Birthdays are meant to be celebrated and it is an incredible surprise to me that this humble blog has just turned four. Four human years converted into food blog years must equate to at least a decade. That is definitely a cause to crack open the champagne. Writing this blog has certainly been a colourful journey of eating amazing food, but also has seen me cultivate wonderful, lasting friendships and interact with some very passionate Perth business people and chefs. I have loved every minute of it.
For me, this year has been all about time and its ability to slip through my fingers like sand. Admittedly I am my worst enemy and perpetually keep taking on more than I realistically have time for. To add to this dilemma, I spent a decent chunk of my year debilitated with back pain which terminated all physical activity in my life at the time. Thankfully my back troubles are becoming something of the past, and I am embracing life with a new found zest.
Last Sunday I woke up quite early, hours before the Boy and the cats cared to be awoken and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was a stunning Spring morning so I snuck quietly out the front door and took my new bike for a spin around the river leaving the sleeping beauties snoring peacefully in a pile together. Upon returning home later I was chuffed to see the Boy up and about, ready to go out for breakfast. I was recently followed on Instagram by a new café called Layup Cafe that has just opened in Northbridge so we agreed to check it out.
Layup’s menu had plenty of gluten free options with a number of interesting dishes that moved away from the comparatively boring egg benny and big breakfasts. We selected a few dishes to share, all gluten free adapted.
The guacamole on toast came with smoked corn and pica de gallo and we elected to have it topped with optional slow cooked eggs. A few dollops of jalapeño custard decorated the side of the plate and this custard had just a gentle chili kick to it. Being a hater of all things spicy, the Boy didn’t trust my description of “very mild” and gave the custard a wide berth. He was determined to avoid tasting something too hot for his delicate palate.
Sadly these efforts were in vain as I didn’t get to warn him in time about the shichimi togarashi that accompanied the Sicilian anchovies.
After proudly thinking he dodged a bullet with the jalapeño custard, the Boy proceeded to dunk his charred gluten free bread in gooey slow cooked egg heaven before coating it liberally in the innocent looking red powder. He nearly choked in horror at the heat and proceeded to gulp gallons of water quickly.
After the subtle tease of the jalapeño custard I was much more game and dunked my generously coated bread confidently. It was a wonderful, nostril clearing experience that had me going back for more. Combined with the salty fishiness of the anchovies this was a flavour combination I hadn’t tried before and would happily try again.
Thankfully there was a cooling dish on the table to soothe the poor lad’s burning tongue. The breakfast pannacotta came on a bed of toasted gluten free muesli and goji berries topped with a strawberry compote and fresh berries.
I love having two courses for breakfast. This was something my dear friend and business partner Chis and I started doing long ago and that habit has stuck. Making the decision for sweet or savoury is far too difficult to do first thing in the morning so my advice is having both is the best way to go.
Layup Cafe only opened this month and it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling the high expectations of regular Perth breakfast punters. I loved their creative menu options and use of local produce and hope to return soon.
197-199 Brisbane Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | 0481 064 166 | Facebook
At the very tail end of my annual leave I received a spontaneous call from one of my dearest friends and business partner Chris to join her on a lunch date. She was freed of the responsibility of her little offspring for the afternoon and wanted to make the most of it. She wasn’t fussy where we went and let me choose the venue. With so many new bars popping up around town it is hard to keep up despite being a food blogger. One bar that has sparked my interest is Shadow Wine Bar located in the new Alex Hotel. Moving away from the current trend of tight spaces and walk-ins, Shadow Wine Bar fills a large space with dramatic black and white interiors, massively high ceilings and an industrial warehouse-gone-chic feel.
I tend to avoid making an early judgement on the fluidity of service for new venues like this, not only are the staff new but everything is new and everyone deserves time to land on their feet. So I excused our waiter’s error in telling me all the pasta dishes were gluten free along with a dish with a rye crumb. It was even easier to forgive him quickly when the rest of our service was accompanied with smiles and attentiveness.
We started with the potato crisp topped with fresh crab and a lemon aioli. These morsels were a mouthful of flavour however the potato didn’t hold up to the weight of its toppings and became a little soggy in the middle.
The pan-fried haloumi was a squeaky treat matched beautifully with slightly sweet, slightly sour pink grapefruit and peppery fresh watercress. A simple collection of ingredients that balanced elegantly.
The veal carpaccio was the winner of the day. Nearly translucent slices of veal were marbled with spider thin strands of white fat and tore apart like tissue paper across the plate. Truffle mustard drizzled generously on top gave a subtle hint of truffiliciousness.
Shadow Bar’s crispy pork jowl is a must for pork lovers. The crackling was browned to a tooth-chipping, crunchable texture while the underlying unctuous goodness melted in the mouth without any lingering aftertaste.
A meal with Chris is never complete without sweets. In fact, over nearly two decades of friendship I cannot recall ever eating with her and not ingesting something saccariferous. Not that I am complaining because I am no different. After a round of giggles from us both trying to pronounce “tart tartin” properly in French, Chris ordered the pear tart tartin. It was served with tonka bean ice cream which had a similar flavour to vanilla with a hint of caramel.
The only gluten free dessert option was the poached rhubarb served with a scoop of mascarpone and shards of meringue. Whilst my dessert certainly looked the part, I found its flavours to be underwhelming with the creaminess and tartness unbalanced due to a distinct lack of sweetness. It almost felt like there was a missing ingredient.
Our lunch experience at Shadow Wine Bar left me undecided on my opinion so the following day I brought the Boy back there for lunch for a second chance. Our waitress was much more clued on about what was gluten free and sailed me through the menu without hesitation. Sadly only a handful of the small plates could be adapted and despite being a hotel there was no gluten free bread available.
We started with the jamon iberico which was served with fresh bread on the side for the Boy and some very tasty pickles. Like the carpaccio, the meat was high quality and similarly soft and flavourful.
The fish of the day was two fillets of pan-fried King George Whiting with a puttanesca sauce made with olives, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I picked out the fructose loaded onions easily. As the Boy devoured his share he wondered why I had any reservations about this venue as he had only experienced winning dishes.
Our next dish was the braised lamb neck ragu and this cemented his positive opinion on Shadow. Served on a bed of soft polenta, the lamb was delicately textured, moist and rich and we both savoured each mouthful.
In contrast to Chris, the Boy doesn’t have a sweet tooth except for his weakness for ice cream. I was happy to settle for some cheese instead especially as I had seen two of my favourites of all time on the menu; namely Manchego and Brillat Savarin. These are two very different cheeses but are both ground-shakingly amazing. The cheeses were served at the perfect temperature to maximise their flavour but sadly there were no gluten free crackers or bread to accompany. I am hoping this is just one small oversight that they plan to resolve.
I am glad I returned back to Shadow Wine Bar as I can now appreciate it has oodles of potential. Housed in an impressive space, with a short to the point menu and serving wines by the glass or carafe Shadow Wine Bar proves that our little city Perth is finally growing up. I am hoping that they will progress to becoming a little more gluten free friendly so that people like me can enjoy more of their European styled menu.
Shadow Wine Bar
214 William Street, Northbridge WA | (08) 6430 4010 | www.shadowwinebar.com.au
This is my second year to join the team of official bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival which is an annual event held over five weeks in Perth City and its surrounds. Eat Drink Perth is a festival where there is something for everyone with all sorts of brilliant foodie events held every day ranging from degustations to walking tours, bar wars to cooking classes and there is even a Food Truck Rumble. We are now half way through the festival and reflecting back over the past few weeks I am happy I have managed to cram a lot in despite my non-blog working life being super busy. I have attended the annual Gluten Free Expo, an intimate long table diner by The Creatives, eaten some velvety raw desserts at CNR and watched a friend eat nearly 900 grams of pork knuckle at Brotzeit.
In return for our writing and photography efforts for the festival, each blogger has been kindly delegated complementary tickets to some events that we listed on our individual top ten festival picks. For me this included an opportunity to attend Frisk Small Bar’s Martini and Oysters night.
Along the same lines that I don’t understand people who don’t like cats, I don’t understand those that don’t like oysters. They are so succulent and juicy, slightly sweet and slightly briny all in one mouthful and I could easily eat my body weight of them if I was given the chance.
Normally I love pairing oysters with French champagne however in all honesty I am generally happy pairing champagne with almost anything! For a change, I was interested to see how the oysters paired with a Martini as this was a combination I haven’t tried before. Would the Martini complement the flavours of the oysters or would it be too overpowering and just drown them out?
The bar team at Frisk can churn out some of the best cocktails in town and I had confidence that they could pull this combination off with a hit. They have one of the most enormous and amazing gin collections that I have even seen and I figured that if anyone could match a cocktail to an oyster they would be the ones to achieve it.
And my gut feeling was right. I was soon to discover that sipping Martinis with oysters is indeed a perfect match with the flavour of each seemingly enhanced by the other. The botanical crispness of the martini meant it didn’t overpower the creamy oysters and my palate ended with a harmonious briny finish. This is a combination definitely worth trying again provided I can muster up the will power to say no to champagne. And that is never easy!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth ’15 and enjoyed her oysters and martini courtesy of the City of Perth. For more details of Eat Drink Perth events head to their website.
Martinis & Oysters Every Thursday during Eat Drink Perth ’15 at Frisk Small Bar, 103 Francis St, Northbridge WA 6003
It is a known fact, I don’t know how to relax. I almost always have at least 101 things on the go at any one point and this can be both extremely exciting and stressful. Although I have no one to blame for being so busy but myself, yet I cannot help but look upon my feline fur-kids with envy as they happily laze entire days away sleeping, cuddling and lounging about. They are true experts in relaxation. After years of recurrent illness and always being “sickly”, I have finally learnt that to keep up this crazy pace without falling apart it is crucial to take time to nourish my body with excellent nutrition.
Part of this commitment to myself has included switching to eating a more plant-based diet, and whilst I would never claim to be a true vegetarian, we certainly do find ourselves eating less and less meat as the years go on. And for once in my life I can honestly say I don’t really miss it.
A couple of weeks ago I had some surgery to remove a suspicious looking mole from the sole of my foot. While I waited for the pathology results to come back, I madly ticked over in my mind nearly all perceivable potential outcomes, both good and bad. I decided to start to mentally prepare myself in case they needed to perform a much more invasive repeat surgery to take wider margins. All the while my carefree alter-ego sat on my shoulder saying “Settle down woman, it’s just a weird looking mole!”.
And thankfully that imaginary brazen smart-arse was right, there was no evidence of any cancer in my biopsy. Relieved, elated and very grateful, I immediately proceeded to plans with the Boy to head out that evening and celebrate together. Having recently attended a few too many boozy events lately, we both wanted a meat free dinner. I chose CNR Kitchen as I knew they had a lot of vegan, vego and gluten free options on their menu.
We started with the raw vegan tasting plate. It came with a collection of items including Moroccan savoury cakes, dolmades with cashew mint aioli and a serve of raw vegan Pad Thai. It also had a small serve of their house-made dehydrated corn chip crackers with fresh guacamole and pineapple salsa to dunk them in.
The tasting plate was a simple but satisfying dish and would be a great option to order for those who haven’t eaten raw food before. I will have to remember that when on my next pub crawl with my meat-eating friends. The Moroccan savoury cakes contained a careful balance of spices and were my favourite part of the tasting plate despite there being one slight problem. They didn’t hold together very well at all and combined with my usual level of clumsiness, my cakes crumbled apart after the first bite making them very messy to eat.
As I dunked the last half of my Moroccan cake into the cashew mint aioli it crumbled into numerous pieces and fell into the bowl of dip. The Boy could barely stifle his chortle as he grinned and watched my useless attempts to scoop out my crumbs. They still tasted just as good!
Thankfully I managed to eat my raw nachos much more elegantly as my house made corn chips had enough strength and substance to withstand a decent amount of toppings. The added sweetness of the pineapple into the salsa was a winning element and you would have never guessed the cashew sour cream was actually dairy free.
In the dim lighting of the evening I struggled to get a good shot of the eggplant lasagne. This was a vegan version of the Boy’s favourite meal and yet wasn’t missing any flavour despite the lack of any meat. I was actually inspired a few days later to make my own grain free, dairy free lasagne at home.
The lasagne was packed full of veggie goodness with layers of pumpkin, eggplant, mushroom and zucchini flavoured with a rich tomato and black olive marinara and house made macadamia ricotta. I loved the sweet potato crunchy curls tumbled on top.
For dessert we ordered a small selection of the raw desserts. One of the slices I ordered was the chilli chocolate slice but I nearly got in trouble for ordering it by the Boy. He is not a fan of chilli at all and cannot handle anything more than the most mildest of mild heat; lucky for us this slice had just a subtle hint of oomph in it and so thankfully there were no complaints.
The banana cream cake was decadently indulgent and for once I was happy it was only a small serve. Raw desserts can be very rich and even someone with a huge an appetite like me can be easily satisfied with smaller portions.
For someone who must eat gluten free, CNR Kitchen is a welcoming reprieve from all the gluten ladened dude food and Asian eateries located around in Northbridge. I will definitely be reminding myself of their presence next time I’m out partying and become tempted to risk eating a taco or burger. I know that my body will thank me in the morning.
CNR Kitchen are active participants in Eat Drink Perth festivities and hosted a raw dessert teaching class a couple of weeks ago when the Festival began. Attendees were taught how to make a number of delicious sugar free, dairy free and gluten free raw desserts. Of course this was accompanied by taste testing everything.
CNR’s second raw food class is held this week on Tuesday April 7th and for this session they will making dairy free cheese, milk, cream and ice cream using nuts. To find out more head to the Eat Drink Perth website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is an official blogger for Eat Drink Perth ’15. Whilst the Eat Drink Perth blogging team are kindly each gifted a number of event tickets from the City of Perth, Chompchomp just cannot help but get into the Perth City mood and attend more than just what she is given. I mean who doesn’t love food festivals! Consequently, she paid for this meal in full.
Northbridge Piazza, 44 Lake Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9228 8861 | cnr.net.au
It is no secret that I love my local The Precinct in Vic Park. We are regulars almost every week and they seem to successfully predict what we want to drink and almost read our minds on what we want to eat too. I love their passion and enthusiasm; every wine and every dish has its own story. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that this awesome team had plans to open a second venue. Managing to secure the old Jus Burgers site in Northbridge I waited patiently for the restaurant to open, hoping them all the success that they deserve. Their new bar is called No Mafia.
Focusing on southern Italian cuisine with handpicked Italian and local wines, the food bypasses serving stodgy pastas and bread in favour of fresh and nearly entirely gluten free share plates. Executive Chef Sam McKinven has created a menu that left me wanting to return in a hurry.
One thing I love about The Precinct is that I never have to think about what to drink, I can trust that their selection with match my food choices beautifully; I was soon to find that No Mafia is no different.
I started with a white peach blini, using local seasonal fruit from Gingin and topped with Prosecco for that Italian twist. It was hard to stop at one but the Boy insisted on sharing some wine for our meal.
As I tried to resist the urge to gulp my refreshing beverage down, our first plate of a serve of some Prosciutto di Parma arrived. The Proscuitto di Parma is imported by Princi Butchers direct from Italy and had a soft, creamy texture and a hint of sweet saltiness. The Boy paired it with some Bread in Common loaf but unfortunately there was not a gluten free bread alternative.
Our next dish was the swordfish crudo; think of this as an Italian version of sashimi. The swordfish is fished out locally off the western coast near Rottnest Island ensuring extreme freshness and a delicate texture. The sword fish was served with Colatura, an Italian fish sauce. This revered sauce is made by layering anchovies with salt in wooden barrels. This causes the fish to release liquid which becomes mixed with salt and collected underneath. The end result is paler coloured and lighter flavoured than standard Asian fish sauce.
The beef carpaccio is priced on a per person basis. Using 100 day grain fed beef each strip loin was hand trimmed and beaten to achieve a perfectly thin portion. The luscious marbling made this a delight to photograph and imparted a gorgeously rich flavour. To add a dash of umami each slice of beef was rolled around sautéed pickled enoki mushrooms.
I needed to fit in a vegetarian dish to dilute out all this protein and was recommended the eggplant parmigiana. As with all of No Mafia’s dishes, there was no heaviness or glugginess and it was surprisingly light and fresh.
Our last savoury dish was the seared yellow fin tuna once again made with locally caught WA fish. Some bottarga, an Italian imported sundried mullet roe added a touch more depth and “fishy goodness”. A crunchy bright side of greens using broccoli and beach banana balanced this nicely.
Ordering both cheese and dessert used to be something we would occasionally do as a treat but in recent times has become more of a regular occurrence. It is one of our many overindulgent habits of 2014 that is going to have to stop in 2015 before we become morbidly obese. Given January was yet to tick over, we ordered a serve of baked ricotta to share. Subtle and slightly sweet it made the perfect pre-dessert choice.
We had worked our way through a lot of food and had to call upon the miracle of our second stomach for dessert. ;-).
Zabaglione is a simple but satisfying Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine. It was served with fresh strawberries and shavings of chocolate. Being naturally gluten free this is a dish I could have many more of!
There is always a great level of satisfaction when you see those that deserve success achieve their goals. I am not alone in my loyalties to the No Mafia team as they have recently got a round of positive mentions in the Gourmet Traveler and the West Australian. They accept walk-ins and bookings can be made online on their website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was not an invited guest and paid for her meal at No Mafia in full.
Over recent weeks I have been providing you with insider coverage of the inaugural WA Signature Dish competition run by Buy West Eat Best; a government initiative to help promote eating locally grown and made produce. I was appointed as the official blogger for the Gascoyne region and travelled up to Carnarvon to attend the regional final.
The three other participating regions were Perth and Surrounds, Southern Forests and the Great Southern. Each region’s finalist received one-on-one mentoring by their delegated chef to help prepare them for the Grand Finale held at the Perth Cultural Centre on WA Day. On the big day, the Cultural Centre was alive with activity with much to see and do for people of all ages.
The WA Day event was a free event and the Buy West Eat Best tent was packed full of stalls offering tastings of all sorts of local deliciousnesses including banana smoothies, gelato, oils, condiments and best of all, gluten free lupin flour chocolate cake. I was joined by two of my dear friends Foodie Cravings and Perth Munchkin who were also attending as official bloggers representing Perth and the Great Southern.
Each contestant had ninety minutes to prepare their dish from scratch using a variety of ingredients sourced from their region. Rhiannon Birch was competing for the Perth and Surrounds region and her dish was Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust with sweet potato and lupin salad with Moroccan flavours. Much to my approval her dish is entirely gluten free.
Clare King’s dish came from the Great Southern region titled “A Celebration of Beef in Thai style” and was made using a luscious Butterfield beef fillet topped with pearls of Pemberton Finger Limes.
Many of you have already been following on the blog the story of Paul Kelly, the contestant for the Gascoyne region with his Gascoyne tasting plate. This colourful plate included Shark Bay wild King prawns with salsa verde, plantation vegetable gazpacho with Abacus crab sticks, Shark Bay snapper ceviche and some simple pan-fried Shark Bay Pink snapper with lime mayonnaise and pickled Gascoyne vegetables.
Competing for the Southern Forests region, the softly spoken Alana Starkie prepared some stunning fresh Southern Forest marron with a Pink Lady apple, avocado and lime salsa. To make the competition even more challenging, throughout the entire cook off the four contestants were individually interviewed by both their chef and the hosts Anna Gare and Don Hancey. I was surprised how well they all kept their cool under pressure and kept their focus on cooking!
The final decision for the winning dish was made by the panel of high profile judges; Guillaume Brahimi, Ralf Vogt and Rob Broadfield. You could nearly hear a pin drop in the packed marquee as each judge carefully tasted the four dishes.
Whilst the quality and standard of each dish was high, there can only ever be one winner and this year the winner was Rhiannon Birch for her Perth dish of Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust with sweet potato and lupin salad with Moroccan flavours.
For the recipes for all the contestants dishes head over to the Buy West Eat Best website.
The Buy West Eat Best WA Signature Dish Finale was a free event held on the 2nd of June 2014 at the Perth Cultural Centre. I would like to thank buy West Eat Best and all the team at Clarity Communications for allowing me to be part of this fabulous WA Signature Dish experience. Also thanks to Paul Kelly and Chef Peter Manifis for putting in such an incredible effort for the Gascoyne region. Fingers crossed for a win next year!
I have to come clean. I have been using the Eat Drink Perth festival as an excuse to justify eating out even more than usual. Given the frequency that I dine in restaurants is already quite high, you can imagine what a busy month it has been. It has given me a wonderful opportunity to fall in love with Perth City once again and discover even more fantastic venues to return back to. One of these little discoveries has been Muse Café. I was initially attracted to visit them after reading in the Eat Drink Perth program that they offer both gluten free and vegetarian options for their Saturday High Tea. When informing the Boy that I had booked us a lunch date, I glossed over the finer details as I suspected that the words “High Tea” would have had him running in the opposite direction. Instead I tried to focus on the fact that I had kindly found somewhere specifically vegetarian just for him! Such a good wife. 😉
The café is located in the Old Gaol building in the WA Museum which is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Western Australia. It was built in 1855 and 1856 by convicts but was only used as a gaol until 1886 after which it was closed and the prisoners were all moved to the Fremantle Gaol. It has been used as part of the WA Museum since 1891.
The back of the café opens out onto a leafy courtyard where you can relax and take in the atmosphere of the beautiful old buildings surrounding you. We were shown into a more cosy little room within the building that has been decorated for the purposes of intimate high tea parties.
There are a number of bubbles available to drink including Balgownie Sparkling Brut Yarra for $8 per glass or $35 for a bottle. For those with finer taste there is also Veuve Clicquot champagne by the bottle only. To cleanse the palate, we started off with some fresh watermelon and strawberry salad with mint syrup. Knowing I cannot eat watermelon due to its high fructose content the Boy happily finished mine off for me after I picked out all the strawberries.
Service was attentive but unobtrusive allowing us to sink back into the antique chairs and nibble our way through the first platter. It contained a mixture of gluten free items for me and vegetarian items for the Boy. I did note that everything was served on the same plate however I suffered no reactions to suggest there was any cross contamination. For those particularly sensitive I would suggest pre-requesting that your gluten free items be plated separately.
My gluten free options included two types of frittata; Jerusalem artichoke and spinach, and caramelised onion, goats cheese and thyme. I decided to wear the consequences of a little onion ingestion as there wasn’t much contained in them. The baby berry friand was my favourite with a perfect balance of tart and sweet. Other gluten free items included the fruit salad and the chocolate date torte which the Boy polished off both.
The Boy’s trio of vegetarian sandwiches included cucumber with Meander Valley butter and sea salt; egg, aioli and Swiss chard; and pickled carrot and goats cheese. He paired these finger sandwiches with two lemonade and date scones dolloped with double cream and jam. Despite never being a jam and scones type of guy he still enjoyed them. He even sipped on some cinnamon tea to wash them all down which amazed me as he very rarely drinks tea at all.
Our second platter had three different types of sweets on it. The gluten free passionfruit marshmallows were soft and fluffy making a subtle squelching noise when you bit into them that you only get from fresh mallow. The chocolate pomegranate cakes were also gluten free and were richly decadent with a slight hint of nutty flavour.
The lemon curd tarts were not gluten free being made from a shortbread casing lined with dark chocolate and filled with a tangy curd. Thankfully I was already quite full and it didn’t bother me too much that I couldn’t try them however the Boy ate both and delighted in rubbing it in how delicious he found them.
For the month of April as part of the Eat Drink Perth festivities, Muse café offer high tea every Saturday with two sittings at 11 am and 1 pm for $46 per person. There is a 15% surcharge for gluten free and vegetarian menus. Chompchomp paid in full for both hers and the Boy’s high tea however she did receive a complementary glass of bubbles 😉 Muse café can also offer pre-booked high tea for groups throughout the year. Muse Café Cnr Beaufort and Francis Street, Northbridge, WA 6003 | 0411 708 063 | museum.wa.gov.au/museums/perth/muse-cafe
One of the perks of being a food blogger is that we often receive invitations to attend various foodie events and launch parties. Free food and booze is enough to put a smile on anyone’s dial however sometimes there can be very few gluten free options for me to eat and it just ends up being one big tease. If it’s a high-profile cocktail style event I have occasionally omitted telling the organisers that I’m gluten free to avoid making a fuss. This brazen approach has sometimes worked and sometimes not. At the Taste Great Southern Launch Party my strategy was a complete fail. For the entire event I proceeded to be tortured by multitude of amazing dishes coming out of the kitchen and yet I couldn’t eat a single one. I won’t be making the same mistake again. Fuss or no fuss I need to eat!
The only thing I could eat were the natural oysters shucked fresh by Carl Thee Shucker. I positioned myself right up next to Carl and greedily gobbled them as he shucked them but unfortunately they ran out quite early in the night. Luck was surely not on my feasting side that night. By the end of the party I had drunk a disproportionate amount of wine to food and was in urgent need of a decent feed. We were just around the corner from Bivouac Canteen so thankfully I didn’t have to stagger too far. After a short wait we were seated at our table at which point I could I swear I could have nearly eaten my own arm I was THAT hungry.
Our waitress was absolutely gorgeous and helped me through my desperate state to see what could be done gluten free. She came up with a variety of options and due to my urgent hunger I pretty much ordered them all. Being a little obsessive with crispy skinned fish this was my immediate first choice. The barramundi had a buttery smooth texture underlying a crunchy, wafer thin layer of seared crispy skin. It was served with a salty, samphire citrus sauce. Alongside the fish was a currant, pine nut, feta and rocket salad with bright little pomegranate seeds dotted in for some tarty sweetness.
The baby carrots were firm enough to pick up whole yet soft enough to cut with a fork. They felt oddly decadent smothered with rich almond cream and a hint of spicy harissa. I never knew carrots had so much potential!
Amazingly the fried local whitebait with tahini yoghurt could be served gluten free. I rarely have such an opportunity to eat these little guys as they are usually dusted in wheat flour but this time round there was no holding me back. I relished in eating them head and all for the full flavour punch.
As my raging hunger took some time to settle down I realised that I was the one doing most of the eating as the Boy was already quite full from all the canapés served at the launch party earlier. In a moment of self-control I thought it a wise idea to order a salad to fill me up as our final choice. But I cheated a little, I mean who can go past a grilled haloumi salad? I’m sure it has elements of healthy in it, right? It was tossed in with watermelon, mint, pistachio and green olives. The spritzy orange blossom and fennel dressing left a light and refreshing taste on the palate convincing me that I had been good enough to justify ordering some dessert.
I ordered the peach and lavender fool without really knowing what sort of dessert a “fool” was but I love trying new things and it was one of the few gluten free options. I also asked for some Turkish delight on the side to which the Boy retorted “What do you want THAT for?” Turkish delight is something I detested for years until recently when I received some for the Sweet Swap and now I am totally converted. Pillows of firm jelly dusted with powder puffs of icing sugar left gentle scents of rosewater and orange on my satisfied taste-buds.
A “fool” turns out to be type of English dessert made by folding stewed fruit into whipped cream or custard. Bivouac used honeycomb yoghurt to mix in with the fruit and generously drizzled the lot with dark ruby red berry coulis. Shard of honey comb and sprinkles of lavender completed this creation but I confess it was all bit too much dairy for me. The Boy on the other hand was completely smitten and happily finished it off with a contented smile on his face.
I loved Bivouac’s spunk and groove; it typifies just how cool Northbridge is becoming. It is no longer the roughened playground of hardened partygoers but has a number of snappy eateries with their fingers firmly on the pulse. I can guarantee this is one place we will definitely be returning to.This is not a sponsored meal and Chompchomp paid for this meal in full. Bivouac 198 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9227 0883 | bivouac.com.au Price: $$ (Share plates $7-34, Pizzas $23-26 (not GF) ) Food: 4/5 (share plates of simple concepts with an interesting twist) Service: 4/5 (quick on their feet with hipster humour and smiles) Ambience: 3.5/5 (happening, busy and loud) Drinks: 4 /5 (excellent interesting choice of regional Aussie and Internationals) Total: 15.5 /20
This event has now passed. My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page.
This Sunday it all kicks off at the Perth Cultural Centre for our inaugural Perth Food Truck Rumble. The food truck revolution has taken off in our city bringing street food from around the world and into our hungry hands. You will be surprised at the incredible number and variety of food trucks we have operating around Perth. At the Food Truck Rumble you will be able to experience street food from countries such as Brazil, Spain, France, Mexico, Italy and more. There will be Asian fusion trucks and even a few dessert trucks with sweet treats such as cupcakes, popsicles and most importantly macarons!
There will be 17 food trucks there on the day so to make life a little easier Perth Food Truck Rumble’s organiser Ai-Ling has kindly helped me compile a list of gluten free friendly and vegetarian trucks so you can arrive at this busy event ready and prepared!
I am gob smacked at the amount of gluten free food options these food trucks can provide and I guarantee that I’ll be so full by the end of the day I will be barely able to walk! I have tried to divide the options into the semblance of a three course meal so you can fit it all in!
My gluten free food truck degustation for this Sunday:
Comida Do Sul Brazilian Food truck will be serving Prato Feito, a famous Brazilian dish with picanha grill (beef steak), farofa (crushed, roasted Brazilian yam), black beans, rice, mandioca frita (fried cassava), vinaigrette and kale. The steak can be omitted to make this dish vegetarian. Their fries are also gluten free.
Both Mexican trucks Lil Tortilla Boi and Mojito Cantina will have a number of GF options. I cannot wait to try Mojito’s gluten free chilli dog nachos paired with
sweet potato spicy wedges. (I was informed on the day that these were not gluten free despite receiving advice pre-event that they were.)
I plan to wash this all down with some gluten free raw juice from The Juicist.
For those that are vegetarian but not gluten free; you also have the option of The Merrywell Food Truck who will be serving mac and cheese bites or head over to Franklin Foodies for their vegetarian Philly rolls stuffed with Italian marinated field mushrooms, bell peppers and melted cheese. Finally you cannot miss out on some vegetarian Jumplings, a taste sensation that has hit near cult status in Perth. Sadly the truck’s owner Roy is yet to perfect a gluten free version of Jumpling pastry which has been a work in progress for some time.
For a mid-afternoon interlude:
While I allow my stomach to make room for more, I am going to head over to Cocktail Gastronomy’s Molecular pop-up bar where their team will be conjuring up some magical cocktails including their signature liquid nitrogen espresso martinis, Bunsen burner torched lemon meringue pie and sous vide lychee mojitos.
After allowing some time for digesting, I plan to move onto something more substantial however I am yet to decide as there are a couple of great GF options. Both Little Caesar’s and Vince’s Mobile Wood Fire Pizza will have gluten free and vegetarian pizzas and if you are more of a burger-buff Hey Pesto can do both gluten free and vegetarian burgers. If you prefer to dine on something more healthy The Wagon will be churning out some scrumptious sounding vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals such as coriander chickpea tomato curry, Thai glass noodle salad and even some raw, vegan, chocolate fudge brownies!
By the end of the day my belly will be close to exploding point therefore I am going to have to select my dessert carefully. Should I try one of Delish Ice’s creatively flavoured popsicles or will the Boy’s ice cream addiction land me at Miss Tartufo for some gelato? Or will I predictably end my night with a mac attack and buy myself vast numbers of macarons from Miam Miam?Please be aware that this is a guide only and if you have a high level of gluten intolerance then always check with the vendors prior to purchasing. Due to working in the small confined spaces of a food truck, some vendors may not be able to guarantee that there is no cross contamination with gluten. Perth Food Truck Rumble will be held on Sunday 13th April 2014 as part of Eat Drink Perth at the Perth Cultural Centre off William Street in Northbridge from 11 am to 8 pm. Entry is free and food will range from $5-$15 per dish. Food Truck Rumble | Facebook | Twitter Addendum: My Photo Album from the Day can be found on my Facebook Page
I need to give you a word of warning before you commence reading this post. If you are even just half the chocoholic that I am, some of the following images may cause a rapid heart rate, salivation and excitement. Across Australia tomorrow Chocolateria San Churro officially launch their new winter menu and last week I kindly agreed to take a hit for the team and attend their preview evening.
San Churro is an Australian business first created in Melbourne in 2004 by founders Kelly Smith and Giro Maurici who were inspired whilst travelling by the traditional breakfast in Spain of thick hot chocolate and churros. The company has since grown to 37 stores across five states including eight cafes here in Perth; Northbridge, Vic Park, Subiaco, Fremantle, Mandurah, Hillarys, Rockingham and Leederville. Whilst churros are unfortunately not gluten free, I was enlightened to find there are still a number of chocolaty treats I can enjoy.
While we waited for the remaining guests to arrive we were given a “tapas” plate to share. I discovered a new taste sensation that I cannot WAIT to return to San Churros for. Dunk a macaron in drippalicious molten chocolate; it is all the colours of sickly sweet wrong yet it left me feeling like I could conquer the world. The Boy looked on in bemusement while I dripped chocolate everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It was on my elbows, my forehead and even my camera.
Our first course was the new cinnamon breakfast churros which are made fresh daily in the morning and fried to order. Whilst I obviously didn’t get to taste any of them, the Boy quite enjoyed his although he did say that it wouldn’t really be something he would eat for breakfast. He usually eats healthy salads and fruit.
My replacement for the churros was another macaron which was served very apologetically. I laughed. As if I would ever be disappointed with being given more macarons.
Our second course included smaller sample tastings of their two new milkshakes. I was glad that we didn’t get the full-sized serves as there was no way we could have got through it all. Our first milkshake was the iced salted caramel. Fresh milk and vanilla ice cream were mixed together with swirls of dulce de leche and topped with whipped cream and chocolate. These babies were gulped down in seconds.
The popularity of salted caramel means it is a flavour that has been done to death by many kitchens but the next milkshake flavour was something a bit more interesting; salted chocolate coconut. Made with milk chocolate, shredded salted coconut, coconut syrup and dark choc chips this taste sensation put any salted caramel to bed. Let’s hope this is the new trend for 2014 because it is a whole new level of addictive sweet saltiness.
Our third course was the new sundaes however neither of them were gluten free. Consequently they kindly made me an adapted version of the new salted caramel ice cream sundae. The normal version contains white chocolate ice cream with warm salted caramel fudge, melted milk chocolate and crusted chocolate malt balls. My sundae was adapted to be gluten free by changing the ice cream flavour to vanilla and replacing the malt balls with smashed chunks of salted caramel macarons. The warmed salted caramel and melted milk chocolate were still layered in there as they were gluten free. The alternate textures of smooth ice cream, macarons, gooey caramel and crunchy chocolate was out of this world. I was informed that this adaptation would cost extra due to the addition of the macarons.
Moving onto the fourth course we were introduced to the new addition to their cake cabinet; the “Chocolate Volcano”. This dessert was not gluten free meaning the Boy got a whole Volcano to himself however after being generously filled with San Churro’s churros, macarons, chocolate, sundaes and milk shakes he was getting close to being absolutely stuffed.
I cut into the centre of the pudding for him and our eyes widened as luscious chocolate lava erupted out of the centre and dribbled out onto his plate. The pudding was served warm and despite our fullness the Boy managed to get through at least half of it before lowering his fork and admitting defeat.
My gluten free cake was one that is already on their menu however I was told it is very popular and not just those who eat gluten free. Rich and decadent, even I couldn’t get through one solo as the serving size is quite large. The centre of the cake was very moist with a subtle almond flavour.
We were onto the final stretch at the fifth course and by this point I could hear a few groans coming from the other side of the table. We had well and truly out-chocolated ourselves leaving no room for our final course.
The Boy was served a mug of San Churro’s traditional Spanish hot chocolate. They import this drink from Spain were it is made to an authentic Spanish recipe. This is not a hot drink for the light hearted as it is basically a mug of thick, molten chocolate. It is also not gluten free so I left the Boy to attempt to devour it on his own. The new versions of this drink take it to an even higher level of indulgence than before using a choice of three toppings; marshmallows and chocolate syrup, crusted malt balls or choc biscuit crumble. The Boy ate a few spoonfuls meekly before giving up for good.
I received a milk coverture hot chocolate instead which was light and foamy along similar lines to the standard hot chocolate many of you know well. I managed a few more mouthfuls than the Boy did with his drink before also putting my cup down with a sigh. I had been beaten by chocolate. And it was good.Chocolateria’s new Winter Menu launches on Monday 31st March, 2014 across all stores. Chompchomp attended San Churro’s Winter Menu preview night as a guest. However having been to San Churro as a customer several times already, I can guarantee I will continue to love their chocolate just as much when I return and have to pay for it. Chocolateria San Churro Northbridge 132 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9328 3363 | http://www.sanchurro.com/
There are some people who genuinely have the talent of listening and empathising to others. Whilst this may be a skill one can try and develop; to truly master it you actually need to be a certain type of soft and caring personality type. My Bestie is one of those people and she has always been able to centre her attention on whoever she is speaking to with incredibly genuine sincerity. Recently she has taken on a job as a carer’s consultant where she provides both individual and group support to the carers in the Esperance area. Being somewhat of a free spirit in the past, this direction and responsibility has brought out a great sense of worth and pride within her. I cannot describe how happy it makes me to know she has finally landed on her feet and found her calling.
The only down side of this success is that Esperance is a long way away from Perth! Selfish I know but gee I miss her! Recently she came back up to Perth for a few weeks of intensive training and we managed to squeeze in a few random catch ups. The Tuck Shop Café has been on my hit list for ages. Kindly remembering this fact, my Bestie suggested we meet there early on a weekday before we started work.
On perusing their menu I really wanted to try the black pudding which came with herbed ricotta and roasted tomatoes. I was dismayed to hear that it wasn’t gluten free so I order the same dish but with mushrooms to replace the black pudding instead. The grilled mushrooms were plump and fleshy with a rich earthy flavour. The ricotta was foamy light with just a slight hint of sweetness which combined well with the caramelised tomatoes. A single poached egg completed this dish.
The Bestie has recently changed to eating a vegetarian and gluten free diet and found there weren’t a lot of options for her on the menu. She chose to keep it simple and ordered poached eggs, roasted tomato and spinach.
We couldn’t help but order some sides of mushrooms and mushy peas too. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us to order mushrooms on the side for breakfast. The mushy peas were a bit bland in flavour and needed more seasoning.
Two rounds of coffee and some tea later I glanced at the clock and realised our impromptu outing was nearly over as we both needed to head to our respective places of work feeling overly full and content. But wait; there is always room for dessert isn’t there? There were a couple of home-made gluten free cupcakes in the counter cabinet; a chocolate freckle and a berry cream cheese cupcake. Unable to decide which one the waitress convinced us to order both and cut each in half.
Each cupcake tasted neither heavy nor sickly sweet so despite already discussing how full we both felt before we knew it we had each eaten our respective halves. History repeats itself once more. I love that the two of us always manage to equally make pigs of ourselves; we are peas in a pod for sure. It serves to remind me that although physical distance separates us once again, we are always so close in spirit.Tuck Shop Café, Pie-House and Delicatessen 178 Newcastle Street, Northbridge WA 6000 | Facebook Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (need more GF and vegetarian options) Service: 3.5/5 (friendly, know their menu well) Ambience: 3.5/5 (great busy morning buzz) Drinks: 3.5/5 (They serve Toby Estate coffee) Total: 14.5/20
As much as I love my hometown of Perth, its distance behind larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne can be reflected in a number of ways in the culinary world. We lack any widespread prevalence of gourmet food trucks, Latin American cuisine barely makes a mention, we often pay high prices for poor customer service and sometimes poor quality food and finally, up until very recently we have had very few small bars worth a visit that are open beyond bedtime.
But with the new licensing laws brought in things are a’changing for little Perth and more and more funky small bars are popping up around the city and its surrounds. I have followed Frisk Small Bar on social media for some months but with all the wedding preparations absorbing my every waking minute we have had very little time to go out and explore new bars such as these.
It’s funny how sometimes the more you think of someone or something, fate seems to bring you together. Like how you will think of a friend you haven’t spoken to for months and then you bump into them at the shops. Well, strangely enough along those lines I received an email from Frisk inviting me to come and join them for a drink or two on the house. After initially having to cancel due to injuring my neck at my hen’s day, we rescheduled for a Friday night that just happened to occur at the end of a very hectic week for both of us.
Many years ago, long before the building that houses Frisk was built existed a night club called DCs. It was something of an institution amongst my friends and I and we spent many of our weekends in our twenties partying under their roof until the sun came up. This is the place where many friendships were formed, relationships made and broken and brings a nostalgic smile to my face. When the building was originally bulldozed to make way for apartments it felt like an end of an era. As I took my seat at Frisk’s bar it dawned on me that I was sitting on what once was the dance floor and it made me so glad that at least it was put to good use.
Frisk’s bar houses more gins than you could shake a stick at so it seemed logical that this should be the theme of our night. I started off with the WA Gimlet; a refreshing cocktail made with locally distilled Westwinds Cutlass gin, fresh lime and basil and rose marmalade. The hints of herbs left a clean after-taste and put me in a brighter and energising mood for the evening.
The Boy’s cocktail was not on the menu and was one of our bartenders Will’s own creations. He called it his twist on a South side. Traditionally made with gin, sugar, mint and lemon, this thirst quenching beverage had Will’s own special mix of syrup containing chilli, cinnamon and other sweet spices. This lifted the whole perspective of this popular drink to another superior level. He used a “Mediterranean gin” called Gin Mare which is additionally quite fragrant and added further botanical layers of rosemary, olives, thyme and basil.
Although the Boy’s cocktail was in no way a girlie drink, one was definitely enough for him and he began to peruse over the beer menu. Allowing a re-run of Chompchomp roulette, Will and I selected the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for him to try. Neither of us had even heard of this beer before and we were surprised to it is considered one of the top craft breweries in the USA with their Pale Ale being the second best-selling craft beer in the US.
After my energising first round I was ready for something a bit more intense. I chose the Aphrodite’s Martini which contained Isfjord gin, Antica vermouth, Aphrodite Ginger bitters and grapefruit. Moving from a West Australian gin to one distilled in the Arctic I could taste the flavour becoming pronouncedly smoother. Further interesting flavours from the bitters brought hints of chocolate, coffee and chill which rounded off perfectly with the citrus notes of the grapefruit. A masterpiece but not one for the light hearted. A few more of these and I wouldn’t be heading into to work that following morning. Well at least not in any good form! Aphrodite’s Martini will remain on Frisk’s cocktail menu for the duration of March as part of the Eat Drink Perth 2013 celebrations.
A little peckish by this point in time, we were recommended to head over to Casa Mexicana El Compa. Having experience both highlights and lowlights of Mexican food when dining locally in Vic Park we were keen to see how others fared compared to our experiences.
We started off with some appetisers or “botana”. We chose four types of dips; guacamole, arroz a la Mexicana; red rice, carrot and peas, Frijoles Charros; slow cooked black beans with chorizo and Esquites; stripped sweet corn, mayo and piquin chile. None of the dips had very strong flavours and had to be supplemented with the free sauces provided on the side to avoid being too bland.
Our next dishes came highly recommended by our vivacious waitress; some “sopes”. These are a form of Mexican street food consisting of a fried corn tortilla topped a variety of different options. We chose the vegetarian sope topped with refried beans, lettuce, sour cream and cheese. The crunchy base gave way to an interesting mix of textures but once again I felt that the flavours were a little lacking and found myself heaping more of the complimentary sauces on top to give more depth and heat.
Following on from our sope, we ordered a couple of tacos to share. Having loved our experience of taco nopales at That Little Mexican Place we were keen to order them again. These were served with refried beans, cheese and coriander. I was able to taste more of the cactus’s flavour this time; they resembled a pleasant form of bitter green beans.
Our dose of meat for the night was the pork tacos. The soft handmade taco was topped with orange marinated slow cooked pork served with cubes of apple. I had to negotiate between the apple pieces as I try to avoid it due to a high fructose content leaving just the pork and the taco. I found the pork to be quite dry and tough considering it was slow cooked something that usually results in melt in your mouth tenderness.
Although I know we will be back to Frisk soon to try a few more of their wondrous ginny cocktails, with a number of good Mexican options around town we will probably give Casa Mexican a miss.Frisk! Small Bar Northbridge 103 Francis Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | www.frisksmallbar.com.au Price: $$ ($17-20 cocktails, $8-11 beer, $2-9 small bites) Food: Unable to assess Service: 4/5 (these guys know their liquor!) Ambience: 4/5 (busy for the whole time we were there, happy non-pretentious customers) Drinks: 9/10 (using the finest ingredients and a personal flair gives amazing results) Total: 17/20
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest at Frisk Small Bar and received all drinks complimentary however she paid in full for her meal at Casa Mexicana El Compa.
I have worked at the same practice for nearly ten years. It has been both an unavoidable yet enjoyable experience to form strong bonds with some of my team members over this period of time. Despite wishing that all my good staff would stay with me forever, I respect that people’s lives change and they move on. When a true friendship is formed in addition to a professional relationship it actually ceases to become that important that you remain working together as you will always stay in touch with each other.
It was sad to lose Tracy from our highly talented team of vet nurses, but dealing with other people’s naughty animals can be emotionally trying work and like many others she eventually got fed up with her career choice. Tracy and I share a lot in common: we love our food and wine, have similar alternative music tastes and appreciate the finer things in life. After a few months of settling into her new job we realised we must make more effort to catch up socially and organised a brunch outing sans children and men.
Sayers Sister is the new venture by Mark and Steph Sayers in the leafy suburban part of Northbridge. The original café Sayers Food in Leederville has been open since 2006 and continues to fill up with hordes of hungry people every morning. It appears that Sayers Sister is following in her footsteps and similarly shares in such popularity. To my relief Tracy managed to score us table only minutes before the morning rush began. As we sat and sipped our coffees, we watched people eagerly queuing out the door and down the street desperate for a table.
As many of my dear readers may know, I have an infatuation with poached eggs. I truly believe one of the simplest and most satisfying things in life is that burst of molten sunshine when you gently cut into them. So to prove to myself I’m not entirely predictable, I decided to order the scrambled eggs. Folds of foamy eggs flopped over the plump gluten free toast and were draped generously with citrus salmon gravlax. I gasped at the size of my dish; this was one serious looking breakfast! The eggs literally dissolved in my mouth however I didn’t enjoy my gluten free toast as much as last time. It was slightly under-toasted leaving a slight doughy aftertaste.
Tracy chose the buttermilk pancakes with blueberry compote and lemon posset. Her serving size was not for the light hearted either and you can be rest assured that the men in your life will not walk away from this place hungry. The lemon posset was set like custard and so delicately fragrant. With Tracy’s encouragement, I couldn’t resist a little taste. Imagine creamy lemon butter crossed with a soft gooey pudding. It was totally divine.
Sayers Sister sure does give her sibling a run for her money. The ambiance is much brighter, lighter and has more energy and as seen by the lengthening queue as we left it is hitting the spot for many punters. I thought the execution of the food could have been slightly improved; toast is not a hard thing to make however this was made up for by the use of extremely fresh ingredients, an interesting menu and very good coffee.Sayers Sister 236 Lake St, Northbridge WA 6000 | (08) 9227 7506 | Facebook Price: $ ($11-22 for breakfast meals) Food: 4/5 (great menu choices, huge meals) Service: 4/5 (similar vibrancy and warmth as at Sayers) Ambience: 4/5 (fresh flowers, communal tables, bright, clean open kitchen) Drinks: 4.5/5 (5 senses coffee…winning) Total: 16.5/20
It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming and friendly the food blogging community is. Here in Perth it is no exception and friendship is made easy through sharing two passions: food and blogging. We all immediately have something to connect over; so when Carolanne from Carol Anne’s Kitchen informed us all that she was moving to South Africa, plans for foodie farewells got well underway.
The first in our series of gatherings brought me back to the lovely Rochelle Adonis for High Tea. It has been nearly a year since I have indulged in her exquisite delights yet the experience remains relatively fresh in my memory. The attention to detail with every single morsel is one you cannot forget easily and she is more than happy to accommodate for us gluten free people. Additionally my ‘no onion’ request due to my fructose malabsorption posed absolutely no problems either.
Rochelle now serves the stunning Seventh Duchess Teas to accompany her High Tea. These artisan teas are “individually sourced from the finest tea gardens“. All teas are hand-picked and are free from anything artificial. I chose the Queen of Hearts herbal tea which is an exclusive blend made just for Rochelle. It contained lemongrass, vanilla beans, juniper, raspberry leaf, rosehips, blueberries, elderberries, pomegranate flowers and hibiscus. It was light, sweet and left no bitter after taste.
For my savoury course I received five delightful little dishes. A refreshing Thai salad was served in a glass cup topped with a son-in-law egg or “khai luuk kheuy”. This traditional Thai dish contains deep-fried hard boiled eggs topped with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing. In this version a cute pint-sized quail egg was used instead of the usual chicken egg. The sweet and sour taste of the tamarind was subtle enough to not be overpowering and left a clean sensation on the palate.
The ashed goat’s cheese pannacotta was a curious liquorice colour and it was a surprise to my senses as I was expecting something with such a bold colour to have a similarly strong flavour. Instead my palate was entertained with a soft tangy creaminess and I was left desperately wanting to lick every last portion off the spoon. I was informed the colouring was achieved using a black bamboo charcoal powder that is flavourless and allows the goat cheese to remain its wonderful unadulterated self. Rochelle sourced this herself when in Singapore recently.
“Fish and chips” were served as a perfectly shaped ball of wafer thin potato chips encasing a soft flaky portion of fish in the centre. It was like a savoury truffle! It was accompanied by aged balsamic vinegar made from an 8 year old Spanish cabernet called Forvm. This vinegar had a gentle berry-like flavour and you could easily smell the oak.
My remaining two dishes were poached prawns with cream of corn and a beetroot salad with Danish feta. The prawns had a distinct crunch to them to signify freshness and the cream corn was very mild in flavour so as not to take anything away from my enjoyment of the prawns themselves. The beetroot salad was a little fibrous for my liking so the creaminess of the Danish fetta was a welcomed addition.
To cleanse our palates we were given some lemon sorbet served on a cute little paddlepop. It had a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness refreshing us all ready for our dessert courses.
My gluten free dessert course was so pretty I didn’t quite know where to start. Everything looked so adorable and almost too good to eat. Don’t worry, that feeling didn’t last long and after a little photo-shoot my little gluten free beauties didn’t hang around for much longer!
The raspberry and coconut cake sundae was topped with crunchy corn crumbles and a tart raspberry dressing. The ice cream was buttery soft and just at the point that it melted on contact with my tongue.
Namelaka is a Japanese term for “creamy texture” and this technique is commonly used in the Valrhona chocolate kitchens. Rochelle has been a big fan of Valrhona chocolate for many years and once you have tasted their chocolate you will understand why. The soft ganache-like milk chocolate namelaka was smeared elegantly and topped with a delicate scoop of milk sorbet. I thanked my lucky stars that I can eat dairy as this was the epitome of dairy milk goodness.
The apple cloud with cider ice cream and pink lady apple gel delved a little into banned territory for my fructose malabsorption. I figured that surely there would be enough glucose in all these treats to counteract any fructose. The fragrant apple flavours were so gentle yet long lasting.
The pièce de résistance of my collection of goodies was Rochelle’s take on Eton mess. A crisp meringue shell dressed with caramel popcorn and one of the freshest blueberries around was filled with a dulcet gooey corn curd with a hint of lemony goodness. The standard non-gluten free course missed out on this darling and I’m sure I saw the glint of food envy in a few of the girl’s eyes! That’s not to say I wasn’t suffering from envy right back at their gorgeous churros and walnut baklava with orange blossom buttercream!
Yes, a year later Rochelle has done it again. I have suitably been wowed by her awesomeness and am desperate to return for a dessert degustation. After hearing a mouth-watering description from some of my companions over High Tea, I realise that I probably should wait until after the wedding for such calorific indulgence. Another thing to look forward to in my married life!Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007 | www.rochelleadonis.com Price: $$$ (High tea $45 for two courses and a palate cleanser, two pots of tea or coffee) Food: 5/5 (honestly this IS perfection) Service: 4/5 (although Rochelle admitted herself she has taken some time to warm to food bloggers, she was very open friendly and courteous) Ambience: 4/5 (bright, light and airy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (7th Duchess Teas are divine, we also BYO-ed French Champagne) Total: 18.5/20
This winter I have had a terrible time with my allergies. My knuckles are often cracked and bleeding and my face can just erupt into hives without any real warning. What has made it all even more upsetting and frustrating is that I cannot seem to identify my triggers. I know very well I cannot touch gluten, but to complicate things I also seem to flare up if I have too much dairy or soy. The problem with those allergens is I can actually have a small amount, says a small piece of cheese or a couple of splashes of soy sauce and I’ll be fine. But if I have loads of cheese, or if I eat a gluten free muffin with soy flour…..scratch, scratch, scratch ALL night for days on end.
Eczema sufferers will empathise with this. When your skin is bad, you become overwhelmingly self-conscious of your appearance such that all you want to do is hide away in a dark cellar where no one can see you. You are so sleep deprived, distracted and on edge because you just cannot stop that burning desire to scratch even though your damaged skin is weeping and sore. With my up and coming wedding, my anxiety levels heightened even more; I don’t want to be a blotchy scabby bride! My mind was in a dark and not so attractive place all week, and so it was a complete relief to learn the Bonsai Restaurant in Northbridge not only have gluten free soy available, but have much of their menu easily adaptable to accommodate for difficult people like myself. Praying for dim lighting I made a partially successful attempt at covering up my skin with some makeup and headed out with the Boy.
To try and get myself in a better mood I started off with ordering some sparkling Yuki sake. The waitress described this drink as Bonsai’s take on an alcoholic bubble tea. In the brief time we sat waiting for our drinks, I envisioned a glass of amber coloured liquid with clear balls of jelly floating around curiously. What arrived was not what I expected and looked like nothing more than some lemon soda in a wine glass. I can’t deny I was initially disappointed by its appearance as it was, well, kind of boring. But upon sipping my drink I was taken by surprise as I felt various sized gloops of invisible jelly slurp into my mouth. I was hooked.
We started off with the roast duck slices dressed with garlic soy caramel and shichimi. Shichimi is a Japanese 7-spice blend typically containing ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper (sansho), ground ginger and nori. It gave an obvious heat to the tender duck breast yet the flavours were freshened by additional citrus notes and more oceanic layers from the nori.
I used to hate all things pork but recently I confess I have had some mouth-watering experience and I think my tastes are a turning. But I have now learnt that cold pork belly however is not my thing. Pale, fatty slices of blanched pork belly were topped with a shichimi flavoured salsa dressing of red onion, red capsicum, cucumber and olive oil. I should have thought more carefully before ordering this one.
The tuna tataki was seared and served on a bed of avocado wedges and thick teriyaki sauce. The tuna had a wondrous rich dark pink colour and practically dissolved on the tongue.
Of course once again the Boy had to order the soft shelled crab. It is rare that I get to share this dish as it is deep fried and usually coated in a wheat flour batter. This dish was no exception and although there were loads of gluten free options, all the fried dishes were off the menu for me. A big helping of crispy, meaty crab served with some wasabi mayonnaise quickly vanished off from his plate accompanied by much lip smacking and finger licking. I was very jealous!
What is a meal without mushrooms? I am starting to wonder if I can actually survive for more than a few days without my mushroom fix. Being involved in Mushroom Mania month earlier this year has only proved to make my addiction worse as I feel like I need to continue to “do my bit” to promote their awesomeness! The pan fried mushrooms came topped with a mustard miso dressing and a sprinkle of shichimi.
The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a small amount of bouncy firmness to the outside but soft tenderness on the inside.
The eggplant and capsicum namura was unexpectantly one of my favourite dishes of the night. The eggplant had an amazing texture that was close to that of set custard, held together only by its soft but firmer skin. The goma miso sauce was slightly sweet and salty with a nutty aftertaste. Goma miso is a thick sauce that is made with miso and sesame seeds.
I have to admit I didn’t really read the description of the seaweed salad before ordering and I expected a standard small bowl of brilliant green seaweed. Out came an enormous salad bowl filled with a variety of seaweeds in addition to cabbage julienne, Swiss chard leaf, mizuna, coral lettuce, tat-soy and red radish all coated well with a sweet mustard miso dressing. It was really easy to eat and we both crunched and munched happily away like rabbits .
Although we had ordered a lot of food, neither of us were overly full and agreed there was a tinsy bit of room left to share dessert. There was only one gluten free option; the crème brûlée. The surface of our dessert was hot to touch proving that it was indeed torched traditionally to get the burnt crust that makes crème brûlée such a treat. With a gentle tap of the spoon the wafer thin caramelised shell cracked and broke into bite sized geographical shaped pieces. Underneath the custard was tasty but its texture wasn’t smooth enough and actually looked a little on the lumpy side. It was still delicious however, and certainly didn’t go to waste.www.the-bonsai.net/ Price: $$$ (Share dishes $7-20, Mains $17-29, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 4.5/5 (must try the eggplant and the duck) Service: 5/5 (impeccable, attentive without being obtrusive) Ambience: 4.5/5 (funky, busy but can get quite noisy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (LOVED the sparkling Yuki saki!) Total: 17.5/20
The excitement for the upcoming engagement party is escalating. The bubbling began at work with our girlie chitter chatter of our personal shopping expeditions for outfits of which some of us had success in our searches but for others it was still a work in progress. As team work is such a vital element of a well-run veterinary practice we are all quite close friends and any social outing sparks a lot of enthusiasm and animated conversations among us all. This level of excitement has further risen up a notch with the arrival of my darling mother early this week. My Mum is the type of person you will immediately love from the first moment you meet her – even my beauty therapists go on about what a gorgeous person she is! With the early arrival of my sister tomorrow, the three of us decided to pop out for a light meal and the perfect cuisine to fit the bill for this was some delicious Thai!
Dusit Thai is something of an institution in Perth and has been open since 1988. The atmosphere in the restaurant is effortless and comfortable, and its spacious size means it’s never hard to get a table. Having eaten here many times on business dinners I figured it would be a sure-fire way to have an enjoyable and quick meal with my love and my Mum. This would allow us to enjoy our last quiet evening together before the festivities really start to kick in.
Dusit Thai is not the cheapest of Thai restaurants in Perth but I have found they reliably serve delicious meals no matter what I choose to order. They are very flexible with adapting their dishes and have always ensured to make an effort to avoid specific ingredients for me which reveals to me just how fresh each meal that is served is. Prior to our travels to Thailand I created an eating card with my special dietary requirements for gluten-free and fructose friendly written clearly in Thai on one side of the card and in English on the other side. Every time we dined out in Thailand I would show this cute little card to our waitress where it would then proceed to do the round trip from my hand via several waitresses to the kitchen and back to the table. Often it would actually make two trips as all the staff would eagerly want to make sure that I have no problems with my meal. Unfortunately I have to admit that back in Australia; even in Thai restaurants this well-travelled little card hasn’t received such glorified attention. Consequently, it was to my delight that on this night I was reminded of its tour of duty in Thailand as it was escorted on a similar round trip around the restaurant to the kitchen before returning back to me.
The waitresses were genuinely helpful in discussing our choice of dishes for the evening and the chef appeared very flexible in attempting to accommodate my requests whenever he could. We started with my latest Thai favourite; some mixed seafood Tom Yum. This delicious clear spicy and sour soup is such a refreshing way to begin a meal, and if you’re not actually that hungry is enough for a light meal on its own. To my great disappointment, prior to the soup being served our lovely waitress came back to inform me that there actually is a lot of onion used in the stock for the soup. I was recommended to order chicken satay instead. I cannot deny my internal reaction to this was “how boring” but seeing as they had already gone to such great lengths to help me order the rest of the evening’s meals I decided I didn’t want to make any more fuss and just went along with her recommendation.
The Tom Yum was requested to be served mild because both the boy and Mum have delicate palates when it comes to hot and spicy food. Despite this request they both found the soup to be too spicy, so for those who do not like heat in their food I recommend that you make sure to emphasize to your waitress that you want your soup very mild. I had a little taste of the seafood contained in the boy’s soup. As I watched him struggle through the spiciness I became quite jealous as I really enjoyed its tangy sourness and wished I could finish it off for them both. I did notice the soup lacked the rich colour I would expect for Tom Yum however the seafood was soft and not chewy or overcooked. The satay was a delicious surprise. The chicken was juicy and tender, the peanut sauce thick and creamy and the ajat (cucumber relish) took me back to Thailand! Many restaurants here in Perth don’t serve their satay dishes with this traditional yet elegant condiment made from palm sauce, cucumber and coriander. Yum!
The duck larb was a tasty alternative to the more commonly served chicken and fortunately for me the kitchen had no issues omitting onion out of this dish. The little pocket rockets of baby chillies packed a fierce punch, but if omitted they allowed this dish to be eaten by my two companions with comfort. I must admit accidentally shovelling two of the crispy numbers into my mouth at once did temporarily take me out of my comfort range!
The stuffed squid is a dish I have eaten here before, unfortunately on this night I felt this wasn’t the dish served at its best. There wasn’t anything overtly wrong with it, it was present beautifully, and the squid was not rubbery but the stuffing just didn’t quite have the flavour I recall enjoying so much in the past.
The beef basil was cooked medium rare leaving the meat tender and succulent. It also contained large pieces of chillies meaning it could be spiced up or down depending on your preference. I double dosed on these babies without much trouble. The stir fried vegetables were the most uninteresting of the dishes and were cooked simply with some oyster sauce. The generous addition of enoki mushrooms saved this dish as some of the other vegetables were slightly undercooked. I enjoy crunchy vegies but not quite that crunchy.
Overall, I never walk away from Dusit Thai disappointed and I know I’ll be back.
Score: Food 7.8/10 Service 8.5/10 Venue 7/10Dusit Thai 249 James Street, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 7647 | http://dusitthai.com.au/
As high as a kite on French champagne and with Rochelle Adonis‘s exquisite high tea delicacies still swimming around on my palate, my friends and I skipped over the road from her studio to the Hotel Northbridge to extend our celebratory mood a little further into the afternoon. After leaving the bright and clean environment of Rochelle’s, the grimy stark reality of the empty pub was initially a little off putting but good company has a way of distracting your attention from these details and we soon sat to continue our chatter and giggling. Of course we wanted to continue drinking champagne and therefore we were all a tad disappointed to read the drinks menu only contained Australian bubbles. For an exorbitant $68 we got a bottle of Chandon Brut and ordered a tasting plate, salt and pepper squid, and fries.
The food arrived fairly quickly, but we were left totally confused as to how to ration four serviettes, three forks, four knives and one plate amongst the six of us. Odd. I would have also liked to have been informed when I placed my order for the food that the salt and pepper squid actually came on a bed of fries as we didn’t really need the second bowl. Needless to say one can see from the photo that the salt and pepper squid wasn’t really such. Deep fried battered squid would be a more appropriate description as the dusting was nearly thicker than the squid itself. The added touch of MasterFoods squeeze-on packets of sweet chilli, tartare and tomato sauces didn’t raise the appeal much either. If you want to charge me $17.50 for such a dish then you had better make an effort on presentation or at least increase the size of your serves to make it good value – this dish had only twelve small pieces of calamari!
Moving onto the tasting plate we were preparing ourselves for the worst. Seriously, what were we thinking coming from High tea to this? If only Rochelle let us have another course! The tasting plate contained a paltry four thin strips of Turkish bread, some tasteless cubes of fetta, two small bowls of watery inedible dips, a handful of jarred olives, a pile of chorizo, about one teaspoon of very scary looking sun-dried tomatoes and some olive oil. The chorizo was the low- light and no one could eat it. It had an unusual taste that wasn’t pleasant.
Disappointed with such poor quality food, a rebellious streak started to emerge from our little group. By this time our over-priced bottle of average sparkling was well and truly empty so we decided it would be a fabulous decision to sneakily pop open our remaining bottle of Cattier from high tea. Anyone tried to open champagne sneakily? After a delayed and unsuccessful attempt at smothering that wonderful popping sound with laughter and coughing, the bartender scurried over to inform us we cannot drink our own bottle. We offered to pay corkage but she wasn’t willing to bend the rules. Fair enough. One of my girlfriends surprisingly managed to squeeze the cork back into the bottle, only for it to pop out later at an impromptu time during our drive home whilst traveling on the back seat. Needless to say the car still smells like celebrations!
Service 5/10 venue 4/10 food 3/10Fuse Bar @ Hotel Northbridge Cnr Brisbane and Lake St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 5254 | www.hotelnorthbridge.com.au/bar.php