I am refusing to let this back pain rule my life. When I originally injured it ten years ago, the pain overwhelmed me and I was terrified that I would never get back to my previous level of activity. This time round I am better prepared for the ride and thankfully my pain has been easier to control. It was my mother-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago and it was at a point that I was still maxed out on my pain killers and mostly housebound. I was determined not to be beaten by this fact and agreed to join them for a lunch outing to celebrate.
To avoid having me seated in a car for too long, the Boy chose a local venue called Hopscotch Bar which is a new addition on Angelo Street in South Perth. This beautifully decked out bar is located in an old supermarket that remained vacant for some time after a storm blew its roof off last winter. I was glad to see they opted for a more modern and social way of dining with a small menu of share plates.
My parents-in-law are always so accommodating and generally let me order for everybody so that I don’t miss out. I think the truth of it is they like being able to sit back, relax and not have to stress about trivial things like what to eat or drink. Neither of them have any food intolerances nor are they fussy so it is an easy job for me.
We started with the free range chicken wings which I was originally told were gluten free provided I didn’t eat the sauce so the waitress ordered the sauce to be served on the side. After placing our order she came back and informed me that the chef wanted to advise that the oil may be contaminated with gluten as he had fried food with a flour coating prior to cooking the wings. This level of knowledge about gluten inspired great confidence in me. It is such a relief to know the chef already understands the basics of cross contamination when it comes to feeding a Coeliac.
Many of the small plates were able to have gluten free crackers substituted for bread leaving us quite a few options to enjoy. The duck liver pâté was smooth, smearable and richly flavoured although the jar made it a little difficult to serve easily. I cannot say I’m a fan of the trend of serving food in jars. I always feel like it is a short cut way to serve things rather than making an effort to plate the food up.
One of the vegetarian dishes of quinoa tossed with kale, mushrooms and goats cheese was a more substantial size and reasonably priced. It appeared that they had run out of kale and substituted spinach instead. The mushrooms had a wonderful meatiness to them and I could have happily eaten this dish to myself. But then again I am a mushroom addict!
The jamon-wrapped salmon fillets were served on a bed of cauliflower purée and topped with grilled asparagus and microherbs. The crispy jamon gave a great textural contrast to the softly cooked fish and I was pleased to note the salmon was cooked to have a satisfying dark pink centre. I get cranky when my salmon is overcooked as I believe it ruins it.
Neither of the desserts on the menu were gluten free however the Earl Grey pannacotta could be easily adapted by the omission of the shortbread biscuit. It had the requisite wobbly movement and the hint of bergamot aromas were so uplifting.
The Boy ordered the chocolate pudding to share based purely on the addition of vanilla ice cream. Ice cream really is his weakness. The “Sailor Jerry” chocolate pudding was irrelevant to him and he left it for his parents to enjoy instead. He can be easily pleased sometimes. Sometimes I said! 😉
Angelo Street was in dire need of somewhere cool that took it beyond the realms of sandwich bars and brunch spots. I look forward to seeing how Hopscotch Bar fits into the scene and will definitely be returning.
Hopscotch Bar | 79 Angelo Street, South Perth WA | 0418 399 966 | Facebook
There are some people who come and go in your life. And then there are some people who make such an impact on you that no matter how far you are separated from them geographically, your friendship remains as strong as ever. My dear friend Melinda is easily the bravest person I have ever met. Aside from being a gorgeous person with a crazy sense of humour who is fiercely loyal to her friends AND a wonderful mother to her child, she was also born with cystic fibrosis. Over the course of her life, step by step her lung function deteriorated to the point that her home became the hospital ward located hours away from her husband and daughter on the Eastern coast of New South Wales. I was lucky enough to travel to Sydney on a business trip back in late 2011 and be able to spend every afternoon hanging out with her in the hospital whilst she sat out the long and scary wait on the transplant list. After several false alarms where the doctors called off the surgery at the last moment, she finally received her double lung transplant at a time when nearly all hope was lost.
Having been unable to travel anywhere other than back and forth from hospital, the newly found independence that has come with her shiny new lungs is enough to prick a tear in anyone’s eye. For the first time in over a decade, she was declared fit to fly and so she jumped on a plane with her family to return to her home town of Perth to visit loved ones. It was a whirlwind trip of catch ups with everybody and I was so chuffed to be lucky enough to score a lunch date slotted into her busy schedule. I was joined by the Boy and my dearest friends Amber who was one of my two beautiful bridesmaids from our wedding last year. The three of us have all known Melinda for over ten years.
We stopped in at Boheme Bar and Restaurant in the City as it was a convenient centre point for the four of us to meet. I knew the price of their meals were good value for those on a travelling budget and I checked to make sure there were a couple of gluten free options on the menu for me. For my lunch I chose the pan seared Huon salmon with roasted artichoke, asparagus and Roma tomatoes with an orange and rocket salad. Unfortunately my salmon steak was too dry and overcooked for my liking.
Amber loves her tasting platters so it was no surprise to me that she chose Boheme’s version. It came at excellent value with four lamb meatballs spiced with cumin, three vegetarian arancini, mergeuez sausage, some spinach and tzatziki dip and grilled haloumi. She was unable to finish it all and was happy to share it with the rest of us.
The Boy ordered the vegetarian option of the hara bhara kebab; an Indian dish made from potatoes, peas and spinach. It was served with pea purée, spinach, cottage cheese, chickpea curry and raita. A scoop of basmati rice and a soft prata was served on the side. He enjoyed all the interesting elements of his dish and was glad it wasn’t too spicy for him.
Melinda ordered a small sized pizza topped with Spanish chorizo, smoked ham, semi sun-dried tomatoes, marinated olives and pimentos. After decades of sickness and medications giving her the poorest appetite it brought a big smile to my face to see her healthily tuck into the whole pizza on her own. She finished the entire pizza without any need for help. It reminded me how easy it is to take such simple pleasures in life for granted, like something as being able to enjoy your food.
It was the first time I had met Melinda’s absolutely adorable daughter Luca yet thanks to Melinda’s talented photography I felt like I already knew her. Having grown up with a very sick mother, Luca had the maturity and sense of humour that spanned well beyond her natural age. What made me love her even more was that she had an extremely impressive appetite for such a little girl and made quick work of her toasted ham and cheese sandwich and fries.
There weren’t any gluten free desserts on the menu but as the Boy and I were heading out that night for dinner later that night I was happy to give sweets a miss. The rest of the table was keen however and ordered the rhubarb and apple crumble and the home-made sticky date pudding.
Judging by the nearly licked plates at the end I am guessing both these desserts hit the spot. Whilst we had sat in the sunshine for hours it had truly felt only like minutes and I couldn’t believe our time together was over. My sides ached from laughing so hard and I’m certain that my mascara had run underneath my big dark shades from the tears such laughter had brought. I didn’t want the afternoon to end but at least I know that this time the period between catch ups will be short.Thanks for an amazing albeit short afternoon Mel, so chuffed to finally meet Luca, you both totally rocked my world and I cannot wait for us to hang together soon. xxxxxxxxxxxx The Boheme Bar and Restaurant 300 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000 | (08) 9338 5000 | www.theboheme.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $12-22, Mains $17-38) Food: 2.5/5 (good variety of basic pub food, salmon could do with some loving) Service: 3/5 (minimal with no fuss) Ambience: 3/5 (dark, cooshy seats inside, large tables for groups in the sunshine outside) Drinks: 3/5 (simple range of wines and beers) Total: 11.5/20
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!
Late last year some of my workmates and I were lucky enough to be the winners of the annual Vetpath Quiz Night. Our prize was a $250 dinner voucher for 150 East Riverside Bar and Restaurant. Nearly six months came and went and we still hadn’t managed to coordinate a night where all six of us could come along. Getting everyone to agree on a set date felt a bit like trying to herd cats but with only one month left on the voucher before it expired; I successfully locked down a night when all but one of our winning team members could all attend. The member who couldn’t join us had recently moved to live in Queensland, so I figured that was a reasonable excuse!
150 East it is currently situated along a highway that appears to be undergoing something that is close to becoming the Greatest Road Works of the Decade here in Perth. Great Eastern Highway is being widened from two lanes to three lanes each way and for those not familiar with this area it may sound like no big deal. However the reality of it is that currently all telecommunications, power and gas lines lie under the existing footpaths which will soon be turned into highway roads. So prior to widening the roads, all these need to be located, dug up and moved. They are also adding bike lanes, bus lanes….the works. To complicate things even more the highway is the major gateway from the Eastern suburbs into the city thus making it a project of mammoth proportions which I believe is costing more than $225 million. All along this stretch of highway peak hour traffic has been slowed down to mind numbing speeds of 30-40 km/hour. I am lucky enough to get to travel along this every day to get to work!
As a result of these road works the access into 150 East is quite difficult as it is pretty much centred in the eye of the storm. Surprisingly despite this fact I found that the restaurant was relatively full. They had a live musician playing some covers of Angus and Julia Stone giving a relaxed and chilled out ambience. Some of us met at the bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks to settle into the mood before we were shown to our table.
I shared a main sized entrée of seared scallops with crispy pork belly. The scallops were cooked beautifully and were soft tender little pillows that nearly dissolved in my mouth. The pork belly was a bit of a letdown. Each mouthful left that lingering fatty aftertaste and the crackling wasn’t crunchy enough. The dressing failed to tie these two ingredients together either and needed a little more sweetness to it to marry the flavours.
A few at our table order the fresh hand cut tagliatelle with prawns and crab. I was informed that the sauce clung beautifully to the strips of delicate pasta, the prawns were crunchy and fresh but the Cajun sauce lacked the punch they were looking for.
I ordered the fish of the day and I realise some of you may be a little weary of my incessant ordering of Barramundi. I agreed that maybe I order it a little too frequently but when done correctly with crispy skin it is one of my favourite types of fish. This time I was fairly disappointed to find my fish was slightly overcooked and didn’t flake apart under my fork.
The duo of duck was the most popular dish of the table and consisted of a confit leg with a duck and cognac sausage. The sausage was juicy and bursting with flavour and the confit leg wasn’t dry at all. The only negative feedback was the fresh pear garnish was a bit too hard.
Despite all being quite full, we all were really aiming to push the boat out for this rare occasion and make the most of the wonderful evening. I shared the vanilla and mandarin crème brûlée which was a beautiful smooth consistency but could have done with a hint more citrus after notes. Needless to say I still nearly licked the bowl clean.
The gingerbread pudding was soft and fairly moist but apparently needed more caramel sauce and as a result my colleagues didn’t finished their serve as it became a bit too stodgy without any extra gooeyness.
The biggest flaw in our evening was the cheese platter. It included a brie (Mon Sire Franche, Comte, France), a blue vein (La Traditional Du Bon Fourme D’Ambert, Auvergne, France), and a hard cheese (Gutshofer Schafskase, The Netherlands). So much potential was completely lost on our taste buds due to all three cheeses being served cold and seemingly straight out of the fridge. The brie was the literally the hardest hit by this oversight as many dear readers can surely empathise making the resultant cheese tasteless and barely edible.
We waited quite some time for our bill to arrive until eventually our waitress came over to inform us their computer had broken down and it would be a long wait until they could reboot it. It was getting quite late so we asked if we could just let her know what we ordered and pay. We were met with reluctance to do this but after further waiting with no computer recovery in sight she allowed us to go through the menu with her. Lucky for us our winning voucher covered the majority of the bill and we had minimal remaining to split amongst us. Given it being a near freebie meal, we all left very full and relatively content. However I hope once the highway access improves for 150 East, so will the quality and attention to detail in their restaurant.
Like Me on Facebook!150 East Riverside Bar Restaurant 150 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot 6104 | (08) 9479 0099 | www.assuredhotels.com.au Price: $$$$ (Entrees $11.50-24.50, Mains $23.50-42) Food: 2/5 (porky aftertaste, overcooked fish and cold brie) Service: 2.5/5 (average no major hiccups) Ambience: 3.5/5 (loved the live music) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list, includes a lot a lovely Margaret River wines) Total: 11/20
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