It is finally getting close enough to our wedding to start to feel the buzz and excitement and relieved to say I think I am pretty well set. Well, at least for the important stuff!. I have found the perfect dress from Luci Di Bella, I am blessed with two of the most awesome bridesmaids who also have fabulous dresses, I have a choice of stunning Dior or Jimmy Choo bridal shoes and our wedding venue at Andara, Phuket is something dreams are made of. Best of all; I have found the most amazing man who I could have ever wished to marry. Naw, that’s enough gushing for one post I think!
My engagement ring was designed at Linneys; a well-known West Australian jeweller famous for their Broome pearls and Argyle diamonds and it seemed fitting to return there for our wedding bands. We both arrived wide-eyed and smiling as the reality of our big day approaching fast sunk in. We helped each other deliberate over all the beautiful wedding band designs and each ended up selecting ones we both loved.
It seemed ridiculous to go home straight away while on such a high so we strolled over hand in hand like newly found lovers over to the Subiaco Hotel to relax with a few drinks and a bite to eat.
It was still early in the evening and strangely neither of us had very big appetites. Maybe it was due to all the Slim Pasta we have eaten lately because it is quite an unusual occurrence for either of us. Perhaps the knowledge we didn’t have much time left to get our bride and groom bodies in fit shape played a factor. We both ordered some small dishes to share.
Our food took an exceedingly long time to arrive and our quick drinks started to drag out into the evening. The quail breasts served on kebabs were stringy and dry making them very hard to eat. I didn’t try the eschalots for obvious fructose reasons however the Boy felt that they greatly improved the dish and he didn’t feel it was as great a failure as I did.
The barbecued lamb ribs were sticky and tender, slithering off the bone easily and leaving a sweet caramel after-taste in the mouth. The addition of sharp tangy pomegranate brought an exciting extra level of flavour and we were both thankful there was an even number of ribs because I’m sure we would have fought over the last one.
The balsamic poached chicken salad was nothing spectacular but served its purpose to cleanse the palate after a taste overload from the ribs. Anything more complex may have been a bit much to eat all at the same time.
I didn’t think to ask if the chickpea dish contained onions and alas it was full of it so I didn’t try much of this one. The chick peas were lacking in flavour and had a very soft texture making me suspicious they may have come from a can. The addition of avocado saved this dish.
I have never been big fan of Geláre waffles; not even back in the day when I was oblivious to my gluten intolerance and could have eaten them to my heart’s content. But let’s be honest, you don’t have to be a fan of waffles to be stopped dead in your tracks by that sweet aroma that wafts out of their stores onto the facing street.
As we walked down Rokeby Road toward Geláre on our way back to car I recalled they recently started offering gluten free waffles. Once we were hit by the fragrance of maple dough, I turned to the Boy and suggested we try them.
He declined, not really being a dessert type of guy, so I ordered a small gluten free waffle with maple syrup and cream. I planned to just have a couple of mouthfuls then walk away. Wasteful I know but I need to fit into that wedding dress! It has been many years since I tried a normal waffle to compare but this one had all the layers of texture I vaguely recall makes a good waffle. It was crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. I put my spoon down and stared into the distance daydreaming for a few minutes. Before I knew it the Boy had eaten the lot! So much for not wanting to share!Subiaco Hotel 465 Hay Street, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9381 3069 | www.subiacohotel.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $15-25, Mains $25-37) Food: 2.5/5 (interesting menu but hit and miss execution) Service: 2.5/5 (a long delay until our food was served despite an empty dining room) Ambience: 3.5/5 (relaxed, lots of natural light) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list) Total: 11.5/20 www.gelare.com.au Price: $ Food: 8/10 (tasted like normal waffles to me!) Service: 3/5 (quick, efficient and with a smile) Ambience: 2/5 (sticky, dirty tables) Total: 13/20
Spontaneous and unplanned brunches are often the best as there is no level of expectation or excitement. If the meal successfully hits the spot, the pleasure is such a wonderful surprise that it makes the overall experience even better. Our visit to Little Pantry was one of these wonderful occasions.
That week it had been so wet and wild in our normally sunny city of Perth. The winter weather leaves us all in a state of shock as we are never prepared emotionally or physically for anything that amounts to a real winter. Despite being so unaccustomed and permanently in a state of shiver, my practice manager Liz and I both headed out in the pouring rain on some important business duties. Our trip took us into Subiaco and once our meeting had finished we deemed it essential to stop somewhere for a coffee and a bite to eat to discuss our opinions before presenting it back to our colleagues.
I vaguely recalled seeing a number of cute little cafés along Nicholson Road last time I was in the area and so we headed over there for a gander. The Little Pantry caught my eye as we drove past so after a bit of searching for a park we were fortunate enough for a break in the rain and headed in.
The tiny little café was packed with people, with a big communal table in the centre circled by smaller tables. I understand where the name comes from because it is indeed little. The barista was pumping out some scrumptious smelling coffee and there were a small but mouth-watering selection of lunch options in their cabinet. After some initial concerns that there wouldn’t be any gluten free options I was assured by the waiter that the frittata was suitable.
Our coffees came out quickly and my short macchiato was so good I nearly ordered a second when I noticed the time was already heading into the afternoon. If I have coffee too late into the afternoon I have great trouble falling asleep and with a bright and shiny 7am start the next day I was thankful I looked at the clock first. Little Pantry serves Ponchione coffee that they get airfreighted in fresh from Italy.
My frittata was nearly the best frittata I think I have ever had! It was set to a perfect texture without any wateriness and held its ingredients in place without slipping and slopping apart. It contained sweet potato, zucchini and a hard cheese which I think it tasted like Romano. It was served with a crisp fresh salad of greens dressed to perfection with some extra virgin olive oil.
Liz’s quiche was similarly mind-blowing. It’s incredible how if simple food is cooked and prepared properly using ultra fresh ingredients it can potentially be just as amazing as some fine dining, fancy schpanzy dishes. The pastry was buttery soft and flaky but so wonderfully paper-thin as to not overwhelm the spinach, ricotta and prosciutto filling. It was as divine as mine was.
I am so delighted with our little find and highly recommend stopping in at the Little Pantry if you’re in the area for lunch. Make sure you order a coffee.
Like Me on Facebook!Little Pantry 206 Nicholson Road, Subiaco WA 6008 | (08) 9388 8780 Price: $ (under $15 for lunch each) Food: 5/5 (I simply couldn’t find any fault) Service: 4/5 (prompt friendly and knowledgeable about ingredients) Ambience: 4/5 (buzzing, energetic) Drinks: 4.5/5 (great coffee) Total: 17.5/20
I really need to start looking for a wedding dress! Or at least I need to start to have some sort of vision on what I am looking for! It all seems like a bit of an overwhelming task to begin so thankfully my bridesmaid Amber took the lead and knowing my style she kindly booked an appointment for me with Donna Tobin. The task of co-ordinating all three of us (Kate, Amber and I) proved more difficult than we thought as on the day each of us ran late for our own individual reasons. This resulted in us arriving nearly 45 minutes late for our appointment. We sheepishly entered the old bungalow style house in Subiaco apologising profusely all hot and sticky from the rush.
After browsing through her collection I chose four different styles to try on and in nearly a blink of an eye our time was up! I had officially entered this weird world of bridal and was starting to really enjoy myself! We walked away with some valuable ideas on things to look for in our next dress expedition and chatted excitedly about them as we headed down to Rokeby Road in search of a thirst quencher!
After a short few steps we arrived out the front of Bistro Felix – a familiar favourite of mine. I have dined here a number of times and always been impressed with whole package – great service, food and prices. They have a “petit lunch” menu which you can enjoy two courses for $40 or three courses for $45 including a glass of house wine. Excellent value right in the heart of Subiaco! We relaxed into the bistro feel of the place while we cooled our parched throats with some buttery sparkling wine (which I cannot recall the name!).
The Boy and I have recently been on a bit of a vegan detox which has left me craving fish, fish and more fish. Consequently I went a bit overboard and ordered fish for both my entrée and my main. Very unconventional but so satisfying! The home cured gravlax was tender and slightly sweet however could have done with a touch more creamy sauce gribiche.
Amber ordered the “wild game” terrine which was made from pork and had pistachios speckled through it. It was topped with some port and apple chutney and served with some toasted brioche. It looked so meaty and she was very happy with her choice.
Kate decided to go vegetarian and ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad with artichoke, sun-dried tomato and aubergine. Her dish was beautifully balanced and she was delighted to note that every component of her salad was served at the perfect cool temperature with no pockets of tepid food to mar any of the flavours.
My main was so simple but executed perfectly, two fillets of garfish with a lightly dressed salad and some fresh lemon. It complemented my entrée just how I wanted it to and I was left satisfied with my fish fix.
Amber had the wild mushroom risotto which was packed full of meaty mushrooms of all types and topped with shaving of parmesan. I was very envious of this dish!
Kate had the Toulouse sausage which is a traditional pork sausage from the South-western part of France. Her meal was a decent size with a fat juicy pork sausage sitting atop of some creamy Paris mash. It was garnished with a colourful array of flowers that she shared around for all of us to nibble on for fun.
Of course I had to order the mushroom sides. As many of your dear readers will know I have a strong affinity for mushrooms and seeing as I couldn’t have the risotto this was the next best thing! They were served in the cutest little Scanpan pot and were so succulent. Hidden in the pot amongst the mushrooms were also some little gems of whole roasted garlic cloves which oozed out their pasty contents into the pan giving even more flavour!
The girls had the chocolate and caramel tart which was so decadent and rich. Both of them struggled to finish their dessert after their decent sized mains. I ordered the crème brûlée (which I had NO trouble eating by the way!). After my previous lumpy experience of this dish at Celyta’s where instead of caramelising the surface they poured blobs of toffee on top, this was a wonderful and much more traditional reprieve to my taste buds. Always a favourite, I will look forward to continuing to return to Bistro Felix for more long lazy lunches in the future.Bistro Felix 118-120 Rokeby Road, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9388 3077 | www.bistrofelix.com.au Price: $$$$ (Petit lunch menu 2/3 courses $40/$45, Dinner entrees $22-26, Mains $37-41) Food: 4.8/5 (excellent value, would go back just for the mushrooms!) Service: 4/5 (fairly attentive, occasionally needed prompting for topping up our wine) Ambience: 3.7/5 (great bistro vibe – love the artwork on the walls) Drinks: 4/5 (big wine list – lots of options) Total: 16.5/20
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I have a penchant for excesses. A friend once coined a term to describe me as “all or nothing”. It is the source of both extreme happiness and great trouble in my life. Currently my focus is on surviving this gluten challenge whilst trying to avoid going overboard. Easier said than done. The Doctors recommendation has been to eat a meagre two to three slices of wheaty wheatyness daily for six weeks. This all started out very well, but the all or nothing has quickly taken over and despite it making me so ill, when I’m out for a wonderful dinner I go out of control.
In a manner of pre-empting the evening eating excesses, I thought I’d get my bloated self out into the glorious sunshine and run around like a freak around the river with the concept that the more calories I burned the more I could eat that night. Unfortunately the whole dietary indiscretion thing is not very conducive to my running efforts, and it was more so a rather pathetic jog where numerous non-poisoned runners zoomed past me totally in their zone. I’m so jealous. Only three more weeks to go. Hey at least I can eat real food! After nearly six weeks of enjoying his long service leave payout, my love has decided to return to the workforce and has successfully passed through a rigorous interview process to be accepted for a job he is really keen to have. With hopes for a even brighter future what better way for us to celebrate than with good food and some bubbles!
After flipping through the Entertainment Book we booked a table at Chapter One Brasserie in Subiaco. Chapter One is a relaxed and unpretentious restaurant run by a husband and wife team; Hayley and Jason Walker. Hayley has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and this became apparent as throughout the night she confidently flitted from table to table ensuring everyone was enjoying themselves and their meals. We both immediately warmed to her bubbly personality and her pride in her restaurants success. The chef Jason trained at the London Hilton before going to work with a number of Europe’s famous chefs including Marco Pierre White. This European influence comes through strongly on his menu with some hearty dishes including rabbit pie and duck with foie gras.
We started our evening with a baguette and butter. The baguette had a wonderful crunchy exterior with fluffy lightness inside, something one really misses out on when on a gluten free diet. It would have enhanced my whole experience if the bread wasn’t cold. Or the butter for that matter. Cold butter does not make for very elegant eating.
We moved on to our next course to share the Tasting plate. This contained four shot glasses of pea and ham soup, some grilled polenta with a tomato salsa, some vol-u-vents, chorizo and some asparagus spears. The soup was served hot and was a much needed hit of warmth in my belly after the disappointment of the cold baguette. It was thick and creamy and the ham was meaty with minimal fat. It was a tad quirky that the spoons served with the soup didn’t fit into the little glasses. The polenta was soft on the inside but grilled to a flavoursome brown and was the most enjoyable item on the plate next to the soup. The chorizo was good but nothing special. The vol-u-vents were disappointing as they were luke warm and the puff pastry had no crunch to it.
After reading some others reviews on the net raving about Chapter One’s Blue manna crab angel hair pasta, we decided to once again make pigs of ourselves and order a second entree. Well the Italians do it don’t they? And aren’t we meant to be celebrating? Memories of cold dishes slipped into the back of our minds as we slurped our way through this amazing dish. I highly recommend. It truly shows looks can be deceiving as the strong crab flavours worked their magic over our palate. Hayley claims their secret is in the sauce and she is most definitely not mistaken there. Oh boy, I was really going to pay for all this glutenness tomorrow!
For mains we both ordered the braised rabbit & wild mushroom pie, with parsnip puree and a sage jus. I can understand why this dish remains on his ever changing menu as it was executed perfectly. This time round the pastry was buttery and feather light (and hot), and the rabbit was tender and succulent. We also ordered the warm beetroot and goats cheese salad. I felt there was an excess on onion in this dish, not really necessary given the abundance of strong tart taste of the goats cheese.
Unsurprisingly I was convinced we had room for dessert. That doesn’t actually mean there was room in my stomach but refer to my original point I made at the beginning of this blog. All or nothing. I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) have it any other way! I ordered the berry and creme fraiche tart and the boy ordered some sort of butterscotch cheesecake.
The berry tart was well balanced with both sour and sweet flavours however the pastry base was very hard and half of my dessert went flying across the table when I tried cutting into it. The boy found it quite entertaining as once again you could easily see my place at the table as in front of me was a collage of colours ranging from the pale green of the pea soup to the brilliant ruby red of the berries. Apparently he thinks this is a regular occurrence. Overall the evening was very enjoyable and I will dream of the crab pasta well into my gluten free days.
Venue 7.5/10 Service 9/10 Food 8/10Chapter One Brasserie 292 Hay St, Subiaco, 6008 | (08) 9388 1323 | www.chapteronebrasserie.com.au
As a surprise birthday present for the boy I organised for us a relaxing two nights stay at The Richardson with their Autumn Escape package which included degustation for two in their restaurant Opus. The rooms were well appointed, they were certainly not as new and fancy as some other five star locations we have stayed at however we didn’t seem notice or care as their customer service was beyond impeccable. The minibar was very well stocked and quite fairly priced. Even the freezer was filled full of food for purchase. The Nespresso machine was a great hit with me and thankfully the room came with free selection of pods to use! We stayed in one of their deluxe rooms and despite not getting the room upgrade to one of the suites that I was wishing for, there was an adequately equipped kitchen for the stay complete with microwave oven, plates, cutlery – all the things that are often quite annoying left out of rooms and only put into the suites. Our room had glimpses of Kings Park and overlooked leafy Richardson St. Overall the hotel experience was highlighted by unfaultable excellence in customer service – something that can be a little uncommon in Perth.
The restaurant Opus replicated the hotel’s high standard of customer service and once again we were very impressed with the level of personal attention from all the staff. I emailed the restaurant in advance to notify them of my food intolerances and despite the fact restaurant was full to capacity, the head chef made an effort to come out and speak with me personally to ensure my dining experience was enjoyable. The restaurant itself has a very cosy and romantic atmosphere which was accentuated by the storm brewing outside.
The first dish was a terrine of tomatoes, with morels and a goat’s milk pudding. This dish was surprisingly one of the best of the night, the sharp acidic tomato flavours blending with the creamy tang of the sweet goat’s milk pudding was a taste sensation.
The second dish was a roast butternut pumpkin soup with lemongrass and crab. The heartiness of the thick pumpkin with a delicate background of lemongrass complimented the crab wonderfully. The first main was my least favourite dish of the night – it was a pan-fried fillet of rainbow trout served with wilted baby cos, peas and mint. Although the fish was cooked perfectly, it was very heavily seasoned and the saltiness took away from the subtle flavour of the trout. The wilted cos lacked the imagination and presentation shown in the previous dishes. Some orange and Campari sorbet was served prior to the second main it was nothing special but cleansed the palate nicely.
The second main dish was beef tenderloin served with sweetbreads. Now I actually had no idea what sweetbreads were up until this night. To calm my initial fears of all things gluten, my love tried to suggest to me that sweet breads are actually just offal and not some potential gluten containing carbohydrate! I simply couldn’t believe him as they certainly didn’t look like any kidney or liver I have ate in the past. Thank goodness for Google and iPhones! He set the record straight quickly to clarify that we were actually eating pancreas. They were very tasty. The cut of beef was of high quality and melted in the mouth like a fillet should. We both really enjoyed this dish.
Finally the night ended with Bitter Chocolate Cream and Vanilla Marshmallows with Raspberry Gel and Liquorice. Unfortunately for me this dish was unable to be served gluten free as there was a very thin sponge base on the bottom so I just scooped off the top layer and left the rest for the boy. It was wonderfully rich and not too sweet – I wished I could have had more! Despite being at the full end of a dego the boy managed to polish off both our serves so I’m presuming it was delicious! The birthday candle on his dessert was a thoughtful touch. We are already wishing when we can stay at the Richardson and eat at Opus again!
Opus at The Richardson | 32 Richardson Street, Perth ,6005 | (08) 9217 8888 | www.opusrestaurant.com.au