My lifestyle is soon to change as I will be moving to working a Monday to Friday week instead of one with weekend shifts. This has both merits and disadvantages in some ways. I will lose my regular Monday off, which I cannot deny is quite possibly THE best day to have off in the week. But in turn, I will finally be able to spend my weekends with the Boy who hasn’t worked a weekend in years. The first thing I am looking forward with this change is of course food related; I can now be a lady who does weekend brunch.
Now while my inner health freak may have already mentally started lining up juice bars and raw cafes to visit, my alter-ego would much rather an indulgent boozy afternoon.
Enter Swallow Bar with their new debut brunch menu. Moving away from the commonplace hipster chic with its chia puddings and cold pressed juice, these guys are opting to serve a more European styled brunch.
I was recently invited to Swallow Bar to sample their new gluten free friendly brunch menu. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to our table before being offered one of their summer fresh cocktails.
The Perth sun was already pelting down strongly outside and the mere mention of a seasonal Bellini promised to quench my thirst quickly. Our Bellini’s were made with house made strawberry and rhubarb fruit nectar and Cremant de Loire sparkling brut.
For eats, we started off with a sample dish of Swallow’s Captain’s Cure ocean trout. Our waitress informed us that one serve normally comes with three pieces but she served us a smaller amount to give us more room for what was to come. The luscious soft pieces of trout topped crunchy potato rosti and the dish was rounded off with dollops of horseradish crème and a fresh herb salad.
I think I may have smashed back my Bellini a touch too quick, or maybe it was that there was just a hole in my glass. 😉 Either way this opened up a new opportunity for us to order something different from their cocktail menu.
We were sitting in Swallow’s little courtyard at the back of the bar and the day was really starting to heat up. To help cool us down the Boy chose “A Rose is a Rose” jug made with SOS Rosé, brandy, Cointreau, Rose liqueur and lemonade. The rose cocktail was like a gentle breeze of subtle flavours and freshness and I would happily return just for another.
Our next dish was a grilled piadina. This is an Italian dish of folded, grilled flatbread which is filled with savoury or sweet fillings. Our piadina was generously stuffed with mushrooms, thyme, melted scamorza cheese and a touch of fresh chilli for a little hit of spice. Swallow Bar offer a “normal” or a gluten free piadina on their menu. My gluten free piadina was filled with stretchy, stringy cheese and both of us fell silent as we devoured our serves contently. There is something about eating melted cheese that brings back happy childhood memories for me.
To end our fabulous, somewhat naughty brunch, our waitress brought out a plate of Shark Bay prawns to share.
Many of you have followed the WA Signature Dish journey on this blog as I have been the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the past two years. This year our region won the competition with Jerolina’s dish using Shark Bay prawns as her hero ingredient. Seeing the hero ingredient on Swallow’s menu made me very proud! Local is best.
The prawns were simply grilled with lemon butter, fresh chilli and parsley. I was even more delighted to find they were so fresh you could suck their heads. For those not in the know, the meat in the prawn head is actually the most tasty bit of a grilled prawn. I suggest you don’t knock it until you have tried it, just make sure they are super fresh!
Swallow makes a fabulous new addition to the weekend brunch scene in Perth. Being a small bar and not a cafe means you can drag your afternoon over into the evening while you work your way through all those wonderful cocktails. Swallow’s menu is very gluten free friendly with lots of options that won’t make you feel like you miss out.
Chompchomp was an invited guest at Swallow Bar and did not pay for her meal or drinks. Given her insanely hectic schedule she was grateful to receive a more personalised approach to sample the new brunch menu rather than the standard group blogger event. Being such a boutique small bar, it allowed her to get a more accurate feel for the venue and their quality of service. She looks forward to returning as a full paying customer in the near future.
One thing I have learnt from the Boy is that I need to take more time out to relax. Relaxing does not come naturally to me and generally the only way I can do it is if I am forced. Last weekend we drove down to the South West to stay at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, a five-star beach front resort only minutes’ drive from Dunsborough and Yallingup.
The reason for our single night stay at Bunker Bay was to sample the resorts’s launch of their new High Tea. High Tea is available at Pullman Bunker Bay resort every day of the week until the 20th of December, and Executive Chef Grant Murray is more than happy to accommodate for guests like myself with dietary requirements.
We sat out on the sunny deck overlooking the wonderful ocean view where we could see glimpses of majestic whales out in the bay. Regrettably I didn’t come prepared with a zoom lens to capture their beauty.
Being able to enjoy gluten, the Boy’s high tea was plated separately to mine to avoid cross contamination and as our waitress brought over our tiers of food we both let out a sigh of pleasure. Each plate was an array of vibrant spring colour and neither of us could wait to tuck in!
Chef Murray enthusiastically spoke to us about his focus on utilising fresh, seasonal produce and wherever possible he will obtain his ingredients locally. All the pastries and baked items are made in their own kitchen, with our muffins and scones coming just out of the oven that morning.
My gluten free savoury course included a cucumber, tarragon and chicken sandwich made with compressed cucumber to give more flavour. The tomato salad contained tomatoes that were grown especially for the restaurant on a property only a few kilometres away. Nothing beats the taste of home-grown tomatoes.
There was no sensation of feeling like I was missing out on a gluten free diet, with my second tier of baked goods tasting just as good the Boy’s looked. My scone didn’t crumble apart like many gluten free versions and my muffin was still warm.
My final top tier of high tea was the prettiest of all, decorated in fresh edible flowers and plump blueberries. My mini tartlets were filled with juicy fresh Western Australian mango. The little meringues had all the layers of textures that a quality meringue must have; a powder poof crunchy shell with a sumptuous gooey centre. Perfection.
The Boy’s standard high tea looked very similar to mine, except that of course it contained gluten. This is the second time he has joined me for high tea and whilst I doubt he will start swilling hot tea any time soon, I can be sure he will happily join me on my next one.
The Boy’s dessert course was just a pretty as my gluten free version, and included a selection of macarons, profiteroles and chocolate mousse cake.
For our accommodation we stayed in a garden view studio villa. Our room was elegantly appointed with a comfortable, king sized bed and a fully equipped kitchenette. Not that we ever needed it to cook for ourselves!
The bathroom was spacious and modern, complete with fluffy bathrobes and slippers along with luxury amenities for those who forgot their toiletries.
Being such a brief stay, we decided to dine at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Other Side of the Moon for our evening meal. Our bubbly natured waitress was very knowledgeable with respect to what was gluten free and what could be adapted on the menu.
We started off our evening with some natural oysters from Coffin Bay served with shallot vinegar.
For our entrée, we opted to share the local South West tasting plate for two. For those with less agreeable dining companions, this tasting plate was also available as a single serve for a lower cost. In the centre of the plate was a gluten free adapted serve of Geographe Bay squid fried with a spicy Asian herb salad and nahm jim dressing. We were advised to start in the middle of the plate and work our way out.
The second tasting was a Swiss brown mushroom filled with confit Baldivis rabbit on bacon and Jerusalem artichoke purée.
We ended the tasting experience with some thin slices of Margaret River venison carpaccio and local pickled onions. Of course I left the onions for the Boy to gobble as I’m not good with the added fructose. A gluten free crouton with olive tapenade accompanied the small serve of venison.
The Boy ordered the duo of beef for his main course. A lightly pan-seared Harvey beef tenderloin accompanied a pot of beef cheek daube. A scoop of truffle mash and cute little heirloom carrots added in some vegetable goodness and was drizzled in a Capel Vale Cabernet Sauvignon jus.
We also ordered a side of fries which our waitress told us would be cooked in clean oil to avoid any gluten contamination. The Boy suggested that perhaps an order of fries on top of all the rest of the food we had eaten so far may be considered somewhat excessive. I was pleased to see our waitress was on the same page as me as she agreed that not only is there a second stomach for desserts, that there is in fact a specific “potato stomach” to fit in potatoes in all forms: be that fries, chips, wedges, whatever, wherever 😉
For my main choice, I ordered the daily special of roasted duck breast. It was served on a bed of quinoa, parsnip purée, and locally grown golden beets. The duck was delicately tender and soft, literally melting in my mouth without a hint of dryness.
Whilst I had big ambitions of pushing the boat out for the evening and having both dessert and cheese, when it came to the crunch I sadly realised I only had room for one or the other. It was a hard choice as there were a decent selection of local and imported cheese on offer. I turned to the Boy for guidance. He had already spotted the Simmo’s ice cream menu with no less than ten flavours to choose from. It was decided. We would have dessert.
The daily dessert special was light, refreshing and perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth. A lemon-scented toasted marshmallow cloud with fresh mango and lychee gel on lime granita had an interesting tango of sweet and citrus flavours. I reluctantly let the Boy taste a mouthful as he even more reluctantly let me sample his ice creams. He is generally very easy going with letting me eat off his plate, except when it is ice cream. He becomes very territorial of every mouthful!
The following morning we opted for a light room service breakfast before taking a stroll around the beautiful resort. There is a 24 hour room service menu offering lots of gluten free options including pizzas and other main meals for late night snacking. The beach is only a short walk from the villas, and is such a beautiful spot with the characteristic stunning white sands and clear blue water that the region is well known for.
After a enjoyable walk along the beach, the Boy and I headed to the resort spa; Vie where we had booked a massage in the couples room along with a Pevonia signature facial. It has taken me some time to convert the Boy to enjoy spa treatments but each time he comes along he warms further to the concept.
Sadly, our whirlwind weekend was coming to an end and prior to departing we took some time to relax in the bistro area of the resort where they have a tapas menu serving small plates that highlight on the local produce that is seasonally available. Again there were both gluten free and vegetarian options available.
Our vegetarian dish of roasted cauliflower was exceedingly addictive with charred grilled piquillo peppers, toasted macadamia and pomegranate. It came with creamy tahini for a tangy hit of extra flavour. I loved the presentation with lots of splashes of colour and fun.
Our second dish of Fremantle octopus was adapted to be gluten free by the omission of chorizo. It was paired with smoked yoghurt, local olives, edamame and grilled tomato. I have a tendency to be quite fussy with my octopus having be very spoilt in my time in Spain. It is far too common that it is not prepared well and the meat ends up being as chewy as an old sock. This octopus did not disappoint my critical opinions, each piece was deliciously tender and did not give my jaw a work out to chew. It was a perfect way to end our very short stay.
For much of the drive home to Perth, the Boy and I talked about making plans for when we could next return to stay at Bunker Bay. It is rare that we simultaneously relax together and despite such a short stay, this trip was a success. The resort has enough options to be able to stay there and not leave, but is located so close to the wineries and tourist sights for the Margaret River region such that if you don’t want to stay put you don’t have to. Suffice to say we have already booked our next trip 😉
High Tea at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort is available at the resort’s bistro until 20 December 2015.
Cost is $37 per person with a Dilmah specialty tea, barista-made coffee or hot chocolate, or $45 per person to add a glass of sparkling wine. Kid’s Menu available for children up to 12 years. Bookings require 48 hours’ notice with pre-payment at the time of reservation. With advance notice, dietary requirement can be catered for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of Pullman Bunker Bay resort and received her night accommodation and high tea for two at no cost. She paid in full for her dinner at Other Side of the Moon, for the tapas at Tapestry and for her Spa treatments at Vie.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort, 42 Bunker Bay Road, Naturaliste WA | (08) 9756 9100 | Website
I love being part of unique dining experiences. I find the excitement of the unknown combined with the knowledge that it is a once off event makes the evening feel so special. Alphabet Soup Dining is a Perth-based pop-up restaurant run by chef Melissa Palinkas who is also the Executive Chef and part owner of Young George in East Fremantle. Melissa started Alphabet Soup because she wanted to offer a quirky degustation style meal where she could let her creativity run free. She holds a dinner event once monthly in locations all around Perth and has popped up in places like Milk’d in Maylands, Cutlery Draw in Manning, Frisk! Small Bar and 399 Bar in Northbridge and most recently at Canton Lounge in the City.
I have wanted to attend an Alphabet Soup dinner for some time so when I saw that chef Melissa was holding a truffle themed dinner this was my immediate cue to book us in. I can never say no to truffle. Before booking I checked that the event could cater for gluten free and was happily assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Alphabet Soup events are based around a six course meal and the menus are published online just a few days before the event. After being seated for the evening, we received a couple of rounds of “snacks” that were not on the menu as a surprise. Our first treat was a reverse crayfish truffle sushi roll using locally caught Mindarie cray. The cray meat was tender and sweet having been cooked sous vide with truffle in the bag to infuse a strong flavour.
Our second surprise snack was a basket of miso lamb ribs, also cooked sous vide in a bag with truffle. The meat slid off the bones easily and the Boy and I sat speechless, both far too busy for words as we sucked and slurped each rib until it was clean.
Our next dish was a little theatrical; sake cured ocean trout with truffle with a yuzu and coconut salad. The portions of ocean trout were suspended on a miniature hanging line with pint-size pegs. Super cute.
The trout was matched with a pomelo mojito, made with Havana 7, pink grapefruit, lime and crème de menthe. It was an interesting experience having a meal matched with not just wines, but also a collection of cocktails.
Who said eating gluten free meant you had to miss out? My truffle chicken karage was made using tapioca flour and tasted just like the real thing. Two crispy morsels were accompanied by some truffled Japanese mustard aioli topped with black sesames. This was finger licking good chicken that left no grease on my hands, my only gripe was that I was left wanting more.
My fried chicken yearning was quickly forgotten upon the arrival of the next dish; broken truffle sticky rice with a 62 degree egg. It is hard not to fall madly in love with the magical combination of slow cooked eggs and truffle, and thankfully there are a number of chefs in Perth that have caught onto this simple decadence.
It is guaranteed that this combination will never fail to make me swoon, those flavours are perfectly married in heaven. Poised with my camera in hand, my predictable squeal of delight emitted when the Boy cut into his yolk was met with his usual eye roll. I may be a little over the top with my love for yolk porn, especially after a few cocktails.
For our next dish, we enjoyed a pork and truffle dumpling served in a richly flavoured dashi broth with fresh shiitake mushrooms. To finish the dish, shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle cascaded on the surface adding a stronger hit of truffiliciousness.
I was to learn that the element of surprise is the norm for the Alphabet Soup dinners. Our next course was yet another secret item that was not found on the menu. I really love surprise dishes! A super tender, baby carrot was cooked in truffle dashi before being grilled and then served with an XO sauce ash.
Our final main course was the seared duck breast, cooked Chinese BBQ style with truffle mushrooms, edamame and of course, fresh truffle.
The duck breast was crispy thin on the outside yet remained tender pink and buttery moist on the inside.
To freshen up our palates ready for dessert, we were given a bite sized spoonful of mandarin and yuzu jelly. It was uplifting and refreshing, combining perfectly with my jazzed up G&T made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon and jasmine tea.
Our dessert brought me back to my childhood when Mum and I would go to the Adelaide Central Markets to do our weekly food shopping. My reward for being the good daughter who would come along and help her mother would always be some sort of treat we shared before going home. Most weeks we would end up walking over to Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and finding something delicious. These were the days I was oblivious to the fact gluten was killing me, and in my ignorance I would eagerly look forward to the times we would get ourselves a steam pork bun.
For our final course with Alphabet Soup, the Chef made a special batch of gluten free truffle and pear steam buns just for me. The buns were made using potato, corn flour and rice flour giving an authentic doughy, but fluffy texture. We were given truffle honey and Anglaise sauce to drizzle lavishly over our buns. It was a perfect way to end our evening.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening out with Alphabet Soup and will be watching out for her next event. There was all the right elements of entertainment, quirkiness and originality that I had hoped for with some extra surprises to boot. Chef Mel effortlessly catered for my dietary needs without making me feel like I missed out on any of the degustation experience. Thanks Melissa!
Alphabet Soup | www.alphabetsoupdining.com
Canton Bar | 532 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 8887 | www.cantonbar.com.au
I owe you, my dear readers a small apology. Many of you may have noticed that my recent posts on Chompchomp have been fewer and far between and are often written using content that dates further back than I would prefer. For this I am truly sorry. If the lack of reading has bothered you, I can assure you that the frustration is mutual. Whilst I hate to go on like a broken record and whinge incessantly, the reality is that my slipped disc in my back has made our dining experiences virtually non-existent. Needless to say, life goes on around me and consequently my list of new venues in Perth that I want to visit is growing at an alarming rate.
For the Boy and me, our times spent dining out together form a major part of our enjoyment and their absence leaves us both feeling depressed and disconnected. So, this weekend I necked back a couple of strong pain killers, splashed on some mascara and red lipstick and headed out for a lunch date with my love. I will not be beaten by pain! The Boy wanted to take my new wheels for a spin so we headed down to Fremantle to Chef Kenny McHardy’s new restaurant Manuka Woodfire Kitchen.
Chef Kenny is one of those who will go above and beyond for us allergy-prone intolerants as I discovered recently on our decadent Truffle Kerfuffle weekend. When I heard that he had moved up to Perth with his family from Albany and opened a new restaurant I placed his venue at the top of my to-do list.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen is a cosy space with a warm and inviting atmosphere, a gluten free friendly menu and a short but well-chosen Western Australian wine list. We selected a bottle of Domaine Naturaliste 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was rich in luscious berry and spice aromas making it perfectly matched to the stormy weather outside.
The Boy filled himself up quickly with the wood fired garlic and herb bread while I appreciated having my own gluten free counterpart to enjoy. Manuka make their gluten free bread themselves and it tasted wonderfully fresh and fluffy.
Manuka’s menu features a number of uncomplicated share plates using fresh seasonal produce cooked to smoky heavenliness in their wood fire oven. It was hard to choose where to start so we agreed to let the chef decide while we sat back and relaxed.
At $4 a serve there was nothing not to love about Manuka’s wood roasted olives. Served warm, the delicately flavoured olive flesh slid off the pits with a light squeeze of my teeth. It would have been an easy task to sit all afternoon with my wine in hand eating more of these olives while we watched the quirky world of Fremantle walk by.
Our next dish was a plate of chorizo sausage that had been grilled over hot coals. The sausage had a gentle hint of spice and each slightly charred piece remained burst-in-the-mouth juicy.
One of the standout dishes for me was the roasted button mushrooms, the mushrooms were so meaty and succulent. They were served with paper-thin, crispy kale leaves and dollops of garlic sour cream.
Another fabulous vegetarian dish was the roasted baby beetroot. I could really taste the difference from cooking the beets in the wood fire oven, there was a subtle smokiness and just so much more flavour. The toasted hazelnuts added some great crunch and texture.
The Boy’s favourite dish was the wood roasted miso chicken. Each piping hot piece of chicken was torn apart easily by our eager fingers and we gobbled it down like we had only just sat down to eat.
It was tempting to lick the remaining sticky miso sauce from the bowl as we both slurped sauce from our messy fingers. I guess we could have used a fork and knife to eat but when the chicken is this finger-licking good why bother?
Just when we thought we were too full to fit in any more food, our waitress brought us one last dish to the table. And of course being good sports, we found room to fit in some dreamy tender slow cooked osso bucco. 😉 All my good table manners fell out the window as I sucked loudly on the shin bone ensuring to remove all traces of the rich bone marrow.
Despite continuing to feebly protest about being too full, my rubber arm was easily twisted into sharing dessert. Look, my back may be injured but there is nothing wrong with my stomach!! Secretly you and I both know I ALWAYS have room for dessert. Our chocolate mousse was so light and airy leaving us with no problems polishing it off.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen has only been open for three weeks and yet their team showed no signs of any teething problems that I have come to expect with newly opened establishments. The wait staff are friendly and passionate, the dishes are decently priced and the Chef’s use of fresh local ingredients cooked in a wood fire oven speaks for itself.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, Fremantle
134 High Street, Fremantle WA | (08) 9335 3527 | Facebook
I am refusing to let this back pain rule my life. When I originally injured it ten years ago, the pain overwhelmed me and I was terrified that I would never get back to my previous level of activity. This time round I am better prepared for the ride and thankfully my pain has been easier to control. It was my mother-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago and it was at a point that I was still maxed out on my pain killers and mostly housebound. I was determined not to be beaten by this fact and agreed to join them for a lunch outing to celebrate.
To avoid having me seated in a car for too long, the Boy chose a local venue called Hopscotch Bar which is a new addition on Angelo Street in South Perth. This beautifully decked out bar is located in an old supermarket that remained vacant for some time after a storm blew its roof off last winter. I was glad to see they opted for a more modern and social way of dining with a small menu of share plates.
My parents-in-law are always so accommodating and generally let me order for everybody so that I don’t miss out. I think the truth of it is they like being able to sit back, relax and not have to stress about trivial things like what to eat or drink. Neither of them have any food intolerances nor are they fussy so it is an easy job for me.
We started with the free range chicken wings which I was originally told were gluten free provided I didn’t eat the sauce so the waitress ordered the sauce to be served on the side. After placing our order she came back and informed me that the chef wanted to advise that the oil may be contaminated with gluten as he had fried food with a flour coating prior to cooking the wings. This level of knowledge about gluten inspired great confidence in me. It is such a relief to know the chef already understands the basics of cross contamination when it comes to feeding a Coeliac.
Many of the small plates were able to have gluten free crackers substituted for bread leaving us quite a few options to enjoy. The duck liver pâté was smooth, smearable and richly flavoured although the jar made it a little difficult to serve easily. I cannot say I’m a fan of the trend of serving food in jars. I always feel like it is a short cut way to serve things rather than making an effort to plate the food up.
One of the vegetarian dishes of quinoa tossed with kale, mushrooms and goats cheese was a more substantial size and reasonably priced. It appeared that they had run out of kale and substituted spinach instead. The mushrooms had a wonderful meatiness to them and I could have happily eaten this dish to myself. But then again I am a mushroom addict!
The jamon-wrapped salmon fillets were served on a bed of cauliflower purée and topped with grilled asparagus and microherbs. The crispy jamon gave a great textural contrast to the softly cooked fish and I was pleased to note the salmon was cooked to have a satisfying dark pink centre. I get cranky when my salmon is overcooked as I believe it ruins it.
Neither of the desserts on the menu were gluten free however the Earl Grey pannacotta could be easily adapted by the omission of the shortbread biscuit. It had the requisite wobbly movement and the hint of bergamot aromas were so uplifting.
The Boy ordered the chocolate pudding to share based purely on the addition of vanilla ice cream. Ice cream really is his weakness. The “Sailor Jerry” chocolate pudding was irrelevant to him and he left it for his parents to enjoy instead. He can be easily pleased sometimes. Sometimes I said! 😉
Angelo Street was in dire need of somewhere cool that took it beyond the realms of sandwich bars and brunch spots. I look forward to seeing how Hopscotch Bar fits into the scene and will definitely be returning.
Hopscotch Bar | 79 Angelo Street, South Perth WA | 0418 399 966 | Facebook
A few years ago researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that people inherit their work ethic, or if it’s the case a lack of one, from their fathers not their mothers. This means that those who grow up with a hard-working, career focused dad will likely grow up to have similar attitudes. I am very grateful to have received Dad’s career orientated genes and it makes me so happy to see him proud of my achievements. There is however a slight downside to being so dedicated to our respective jobs, simply never having enough time in the day or in fact days in the week. It is far too easy to let the work-life balance slip off kilter and both Dad and I suffer from this.
Consequently it can be hard to pin down Dad and Tess for a weekend, especially as they live in Melbourne, but when we offered for their Christmas gift the lure of a full weekend eating truffles it was too good for them to refuse. We wanted to show them the full Truffle Kerfuffle experience so although it was a lot of eating I booked tickets for the Hunt and Harvest Dinner on the Friday, the Southern Forests Food Bowl Lunch on the Saturday and finally ending with Sophie Zalokar’s Truffle dinner at Foragers on the Saturday night. We booked our accommodation at one of Sophie’s beautiful chalets on the Foragers property in Pemberton.
Truffle Kerfuffle, or TK as it is known affectionately by the locals, kicked off in style on the Friday night with the Gala Opening Hunt and Harvest dinner. I loved observing the wide range in interpretation of the evening’s dress code; with some guests donning full satin evening gowns while others were dressed for comfort in jeans and sneakers. Upon arrival we were handed a welcome cocktail to sip as we found our way to our pre-allocated tables.
For last year’s TK, I planned ahead and had organised to be seated near decent lighting for the dinner event so that my photography didn’t suffer. This year I totally forgot and my heart sunk a little when I glanced over and saw that our arranged seats were situated in one of the darkest parts of the marquee.
The Hunt and Harvest Dinner consisted of five courses matched with local wines with each course prepared by one of the weekend’s celebrity chefs. All the chefs remained very focused on utilising the local produce in the Southern Forest region, not just black truffles. As we eagerly waited for our first course, our waitress came over to the table with a big grin on her face. “The chef just whipped up a surprise dish for you all; it’s a truffle croquette!” Everyone reached in excitedly to sample the crispy delights, but alas I missed out because of course they weren’t gluten free. The Boy happily snuffled up my croquette for me.
The first official course was made by Matthew Evans from the TV series Gourmet Farmer. Matthew is a chef that shares TK’s food philosophy of eating local and seasonal. He prepared a smooth textured brandade using locally caught Redfin perch, potatoes and of course plenty of Manjimup truffle.
The second dish was by far the best of the night and yet sadly one that I failed to capture on camera. Pata Negra’s David Coomer is somewhat of a truffle expert and was one of the first Perth chefs to twig onto the bright idea of growing his own truffles. David’s marron dish was close to orgasmic and for that moment all four of us stopped talking mid-conversation to focus attentively on sucking and slurping every single last morsel of flavour from our marron shells. The marron flesh was cooked to the millisecond of perfection and was literally drowning in a decadent brown butter truffle vinaigrette topped with grated truffle. What astounded me the most with this dish was that David somehow managed to ooze aromatic truffiliciousness into every mouthful; even the enclosed meat in the marron’s legs and claws tasted like truffle. It was heaven.
As the four of us glowed in the aftermath of marron ecstasy, Dad voiced his sympathy for the chef whose dish followed next as he imagined even a wonderful dish would be bland in comparison to that marron. Scott Bridger from Bib & Tucker and May Street Larder created his dish using local buckwheat and seasonal Jerusalem artichokes, topped with milk curd, fresh apple, sprouted buckwheat, wood sorrel and truffle.
I am guessing that he included some other gluten flours to be able to make the dough so fluffy, and thus my gluten free adapted version was made using a thin buckwheat crêpe. After indulging on copious rich truffle butter from the marron, I actually welcomed the lighter flavours.
Chef Kenny McHardy recently moved up to Perth from Albany and soon will be opening his new restaurant Manuka Woodfire Kitchen in Fremantle. He opted for a more hearty styled dish of a pork pithivier which is sort of a French equivalent of a meat pie but with a fluffy puff pastry. It was served with heirloom pumpkin and some local Tangletoe organic cider made at Mountford Wines in Pemberton.
Fluffy textures in gluten free pastry is a hard creation to prepare and Chef Kenny made the wise decision to not to ruin the dish with a lackluster gluten free pastry alternative. Instead, I received two buttery soft pork rillettes for my gluten free alternative. As many of my readers may recall, pork is not generally my first protein choice. But offer me pork lavished with luscious truffle and I can easily be swayed!
To finish off the evening, we enjoyed dessert made by Sophie Budd from Taste Budds Cooking Studio. Sophie bravely chose to made her dish truffle-less and used another culinary delicacy locally grown in the Southern Forests region; native finger limes. She prepared a smooth lemon souffle and topped it with adorable little pearls of Pemberton finger lime. I love how this fruit has been marketed as “citrus caviar”, it is such an appealing concept.
We commenced our next morning at the Truffle & Wine Co to go on a truffle hunt. My stepmum Tess is a huge animal lover like I am, with a particular weakness for Labradors. We got to meet the truffle dog Scrappy, a black Lab whose gentle nature and large brown eyes won everyone’s hearts especially Tess’s.
Not only is Scrappy trained to detect where truffles are growing under the ground, but she can also determine which truffles are ripe and therefore ready for harvest while leaving the immature truffles to continue to grow.
Using specific head gestures Scrappy was able to indicate to her trainer if there was more than one truffle in a single location and if they were growing together in a cluster or spaced a distance apart. Such a clever dog!
After a few cuddles with Scrappy, we returned to Fonty’s pool just in time for the Southern Forests Food Bowl Lunch. It was going to be a big day of non-stop eating so I had skipped breakfast in preparation and was ready with a very healthy appetite.
In a similar fashion to the dinner, our lunch was focused around showcasing some of the Southern Forest’s wonderful local produce with the black truffle taking centre stage. Each course was matched with local regional wines.
Our entree was prepared by Aaron Carr, the Executive Chef at Vasse Felix in Margaret River who was awarded 2015 Chef of the Year in the WA Good Food Guide. Using the locally farmed Blue Ridge marron, he paired it with sweet pear, cauliflower and truffle.
For the main course Chef Luke Burgess slow cooked some finger licking beef short ribs. The short ribs were served shared style in the centre table with each guest receiving their own plate of smoked quince and kohl rabi salad to pair with the tender beef.
The meal was rounded off nicely with dessert by Tom Randolph from No. 4 Blake Street. Savoury and sweet flavours were married with a truffle and Jerusalem artichoke custard topped with chocolate consommé and shards of salted chocolate.
After Saturday’s lunch we opted to head home from TK early as I was still suffering from my stupid back injury and needed some time out with my feet up to ease the pain. We had the Foragers Truffle Kerfuffle Seasonal Dinner that evening and I wanted to be able to last the distance. Foragers Field Kitchen holds sell-out seasonal dinners most Saturday nights which consist of a set menu served in a shared style. They have a BYO license.
Sophie Zalokar is a passionate advocate for the Southern Forest region and sources quality local produce to use in her kitchen as much as possible. Her cooking style is best described as authentic country cooking and nearly everything she prepares is made from scratch. For our first course, we started with a white bean and parmesan soup topped with truffle cream and fresh chervil. It was a crisp, cold night out and this shot of warmth was just what I needed.
For our second course we enjoyed some wood-roasted Jerusalem artichokes and sprout hearts. I haven’t tried them wood roasted before, it seems to be more popular to served them pureed rather than whole. They have a distinct but subtle sweetness to them which I have since learnt is due to the fructose content, something to note if you have fructose malabsoprtion. Toasted buckwheat and hazelnuts added a wonderful textural element to the dish. Some labna, or fresh yoghurt cheese, was made from Bannister Downs milk and of course everything was lavished with plenty of fresh truffle.
Whilst I’m certainly not a chef, it seems to me that rabbit can be a very temperamental meat to prepare. I often find it to be dry and tough unless it is served in some sort of slow cooked stew. Forager’s cider braised rabbit was none of those things and was so delicately tender and moist. It was served with celeriac cream, porcini juice, fresh truffle and Brussels sprout leaves.
I was thankful that our dessert was lovely and light as we had been solidly eating for most of the day. The smooth honey custard sat gently in my overly full belly and the persimmon and pumpkin seed salad was a refreshing way to finish a perfect meal.
We were yet to explore much of the Truffle Kerfuffle Farmers Market so we headed back on the Sunday morning as fresh as daisies to check it out.
There was an abundance of local food and wine to try with a smaller selection of hot food stalls to purchase more substantial meals. What sparked the Boy’s attention the most were the truffle inoculated trees available for sale and although we don’t have a property in Manjimup he showed great interest in getting one. Dad being the always generous man stopped in at the stall and bought one for his only son-in-law.
After the previous day’s feasting we were happy for a light lunch and while Dad and Tess wandered the Market tasting wines the Boy and I sat on the grass and ate some heartwarming market food. We had filled our bags with purchases of local produce to bring home including fresh truffles, local potatoes and an enormous spaghetti squash.
That evening back in our chalet, we had the most simple but exquisite meal of mashed potato with truffle butter and fresh truffle. It was as heavenly as all the other dishes we devoured over the three days, except of course for David Coomer’s marron. Now THAT was a one in a lifetime moment. It is always sad moment when TK is over, but the four of us are already counting down the days until next year’s truffle feasting. It looks like it might be an annual event for Dad and Tess too now!
Truffle Kerfuffle is held on the last weekend of June every year at Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup. Refer to their website www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au for more details
Disclaimer: Chompchomp purchased the tickets to the Hunt and Harvest dinner, Food Bowl lunch, Truffle Hunts and Winter Seasonal Dinner at Foragers at her own expense. She was grateful to receive a media pack with free passes, wine glasses and transportation to events for all her family from Offshoot Creative.
Pata Negra | 26 Stirling Highway, Nedlands WA 6009 | (08) 9389 5517 | www.patanegra.com.au
Bib & Tucker |18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle WA 6159 | (08) 9433 2147 | www.bibandtucker.net.au
May Street Larder | Shop 23, 155 Canning Highway, East Fremantle WA 6158 | www.maystreetlarder.com.au
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen | Shop 6/7,128-134 High Street, Fremantle, Western Australia 6160 | Facebook
Sophie Budd, Taste Budds Cooking Studio
Vasse Felix | Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au
No 4 | 4 Blake St, North Perth, 6006 WA | (08) 9444 6678 | www.no4blakestreet.com.au
Foragers | Lot 1 Roberts Road, Pemberton WAZ 6260 | (08) 9776 1580 | www.foragers.com.au
Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River WA 6285 | (08) 9758 8177 | www.colonialbrewingco.com.au
Kent Street Deli | Unit 3/1 Kent Road, Rockingham WA 6168 | (08) 9528 5335 | www.kentstreetdeli.com.au
Lady Marmalade | Donnybrook, WA | 0417 415 073 | Facebook
Earlier this year I locumed as a cat vet for the Hobart Cat Clinic and discovered a humble little café just up the road called The Picnic Basket. For lunch breaks I found it hard to tear myself away from the clinic as I’m not used to working somewhere as the sole charge vet. I am paranoid that an emergency case might rock up when I’m not there to treat it. Fortunately, the brilliant nurses at the Cat Clinic are very experienced and in all honesty would have been more than capable of holding the fort in my brief absence. After buying take-out lunches for the first week, they encouraged me to walk up to The Picnic Basket and dine in for lunch.
It is a curiously decorated café that feels like a fusion of a corner store, a farmstead living room, a bakery and a café. It is owned by a husband and wife team who are dedicated to promoting local produce and you can actually buy picnic baskets and fill them with take away goods for your own outdoor experience.
For those not wanting to brave the cold Tasmanian outdoors, there are plenty of cosy places to dine inside and it was lovely to sit and sip my coffee with the sun shining through the large ceiling height windows.
The Boy ordered himself a freshly squeezed juice as he doesn’t drink coffee. The juice was made with beetroot, apple and a hint of ginger. He gulped it down with minimal conversation which I always take as a positive sign.
For lunch he ordered the “Gaza Breakfast” which turned out to be a much larger meal than either of us were expecting. I guess this is a good demonstration of the difference between Hobart and Perth prices!
The soft, warmed pita was smeared with hummus and topped with boiled eggs, tomato, cilantro, red onion and a dash of paprika.
I was keen to try the “Miss Watson’s” dish which came with their home-baked gluten free nut seed bread. The moist, protein rich bread was dense and heavy making this a very filling dish. It was piled high with smashed avocado, roasted cherry tomatoes and delightfully squeaky haloumi.
Not knowing how generous the servings would be, I also ordered a side of mushrooms to share. The mushrooms weren’t served separately as I expected but were added onto my toast. The Boy’s Gaza breakfast was more than enough to keep him going so I just ate them all to myself.
The Picnic Basket is located on the southern side of Hobart and the route takes you along a picturesque winding coastal road. It is worth a visit should you have the time during your travels. For those of you who are my regular readers, you are probably thinking I am turning into a broken record by going on about how amazing all the food is in Tasmania. I guess this means you will just have to check it out for yourselves!
The Picnic Basket
176 Channel Highway, Taroona, TAS 7053 | 0477 225 427 | Facebook
This week is the final week for Eat Drink Perth festivities and for my last official EDP hurrah I attended the “South of France” dinner at Blackbird Restaurant in East Perth. Blackbird is a quaint little place tucked away in the corner nook of Claisebrook Cove facing out onto the water. Their focus is on serving traditional rustic European dishes and they have an interesting wine list with a collection of both local and International wines.
The South of France Dinner includes a three course meal accompanied by a bottle of French wine to share for the very reasonable price of $55 per person. I notified the kitchen staff in advance of my gluten free dietary needs and found then to be more than happy to accommodate.
Our entrée consisted of a share plate with three traditional Southern French dishes; a mushroom truffle dip with fresh baguette, pissaladière and salad Nicoise. I am always so grateful that there are many restaurants in Perth that now offer gluten free bread. I accept that these offerings will often be stodgy and, well, gluten free-ish but beggars can’t be choosers they say! I’m just happy to be considered. However for this evening, to my delight, our waiter served our entrée plate accompanied with some gluten free baguette!
Crunchy on the outside, and soft and light on the inside, it actually tasted like real baguette! With Perth’s truffle season creeping up close, I am getting to desperate levels of anticipation for a three month truffle binge. Just a single smear of truffilicious dip on my gluten free baguette was enough to make my eyes beam wide and I started to bounce up and down in my seat with excitement like a child.
Pissaladière is a bit like a French alternative to pizza that is often served in bakeries in Nice on the southern coast of France. It consists of a thick dough topped with caramelised onions, olives, garlic and anchovies. My pissaladiere was adapted by replacing the base with gluten free baguette. Containing caramelised onion meant that this wasn’t exactly a fructose friendly morsel, but sometimes I find it hard to say no to such deliciousness. Although I knew I was going to suffer a bit from onion bloating later on, I temporarily cast aside my worries and got lost in the moment enjoying my gluten free treat.
The final dish on the share plate was a salad Nicoise with green beans, cherry tomatoes, boiled egg, chat potatoes and tuna aioli. The tuna aioli was creamy, rich and packed a powerful flavour kick to the more gentle fresh ingredients.
For the main course there was a choice of two dishes which were also designed to share. The options were either Coq au vin Blanc with Provençale rice, or, Bouillabaisse. My stepmum makes a killer version of both these dishes so it was a hard call to pick which one to order. After some careful deliberation we chose the bouillabaisse.
It was a wise choice. Chunky fillets of Red Emperor were cooked to a flaky perfection and joined cockles and prawns to bath in a bright and heart-warming broth. There was a slight chill in the night air and each mouthful of soup helped warm my bones.
Our dessert required only a slight adaptation to be gluten free with the standard dish consisting of little bite size tart aux pomme, or apple tarts with some fresh stone fruits and brandy cream. The chef made me a gluten free tart by fashioning a shell using a chunk of walnut cake.
Our midweek South of France dinner was one that we arrived with no expectations and walked away more than contented and satisfied.
Growing up with a patriotic French-born father resulted in French cuisine forming a considerable part of my childhood. My Dad grew up in the south of France and so food from this region is something I was taught to know well from a young age. Getting to enjoy some of these classic dishes at Blackbird brought back fond memories of my younger years and it was definitely a weeknight worth leaving the house for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp’s meal was paid for by the City of Perth as part of her official blogging duties for Eat Drink Perth 2015.
10 Eastbrook Terrace, overlooking Claisebrook Lake, East Perth, WA 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | blackbirdrestaurant.com.au
East Drink Perth Offer South of France Dinner: $55 per person for two people, three course with a bottle of French wine
For some reason over the last couple of years I have become accident-prone. Don’t be alarmed, there has been no major incidents, but more of a succession of annoying injuries that have prevented me from running which in turn makes me very grumpy. To name a few, there has been a handful of broken ribs, multiple occasions of recurrently broken toes, countless bumps to the head, plantar fasciitis and most recently during our Melbourne trip, a torn quadriceps. It has got to the stage that I get more of an eye roll than any sympathy from the Boy because seriously…it is never ending and according to him somewhat preventable.
For my most recent injury it was a case of me being overambitious, which again the Boy believes is a common occurrence. My stepmum invited me out on a run with her one morning. As we walked out the door my father was chanting out retorts that she doesn’t really run suggesting I was in for an easy outing.
Eighteen rounds of interval training at a flat out sprint later I was left out of breath with a stitch and sweating profusely. My stepmum had barely worked up a sweat and had to slow down so I could keep up the pace.
Two days later, still stiff and sore the Boy and I hit the shops to do some clothes shopping. It is a rare event that the both of us are in the mood to shop and this day our minds were perfectly in sync. Winning. Just as we were getting into the swing of things with a number of bags in hand, I crouched down to pick up a pair of jeans and felt something in the front of my leg go “twang!”. Sharp bolts of pain radiated up my leg and I struggled to pull myself up.
And thus our shopping expedition ended. Within minutes a very focal hard area of swelling and bruising came up on the front of my leg and I was unable to extend my leg out. Yup, I tore a quad. Awesome.
As my eyes watered with pain the Boy tried to distract me from my injury with offers of a lunch date instead. We were minutes shuffle from Supernormal on Flinders Lane so I plucked up my courage and hobbled along gritting my teeth. Supernormal serve Modern Asian share plates, with a lot of Chinese influenced dishes as a result of the Head Chef’s time spent in Hong Kong.
As we were seated we were given some complementary pumpkin seeds to nibble on while the waiter went through the gluten free options for me. I was finding it very hard to concentrate with pain shooting up and down my leg and not knowing whether I should sit or stand I kept shuffling about at our table with an unattractive grimace on my face. To buy us some time the Boy ordered some pickled vegetables and oysters to start along with a strong hit of gin for me. I downed a couple of pain killers in one gulp and waited for my pain to subside.
As the gin coursed its way through my veins, my pain gave way to discomfort allowing me to sit back on my bar stool and knock back some Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters. I could take my focus away from my torn muscle and concentrate on the menu enough to select a couple of larger dishes to share. We started with the silken tofu with marinated eggplant and coriander after being advised it was gluten free. It wasn’t until the waitress actually brought the cooked dish to our table that she then paused and exclaimed “Oh! This isn’t gluten free!” and whisked it away quickly. I wish I hadn’t got to smell and see the dish because it looked amazing and I really felt like I had missed out. Boo hoo to gluten.
I had heard many good things about Supernormal’s lobster rolls so you can imagine my joy when our apologetic waitress told me they could do a gluten free version of this dish using a lettuce leaf cup instead of the brioche bun. The Boy ordered the standard version which although small for the price did get a number of exclamations and groans of pleasure out of the man.
Whilst not getting to enjoy the texture and flavour on the brioche bun, I was hardly missing out with the sang chow bow styles lettuce cups. The lobster was sweet, fresh and all the colours of delicious. For a brief moment there I could almost forget I was a cripple again. Food has a wonderful way of making things better in the short term.
I will definitely be returning for a few more rounds of these next trip to Melbourne hopefully without any injuries to distract me!
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIA 3000 | (03) 9650 8688 | www.supernormal.net.au
Growing up in a small family unit means that when it breaks apart, the blow is a harder one to deal with. Having less people for the impact to disperse energy leaves each individual with a harder knock. This Christmas we travelled back to Melbourne to spend time with my family however the logistics of who sees who and when became even more complicated than ever before. My sister and I non-amicably parted ways in the lead up to my wedding, not my choice, and although time has passed the wounds still remain fresh for us both. To further complicate the issue, my parents are divorced which means we would normally spend Christmas with them each individually, dining with Dad on Christmas Eve and with Mum on Christmas Day.
Being estranged from my sister meant this usual arrangement would not be possible. Consequently, the plan was for the Boy and I to have Mum’s company for Christmas Eve whilst my sister spent time with our father, and then we would swap over for Christmas Day.
We organised to have Mum for the full day so I could maximise our time together, starting with a beautiful lunch booked at Stokehouse City. Being only minutes walk from where we staying it was the perfect location.
We both arrived laden with bulky gifts and beaming Christmas cheer smiles. I have laboured too long over the sadness of our family situation and am actively trying to move forward and embrace what moments I have with a positive mind.
Mum and the Boy started with the seared Harvey Bay scallops for entrée. This was an interesting mix of flavours with cauliflower purée, strawberries, macadamias and crisp pancetta.
I chose the steak tartare served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, horseradish and mascarpone. Plump, super sweet ruby grapes and wafery potato crisps garnished the dish. The beef was freshly diced and had a very clean aftertaste. This was a modern take of a classic done exceptionally well.
For our main course both Mum and I chose the John Dory fillet. I knew there was going to be some hard core feasting over the next few days and figured starting off eating light would be a kind way to ease my gut into it. The fish was tossed with peppery watercress, toasted almonds and local mussels and served on a bed of richly flavoured Romesco sauce.
The Boy ordered the O’Connor’s pasture fed beef tenderloin served perfectly rare to order and topped with a cascade of smashed roasted potatoes and herbs.
Feeling brief pangs of sadness that I wouldn’t be joining Mum for our traditional lunch at Vue de Monde the following day, I decided to push the boat out and managed to coerce her into ordering both cheese and desserts. I know, I know. I said I would stop this habit as I have put on too much weight this year but then isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
For dessert, we ordered the two gluten free options and shared them amongst the three of us. The lemon and raspberry Eton mess was like a garden of deliciousness with tumbles of fresh berries, champagne jelly and buttermilk ice cream. I nearly regretted electing to share as I savoured every mouthful.
Our second choice was “The Bombe”, Stokehouse’s take on a Bombe Alaska. It made a stunning sight although my drunken photography didn’t really do it justice. Sadly the toasted meringue tasted a bit too gluey and not very fresh. The meringue layered over a centre layer of strawberry sorbet and a white chocolate parfait base.
With full bellies and fuelled with champagne we exchanged our gifts before gathering them all up and walking over to the cinema to see a movie of Mum’s choice. It was late when the movie finished but knowing we wouldn’t get to see each other the following day none of us wanted this day to end. To finish the evening we travelled up to the Atrium Bar on level 35 at the Sofitel to enjoy a few nightcaps before finally bidding farewell and turning it in.
The following day was Christmas Day. Back in the day when I spent this with my sister, it would often be a day of extremes and drama; certainly not all bad but definitely not all good. Some people just don’t cope well under pressure and invariably I would end up bring the scapegoat for most of the day’s hiccups and problems.
Although it was sad and out of place to not be with Mum, this new way of doing Christmas Day was such a relaxed and chilled affair that it almost didn’t feel real.
We ate all day as one always does on Christmas; feasting on roasted goose, baked ham and the most addictive duck fat potatoes. But all this was done without a single element of drama.
Our hosts for the day were my Stepmum’s sister and her husband. My Stepmum’s sister is a master in the kitchen as well as also being the author of the blog Cioccolata Bella.
Everything was made from scratch using local seasonal produce where ever possible, much of it just from her backyard veggie patch.
There was even some gluten free mince pies and plum pudding for me to enjoy. In fact, another guest was Coeliac so there weren’t just token gluten free options, everyone was very mindful of avoiding contamination in the kitchen.
Reflecting back in the peace of mid-January, I appreciate that our return home for Christmas wasn’t what I am used to in years gone by yet despite this change I still got to spend quality time with those I love. And that is the most important thing.
7 Alfred Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000 | (03) 9525 5555 | stokehouse.com.au/city
Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held each year in the Margaret River wine region. It has become a yearly favourite for locals and a huge drawcard for people interstate and internationally. Last year the festival clashed with some dates we had booked for a close friend’s birthday celebration in Lombok, so I thought we were only going to be able to make it down for the Friday. My usual plan of attack when attending a food festival is a crazed I-must-eat-all-the-things caper. I hate the thought that I might miss out on something delicious and end up booking back to back events like a lunatic. This approach often comes at a significant cost and thus our budget for these weekends is usually quite substantial.
When it dawned upon me that I only had a single day for Gourmet Escape, I thought I would push the boat out and chose one of the most expensive events: The International Cabernet Tasting at Cape Mentelle with James Halliday as a guest speaker and matched food by highly acclaimed chefs Jacques Reymond and Hadleigh Troy.
I should have known that it is impossible to try and plan your social life six months in advance. As it drew closer to the month of Gourmet Escape our travel plans fell through and subsequently the whole weekend opened up for us. One door closed and another door opened. I preceded to book a flurry of events and are yet to look at the damage it made on my credit card. I even bought tickets to a Fervor degustation for the evening after the Cabernet Celebration! This proved to be a learning lesson that I can no longer do two big food events in one day.
I have never been to an official wine tasting event before and whilst I am very experienced at drinking wine, I am a total amateur when it comes to tasting and describing wines. Cape Mentelle’s International Cabernet tasting is an event that has been running for over thirty years and at each event they select international wines from vintages from a specific year.
There were twenty wines selected for blind tasting from the vintage 2011. Cameron Murphy, the Estate Director at Cape Mentelle advised us that 2011 was a challenging year for many wine growing regions around the world resulting in some top labels not releasing a Cabernet or requesting that their wines were not to be included in the line-up for this event.
The wines were divided into three “brackets” and after tasting each bracket, we would congregate outside under the vines and listen to some top wine critics from around the country analyse and give their opinions. It was a very serious affair and once the tasting got under way the only noise I could hear were clinks of glasses hitting together and the occasional slurp from professional tasters spotted around the room.
We were given note books and pencils to take our own notes and with the ban on talking this gave me an opportunity to actually think about what I was tasting from each glass.
It took a couple of hours to get through the three brackets of wine accompanied by the wine critic’s discussions by which point I was desperate for something to eat. There was some plain bread and pear slices available to cleanse the palate between each bracket which I obviously couldn’t eat. After the tasting were completed, the list of wines were revealed for us to see. It was a proud moment to see that most of the critic’s best wine choices were from local WA wineries. Where the world had a bad vintage, our state seemed to come out with flying colours. Go WA!
Wines in order of tasting:
- Ridge Montebello (Napa Valley, USA)
- Woodlands (Margaret River, Australia)
- Houghton ‘Jack Mann’ (Frankland River, Australia)
- Mount Mary (Yarra Valley, Australia)
- Château Pichon – Longueville Baron, (Paulliac, Bordeaux)
- Domaine A (Tasmania, Australia)
- Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
- Wendouree (Claire, Australia)
- Spottswoode (Napa Valley, USA)
- Cloudburst (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cape Mentelle (Margaret River, Australia)
- Hentley Farm von Kasper Cabernet (Barossa, Australia)
- Château Palmer (Margaux, Bordeaux)
- Moss Wood (Margaret River, Australia)
- Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Château Haut Brion (Graves, Bordeaux)
- Xanadu ‘Stevens Road’ (Margaret River, Australia)
- Far Niente (Napa Valley, USA)
- Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien, Bordeaux)
- Ornellaia (Bolgheri, Italy)
With the formalities of the event over, we relaxed outside under the trees. There was free flowing Verve on pour coupled with some canapés to get us into the mood before lunch. For those first few brief minutes there was no gluten free option on offer and I watched the Boy devour his obscenely amazing smelling marron roll to himself. I was so hungry I nearly had shoestrings of saliva dripping down my face. Working my way through twenty wines has a way of doing that to my appetite! Thankfully I wasn’t kept waiting long and my own gluten free adapted marron roll made its way out of the kitchen before the Boy even had a chance to finish his.
The most popular canapé served was by far the Arkady lamb breast. Hardly an elegant morsel to eat at the best of times, I was lucky not to be wearing most of what I ate. Or maybe that was just the drool. After skipping breakfast followed by downing all those wines, I am assuring you I ate quite a few of these babies! 😉
After multiple rounds of lamb and marron, we made our way down onto the lawn where a beautiful white marquee was erected for lunch. We had live entertainment and the atmosphere was relaxed and jovial compared to the intense concentration and silence during the tastings.
Our first course was a velvety textured, slow cooked ocean trout served with a tomato and basil dressing, lemon celeriac remoulade and spiced marinated cucumber. After a morning of heavy reds, it was a nice interlude to lighten up the palate. The trout was matched with Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012.
For the main course we received a tender Butterfield beef short rib alongside some charred carrots and pine nut cream. To pair with this dish all twenty of the 2011 Cabernets that we tasted earlier were brought out and poured liberally until the late afternoon. I appreciated why this event cost so much as they were very generous with the serves.
We ended our incredible day with a cheese board containing some of my favourite French cheeses; Marcel Petite Gruyere de Comte, Fourme d’Ambert and Jouvence Brie Fermier. I was even given gluten free crackers on the side which was thoughtful of the chefs.
The Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting was an incredibly unique experience and something quite unlike anything I have done before. It is a long day of drinking with the event starting at 10am and running into the late afternoon. It attracted both serious wine buffs and amateurs like me and had a non-pretentious and relaxed vibe…provided you do not talk during the tasting (note to self).
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for her ticket to the Gourmet Escape International Cabernet Celebration 2014. And, for those enquiring….no, she did not fall on her head at this event. She did however discover that Jacques Reymond is her father’s dopplerganger and consequently filled by Cabernet she MAY have waltzed over to the famous chef with the Boy armed with a photo of her father on her phone to enlighten Jacques of this fact. Suffice to say Jacques had swilled his own substantial quantity of Cabernet that afternoon and was left somewhat confused by our excitement. She will let you decided for yourselves.
Like many Australians, I have a mixed racial background. My father was born in France and is proudly patriotic, consequently I grew up listening to endless stories about the food, culture and history of my ancestors. One thing he taught me from an early age was that each region of France has their own signature dishes or types of cuisine that they proclaim to be famous for.
Brittany, or Bretagne is a historic province in the north-west of France that is rich in culture. In contrast to a lot of France where the locals will drink wine daily, the traditional drink of Bretons is cider with Brittany being the second largest cider producing region in France. They are also recognised for their crêpes and galettes which traditionally replaced bread as basic food. These are made with buckwheat flour and thus are gluten free.
Breizh Original Crêperie is a new pop up restaurant located on Leonard Street in Victoria Park. The building is used for a number of different pop up events over the course of the week with Breizh securing the venue for Saturday and Sunday nights.
Run by two French brothers this dynamic team aims to provide traditional French Bretagne food with a bit of a modern twist. They utilise simple, locally sourced ingredients and make everything in house themselves.
Although their savoury crepes are made with gluten free buckwheat flour, they do prefer that any severely intolerant or coeliac customers notify them 48 hours in advance so they can ensure to take extra precautions with the kitchen environment to avoid any cross contamination.
For our invited feast to follow with the tradition of Bretagne, the Boy organised some ciders for us to bring along and enjoy with our meals. Not exactly the most fructose friendly beverage but they do say when in Rome…
We started our meal with a serve of the apero; an appetiser galette to share with parsley, roasted garlic and olive oil with gooey melted Emmental cheese.
The buckwheat added a subtle nutty flavour and the crepes had a surprisingly crisp texture.
For our main we opted for the weekly special galette. Breizh post their changing weekly specials up on their website every week and include a new galette and crepe to keep the menu dynamic and interesting.
Our savoury galette was made with dried wild morel mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, fresh tarragon and parsley with a luxurious white wine cream sauce. Added to this was some melted Swiss cheese and sprinkles of toasted pine nuts. Again the outer most edge of my galette had a paper thin crispiness to it yet the centre was soft, gooey and rich in flavour. A taste sensation for sure.
For dessert we both chose a different type of crepe. These crepes can be made with either normal flour or buckwheat flour. For those wanting gluten free, ensure to inform your waiter on ordering that you want the buckwheat option.
One of the permanent items on the crepe menu is the salted caramel crepe. This was our favourite, despite its simplicity. It is made with homemade salted caramel sauce, and I recommend to go for the option of an added ice-cream scoop.
The weekly crepe special was also a winner and was topped with a cube of velvety strawberry parfait, drizzles of strawberry coulis and fresh whipped cream. This was a crepe for those with a strong sweet tooth. It was a warm night and we had to devour this treat quickly before the parfait turned into a puddle of pink syrup.
I have been informed that Briezh Original Crêperie are attempting to secure a more permanent location in Vic Park but at this stage it is not set in stone. In the meantime they are happy to be working out of Leonard Street and are spending their time focusing on producing quality crepes and galletes.
The little pop-up restaurant fills up quickly each week and I highly recommend heading to their website and pre-booking a table. Don’t forget to advise them in advance if you are gluten free too.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of Breizh. Given the fact that this restaurant is within five minutes’ walk from her front door, she will be sure to happily return as a full paying customer. Always happy to eat a piece of my heritage 😉 Breizh Original Crêperie Pop Up Event Every Saturday and Sunday night from 6pm to 9pm | 1 Leonard Street Victoria Park WA 6100 | breizhoriginal.com.au
Whenever I am feeling overindulged, a fail safe way of getting my gut and body to recover is for me to eat a plant based vegan diet for a few days. After the incredibleness of our weekend away in Margaret River for their annual food festival Gourmet Escape, my body was crying out for some gentle eating. We burned all the candles at every end for the full weekend attending multiple degustations, an international Cabernet tasting and rubbing shoulder with some celebrity chefs. I will not deny it was all worth it.
For the following week I had time off work which gave me a chance to catch up on my long to-do list without any distractions. Wanting to pledge to adhere to a vegan, or at least vegetarian diet for most of the week I kick-started it all off with a visit to Loving Hut on Albany Highway in Victoria Park.
Loving Hut are an international vegan restaurant chain with over 200 locations around the world. They were created with the vision that all beings on this Earth can live in peace, love and harmony with each other.
Each Loving Hut restaurant is individually owned allowing them to have their own influence on the dishes on their menus with just one thing being in common; all their food is made only with wholesome plant based ingredients.
For the course of the next week, I returned almost every day to grab myself a healthy and easy vegan lunch and was impressed to see that they changed most of their dishes daily.
There are a bunch of different gluten free options including gluten free quiche and raw sandwiches along with some other non-gluten free options for those more “normal” people. Loving Hut are open 7 days so once we hit the weekend I dragged the Boy along to show him what I had been raving about all week. It didn’t take long to convert him and we ended up eating lunch there on both days of that weekend.
He loved the mock meat pies with their homemade Gourmet pie being his favourite. Filled with loads of roasted vegetables in additional to chunks of mock meat, he wants to return and grab a bunch of them to put in the freezer for him to eat later.
I am so delighted to have found a restaurant within walking distance of my home that can supply us with healthy, gluten free vegan options for lunch. More so their ingredients were fresh and predominately organic. The Loving Hut staff are super friendly and were happy to talk me through all the ingredients so I could pick the fructose friendly options too. Being kind to my body and all our creatures on this Earth has never been so easy!Disclosure: Chompchomp’s repeated visits to the Loving Hut were entirely at her own expense. Loving Hut Shop 19, 366 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, WA 6100 | (08) 9470 3969 | lovinghutperth.com
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
Being a veterinarian makes me the only scientist in my direct family; my mother is a retired Jazz singer, my father is a fashion designer and even my sister will oil paint in her spare time. Whilst I do enjoy the freedom and creativity of the arts, my strongest loyalties will always lie with my furry patients and their owners.
This isn’t to say I don’t love and cherish my blog too and with Chompchomp turning three this month it has been so exciting to watch my readership steadily grow each year. I find it so touching to know that through my writing I can help others with food intolerances find the courage to dine out while still providing some entertainment to those who are not restricted in their diet. These days I find my inbox filling up with invitations and product trials at an alarmingly fast rate. Because of my long shifts and late hours, there are many events that I have to knock back and I need to ensure to only choose the ones that I think are relevant to me and my readers.
I recently attended the South Africa Roadshow held at the Burswood Convention Centre. South Africa has always been on my bucket list and I imagined this would be an event aimed at people in the travel media including journalists and bloggers. I soon found out that it was actually a night for travel agents to help them learn to pitch and sell different tours and resorts to their customers. Not really applicable to my blog at all.
While the Boy was keen to stay and enjoy all the free South African wine, I had come off the back of a long day with not much to eat and was hungry enough to eat my own arm. After asking the waitress three times if there was anything gluten free I quickly grew tired of waiting around for a reply and decided to leave. I had given the event organisers advance notice of my gluten free requirement but obviously this was to no avail.
Instead of returning home, the Boy agreed to stay for dinner but requested we go somewhere cheap. I have a history of blowing the budget at the Crown and with their flagship restaurants including Rockpool, Nobu and Bistro Guillaume it is an easy thing to do. I knew that their cheaper option Market & Co was in the Entertainment Book which would mean we would get a discount of up for $45 off our meal. I found a bunch of gluten free options on the menu with a few more dishes able to be adapted. We started with the salt and pepper cuttlefish with Asian coleslaw. It was fairly decent serve for the price, freshly fried and coated in thin gluten free batter. The coleslaw had seen better days and was not much more than a pile of tired looking cabbage.
The Boy ordered the lobster risotto. It was served on a bed of truffled corn purée and garnished with random blobs of salsa verde splashed across the plate like an accident. The risotto was laced with a generous amount of “lobster” meat which was really crayfish however this dish was somewhat ruined by the faint dishwater after-taste as if the rice had been cooked in a dirty pan.
I chose the grilled salmon which the chef adapted to be gluten free. It came with a shiitake mushroom risotto and an oddly placed squiggle of saffron beurre blanc on the side of the plate. Presentation was seemingly not the chef’s strong point for the evening but despite my dish’s appearance the mushroom risotto was creamy and tasted freshly made.
The only gluten free dessert option at Market & Co was a fruit salad which didn’t inspire me at all. Instead I managed to twist the Boy’s arm and convince him to head next door to Nobu for a night cap. On the walk over I reminded him of Nobu’s drop dead gorgeous gluten free chocolate fondant with its luscious eruption of gooey chocolate centre. I even dug up a photo on my phone to remind him.
I am pretty sure he wasn’t even listening to me, he just heard “green tea ice cream” and it was a done deal for him.
However after taking our seats at the bar in a brief moment of spontaneity, I ended up ordering us the other gluten free option on the menu; the salted caramel miso parfait. Topped with Tonka foam and white chocolate and garnished with caramelised popcorn, it appeared to me that my highly esteemed fondant had met its match.
The obvious solution to this conundrum is that now I am going to have to go back to Nobu again, order both the fondant AND the parfait and then compare them both to find out the real winner! 😉 I mean, chocolate fondant + salted caramel parfait + popcorn + champagne….does it actually get any better than that?Chompchomp was an invited guest of the South Africa Roadshow where she enjoyed a couple of glasses free wines and cheese. Sadly that was the extent of the freebies for the evening and the meal at Market & Co and Nobu was funded for by herself and the Boy. Not to worry as the Entertainment Card gave a neat little discount off the total bill making it a super cheap night. Market & Co Crown Promenade Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/casual/market-co/about www.noburestaurants.com/perth
Since leaving the East coast as a fresh faced teenager to pursue a career in veterinary science, I quickly learnt to depend on only myself. While I already had an innate level of independence at that age, being separated from my parents by thousands of kilometres had a way of perfecting this skill. Nearly two decades have passed since then and I’m now at a point in my life now where I realise being fiercely self reliant isn’t always a good thing. Recognising that I need and am needed by my close family members seems much more relevant, especially given the distance that separates some of us. I haven’t lived in the same city as either of my parents since I departed long ago and can sometimes go for over twelve months before I cast eyes on their lovable faces. As we all get older, I am realising that I need to make more effort to spend quality time with each of them individually.
It has been years since Mum has come over to visit us in Perth and even longer since she came over with her other half, Jack. They both adore our South West region and requested that we take them down to “The Margaret’s River” as Mum loves to call it. No amount of convincing can get her to call it otherwise.
It is rare for us to be able to relax together so to celebrate this occasion I booked us in at Vasse Felix winery for a long lazy lunch. On our way to Vasse Felix we stopped off at Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Company.
Neither Mum nor Jack are big wine drinkers so the Boy and I tried to avoid boring them to pieces with winery after winery. Bettenay’s do have some wines on offer in addition to some luscious liqueurs and, of course, loads of nougat. Their nougat is all handcrafted with gorgeous flavours including cherry and coconut, and my favourite chocolate mint.
After each purchasing a bundle of nougat we headed off to one of Margaret River’s most popular caves; Lake Cave. It has been ages since the Boy and I have gone down into the caves yet every time we do we are reminded what a natural beauty it is.
Lake Cave has one of the only “suspended tables” in the world which weighs several tonnes and forms a breathtaking sight floating in the air casting its refection in the ripples of water below. This cave is one of the deepest in the region so be prepared to walk down and then back up a fair number of steep stairs. There are rest points along the way for those less fit and able.
There were enough stairs to work up anyone’s appetite and after the Caves we headed straight to Vasse Felix for lunch. It was a long weekend and I was grateful that I had pre-booked because every winery that we passed along the way looked packed with cars.
Vasse Felix have an à la carte menu or alternatively if you select dishes marked on the menu with a star you can enjoy three courses for a set price of $65.
There were a handful of gluten free options and one vegetarian dish for each course. Upon arrival our waitress brought out some fresh bread and cultured butter. There was no gluten free bread available so they kindly brought out some marinated olives for me to nibble on while my family hungrily feasted on the bread.
The marinated olives are sourced from a local olive farm called 34 Degrees South and were served warm. I loved how the olive flesh slithered off the pit easily and consequently I downed most of the bowl before I realised that I should probably share.
Mum and Jack both ordered the omelette for entrée. Cooked sous-vide with mirin, it was served with new season asparagus and locally foraged mushrooms. The egg was browned to a glowing caramel colour and garnished with chilli threads, tiny crumbles of popcorn and togarashi. Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper and thankfully it wasn’t too hot for my Mum’s palate. The omelette was a gluten free dish however to avoid all three of us having the same dish, I ordered the other gluten free option which was the quail.
I struggled somewhat get a good photo of my entrée due to the sun coming in at an angle on my deep bowled dish. Maybe I need to bring a reflector with me when I’m out dining? Is that too crazy? My quail breast was cooked sous-vide with a confit leg and served on a bed of quinoa, zucchini and olives. It was topped with what I first thought was shaved parmesan but soon found out was feta shaved in liquid nitrogen. It had an unexpected creaminess that dissolved on contact with my tongue. To enhance the delicateness of this light dish some caper puree added some punch into the flavours.
For his entrée, the Boy decided to pop his ramen cherry. Ramen hasn’t really taken off in Perth to the extent it has over in Sydney and therefore neither of us have tried it before. Using house made ramen noodles, this dish was given a South-west twist using Manjimup marron and local fresh water crustaceans. A soft gooey quail egg and some fried nori finished it off and as the aromas wafted to my side of the table I was so envious that I couldn’t even taste one mouthful. Damn you gluten!
For those of you who have yet to try Cone Bay barramundi, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These fish are farmed in unique environmental conditions in the north west of Australia that imparts a very clean, and sweet taste.
The fish came with a potato fondant and shards of translucent potato glass topped with luxurious drizzles of smoked oyster butter. It was nearly as good as truffle butter. Nearly I said! There was also a little bit of fructose naughtiness with locally foraged charred leeks and leek foam.
Mum and Jack both ordered the lamb shank for their main, such peas in a pod those two! The locally sourced lamb was cooked sous-vide over 48 hours making it uber-soft in texture however sadly it was served lukewarm. I offered to get the waitress to take it back to the kitchen but my Mum didn’t want to make a fuss. The lamb was accompanied with a black barley risotto and ratatouille made of smoked tomato petal, tomato fondue, picked red onion and eggplant purée.
Although the Boy predominantly will stick to his vegetarian diet at home, like me he can on occasions crave meat. Ordering himself the kangaroo loin today was one of these days.
The loin was served rare and was as lean can be without an ounce of detectable fat present. It was served with textures of beetroot, wattleseed crackers and oil made from dandelions foraged on the property.
Our mains were decent sized meals so after stuffing our faces with the addictive duck fat potatoes there was only a small amount of room left for dessert. We agreed to share a couple of petit fours plates between the four of us however the only gluten free element on the plate was the passionfruit macaron. There was only one macaron on each platter but the waitress was kind enough to put an extra one on there for me.
The Boy was absolutely smitten by the bite size ice cream sandwich made with cinnamon ice cream. Many of us food bloggers claim to have a second stomach for dessert and whilst I was reasonably full, one macaron was not going to cut it even if it was one of my favourite flavours.
Consequently I ordered the gluten free dessert option to share with the Boy. I love abstract desserts, plates of multiple elements that you can mix and match on your tastebuds at your leisure. Fluffy portions of cardamom chiffon cake and silky chocolate cremeaux were paired with Jerusalem artichoke ice cream. Passionfruit caramel and gel added a tart sweetness with chocolate soil and dehydrated mouse contrasting with velvety cocoa bitterness. Heavenly to say the least. My claims for being full surpassed me as I competed with the Boy for every spoonful.
The weekend went by all too quickly, time honestly does fly when you’re having fun. There is no one in the world that can make me laugh the way my Mum can and I realise that I need to stop running the rat race of life and take time out to giggle with her more often.Disclaimer: Despite Mum and Jack insisting on trying to pay for everything, the Boy and I managed to sneak in paying our own way for lunch. Blame it on that independent streak of mine. I want to thank Mum, Jack and my beloved for sharing such a wondrous weekend away. Our times together are always cherished xxxx Bettenay’s Margaret River Nougat Co Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Road, Cowaramup, WA 6284 | (08) 9755 5539 | www.margaretrivernougat.com.au Lake Cave Caves Road, Forest Grove WA 6284 | (08) 9757 7411 | www.margaretriver.com/operators/7706 Vasse Felix Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6284 | (08) 9756 5050 | www.vassefelix.com.au
I don’t know what it is about wet, windy nights that sometimes inspires me to want to leave the comfort of my home and eat out. Mostly when I get these fanciful urges, the Boy will sensibly put his foot down and insist we stay at home where it is warm and dry. However on occasions, for reasons I have yet to pin point, he will sporadically and unpredictably consent to my absurd proposition and off we go together with overcoats and matching umbrellas in hand. Whenever this glorious union in thought occurs, I get disproportionately excited like a child that has just been given an oversized bag of candy. I have to love this guy for always keeping me on my toes!
After a couple of teasing days of sunshine, our Perth weather turned sour and my bizarre desire to head out to a restaurant in the rain returned. I wanted to check out a relatively new bar opened in Applecross called Bad Apples Bar and after enticing the Boy with offers of beer and pizza he willingly accepted.
Bad Apples Bar have plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options which they have kindly indicated on their menu. They also have gluten free pizza bases for a couple of extra dollars on top of the normal pizza price. We started with their grilled haloumi topped with a pineapple salsa and olive crumb. The Boy commented that he thought haloumi and pineapple was an odd combination but I enjoyed the play on salty and sweet flavours it gave.
I rarely order pizzas at restaurants as I am somewhat nervous of the risk of cross contamination of gluten with the non-gluten bases in the same oven. Whilst my sensitivity to gluten is not as severe as some, I still have to ensure to be very careful. Just to be safe, I double checked with our waitress again about Bad Apple’s pizzas and she assured me that the kitchen staff take every precaution. Willing to accommodate the Boy’s vegetarian preferences I ordered us the mushroom pizza on a gluten free base.
The pizza was topped with some rocket pesto, goats cheese and overly zealous lashings of truffle oil. After we had finished eating our pizza, a glimmering puddle of oil remained pooled on our plate. Some restraint from the chef next time would be greatly appreciated!
I was thankful I had also ordered a salad which assisted to wash down some of the oiliness of the pizza. I convinced myself that I was being somewhat healthy by adding in a salad. The warm salad contained pan-fried root vegetables, lentils and chickpeas tossed with spinach and topped with more goats cheese. Crunchy lotus chips garnished the dish giving a little bit of flair and adding a textural contrast.
The Boy and I were having one of those nights where I wanted to finish up the night with cheese, and he wanted something sweet. To settle this debate we decided to flip a coin. Heads for dessert and tails for cheese. I was so keen for a bite of cheese that I stared at that coin so hard, trying to will it to land on tails. “HEADS!” the Boy shouts out. A bet is a bet and he won it fair and square, dessert it is then!
Quite chuffed with himself for winning the Boy chose the vanilla crème brulée to share. This was the only gluten free dessert on the menu. Even better still it came with a small bowl of lemon ginger sorbet to quench his relentless need for frozen desserts. It had a very mild flavour but the custard was silky smooth with the top layer making a satisfying crack of as we hit our spoons.
Bad Apples Bar is a popular venue along Riseley Street’s café strip. Despite the unpleasant weather of that evening, it was still filled with customers and we were actually lucky to secure a table.
Was it worth braving the elements for? Well, the service was bubbly and attentive but the food was a bit of hit and miss. Even though I was happy to eat a rare dinner of pizza, the taste of the excess oil lingered on my palate for most of the drive home. I guess you can’t win ‘em all!
Disclaimer: Whilst Chompchomp may admit that the Boy can sometimes be right, that does not under any circumstances mean she is consequently wrong. It is a perfectly normal desire to want to leave a dry, warm home in search of something better to eat.Bad Apples Bar 6/16 Riseley Street, Ardross WA 6153 | 0430 098 748 | www.badapplesbar.com.au
Many of you know that my day job is totally unrelated to food. I am a vet, and this means a career of long hours, late nights and a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. Attaining a work life balance has always been a battle for me and the Boy plays a huge role in making me see the bigger picture. Whilst I would never neglect to care for a patient that needs me, to be at my best I need to stay fit and well rested otherwise, like many of my colleagues, I face burn out.
Depression is rife among veterinarians, in our profession we are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person. A frightening fact, yet, one that most people in our industry have had to face one way or another.
Having been together for nearly seventeen years, the Boy and I know each other too well and he can sniff out the beginnings of me getting close to my breaking point from miles out. As I reached the end of working nine consecutive long days he suggested we take time out from our weekend chores and plan a weekend long lunch.
Normally I am the one that will select where we eat out due to the ever hungry thirst for content this blog can create. Conversely, the Boy is not interested in hitting the hot spots but would rather take any opportunity for a drive into the countryside. He proposed we head back to the Bickley Valley so I promptly booked us a table at the Vineyard Kitchen located at Brookside Winery.
I recall visiting this beautiful winery during the Bickley Valley Harvest Festival however on that day they were fully booked and so we only got to taste and purchase their wines. Over a year had passed and I was very keen to return.
We started off at the cellar door where we were warmly greeted by the owners Peter and Fay Fels. Their smiles were so infectious that before we knew it we were working our way through tasting all of their wines. Our favourites were the 2012 Methode Champenoise and the 2012 ‘One Acre Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are a number of gluten free and vegetarian options on the restaurant menu with a strong focus on local produce some of which is grown on their property themselves. I started with the roast beetroot and goats cheese brulée.
A whole roasted beetroot had been cored in the centre, filled with goats cheese and served warm. There was a thin layer of crackable toffee over the top but it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. It was an interesting dish and totally worked as a creative but hearty vegetarian entrée.
The Boy ordered the pan-fried sardines which were crumbed and served with a light salad. A random choice for him as although I love sardines, I cannot say I ever would have considered him to be a fan. Regardless of this he still enjoyed them but admitted it wasn’t really his thing.
For my main dish I ordered the twice cooked duck leg. The duck meat slithered of the bone without any encouragement and was served on a generous bed of creamy porcini and mascarpone risotto. The skin had a thin crispiness to it such that I temporarily cast away all my recent concerns about weight gain and ate the lot. You only live once right?
On our recent trip to Esperance the Boy fell in love with things wrapped in filo, sampling baked Camembert cheese and a fish and prawn curry both wrapped in this flaky treat. Upon seeing the slow cooked lamb shoulder parcel on the menu he caved into a rare moment of meat eating.
Unlike me, the Boy is a man of few words, and my best way at measuring a dish’s awesomeness factor is by the amount of head nods and moans. The lamb shoulder scored high in both of these important measurements!
As we ordered dessert I was told by our jovial waiter that the gluten free mixed berry clafoutis would be a twenty minute wait. This was actually a small blessing in disguise as I was nearly bursting at the seams with all the food we had eaten so far.
Clafoutis is one of those French desserts that makes me feel a little nostalgic for my ancestry and upbringing. Traditionally made with cherries, this dish works well with any slightly zingy, juicy fruit.
The Vineyard Kitchen’s clafoutis was worth the wait. The balance of tart and sweet flavours was executed perfectly with plump berries embedded in the thick, slightly wobbly baked almond batter. I get so excited when my gluten free dessert is interesting!
The Boy ordered the dark chocolate peanut butter pie with vanilla ice cream, presumably in part because it came with ice cream. Whilst the two of us have an enormous amount of compatibilities, one of our few differences is our palate for desserts. He can really take or leave them and will always be satisfied with a simple bowl of ice cream.
Having wanted to visit the Vineyard Kitchen for such a long time there was a risk that it wouldn’t live up to the hype I created in my mind. But despite the long wait to return back for lunch, it was impossible not to fall in love with this place. The quaint gardens, the warm welcome at the cellar door, the prompt and relaxed service and most importantly the award-winning wines accompanied with sumptuous food were all key ingredients in teleporting me from a state of frazzled burn out to total relaxation.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of her husband, otherwise know as “The Boy” and was lucky enough to also score a case of wine from him to continue to drink once she arrived home. Vineyard Kitchen 5 Loaring Road, Bickley WA 6076 | (08) 6162 2070 | www.thevineyardkitchen.net.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