It was only about six weeks ago that the Boy took me down to Margaret River on a prescribed weekend of rest. We wined, dined and came back as fresh as daisies albeit slightly rounder in shape. It was a comparatively unplanned and impromptu trip which is quite out of character for me and I love that the Boy can have this sort of influence on me. I had barely finished writing up all my blog posts from the trip when it was time to head back for Gourmet Escape.
For my non-Western Australians readers; Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. Famous chefs from around the world join along including Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Rick Stein, Adriano Zumbo, Hadleigh Troy, Guillaume Brahimi, Matt Stone, Tetsuya Wakuda and Neil Perry to name a just few!
I have to admit I am one of those people that tend to get a bit starry eyed with fancy restaurants that get into the big halls of fame. I am always hinting to the Boy that the holiday of my lifetime would be one where we travel around the world business class eating at the top ten restaurants in the San Pelligrino World’s Best. Focusing more locally than globally, the West Australian Good Food Guide is a highly esteemed annual publication where top restaurants around the state can be awarded one, two or three stars.
For the awards this year, there were five Perth venues and four regional venues that received a two star rating. This award is considered to identify “the best of the best: that small band of restaurateurs who are at the very apex of professional cooking and service”. As yet no Western Australian restaurant has ever achieved a three star rating.
It was bucketing down with rain and the wind cut through me like ice. This is not exactly the best weather to be walking through the city in search of a bite to eat. The Boy and I had just been dropped off at the Wellington Bus Station by Loris from Taste Bud Tours after an afternoon Speed Grazing in the Swan Valley. I had adamantly put my foot down refusing to return home and cook dinner. It was too enjoyable a day to return to the humdrum just yet. But we were a little peckish so I suggested we pop across the road to Jamie’s Italian for some pucker tucker before catching a cab. We were loaded up with bags of loot that we had bought along the way and desperate for a quick solution we both agreed this sounded like an easy option.
We all have our own addictions and vices. Things we simply cannot live without, things we cannot control ourselves around and things that make our life complete. Chocolate is one of these things for me. Whenever it is in the house it haunts my every waking thought until I know it has all been eaten. I can eat it in the early hours of the morning for breakfast, I can eat it before and after a run, in fact I’m sure I could find anytime of the day to eat it. I struggle to stop at just one piece and on many occasions have made myself sick by bingeing on it. Despite being a mad chocoholic, over the years I have grown to fine-tune my palate to chocolate in a similar fashion as to wine.
Only a few weeks ago the Boy and I shared a very memorable lunch at Dear Friends and it was easily one of the best meals we have had in Perth for some time. I love their philosophy of focusing on local and seasonal produce with much of their ingredients being sourced directly from local farmers or foraged from the wild surrounds. On our way home that day we both decided to book in at their city restaurant Co-op Dining, East Perth to celebrate our six month wedding anniversary.
I am still nursing a broken toe therefore my ability to go running has come grinding to a complete halt. We enjoy eating out a lot and I am totally devastated that I can no longer burn it all off on the tarmac. Honestly, it won’t be long before I’m the size of a small house. In a vain attempt to mitigate the anticipated caloric excesses for our dinner we agreed to walk, or in my case shuffle, from our house to Co-op Dining. I sighed in disappointment that I cannot wear high heels, sulkily chucked a pair of flats in my LV bag and headed off in my flip-flops.
One of our best wedding presents that we received was a gift voucher for a degustation at Dear Friends Restaurant in Caversham. Dear Friends is owned and run by Welshman Kiren Mainwaring and his Canadian wife Kelli. My first introduction to this team’s talent was at the final Largesse dinner held at Petit Mort last year. For this charity event he created a spectacular and beautiful dish of air dried ham, Swan Valley yolk, ajo blanch and foraged herbs. Since this evening I have longed to make the trip to their restaurant in the Swan Valley to be wowed by his creations once again.
I have a tendency to often bite off more than I can chew. This habit applies not only to my constant overeating but to many other aspects in my life. Working under pressure seems to bring out the best in me however this can sometimes lead to being in the position where there is so much to do that it’s almost overwhelming. Being a persistent and determined person I always seem to get through it all, often with success which only serves to drive me to do it all again. Earlier this year the rambunctious Amanda from Chew Town told me all about her project of The Sweet Swap over an oversized second breakfast at Miss Kitty’s Saloon. It sounded like such a great idea to me. The best way to describe The Sweet Swap is it’s kind of like a food bloggers Kris Cringle but not at Christmas and the presents are all edible.
I admit sometimes I completely underestimate my dear husband. I thought that after the first week of our Raw Food Meatless Monday Man Challenge his enthusiasm levels would start to wane. This is a man who used to eat a whole roast chicken in one sitting. I’m not saying that I don’t have faith in him changing his eating habits, but I didn’t think it would happen easily.
The following Monday arrived and to my astonishment he bounced out of bed all excited and ready for his next smoothie to try. He is not a morning person and seeing him with this much energy first thing in the morning was a little out of the ordinary. Knowing how much he loves his pink drinks it was logical that this would be the colour of his next smoothie to taste test.
Over the past few years, the Boy and I have made a natural progression to eating a more vegetarian based diet. Whilst not completely giving up eating meat all together, our intake has been dramatically reduced such that our initial goal of a Meatless Monday has now extended into several days a week.
Our reasons for vegetarianism are twofold.
Our first reason comes back to being compassionate human beings. Can we truly justify the way we farm production animals? Housed in completely unnatural environments with cramped stocking densities and fed highly processed foods such as pellets and other animal proteins? Worst still, how can we know that every animal that is slaughtered for our consumption didn’t suffer in the process? Many of you may have seen Animals Australia’s shocking footage of our live export cattle in Indonesia abattoirs last year. We were all left outraged and distraught at the horrific treatment of these innocent beasts. But these events are by no means isolated and happen all around the world every day. While I understand that sometimes brutal death is a part of life in the natural world, I am certain a lion hunting a gazelle in Africa doesn’t stop to consider her prey’s welfare before she kills it. But unlike these majestic big cats, we humans choose to slaughter animals to eat on a much larger scale than is necessary for our own survival.
As most of my regular readers will be aware I recently married the love of my life in Phuket, Thailand where we had the most magical dream wedding I could have ever imagined. In the coming weeks I will soon be getting around to posting a review of the fabulous venue Andara coupled with some snap shots of our big day.
In order to make our wedding ceremony in Thailand a legally binding one back home in Australia, the Thai government required us to travel to Bangkok for an undetermined period of about 3-5 days prior to the wedding in Phuket to allow for translation of documents. After giving this much thought we agreed this was way too much hassle and decided to wait and get the legal stuff done once we returned to Perth. To make it more meaningful, we planned to do this on our anniversary, a date we have celebrated for nearly 15 years.
Things are definitely on the onwards and upwards for foodies living here in Perth. This past year has seen a plethora of high quality dining establishments open their doors and it is certainly something to be proud of. We are fortunate enough to live only five minutes’ drive away from the Crown Metropol (formerly known as the Burswood Casino) where internationally famous chefs Neil Perry, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and Guillaume Brahimi all have flagship restaurants residing there. Now it is never too hard to have a fancy meal out.
I made an initial reservation for the two of us at Bistro Guillaume during their opening week however this had to be postponed as I had forgotten we had already made plans to go out with some friends to Duende. After managing to secure a table on another weekend, the Boy informed me that I had booked on the same night as his High School Reunion and would have to cancel once again. By this point I am sure the reservation desk had red flagged me as an annoying customer! Third time lucky, we successfully synced our busy schedules and locked in date night.
With the current Australian dollar being high coupled with overinflated prices in Perth, we have noticed that it is actually quite a bit cheaper to go on overseas holiday to a nearby Asian country than it is to holiday in Western Australia. Consequently of late we have been neglecting our frequent visits “down south” and replacing them with visits to Bali and Thailand.
But despite this fact, nothing beats a quick local getaway for its ease and accessibility. It was our last day of our minibreak in Margaret River and reflecting back on our weekend we were both grateful for our location choice. We hadn’t spent an hour trying to cram everything into our two suitcases nor was our little holiday concluding in a mad dash to the airport to catch a plane. Yes, travelling locally still has its definite perks. The car was chinking loudly due to all my wine purchases and our car eskie was jammed full of gourmet goodies; I was trying my hardest to make the most of having no limit on my baggage allowance!
After a pretty hectic start to our year, thoughts about planning for our wedding have remained in the infant stages. But there are some things that need to be commenced well in advance of such an occasion and one of those is getting our bodies into top shape! Seriously, there are no real overnight miracles to losing weight and toning up, the secret is really simple. Eat healthily in moderation and increase your amount of exercise. It’s definitely not rocket science. The trick is just sticking to it!
The Boy recently was inspired by a documentary called Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s about an overweight Australian guy named Joe Cross who suffered from a number of illnesses secondary to his poor diet and weight problem. He decided to go on a 60 day juice fast drinking only fresh fruit and vegetables. During his fast he drove nearly 5000 kilometres across America with only one goal in mind; to get off all his medication and achieve a balanced lifestyle. During his road trip he met a man with similar health issues as he had and together they supported each other to becoming fitter, healthier and happier men.
I was woken up abruptly at around 3am feeling very nauseous and sweaty with my stomach churning and cramping. I had a big day ahead of me with a number of appointments booked at bridal boutiques and I refused to accept that anything could ruin this special day. I gobbled down some antacid tablets and managed to scull a few mouthfuls of Gaviscon. I lay still in bed hoping that my increasing desire to vomit would pass and that I would at least get a couple more hours of sleep before I had to rise in the morning for what would be a very busy day!
It is so exciting to have all my family over in Perth for our engagement party tonight. My Mum and Dad have been divorced since I was a young teenager and so my sister and I have grown accustomed to dividing our time during any major holiday events between each of our parents and their loved ones. Incredibly this party will not only be a first for us all to be together in Perth, but it also will be the first family event that both my parents have attended simultaneously since I was a little child. Understandably I am thrilled to have them all here!