There were many things that I discovered about Tasmania on our first trip; their weather is unpredictable, their folk are super friendly, their landscape is breathtaking and their food is more than just good, it is brilliant. We were hard pressed to find somewhere that wasn’t fabulous and what I loved most of all was their locally farmed oysters. I became a crazed fool insisting on eating oysters at every opportunity and I struggled to go for more than a a day without fulfilling my addiction.
We were house-siting in the North Hobart area which is a just a stone’s throw away from the CBD. This conveniently allowed me to hit up some of the best places in town without much effort. One cold midweek evening I knocked off for the day from my locum job at the Hobart Cat Clinic and joined the Boy for a brisk walk into town to the Westend Pumphouse. The Pumphouse is a relatively new venue that recently debuted in The Financial Review’s Top Restaurants of Australia.
The restaurant is housed in an impressive open plan industrial space with massive high ceilings, exposed wooden roof beams and a crackling hot open fire in the centre. Our waiter helped us negotiate the wine list to settle on a luscious bottle of local red while he talked us through their menu. Most of their menu focuses on using locally sourced produce which of course won my heart in a second. We started with some natural local oysters,. Plump, creamy and slightly sweet I still have wistful dreams about these beauties.
The octopus was also locally caught and was served charred with Pink eye potatoes, tangy bitter lemon puree and dried olives. This was such a refreshing dish and it matched well with the succulent oysters.
Pumphouse offer a number of small and large share plates including some mouth-watering slow cooked meat options. I saw posted up on the chalkboard near the bar that you can pre-order whole roasted pig served with all the trimmings for $45 per person for groups of nine or more.
Neither of us are really great pork eaters and we happily we settled for the dry aged sirloin; a massive 1.4 kilograms of beef cooked on the bone for maximum flavour and then chopped up into bite sized pieces for more elegant eating. Each cube of tender beef was lavishly drizzled in a toothsome, rich white anchovy sauce. In an attempt to balance out this high protein feast, we also received a small serve of local Pink eye potatoes tossed in cultured butter. It was the perfect nourishment for the unexpected cold windy weather.
Despite feeling like we had nearly eaten half a cow, it was not exactly a surprise we still managed to find room for dessert. The gluten free option was an adapted version of their molasses parfait and was served with smoked apple and blueberries.
Along with oysters, local blueberries became another Hobart daily addiction for me meaning the added novelty of smoked blueberries made this dessert quite interesting. Because my stomach doesn’t tolerate high fructose apple I spent a fair few minutes trying to unsuccessfully separate the apple from the blueberries before giving in and letting the Boy eat the rest of the fruit while I tucked into the silky parfait. 😉
Westend Pumphouse is a funky, modern eatery with a casual vibe serving simple local produce. I could have easily seen myself relaxing many a Sunday session there if I was a Hobart resident. They offer a changing menu and have a dynamic team that obviously love what they do, and do it well.
Westend Pumphouse 105 Murray Street, Hobart TAS | (03) 6234 7339 | www.pumphouse.com.au
Not everyone marries their best friend and I am so grateful that I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of those lucky ones. Whilst our life is by no means perfect, for the major things we are invariably on the same page. Where we want to live. Our love for animals. Our passion for fine food. Particular black truffles and chocolate. Our core values. And, our love for staying at luxury lodges and hotels! 😉
For our Christmas present to each other we chose to forgo buying each other materialistic stuff, I mean who really needs stuff? We both work and play hard, sometimes too much so, such that our best gift to each other is just spending quality time together. I was once again reminded that I married my soul mate when he agreed without hesitation to go stay at the Lake House in Daylesford for a couple of nights squeezed in between our family Christmas in Melbourne and a friend’s wedding on New Year.
We booked a Luxury Package for two nights in a waterfront suite. Our package included breakfast and dinner for both nights and some spa treatments to enjoy together.
Our room overlooked the lagoon and the shores of Lake Daylesford and facilitated complete relaxation with a very comfortable king sized bed, sofa and armchairs. There were a pair of sunbeds out on our deck however the weather was scorching hot and no sane person would have basked in that heat.
There was a bottle of chilled complimentary champagne ready for us on arrival. The minibar was stocked with a small number of locally sourced drinks and nibbles, Salus Spa’s own sparkling mineral water and a Nespresso coffee machine. Unlike some of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, the minibar was not included as part of our stay. Considering the price was comparative with other Lodges, it would have been a nice touch if it was.
The bathroom was spacious with a dual shower, double spa bath and heated bathroom floors. There was a modest sized flat screen television, an iPod docking station to play our tunes and free in room Wi-Fi access.
Every evening between 6 pm to 8.30 pm cocktails are served in the Argyle Library along with some complementary canapés. I was hoping that the canapés would keep coming for as long as we ordered drinks however we quickly learnt that you get one round of delicious canapés and then that is it.
I am guessing they expect you to move through into the restaurant at that point. Nobody ever seems to understand that our appetites are not those of normal people!
After enjoying a round of nibbles and a few more rounds of Campari spritzers, we headed out for a walk around the Lake before returning to our suite for dinner. There are two Lakes to walk around each taking less than half an hour on a shaded and pretty path.
Our package included an in-room supper for two on the first evening with two glasses of house wine. We weren’t expecting such a feast to arrive and this seemed to make up for the feeling of wanting more of those canapés earlier on.
Everything was adapted to be gluten free including gluten free bread and crackers. There was creamy pea soup, an antipasto platter, a cheese platter and plate of fresh fruit.
Breakfast is included for both mornings of our stay and consisted of a continental buffet in addition to a choice of a main dish from their a la carte menu.
The buffet had an array of freshly baked pastries, sliced meats and cheeses with a few gluten free and vegetarian options.
For my main dish I ordered the house baked beans with goats cheese, wilted spinach and poached eggs on gluten free toast.
The beans had wonderful depth of flavour but sadly the gluten free toast let the dish down being quite tasteless and crumbly in texture.
We had minimal plans for our weekend, in fact I was hoping to do very little other than relax but as is always the case with us we cannot help but do a little exploring. The Daylesford Sunday Market operates each Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm and contains a wide range of stalls selling all sorts of antique bric-a-brac, locally grown produce, clothing and crafts. We already had suitcase filled with loot from Christmas so I made do with purchasing a refreshing beetroot, carrot and ginger juice. Oh, and I bought a book about cats
We also visited Lavandula, a Swiss Italian lavender farm. It was a melting 40 degrees Celsius and we lingered only long enough to smell the fragrant flowers, scull a lavender lemonade in the shade and then retreat back to our air-conditioned car.
For our second evening at Lake House, our package included an eight course degustation with matched wines in the restaurant. We started the evening off again in the Library with some canapés before taking a seat by one of the large windows to watch the reflections of the setting sun across the Lake.
Our degustation took us on a journey using local seasonal food some of which is harvested from their own gardens. This is a restaurant that has repeatedly earned two hats and as our dishes started to roll out I began to see why.
Our amuse bouche consisted of a mouthful of veal tartare and mojama which is a salt cured tuna. This was served with some bonito aioli on a nori crisp so light it dissolved on the tongue like a wafer.
Our second course of spanner crab and white fish sashimi had a Nobu-esque twist with the addition of jalapenos and an elegant dollop of green gazpacho. Some tapioca pearls on the side added another element of texture.
The next course was a pasta dish which meant I received something different in replacement. The Boy’s pasta was a bug agnolotti, which are similar to ravioli. It was served with house made kimchi butter emulsion and crisp shallots.
My gluten free alternative was some mixed tempura served with the kimchi. I was so chuffed that they could do the tempura gluten free as this is so commonly off the menu for me. It was crispy and light and the kimchi had a decent kick to it.
The next dish was inspired by Chef Alla’s Russian heritage and we were told that a variation of this dish is always on the menu. Smoked eel is considered a delicacy and features in many Russian dishes.
The eel was sourced from the Victoria based Skipton eel factory. Wrapped in pancetta the smoked eel was paired with some locally grown organic beets and served alongside a toothsome mustard crème fraiche. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
The next dish was some addictive little morsels of tempura quail wrapped in nori.
They were accompanied by dollops of umeboshi puree, coriander puree, wasabi mayonnaise and the cutest coriander flowers.
Our final main dish was locally sourced pasture fed beef; cooked carefully and slowly such that it had the consistency of melting butter. The hearty flavours of the beef had an added surprise of some chilli and togarashi for an interesting kick.
Pre-dessert consisted of a platter named “Playtime”. This consisted of a number of little palate cleansers including a strawberry compote with white chocolate sorbet and strawberry granita, a “plum shot” and blackcurrant marshmallow lollipops.
For our final course, the Boy and I had different dishes as mine had to be adapted to be gluten free. The Boy’s “Summer Ramble” was a garden of gorgeous components and I was gutted there was no more natural light for a stunning photo. His dish had pistachio sponge, almond praline, almond milk pannacotta, honey ice cream, almond tuille chocolate bark berries AND honey comb….all on one plate. It looked heavenly and despite all the different elements it didn’t taste over complicated or flamboyant.
I could have nearly developed a case of food envy if it wasn’t for my rich peanut butter parfait. It was topped with sesame ganache, peanut praline and sesame ice cream. A perfectly balanced blob of lemon curd added a hint of acidity and a black sesame tuille gave it some crunch and texture.
We had such a relaxing stay at Lake House in Daylesford giving the perfect amount of “us” time that we needed together. Having stayed in a number of Luxury Lodges around Australia now, I would have liked to have seen a bit more luxury in our rooms to justify the room price and feel that in these sort of “never want to leave” styled lodges a complementary minibar can encourage you to really enjoy your accommodation more.
We found the Spa to be of a high quality and actually went back for a second massage in the couple’s room. The restaurant is well deserved of its Good Food Guide Hats and is worth a visit even without a stay in the Lodge. Their wine list is enough to impress my father which is saying something and I heart how they focus on local and seasonal produce.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp and the Boy paid in full for a Lake House Luxury Package for $1200/night. This package included two night accommodation in a Waterfront Suite, light supper for the first evening and a degustation with matched wine on the second night, a full breakfast each morning and a massage and facial at Salus Spa.
4 King Street, Daylesford, Victoria 3460 | www.lakehouse.com.au
Reflecting back on last year I have a mixed bag of emotions. It was a roller-coaster experience of opportunity coupled with some of my darkest times in years. I expected 2014 to be a wonderful year of post–wedding bliss but sadly the Boy and I were not that lucky. A family feud that commenced in the months before our wedding resulted in my family fragmenting apart, and then to add to this heartbreak my business came very close to a similar fate. Worst of all, one of my friends was tragically killed in a horrific car accident.
Whilst trying to deal with all of this turmoil, I injected my energy into writing and saw this humble blog blossom into something even my critical mind can be proud of.
As direct result of such a year I neglected spending time with many of my friends. The only occasions I would see many of them would be at invited foodie events and even then this would be a rushed and distracted moment in time.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend my time more wisely and make more effort to hang with those I heart. Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and Perth Food Truck Rumble is one of the first food bloggers that I became close friends with. We first met after both being accepted to attend Eat Drink Blog ‘12 in Adelaide. Both being a little quirky in our own individual ways, we connected immediately and have been great friends ever since.
Following with my New Years promise to myself, I met with Ai-Ling for a ladies lunch at Circa in Mount Lawley. Being able to chat without all the fan fare of an official foodie event was such a better way to share company. I need to make time to do this more often.
Circa do not indicate on their menu gluten free options however after a brief chat to our waitress she was confidently able to let me know what I could have. She showed a deeper level of understanding of what constitutes a gluten free dish explaining that some dishes don’t contain gluten however they will still have some contamination and therefore would not be suitable for Coeliacs and those very sensitive.
The chicken parfait was served with toasted gluten free bread. We were kindly offered normal bread for Ai-Ling to enjoy and each serve of bread was served on separate plates to ensure no mixing of crumbs. The parfait was velvety smooth and reminded me of the enormous dish Mum always makes for us around Christmas time. She does everything from scratch and we eat parfait on toast for days until it’s all devoured.
For our main we shared the roasted duck, a tender slightly pink breast served on cauliflower purée and charred cabbage with a sweet apricot jus. Not the most fructose friendly of choices but I have been eating so much vegan dishes in my post-Christmas guilt that I was craving some poultry.
Sadly we ran out of time to hit the dessert menu. I don’t think there was a silent moment for the whole two hours that we sat together and it felt like our time was over in a flash. Of all the lessons I learnt last year, one of those is that life can be short. Sometimes a lot shorter than you were ever expecting. Taking time out from the rat race of life to laugh, connect and share with those you love is so important.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for this meal as a gesture of friendship however also because Ai-Ling actually ran out of time and had to race off for an appointment. Time really did escape us!
Being a veterinarian makes me the only scientist in my direct family; my mother is a retired Jazz singer, my father is a fashion designer and even my sister will oil paint in her spare time. Whilst I do enjoy the freedom and creativity of the arts, my strongest loyalties will always lie with my furry patients and their owners.
This isn’t to say I don’t love and cherish my blog too and with Chompchomp turning three this month it has been so exciting to watch my readership steadily grow each year. I find it so touching to know that through my writing I can help others with food intolerances find the courage to dine out while still providing some entertainment to those who are not restricted in their diet. These days I find my inbox filling up with invitations and product trials at an alarmingly fast rate. Because of my long shifts and late hours, there are many events that I have to knock back and I need to ensure to only choose the ones that I think are relevant to me and my readers.
I recently attended the South Africa Roadshow held at the Burswood Convention Centre. South Africa has always been on my bucket list and I imagined this would be an event aimed at people in the travel media including journalists and bloggers. I soon found out that it was actually a night for travel agents to help them learn to pitch and sell different tours and resorts to their customers. Not really applicable to my blog at all.
While the Boy was keen to stay and enjoy all the free South African wine, I had come off the back of a long day with not much to eat and was hungry enough to eat my own arm. After asking the waitress three times if there was anything gluten free I quickly grew tired of waiting around for a reply and decided to leave. I had given the event organisers advance notice of my gluten free requirement but obviously this was to no avail.
Instead of returning home, the Boy agreed to stay for dinner but requested we go somewhere cheap. I have a history of blowing the budget at the Crown and with their flagship restaurants including Rockpool, Nobu and Bistro Guillaume it is an easy thing to do. I knew that their cheaper option Market & Co was in the Entertainment Book which would mean we would get a discount of up for $45 off our meal. I found a bunch of gluten free options on the menu with a few more dishes able to be adapted. We started with the salt and pepper cuttlefish with Asian coleslaw. It was fairly decent serve for the price, freshly fried and coated in thin gluten free batter. The coleslaw had seen better days and was not much more than a pile of tired looking cabbage.
The Boy ordered the lobster risotto. It was served on a bed of truffled corn purée and garnished with random blobs of salsa verde splashed across the plate like an accident. The risotto was laced with a generous amount of “lobster” meat which was really crayfish however this dish was somewhat ruined by the faint dishwater after-taste as if the rice had been cooked in a dirty pan.
I chose the grilled salmon which the chef adapted to be gluten free. It came with a shiitake mushroom risotto and an oddly placed squiggle of saffron beurre blanc on the side of the plate. Presentation was seemingly not the chef’s strong point for the evening but despite my dish’s appearance the mushroom risotto was creamy and tasted freshly made.
The only gluten free dessert option at Market & Co was a fruit salad which didn’t inspire me at all. Instead I managed to twist the Boy’s arm and convince him to head next door to Nobu for a night cap. On the walk over I reminded him of Nobu’s drop dead gorgeous gluten free chocolate fondant with its luscious eruption of gooey chocolate centre. I even dug up a photo on my phone to remind him.
I am pretty sure he wasn’t even listening to me, he just heard “green tea ice cream” and it was a done deal for him.
However after taking our seats at the bar in a brief moment of spontaneity, I ended up ordering us the other gluten free option on the menu; the salted caramel miso parfait. Topped with Tonka foam and white chocolate and garnished with caramelised popcorn, it appeared to me that my highly esteemed fondant had met its match.
The obvious solution to this conundrum is that now I am going to have to go back to Nobu again, order both the fondant AND the parfait and then compare them both to find out the real winner! 😉 I mean, chocolate fondant + salted caramel parfait + popcorn + champagne….does it actually get any better than that?Chompchomp was an invited guest of the South Africa Roadshow where she enjoyed a couple of glasses free wines and cheese. Sadly that was the extent of the freebies for the evening and the meal at Market & Co and Nobu was funded for by herself and the Boy. Not to worry as the Entertainment Card gave a neat little discount off the total bill making it a super cheap night. Market & Co Crown Promenade Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/casual/market-co/about www.noburestaurants.com/perth
The Swan Valley have recently been awarded the accolade of becoming Australia’s first Humane Food Region. Earlier last month I attended their launch party held at Sandalford Winery where I learnt all about this RSPCA driven initiative.
The Humane Food movement is aimed giving recognition to businesses that are dedicated to improving the lives of food production animals to allow them to live a more natural and a happy life. To become involved businesses must undergo an accreditation process and those that meet the high standards set by the RSPCA are identified on the Choose Wisely website.
Entwined in the Valley was the first official public event hosted in the Valley since it was declared a Humane Food Region. It was an elaborate evening of seven stunning courses matched with individually selected wines held on the grounds of Houghton Winery.
The indulgent degustation was prepared by Masterchef judge George Calombaris and one of my favourite Perth-based chefs Kiren Mainwaring. The world-famous Ch’ng Poh Tiong was our smiling sommelier for the evening. With Anna Gare as the MC, she successfully managed to maintain lively banter with the chefs and sommelier on stage and kept the feel of the night humorous and light hearted.
Lucky for me the majority of the dishes were already gluten free and therefore required minimal if any adaptations. Our evening started with canapés to share around the table; some Mt Barker humane farmed chicken liver parfait served on a crisp onion skin with pickled celery, and West Australian wild prawn crackers topped with fresh prawn meat and fennel.
Our first entrée was a decadently soft slab of bark smoked West Australian Rainbow Trout with wattle seed and the tiniest shavings of white chocolate. White chocolate with trout you say? Well, as strange as the combination sounds it definitely worked. The chocolate particles were so small that they dissolved on contact with my tongue leaving a subtlety sweet after-taste. I MAY have run my finger across my empty plate a couple of times to smear up the last chocolate fragments but there is no proof I actually did this at such a premium event.
For those of you familiar with Kiren’s amazing repertoire of dishes, you will know his slow cooked eggs are out of this world. The second entrée reminded me of one of his creations that we loved at the Farmer’s Long Table lunch at Truffle Kerfuffle.
A silky smooth cylinder of slow cooked hen’s yolk was served with shards of savoury meringue, cauliflower purée, green olive and shaved Moorish pistachios.
The first main dish was George’s dish. A buttery soft confit duck leg topped with germinated lentils and drizzled with a spiced plum purée. A single sake compressed cucumber added some Japanese styled acidity and tang to the dish. The germinated lentils gave an interesting crunchy element without being too bitter. The sprouting process also has the added benefit of raising the nutrient level of these legumes making this dish somewhat healthy! 😉
The second main course was a slow cooked kangaroo tail with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and purée, fresh apple and crisp salt bush. I was a bit nervous to eat this dish as I have a history of reacting to kangaroo where the back of my throat becomes puffy and swollen almost like a mild anaphylactic reaction. Last time I ate kangaroo was over ten years ago and long before I was diagnosed with my all my food intolerances. I have avoided eating it since reacting three times in a row. I have always wondered whether it was something else in the dish each time or I was actually allergic to just the roo itself.
The Boy suggested I try a small mouthful and wait ten minutes or so to see if I still had a problem with it. I bravely tried a mouthful and within minutes developed only a slight scratching at the back of my throat. Nowhere near the severe reaction that I had many moons ago. I cautiously ate a few more mouthfuls before surrendering my plate to the Boy to finish it off.
Having survived my re-entry into the kangaroo eating world without the need to reach for an Epipen, I was very excited to tuck into the selection of artisan cheese from the Cheese Barrel complete with gluten free crackers for me to enjoy.
The final dish was one of Kiren’s dessert masterpieces, once again gluten free and as always totally addictive. A moist thick cut slice of chocolate and beetroot cake was literally engulfed in a sour cream mousse with some chocolate sorbet hidden inside the mousse. Thin slivers of fresh beetroot that I nearly mistook for rose petals decorated the dish with a splash of bright colour.
As I nearly slipped into a food coma, I had to remind myself that I had a full day of work the next day and wished I hadn’t enjoyed quite so much of the free flowing wine! Lucky for me I can survive for a short time on little sleep and whilst I cannot say the next day was easy I can guarantee it was all worth it! If Entwined in the Valley is anything to go by, I look forward to the next Humane Region food event!Chompchomp was a guest of the City of Swan at Entwined in the Valley. As paid tickets to this event were very popular there was no offer of a plus one so Chomp was happy to fork out her dosh for another ticket so that the Boy could accompany her. Houghton Winery (note the food for this meal was not prepared by Houghton’s) 148 Dale Road, Middle Swan, WA 6056 | (08) 9274 9543 | www.houghton-wines.com.au/our-cafe Dear Friends and Co op Dining 2/11 Regal Place, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9221 0404 | www.co-opdining.com.au
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. Must Wine bar is one of these venues. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.
Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow. We started off with some freshly shucked oysters and Must’s famous chicken liver parfait.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyère. Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyère were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were. Exquisite. A couple of slurps and it was all over.
I have had the pleasure of devouring Must’s chicken liver parfait on many occasions. It has the same smearable smoothness of my mother’s homemade version. Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. Mind you, it never went to waste.
The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait. Ooops! No more brioche for him now!
After a weekend at the Truffle Kerfuffle festival my stomach was craving something simple. I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and béarnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. My steak was cooked rare exactly as I had requested and was ever so juicy and flavoursome. The béarnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon.
The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. His fish was tender soft with a crispy skinned surface.
For dessert the Boy chose the warm chocolate moelleux with white chocolate ice cream. This wasn’t a gluten free option so I didn’t get to sample its oozing deliciousness. Unlike me, the Boy isn’t a big fan of cakes or puddings and as I crooned over the molten chocolate centre erupting out from the centre he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. It was obviously not THAT bad! 😉
After taking all my food photos I proceeded to fall into a similarly silent food trance as I golloped up my own sweet treat. Trust a French bistro like Must to excel at making a stellar brulée.
I loved the layering of textures commencing with a crisp sesame snap on top of smooth raspberry sorbet leading to a translucently thin coating of caramel and finally ending in the smoothest of custard base.
After allowing ourselves to be blissfully ignorant to the world while we feasted in the warmth of the restaurant, it was hard to imagine that we had to return back to the real world of boring Saturday chores and errands. Knowing I still needed the energy to get through a big list before the day was over I ordered my usual coffee; a short macchiato. And of course I didn’t need to say to our waiter “not topped up”, these guys know what a REAL short mac is!
Must Wine bar are offering an $80 bistro lunch for two special which includes two courses with a glass of wine for two people. The menu is changed daily and customers have the choice of ordering an entrée and main, or a main and dessert. This special will run 7 days a week until November this year. Booking are recommended.Chompchomp was an invited guest of Must Wine bar and received the $80 bistro lunch for two as a gift. She was in no way obliged to write a favourable review in exchange for this free feed. Being the over-indulgent person she is, a two course lunch wasn’t sufficient enough for her large appetite and she was happy to pay for her additional dishes at the above indicated prices. Must Wine bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au
I am known for my obsession with planning. Before going on a holiday I will spend weeks researching the best accommodation, the absolute “must eat” restaurants and other things to see and do which usually are predominately food orientated. This strong need for mapping out the future doesn’t necessarily come from a desire to control but more a fear of missing out. Yes, I suffer from FOMO. Although I am what some may consider an organisation freak, I can still have moments of spontaneity and when those care free moments involve food I am happy to throw all planning out the window. The Boy can be hard to convince to dine out during the week but when I mentioned the key words “Mexican” and “beer” he became very agreeable. Unbelievably we still hadn’t visited el PÚBLICO despite being regulars at their other popular joints Greenhouse and Cantina 663.
El Publico is one of the first “real” Mexican places to open up in Perth after a plague of El Paso-styled greasy spoons tarnished our streets for years. Their vision is to serve Mexican street food and both the owners and the chefs have travelled through Mexico to submerge themselves in its authenticity. They accept walk-ins and only take bookings for groups over six thus they fitted the bill perfectly to be the venue for our spur of the moment outing. They offer a number of vegetarian and gluten free options which are both cleared marked on the ever-changing seasonal menu. We started with the fried chickpeas with burnt tortilla salt and the crispy street prawns.
The street prawns were reminiscent of the fried insect stalls at the night markets in Thailand and are surprisingly moreish. They are a little prickly in the mouth so I do not recommend downing too many at one time or their teeny legs poke into the inside of your cheeks. I washed the salty critters down with a glass of 2011 Ventisquero Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley, Chile whilst the Boy drank a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
We ordered a bunch of share plates to be brought out staggered in a very sociable Mexican style of tapas dining. This proved to be conducive to meandering chatter between the Boy and me taking us both far away from our working week and into a relaxed and happy place. I wish the Boy would be keen on mid-week outings more often! Our cuttlefish was served on crisp tostada with a jalapeño and corn salsa. Fresh summer flavours tossed with soft pieces of cuttlefish left a refreshing spritz on the palate.
The salmon ceviche was similarly uplifting with cubes of raw salmon cured by the lime juice dressing buried in among chunks of tomato, avocado and coriander. A touch similar in its profile to the cuttlefish, it made me dream of the long summer months soon to come.
After two rounds of seemingly healthy and light dishes, it was time to get down and dirty with some tacos. Now I’m not talking about refried beans, avocado and tomato salsa. I’m talking about REAL tacos! There were a few to choose from that were suitable for me so we agreed to share the vegetarian option; the potato tacos.
Deep fried cubes of potato and cheese topped with the skinniest slivers of potato made a picture perfect handful. We were very tempted to order another round of these tacos and I recommend that if you see them on the menu again … DO IT!
By this point in the meal, my planning brain had already scanned the dessert menu and selected my choice so I would have been more than happy to move onto sweets. The Boy thought differently and with room in his belly for more he knew ordering another round would be easy. When it comes to having seconds, I suffer from a serious case of rubber arm.
One of the last vegetarian options left on the menu were the black bean quesadillas. Our waitress warned us that they were very filling which prompted the Boy to order them immediately. Four soft pillows of corn quesadillas filled with cheesy black bean goodness were topped with punchy green sauce. Yes, she was right, they were quite filling but despite my smaller size I can fit a large amount of food into me and we finished them without discomfort leaving room for dessert.
And what a dessert it was. Let’s hope THIS one never comes off the menu. Peanut butter parfait topped with rocks of dulce de leche that literally collapse in your mouth on contact with your tongue. It really was a killer.
Like as if we hadn’t eaten enough, to finish off our last drinks we nibbled on a couple of chocolate chilli truffles. The Boy wasn’t mad on these as they were quite bitter but he wouldn’t’ let me eat his for him so I guess they weren’t so bad. After our socks being knocked off by our dessert, it was really pointless eating anything else.
It may have taken us a while to get ourselves to el PÚBLICO but our visit has left me repeatedly wondering how soon we can head back. It has a heart and soul that is packed with spunk and effortless cool. And it has a neon donkey on the bar. Now everyone who knows me KNOWS how much I love donkeys!el PÚBLICO 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $9-18, Mains $24-28) Food: 4.5/5 (captures our seasonal produce and injects a little Mexico into it!) Service: 4/5 (funny, efficient and helpful with suggestions) Ambience: 4/5 (vibrant, happening and noisy) Drinks: 4/5 (small well thought out wine list….over 100 Tequilas behind the bar!) Total: 15.5/20
Yelp is a company that operates a local search website focused on user reviews much like Urbanspoon, however it encompasses all types of businesses not just restaurants and cafes. Whilst Yelp originated in the US nearly ten years ago, it has more recently landed upon our shores in Australia and has grown steadily in its popularity since. Each capital city has its own dedicated team of promoters who host a number of fun events for their “Yelp Elite” reviewers with the aim to help raise the profile of local businesses. I don’t often blog about these events however my most recent experience at Five Bar has made me want to share my renewed opinion of this venue with you.
I first visited Five Bar back in my early blogging days in November 2011. I cannot believe how much my writing style and photography have developed since then! Whilst I didn’t have anything truly negative to say about that visit, I did find I was very limited with what I could eat that would suit my food allergies. There was a distinct lack of flexibility with kitchen staff and as a result we didn’t return. When I recently received an invitation to their new Spring menu launch I was intrigued to see how they would handle my requirements this time round.
After being greeted by the always smiling Yelp team, Five Bar’s manager Andy welcomed us warmly and talked us through the philosophy and history behind Five Bar. Later in the evening he came over to me to chat and explained that in previous years gone by his kitchen staff weren’t as familiar in working with customers with food allergies as his current staff are today. He carefully advised me what I could and couldn’t enjoy off their tasting menu and assured me that the kitchen would organise a couple of extra gluten free dishes just for me.
I was happy to see two of my favourite gluten free dishes from my previous visit remained on the menu as regulars; the roasted field mushrooms and the addictive sweet potato fries. The mushrooms are normally served on bread but are just as tasty on their own. The sweet potato fries come with a coriander mayo and are the type of chips you would fight someone over for the last one. The kitchen appeared to be well rehearsed in churning out a number of gluten free options for me over the course of the evening. Now whilst I understand that at a free sponsored event it is impossible to document an honest, accurate review of the food because the chef knows that people will be scrutinising it; I wouldn’t have thought that a total change in attitude towards food allergies would be something that you could fake.
There was a distinct Asian influence with a lot of the dishes making them light and easy to eat, the perfect food to match with a casual Sunday session with friends. The coriander and avocado ceviche with cucumber and crispy salmon skin tasted as fresh as summer and I was informed by the beer drinkers it matched perfectly with the chosen beers from Feral Brewery.
To wrap up the night, Steve from Feral Brewery gave us a very animated and passionate summary of what his microbrewery Feral is about. You can read about my recent visit to Feral Brewing Company here.
It may not come as a surprise to you that after eating all this food the Boy and I still wanted more. I take this food blogging career very seriously; it’s not a successful foodie outing until I am bursting at the seams. I am one of those strange people that actually really enjoys the feeling of being overly full. Thankfully the Boy and I were joined by a couple of other like-minded food bloggers; Whitney from dineWHITme and Sandy from Hungry Again. The four of us bundled ourselves up in jackets and scarves and traipsed down Beaufort Street to the Beaufort Street Merchant.
As always the Merchant had plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options to satisfy our needs. I particularly liked their chick pea chips. Thick cut like polenta, they were fluffy light inside almost like tofu.
Whit and Sandy shared the potato gnocchi which we were informed they considered it to be the best gnocchi in town. With added truffled Swiss Brown mushrooms, toasted hazelnuts and comte cheese it may have been a fair statement. Oh gluten why do you have to be in gnocchi?
I ordered the vitello tonnato; thinly sliced veal dressed with a thick tuna mayo, crispy capers and crumbed mozzarella that I was assured by our waiter was gluten free. I also ordered some baby potatoes on the side which came with Brussel sprouts and truffled mayo. I must admit that as I ate each indulgent ball of crumbed mozzarella, there were alarm bells going off in the back depths of my brain saying: “Warning! Warning! Gluten alert!”. I mean since when are crumbed mozzarella balls gluten free? However courtesy of the sultry dim lighting, excesses of wine and abundance of good conversation my subconscious’s attempt to save me was wasted.
The Boy ordered the organic spelt salad which almost looked too healthy to be tasty but I was assured that not only did his body thank him but so did his taste buds. The spelt was tossed through some spicy Harissa along with coriander, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and radish.
This night was one of those rare occasions where was no room for dessert and as the Boy and I both had to start work the following day at an obscenely early hour we were happy to call it a night. The penny didn’t drop that I had eaten gluten until much later into the wee hours of the morning when I was woken by the delightful effects that gluten casts upon me. Suffice to say my next day at work was quite a grim one. Gluten makes me very fuzzy in the head and it is no surprise that I ended up crashing my car on the way home from work! Damn you gluten! I was left feeling very disappointed as I have always thoroughly enjoyed my visits to the Beaufort Street Merchant. Not anymore. On a brighter note, I’ll be sure to be returning to Five Bar.www.fivebar.com.au www.beaufortmerchant.com
Having only just celebrated my first blogiversary last month, I consider myself somewhat of a newcomer to Perth’s food blogger ranks. What has truly amazed me and touched my heart profoundly is the strong sense of community amongst fellow bloggers. Despite my inexperience, I have been graciously greeted with open arms not just by other fresh(wo)men like myself, but by those with popular, well-established and recognised blogs. It certainly does make a fresh change from the comparatively serious and introverted veterinary world.
Four bloggers from Perth including yours truly were selected to attend the third annual Eat.Drink.Blog conference this year in Adelaide. In preparation for our highly anticipated weekend away, we met up during the week prior for dinner to talk “blogger’s stuff” and of course to eat!
After a few restaurant options were toyed around, we ended up agreeing on West End Deli in West Perth. Snuggled in the residential end of West Perth, West End Deli is a quaint little bistro owned by a husband and wife duo; Justin and Christine Peters. I had been here once several years ago and confess my previous experience back then wasn’t very memorable. I vaguely recall the kitchen appearing to have strong reluctance to adapt any dishes for me and that we waited well over 45 minutes for our breakfast meals only for them to forget our coffees. Twice. Having said that, this was quite some time ago and I know one should try to avoid forming a strong judgement from just one experience.
It’s incredible how the same dining room, with all the same interiors, can change its whole persona at night. The casual, sunlit café I remember from previously had magically transformed into a sombre, intimate and classy bistro. It wasn’t long before we all arrived and with glasses of wine in hand we relaxed into the vibe. Some unexpected amuse bouche were brought to our table; a crisp homemade wonton piped with creamy herb and goats cheese and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Being unable to eat the wonton, a plump little ball of pear filled with the cheese was offered to me as a replacement. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or fussy, I quickly chowed down on a glucose tablet before I slipped my juicy treat into my mouth. Being such a small amount of pear, it is easy to counteract the fructose with a small dose of glucose. For times like these, I carry these tablets everywhere with me.
Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse started with the potato and pickled sardine terrine topped with a curl of crème fraîche and a poached yabby tail.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings was initially reluctant to order herself an entrée as we had already earmarked a couple of dishes on the dessert menu and she sensibly wanted to pace herself. The ricotta gnocchi managed to twist her rubber arm when the waitress informed her it would be no trouble to omit the candied olives and replace with an alternate ingredient. The gnocchi were light, mini sized pillows, tossed in fresh sage and garlic and tumbled over a thick smear of pesto sauce.
I chose the slow cooked egg for entrée as my obsession with these gelatinous beauties continues. Perched on a nest of crumbled bacon it was accompanied a pea mash flavoured with white anchovies and lashings of truffle oil. Weblike shavings of Reggiano cheese were sprinkled on top. I struggled to do this dish justice with my photography in the flickering candle light however suffice to say my palate was rewarded. This breakfast-esque spin on bacon and eggs was a winner.
Moni from Gastromony chose the elegantly plated charred octopus. Coated with a thin chermoula crust it came with pear and walnut salad and a smear of blood orange. Kudos to her assistance with taking a photo for me as my go-go gadget arms couldn’t reach across the table without losing some degree of decorum. I still get a little embarrassed and feel awkward taking photos of people’s meals as deep in my heart I feel like a novice.
Ideas of pork belly and spatchcock failed to get past the consideration stages for any of us and we all opted for the snapper for mains. The fish was seared to a butter smooth consistency and balanced precariously over some prawns and mussels. A thin saffron coloured broth gave a subtle perfumey bitterness to sharpen the softer flavours of this dish. Tarry coloured squid ink brandade was blobbed on top and gave a pleasant piquant aftertaste. Brandade is French sauce made from an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil.
The girls all ordered the potted cheesecake for dessert. It was served in the same adorable little pots that I saw Rochelle Adonis’s salted caramel mousse recently. Apparently she imports them from France. What was much more curious about this dish was that next to the pot laid an innocent little tube labelled “Squeeze Me” containing salted dulche de leche.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I wondered if my new found friends would slowly start shrinking in their seats to become miniature pint-sized versions of their former selves. Thankfully the only surprise to follow was the unexpected layer of popping candy on top of the cheesecake. No one had any trouble finishing off their desserts which is always a good sign.
I was informed by our waitress that none of their desserts on the menu were gluten free however in complete contrast to my experience at West End Deli many moons ago, the chef kindly rose to the occasion and wasn’t going to let me miss out by any means. I was offered a honey vanilla parfait served with a caramelised warm banana. Grateful for their efforts once more, I didn’t bother going through the finer details that fructose malabsorbers cannot have honey. I presumed the amount would indeed be small anyway so I sneakily crunched on another couple of glucose tablets. My parfait was a little icy and hard for my liking but this was made up for by the dulcet banana.
I have to be honest; my recent experience at West End Deli has turned my opinion around for the better. They were accommodating for our varied requests and their service was discrete yet warm and welcoming. As we left the kitchen staff bid us all farewell from the open plan kitchen; a nice touch. I think I am going to have to give their breaky another try.West End Deli 95 Carr Street, West Perth, WA 6005 | (08) 9328 3605 | www.westenddeli.net.au Price: $$$ ($25-35 per meal, BYO) Food: 7.5/10 (flexible with requests, small menu executed well) Service: 4/5 (attentive without being obtrusive, warm and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (very dark ambiance, would be romantic for couples) Drinks: Unable to assess as BYO. Total: 15.5/20
“The most beautiful discovery that true friends can make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” Elizabeth Foley
As a child I attended a school in Adelaide that started from pre-primary right through to Year 12. As a result there were a handful of us students who graduated from high school after spending 13 full years of schooling together. To add to that amazingness, a reasonable proportion of us who lived locally also went to the same kindergarten meaning we have known each other since we were only 4 years old!
I had planned to take a year off from study after matriculation therefore I felt no urgency to say goodbye to my lifelong friends at our valedictory dinner. To my shock my university deferral request was declined at the thirteenth hour and I had just a mere weeks’ notice to pack up my life and move to the other side of Australia where I knew nobody.
Cut to more recent times and thanks to social media I have reconnected with a lot of these friends of yesteryear and have delighted in catching up on nearly twenty lost years of contact. As most of us have dispersed ourselves around Australia and the wider world much of our contact with each other has been purely internet based. Consequently I’m sure you can imagine my total excitement when one of my childhood besties from this group informed me she was coming to Perth for the weekend on conference. She planned to stay with another close school friend of ours who has recently moved over here to Perth. Despite this other friend’s relocation, I have unfortunately only managed to catch up with her once since she settled here. I was so happy to be able to see them both; it looked like we were in for a great night out!
Of course I was nominated to select the venue so I suggested starting with a couple of rounds of drinks at Five Bar after which we would head across the road to Must Wine Bar, one of my favourite restaurants in Perth by far.
A lot can change in 18 years, and although we were extremely close for most of our childhood I wondered if we would easily reconnect or would there be some pauses of uncomfortable silence? I was almost a little nervous with anticipation that afternoon but immediately upon seeing her, my heart melt and there were no barriers or awkwardness. We embraced in a loving hug and I felt my eyes go a little hot with joy!
Over an hour zoomed by in the space of what felt like minutes as we all chattered away about old times; both good and bad. We finished our drinks and headed over to Must. I wasn’t the only one with food allergies this time round and I had chosen Must not only because they have amazing food, but because their ability to cater for people like me has never posed a problem.
All three of us girls ordered the prosciutto di Parma and beetroot salad for entrée. Soft, thin folds of sweet but salty prosciutto flopped gently on the plate with crisp radicchio. The flavours matched seamlessly with the dulcet beetroot and more briny parmesan.
The Boy’s eyes lit up when he saw the chicken liver parfait was truffled. I am so chuffed we both share this addiction. He received a reasonable sized serve for one but probably could have done with a touch more thick fluffy brioche to lovingly smear his parfait on.
For mains one of my friends and I both ordered the confit duck leg which was served with a parsnip purée, sautéed Brussel sprouts, black pig bacon and a Madeira jus. The duck was meltingly tender yet robust with the flavours further enriched by the black pig bacon. Black pig bacon comes from the Berkshire breed of pig which has a different proportion of intramuscular fat giving the meat a more flavoursome and moist texture compared to standard bacon. The Madeira jus gave a subtly sweet end on the palate.
The Boy and my other friend ordered the Must pork sausages. Two thick juicy sausages sat perched atop of a creamy sweet potato purée. Some confit fennel and herb salad completed this simple yet extremely tasty dish.
The night seemed to go by so quickly and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the time and it was creeping close to midnight! “Time flies when you’re having fun” as my Mum loves to say! We all agreed we were satisfyingly full and skipped dessert in favour of just tea and coffee. I was proud of Perth’s gastronomic capabilities to suitably impress my dear friends; I have a foodie reputation to uphold after all! I can always rely on Must to deliver from all angles: the food, the wine, the service, the ambience and most importantly an ability to accommodate allergies. An absolute must on everyone’s bucket list!Must Wine Bar 519 Beaufort Street, Highgate 6003 | (08) 9328 8255 | www.must.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrée $24-30, Mains $39-46) Food: 5/5 (After enjoying numerous meals here I cannot remember a bad one.) Service: 4.5/5 (Attentive without intrusion) Ambience: 4.5/5 (Sublime, classy and very French) Drinks: 4.5/5 (Extensive quality wine list, knowledgeable staff. Well, they are a wine bar.) Total: 18.5/20