In a time long gone by, before I was forced to give up gluten, I was a girl who loved quiche. There used to be a deli that I drove past on my way to work and once or twice a week I would stop in there and buy a slice of their home made quiche to take to work for lunch. It was a thick based quiche filled with a variety of different ingredients which changed every day, plenty of egg and flaky pastry crust. Not exactly the pinnacle of healthy eating but something I would really look forward to each time I bought it.
Those days are well and truly over and the times that I enjoy my quiche are so few and far between that it feels even more like a special treat. When I was first diagnosed, I struggled with creating a workable gluten free pastry as it can be much more temperamental and sensitive to handling. As a compromise I searched for a pastry free, grain free alternative to use as a quiche base and stumbled upon the idea of using polenta instead. After trying this for the first time, the concept stuck and this recipe became ingrained as one of my regulars even after I worked out how to make gluten free pastry that tasted good. Since that day, my polenta quiche has made many appearances in various forms and has even converted the gluten eaters of the family.
I love following the seasons and eating what’s fresh and local. At the moment we have an overload of zucchini which gave me the perfect inspiration for my second Christmas dish for Belmont Forum’s Twelve Days of Bloggers Christmas. We tend to eat vegetarian at home but for those meat eaters out there, this polenta quiche would go beautifully with some pan fried pancetta added in. And for those on a paleo diet, change the yoghurt to coconut cream and leave out the cheese. 😉
- 1½ cups gluten free vegetable stock
- 1¼ cups water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1¼ cups polenta
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 & ½ cups plain Greek yoghurt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small zucchini cut into ribbons
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 190 C.
- Bring the stock and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every few minutes to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Stir in the cheese, egg and pepper.
- Grease a 25 cm quiche pan with olive oil. Have a glass of cold water ready to help mould the polenta into the quiche base. Spoon the polenta into the pan and press it out with your hands or a spoon, pushing it up the sides. You can dip your hands or the spoon into the cold water to help set the polenta as you go. Set the pan aside for 15 minutes to cool then form an even rim about 1.5 cm thick with moist fingers, pressing firmly.
- Whisk the yoghurt, eggs, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper together until well-combined. Place the zucchini ribbons in the prepared quiche pan. Pour the yoghurt mixture evenly over the zucchini. Sprinkle over the top with goat cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake the quiche until the top turns golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.
For many years The Brisbane Hotel was one of our regular Sunday Session drinking holes. However in recent years our careers, families and a hint of maturity have replaced these fun-filled afternoons making them less and less frequent. Furthermore since becoming a food blogger, I find myself searching out new venues to visit rather than returning to our tried and tested favourites. Consequently, I confess I haven’t eaten at the Brisbane for well over a year, maybe longer. Last week I received an invitation to come along to their wintertime Tuesday “Roast and Red” night.
Tuesday isn’t exactly a night that I would expect to see people out and about yet the Brisbane was alive with activity with customers drinking at the bar as well as those dining in. We were shown to our table and I was offered the “dietary requirements menu”. This wasn’t just the normal menu with scribbles and lines drawn across it but rather a specifically printed menu filled with gluten free and vegetarian options. This was a quick and easy way to impress me as there were loads of options on there including gluten free pizzas.
The Brisbane’s Roast and Red special runs every Tuesday night throughout winter offering a full traditional styled roast served with a glass of their house-label Shiraz for the measly price of $25. They are more than happy to prepare separate gluten free roasts provided they receive advance notice on booking. We were warned by our waiter that the roast is a big serve however as per usual we didn’t heed this advice and ordered ourselves a couple of gluten free starters first.
Gazing at the menu I was a little distracted by all the tasty gluten free pizzas and we nearly ordered one for our starter before my logic kicked in. It dawned on me that eating a whole pizza PLUS a roast PLUS dessert MAY just prove a teeny bit too much food for us. Maybe. We opted for the tasting plate and the special of the day instead.
The tasting plate was a decent size with all items gluten free. The chorizo was mouth-wateringly juicy and burst with flavour on each bite. The mixed olives bowl had a pleasing range of soft and firm, green and black which suited the Boy and my differing preferences.
The polenta chips were my favourite part of the plate crunching satisfyingly with each Chomp to expose the piping hot, soft centre. As we ate our way through them I thought to myself that I would have preferred it if there were a few more chips on our plate but by the time we had finished our meal I was actually thankful there wasn’t as I was super full.
Our second starter was one of the daily specials; seared scallops with crispy pancetta on a bed of cauliflower purée. Scallops and pancetta has always been a combination of flavours rocks my world; creamy soft sweetness with salty smokiness is close to being in heaven in my humble opinion. The scallops were lightly browned to a pale caramel colour yet remained silky on the inside like pillows of angelic deliciousness.
Our waiter was mindful not to pump out our food too quickly and gave us the perfect amount of time to rest between courses before bringing out the star of the show; the roast. Having already given advance notice for my gluten free version, my chook had been stuffed with lemon and herbs instead of stuffing and was roasted separately from the rest of the birds to ensure no cross contamination.
My gluten free gravy was made using the juices from my chook and arrowroot flour to thicken. The cheese sauce was omitted as there was no gluten free replacement however I didn’t even notice it missing. The chicken was tender and brimming with moisture, flaking off the bone easily. I admit that for $25 in a funky venue with attentive service, this was a meal hard to match in value around Perth.
I was close to being well and truly stuffed. Layers of polenta, chorizo, scallops, half a chicken and a man-sized serving of roast vegetables all sat in my distended stomach fighting to make their way through my digestive tract. Thankfully I am one of the many who are blessed with a second stomach; the dessert stomach. And in these times it is a worthy anomaly to have.
As I gazed over the dessert menu I was astonished to see that everything on there was gluten free. I actually had to double check with our waiter to ensure this was correct. Indeed it was! I could theoretically have ALL the desserts. I paused briefly to consider whether this was possible before the Boy read my mind and promptly said “No!”
We settled on the chocolate nemesis with stewed rhubarb and raspberry gelato. I reasoned that the raspberry gelato was to keep the Boy happy but in all honesty I was haggling for chocolate. Our dessert came out looking much more ladylike than my previous chocolate nemesis experience at the Rose and Crown where it looked more like a miniature replica of the ominous Mount Doom. Whilst the nemesis was very rich and dark, for a hard core chocolate lover such as myself it was the ideal way to end such a hearty feast.
A big thank you to all the staff at the Brisbane that looked after us for the evening, we couldn’t fault your service and friendliness. And an even bigger thank you for being such a gluten free friendly venue.
Chompchomp was an invited guest of The Brisbane hotel however her views are her entirely own and she was not obliged to write a favourable blog post in exchange for a feed. She is already planning on how she will be able to return as a paying customer so she can eat one of their gluten free pizzas PLUS a roast on the same night. It can be done. It’s all about the stretchy pants. The Brisbane Hotel 292 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9227 2300 | www.thebrisbanehotel.com.au $$$ Entrées $9-23, Pizza $19-22 (GF bases available for +$4), Mains ($25-39), Roast and Red Tuesday nights only, $25 including a glass of house Shiraz. Bookings are highly recommended. Call in advance if you want your roast to be gluten free and they will ensure it is cooked separately.
Being the only food blogger in the family means the decision on where to go for dinner is invariably left up to me. I am by no means complaining about this allocated role however it does mean that my choices are often somewhat biased towards what I want to eat. For the Boy’s birthday this year, I wanted to make sure it was somewhere HE wanted to go. Upon his request I gave him a short list of choices and left him to do his own research. His first choice was Chefz Table however at the last minute they called to inform us that the restaurant was unexpectantly closing for the weekend. With only two days to find somewhere to book, I was worried we would be stuck with nowhere to go but fortunately managed to grab a table at the Boy’s second choice the Wild Duck in Nedlands.
We have visited the Wild Duck a couple of times when they were located in Albany. On our most recent visit we even managed to wow my stepdad by giving him his first experience of a degustation meal complete with fancy foams and gels. The Boy has very fond memories of Albany and was happy to see how this creative restaurant has managed moving up to the big smoke.
Our evening began with the chef’s amuse bouche, a Thai influenced fish cake with a herb aioli. This tasty morsel wasn’t gluten free. My gluten free replacement was a single but super fresh oyster from Franklin Harbour.
These South Australian oysters are always so plump and creamy and never fail to excite me. I also chose to have the matched wines with our degustation however I couldn’t help myself from starting the meal with an additional glass of bubbles. In hindsight, I should remember that when doing a degustation with matched wines, I don’t NEED that extra glass of bubbles.
Our first course was a cute little mug of broccoli soup. It was wintry cold and rainy outside and the warming soup was a perfect choice to ease us into an evening of eating and birthday celebrations. The thick creamy soup had a hint of sweet from the swirl of balsamic reduction and ended with a familiar tang from the crumbled Meredith Dairy goats cheese.
Our second entrée was the beef carpaccio. The paper thin slices of brilliant, ruby red beef dissolved on my tongue in a second. Textural contrasts with some shaved fennel and watercress added layers of flavours which were accentuated by fresh horseradish and beetroot. The dish was finished with a sumptuous drizzle of slow cooked egg yolk. We had barely been there an hour and already we had enjoyed some of my favourites of all time; fresh oysters, champagne and slow cooked egg.
Next up was the confit salmon. A perfect bite of salmon slow cooked at 42 degrees proved to be just as outstanding as our previous dishes. I loved how each dish contained elements of contrasting textures and flavours. Served with the salmon were pickled and charred cucumber and fresh samphire which added both crunchy and salty aspects to the palate. This was all smoothed out beautifully by some dollops of crème fraiche and drizzles of a dill infusion oil.
Unlike many of my fellow pork-obsessive bloggers, I don’t eat a lot of pork and I would rarely choose it unless it was part of a tasting menu. Consequently when I do eat it, it has to be pretty damn good for me to enjoy it. Wild Duck’s confit pork belly is prepared using slow cooking techniques over 16 hours resulting in a buttery soft texture and no greasy porky aftertaste. The crispy skin cracked exuberantly in my mouth making me giggle too loudly thanks my increasingly intoxicated state.
The pork belly was served with a steamed pork bun which for me was adapted to be gluten free by leaving out the dumpling skin and serving me just the stuffing. Some grilled polenta, smooth sweetcorn purée, cubes of warm apple jellies and a crunchy apple and micro herb salad completed the dish.
Wild Duck offer a couple of optional extras with their degustation and in our usual state of gluttony we agreed to order both. The first optional course was a rabbit roulade with dates and pistachio alongside a red wine braised rabbit croquette. This dish was unable to be changed to be gluten free so the chef offered to make me something different.
My replacement dish was a duo of beef. Winter really is the time to get slow cooking and one of the best cuts of beef to slow cook is the cheek. My first time I tried cheek was moons ago prior to my blogging days at the Loose Box in Mundaring and I will never forget this memorable meal. Wild Duck’s dish was similarly heart-warming with wondrous soft shreds of beef cheek accompanying a charred nub of Black Angus fillet. It was served with a fondant potato, beetroot and cauliflower crumble, sousvide honey thyme carrots and a cauliflower purée.
I had restrained from eating for most of the day to save room for dinner and it was becoming progressively obvious to the Boy that I was quite drunk. My voice volume was slowly increasing and my attention to detail to my photography had all but expired. The Boy reached across the table to grab my camera and flipped quickly through some of my shots whilst raising his eyebrows at me. I slurped up my sorbet noisily and returned his gaze with a coy smile.
Consequently details of our final main dish is a little foggier than I would prefer and the angling of my photo is somewhat clumsy. A fillet of crispy skinned duck breast was paired with cubes of grilled speck bacon, aniseed poached pears and braised honey carrots. Coloured smears of carrot purée and creamed peas made this dish quite a substantial one, this wasn’t a degustation where we went home hungry.
Our second optional course was the pre-dessert; a picture perfect lemon soufflé with coconut ice cream. It was powder puff light and I could nearly hear the “poof” as I plunged my spoon in the ramekin. In fact I vaguely recall mimicking that “poof” noise as I tucked into it.
Our evening ended with the Wild Duck’s chocolate delice; a decadent mousse made from cream, eggs and chocolate. Scattered across my plate like Willy Wonka’s garden were wibbly-wobbly strawberry jellies, strawberry sponge and crunchy meringue kisses adorned with blobs of yoghurt parfait, fresh strawberries and bright pink strawberry powder. A bright and cheerful way to end a joyful evening together.
Happy Birthday to my best friend and my one true love. I love you and I love my life with you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Chompchomp paid for this meal out of her own pocket however at the end of the night the Boy reminded her to use their digital version of the Entertainment card to receive a $40 discount of the total bill. Wild Duck 35 Hampden Road, Nedlands WA 6009 | http://www.wildduckrestaurant.com/ $$$$ (Seven course degustation $105, nine course degustation $130, $50 extra for matched wines)
It was bucketing down with rain and the wind cut through me like ice. This is not exactly the best weather to be walking through the city in search of a bite to eat. The Boy and I had just been dropped off at the Wellington Bus Station by Loris from Taste Bud Tours after an afternoon Speed Grazing in the Swan Valley. I had adamantly put my foot down refusing to return home and cook dinner. It was too enjoyable a day to return to the humdrum just yet. But we were a little peckish so I suggested we pop across the road to Jamie’s Italian for some pucker tucker before catching a cab. We were loaded up with bags of loot that we had bought along the way and desperate for a quick solution we both agreed this sounded like an easy option.
Our wise plans were to prove nothing short of stupid as it turned out that our impromptu dinner happened to coincide with the New Directions concert held at the Perth Arena only a minutes’ walk from the restaurant. Unbeknownst to us nearly every single parent of the 14,000+ teenage concert goers ALSO chose to eat at Jamie’s Italian while they waited for the three hour concert to finish. To add insult to injury these possibly clueless parents were either not educated in the Jamie way of high table turnover, or more likely they didn’t really care, and thus once completing their meals they were happy to just sit and occupy their table for a bit longer.
And they sat.
Meanwhile at the bar overlooking the restaurant floor, it was bursting at the seams with hungry customers waiting for a table. I noticed a number people casting intense glares at the well-fed diners seated below in hope this would prompt them to feel guilty, get up and move back to the bar to give up their table. I’m surprised there wasn’t a mutiny!
I have to say for the first hour I was still a bit full from our Speed Grazing and was happy to snack slowly whilst taking in the whole atmosphere. My absolute favourite of the bar snacks was the crispy fried polenta chips with fresh rosemary and finely grated parmesan. These are most definitely worth the hype. Obnoxiously crispy on the outside with a soft fluffy centre I could have easily downed several rounds of these if I could have made my way back to the bar more easily to place another order.
It’s a big call to call your olives the World’s Best olives but Jamie in his over confident manner is obviously happy to do so. Large, firm green olives and black olive tapenade were served on ice with paper-thin, crispy “music bread” which was not gluten free. Olives are a very individual taste and personally I wouldn’t go so far as to call these the World’s best as the flesh was a little hard. I like my olives to fall off the pip like slow cooked meat falls off a bone.
The sweet mini chilli peppers were stuffed with whipped ricotta, mint & lemon and were soft and delicate providing a good textural contrast to our super crunchy polenta chips. Our bar experience would have been greatly improved if our waiter brought us some serviettes and cutlery to the table with our food order. There may have been some available at the bar but as we were packed in like sardines I didn’t bother to check.
After what turned out to be a two and a half hour wait I was escorted to our table along with a very disgruntled husband. He had to start work early the next day, it was nearly nine o’clock and we were only just getting seated. We were originally told it would be about an hour and a half wait and had no idea that it actually would mean nearly double that! I felt terrible because I was the one that had pushed him into dining here, after our long day he would have been happy with some local take out and a night snuggled up on the couch.
Trying to make light of the situation I persuaded him to forget temporarily the busy day ahead of him as we had undergone such a long haul to get this table and we needed to make the most of it! I ordered the pan-fried whole pink snapper with olives, garlic, wine, capers, parsley & the “sweetest baby plum tomatoes”. The wonder about fresh seafood is that you really need very little effort to make it a delicious meal. Cooked on the bone the snapper had so much flavour but I did need to eat it slowly so as not to choke on a fish-bone.
The Boy had a fillet of baked King Salmon served with whipped lemony artisanal ricotta, balsamic roasted winter vegetables and a zesty crunchy salad. He was understandably far too hungry to go into details of listing adjectives to describe his dish but he did comment that all the ingredients seemed extremely fresh.
We ordered a couple of nicely priced side dishes to boot. The “Humble Green Salad” contained thick, bright chunks of cos lettuce with a lemon, mustard, crushed pink peppercorns & mint yoghurt dressing and topped with a variety of mixed seeds. It tasted like it had come straight from the garden.
The Boy and I are mad for roasted pumpkin and my tired eyes nearly missed seeing it on the sides menu. Thankfully the Boy was on the ball and ensured we ordered a serve. It was layered with chunks of roasted beetroot and garlic cloves and tossed with chilli, roasted nuts & seeds. Whilst this dish in its simplicity will never fail to excite me; my bench mark for hitting the wow factor is Rockpool’s Pumpkin with burnt butter and garlic yoghurt. Jamie’s pumpkin was good, but it was not THAT good.
The tension across the table from our overly excessive wait for a table had dissipated. I love how good food can fix nearly everything. For dessert I really didn’t think I could squeeze much more in so I opted for the poached Winter fruits with vanilla frozen yoghurt and smashed honeycomb. While being thankful my choice was light and easy to eat I couldn’t help eyeing off all the more elaborate desserts brought to our surrounding tables. I guessing I will have to come back with a more empty stomach next time. If the Boy lets me!Jamie’s Italian The Mitchell Building, 140 William Street, Perth, WA 6000 | (08) 9363 8600 | www.jamieoliver.com/italian/australia/perth Price: $$ (Entrees/Small bites $9-16, Mains $17-34) Food: 4/5 (simple, wholesome goodness, certainly nothing fancy but hits the sweet spot) Service: 2.5/5 (although the table service was brilliant, please don’t tell customers it’s a 90 minute wait when it is actually 2 & 1/2 hours) Ambience: 4/5 (noisy, energetic and vibrant) Drinks: 3/5 (very Italian focused) Total: 13.5/20
As I approach my blog’s second birthday in September this year, I have been reflecting back on what I have achieved in these past two years. Starting from humble and amateurish beginnings I have strived to improve both my writing and photography style and understand this will forever be a learning curve for me. This constant growth and development gives a great sense of achievement and satisfaction. Blogging is and always will be my hobby and finding enough time alongside my day job as a small animal vet can sometimes be a bit of a challenge!
One of the aspects of my blog that I want to improve is my food photography skills. I look at my hideously boring food styling and poor quality restaurant photos and dream wistfully that I had natural talent. Billy Law from A Table For Two is one of those people blessed with such a gift. His photos are always clean and crisp, enticing you to dive deeper and deeper into his blog. He was a finalist on Master Chef and has scored that all elusive book deal that so many bloggers dream of.
His food photography workshops are well known by foodies over east and generally sell out well in advance. So when he announced that he was planning to bring the workshop over West I took no hesitation in signing up. Held at The Terrace Hotel we were treated to a two day insight into his trade secrets paired with good food, wine and lots of laughter.
The first day was aimed at a beginner’s level teaching us how to get the most of our cameras regardless of whether it was a point-and-shoot compact or a niftier DSLR. We went through the basics of composition, white balance and he provided some helpful post processing tips. Billy went around the table and individually looked at each of our cameras to help us familiar ourselves with the manual settings. I was able to put his suggestions straight to work as food was continuously being brought to us. We certainly didn’t go home hungry!
The second day was aimed at a more intermediate level and Billy showed us how to utilise props and lighting to get the best out of our shots at home. The attendees at this day included a wide range of people from passionate foodies and bloggers to professional photographers. The atmosphere was very informal and friendly and many of us exchanged business cards and twitter handles at the end of each day.
The Terrace Hotel staff knew they were serving a roomful of bloggers so I have refrained from reviewing these meals as it would be impossible for me to give an accurate unbiased review. Throughout the day we were treated to very personalised and friendly service and I walked away impressed with the level of attention. I am keen to return for a meal incognito to discover whether this is true for all patrons.
A big thank you to Billy for making the trip over to Perth!The Terrace Hotel 237 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9214 4444 | http://www.terracehotelperth.com.au/
I received a curious gift in the mail recently consisting of a bottle of fig infused balsamic vinegar. Attached to the bottle like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland was a little card inviting me to the launch of the Fig’s new winter menu at the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Having never been to any of the Fig’s before the Boy and I set out on a cold blustery night with no expectations or presumptions. We were openly greeted by Jamie, the Operations Manager on arrival and before long we had glasses of bubbles in hand to help set the jovial mood for the evening.
The Fig restaurants comprise of three beach-side venues; the Wild Fig in North Beach, the Pickled Fig in South Fremantle, and the Naked Fig in Swanbourne. Whilst sharing similarities in their West Coast scenery, Jamie explained to us that each of their restaurants have been allowed to develop their own “personality” which is a reflection of both their head chef’s ideas and their local clientele’s needs. For the evening the three head chefs wanted to give us a feel for what their own Fig was all about. They in turn each selected an entrée, main and dessert for us to share giving a total of nine dishes to try.
The team had put a lot of thought into how they ran the night keeping the vibe very light hearted and casual while encouraging us to not be shy to give them our honest thoughts both good and bad. A thoughtful touch was the food photography table; a table with great overhead lighting to allow us to take quality pics of the meals without reaching across the table and getting in each other’s way. A big win for us bloggers, but realistically a win for them too as it maximises the appearance of their food on our blogs.
There was no problem adapting the meals on the menu to suit my gluten free and no onion requirement. For each dish Jamie carefully explained to me what adjustments if any were made. Whilst the olive bread looked tasty our gluten free alternative was reasonable and wasn’t too stodgy or crumbly as many gluten free breads can be.
The gluten free version of the tortellini consisted of soft scallops served in shellfish cappuccino sauce without the pasta. The scallops were of a small size but tender on the inside with a slight firmness to the outside. I winced as the boy popped the last one in his mouth as I had been eyeing it off for a few minutes for myself. I quietly consoled myself as there was still a lot of food to come!
The vegetarian entrée from the Wild Fig was by far my favourite starter; a hearty slab of crisp fried polenta served with an aubergine and tomato roulade along with dollops of sweet agro dolce puree. This dish was a little more difficult to share amongst us and I think I made have inadvertently taken more than my fair share. Oops.
Although crispy skinned barramundi may be considered a dish that lacks creativity it is a common fall-back choice for me that when done properly totally satisfies me. This fillet was buttery smooth with paper thin crunchy skin and the serving size was generous. The bed of chorizo, capsicum and orange reduction brought an element of excitement to this staple of mine and spritzed it up to make it a bit more interesting.
The Naked Fig’s main dish consisted of beef prepared two ways. A rich ruby-red wedge of sirloin crusted with pepper and rosemary served alongside a scrumptiously tearable uber-soft portion of blade steak. Having these two very alternate textures, flavours and presentations of meat made this meal a bit more on the lines of fine dining when compared to the fish.
The most outstanding dish of the evening was by far the Wild Fig’s duck main once again prepared two ways. A pan roasted duck breast paired with a confit duck and mushroom tart, creamy parsnip puree, some sautéed kale and a scattering of textured pistachio brittle. For my gluten free alternative they simply omitted the tart casing leaving the confit for us to still enjoy. I’m fairly sure this was the winner from all of us at our end of the table with the beef pulling in a narrow second.
Those of you who know me will be aware of my recent popcorn obsession. Following in the vein of my “all or nothing” personality I have been known to down a whole bag in one sitting before dinnertime. There have also been a number of emergency dashes to the shops in my lunch break. Maybe I’m suffering from a corn deficiency if that is possible. Thank goodness popcorn is gluten free, right? So obviously my favourite dessert for the evening had to be the popcorn pannacotta. I even subjected the pannacotta to the booby jiggle test to which it passed with flying colours. My only criticism, being the popcorn connoisseur, was that the popcorn pieces tasted a bit stale and chewy however the remainder of the dish was absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious.
As the white chocolate and raspberry mille-feuille was not gluten free, I didn’t get to taste it and therefore I am unable to personally comment on it but Perth Munchkin did say this was her pick of the bunch.
We all tap-tap-cracked the top of the mandarin and thyme crème brûlée to expose the custardy deliciousness underneath and although the hint of thyme was a fabulous combination with the sweet citrus the texture was very runny as the custard had failed to set properly. Thankfully this was at no sacrifice to flavour but this dish would have been near perfect if the texture was correct.
As we wrapped up the evening out of the kitchen came the three head chefs; Andy Walton from Pickled, Chris May from Naked and Rodrigo da Rocha from Wild. They were all smiles and took the time to tell us what inspired each of them to create their own menus. I love hearing passionate people talk about what they love and I could see each of these men still maintained their love for what they do.
Having read a mixed bag of reviews on all of the Fig’s, I have to say after our pleasant evening I’m inspired to go back and check them out on a night when they don’t know I’m food blogger. If our wonderful meal is anything to go by I’m fairly certain it will be an awesome experience….watch this space!Chompchomp was a guest of the Naked Fig. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is openly complementary. When I return incognito, I may give a score then.
The Bestie’s birthday weekend fortunately coincided with her parent’s return from their month-long holiday in Vietnam. Her parents live in southern Western Australian in a town called Esperance which is about a ten hour drive from Perth. This means she doesn’t get to see them as often as she would like and having them in Perth for her birthday was a bit of a treat. To make the most of the occasion, she agreed to stretch out her celebrations over two nights starting with her parents cooking up a storm for us at their friends’ house followed by a casual night out at the Karalee Tavern in Como.
During our time living in London, it was a common occurrence for the Bestie, the Boy and I to visit a number of run down English Pubs. Horrendous food and cheap drinks would be served well past the old fashioned pub curfew under the premise of a “lock out”. These were crazy times and there is a little part of each of us that wistfully longs for those hedonistic days gone by. I’m got the feeling that was part of the vibe she was going for by choosing The Karalee as especially since Chompchomp’s creation we have a tendency to go more popular or newly established venues. Despite the fact the windows at Karalee face out onto the Como foreshore, it was near impossible to see through the smudgy cloudy glass and even with a recent revamp of their décor I still felt trapped in the nineties.
To my complete surprise there were a number of gluten free options marked on their menu. Of course the Bestie had kindly thought ahead and made sure we were going somewhere where I could eat something. I started with the char-grilled calamari served with tomato kasundi, warmed chick peas salad with a lemon dressing. The kasundi had none of the spiciness I would expect in this Indian relish and the chickpeas had that flavourless powderiness I can only expect came from a can. The calamari was ever so slightly overcooked and chewy. Not a good start.
The Bestie ordered the grilled chilli and garlic tiger prawns. Four small shelled Tiger prawns sat perched on a few triangles of cold toasted Turkish bread. Although the prawns looked a little dry to me, I didn’t taste them so cannot pass a true judgement.
The Bestie and I both ordered the veal saltimbocca. The veal medallions tasted like overcooked cardboard and literally sucked all the moisture from out of my mouth. I’m sure it took me a good five minutes to chew each mouthful. I was thankful for the crunchy prosciutto topping to add some flavour into all that blandness. The thick creamy mushroom sauce did nothing to improve the meal nor did the unseasoned gritty block of set polenta that was meant to be crispy.
The Boy ordered the slow cooked lamb shank with sweet potato and maple syrup mash and roasted broccolini. The succulent lamb collapsed effortlessly off the bone and was accompanied by moans of approval and enjoyment. I often put a dash of maple syrup in my pumpkin and sweet potato mash when cooking at home. As long as you only put a dash it serves to provide a subtle lingering to the already dulcet flavours of the vegetables. Although the texture of this mash could have been creamier, they were cautious enough not to overdo it with the maple and its hint of flavour was balanced just right. The broccolini was burnt to a crisp which completely sabotaged any sense of its flavour other than charcoal.
The Bestie’s Mum ordered the roasted sticky glazed pork belly. It was curiously paired with a mound of potato mash and sesame tossed Asian greens. The pork was buttery smooth with crunchy crackling and she was left feeling very full and satisfied.
The meal sizes at Karalee are generous meaning this is a good place to come if you want value for money. If quality is more what you look for in a night out I suggest you look elsewhere.The Karalee on Preston 25 Preston Street Como WA 6152 | (08) 9367 1848 | www.thekaralee.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $12-16, Mains $23-38) Food: 2/5 (very average, poor execution and odd combinations of ingredients) Service: 3/5 (a little slow but friendly enough for a sports bar) Ambience: 2.5/5 (despite the potential views, ambiance is definitely lacking) Drinks: 2.5/5 (average wine list, nothing exciting) Total: 10/20
This year has been such a hectic and emotional one which has flown by with the speed of light. It has been a whole year since the Boy finally managed to convince me after much persuasion to start writing a blog. After an initial few quiet months while in its fledgling state, it has now grown to be something I am proud to call my own. Many of my close friends are loyal regular readers and are always keen to be part of the Chompchomp phenomenon by joining me on my gastronomic expeditions around Perth.
My wedding expert friend Tara is one of these supportive people and she jumped at the opportunity of a night out with our respective others to Duende to celebrate my first blogiversary coupled with a bit of “wedding talk”.
It was one of those first glorious balmy spring days and I was drunk on the delightful sunshine and perhaps maybe also the bottle of Billecart the boy bought for us in the afternoon. I donned a short summery frock, slipped on some killer Diavolina platforms and bared my winter legs. Call it a stark rebuttal against any further threats of the dreaded cold weather!
We started at The Garden for a few rounds of drinks before heading over to Duende for dinner. Neither Tara nor her husband suffer from any dietary intolerance and were happy to order a selection of dishes that were suitable for me so we could all share. We started off with a bottle of gorgeously bright ruby coloured Pe Tinto Tempranillo, an organic and biodynamic wine from Portugal. We then proceeded to work our way through most of the gluten free options on the menu. Of which there were many!
The marinated olive selection contained over four different types with a broad range of textures and tastes to suit all of our palates. The chorizo had generous amount of heat in it and was thickly cut and juicy.
Patatas bravas are one of my favourite Spanish dishes. Parboiled potatoes are deep fried before being coated with a variety of spices, vinegar and red pepper. They can be served with a number of different types of sauces depending on the area of Spain and which can range from a tomato based sauce to more of an aioli style. These crispy slices of heaven had a generous paprika dusting and were seasoned with some lemony tasting vinegar. The level of spiciness was fairly mild and I would have preferred a bit more of a punch however the Boy was relieved with the relatively low heat.
The pork belly had a luscious creamy texture and literally melted into the polenta without any fatty aftertaste. The pear and plump muscatels gave a pleasant sweet note but I did my best to avoid these two fructose filled fruits.
The lamb rump was quite a surprise. I didn’t really read the menu carefully enough to be prepared for the enchanting sweet maple flavours from the fenugreek. It actually took us all a few moments to work out where the flavours came from! The rump was succulent and pink.
The pickled beetroots were hidden under a loose pile of fresh rocket, goat cheese and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are my favourite nut, in part due to my praline addiction but additionally it brings back indulgent teenage memories of eating Nutella by the jar full. Although an interesting dish this wasn’t one of the better ones.
Initially we were a little reserved in ordering the beef cheeks after hearing negative feedback from a friend that found them to be dry. Cheeks are a cheaper cut of meat with a higher proportion of fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone in them. Provided they are cooked correctly this generally means they are more delicious, though they do require a little time and care when cooking.
We were right in taking the gamble because our cheeks were incredibly flavoured, delicately tender and we really should have ordered two serves and maybe left out the beetroot.
The sensation of squeaky haloumi always brings a smile to my face. Coupled with rich smoky undertones of eggplant puree this simple dish was a crowd pleaser.
Px vinegar is made with the sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes and was the perfect combination with gorgonzola to top the earthy mushrooms. I know I’m a little biased as I have a mushroom addiction but these slippery little nuggets packed a powerful burst of flavour and I could have eaten many more had I not already stuffed my face with everything else!
We chose 3 out of the selection of five available French and Spanish cheeses and it was quite a feat narrowing it down to three. If I wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would have said one of each! Our choice included a semi-firm cow’s cheese Mahon from Spain and two French cheeses; Roquefort, a creamy blue sheep cheese and Sainte Maure, a soft buttery goat cheese.
For sweets we ordered the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream. Obviously these were not for me as they are full of all the gluten in the land; a fact my companions were very content with as it meant there was all the more for them!
After reading a multitude of positive reviews on Duende over the years I cannot believe it took me this long to try them for myself. They more than exceeded my expectations and have to be the best tapas I have experienced in Perth by far. We loved it so much that we actually headed back for a quick midweek bite later that following week! And yes….we ordered more of those patatas bravas.Duende 662 Newcastle Street, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9228 0123 | http://www.duende.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Tapas share dishes range from $4-25, we share 11 dishes/4 people = stuffed!) Food: 4.5/5 (if I had more room I would have tried more!) Service: 4/5 (dishes didn’t come out too quickly, friendly and helpful) Ambience: 4.5/5 (buzzing vibe, I could nearly imagine myself back in Spain…) Drinks: 4/5 (interesting wine list, plenty of by the glass options) Total: 17/20
I have very fond memories of my last time at Matilda Bay Restaurant with two of my favourite people in my life; the Boy and my dearest Mum. It was Christmas Day lunch some years ago and it remains one of our most relaxing and stress-free Christmas’s to date. So when the Boy invited me to join him there on a business dinner recently I didn’t have to hesitate in my response!
Being so food obsessed is proving to be my Achilles heel by hindering my success in achieving the svelte bride body that I want. I have a bad habit of over eating and seem to enjoy the feeling of being insanely full. My solution is simply to focus on eating less for the last six months in the lead up to the big day. This night out was to be the last night of uninhibited eating before the frustrations of restriction begun so I wanted to go out with a bang.
You can only imagine my disappointment when a few hours before we were to all meet for dinner, the Boy was informed by email that the invitation didn’t extend to partners. Knowing how much I was looking forward to the evening and presuming the refusal was due to a strict budget, the Boy explained that we were not expecting a free meal and I was more than happy to pay my own way. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for the agency and after receiving a fairly patronising reply the Boy’s blood started to boil.
Not wanting to disappoint his food obsessed wife-to-be, he softened the blow of the bad news to me by offering to still take me out somewhere nice. We toyed with the idea of getting a table right next to the one I got booted off at Matilda Bay purely for entertainment value. However after briefly thinking about this further we figured that probably wouldn’t gone down so well! After a few unsuccessful calls to some favourite venues, he managed to secure us a reservation at InContro in South Perth. We even managed to get a table with city and river views. (My apologies in advance for the photos…even Gordon didn’t cope in such low level lighting!)
InContro offers a style of dining they call “piccolo dining” which is a bit like a Mediterranean version of tapas. They create small dishes for the entire table to share and it is brought to the table in a tiered rack reminding me of years gone by where I shared High Tea with my Dad and stepmum at Brown’s Hotel in London. After discussing my allergies with our waitress, she offered for the chef to select appropriate dishes to make up a two courses of a piccolo experience. Not being in the mood for anything specific, the Boy and I both smiled at each other and chose to go ahead with her recommendation. I love surprises!
Each course contained three carefully selected and quite interesting dishes using lots of fresh seasonal local produce. The succulent frenched Dorper lamb cutlets were topped with Moroccan spiced cauliflower. The sweet tasting cumin paired harmoniously with the tender lamb leaving me wishing we had more.
Our seared scallops were plump with a crisp browned surface and a nearly creamy centre of amazingness. On a bed of pea puree and topped with crispy shreds of prosciutto these little morsels were nearly as moreish as the cutlets. I was pretty excited about what else was to come.
Our third entrée was simply described as a lobster salad. A fairly decent serve of decadent lobster sat innocently hidden underneath a handful of shredded greens. Further hiding below the lobster was bite sized chunks of thoroughly dressed avocado, tomato and fresh herbs. Although this dish wasn’t much to look at, each mouthful was bursting with flavour.
The sticky Black Angus short rib was the “to die for” dish of the evening. Unfortunately my photos didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked them to due to the beef sitting at the top of the three levelled tier. Not being a very tall person I really struggled to steady my camera. Of course my lack of hand stability that had nothing to do with the three glasses of Billecart I had drunk previously. Not at all.
The meat didn’t just fall off the bone it slivered off and dissolved in the mouth like cotton candy. The marinade was thick, sticky and subtly sweet and neither of us could help ourselves as we scraped the remaining sauce off the board with our forks, trying to savour its flavour for as long as possible.
In my excitement of this final night of excess I had not bothered to go through the nitty gritty of my fructose malabsorption with our waitress. I had purely just requested no gluten or no onion. Thus I did have to sift through our pork dish to avoid the little cubes of pear. The pork belly had just the right balance of fat, meat and crackling and didn’t leave any unpleasant porkiness taste in my mouth. The crackling gave a satisfyingly loud crunch as I bit into it.
The salad to accompany our mains dishes contained shaved fennel, pear and candied walnut. Again I had to dodge the pear (my own fault) which was easy enough to do. The salad was light and refreshing on the palate after the two heavier meat dishes.
For dessert the Boy ordered his ice cream as per usual; as you may already know it is fairly uncommon for him to ever order anything else for dessert. I settled for the only gluten free dessert option which was the polenta cake with butterscotch ice cream. It was moist and didn’t crumble apart but the butterscotch ice cream was a little sickly sweet for my liking.
InContro is a great local option if we feel like a night out with a bit more class than casual. We have dined here on several occasions over the years and have never been disappointed with either the food or service and they take good diligence in catering to those with allergies. Of course we will be back.InContro 79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth 6151 | (08) 9474 5566 | www.incontro.com.au Price: $$$$ (Piccolo $9-16/dish, Entrees $22-28, Mains $35-48) Food: 4.5/5 (sticky beef ribs were out of this world) Service: 4/5 (attentive, efficient despite a full house) Ambience: 5/5 (views of Perth city skyline, how can it get better?) Drinks: 4/5 (great wine list but I confess I stuck to my Billecart all night!) Total: 17.5/20
After picking our own fabulous Field mushrooms on our visit to Millbrook Winery I decided to cook them up with a few extras in the fridge for our Meatless Monday meal. I had a packet of polenta with dried porcini that I purchased from Providore during our recent trip down to Margaret River and thought this traditional Italian dish would make a perfect and filling accompaniment to our roasted mushrooms. Better still I enjoyed it with one of the lovely wines I purchased from Millbrook! (You can read my review on our gorgeous lunch here.)
- 4-6 large field mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Soft goats cheese
- Truffle oil to serve
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Place mushrooms in a heavy-based, non-stick roasting pan. Sprinkle thyme and crushed garlic over mushrooms and then drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
- Cover the mushrooms with foil and cook in oven for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until mushrooms are tender.
- Remove from oven and top with crumbled goats cheese and truffle oil.
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup rice milk (can use normal milk if not lactose intolerant)
- 2.5 cups gluten free chicken stock (I use Massels 7’s as they are also fructose friendly)
- 1 cup Providore Polenta with Porcini mushrooms (or use instant polenta and add your own dried porcini)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Bring the water and wine to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Use a wire balloon whisk to stir the water. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the water (whisking ensures the polenta is dispersed through the liquid as quickly as possible). Don’t add the polenta too quickly or it will turn lumpy.
- Reduce heat to low (cook the polenta over low heat otherwise it will cook too quickly and you will need to add extra water). Gradually add in the rice milk while simmering, while ensuring to stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the polenta is soft.
- Remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
The recipe was inspired by Mushroom Mania which is happening all across Australia for the month of July 2012. There are over 2000 participating restaurants including many all over Western Australia who will be serving up delicious mushroomy dishes for us all to enjoy. The website also contains some delicious mushroom recipes so make sure you check it out.
You don’t have to be a blogger to win either! Just write a short review on a mushroom dish you enjoyed during the Mushroom Mania Month of July and you could win a $150 Best Restaurants of Australia Gift Card.
Click here for details.
After weeks and weeks of the Boy and I talking about increasing the distance of our Sunday walk to 20 kilometres, we were finally faced with a free day with no time restrictions. Better still, my bestie who is normally busy on this day with yoga teacher training had a free day too. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend my day off; strolling in the sunshine with two of my most favourite people.
Our initial leg took us headfirst into a strong Easterly wind which nearly blew our caps off into the Swan River. Not willing to give in to the elements so soon we powered on in silence each quietly trying to will the gusts away. Luckily once we hit the more protected side of the walk path going through to Burswood the wind had started to die down and we could chatter away to each other and actually be heard. Foolishly I had gone to the gym the day before (in fact I ran to the gym) and I had done a full leg muscle workout completely forgetting about our usual routine the following day. We had barely reached the quarter way mark and my legs were already starting to feel wobbly and tired. Oh dear, I did it once again….the all or nothing part of my personality really does need to be contained sometimes!
As we passed through East Perth, the Boy also started to feel a little weary as he too had done a workout the day prior. In contrast to me, his forethought meant he only trained his upper body knowing full well that his legs would need all their strength for our epic walk. We stopped in at the Kinky Lizard for some “sugaries”; the Boy got an Anzac cookie, Kate and I shared a couple of macarons. I lost a little confidence from the outset as I overheard the waiter call them macaroons. Macarons and macaroons are not the same thing! Our macarons were extremely disappointing and had the texture of a chocolate brownie with the taste of mud cake. No crisp shell, no chewy centre and definitely no layering of flavours.
Energised by the sugar hit we marched on crossing over the Causeway to the South Perth foreshore and then back over the Narrows to the Barrack Jetty area. By this point we had walked a total of 16 kilometres and we were all in desperate need of something more substantial than a snack. We hadn’t visited Sassy’s on Swan for some years and figured it was time for a return visit.
I ordered my usual short mac which I was pleased to see wasn’t topped up with milk – I like mine served traditional. It was very good coffee; not too bitter and a little creamy in its aftertaste. Kate wasn’t as impressed with her latte, it was made too strong for her liking and she felt that the froth was too thick to drink through needing to be scooped off the top first and eaten separately. I actually quite liked the description of her coffee’s thick nearly hardened foam but then to each to their own.
The Boy went all out trying not one but two of Sassy’s fresh fruit smoothies. His first and favourite smoothie was the Berry magic with ice cream. It was thick and tangy with lots of berries and the serving was huge. I’m surprised he had room for another with his breakfast but I guess we had just walked a fair distance. His second smoothie was the mango and banana which tasted less fruity and needed more mangos in it.
I was having a fair bit of indecision with my selection but finally managed to choose the parmesan polenta pizzetta. I love polenta’s versatility, ranging from creamy purée through to being able to have enough substance and form to be used as a baked quiche base. I imagined this pizzette to have a lovely crisp firm base and was disappointed to be served a thick crumbly cakey door stop of polenta with all the toppings piled on top. My serve was huge, they are very generous on their serving sizes; you will not walk away hungry from this place. I couldn’t taste or see any brie cheese as per the menu’s description. Also I felt that the olives should be pitted if served on a pizza and I nearly cracked my tooth on the first one before I realised that they weren’t.
From about the half way mark on our walk, a large component of our conversation was centred about food. Kate had talked at great length about her craving for pancakes and having already read the menu to us earlier on our walk, she thought she could recall reading that there were some served with mascarpone cheese and fruit. By the time we stopped for breakfast her heart was so set on the mascarpone cheese that it nearly skipped a beat when she read the menu properly and realised she was mistaken. She still ordered the pancakes without said mascarpone but should have followed her better judgement and given them a miss.
Like my dish, hers was super-sized consisting of two enormous thick fluffy looking pancakes topped with unfortunately scant pieces of fruit and dried coconut. There was a drizzle of maple syrup over the top but due to the sheer thickness of the pancakes she had to ask for more as she started to feel like she was eating dough. Ideally this dish should have been piled high with some fresh fruit but ended up being too stodgy and overwhelmingly chewy to enjoy. She described them as a poor copy of MacDonald’s hotcakes and regretted her choice for the remainder of our walk home. Poor lass!
As it was nearly lunchtime the Boy decided to forego his usual choice of eggs and ordered a tortilla instead. He initially wanted the lamb however they had run out so he chose the Cajun spiced chicken instead. This ended up being the best meal on our table. The tortilla didn’t fall apart and remained resilient despite lots of juicy sauce flavouring the meat. The chicken wasn’t dry and there was a generous serving of other fillings meaning it received definite thumbs up from the Boy.
We felt the service could have been a lot friendlier and were astonished to see the manager correct one of her employees in front of us customers, something I feel is embarrassing to us and demoralising to the staff member. She did this while failing to even acknowledge us standing in front of the counter. Perhaps she was having a bad day as during my many previous visits I had never seen this attitude before.
Sassy’s used to be a favourite of ours and we returned this time round after a long hiatus of more than twelve months. It would have been nice to see a new menu or maybe even just some fresh seasonal specials but unfortunately things haven’t’ changed since our visits some years ago. Although it was good to return, I was left wishing we had stopped in at Toast instead.Like Me on Facebook! Sassy’s on the Swan 171 Riverside Drive, Perth 6000 | (08) 9325 4191 | http://www.sassysontheswan.com.au/ Price: $$$ (All Day Breakfast $12-28) Food: 2.5/5 (GF options, huge serves but needs revamp of menu – hasn’t changed in years) Service: 2.5/5 (owner/manager needs to smile and not discipline staff in front of customers) Ambience: 3/5 (lovely location, could make more use of the view) Drinks: 4/5 (smoothies and coffees excellent) Total: 12/20