As years pass me by, I find myself gravitating more and more toward people with two of my common interests; cats and food. Aside from my family and loved ones, these are the two things in my life that really rock my world. I recently whizzed over to Melbourne for the weekend on official cat vet business and caught up with three other like-minded crazy cat people. After a long day of meetings, we were all very keen for a bite to eat and moved out of the board room and onto dinner. In preparation for hungry appetites, one of my colleagues had already organised a reservation at Saint Crispin in Collingwood. Run by a couple of Melbourne chefs Scott Pickett and Joe Grbac, these guys trained at the same Michelin starred London restaurant called The Square where they were inspired to create a menu that followed the seasons.
Within minutes of arriving at Saint Crispin, the four of us agreed on the tasting menu choosing the five courses for $100. A bargain by Perth price standards I have to say. To commence the gastronomic journey, our amuse bouche for the evening were cute fluffy green olive and cocoa nib Madeleines. They were served with a slightly sweet, smoked hay foam with dehydrated black olive grated on top.
Our first course was presented immaculately; a lightly seared chunk of yellowfin tuna still dark pink in the centre which dissolved on contact with my tongue. It was served with some anise braised fennel, mussels and poached calamari.
Perched on top of the tuna was a snap-crackle-and-pop squid ink and tapioca cracker. A carefully placed dollop of rocket emulsion added a subtle pepperiness to balance the flavours.
Fresh seasonal ingredients continued to feature heavily on the menu with our next dish focusing on new season asparagus. With some asparagus blanched and some shaved raw they were dressed in an asparagus gazpacho and served with an unusual roasted parmesan custard. The custard was as smooth as silk and contained flaked almonds for added crunch.
As each dish was as delicately perfect as the next, I could feel a sense of warm pride across the table. Some of them follow the blog and know very well that I enjoy eating damn fine food! Seeing me impressed and highly satisfied with our meal so far meant their delegated job of choosing a restaurant was a job well done.
Our third course was the Atlantic salmon served with a parsley risotto. The salmon was cooked sous-vide giving it a wondrous buttery texture. Fresh spring vegetables including zucchini, broad beans and peas mixed into the creamy risotto along with some fresh prawns.
Unlike many of my blogging foodie friends, I am not really a pork lover. Whilst I would never refuse food that I wasn’t allergic to, I would never actively chose to order pork for myself off the menu. Additionally I feel it needs to be jaw-droppingly amazing for me to enjoy it to any large degree.
For our fourth course, we were served a crispy pork jowl with miso marinated cubes of pork neck. Was this going to be a hit or a miss for this ambivalent pork eater? Well a winner it was, such to the point that I even offered to finish off the tooth-chipping crackling from my friend sitting next to me. I shared it with the others of course 😉
The pork accompanied an heirloom carrot salad with star anise and finished with a white soy and sesame gel. It was absolutely heavenly.
I didn’t want the magic to end but as each course was a reasonably substantial size for a tasting menu I was starting running out of room. Our dessert was the perfect finisher.
Smooth mango creamoux was served with small chunks of diced mango, caramelised milk crumble yoghurt pebbles and a scoop of jasmine ice cream. With all that mango, this was not exactly a fructose friendly dessert but I was prepared with glucose tablets that I chugged back on the drive back to Dad’s apartment. Some things are worth a belly ache for and this was one of them.
We ended the night with some house made passionfruit jubes. A little bit salty and a little bit sour, I wasn’t expecting such a flavour punch from these innocent little cubes.
Saint Crispin is a class act, following all the principles in modern dining that I love. Lots of small tasting dishes, fresh seasonal and local produce, and photogenic food presentation. To add to all this, the staff were relaxed and knowledgeable without any pretension. If only it wasn’t so far from Perth!Disclaimer: Despite Chompchomp carrying the flag for the cats of Australia, her own two feline fur-children are yet to earn their keep and help fund her valiant efforts to improve the health and welfare of cats. Consequently this meal was funded for by herself but she has been assured it is only a matter of time before the two lads start bringing home the cash. In fact, her youngest fur-son Eddie has already been attaining some cameo appearances on Channel 7! 😉
300 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066 | (03) 9419 2202 | www.saintcrispin.com.au
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
Eat Drink Perth is celebrating its 10th year and their launch party The First Feast was held at Brookfield Place last Monday. The event attracted all the who’s who of the food industry as seven of the star venues from around Brookfield Place took the guests on a culinary journey complete with signature cocktails, entertainment and substantial amounts of food. As one of the team of four official bloggers for Eat Drink Perth I joined the festivities for a night of fun.
The evening commenced outdoors under the stars with pre-dinner cocktails served by Bar Lafayette and Choo Choo’s. A gorgeous Perth based swing band called the Darling Buds of May churned out some hip-swinging tunes under the eerie blue lighting whilst the mixologists at the bar vigorously shook, muddled and stirred up some of the prettiest cocktails in town.
It was hard to know what our amuse bouche actually looked like under the deep blue hue of the lights but it certainly packed a bomb of flavour. It was created by the guest of honour Matt Golinski using a number of ingredients that are Western Australian grown. Bite sized spoonfuls of soft spanner crab mixed with crushed macadamia, ginger and coconut were piled neatly on a betel leaf and topped with pearls of finger lime. The heart-shaped leaf made it easy to roll up and eat somewhat delicately even for someone as uncoordinated as myself.
After a few rounds of Moscow Mule cocktails we were all ushered into the foyer of Brookfield Place to what I can only describe as the longest long table I have ever seen. Seating 250 guests it spanned from one side of the vast foyer to the other. Our tables were already set with our entrées which were created by Sushia Izakaya; a Japanese restaurant who pride themselves on using fresh produce to prepare dishes that are a fusion of traditional and modern Japanese flavours.
The majority of the table received the Hamachi carpaccio of Kingfish sashimi in an Asian styled pesto with yuzu soy and wafu gelée. I was told that whilst the fish was very soft it tasted like it had been plated a little too soon in advance and had consequently been sitting at the table for some time before we were seated.
As I gazed up and down the longest long table I noticed that for once I wasn’t the only one with food allergies and there was in fact three of us in a row with alternate dishes to the Kingfish. My gluten free option of pork belly was served cold and each cube of meat had a near gelatinous texture that melted on contact with my tongue. It was topped with a ginger salsa and came with a mound of pickled daikon. I love my Japanese pickles and was overjoyed at the size of my heap on the plate.
Queen of Bad Timing’s Kristy cannot eat capsicum and so she was served gyu tataki, or seared beef. It was served with garlic chips, chives, momiji orosh, scallions and ponzu sauce.
Michelle from Foodie Cravings needed something cooked as she has a little Junior Burger Boy in the oven. Whilst the staff didn’t get the memo of her pregnancy dietary requirements in advance the kitchen were super quick on their feet to whip her up some gyu kushiyaki, or beef skewers. Marinated in kinolo teriyaki sauce each morsel looked exquisitely soft. Gazing over at her plate I had a brief moment of carnivorous food envy and she tweaked each piece off the skewer and devoured it.
The mains were provided by The Trustee Bar and Bistro as a shared style of dining with the dishes being placed in the centre of the table. I was somewhat surprised that for such a high profile event the mains were not plated individually however shared dining does make the night more social and interactive by encouraging strangers to share stories.
All the mains and sides were gluten free allowing me to try them all. The Cone Bay barramundi was by far my favourite, obviously in part due to the addition of truffle but also because it was such a quality piece of fish cooked faultlessly.
The cheese platter created by The Heritage came in a variety of forms to suit everyone’s dietary requirements. The standard option consisted of some crumbled Papillon Roquefort with Roquefort foam, cabernet poached pear and a thyme salted doughnut. For my gluten free version the doughnut was omitted.
Being pregnant, Foodie Cravings cannot eat soft cheese she received a wedge of Swiss Gruyère instead of the blue cheese.
The “Whisky and Cigars” dessert was created by Print Hall. The jar of crème caramel embodied all the rich honey flavours of Lochen Ora whisky leaving subtle lingering hints of spice of the palate. The chocolate cigar wasn’t gluten free however I was told it had very distinct smoky tobacco flavours and was an acquired taste that not all enjoyed. I cannot deny it makes me happy to know my gluten free component was the best part! 😉
Being a Monday evening many of us were holding ourselves back on our alcohol consumption knowing that we would have to drag ourselves out of bed to go work the following day. However as glasses of Bobeche’s famous Iced Tea were brought to the table I resigned myself to the fact that I would wake up in the morning to find myself in Struggletown. Made with Ketel One Vodka, Tanqueray gin, Pampero Blanco Rum, Cherry Heering, sweet spice tea, fresh lemon and lemonade this was one Long Island Iced Tea too good to pass on. It was also one that made me grateful I didn’t drive that night! Whilst the Tea wasn’t served in their signature tea cups being a small bar I can imagine they are unlikely to own 250 cups to be able to use on that single evening!Chompchomp was invited to The First Feast as a guest and will be one of the official four bloggers for the Eat Drink Perth Festival 2014. For the whole month of April there will be events, activities and discounts on food and beverages all across the city. Check out the Eat Drink Perth website for all the latest news.
My past experience of Korean food has been limited to the typical BBQ style restaurants that have been spotted around Perth for years. As most of these places heavily marinate their meats in soy based sauces I have avoided them because I presumed my gluten free options would be limited. When I received an invitation from Head Chef Leo to dine at his new Korean restaurant The Gaya Applecross, I came very close to dismissing this offer as a waste of my time. Luckily before doing so, I had a quick look at their menu and was blown away to see not only were there many gluten free options but over 80% of the menu was in fact gluten free!
The Gaya Applecross is tucked away in a cluster of restaurants on Kearns Crescent off Riseley Street in Ardross. We visited them on a week night and arrived to find the higgledy piggledy parking area packed to the brim. I would dread to see how busy it looks on the weekend. There was a surprising hive of activity about and on a brief glance into some of the other restaurants I noticed that they all looked relatively full of customers. The Gaya is BYO which allowed us to bring one of the many bottles of wine we recently splurged on during our recent two Margaret River trips. We chose a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Clairault Winery as I figured its medium bodied flavour and subtle oak would be a fair match to the very beef orientated menu.
Before ordering we were given a complementary serve of rice pancake. I noticed that other tables around me also received this complementary dish so this freebie is standard for all customers. With a thin crisp exterior and a chewy soft centre these triangular nibbles were a perfect teaser for what was to come next.
After ordering a succession of starter dishes, our food soon began coming out one by one and was always presented with a warming smile. The salmon gravlax was an interesting fusion of Korean and European ingredients. Leo informed me they marinate the fish for at least 48 hours in a mixture of gin and plum juice. Topped with tobiko-laced mayo and capers and nestled between spoonfuls of wakame each mouthful was extremely rich in flavour.
Being gluten free, it is not often that I get to enjoy arancini balls. The standard varieties of these Italian canapés are generally crumbed in wheat flour meaning it’s off the menu for me. Of the few I have had gluten free; it seems that it is hard to achieve the classic hard crunchy shell coupled with a creamy cheesy risotto centre. For these arancini, Chef Leo mastered getting the all-important textures right despite restricting himself to only using gluten free flours. I loved the unusual mix of Italian and Korean flavours of basil pesto risotto rice, pan-fried kimchi and dollops of sweet berry sauce. If we hadn’t already ordered so much food I could have eaten a couple more.
Luckily I didn’t because I had already gotten a little carried away and ordered a LOT of the gluten free starters already. In my defence, I am not used to visiting Asian restaurants and being so spoilt for choice. The next starter we tried was the beef cream roll which was another Westernised version of a Korean cold beef roll salad. Thinly sliced, marinated beef was wrapped carefully around spears of asparagus, capsicum, cucumber, enoki mushrooms and cream cheese and topped with crisp garlic chips.
Japchae is a traditional Korean street food made of sweet potato noodles stir fired in sesame oil with various vegetables and sometimes also beef. The Gaya presented this dish a little differently by wrapping the noodles along with beef, carrot and mushroom in rice paper and then re-frying them to make them into some sort of fat dumpling.
Despite their reasonable size they were still easy to eat and really tasty. This was one of my favourite starters.
After the excitement of the previous starters, the fish jijimi was probably my least favourite entrée. This dish consisted of fillets of cod lightly battered in glutinous rice flour and served with soy mayo. The fish was light and fluffy but the dish lack the punchy originality that was present in all our previous offerings.
I was nearly at full capacity by this point having shared no less than six starters and half a bottle of wine. I could have easily got away with squeezing in a shared main and dessert with the Boy but he had a keen appetite and insisted on ordering his own main. While agonising over our choices, we were given another complementary little dish as a palate cleanser. The items on this dish are changed regularly to keep it interesting so don’t expect to be served the same as me if you visit. We received some spicy tomato, pickled cabbage with apple and a ball of grated cooked sweet potato.
There weren’t any vegetarian main options for the Boy to choose from and as he isn’t a totally strict vegetarian he opted for the “36 Pork”. Rather than serving a pork crackling-encrusted style of porky dish that features on so many menus both Asian and Western; the Gaya do things a little different. The whole pork belly is marinated for 12 hours before being cooked sous-vide for a further 24 hours. The end result is near translucent, delicate pork flesh that is as soft as jelly. It was paired with sweet potato puree, glazed apple and smears of fermented soy bean paste. I hadn’t tried soy bean paste before however I have since learnt that it is one of the most commonly used condiments in authentic Korean cuisine.
The dish was topped with roasted garlic chips and a Korean chive salad. Korean chives are shorter and thicker than those found in Western dishes and are added to many Korean dishes for their claimed health properties. Traditional Korean herbal medicine will use chives for strengthening liver function, improving circulation, relieving back pain and treating colds and other ailments. Leo explained that he includes the chives in his dishes in order to provide his customers with these health benefits.
I ordered the “TTeokgalbi”, a dish taken from the Korean Royal court cuisine that is centred on beef rib patties. The meat from beef spare ribs is minced and marinated before being grilled on the hot plate. It was served with a variety of different yet interesting elements including some chewy, cinnamon dusted rice cakes that somewhat reminded me of the honey puffs we used to buy from the Greek stall as a child in the Adelaide Centre Markets.
Other elements in my TTeokgalbi included a scoop of smooth, creamy yoghurt potato salad and some rubbery pickled oyster mushrooms. The pickled mushrooms were stuffed with cucumber and capsicum and I nearly mistook them for some sort of dumpling. They had a strong sour taste that wasn’t entirely unpleasant and balanced the sweet and spicy elements nicely. The whole unusual creation was topped with a sunny side up fried egg. All the different components in my dish certainly kept me amused however I did feel the beef didn’t taste any more remarkable than any other well-made patty I’ve had.
On the home straight and truly stretched at the seams we had another look at the menu to order one dessert each. This really was gluttony in its extreme. All the dessert options were gluten free so we were free to share each other’s selections. I ordered the “Gaya Ho-Tuck” which was an elegant version of a type of pancake sold by street food vendors in Korea.
These small round nuggets are stuffed with brown sugar, sunflower seeds, peanuts and pine nuts and then deep fried. Before serving they are dusted with cinnamon and more sugar and torched to caramelise the surface to a near black colour. Soft and fluffy on the outside yet chewy, nearly gooey on the inside these were right up my alley and got snuffled up pretty quickly.
I had already fallen in love with the look of the “Red Misu” thanks to a number of fellow blogger’s beautiful photos so I encouraged the Boy to order himself this instead of his usual ice cream. This curious little dish is Chef Leo’s take on tiramisu with a neat little Korean twist. The sponge was still deeply seeped in Baileys and coffee as one would expect for a tiramisu but there was the surprise element of added red bean paste. The dessert was carefully presented in a miniature pot complete with chocolate soil and pebbles. Some may say this dish was simply too adorable to eat but its cuteness didn’t stop either of us further stuffing our faces despite our bulging waistlines.
I am always suspicious to make a conclusion about a restaurant on the basis of a free meal as the chef knows in advance he is under scrutiny. However looking around the fairly busy dining room I could see plenty of happy customers enjoying their paid experience.
The Gaya offers something a bit different to your standard sizzling Korean restaurant with softly spoken, efficient service, oodles of gluten free options and creative, carefully presented food. Add to that it’s BYO licence and you can be sure I will be bringing my friends back here for a satisfying but inexpensive night out.The Gaya Applecross Shop 3 & 4, 3 Kearns Crescent, Ardross WA | (08) 9364 8887 | www.the-gaya.com Chompchomp dined as a guest of The Gaya Applecross. As it is too difficult to be 100% subjective with a complementary meal I will refrain from giving a review or score and this is purely just a documentation of my experience.
The exciting event of the wedding of a close friend brought us back to the lovely city of Singapore for the first time in over ten years. It was to be my first experience of a Chinese wedding banquet and was to be held at Szechuan Court, Fairmont Hotel, Singapore. I felt so privileged to receive an invite and prepared myself right from the outset that for that one night I was just going to have to eat gluten. Avoiding gluten in a Chinese banquet of any occasion is literally impossible due to the ubiquitous use of soy sauce. I knew that if I was to eat the banquet regardless of the gluten I was going to suffer for it the next day however I figured it would be worth it.
As we were shown to our seats I noticed that both our table and the bridal table next to us was much more lavishly decorated than the rest of the tablets. Our table was covered in a bright red table-cloth and decorated with bigger bouquets of flowers. As the night progressed I also observed that our plates were filled with more food and served to us in larger bowls.
In eager anticipation for the feast I forced myself to only graze on a few small snacks over the day. As we headed to Szechuan Court I was so hungry I could have nearly eaten my own arm. If only I had known before that it is common custom at these important Chinese events for there to be quite a wait before food is brought out! By the time our starter combination arrived I was so utterly famished that I demolished it all far too quickly. There were beautifully plated slices of roast duck sandwiched around a fresh sliver of mango, there was a richly coloured chunk of Soya chicken, a thick wedge of succulent honey glazed pork and a cute little lettuce cup of chilled spicy jelly fish. This was one of my favourite dishes for the night and I really regretted my gluttony wishing I had savoured its flavours for more than a millisecond.
I love the deception of clear soups. Gazing into my reflection in the bowl I always wonder how something so watery looking can manage to pack such a powerful punch of flavour. This crab soup was no exception and the table went silent for a few minutes while everyone slurped away hungrily.
Bamboo fungus is a type of mushroom that is claimed to have many medicinal properties including antibacterial and anti-cancer effects. Another more unusual fact about this fungus is that the smell of the fresh fungus has been reported to trigger spontaneous orgasms in women!
The next course was some lightly steamed live Marble Goby served in a broth of superior soy sauce. Marble goby is a type of freshwater fish that considered something of a delicacy by many Chinese as for its flesh is delicately tender yet has a lingering sweet flavour.
With a number of gluten containing courses now under my belt, I accepted my fate that in a few hours I would start to feel the aftermath of my indiscretions therefore I really had nothing to lose and must press on. I had psyched myself up for this banquet for months and certainly wasn’t going to turn any of these sumptuous dishes away! The next two dishes steered away from the more traditional Chinese style infusing some modern fusion flavours. The wasabi prawns crunched loudly as I bit into their crispy exterior and I couldn’t help but feel liberated to cast off the shackles of my allergies for one night even if it made me unwell and covered in eczema!
I was informed earlier that evening by the dear mother of the bride that sea cucumbers are very laborious to prepare for eating. There is an extensive amount of work involved over several days which include slitting them open, turning them inside out and then repeatedly washing and boiling them over a few days.
The Boy and I first tried eating sea cucumber many years back at Shung Fung in Perth and we both really loved its slippery, nearly rubbery texture and subtle flavour. Sea cucumbers are a highly nutritious food and contain large amounts of protein in addition to many essential compounds including iodine, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, manganese, chondroitin sulphate, saponins and vitamins like vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
The beauty of eating slowly is that you get full much more easily as your brain has time to actually register the food you are shovelling into it! The polite sized scoop of seafood fried rice was just enough to fill the last gaps in my stomach before dessert.
Many of my dear readers may recall my obsession with food shaped in tiny balls; tobiko, caviar, sago, tapioca, you name it I’m sure to squeak with delight if you serve them to me. I think this obsession is one of the main reasons I love Asian desserts so much! The chilled cream of mango was not overpoweringly sweet and the tang of the pomelo gave it more depth and flavour.
By this late stage of the night things had started to become quite rowdy, but in a good way. The bride’s father proudly led the bridal party in a procession to each table individually bearing a very elaborate looking bottle of whiskey. At each table he would stop, pour healthy size nips of whiskey to everyone before drinking some himself and then commenced to singing very loudly at the top of his lungs. No one required much encouragement to join in and before long dining room was filled with the booming voices of all the guests joyous for this wonderful marriage of two very beautiful people.Szechuan Court, Fairmont Hotel, Singapore 80 Bras Basah Road, Marina Bay, 189560 Singapore | www.fairmont.com/singapore Tripadvisor Price: $$$ Food: 8/10 (I am no expert on Chinese fine dining but my taste buds don’t lie!) Service: 3/5 (a little slow serving drinks) Ambience: 3.5/5 (the function room was filled to the brim with cheerful, noisy guests) Total: 16.5/20
I know, I know; I whinge about the winter chilliness a bit too much. You see, I’m not normally that much of a whinger unless I’m sick or I’m cold. However during winter I am generally both of those things more often than I am not. This is why I am so thankful for the wondrous fungus Tuber melanosporum, or more commonly known as the black truffle. Its short season coincides with the deepest part of winter here in Perth and is becoming a key element to my winter survival strategy.
Being right in the height of the truffle season I had already gone a bit giddy with my annual winter addiction at our truffled dinner at Divido and then even further at Clarke’s. Although I knew the Mundaring Truffle Festival was only a few days away, I figured why not bury myself even deeper into truffle glory and enjoy it to its fullest!
Darlington Estate had kindly extended the invitation on Twitter to Perth bloggers to create a foodie table on their opening night of their Truffle Degustation. I was joined by fellow bloggers Strawberry Thief, Red Hot Spatula and Perth Food Journal. Being relatively new to the blogging scene it was wonderful to be able to put faces to the blogs that I read each week. Better still I knew that I would be dining with like-minded people who consider constantly photographing their food is a normal way of life.
Darlington Estate is one of the oldest wineries in the Perth Hills, and over the years they have won many awards both for their wines and for their restaurant. The vineyard is set on steep terraced slopes surrounded by bushland and is supposed to offer lovely views from the restaurant. Having only dined here at night, I have missed out on this part of the experience….poor me, I will have to come back again sometime! It can be hard work being a foodie!
Prior to commencing I was informed that the chef was well aware of my allergies and that all the dishes were able to be served to me relatively unadulterated except for the truffle brioche. I was assured that the chef would come up with something else for me for this course. To get us in the mood out came our amuse bouche; a seared scallop wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of cauliflower purée with salmon roe and truffle. This was a beautiful blend of flavours and balanced nicely although my scallop was ever so slightly overcooked.
I cursed my wretched gluten intolerance as I watched everyone sink their teeth into the soft and buttery brioche. The truffle flecked butter spread creamily over it like velvet and was definitely a hit.
Just as my jealousy started to heighten our waiter came over with my special gluten free replacement dish; a very generous sized bowl of truffle parsnip chips. They were crisp and perfectly seasoned and I had to fight off the Boy from trying to steal a few from me (which he did actually successfully manage twice before I gave him a cold steel look….”don’t steal MY truffles!”).
Each dish that came out was so beautifully presented and the scallops were no exception. Again my scallops were cooked just slightly past that soft delicate point of perfection. There was a hint of firmer chewiness but certainly not enough to be a significant detriment to the dish. The cauliflower purée and barigoule potatoes gave a hearty more wintery depth to this light dish making it a gorgeous entrée to kick off this cold night with.
The braised Linley Valley pork cheek was also plated beautifully, if only I had better light for my photos to do this dish justice. The meat was tender soft and the subtle sweetness of the truffled almond purée was delightful. The jus was nearly good enough to lick the plate for.
The duck was most definitely my favourite dish of the evening. The meat was richly flavoursome and simply fell apart under my fork. The truffled gruyere oozed through the meaty flavoured wild mushroom risotto forming fabulous strings of cheesiness joining every forkful.
The palate cleanser was very refreshing with the delicate flavours of lychee and rosewater with just a hint of truffliciousness in the backdrop.
Pannacotta is on my list of favourite desserts of all time. This coffee and truffle version did not disappoint. It held perfect shape on the plate and was delicate and silky smooth. The adorable little fluffy truffle passionfruit marshmallow gave the dish a twist of originality.
Unfortunately for me there were no gluten free crackers available for the cheese course. Not that this ever stops me, I am more than happy to eat brie sans crackers! Especially if it’s been truffled! The brie was soft and creamy and served at just the right temperature to allow the flavours to develop.
The petit fours consisted of the cutest little miniature toffee apples. I have never really been into toffee apples myself and personally I would have preferred something chocolaty but if you are indeed a fan, these candied morsels would have been right up your alley. The apple inside was cooked until it was soft and the toffee was hardened to a thin crisp shell.
For a degustation meal I was impressed with our serving sizes and considering the added truffle in every single dish I also thought the full ticket price of $110 (excluding drinks) was extremely good value. The service was attentive and friendly and we look forward to returning to the hills to visit Darlington Estate again.
On the last night of my 3 day birthday eat-drink bender we booked a table at Nobu for a romantic night out just the two of us. My only request to the Boy for my birthday present this year was for him to get me a gift that would be a total surprise! Upon suggesting this to him some weeks before I was met with a number of retorts and complaints as he was certain that there would be no way he could think of something without any guidance. I knew he was wrong – when he puts his mind to it he comes up with the most awesome present ideas.
As the taxi pulled up outside our house, the Boy handed me a birthday card in a red envelope saying “Here’s your present!” I decided to wait until we got to (A)LURE for our pre-dinner drinks before opening it. It was such a fine evening so after ordering our drinks we sat out on the balcony basking in the setting sun. I opened the envelope and in it was a card containing a printed piece of paper……curious….
“Happy Birthday Beautiful! Hope you’ve had a marvellous birthday and looking forward to an extra special one next year!” Before even reading the enclosed piece of paper it suddenly dawned on me what he meant and I felt an overwhelming feeling of excitement and happiness! Next year for my birthday we will be in Thailand celebrating our marriage!!! Wooot!!!
To my even greater surprise the paper read as follows:
“Aerial Combat Flight for Two: If Top Gun looked like fun then you’ll be thrilled by these combat formation flights with your family member alongside you! Strap into a war bird and get set for an adrenalin fuelled flight!
When you and your companion arrive at the airport we’ll have you looking the part in no time when you put on your flight suit! You are then strapped into the seat behind the pilot and briefed on the mission ahead. Then it’s out to the flight line – the fun is about to begin!
The combat formation flight is performed with two CJ-6A Nanchangs. At the beginning of your flight you will experience the art of close formation as practiced by the air forces of the world. Then it’s time to split the formation. The fight is on! Diving and turning to gain position behind the opposing aircraft, your pilot will take you on an amazing aerial combat adventure, using real military rules and procedures. This is not a simulator or computer game – this is the real thing!
The CJ-6A Nanchang is the current primary trainer of the Chinese air force, with a 9-cylinder Radial-engine and sliding canopies. This aircraft is still in use, being employed by several air forces in training military pilots around the world.
After your aerial combat flight you and your friend will climb out of the cockpits, grinning from ear to ear and buzzing all over with excitement after having experienced an absolutely mind-blowing flight!
Far out!!! This has to be one of the most original and brilliant presents yet! The Boy has totally excelled himself! After guzzling a couple of glasses of champagne we moved over to Nobu to continue our evening.
We were warmly greeted and shown to our table where our waitress offered to bring us the cocktail special of the evening. It was something sparkling and peachy but unfortunately I cannot recall much other detail. The drink was very sweet almost overpoweringly so but totally enjoyable nevertheless. Without even needing to ask, she came back to our table as we were sipping our drinks to remove our normal soy from the table and replace it with gluten-free soy.
Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the menu and was thrilled to enthusiastically describe some of the preparation in the kitchen to us. We started with the yellow tail sashimi with jalapeño – a true example of how Nobu does Japanese differently with Peruvian flair. For this signature dish, we were advised to eat each delicate velvety slice of tuna with a coriander leaf to experience all the flavours. The cool freshness of the coriander along with the bite of the jalapeño was out of this world! Being a big fan of wasabi – the heat of the jalapeño is quite a different kind of heat and made a unique and interesting change.
Miso is traditionally used as a paste to flavour a vast number of Japanese dishes. To dramatically increase the flavour Nobu has pioneered the technique of processing the paste to create “dry miso” and he uses it throughout the menu as a powerful seasoning. To make the dry miso, the miso paste is spread out onto baking paper and cooked for a few hours in the oven at low temperature. It is then crushed in a food processor to produce small granular chips of intense flavour. Our white fish was served with dried red miso, fried garlic chips, a sprinkling of chives and a tangy lemony dressing. After the combination of heat and sweet coriander with the yellow tail tuna, the more salty and acrid flavours of this dish was a great progression in flavours. An excellent second choice.
If you are going to order anything off the menu – the Miso Black Cod is a signature dish that cannot be missed. This is where you really better believe the hype. After being wowed by a copy of the same dish at Ku De Ta in Bali, I can truly appreciate how the original version here at Nobu has been perfected and mastered. The fish is marinated in miso for no less than three days allowing it to fully permeate through the thick slab of Alaskan Black Cod. The texture of the fish is so buttery and slithers into your mouth like silk.
The pork belly with miso caramel is another signature dish but this in no way compared to the show stopping black cod. The miso had caramelised to a sticky sweetness but the crackling lacked oomph in its crunch which was a little disappointing.
The marron spinach salad was a bit of a spontaneous order as we originally wanted to have a mushroom dish but were informed that all the mushrooms were marinated in wheat based soy and therefore not suitable. Surprisingly the spinach was the highlight of this dish with the dry miso giving such an incredible flavour. The marron was quite humble in comparison to its salad.
The soft-shelled crab was one of the specials of the evening and I was so pleased to hear it could be adapted to be gluten-free! It was served with fresh watermelon and sesame which I haven’t seen before. Although I know I shouldn’t eat watermelon I did eat some this time and its bursting watery sweetness was an interesting match with the salty crispy crab. I really shouldn’t have though because I did suffer a bit the next day! Watermelon and other melons are a no-no for fructose malabsorbers.
Now that we had sampled some hot dishes and some cold dishes, we moved onto some of the sashimi and sushi. We order some squid, salmon and smelt egg sashimi. The sashimi was fairly good quality but not the best we have ever tried. The squid was particularly well prepared with no chewiness. It was the sushi rolls that we both found most special. The tuna and asparagus rolls looked so simple but they were like little bombs of flavour and the larger house made rolls were even more so. I highly recommend all of the sushi rolls we tried.
For dessert I ordered the Bento box purely based on it having green tea ice-cream which I adore. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she opened the box lid and sitting innocently in there was a gluten-free chocolate fondant with one lonely little scoop of green tea ice-cream. My eyes lit up like a child at Christmas as I cut my spoon into the centre and out gushed delicious chocolaty goo. My birthday celebrations were satisfyingly complete!
Nobu definitely broke the birthday budget, and it may indeed be sometime before we return there but it was totally worth it!
Follow Me on Facebook!Nobu Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com Price: $$$$ (Cold dish $18-65, Hot dish $22-52, Sashimi $3-10/piece, Sushi rolls $8-28) Food: 4.5/5 (one word – cod! OMG!) Service: 3.5/5 (although initially brilliant, service slowed significantly as evening progressed) Ambience: 4.5/5 (great lighting and relaxing but sophisticated) Drinks: 4/5 (tried the Hokuetsu Junmai Daiginjo sake – floraly sweet and refreshing) Total: 16.5/20
It was my birthday weekend and I decided to treat myself with a three-day eating and drinking fiesta with the Boy and a few of our close friends. Our first night was a very casual affair at our local Victoria Park favourite Little Ying Thai. My bestie and her man came along with us but as it was a weeknight we all managed to contain ourselves from getting too carried away.
On our second night we seized the rare opportunity for an outing with the Boy’s Best Man along with my two Perth-based bridesmaids. His Best Man works FIFO on a number of mining sites so we don’t get to hang out with him nearly as much as we would like to. Last year during one of Mum’s visits to Perth we took her to Cantina 663 and were all really impressed with our memorable meal. Since then I have been really keen to go back and so I suggested going there to one of my bridesmaids Amber. It turns out Cantina has been on her wish list for some time. Perfect!
Decked out in my brand new outfit from Abercrombie and Fitch (courtesy of my Dad and Stepmum) and feeling like a million bucks, we headed out on the town for a night of fun. We were supposed to start off with meeting everyone at the Flying Scotsman for some pre-dinner drinks but we both took way too long getting ready and subsequently had to head straight to Cantina.
Cantina 663 serves European style food with predominately Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences. They pride themselves on having a fortnightly changing menu that reflects what’s seasonally available locally and they strive to source organic and ecologically sustainable produce when they can.
The wait staff exude edgy style and are energetic and friendly. Our table’s waitress for the evening was very proficient and her passion for food was obvious as she discussed the suitability of each dish with me even prior to chatting with the chef. She was even familiar with the condition fructose malabsorption which I was impressed with. She happily communicated back and forth with the kitchen to assist in creating an adapted family style menu that was ample food for all of us to enjoy despite my allergies.
The pork rillettes were decadently rich and oh so moreish and this dish was the first thing to disappear. I had brought along some Schar brand Italian gluten-free bread with me in preparation as I recall from our last experience that a lot of Cantina’s dishes would be much more delicious smeared on bread and they currently do not carry gluten-free bread. I delighted in lashing thick layers of the pork on my charred grilled bread. The pickled beans were surprisingly sweet and were the ideal match with the pork.
Because a lot of the dishes on the menu contained onion, the chef offered to especially make for me a fig and goats curd salad. Apparently this dish used to be on their menu and was very popular. Fructose malabsorbers do have to be a little careful with eating figs, but to be honest this salad would have been scrumptious even without them…I have to confess I did eat just a few as I figured can tolerate a very small amount without too much problems. Gluten is my real enemy.
The salumi platter was entirely gluten-free however she informed me that two of the meats may contain onion as they are not made on the premises. I cannot remember all that was on there but I do remember some luscious dark bresaola, spicy chorizo and soft delicate jamon amongst others. It was served with house pickles which were quite tasty and not too acetic or briny.
Unfortunately for me the zucchini flowers were off the menu as they were battered in flour before frying so I missed out on this wondrous looking dish. I was quite jealous as they looked incredible and were demolished very quickly. I was told the batter was fluffy and light and there was so much flavouring in the stuffing. Instead I ordered the tin of pollastrini sardines piccanti served with fresh lemon and my charred gluten-free bread. I used to love sardines on toast as a child and these little fishies brought back great memories. I was nearly the only one who ate these – I guess you really have to be a hard-core fish fan to eat sardines. They also had a bit of a kick to them with the added chilli.
After stuffing our faces with all our entrees, we ordered a couple of mains to share between us. I originally wanted to order the risotto but the rice is parboiled with stock during prep and the stock contained onion. Instead I opted for the pan fried barramundi. The fish was so heavenly and was cooked to a perfect buttery smooth consistency and had crispy crunchy skin. I can honestly say pan fired barramundi is right up there in my top five favourite fish so perhaps I’m a little biased with my praise for this dish. Putting my approval of the fish aside though, even its accompaniments were so appetising in their own right and pushed me and the girls well into the realms of being seriously full!
The boys ordered the gnocchi which although it was a small serve it left them quite satisfied. We also ordered a couple of sides to go with our mains, the spinach and avocado with walnut dressing and the roasted zucchini with tahini yoghurt. Considering these dishes were just meant to be sides – they were so good I could have easily had a whole serve of either to myself! Especially the zucchinis; they were slightly caramelised during roasting and literally burst in your mouth with every bite.
Once again, I can see its obvious why Cantina 663 consistently receives great ratings on Urbanspoon and other restaurant review sites as they have everything going for them: great food, dynamic staff, flexibility with catering for allergies and they are situated in an awesome location. This remains a definite fav for Chompchomp!FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK! Cantina 663 Astor Arcade, 663 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, 6050 | (08) 9370 4883 | http://www.cantina663.com/ Price: $$$$ ($7-16 share plates/entrees, $25-35 mains) Food: 4.5/5 (as many dishes are served with bread it would be great if they stocked GF) Service: 4.5/5 (efficient, quick and knowledgeable) Ambience: 4/5 (bustling energy but air con struggled in the heat) Drinks: 4/5 (extensive wine list with a lot of interesting options) Total: 17/20
I am always feeling like I’m so time-starved; something I’m sure many of you readers can empathise with. I never have enough time in my days and weeks to catch up with the friends I hold dear to my heart. There is only so much of that void in my life that I can successfully offset via networks like Facebook and as soon as I have some time off from work, I get busy lining up catch up dates with neglected friends and family. A fellow foodie Tara and I have both been going on and on about wanting to go to Pata Negra together for ages. I’m sure the first time we discussed it must have been last year some time!
Pata negra is a Spanish tapas bar owned by chef David Coomer of Star Anise fame which was a fine dining icon in Perth for more than a decade. Regrettably Star Anise closed their doors last year but thankfully her edgier sister Pata Negra has remained opened.
After a number of false starts, Tara and I finally managed to coordinate our busy schedules and it was all locked in for a girlie night out. Her husband offered to stay at home with their two adorable little girls, and the Boy even offered to drop us in so we could both drink! We really are lucky women!
Contrary to my usual organisation, I had failed to notify the kitchen of my dietary requirements in advance. I’m not sure how I missed doing this and thus was a bit apprehensive as I sheepishly apologised to our waitress saying that I am a “difficult” customer with a couple of allergies. She didn’t seem too concerned with this and went off to the kitchen to have a chat with the chef.
We decided it was absolutely essential to start with a glass of Billecart-Salmon champagne while we deliberated over the menu. As we became more and more overwhelmed by all the mouth-watering options our waitress came over to say that pretty much anything off the menu could be adapted for me (except obviously the bread and crumbed items). Given my recent run of limited options dining out I was literally blown away. “Like you mean anything? Wow!”
While we agonised what to order we asked for some marinated olives to be brought to the table, hoping some food would facilitate some decision making. I was so thankful this time round that our waiter was more than happy for me to use my flash to take photos as the interior lighting is quite dim. After all my fuzzy images from Marque, I really wanted to be able to relish in some focused pictorial memories. The olives contained a satisfying range of types, sizes and colours allowing a variety of tastes. It was served in adorable little antiquey dishes.
The beef was such a simple dish yet each ingredient was carefully selected to create wonderful tiers of strong yet complementary flavours. The meat was a stunning dark cherry colour and had micro-thin veins of marbled fat running through it evenly. The walnuts introduced a slight bitter taste which was softened by the silky fetta and sweetened by the beets. Exquisite.
Ok, I realise this dish probably doesn’t look like much, but for those mushroom fans out there – this is the bomb. After falling in love with Andaluz’s mushrooms (and going back for subsequent visits for more) I am tempted to say these are even tastier! Some of this decision is possibly facilitated by my passion for the Spanish cheese Manchego. The distinctive and slightly salty flavour of this sheep’s cheese is wonderfully unique and is something not to be missed. Add in some meaty, juicy mushrooms and you have something quite amazing to devour! I again marvelled at how such simple dishes consisting of such few ingredients could be so fabulous.
I first discovered the deliciousness of slow cooked eggs some time ago at Greenhouse. These eggs are cooked for about 40 to 45 minutes but at much lower temperatures producing a very soft but evenly cooked egg. If you love soft poached eggs you will think these are nothing short of perfection. The octopus was slightly tougher than I prefer but was still very tasty and the chorizo provided a good contrast in textures.
These quails were huge in size! I am so used to being served such tiny little birds but these richly flavoured quails must have been weight lifting in their time! The meat was so moist, easily falling of the bone and it went well with the accompanying nutty wild rice and lentils. Two generous blobs of buffalo mozzarella completed the dish ideally.
The pork was my least favourite dish of the evening however there wasn’t really anything majorly wrong with it except maybe the meaty part of the pork was a bit dry. I think I was so excited about the layering of tastes in our previously ordered dishes that I wanted it to happen again and again.
Our dessert was absolutely blissful. The meringue had all the right components – the crisp outer shell, the hollow crunchy under-surface and the spongy moist centre. After spooning some of the tangy blood plum sauce liberally over the top, it was supremely heavenly. I didn’t try the pistachio cream as it contained gluten but if Tara’s oohs and aaahs were any indication it must have been pretty good. This year I seem to really be having some great success at shortening my restaurant wish list however many of these places just haven’t lived up to my own hype. Pata Negra on the other hand exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Brilliant service, awesome company and fantastic food; I cannot wait to bring the Boy back here!Pata Negra 26 Stirling Highway, Nedlands 6009 | (08) 9389 5517 | www.patanegra.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (tapas style dishes $7-17, mains $35-65) Food: 4.5/5 (not a single dish disappointed) Service: 4.5/5 (helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable) Ambience: 4/5 (ambient lighting and a Spanish feel, some couches would be nice though) Drinks: 4.5/5 (very large wine list with a lot of Spanish and Portuguese options) Total: 17.5/20
It was Friday night and the boy phoned me say he had just finished work and was about to head home. We had made dinner plans for in the city and it looked like he was right on schedule to get home in time for us to head straight in. Excitedly I starting thinking that we may even have time to quickly stop in at the Greenhouse for a pre-dinner drink! But as he made his way back to his car, he received a call informing him that the air conditioners in the server room were failing. This meant he would need to wait back for someone to arrive to fix them. What was even more annoying for him was that the repair men would be at least two hours away! So by the time he eventually did get home, our plans to head into the city sounded like far too much like a mission for him, so we decided to go local and head to Little Ying Thai instead.
We have visited this restaurant before and enjoyed its simple charm. The quality of the dishes do not begin compare to some of my favourites venues such as Dusit Thai, but then neither do their prices and when you add in their BYO license it has all the makings of a cheap but tasty night out. The service is very friendly and they are more than happy to accommodate for both gluten-free and fructose friendly requests.
We started off with the Charcoal squid which we have ordered before on previous nights here. It consisted of marinated strips of squid served with sweet chilli sauce and ground peanuts. As she did previously, the waitress warned us this dish takes a little bit longer to prepare than other entrees, but to be honest we were not waiting for long at all. The squid was surprisingly tender and although it appears minimally char-grilled it was still flavoursome presumably due to the marinade. We also ordered chicken larb, a sure-fire favourite of mine. Unfortunately with memories of the scrumptious duck larb we had at Dusit Thai still fresh in my mind, it was going to be a big ask to be able to impress my little taste buds. Little Ying’s larb had a pretty decent kick in it and the addition of fresh mint and coriander made it feel a bit more traditional however the flavours were too subtle leaving it tasting a bit bland.
For mains we shared charcoal grilled pork. I’m not quite sure why I went all out and ordered so much charcoal dishes! In fact, I never really used to eat much pork until recently. In Thailand pork is a very popular meat, and many Thai chefs will use nearly every part of the pig to make a variety of different dishes – including the intestines! This pork dish was quite a standard fare, marinated nicely and the pork pieces were meaty and not fatty. It was a reasonably large-sized serve considering the price (around $16).
When prepared and cooked correctly, Pandan chicken is a melt in your mouth treat. Wrapping the chicken in the pandan leaf keeps all the juices of the chicken inside resulting in a very tender and succulent mouthful of deliciousness. The leaf itself improves things further by adding a distinct sweet and floral like taste to the meat. Unfortunately a number of my previous experiences of this dish have not been that pleasant due to poor preparation and overcooking resulting in dry and chewy chicken. But after enjoying it cooked to perfection recently in Thailand, I thought we would give this another try. Regrettably this time round the chicken was indeed quite stringy and had a strange aftertaste that made me wonder if we would regret our choice tomorrow. (By the way in defence of Little Ying; there weren’t any further unpleasant outcomes the next day.)
This simple but delicious classic Thai dish never fails to satisfy me. I love all things eggie and I was happy to take the opportunity to sneak some into a dinner meal. Coupled with minced chicken, fresh herbs and some hot chilli sauce, we devoured this one very quickly.
Overall, for a cheap, local night out Little Ying Thai hits the spot. The food is by no means amazing and will not blow you away, but nevertheless it’s still enjoyable and the staff are all super friendly and attentive.Price: $$ (Entrée $7-10, Mains $10-21) Food: 3.5/5 Service: 3.5/5 Venue: 3/5 Drinks: 3.5/5 (BYO – my choice was a bottle of Jarrah Ridge Chardonnay that we picked up last time we were in the Swan Valley) Total = 13.5/20 Little Ying Thai Shop 3, 895 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9362 3899
What a blissful and sunny start to our day! Starting off with a delicious brunch at the Greenhouse with my family and the boy, the morning got even better when Dad gave me a generously sized suitcase filled to the brim with beautiful Robert Robert and Diavolina shoes. Most importantly, the suitcase contained some super-hot shoes for the party tonight! I headed home with my love to spend the afternoon preparing ourselves to look our very best for the big party. One of my bridesmaids, Amber was so kind to offer to go The George without me earlier in the afternoon so she could set up everything for the night. This meant all I would have to do would be to arrive on time! She is such an angel!
The afternoon flew by surprisingly quickly and before I knew it we only had a short time until things were due to kick off!! I slipped on my shimmering Alannah Hill dress matched with the cutest flower headband, kicked on my most awesome shoes from Dad and jumped in the cab hand in hand with the boy!
Upon our arrival my heart sunk for a brief second as I expected to walk into an ambient lit room and instead was nearly blinded by bright ugly fluoro lighting. I subsequently found that some of Amber’s instructions she had carefully given to the staff about setting up the lighting, heating and visual equipment had not been followed through. Consequently some further little instructions were given to the function staff and they slowly assisted us without an accompanying smile. Not that anything could take the wind out of our wings! Grabbing a quick round of pre-party G&T’s, we all felt our nerves settle ready to greet all the special people in our lives that would join us for our celebrations.
Amber is a very creative person – something my scientific brain is most definitely not – so when she suggested we have a lolly bar at the party I initially struggled to visualise what she actually meant. We had shopped all around town together in the weeks prior to the party buying a collection of gorgeous vintage vases and bowls that she filled to the brim with lots of colourful sweets. It looked fantastic! The boy wasted no time getting stuck into the assortment, tossing handfuls of lollies into his mouth for a strong pre-party sugar kick.
Before guests had even started to arrive, the waitresses started bringing out plate upon plate of turkish bread with dips to scatter around the tables. I rushed up to the waitresses and advised them stop them filling up two little cocktail tables with plates of food and to try and stagger them a bit with the arrival of our guests. The food provided was delicious – a part of me wishes I had stopped talking and mingling among everyone for two seconds to be able to snap some photos, but it didn’t even cross my mind until the following day! I guess us food bloggers should be allow a night off once in a while! The selected canapés including freshly shucked oysters, spring onion aranchini, lamb koftas, sun-dried tomato and asparagus tarts and a variety of sushi rolls. The special gluten-free options included five spiced duck pieces – amazingly succulent little cubes of meat marinated in a sweet chilli caramel sauce. I’m sure I must have greedily gobbled a number of those!
A major feature of the night was the amazing efforts of two of my guests (one of those being Amber) in joining forces together to bake enough cupcakes for seventy people with a third of the cupcakes gluten-free! They sparkled glamorously in the centre of the lolly bar and almost looked too good to eat! Being able to enjoy devouring cupcakes with everyone else at the end of the night was such a treat although the way I stuffed the butter cream frosting into my mouth may not have been so nice!
The highlight of the night to me and my sister was surprisingly not food related. My Mum and stepmum have not spoken words since over twenty years ago when Mum and Dad separated. We have all accepted this and our family events have always been planned separately to accommodate for this. So when I looked over and saw my Dad arm in arm with my dearest Mum on one side and his wife on the other my eyes started to burn hot. My sister came running over to me in amazement and we shared watching this special moment together before flicking away our tears of joy.
Toward the end of the night I wanted everyone to be able to have something more substantial than just the canapés so we arranged for some noodle boxes to come out with sticky pork with ginger, chilli and bok choy. The pork was so scrumptiously juicy and the sticky marinade had nearly caramelised but not burnt. This was the most popular food for the night and I’m sure I saw a few people go back for a second box!
As with all good parties, the night flew by at the speed of light and before I knew it we were standing under those hideous bright fluoros with the reality that it was over. All those weeks of preparation and anticipation for a night that felt like it only lasted one hour! I was extremely chuffed to see that our budgeted bar tab lasted for the whole night and no one had to dip into their pockets to pay for a drink.
After such a fabulous occasion, the events that followed on next totally took me by surprise. Bear in mind that the venue was nearly empty in the main bar for the whole night so our party of 70 people would have been the only real income for the night for The George. As we were all slowly drifting out of the function area and leaving through the main bar a couple of the bar staff got annoyed with us not leaving quickly enough for them. As they walked past the bar, a number of my guests clearly overheard the staff retorting insults and foul language directed at us presumably because they wanted to us to hurry up so they could go home. None of my guests were unpleasant or rude to any of the staff to call for this attack.
We all waited outside The George for what felt like hours all trying desperately to hail cabs. One of my friends had taken a bit of a stack on the pavement and had developed a very swollen ankle (she actually ended up in RPH early that following morning poor thing) so I wanted to get her home quickly. I was also mindful that my dearest mother was keen to get home as she is not accustomed to standing up in her high heels for hours on end anymore. I went back to the front door of the hotel and knocked to get someone’s attention. All the staff were still inside closing up everything for the night. I asked the bartender if he could kindly please arrange us some cabs for us as my friend was injured and many others were tired and ready to hit the sack. He refused and told me to walk down the street to the closest hotel the Hilton where apparently I could find many taxis. I explained to him my friend was injured and couldn’t walk, he then repeated that he wouldn’t call us cabs, and that was that! He closed the door in my face and locked the door!!
After spending thousands of dollars at their venue that night I was completely gobsmacked at such rudeness and appalling service. Despite the actual night being such a wonderful success, it was so disappointing to end on such a sour and unprofessional note.Price: $$$ (Entree $18-21, Mains $25-39) Food: 7.6/10 Service: 3/10 (for the rudeness!) Venue: 4/5 Total: 14.6/25 (58%)
Well, things have gone from bad to worse with the level of customer service that I have received from The George. We left my old iPod touch there on the night of the party and since then I had attempted to contact the functions manager by phone and email to let her know that I would be popping back to collect it on my day off. As I had received no reply, I figured that it’s not too complicated a request to fill so I went into town on my only day off to collect it.Upon arrival my bestie and I spoke to the bartender who explained to us in a curt manner that I needed to speak to her manager. She got her bar manager who happened to be very same person who had bad mouthed to my friends and refused to call us cabs on the night.
I started to explain to him that I had left my iPod behind and had tried to contact the functions manager but had received no reply from her. I purely just wanted to collect my iPod and that was it. He fobbed us off saying that the functions manager was in a meeting and that she couldn’t be disturbed. So I offered to go into the cupboard in the functions room myself to collect it upon which I was then told that she was having the meeting in there so this wasn’t possible. He said to us: “And that’s if you actually have left it here.” If?!?! He offered to call me in an hour when she would be finished her meeting but then uttered that she could be in there for hours so who knows how long she would really be.
My bestie and I popped down the road to the Sentinel for a drink (where the service by the way was very friendly – a total contrast). During this time we received no phone calls from The George. So after one hour we left and made our way back to The George. On my way I called through and asked to be put through to the functions manager, consequently I was put through straight away implying that her meeting was over. She then proceeded to tell me she had no time to walk to the cupboard where I left my iPod and retrieve it for me as she was far too busy! I explained that it was my only day off, I had come into the city specifically and I was 50 metres away! She repeated to me: “I have absolutely no time to search for it, I am very busy and that’s provided you have actually left it here anyway!” She said she would try and call me back by the end of business – it’s now been nearly a week and not a peep!
So it’s been a number of months since all this happened and I thought I better give you dear readers a final report on the outcome with The George…..click to read my Epilogue.The George 216 St Georges Terrace, London House, Perth 6000 | (08) 6161 6662 | www.thegeorgeperth.com.au/
For months I have been bursting out of my skin to get myself to Rochelle Adonis for her acclaimed high tea! So when my love and I attended a boutique little wedding expo at Mosmans recently I was attracted to her stall like a moth to a flame. Her passion and gentle nature increased her appeal to me even more and I immediately decided I wanted to have one of her exquisite cakes for our upcoming engagement party. This provided me with the perfect excuse to organise a girly afternoon out with some friends for the purpose of “engagement cake tasting”.
For us foodies in the know, we are all very thankful to have such a world class pastry chef of this calibre residing here in little Perth. Rochelle grew up in the French Canadian city of Montreal before moving to Sydney to train as a pastry chef. She then moved to London where she worked in an exclusive wedding cake boutique making cakes for the rich and famous including both the British and Saudi Royal families before she moved onto to Vienna to work in the prestigious Hotel Sacher.
Returning to Australia, she was acting head pastry chef at Forty One in Sydney before joining Matt Moran’s at Moran’s and then once he opened Aria as the head pastry chef there. She moved to WA in 2001 with the ambition of starting her own business and has grown from a small scale home kitchen beginning to the highly acclaimed boutique she has today.
Upon entering her studio, you will be distracted by all the eye catching photos decorating the walls with examples of her handy work. Each cake is prepared with upmost attention and care and they almost look like they couldn’t be real. The two long communal marble tables fill much of the room giving the feeling you are sitting in someone’s kitchen rather than a café. We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
We all came very prepared with enough champagne to sink a ship and with high expectations to have our tastebuds buzzing. We most certainly were not disappointed. Our only complaint was it all ended way too soon! We could have easily done with another few courses!
The first course was savoury. After my recent enforced gluten indulgences, I thought it best that I stick with her gluten free options – I was after all actually taste testing for a party that will occur once I’m back on the straight and narrow gluten free. My plate contained a cup of creamed corn soup, a vegetable frittata, a cube of pork terrine and a falafel with some harissa. The soup was hot and seasoned perfectly warming us all up as we waited for our champagne to take over the job. The pork terrine had a dollop of horseradish and Dijon mayonnaise. The short sharp heat of the horseradish blended harmoniously with the lingering flavours of the terrine and was the highlight of the four.
The girls also had the pork terrine and the soup on their plates. Their gluten-filled options included a vegetable galette with goat’s cheese and Rochelle’s famous cucumber sandwiches using entirely homemade ingredients including her own handmade butter. The sandwiches looked so cute all cut up in perfect little rectangles sitting in a row.
Our second course was desert. My plate contained mint ice cream with Valrhona chocolate, raspberry jelly, meringue with lemon curd, blueberries and violet, and a blood orange salad on top of a moist butter cake with gooey brulee style custard. The ice cream was not overly sweet or sickly, nor was it too creamy. It had the perfect balance with a fresh minty aftertaste leaving a clean fresh feeling on the palate. My first glancing impressions of the raspberry jelly reminded me of Turkish Delight. Not being the biggest fan of this I was pleased to find an absence of Turkish’s signature delicate rose flavours replaced with a much preferred and rather strong tarty berriness. For those who know Chompchomp well – you will be aware I am a huge fan of all things berry. Well, berries generally come shaped in little balls – and I’m a sucker for food in little balls. The meringue was one of my favourites. It contained all the elements of a well-made meringue: crunchy, chewy and soft, and the accompaniment of sharp tangy lemon curd moved seamlessly into the gentle after notes of the more subtle violet and blueberries.
The blood orange salad tasted like Rochelle had successful managed to capture Spring in a cup! Seeing as our one week teaser of Spring weather has turned viciously back to wet winter windiness I was so thankful to be reminded glorious Perth Spring was just around the corner. Buried deep below the array of sweet blood orange and delicate petals was a layer of brulee and dense orange butter cake. I nearly stuck my fingers into the bottom of the bowl to clean out the last remnants.
By this point we had polished off a bottle of Moet, a bottle of Cattier and a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne and we were all in very fine form. We really didn’t want our experience to end and thus were determined to carry on with our celebrations. After pondering for some time at the counter, a number of us bought more little cakes, nougat and other delights to take home to share with our loved ones who missed out on the delightful experience. We then all skipped over the road to the Hotel Northbridge to continue our festivities. Oh boy what a contrast in standards of customer service, ambiance and food would we find there!
Venue 8/10 Food 9.2/10 Service 7.7/10Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007