourite types of pasta sauces to prepare at home is a thick creamy mushroom sauce. I use as many different types of mushrooms as possible and add in some fresh herbs from the garden. It doesn’t take me forever to prepare and is packed full of all the amazing nutrition that mushrooms provide.
I decided to try to create the creamy goodness of a classic mushroom sauce but without all the lashings of dairy cream. I wanted to make it more allergy friendly and was curious to know if a vegan mushroom sauce could live up to its traditional dairy counterpart.
I recommend that you try to get the freshest mushrooms possible to maximise flavour and get as many types of mushrooms as you can. I got these beauties from the new fresh food section at Belmont Forum. They have an impressive multitude of different mushrooms varieties including enoki, oyster, shiitake, shimeji, button, and Swiss brown.
- 450 grams mixed mushrooms roughly chopped (e.g. Swiss brown, Portobello, button, shiitake, oyster, enoki)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh sage
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs (thyme, basil) to garnish
- 350 gm gluten free pasta
- Cook gluten free pasta according to the directions on the packet.
- Cook garlic in olive oil in a deep fry pan over medium heat until the garlic just starts to brown.
- Add all the mushrooms (except for the enoki mushrooms) and the wine and cook until the liquid is released from the mushrooms.
- Stir in sage and enoki mushrooms.
- Add milk and cook stirring until thickened
- Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with some fresh herbs.