I love being part of unique dining experiences. I find the excitement of the unknown combined with the knowledge that it is a once off event makes the evening feel so special. Alphabet Soup Dining is a Perth-based pop-up restaurant run by chef Melissa Palinkas who is also the Executive Chef and part owner of Young George in East Fremantle. Melissa started Alphabet Soup because she wanted to offer a quirky degustation style meal where she could let her creativity run free. She holds a dinner event once monthly in locations all around Perth and has popped up in places like Milk’d in Maylands, Cutlery Draw in Manning, Frisk! Small Bar and 399 Bar in Northbridge and most recently at Canton Lounge in the City.
I have wanted to attend an Alphabet Soup dinner for some time so when I saw that chef Melissa was holding a truffle themed dinner this was my immediate cue to book us in. I can never say no to truffle. Before booking I checked that the event could cater for gluten free and was happily assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The Alphabet Soup events are based around a six course meal and the menus are published online just a few days before the event. After being seated for the evening, we received a couple of rounds of “snacks” that were not on the menu as a surprise. Our first treat was a reverse crayfish truffle sushi roll using locally caught Mindarie cray. The cray meat was tender and sweet having been cooked sous vide with truffle in the bag to infuse a strong flavour.
Our second surprise snack was a basket of miso lamb ribs, also cooked sous vide in a bag with truffle. The meat slid off the bones easily and the Boy and I sat speechless, both far too busy for words as we sucked and slurped each rib until it was clean.
Our next dish was a little theatrical; sake cured ocean trout with truffle with a yuzu and coconut salad. The portions of ocean trout were suspended on a miniature hanging line with pint-size pegs. Super cute.
The trout was matched with a pomelo mojito, made with Havana 7, pink grapefruit, lime and crème de menthe. It was an interesting experience having a meal matched with not just wines, but also a collection of cocktails.
Who said eating gluten free meant you had to miss out? My truffle chicken karage was made using tapioca flour and tasted just like the real thing. Two crispy morsels were accompanied by some truffled Japanese mustard aioli topped with black sesames. This was finger licking good chicken that left no grease on my hands, my only gripe was that I was left wanting more.
My fried chicken yearning was quickly forgotten upon the arrival of the next dish; broken truffle sticky rice with a 62 degree egg. It is hard not to fall madly in love with the magical combination of slow cooked eggs and truffle, and thankfully there are a number of chefs in Perth that have caught onto this simple decadence.
It is guaranteed that this combination will never fail to make me swoon, those flavours are perfectly married in heaven. Poised with my camera in hand, my predictable squeal of delight emitted when the Boy cut into his yolk was met with his usual eye roll. I may be a little over the top with my love for yolk porn, especially after a few cocktails.
For our next dish, we enjoyed a pork and truffle dumpling served in a richly flavoured dashi broth with fresh shiitake mushrooms. To finish the dish, shavings of fresh Manjimup truffle cascaded on the surface adding a stronger hit of truffiliciousness.
I was to learn that the element of surprise is the norm for the Alphabet Soup dinners. Our next course was yet another secret item that was not found on the menu. I really love surprise dishes! A super tender, baby carrot was cooked in truffle dashi before being grilled and then served with an XO sauce ash.
Our final main course was the seared duck breast, cooked Chinese BBQ style with truffle mushrooms, edamame and of course, fresh truffle.
The duck breast was crispy thin on the outside yet remained tender pink and buttery moist on the inside.
To freshen up our palates ready for dessert, we were given a bite sized spoonful of mandarin and yuzu jelly. It was uplifting and refreshing, combining perfectly with my jazzed up G&T made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon and jasmine tea.
Our dessert brought me back to my childhood when Mum and I would go to the Adelaide Central Markets to do our weekly food shopping. My reward for being the good daughter who would come along and help her mother would always be some sort of treat we shared before going home. Most weeks we would end up walking over to Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and finding something delicious. These were the days I was oblivious to the fact gluten was killing me, and in my ignorance I would eagerly look forward to the times we would get ourselves a steam pork bun.
For our final course with Alphabet Soup, the Chef made a special batch of gluten free truffle and pear steam buns just for me. The buns were made using potato, corn flour and rice flour giving an authentic doughy, but fluffy texture. We were given truffle honey and Anglaise sauce to drizzle lavishly over our buns. It was a perfect way to end our evening.
We both thoroughly enjoyed our evening out with Alphabet Soup and will be watching out for her next event. There was all the right elements of entertainment, quirkiness and originality that I had hoped for with some extra surprises to boot. Chef Mel effortlessly catered for my dietary needs without making me feel like I missed out on any of the degustation experience. Thanks Melissa!
Alphabet Soup | www.alphabetsoupdining.com
Canton Bar | 532 Hay Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 8887 | www.cantonbar.com.au
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
Taste of Perth 2015 proved that this is a city of passionate and dedicated gourmands. Over 15,000 people braved strong winds and horizontal rain to enjoy icon dishes from our city’s best restaurants served up by the Head Chefs themselves.
It was a very wet weekend with only a brief few hours of sunshine during the Friday lunch session which was fortunately the session that I attended! The festival is divided into lunch and dinner sessions which allows you four hours to eat, drink and mingle with friends. Food is purchased using “Crowns” which one Crown equally the value of $1.
I was joined by my fellow blogging friends who, like me, know the importance of having a “Taste of Perth Game Plan”. Prior to attending each of us had read the full menu, decided on our chosen dishes and could visualise the basic map layout in our heads. This is serious business!
The lack of indication for the gluten free dishes on the menu was a slight source of frustration for me. Some stalls can develop reasonable sized queues and no one wants to wait in line to find out they cannot order anything. Not wanting my frustration to turn into disappointment, I created a Plan B in the case that my desired dishes were glutenised. Yes that is a word.
After a few snacks in the corporate lounge, we kicked off our designer degustation at Nobu with their icon dish of 9+ Wagyu Carpaccio served with a slightly gooey quail egg and a kick of aji amarillo aioli. My dish was gluten free adapted with the omission of soy-salt. Whilst some may baulk at the price to portion ratio of this dish, I assure you that it would take just one mouthful of that buttery meat to liquefy on your tongue to make you understand what real Wagyu is.
Nobu’s spicy aji amarillo aioli lingered on our palates making the perfect introduction to head to El Público’s stall for some Mexican. I had already had the pleasure of tasting their dishes at the sneak preview a few weeks back so I looking forward to more.
I loved the sweet freshness of the street corn charred and braised served with crema, chili, lime & fresh cheese.
Later that night on the evening session, the Boy was desperate to try El Público’s icon dish called the “Flavours of Mexico” as he hasn’t had the chance to chow down bugs since we last visited Thailand. The fried crickets were served with two shots of throat clearing mezcal.
Bib & Tucker had a few gluten free options on offer. The colourful rosella flower cured kingfish with beetroot, finger limes and beach herbs injected much needed vibrancy to the afternoon as the sun began to slink behind the rain clouds.
Their icon dish was Flinders Island wallaby shank served with textured puffed wild rice and pickled grape agrodolce. Head Chef Scott Bridger demonstrated how to prepare this dish in the Electrolux Taste Theatre where the aromas of his cooking only served to increase our appetites even more.
Moving on from Bib & Tucker, I couldn’t stop myself nabbing a bite sized serve of Modo Mio’s vitello tonnato as it is one of my favourite dishes from their restaurant. The tender, thinly sliced veal was drizzled generously with tuna and caper mayo, topped with a quail egg and finished with a splash of truffle oil. However it really was not much more than a mouthful.
As we all looked at our watches, we realised we were running out of time! I was feeling rather content and happily followed the consensus of the group to head to Asado.
I quickly deduced that Asado is the place to be if you are a meat lover. I stood in a trance for more than a few minutes watching the chefs meticulously cook thick chunks of sizzling marbled meat on the BBQ grill.
Eventually I broke away my gaze, presumably because my eyes were tearing from all the smoke and decided I had eaten enough to satisfy my savoury tastebuds. I was ready for a sugar hit.
I was in luck as Asado was one of the few stalls offering a dessert option. Their burnt banana dish was not gluten free as it came with a butter biscuit base. I was grateful that the chefs were happy to make me a special adapted versio.
The banana was caramelised with a satisfying crunchy layer but I have to say it was the dulce de leche that won me over. I know salted caramel is starting to be a bit old hat, but I still love it!
With the day nearly over and my stomach nearly overflowing into my oesophagus, I accepted that if I bought any more food it would need to come home in a doggy bag. Of course that wasn’t a problem, and with a surprisingly quick step for someone so full I managed to whisk over to Bistro Guillaume.
Last year Bistro Guillaume’s massive “macaron burger”, or macaroon as it was inaccurately called, was enough to out-macaron even me! This year it was replaced with a more digestable boxed “Duo” of salted caramel and strawberry macarons although they were still quite a decent size. Sugar high here we come!
As we were leaving Taste of Perth, we walked past the Honeycake stall and I noticed a little “gluten free available” sign on their table. I have attempted to try tasting the Honeycake for months and months after my dear friend Michelle from Foodie Cravings told me there is a gluten free option. Sadly every time I try to buy one they have sold out….but not this time! Oh my, I can now understand what Michelle was on about because it really is worth the hype!
Taste of Perth runs every year in May and brings out talent from our top restaurants all in one location. There are also many other wine and food producer stalls to visit, entertainment and VIP lounges for those wanting something a bit more special. Whilst it isn’t the cheapest food festival on the circuit it is one that I always thoroughly enjoy.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest at Taste of Perth and Electrolux. Some of her dishes were provided free of charge and some she purchased herself.
Nobu | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth
El Público | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Bib & Tucker | 18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle WA 6159 | (08) 9433 2147 | www.bibandtucker.net.au
Modo Mio | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/modo-mio/about
Asado | 34 Saint Quentin Avenue, Claremont WA 6010 | (08) 6424 9877 | asado.com.au
Bistro Guillaume | Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood | (08) 9362 7551 | www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au
The Honeycake | Shop 40, Fremantle Markets, Henderson Street, Fremantle WA 6959 | www.thehoneycake.com.au
For those of you that missed out on experiencing the glorious feast at Taste of Perth last year, my best advice for you is not to miss out again. Taste Festivals are one of the world’s greatest restaurant festivals and are held in a number of locations all around the world including Paris, London, Sydney and Moscow.
Taste of Perth made its début last year attracting over 16,000 hungry punters over the three days. This year’s Taste festival will be held from the 15th to the 17th of May at Langley Park and it looks like 2015 is shaping up to be even better than last year.
At Taste of Perth, you will be able to create your own designer degustation as many of Perth’s top restaurants will be participating in the event. The 2015 line-up will include some of my favourite venues such as Lalla Rookh, Bistro Guillaume, Bib & Tucker, Nobu, Next Door at No4, Print Hall, El Público and more.
To give an insight into what to expect this year at Taste, I was invited to attend “Taste on Tour”; a fun-filled roving dinner where I joined a small group of bloggers to visit three of the participating restaurants and sample some dishes on the Taste of Perth ’15 menu.
Our first venue for the evening was El Público in Highgate. El Público will have four dishes on offer at Taste, and I am happy to say all of them will be gluten free!
We started off with tasting the pork belly taco served with charred pineapple, salsa picante and chicharon. The taco was topped with shreds of pork crackling giving it a wonderful play on textures with a lot of depth of flavour.
The braised street corn dish will be a filling option for vegetarians and was served with cream, fresh cheese chill and lime.
For those festival goers needing something a bit meaty, El Público will also be serving their uber soft twice cooked lamb ribs with sesame, cucumber & lime.
After it’s sell out popularity last year, El Público will be bringing back their icon dish called “Flavours of Mexico”. This dish consists of a serve of their renowned fried crickets alongside two shots of village mescal.
Our next stop was Lalla Rookh in the CBD and to everyone’s surprise and delight a tram pulls up in front of El Público to transport us to our next destination!! We piled into the tram filled with giggles while our tram driver proceeded to get some pop music cranking loudly. So much fun!
Before long we arrived at Lalla Rookh, my favourite Italian restaurant in Perth. I love how Head Chef Joel Valvasori has a strong focus on using West Australian produce and am grateful that he will always effortlessly cater for me despite my dietary requirements meaning I never feel like I miss out.
Lalla will be serving their braised lamb shank as their icon dish for Taste this year. This dish is available by pre-order from the restaurant and has a level of cult popularity amongst the regulars.
It will be served with organic polenta made in a more traditional way with a texture that is almost like a light bread. Perfect for dunking in all that luscious, sweet lamby sauce.
After nearly exploding with full stomachs, we were greeted by our chirpy tram driver out the front of Lalla Rookh to transport us onwards to our final Taste on Tour location; Next Door @ No4 in North Perth. Despite protests from many of us of being way too full to be able eat anymore, it never ceases to amaze me how food bloggers can continue to push the boat out and keep eating!
No 4 Blake Street’s Head Chef Tom Randolph is passionate about using seasonal and local produce and will source many of his ingredients directly from the small-scale producers themselves.
The two gluten free options on No4’s Taste of Perth menu this year will be their signature No4 risotto and a 45 day dry aged beef. The risotto is a vegetarian option made with cauliflower, cocoa and topped with burnt rice crisps.
The organic grass-fed beef was tender enough to cut with a fork and was served with a fried egg, crispy kale and sprinkling of dukkha.
No4 will also return one of their sell out dishes to the menu this year; their Valrhona Chocolate Garden. This pot of chocolate decadence contains salted caramel, chunks of chewy peanut dacquoise and sandalwood rocks but is sadly not gluten free due to the chocolate soil.
I think the chef may have seen a jealous glint in my eye as I watched everyone’s eyes roll in ecstasy devouring their Gardens. Before long I was presented with a gluten free adapted version, sans soil but topped with shards of salted caramel chocolate instead. Thank you chef!
I will be giving away TWO double passes to Taste of Perth on my Facebook page over the next week valued $72 each.
To enter simply tell me which is your favourite restaurant attending Taste of Perth this year and why they are your favourite. You can write your answer in the comments section below or alternatively head to my Facebook Page.
The winners will be selected by the Boy and will be based on the most interesting and original answers.
Entries close Sunday 10th May 2015. This competition is open to residents of Australia only.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp attended Taste on Tour as a guest of Taste Festivals and 3am Thoughts.
el PÚBLICO | 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | 0418 187 708 | www.elpublico.com.au
Lalla Rookh Bar and Eating House | Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9325 7077 | www.lallarookh.com.au
Next Door @ No 4 | 4 Blake St, North Perth, 6006 WA | (08) 9444 6678 | www.no4blakestreet.com.au
This week is the final week for Eat Drink Perth festivities and for my last official EDP hurrah I attended the “South of France” dinner at Blackbird Restaurant in East Perth. Blackbird is a quaint little place tucked away in the corner nook of Claisebrook Cove facing out onto the water. Their focus is on serving traditional rustic European dishes and they have an interesting wine list with a collection of both local and International wines.
The South of France Dinner includes a three course meal accompanied by a bottle of French wine to share for the very reasonable price of $55 per person. I notified the kitchen staff in advance of my gluten free dietary needs and found then to be more than happy to accommodate.
Our entrée consisted of a share plate with three traditional Southern French dishes; a mushroom truffle dip with fresh baguette, pissaladière and salad Nicoise. I am always so grateful that there are many restaurants in Perth that now offer gluten free bread. I accept that these offerings will often be stodgy and, well, gluten free-ish but beggars can’t be choosers they say! I’m just happy to be considered. However for this evening, to my delight, our waiter served our entrée plate accompanied with some gluten free baguette!
Crunchy on the outside, and soft and light on the inside, it actually tasted like real baguette! With Perth’s truffle season creeping up close, I am getting to desperate levels of anticipation for a three month truffle binge. Just a single smear of truffilicious dip on my gluten free baguette was enough to make my eyes beam wide and I started to bounce up and down in my seat with excitement like a child.
Pissaladière is a bit like a French alternative to pizza that is often served in bakeries in Nice on the southern coast of France. It consists of a thick dough topped with caramelised onions, olives, garlic and anchovies. My pissaladiere was adapted by replacing the base with gluten free baguette. Containing caramelised onion meant that this wasn’t exactly a fructose friendly morsel, but sometimes I find it hard to say no to such deliciousness. Although I knew I was going to suffer a bit from onion bloating later on, I temporarily cast aside my worries and got lost in the moment enjoying my gluten free treat.
The final dish on the share plate was a salad Nicoise with green beans, cherry tomatoes, boiled egg, chat potatoes and tuna aioli. The tuna aioli was creamy, rich and packed a powerful flavour kick to the more gentle fresh ingredients.
For the main course there was a choice of two dishes which were also designed to share. The options were either Coq au vin Blanc with Provençale rice, or, Bouillabaisse. My stepmum makes a killer version of both these dishes so it was a hard call to pick which one to order. After some careful deliberation we chose the bouillabaisse.
It was a wise choice. Chunky fillets of Red Emperor were cooked to a flaky perfection and joined cockles and prawns to bath in a bright and heart-warming broth. There was a slight chill in the night air and each mouthful of soup helped warm my bones.
Our dessert required only a slight adaptation to be gluten free with the standard dish consisting of little bite size tart aux pomme, or apple tarts with some fresh stone fruits and brandy cream. The chef made me a gluten free tart by fashioning a shell using a chunk of walnut cake.
Our midweek South of France dinner was one that we arrived with no expectations and walked away more than contented and satisfied.
Growing up with a patriotic French-born father resulted in French cuisine forming a considerable part of my childhood. My Dad grew up in the south of France and so food from this region is something I was taught to know well from a young age. Getting to enjoy some of these classic dishes at Blackbird brought back fond memories of my younger years and it was definitely a weeknight worth leaving the house for.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp’s meal was paid for by the City of Perth as part of her official blogging duties for Eat Drink Perth 2015.
10 Eastbrook Terrace, overlooking Claisebrook Lake, East Perth, WA 6004 | (08) 9225 7880 | blackbirdrestaurant.com.au
East Drink Perth Offer South of France Dinner: $55 per person for two people, three course with a bottle of French wine
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
The Creatives is a new networking platform in Perth launched by Stacey Clark Stylist early last year and this vibrant team have been responsible for running a number of workshops in addition to hosting stunning sell-out long table dinners. Their gorgeous boutique dinners work on following the seasons and focus on showcasing local produce and wine in a wonderfully relaxed and positive atmosphere.
Each dinner has been held in a beautiful space in Perth and it is no surprise that tickets come in high demand. As part of the Eat Drink Perth festival this year, The Creatives held their Autumn Table dinner in the City in the historic Moana Chambers building.
It is an impressive space with a stunning jarrah staircase with wrought iron balustrades leading into a wide open plan area with massively high ornate ceilings. Our long table was set out on the balcony overlooking Hay Street Mall, with an aptly timed cool autumn breeze.
We started off our evening with some pre-dinner drinks by Whipper Snapper Distillery. I found the lime and ginger moonshine cocktails gorgeously refreshing such that I probably went a little too hard too fast and had to pace myself afterwards. Old habits seem to die hard!
The night had such a friendly vibe with a distinct lack of the pretention and elitism that I can sometimes see at such events. Guests were there with open hearts and minds with strangers being treated like dear friends. As we mingled amongst ourselves, the lovely team from Stacey Clark Stylist handed around some scrumptious nibbles provided by Kent Street Deli.
My favourite was the prosciutto & zucchini pies with feta. They were obviously a hit with the Boy too as I’m sure I saw him gobble a number before turning to me with wide eyes and nodding “These are really good!”
Our second rounds of starters were spinach and walnut toasts with smears of creamy goats curd and topped with beetroot and a sprinkling of honeycomb.
I was so appreciative that the chef made some separate gluten free versions of these using some toasted gluten free multigrain bread. I love it when I don’t miss out!
Following with the casual feel for the evening, our mains were served in a shared manner giving the feeling you were actually at a family get together rather than a ticketed event. I wished I wasn’t working the following morning otherwise I could have easily drank the night away with our friends new and old.
For mains there were a couple of meats and a couple of vegetarian options. The Bridgetown lamb was wrapped around chorizo and roasted to a gorgeous ruby red. The meat was beautifully tender and moist.
The ribs were a particular hit amongst the meat eaters and as I glance down our table I was impressed to see most guests had a significant sized pile of bare bones of each of their plates. Good company, a light autumn breeze and simple but delicious food is enough to ramp up anyone’s appetite.
Whilst I did enjoy the meats, it isn’t something I eat much off these days and I’m happy to enjoy a small serve accompanied by a much larger serve of something more plant based.
The zucchini noodles filled this green need for me and were literally dripping in flavour with pesto, tomatoes and olives. I make a mean version of zucchini noodles at home which is hard to beat but I will humbly say these noodles came damn close.
Desserts were provided to us by Sugar and Nice and consisted of a collection of autumn tarts, pies and other delights. Focusing on seasonal fruits not all were fructose friendly, but in the love of the moment I swallowed a couple of glucose tablets and joined in the fun.
The carrot cake Pavlova was the eye-catcher of the evening with candied heirloom carrots and a hint of spice in the gooey meringue centre. It was hard to participate shamelessly in the crooning and gushing over this beauty as it was brought to the table.
The apple ribbon hazelnut tart was gluten free and yet it had a crust that would fool any Coeliac; it was buttery, firm and far from crumbly. Having had many an argument with gluten free shortcrust pastry over the years, I admired the perfect execution and had to stop myself going back for seconds so I could save room for the rice pudding.
I consoled myself with a single serving of apple tart by drizzling my slice with generous lashing of thick buttermilk caramel.
The final dessert was a creamy rice pudding made with coconut milk, cardamom and dark coloured blood plums. If I had the room I would have eaten the whole bowl but sadly I had to accept that all good things come to an end. More to the point, one person can only eat so much.
The dinner had been more than adequately catered and at the end of the evening as guests were leaving we each received a little doggy bag of left over morsels to enjoy the next day. I was once again reminded how warm and welcoming it was, just like a family gathering.
I love secret pop-up dinners and have been an obsessed follower of WA-based Fervor for a number of years. Having attended my first Creatives long table dinner, I can now happily say I have another crew to stalk on social media and I look forward to trying to secure tickets to the next Creatives event.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is one of the official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth this year however she chose to purchase her tickets to The Creatives Dinner at her own expense. It was worth every cent 😉
This year is my second year as the official blogger for the Gluten Free and Healthy Living Expo. The expo was held this weekend over two days at the Perth Convention Centre and received a fantastic turn out on both days. The stallholders have caught on to the concept that people love free stuff and at nearly every exhibit there was something to try. I strongly recommend arriving at the expo with an empty stomach! For those who make the mistake of having breakfast beforehand, there are some great discounts so you can fill up your show bag and enjoy them later on.
It makes such a pleasurable experience to attend a food expo and to not have to worry about cross contamination with gluten! 2015 brought a number of newcomers to the expo to join all the gluten free fun and I was pleased to see there were also a number of new FODMAP friendly products available.
Here are my top ten highlights for 2015. For my full album of photos head to my Facebook page.
1. Lupin Foods – www.lupinfoods.com.au
After my involvement with last year’s WA Signature Dish I am no stranger to Lupin Foods. It was used by Rhiannon Birch as one of the hero ingredients for her winning dish of Dorper lamb with a lupin and za’tar crust.
Lupin Foods is a proud Western Australian company founded in 2012 and have grown to a high level of popularity in a short space of time. Lupin is not only gluten free but high in protein and dietary fibre in addition to being very easily digestible.
They had a couple of different options to taste at their stall including sweet apricot balls and a variant of hummus made with lupin instead of chickpeas. They were also the proud winners of the Expo’s best Display Award for this year.
My favourite sample was their pomegranate and lupin salad which was made to be like a couscous salad. It is the first gluten free “couscous” I have had that isn’t gluggy and had a wonderful fluffy texture. I made sure to go home with a bag of Lupin Flakes to make this dish for myself at home.
2. Turban Chopsticks – www.turbanchopsticks.com.au
Turban Chopsticks are another Western Australia company that drew the crowds at the show. With a constant stream of hot food pouring out of their tiny makeshift kitchen it was hard to walk past the stall without drooling.
Turban Chopsticks are a family business who have helped simplify meal preparations for busy people with food intolerances. Their meal kits make it so easy to conjure up dinner without too much effort but still with maximum flavour. Their tropical Thai coconut rice was highly addictive and I cannot wait to make some more.
3. Sue Shepherd – shepherdworks.com.au
I was very excited to see Dr Sue Shepherd lecturing this year. Dr Shepherd is an Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietician and Advanced Accredited Nutritionist and is recognised as one of the world’s leading dietician in the areas of Coeliac Disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
She is one of the pioneers in researching and understanding the low FODMAP diet which in turn has helped so many sufferers of IBS around the world. She gave talks on the FODMAP diet and on Coeliac Disease versus IBS to a full audience. There wasn’t a spare seat in the house.
4. The huge range of new fructose friendly products that are available!
Many of you will be familiar with Kez’s Kitchen gluten free products. They make a range of gourmet gluten free biscuits sold in major supermarkets however most of them contain dried fruit making them not suitable for those on a low FODMAP diet. They have now brought out a product called “Cereal Bites” that is low in fructose and has received the FODMAP Friendly logo to prove it.
Another new product I discovered was Rick Grant’s Seasoning Mixes. Rick has brought out a range of gluten free, onion free, and garlic free seasoning mixes to please both Coeliac and FODMAP bellies. I bought myself all four to try; Tempura Batter mix, Wedges Seasoning mix, Chicken Seasoning mix and Fish Seasoning mix. I will let you all know how I go!
5. Well & Good stand – www.wellandgood.com.au
The Well & Good stand are strong performers at the expo every year with a guaranteed chance at sampling most of their premixes all freshly baked.
There is often queues of children lining up for their free cupcakes and I cannot help but smile that these food intolerant kids can finally get a chance to do what some take for granted.
A new Well & Good product I hadn’t seen before was Rye-less Rye bread. It has the added goodness of spirulina and sunflower seeds and had a wonderful texture and flavour.
6. Vintage Style Cakes & Cookies – www.vintageglutenfree.com.au
I may be a little biased in my love for Vintage Style Cakes & Cookies as they are a regular attendee at our local Vic Park Farmers Markets. The company was only established last year and has since hit cult levels of popularity for some Perth residents. My favourites include their carrot cake, lemon slice and the jelly cakes. I will often confuse my in-laws when I bring some of these cakes along to family lunches as they don’t believe me that they are gluten free!
7. Solomon’s Cafe – solomonscafe.com.au
Solomon’s Café is based in Mount Lawley on Beaufort Street and serve delicious gluten free, dairy free, organic meals made from scratch in their kitchen. The Boy and I ate a meal at Solomon’s earlier last year where I got to enjoy gluten free gnocchi and healthy raw zucchini noodles. At the Expo they offered some meals for hungry punters.
We tried their buckwheat tuna wraps made with cashew cheese and salad. I washed mine down with a carrot and ginger juice adapted to be fructose friendly by the omission of apple.
8. Coles Supermarkets
Being the main sponsors for the Expo the Coles stand was a buzzing hive of activity. In addition to a having a mini-store selling all their Coles-branded gluten free products there were a couple of stands offering free sampling.
There was also a main stage with Master Chefs Michael Weldon and Courtney Roulston performing cooking shows held throughout the day. They also engaged in some popular interactive cupcake decorating classes for the children.
9. Barilla – www.barilla.net.au
Barilla only launched their gluten free pasta range last year and are slowly rolling out to selected stores across the state. I was lucky enough to be sent samples to try and made vegan truffle mac and cheese and creamy vegan mushroom pasta.
I have been busting to refill my pantry with more Barilla pasta as it is the closest to “normal” pasta that I have tasted since going gluten free. I have been told that the Barilla gluten free range is now stocked in Woolworths and it will not be long before they will start appearing in Coles too so look out for them on the shelves!
10. Delish Ice – delishice.com.au
Our final pit stop at the Expo was for a cooling ice-pop from Delish Ice. This is one of my favourite food trucks in Perth; the girls are always uber-cool, dressed impeccably suave, never stop smiling and pump out some seriously delicious flavours. They always have something in their freezer that will be gluten free and fructose friendly and are more than happy for me to taste test before I buy.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp attended the Coles Gluten Free & Healthy Living Expo 2015 as the official blogger and received a free double pass to attend the event. This year’s event was held as part of the Eat Drink Perth Festival.
Invited blogger events can be unpredictable; some events are so well organised and thoroughly enjoyable such that we end up staying for the evening and then there are some events that end up being total fizzers resulting in us slinking off elsewhere to find better food and fun. I recently attended one of the later type of events which left me with two other blogger friends Kristy from Queen of Bad Timing and Carly from Perth Munchkin desperate for some decent eats. Each accompanied by our better halves we only had to utter the words “German Beer House” and all boys were super keen to make a night of it.
After taking our seats at the newly opened Brotzeit German Bier Bar, there was a bit of confusion with respect to their menu. My first impression was that ordering would be an easy task as there are a number of “GF” marked options. However, after being asked by our waiter “how severe is your gluten intolerance?” I realised that people like myself need to be a bit more careful. A number of the GF marked dishes on their menu are actually only made gluten free by adaptations illustrating how important it is to explain to the waiter dietary requirements before ordering.
The Boy and I are mostly vegetarians and always feel a little apprehensive when confronted by a menu filled with meat. Brotzeit do not offer many non-meat options so accepting defeat we ordered the waiter’s recommendation of the Ripperl; Honey Bavarian Pork Ribs. Unlike my peers, my knees do not buckle at the mere mention of pork and it takes a decent porky dish to win me over. Our Bavarian ribs were not overly fatty with plenty of tender meat on the bones. The sauce was finger licking good and although I haven’t be converted to a die hard pork fan just yet, I would happily eat these again.
Our second dish was the Würstelplatte; a sausage platter that can be made gluten free on request. We received a generous portion of authentic German sausages including flavours like spicy chicken, grilled pork, pork cheese, pork and veal, and garlic pork. It came with some salad and sauerkraut. No one believed that we could finish both dishes but in true style we did, albeit we could barely walk afterwards.
The most impressive looking dish on our table was Carly’s husband’s pork knuckle; a behemoth sized 900 grams of oven roasted ham hock served with potato salad, sauerkraut and their highly touted special sauce. There was no way one man could eat all that pork surely? I was totally impressed with his efforts but could see the relief on his face when our waiter offered him a doggy bag to take the left overs home.
Kristy ordered the slow roasted lamb shank, this was also a large serve with 400 grams of lamb, but her plate appeared pint-sized beneath the shadow of the pork knuckle. The meat collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was served with cranberry red cabbage and napkin dumplings.
Before we all slipped into a protein induced coma on the floor of the restaurant, we staggered up to the counter to split the bill before journeying home. But things were not end for the Boy and I so soon. As we slowly rolled down back William Street to our car with stomachs bursting at the seams we walked past the new Koko Black chocolate store. Before I could stop myself I was wandering around the store like a princess in a diamond store; eyes wide, hands waving about in excitement and thoughts of my meaty fullness cast far, far aside.
The Boy and I made a small selection of hand made chocolate truffles with the wise idea of having some for now and saving some for later. Of course when we pulled into our driveway at home there was not a single chocolate left. We will never learn!
Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid for her meal in full. This post was also published on the Eat Drink Perth 2015 website.
Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9321 6654 | www.brotzeit.co
Koko Black Perth City
140 William Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9226 3929 | www.kokoblack.com
The IGA Taste Great Southern festival is held every year in February through to March in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. It is a celebration of all the wonderful food culture from this beautiful part of our State with over 70 individual events being held across the region.
Taste Great Southern is a food and wine festival with something to suit all types of foodies ranging from elaborate degustation dinners, beach BBQs, cooking demonstrations by famous chefs and farmers markets. There is even an Oyster Festival. Yes, an entire festival dedicated to oysters.
I recently attended the Perth launch for Taste Great Southern held at The Terrace Hotel. I was approached prior to the event with the job offer of being the official photographer for the night. The whole concept of being a paid photographer surprised me as I consider myself anything but a pro.
I arrived at the Terrace Hotel as early as possible to enable me to set up some shots before the guest arrived and to get a feel for the venue. Unfortunately, thanks to the sun my debut as a paid photographer was not an easy task. Lighting can be a photographer’s best friend or it can be their worst enemy and in this case light was no means my friend. From the beginning to the very end of the event, the sun bore down at blinding angles making the job of taking beautiful photos much more difficult than I had anticipated.
When the guests arrived, the hotel staff began to bring out a number of exquisite bite sized morsels made using fresh Great Southern produce.
As everyone started to fill up on the canapes, Chefs Pete Manifis, Don Hancey and Kenny McHardy began to cook up a storm.
Whilst I enjoyed being a professional for one night, I have realised that I still have a lot to learn and by the end of the job I was thoroughly exhausted. Unlike all attending guests including the Boy, I didn’t have much of a chance to eat over as I was too busy running about trying to get the best shots.
The Boy suggested we go and sit inside in The Terrace’s restaurant and share something more substantial before heading home. Famished and weary it was an offer I could hardly refuse. The hotel staff were very accommodating with my dietary requirement guiding me through a number of options suitable off their menu. As I looked around the dimly lit restaurant I chuckled to myself, I had gone from one photography nightmare to another. First too much bright light, and now nearly none at all!
We haven’t eaten any oysters that can even remotely compare to the amazing ones we ate on our travels last month to Tasmania. In fact the last batch I bought hoe for us to eat were very close to being putrid. Nevertheless we decided to take a punt and order half a dozen. Thankfully, these were deliciously slurpalicious and fresh.
Neither of us felt like a full main course so we shared a plate of seared scallops served with blood orange and baby carrot purée and grapefruit beurre blanc.
We also ordered the Black Angus sashimi was served with pickled daikon radish, ponzu dressing, wasabi mayonnaise and kale crisps. The meat was slightly sweet and tender and melted on contact with my tongue.
For dessert we shared the passionfruit parfait with strawberries and meringue. The parfait was a bit icy in texture and lacked any of the creaminess that a parfait should have. Whilst I did enjoyed the tang of the passionfruit I would have preferred the parfait to have a smoother consistency.
The Taste Great Southern food and wine festival runs from the 19th of February until the 29th of March this year across the Great Southern Region. There is a comprehensive event list available on their website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp was an invited guest of the Taste Great Southern launch and was paid to take the photographs for the night.
The Terrace Hotel
237 St Georges Tce, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au
Revolving restaurants hit widespread popularity back in the seventies and I even remember as a child growing up in the eighties the whole concept still sounded super modern and space aged. These days many of them around the world have closed after bearing badges of being labelled tourist traps with high prices and poor quality food.
C Restaurant is Perth’s only revolving restaurant and is situated up on level 33 of the St Martins Tower in the heart of the CBD. Our first visit to this restaurant was many moons ago back when it was called Hilite 33 for one of my very first dates with the Boy.
Back in those days the BankWest building was the only tall skyscraper in the city and it never ceases to amaze me how much our city has grown. Whilst the Boy and I have fond memories of our earlier meals dining there in the late nineties, we eventually stopped going as we found their attention to detail and quality of food started to decline.
I recently received an invitation to return to C Restaurant to try their new Spring menu. I was initially reluctant to accept this offer given our last few meals there but then I reminded myself that that was indeed some time ago.
Unlike the much higher priced weekend menu, C Restaurant’s mid-week menu offers a four course meal for the relatively bargain price of $99. There were a number of options available including vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. How often do you see a dedicated vegan menu in a fine dining venue?
For those who have never seen Perth from the heights of one of our sky scrapers, a visit to C Restaurant is justified by just the view alone. Over a ninety minute period you will get a full 360 degree view of our beautiful city. I recommend to come for an early dinner so you can see one rotation with daylight and one with the night lights.
To my relief and somewhat surprise the food at C was more than just good. It was enough of a reason to visit even without the view. Each dish was plated with a number of different components with the Boy’s Wagyu and my lamb both being done “two ways” with a number of different sauces spotted around the plate.
This technique always risks appearing over complicated if the flavours are not balanced well but the chef pulled it off. Better still a lot of the menu focused on utilising some brilliant West Australian produce including my favourite dish for the night, a delicate soft marron with pillows of velvety scallops and an organic citrus quinoa salad.
Toward the end of the night in a true Martine moment I managed to drop my phone on top of my chestnut meringue before managing to take a reasonable photo.
For a split second the perfectionist in me was tempted to send it back in order to get a better shot before my logic took over. Suffice to say, smashed meringue tastes just as good as intact versions.
The Boy was happy to follow my specific request to order himself the chocolate fondant for his dessert. Whilst I cannot get to enjoy the taste of such a treat due to all that evil gluten, just being able to watch him cut into its centre and squeal as the molten chocolate oozes out was enough to excite me.
I think the concept of a revolving restaurant has won back some ground with me; whilst there were a number of tourists dining around us there wasn’t a vibe of this restaurant being exclusive designed for such a market. We found the service to be attentive without being obtrusive, and the food was more than a pleasant surprise.Disclaimer: Chompchomp was a guest of C Restaurant receiving the offer of a meal with one beverage for her and the Boy free of charge. My opinion are my own and I have not embellished or enhanced the story. And yes, I did actually drop my iPhone onto my dessert and snap it in half. C Restaurant Level 33, 44 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9220 8333 | crestaurant.com.au
You don’t have to be a regular reader of this blog to know that I love my mushrooms. Back in 2012, my passion for this versatile fungi led to me being selected as one of the two official Mushroom Mania bloggers for WA alongside Cynthia from The Food Pornographer. I was only just a newbie blogger at the time and it was one of my first sponsored gigs. I threw my heart and soul into it to ensure that it was worthwhile for both me and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. Since then I have continued to participate in Mushroom Mania on an annual basis with this year being my third year. For 2014, the AGMA went with a much less structured format than in previous years simply giving me a wad of prepaid VISA cards to use at my leisure provided that I ordered and photographed food with mushrooms.
In my usual extravagant style, I poo-pooed the idea of just going to a restaurant and eating one or two mushroom dishes and approached a couple of Perth’s top chefs to hit me up with a specifically designed Mushroom Mania degustation. I started off my journey at the new Highgate restaurant St Michael 6003 where we were taken on a journey of crackles and pops with a few surprises.
For my second part of this journey, I contacted Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse to see if he was keen to participate. Amusé is by far and by large the best fine dining restaurant in Perth and this is proven by their succession of accolades won year after year. There is a significant waiting list to get a table but believe me it is worth the wait. We have visited Amuse several times over the years however this was to be the first time since I started blogging. Despite there being many years between visits, I can always be assured that my dietary requirements are not only just catered for, but that they remember them without me having to remind them. The level of attention to detail and customer service is quite out of this world and every visit we have been made to feel like we are special, even when I wasn’t wielding a heavy camera.
Our evening began as is always the custom at Amusé with a few rounds of “snacks”; the first of which were paper thin crackers made from quinoa and some gluten free choux filled with ooey gooey Gruyère cheese fondue. I literally squealed with delight as the liquid cheese dribbled down my fingers.
The second snack looked very innocent but was a powerhouse of flavour; a slice of pickled radish topped with smoked crème fraiche and finished with salmon roe. A faint dusting of leek ash deepened the smoky flavours.
For our last round of snacks we received a bowl of tomato consommé. This little cup of goodness balanced flavours together precisely, with sago and pickled crab meat for texture and a couple of carefully added drops of toasted shell fish oil.
The consomme was finished with fresh lovage, chervil and wild garlic. Lovage has a mild bitter flavour similar to celery and coupled well with the gentle aniseed taste of the chervil.
Both the Boy and I come from families with big appetites. This is in part why the two of us first fell in love. Although I am a small framed person, I can knock back a surprisingly large amount of food and it takes a fair amount of eating to fill me up. I actually think I lack the fullness switch in my brain.
I can always be guaranteed to receive freshly baked gluten free bread at Amusé but even better still, unlike many degustations, it never stops at a single serve. The Bannister Downs house churned butter was whipped to a foamy light texture and I could have nearly eaten it on its own without any bread. Despite knowing we had another eight courses ahead of us, neither of us could turn down the offer for more bread and butter.
For the main courses, Hadleigh chose a different type of mushroom to be the hero ingredient for each dish. The first mushroom to star on the menu were ceps, or porcini mushrooms. These mushrooms are considered by some to be the king of mushrooms and are highly regarded for their meaty texture and nutty, creamy flavour.
A perfect spear of white asparagus from Bickley Valley was paired with crispy house made guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheek.
Swirled across the plate were added contrasting flavours from salty bottarga mayonnaise, creamy buttermilk dressing and a nutty flaxseed gomasio. The dish was finished with wafer thin cep milk skins.
Our second course brought more chirrups of delight from me as the enoki mushroom took centre stage. There is something about these adorable mushrooms that never fails to excite me and I have been known to add them at random to a variety of my dishes at home, sometimes inappropriately. Under a blanket of precisely positioned enoki heads was a smooth squid congee made with local Busselton squid. Luscious umami flavours from a mushroom dashi added in sumptuous depth to the dish.
We moved onto a more richly flavour mushroom for the next course using shiitake with chicken rice. I do love my chicken rice but this was a very cultured masterpiece quite unlike any chicken rice I have ever relished in Singapore and beyond. It was a structurally wonderful version with many elements to it to provide that level of wow factor that you can always expect at Amuse.
Roast vinegar chicken and a purée of shiitake were cooked over coals giving a slightly charred taste and served on a bed of traditional Japanese sushi rice. Our waiter served the dish with a chicken broth that was poured tableside.
The chicken was velvety smooth which markedly contrasted the added surprise of crunchy puffed buckwheat and amaranth, crispy nori wafers and a luscious creamy egg emulsion. It was challenge for the senses but in totally good way; with silky, crunchy, meaty and smooth textures all in one mouthful. As one of my colleagues at work loves to say; it was a “party in my mouth!”
It was going to be hard to impress me more than the chicken rice did and while the next dish was divine, it didn’t manage to take away the highlight of its incredible predecessor. Going for something a bit more leftfield, Hadleigh created a dish using lamb sweetbreads and braised morels mushrooms.
Morel mushrooms have a very rich, earthy flavour which went perfectly with the milder tasting, tender sweet breads. It was served on a parsley gremolata and topped with crunchy shoestring fries and crispy salt bush.
With the subdued lighting in the restaurant, the final main course was the hardest to photograph and tested the boundaries of my camera’s capabilities. A Butterfield beef short rib was served with a medley of roasted oyster, pickled shimeji and raw button mushrooms.
Dollops of broad bean puree and black garlic “BBQ” sauce decorated around the plate looking deceptively innocent. The subtle flavours of the bean purée made the polarised sensations of syrupy sweet black garlic BBQ sauce take the Boy’s tastebuds by surprise.
Our pre-dessert was titled cumquat, walnut and apricot. It was one of the few dishes in our degustation without mushrooms as an ingredient and took on the resemblance of one in appearance instead. A very cute gesture. Using cumquat curd and cumquat meringue with smooth walnut ice cream and apricot sorbet, this was the perfect pre-dessert to cleanse our tantalised palate ready for the finale.
Upon reading our menu earlier in the night, I cannot deny I was thoroughly impressed with the addition of mushrooms into the dessert. I was also a teeny bit sceptical. However, if anyone could pull off using mushrooms in a sweet dish, I knew it would be Hadleigh!
A smoked mushroom and chocolate mousse covered in ginger and Geraldton Wax granita was served with whipped blood orange and a ball of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate sorbet wrapped in thin layer of crisp white chocolate.
To add a final bit of zing to the dish some blood orange sherbet tumbled over the top like a cascade of snow. Neither of us uttered a single word as we devoured each mouthful in a blissful state of rare silence.
To end our night of wonderment, we were given hot cups of fresh mint tea infused with native pepper berries. After all the colours of overindulgence, the tea helped kick start our digestion and we both drifted off into the beginnings of a food coma. The tea was paired with some vanilla infused West Australian desert limes and a couple of passion fruit and white chocolate drops for a kick of sweetness.
I cannot believe we left it this long between visits to Amusé, this being our fourth visit since they opened eight years ago. After each and every visit the two of us have walked away from a faultless evening. The service is exquisitely polished with every dish unique and equally incredible. If you haven’t been yet, you are seriously missing out.Disclaimer: This amazing degustation was funded by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association as part of Mushroom Mania 2014. Full of fibre, flavour and containing many scientifically proven health properties, the mushroom is a food that should be on everyone’s weekly shopping list. We are fortunate enough in Australia to be able to source a wide variety of mushrooms to eat with each variety having its own individual flavour and texture. For more information head to the Power of Mushrooms website. Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte Street, East Perth WA 6004 | (08) 9325 4900 | www.restaurantamuse.com.au
There are two components that I need in order to happily publish a blog post about a restaurant; I need pretty photos and I need an interesting story. If either of those are lacking then it doesn’t matter how good the experience was I just cannot bring myself to publish it. Call it pride, vanity, perfectionism, whatever it is I cannot control it. My first visit to La Cholita, a Mexican bar in Northbridge presented me with this exact problem.
It was a great night out with fellow blogger Foodie Cravings which had originally started off with plans for us to attend an Eat Drink Perth movie event. However on arrival we found out there was no gluten free fare available so our evening evolved into an impromptu night of tacos, tostadas and wine at La Cholita. We laughed, shared stories and ate until we nearly popped; something that isn’t exactly unusual for the two of us. The next day I looked back on my photos and my heart sunk. They were all total crap!!!
Determined not to be beaten by bad lighting, over the following weeks I tried to encourage the Boy to join me on a return visit to La Cholita to acquire the focused, colourful captures of this venue’s food that I needed. Our first two attempts were stalled due to illness and family obligations until finally on a weekend where we had no plans I locked in a lunch date days in advance. Unbeknownst to me, the lovely weather man also locked some plans, his were for a severe weather warning. Awesome. Refusing to be beaten again, we headed into Northbridge hitting William Street at exactly the same time as the downpour.
I reached across to the back seat of my car to grab my umbrella only to realise I had moved it into the car boot. I quickly jumped out of the car splashing through the riverine that was once the street gutter to peer into my empty boot. Argh! No umbrella in there either! By this point I was soaked through. Admitting defeat I ran to the parking meter grabbed a ticket and sprinted with the Boy down the street to arrive at La Cholita resembling a drowned rat.
I already knew what to order having had a feast there only weeks before. Most of their menu is gluten free excluding the quesadillas, the fish and jalapeño tacos and the flour tortillas. The guacamole can be served gluten free if you request the crispy corn tortillas instead.
A word of warning to the fructose malabsorbers out there, there was onion in many of the dishes on the menu. I decided to live with the consequences as my reaction to onion isn’t serious like that with gluten. I figure eating a little bit here and there on occasions is hardly going to kill me as I am so strict in avoiding it at home.
I ordered a selection of four tacos which included vegetarian, prawn, beef cheek and slow cooked pork. The Boy’s vego option contained some spiced pumpkin, pickled cabbage and queso fresco. The tacos were soft and fresh making them easy to eat without falling apart.
The Boy will sometimes eat seafood so given there was only one vegetarian taco on offer, he ate the prawn taco for his second option. Two crunchy grilled prawns topped with some papaya salad, avocado and finely chopped cos lettuce made this a light option for those not wanting to eat the more heavy meatier choices.
I ate the remaining two tacos; the beef cheek and the slow cooked pork. Surprisingly the pork was my favourite as I am not the hugest fan of eating pig. Soft shreds of pork filled the taco to the brim topped with a single grilled piece of pineapple which had been cooked just long enough for the sugars to caramelise on the surface.
We also ordered some tostadas which are basically crispy corn chips with toppings. The spiced duck with refried beans had a decent amount of heat in it which was just what I needed to defrost my soaked, cold bones however the Boy found it too spicy for his tastebuds. He preferred the creamy crab with avocado although he did comment that the crab did not have a lot of flavour.
There was a break in the rain so knowing La Cholita’s gluten free dessert options were limited we quickly paid and marched down to James Street where I knew there was a Taiwanese dessert place called Meet Fresh. This place is very popular over in Sydney and this was our first store that had opened in WA. It was the late afternoon and we were the only customers.
On my recommendation the Boy ordered the high tower of supreme mango crushed ice with vanilla ice cream. It contained a decent portion of fresh mango cascading over the syrupy sweet mountain of ice.
Unlike the Boy, I am a big lover of Taiwanese style desserts however I am a little bit inexperienced in that I never really know what I can order. I always have to double check then triple check what is gluten free. I ended up choosing the herbal jelly with taro, red beans and tapioca pearls. The pearls were chewy and sweet but I found the herbal jelly a bit flavourless compared to that I had at Taro Taro.
Knowing the next downpour wasn’t far away the Boy put his spoon down defeated by his mango mountain and suggested we head back to the car before we get drenched through again. My dessert was significantly smaller than his and so I had pretty much finished it. I happily agreed and gathered my things. As soon as we piled into the car the heavens opened. It was our first bit of good timing that day and I can say it was greatly appreciated!Chompchomp’s meal at La Cholita was a self funded taco feast paid for with soaking wet notes pulled from her drenched jeans pocket. La Cholita 279 William Street, Northbridge, WA 6003 | Facebook $$ (Small plates $5-15, Mains $26-28) www.meetfresh.net Taiwanese desserts $5-10 each
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!
There are some people who come and go in your life. And then there are some people who make such an impact on you that no matter how far you are separated from them geographically, your friendship remains as strong as ever. My dear friend Melinda is easily the bravest person I have ever met. Aside from being a gorgeous person with a crazy sense of humour who is fiercely loyal to her friends AND a wonderful mother to her child, she was also born with cystic fibrosis. Over the course of her life, step by step her lung function deteriorated to the point that her home became the hospital ward located hours away from her husband and daughter on the Eastern coast of New South Wales. I was lucky enough to travel to Sydney on a business trip back in late 2011 and be able to spend every afternoon hanging out with her in the hospital whilst she sat out the long and scary wait on the transplant list. After several false alarms where the doctors called off the surgery at the last moment, she finally received her double lung transplant at a time when nearly all hope was lost.
Having been unable to travel anywhere other than back and forth from hospital, the newly found independence that has come with her shiny new lungs is enough to prick a tear in anyone’s eye. For the first time in over a decade, she was declared fit to fly and so she jumped on a plane with her family to return to her home town of Perth to visit loved ones. It was a whirlwind trip of catch ups with everybody and I was so chuffed to be lucky enough to score a lunch date slotted into her busy schedule. I was joined by the Boy and my dearest friends Amber who was one of my two beautiful bridesmaids from our wedding last year. The three of us have all known Melinda for over ten years.
We stopped in at Boheme Bar and Restaurant in the City as it was a convenient centre point for the four of us to meet. I knew the price of their meals were good value for those on a travelling budget and I checked to make sure there were a couple of gluten free options on the menu for me. For my lunch I chose the pan seared Huon salmon with roasted artichoke, asparagus and Roma tomatoes with an orange and rocket salad. Unfortunately my salmon steak was too dry and overcooked for my liking.
Amber loves her tasting platters so it was no surprise to me that she chose Boheme’s version. It came at excellent value with four lamb meatballs spiced with cumin, three vegetarian arancini, mergeuez sausage, some spinach and tzatziki dip and grilled haloumi. She was unable to finish it all and was happy to share it with the rest of us.
The Boy ordered the vegetarian option of the hara bhara kebab; an Indian dish made from potatoes, peas and spinach. It was served with pea purée, spinach, cottage cheese, chickpea curry and raita. A scoop of basmati rice and a soft prata was served on the side. He enjoyed all the interesting elements of his dish and was glad it wasn’t too spicy for him.
Melinda ordered a small sized pizza topped with Spanish chorizo, smoked ham, semi sun-dried tomatoes, marinated olives and pimentos. After decades of sickness and medications giving her the poorest appetite it brought a big smile to my face to see her healthily tuck into the whole pizza on her own. She finished the entire pizza without any need for help. It reminded me how easy it is to take such simple pleasures in life for granted, like something as being able to enjoy your food.
It was the first time I had met Melinda’s absolutely adorable daughter Luca yet thanks to Melinda’s talented photography I felt like I already knew her. Having grown up with a very sick mother, Luca had the maturity and sense of humour that spanned well beyond her natural age. What made me love her even more was that she had an extremely impressive appetite for such a little girl and made quick work of her toasted ham and cheese sandwich and fries.
There weren’t any gluten free desserts on the menu but as the Boy and I were heading out that night for dinner later that night I was happy to give sweets a miss. The rest of the table was keen however and ordered the rhubarb and apple crumble and the home-made sticky date pudding.
Judging by the nearly licked plates at the end I am guessing both these desserts hit the spot. Whilst we had sat in the sunshine for hours it had truly felt only like minutes and I couldn’t believe our time together was over. My sides ached from laughing so hard and I’m certain that my mascara had run underneath my big dark shades from the tears such laughter had brought. I didn’t want the afternoon to end but at least I know that this time the period between catch ups will be short.Thanks for an amazing albeit short afternoon Mel, so chuffed to finally meet Luca, you both totally rocked my world and I cannot wait for us to hang together soon. xxxxxxxxxxxx The Boheme Bar and Restaurant 300 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9338 5000 | www.theboheme.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $12-22, Mains $17-38) Food: 2.5/5 (good variety of basic pub food, salmon could do with some loving) Service: 3/5 (minimal with no fuss) Ambience: 3/5 (dark, cooshy seats inside, large tables for groups in the sunshine outside) Drinks: 3/5 (simple range of wines and beers) Total: 11.5/20
A couple of weeks ago the Boy bought me a surprise gift of some Pemberton Finger Limes from Scutti, our local greengrocer. Finger Limes are a native Australian plant that originate from our lowland, subtropical rain forests in Queensland and New South Wales. I am by no means a stranger to this curious “citrus caviar” having eaten it a number of times when we have been out at restaurants. I have never really known how to use it in my own cooking however figuring there is never anything wrong with experimentation in the kitchen I decided to use it to garnish my vegan tortillas I made using Mexican masa flour.
The finger limes added a whole new level of texture and flavour to my Mexican feast with each lime pearl popping in my mouth to give a short sharp burst of citrusy freshness. Within a week of posting my recipe I was contacted by Jacquie Baker from Pemberton Finger Limes to kindly invite me to the Pemberton Finger Lime Tasting night held at The Terrace Hotel. Keen to learn other ways to use these bizarrely shaped fruits, I eagerly accepted her invitation.
I was joined by fellow bloggers Perth Munchkin and Perth Food Engineers along with a number of other foodies for a night of finger lime laced treats. We kicked off the evening with margaritas made using finger lime salt, citrus and caviar.
The first dish was a smoked chicken mousseline with avocado puree wrapped in a thin layer of pastry and therefore not gluten free. The chef happily made me one on request without the pastry so I could also try it. The mousse was smooth and light with a strong smoky after taste which was uplifted by the hint of citrus.
Following on from the smoked chicken mousseline, we were served thinly sliced cured ocean trout with radish and crème fraiche, topped with micro herbs and finger limes. The trout was soft, tender and delicately flavoured. As more food slowly started to roll out of the kitchen, Jacquie spoke to us about how her parents’ retirement hobby has grown into a fully-fledged and successful business.
It all started back in 2006 when they planted two paddocks with finger lime plants on their Pemberton property and harvested their first crop in 2011. This crop sold out in just six weeks and the fruit were highly sought after by Perth’s top chefs including Hadleigh Troy from Restaurant Amuse.
Now onto their fourth year of harvest, Pemberton Finger Limes have made their way into the retail market which means you don’t have to spend big bucks and visit a top end restaurant to try them.
Over the course of the evening the chef experimented with a number of different proteins to showcase the finger limes however my favourite dishes were those using seafood. Citrus caviar topped on oysters adds a burst of freshness that you simply cannot get with a squeeze of standard lime juice. Better still the sensation of popping “eggs” of juice in your mouth layers such a fabulous textural element that gives me flashbacks of some our molecular gastronomy experiences with their spheres, powders and other intriguing elements. I can understand why it is such a popular ingredient at Amuse!
The night ended with some vanilla cheese cake which was regrettably not gluten free however the chef did offer to serve me the top half without the biscuit base. I am always a little nervous when I am offered this as there is always the chance of cross contamination however I didn’t react to it later that night so obviously he took care in preparing it for me.
Pemberton Finger Limes are a seasonal fruit which are generally available from early April through to end of May depending on the weather conditions. They can be purchased from a few select locations around Perth, refer to their website for stockists.Pemberton Finger Limes | www.pembertonfingerlimes.com.au Chompchomp was an invited guest to this event thanks to Pemberton Finger Limes. The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | www.terracehotelperth.com.au
Taste of Perth is a three-day food festival held at Langley Park from the 2nd to the 4th of May 2014. The Taste Festivals are popular all around the world and this is the first year the amazing event finally arrives in Perth. It brings together in one location many of our city’s famous chefs allowing visitors to sample a multitude of signature dishes in a single experience.
The chef line-up for the weekend includes some of the best dining Perth has to offer such as Nobu, Greenhouse, Silks, Print Hall, Lalla Rookh, Bistro Guillaume, el Público , Co-op Dining, No4 Blake Street and Bib & Tucker.
There will also be a number of other gourmet food and beverage stalls, interactive attractions, master classes and cooking demonstrations for you to check out in between devouring multiple courses of do-it-yourself degustation. The event expects an attendance of over 15,000 foodies over the course of the weekend with a choice of either a lunch session under the sun or a dinner session under the stars. I attended the evening session as a guest on the Friday night along with my fellow Eat Drink Perth bloggers.
There were a number of gluten free options available with most of the kitchens having something on offer. Having listened to my husband talk up eating bugs after his positive experiences at a number of Thailand night markets I figured I should do him the honour and give them a go.
The fried crickets are served with chilli salt and tasted somewhat like whitebait with a crisp exterior and a distinctly soft but not unpleasant centre. They were very salty which enabled me to wash down the artisan mescal without too much effort, although I did call on Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse to help me out. Being a wonderful friend she was more than happy to oblige.
Ai-Ling’s recommendation for my next dish wasn’t one that I had originally planned to eat however it actually ended up being one of the best dishes of the night. This was No4 Blake Street’s lamb belly. Yes you heard it right, LAMB belly. It had all the alternating layers of flesh and fat you would expect from a belly but with the rich depth of lamb flavour instead of the more familiar pork. It was served with a pomegranate glaze, charred eggplant and fava bean tofu.
Not being a big meat eater these days I was keen to freshen up my palate with something vegetarian and moved across to the adjacent stall Bib & Tucker. Their vegetarian beetroot salad was also gluten free. It was an interesting play on textures with puréed, shaved and roasted beets tossed with Swiss chard, barrel aged feta, tiny little husks of crispy quinoa and tart pomegranate dressing. Within minutes of ordering this dish I was summoned by my group as it was time for us to return back to the VIP tent for the announcement of the Gala awards. I should have really given a bit more thought to my dish choice as I looked a bit awkward in the posh VIP area trying to eat messy salad while holding a camera, handbag and champagne. A large portion of it ended up on the floor along with my fork, and some of it on my friends! (Sorry Michelle! xx)
Regrettably there wasn’t anything gluten free to eat in the VIP lounge excluding the freshly shucked oysters. Not that I was sad I had to eat lots of oysters but a few more options would have been better, especially given the price of the tickets at $135 per person. Once the formalities of the evening had finished, I was happy to dash back out into the crowds to complete my crazed eating binge.
My next stop was Co-op Dining. I absolutely love the Mainwaring’s and everything they stand for; sustainability, local produce and seasonality. I already had marked on my menu the duck and chestnut soup as a hopeful gluten free option and was over the moon to hear my prediction was correct. Creamy thick chestnut soup warmed my chilled bones while the luscious chunks of duck confit soothed my soul. This was also one of my favourites of the night.
My group was starting to slow in pace at this point. We had already knocked back quite a few champagnes and wanted to make sure that our final selections were wise ones. The unanimous decision was for Nonna’s meatballs from Lalla Rookh. I prepared myself for the bad news that they were not gluten free and my suspicions were correct. Whilst the chef informed me there was only a “trace” of gluten, that little smidge is enough to ruin my night so I shimmied next door to Greenhouse.
Greenhouse could do a number of options gluten free which left me somewhat indecisive for a few brief moments before I settled on the paper bark smoked barramundi. Topped with bacon and on a bed of sauerkraut it was super tasty and surely it was also somewhat healthy. After eating the barramundi and bacon pieces out of the bowl I spared myself the fructose aftermath by only nibbling a small mouthful of the sauerkraut. It was just enough for me to enjoy the flavours before I reluctantly cast it away.
I had room for just one more. And to be honest I only had enough crowns to buy one more too. I opted for the piece de la resistance; Bistro Guillaume’s salted caramel macaron. This is no macaron for the light hearted and in fact I question whether this can actually be called a macaron at all. In fact I prefer to call it a salted caramel dessert burger. It filled my whole hand and took me several minutes to eat.
Whilst I was initially a little disturbed at the gigantic abomination I had purchased, with each bite that I took the whole concept of this dessert burger won me over. It was certainly something different and absolutely worth trying however I couldn’t see myself binging through a whole box of 20. It least not without making myself very sick!
Taste of Perth runs all this weekend and tickets can be purchased at the gate. Like many of these food festivals, food and beverages are purchased using a currency called “Crowns” which you can purchase on site very easily with cash or cards.
For more details head to the Taste of Perth website.Disclaimer: Chompchomp visited the Taste of Perth Festival as a guest of 3am Thoughts PR. My meals were purchased with my own money. Nobu Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth www.greenhouseperth.com www.crownperth.com.au/restaurants/premium/silks www.printhall.com.au www.lallarookh.com.au www.bistroguillaumeperth.com.au www.elpublico.com.au www.co-opdining.com.au www.no4blakestreet.com.au www.bibandtucker.net.au
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
Last year during the Gourmet Escape food and wine festival in Margaret River I attended a dinner event with Miles Irving, an Englishman known worldwide for promoting foraging of wild produce. In the aftermath of the evening I found no desire to write about my experience largely because the food served for the evening was bland and tasted more like catering than fine dining. And let’s be honest, what’s a blog post without pretty pictures? What also uninspired me was I felt the attitudes of the evening toward sustainability for our precious wildlife ecosystems was somewhat lacking. I was left disappointed and wanting to know more about what our native food tastes like without damaging our delicate environment. Enter Fervor.
Fervor is a family run business who specialise in providing unique pop-up dining experiences that are held at a variety of locations around Western Australia. They are dedicated to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, a philosophy that I immediately can connect with. They are huge supporters of local small businesses and are passionate in helping enhance the community feel in the regional towns they visit. Many of their signature dishes are centred on using native Australian plants that are obtained from small-scale producers or collected with permission from private properties. They are extremely mindful of sustainability and will limit what they take to avoid negatively impacting the environment. For Eat Drink Perth this year, they graced us people of Perth with their presence for one amazing night that was suitably held on the rooftop at Greenhouse, a restaurant on St Georges Terrace that is also focused on these concepts.
Every tiny detail of the evening proudly showcased produce from this great State of ours. On arrival we were served gin from the Grove Distillery in the Margaret River region. If you are ever in the South West, I highly recommend a visit to The Grove. Their staff are dynamic and entertaining and if you enjoy flavoured liqueurs, you will find more than a few to tickle your taste buds. The Grove gin was served with tonic and fresh pearls of finger limes from Marvick Native Farms in Moore River.
The evening was very intimate with only 30 guests which encouraged relaxed conversation to spark up between strangers. While we enjoyed our gin a number of small canapés were offered around. Included were twigs of crispy saltbush that looked like they would be barely palatable yet they were tastier than any packet of chips I’ve ever eaten.
One of my favourite canapés was the pickled dried youlk, a type of Australia tuber that is similar to a potato. The youlk was paired with Samphire powder and small little dried native apples called muntries. The macadamia crisps had a light, dissolving texture similar to that of a prawn cracker and were dusted with macadamia snow and roasted crushed macadamias. The macadamias are sourced from Treeton Road’s macadamias in South West of WA.
Set up next to our long table was the chef’s pass where the talented team plated up all of our dishes with tender love and attention. It enhanced the informality of the evening as in between each course all the guests would gather around the chefs mesmerised while they created such beautiful masterpieces before our eyes.
Our first course was a single poached Albany oyster obtained from a sustainable farm in southern Western Australia. It was garnished with ruby saltbush berries and finger lime vinaigrette. The oyster slid out of the shell effortlessly and left a wonderful fresh taste in the mouth. It was paired with a glass of South Coast Cider from the Old Coast Road Brewery in Myalup.
Our second entrée was an Esperance scallop served with fermented riberries and juice, sea celery oil and macadamias. Riberries are a type of Australian Lilly Pilli with a tart flavour with subtle hints of cinnamon and cloves. They complemented the more savoury flavours of the macadamia and gentle sweet creaminess of the scallop. This was matched with a 2006 Semillon from Cape Naturalist winery. This winery only produces a small amount of hand crafted wines of very high quality. Their Semillon had a hint of oak and ended with a beautiful citrusy finish.
As the sun set and the combination of good food and drink filled our veins, the mood became even more ambient. I learnt that some of the guests at our table were die-hard Fervor fans having come all the way from Mukinbudin, a wheat belt town halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie. They were lucky enough to have had Fervor come to their tiny town for a sell-out night which encouraged one of the couples to invite them back to cater for their wedding. Hearing stories about how their Fervor dinner experience brought all the town together was so heart-warming.
Our next course was a Yallingup marron with lemon myrtle emulsion and handmade sea salt. This piece of marron was incredible enough to rival that which we had at Co-op Dining for our anniversary dinner last year. Tender and super sweet, the marron was sourced from a local winery where is sustainably farmed in dams. It was paired with Eagle Bay Brewery’s Pale Ale which I did not drink as it wasn’t gluten free.
Our first main course involved a bit of guest involvement which is a great way to add another level of entertainment to the evening. Local crab with Samphire was served in terracotta pots with a slow cooked, unopened egg and fire roasted bread. My gluten free requirement was not overlooked and I received my own serve of gluten free bread with separate butter to avoid contamination.
I gently cracked open my egg and let it carefully slide into my dish with the crab before slicing into the soft yolk and watching it slowly envelop everything on the plate. My heart nearly stopped a beat it was THAT good.
The next main dish of kangaroo tail required a fair bit of artistic plating by the chef and his team so once again we gathered around the pass to be fascinated by their effortless creations. Fervor chose to use kangaroo as it is abundant in Western Australia and they source it from a bio-dynamic, free range producer. The plates were vibrantly decorated with rich marron coloured slashes of Wild Rosella purée in addition to red gum ash, crispy salt bush and macadamia.
Amongst my various food intolerances and allergies, I have learnt the hard way that I am strangely allergic to kangaroo. My reaction is similar to that I imagine someone with a nut allergy would have. My throat swells up and I have trouble swallowing; it is altogether unpleasant. Consequently I requested an alternate meat and was offered lamb instead. This course was paired with a beautiful drop of ruby red 2006 Merops Ornatus.
Our palate cleanser was a scoop of eucalyptus ice which was refreshing and cleared the palate for the two courses of dessert.
The first dessert centred on the quandong, an extremely diverse and unique Australian fruit that is related to sandalwood. The fruit is quite versatile providing both edible flesh around the nut in addition to a more interesting flavoured kernel inside the nut.
Our dessert was carefully constructed on pieces of rock with layers of coal toasted meringue, quandong kernel cream, quandong relish and quandong sherbet garnished with preserved quandongs. The flavour was reminiscent of a cross between a sweet apricot and more sour tasting rhubarb.
Our second dessert was served in small little jars that contained a puff of sandalwood smoke that wafted out when you opened it. Inside the jar contained smooth milk ice cream and wattle seed curd topped with shards of fresh local honeycomb and crystallised sea lettuce.
The smoky taint gave a beautiful rounded finish to the array of textures and flavours. This finale was paired with a 2011 Cane Cut Riesling from Cape Grace one of my favourite wineries in Margaret River.
In a perfect way to end the meal, a collection of petit fours were handed around the table including wattle seed lamingtons and strawberry gum truffles. Only the truffles were gluten free so I figured I deserved more than just a few of them and helped myself to a handful. I was told the lamingtons were ever so light and fluffy and the wattle seed imparted an interesting coffee flavour to them.
As tea and coffee were served, Chef Paul and his sister Bree made some closing remarks to thank us all for joining them on such a beautiful evening in Perth. Their passion and energy was so inspiring and it was such a beautiful thing to have the privilege to be part of it all. I love that their Fervor vision is not only to showcase to guests what amazing flavours are out there in the Australian bush but to always ensure sustainability of what they harvest whilst respecting our environment and supporting our local communities.
Fervor | Australian pop-up dining | www.fervor.com.auFervor was held at The Greenhouse Perth on the 6th April 2014 for Eat Drink Perth. This was not a sponsored event and Chompchomp paid full price for her ticket at $225 per person all inclusive. Fervor travel all around Western Australia, check out their website for their next pop-up location. Held at Greenhouse Perth 100 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9481 8333 | www.greenhouseperth.com