My lifestyle is soon to change as I will be moving to working a Monday to Friday week instead of one with weekend shifts. This has both merits and disadvantages in some ways. I will lose my regular Monday off, which I cannot deny is quite possibly THE best day to have off in the week. But in turn, I will finally be able to spend my weekends with the Boy who hasn’t worked a weekend in years. The first thing I am looking forward with this change is of course food related; I can now be a lady who does weekend brunch.
Now while my inner health freak may have already mentally started lining up juice bars and raw cafes to visit, my alter-ego would much rather an indulgent boozy afternoon.
Enter Swallow Bar with their new debut brunch menu. Moving away from the commonplace hipster chic with its chia puddings and cold pressed juice, these guys are opting to serve a more European styled brunch.
I was recently invited to Swallow Bar to sample their new gluten free friendly brunch menu. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and shown to our table before being offered one of their summer fresh cocktails.
The Perth sun was already pelting down strongly outside and the mere mention of a seasonal Bellini promised to quench my thirst quickly. Our Bellini’s were made with house made strawberry and rhubarb fruit nectar and Cremant de Loire sparkling brut.
For eats, we started off with a sample dish of Swallow’s Captain’s Cure ocean trout. Our waitress informed us that one serve normally comes with three pieces but she served us a smaller amount to give us more room for what was to come. The luscious soft pieces of trout topped crunchy potato rosti and the dish was rounded off with dollops of horseradish crème and a fresh herb salad.
I think I may have smashed back my Bellini a touch too quick, or maybe it was that there was just a hole in my glass. 😉 Either way this opened up a new opportunity for us to order something different from their cocktail menu.
We were sitting in Swallow’s little courtyard at the back of the bar and the day was really starting to heat up. To help cool us down the Boy chose “A Rose is a Rose” jug made with SOS Rosé, brandy, Cointreau, Rose liqueur and lemonade. The rose cocktail was like a gentle breeze of subtle flavours and freshness and I would happily return just for another.
Our next dish was a grilled piadina. This is an Italian dish of folded, grilled flatbread which is filled with savoury or sweet fillings. Our piadina was generously stuffed with mushrooms, thyme, melted scamorza cheese and a touch of fresh chilli for a little hit of spice. Swallow Bar offer a “normal” or a gluten free piadina on their menu. My gluten free piadina was filled with stretchy, stringy cheese and both of us fell silent as we devoured our serves contently. There is something about eating melted cheese that brings back happy childhood memories for me.
To end our fabulous, somewhat naughty brunch, our waitress brought out a plate of Shark Bay prawns to share.
Many of you have followed the WA Signature Dish journey on this blog as I have been the official blogger for the Gascoyne region for the past two years. This year our region won the competition with Jerolina’s dish using Shark Bay prawns as her hero ingredient. Seeing the hero ingredient on Swallow’s menu made me very proud! Local is best.
The prawns were simply grilled with lemon butter, fresh chilli and parsley. I was even more delighted to find they were so fresh you could suck their heads. For those not in the know, the meat in the prawn head is actually the most tasty bit of a grilled prawn. I suggest you don’t knock it until you have tried it, just make sure they are super fresh!
Swallow makes a fabulous new addition to the weekend brunch scene in Perth. Being a small bar and not a cafe means you can drag your afternoon over into the evening while you work your way through all those wonderful cocktails. Swallow’s menu is very gluten free friendly with lots of options that won’t make you feel like you miss out.
Chompchomp was an invited guest at Swallow Bar and did not pay for her meal or drinks. Given her insanely hectic schedule she was grateful to receive a more personalised approach to sample the new brunch menu rather than the standard group blogger event. Being such a boutique small bar, it allowed her to get a more accurate feel for the venue and their quality of service. She looks forward to returning as a full paying customer in the near future.
This weather is seriously wild. A torrential river cascading down what was once a road isn’t exactly something I expected to see here in sunny Perth. I’ve seen it a bunch of times in Melbourne and most definitely around South-East Asia but in Perth? It’s madness I tell you. I had arranged to meet fellow blogger Whitney from dineWHITme.com for a coffee at Vans Café in Cottesloe but due to her being something of a study-work-blog-aholic she was running insanely late. I suppose I could have rescheduled but instead I decided to kill half an hour until she arrived.
It is an unusual thing for me to do; sit alone in a café sipping coffee, eating a macaron and reading the paper. I am the type of person that rarely stops still for more than a second and thus it didn’t take me long to start chatting to the person sitting next to me about food, cats and vegetarians. By the time Whit rocked up my neighbour had written herself a long list of new restaurant tips that I had suggested down onto her newspaper and she glowed like someone possessing juicy insider information.
Despite waiting for thirty minutes I was still undecided about my choice from the menu. The lay out of the menu is a little odd with three different time slots with varying overlap. Even after a couple of coffees it was hard to know where to look! We both agonised over it long enough for the waiter to come to our table twice to take our orders only to be met with two blank indecisive faces. It was a bee’s bum away from midday and logic drew me away from ordering some lunch as my hunger for some egg porn was uncontrollable. It’s not uncommon for me to have a second breakfast and I figured this was going to be one of those days.
There were a number of morning options that you could still order throughout the day and so my choice was a hot potato cake with smoked salmon, wilted spinach and a poached egg. Thankfully I was blessed and my burning desire for a sumptuous gooey egg was completely satisfied. The remainder of the dish was less than impressive however. The lemon butter was poured over my dish to the same exaggerated extent that the rain flooded the streets. The sheer amount of lemon butter would have been overwhelming had it not been that the potato cake was bland and poorly seasoned and was in dire need of a lift.
Whit had her own issues to contend with. Whilst egg porn was far from her mind, she was determined to have a lamb burger. She was on an unofficial mission to find the tastiest lamb burger in town so if it is on the menu, it must be devoured. That is until we were told they had run out of lamb; at twelve o’clock on a Monday. I could feel her disappointment from across the table and empathised; if there weren’t eggs on the menu to feed my addiction I was fairly confident I would pack up and go as I wanted them so bad.
As I nodded consolingly, Whit ended up choosing the lamb burger’s cousin; a pulled pork sandwich with Asian slaw and chilli jam. It turns out she is on a similar quest for the perfect pulled pork as she is with lamb. As she nibbled on her chewy, dry bun and flavourless pork my heart went out to her as my rays of golden egg enveloped everything on my plate. Looking at the torrential rain outside, my egg was to be the closest either of us would get to any sunshine that day.
As the pouring rain became apocalyptic outside, the whole of Napoleon Street completely filled up like a river breaking its banks. It looked like neither of us were heading anywhere else in a hurry. Brushing the let-down of the pulled pork aside, we looked about for a dessert menu to cheer up the taste buds.
Our dessert choice to share was a caramelised ginger rice pudding with the deceptive appearance of being a crème brûlée. We tapped and cracked the thin shell on top to reveal a thick creamy bed of dulcet rice pudding. Subtle hints of fresh lemony ginger added a bit of zing with even more tangy ginger in the scoop of ice-cream.
Encouraged by our winning dessert, we thought we would sit out the rain for a bit longer and have a round of coffee. We had already been chattering away for over four hours and I resigned to myself that my long list of tasks to do on my day off could simply wait for another day. With all the crazy crap that is going on in my life at the moment, whiling a day away in a café chatting with a newly found friend was much more enjoyable. As Whit took a sip of her coffee her face screwed up into contortions of displeasure border lining on pain. I reached over to grab her coffee for a taste; it was piping hot with an after-taste much like charcoal. What was to follow was something I’m sure can be defined as “how not to handle a disgruntled customer 101”. After three rounds of burnt coffee and a number of condescending comments implying that we obviously had no idea what a long macchiato tasted like, we were both left bewildered and mildly offended.
Customer service unfortunately still remains sorely lacking in some venues around Perth. With the recent opening of so many exciting and switched on eateries it would be wise for these restaurants to start improving or risk ending up getting left behind in the slipstream of other’s successes.
For the full story on what went down with the coffee saga head over to Whit’s account of our lunch on her blog: “Off the wall and into Vans”.Vans Café 1 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe WA 6011 | (08) 9384 0696 | www.vanscafe.com.au Price: $$$ (Breakfast $13-23, Mains $18-42) Food: 2.5/5 (hits and misses) Service: 2/5 (1st rule of customer service: the customer is always right) Ambience: 3.5/5 (bright, airy and even with the gloom outside felt sunny) Drinks: 2/5 (burnt Crema coffee…..so sad) Total: 10/20
These gluten free potato cakes with smoked salmon make the perfect alternative to the traditional blinis. They take only minutes to prepare yet still taste fabulous.
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes (about 450 grams), peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg white
- 120 grams smoked salmon
- ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
- Olive-oil, cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Combine potatoes, chopped dill, salt, pepper, and egg white in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.
- Coat two baking sheets with olive-oil cooking spray. Form pancakes by dropping about 1 tablespoon mixture on tray for each and flattening into disks. Bake until golden brown on bottom, about 10 minutes, rotating trays once during cooking. Remove from oven, and turn pancakes over. Return to oven, and bake until brown on both sides, about 7 minutes more.
- Serve pancakes topped with salmon and a dab of reduced-fat sour cream. Garnish with dill sprigs.
Recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com/food
Christmas is the time of year when the distance that separates me from my family feels the longest. December is our busiest month at work so I can only return back home for the silly season once every few years. This year I had booked our flights well in advance to avoid the last-minute price blow outs; flights across the continent triple in price around this time of year as people arrange to visit their family and friends.
Because we would not be in Perth to join the Boy’s family for Christmas Day, we agreed to celebrate our family lunch the weekend before our departure in a casual pool party affair at our house. However, in the lead up to flying out my work pressures were at boiling point so in order to avoid having a mental breakdown I opted for simple fresh dishes that were bound to please the Boy’s very hungry family!
These wasabi devilled eggs were so quick to prepare and were snuffled up in minutes. Even by those who don’t really like wasabi!
To replace the classic blinis that smoked salmon is traditionally served on, I baked these little potato “blinis”. They turned out a bit more like a rosti but still managed to complement the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Being baked and not fried they were light and not oily at all.
For mains I cooked a prosciutto wrapped beef eye fillet using some of my Dairy Free Pesto Sauce sent to me complementary to try by Roza’s Gourmet Sauces. The original recipe used a Wattle Valley Chunky dip so I adapted and added chopped cashews. I was secretly hoping that after all our starters the Boy and I would end up with a fridge full of left overs but everything obviously tasted too good because alas there was slim pickings in the fridge the next day.
The following weekend we jetsetted over to Melbourne where we were to celebrate with my family. My Mum had also flown in from Adelaide so we could all be together. The schedule was a busy one: wedding dress fitting on day one, followed by some last-minute Christmas shopping, an indulgent night out on Christmas Eve at Rockpool with my Mum and then a day of festivities with eleven people and seven dogs at my Dad and step mum’s house on Christmas Day. Here are some more snap shots of our memorable day!
I apologise for the lack of photos of our mains; but for those interested we feasted on honey roasted ham, cranberry and macadamia stuffed turkey and roast pork with crackling. In my eagerness to get stuck in and eat I totally forgot to take photos! The best I can offer you is a shot of the duck fat potatoes.
My Step mum’s sister owns a cake shop and so it was logical that she was delegated to make the Christmas pudding for everyone. I have grown accustomed to missing out on this fabulous end to a traditional Christmas feast but this year I was so lucky as the lovely folks from Just In Time Gourmet had kindly delivered to my front door a sample of Newcastle’s Pudding Lady gluten free pudding for me to taste test.
Moist, rich and overtly fruity I accepted that while a fructose overdose was inevitable (and tolerable) I was to relish in the knowledge that no serious gluten aftermath would follow. With freshly made brandy cream drizzled on top this was a delightfully decadent way to end a feast. For those gluten intolerants out there…grab one while you still have the chance or risk having to wait another whole year!
Hoping all my lovely readers had a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fabulous New Year!
It had been some time since Chris and I had managed to coordinate a morning off together for our regular breakfast outing. Normally this is something we do on a regular basis. After a couple of false starts and cancellations we finally tallied up a Monday morning where we were both available. It was the day after a very long-winded business meeting where we had all sat and chewed the fat for far too many hours. It was so good to be able to sit down together and for once actually have time to chat about stuff other than work.
It was her husband’s 40th birthday that week and she had planned a surprise trip over to Melbourne without their two young children. She had organised for him to catch up with some old friends he hadn’t seen in years in addition to anticipating a lot of child-free wining, dining and shopping – things they both love!
After a brief peer into the colourful sandwich cabinet we both agreed that the potato cake with poached egg, prosciutto, asparagus and hollandaise sauce sounded really good and ordered one each. I have to say this dish looked much better than it tasted. My egg was slightly over poached and had nearly lost its runny centre of yolk-lava although I do understand not everyone likes a gooey egg. The ratio of hollandaise and egg to potato was all out with an overwhelming amount of dry potato. If there was more yolk or hollandaise to mop around my plate this dish wound be much more enjoyable.
As we chatted about great places to eat out in Melbourne (of which there are so many) my eyes turned to the sweets counter. Surprisingly Chris’s initial reaction was to decline having a second course for breakfast which is very unlike her. After only a small amount of persuasion I managed to twist her arm to share a small cube of fresh chocolate brownie with me. After a lacklustre main dish, this decadent chocolatey treat made up for some lost ground. It was moist and richly flavoured with a nutty praline aftertaste.
This wasn’t my first visit to Aubergines and previously I have had some better experiences. They do have a reasonable range of gluten free options and there is outside seating where you are welcome to bring your canine companion. They even sell doggie treats at the counter. However given the plethora of fabulous breakfast locations in Fremantle I didn’t get enough wow factor to return in a hurry.