Geographical separation has never had any impact on the bond I have with my best friend, Kate. Through the course of our fifteen years of Bestie-hood we have only lived in the same city for about half this time. We are not that good at regularly calling each other on the phone, in fact we are both shockers, yet within seconds of hearing each other’s voice we immediately lapse into our crazy way of talking that no one else on this Earth can ever seem to replicate. It’s actually like our own language. We have a way of bringing out the best in each other and I know that if anyone can turn my frown upside-down it will most definitely be Kate.
Twelve months ago Kate returned to her home-town of Esperance to complete her yoga teacher training with the aim to open her own yoga studio specialising in kid’s yoga. I envisaged this to be a slow process and was so surprised and excited to hear that less than a year after she moved away her studio was ready to be opened. I am so proud of her determination to make this long-term dream a reality and upon hearing the brilliant news I promptly booked some last minute flights to zip down and spend the weekend with her.
We booked accommodation at the Esperance Island View apartments which is located on the Esplanade and is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants. Our two bedroom apartment had two storeys with a large kitchen and living area, and most importantly excellent heating. This is something I have learnt to appreciate after our recent stay in Pemberton for Truffle Kerfuffle at an unnamed chalet location that had no heating other than a pot belly stove!
For our first night together we walked down to the Pier Hotel, a massive pub with separate bistro and bar areas, a cocktail lounge and the only night club in town. We sat down in the toasty bistro area by the open fire and made ourselves quite cosy.
The bistro menu has gluten free items clearly marked on the menu and most of the salad bar was also gluten free. Our waitress was kind enough to double check everything for me which was a thoughtful gesture. We each started off with a serve of drunken oysters. Served three ways, the oysters were surprisingly fresh and salty.
My favourite oyster of the three was the tequila shot which was served with a generous splash of tomato juice. The Jack Daniels Kilpatrick oyster was everyone’s least favourite. I found the bacon to be dry and flavourless with a barely discernible taste of bourbon. Not such a bad thing as I don’t particularly like bourbon.
My choice for main course was the Thai style barramundi, a grilled barra fillet cooked in curry sauce with basil, chilli and coconut cream. It is normally served with a pistachio and capsicum couscous but the gluten free option offers chips or mash as a replacement. Whilst it was quite an unsightly dish, the fish was cooked beautifully and the curry sauce was not overpowering. It would have been better paired with some steamed rice instead of mash.
With a day and a half to explore, we saw only a brief snippet of Esperance and its surrounds yet what I did see left me blown away by this remote town’s rugged beauty. Imagine long stretches of beaches with the whitest sand in Australia where the water is so vividly blue it almost doesn’t look real. It was breathtaking. One of the most special moments we shared was seeing a mother whale and her calf in the bay at Hellfire beach. Every time a tail fin would gracefully plunge out of the water both of us couldn’t hold back emitting loud sighs of amazement. I regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me!
Being in the middle of winter, Esperance’s weather can be unpredictable and can turn from clear blue skies to thundering storms quicker than I expected. After walking the Rotary Lookout circuit walk on Wireless Hill, we stopped to catch our breath in a little gazebo and watched a storm coming in over the coast for just long enough to avoid getting wet. Once the rain hit, we journeyed back into town for an afternoon snack at Taylors Beach café before popping into see her parents.
Taylors Beach café is situated overlooking the Bay of Isles and has been a local icon for many years. They have live music on Sunday afternoons and are open seven days. We only wanted a light snack to go with our drinks as we were heading out for dinner later that evening.
We started off with some French bubbles which is something of a tradition for the two of us. We have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have on bottles of exquisite French champagne so I figured we needed to keep on with our tradition to some degree; even if Grandin isn’t strictly Champagne it is French! 😉
Taylors have a small bites menu however unfortunately I was sternly informed that there was only one dish that could be served gluten free; the grilled scallops. There were six scallops served in the shell lightly grilled and seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I made the error of eating some of the garnish in the middle of the dish which left a mouldy flavour in my mouth, ruining any further enjoyment of the scallops. The Boy and Kate took heed and avoided eating any greens meaning their scallop experience was much more enjoyable.
Fuelled with the warmth of a round of drinks, we visited her parents for a brief lesson on clipping cat’s claws. Betty Lois and Doris are ex-farm cats who are affectionately known collectively as The Girls. They were on their best behaviour which made for short work of my vet consult allowing us to celebrate with another round of drinks before heading out on the town to the Loose Goose for dinner.
The Loose Goose is one of the fine dining options in town and offers set dinner prices of $45.50 for one course, $57.50 for two courses and $67.50 for three courses. This price includes complimentary herb or garlic bread and a side salad or vegetables with the main meals. They did not have any gluten free bread on offer.
In our usual celebratory mode, we all chose to enjoy three courses. It is not often that we get to dine out together and the logical approach was to make the most of it. The Boy’s starter was a thick slab of Camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. A rather inelegant blob of mild chilli plum sauce accompanied the cheese adding a touch of fruity sweetness. This wasn’t a type of dish I ever expected him to order, in fact I cannot recall the last time I saw him order ANYTHING in puff pastry. However if his moans of delight were anything to go by, I can see he will likely order this again given the chance!
Kate ordered the sweet potato salad served warm with marinated mushrooms, French cream cheese, cherry tomatoes and julienned snow peas. It was a vegetarian’s feast and I couldn’t help myself from reaching across and nabbing a slice of soft creamy sweet potato.
I ordered the half dozen fresh natural oysters which I was hoping were obtained locally from WA but unfortunately I was told they were imported from South Australia. Regardless of the greater distance they travelled to reach my plate each oyster gave me a mouthful of fresh seawater without any unpleasant fishy after-taste.
The Boy was on a roll with this pastry fetish as his main course was also wrapped in puff pastry. His dish was titled “real barramundi” and consisted of a thick fillet of barramundi cooked with prawns and garlic butter and then wrapped in pastry.
His fish came with a potato gallete and more lashings of creamy garlic sauce. No vampires came near us that night!
Kate wasn’t too impressed with the main dish choices as she is not really much of a meat eater so she requested for the chilli squid entrée to be served as a main size. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige. Her chilli squid was served in a Greek style cooked with tomato, capsicum and a hint of chilli. It was topped with some crumbled feta and black olives. She paired it with brilliant emerald green choc-mint cocktail made with Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and Midori. We downed a few of those together that night!
I ordered the special of the day; the King Snapper Tom Yum. Having travelled a reasonable amount in Thailand, this clear, sweet and sour soup is one of my Thai favourites and I was counting on flashbacks of our time in the tropical sunshine. I certainly wasn’t expecting the dish I received which was more like a red fish curry than a Tom Yum. The sauce was a more modern interpretation made using coconut cream and was served with rice, like a curry. After my initial surprise, I actually didn’t mind it at all. For a curry, it was richly flavoured with all the layering of tastes that a well-made Thai dish should have. The fish was softly cooked and flaked apart gracefully and I was close to licking the bowl clean by the end.
As we arrived at dessert time, I was grateful for having a second stomach as I was totally stuffed. Whenever the three of us are out together, Kate and I will often try and guess what the Boy will order. He will then try to meet our suggestions with an air of total mystery and nonchalance. We are renowned for usually getting it right and simultaneously chanted that he would choose the Death by Chocolate. After a few minutes of playing coy and pretending we were completely wrong our waitress came up to take our order and lo and behold; he orders the Death by Chocolate. It was a rich doorstop-sized block of chocolate cake served warm and drizzled with oozing chocolicious ganache.
Both of us girls ordered the dessert special; the Loose Goose chocolate pot. Despite asking for gluten free, mine was initially served with some chocolate biscuit crumbled on top. Thankfully the Boy pointed this out to me before I had finished taking my photos and I avoided getting gluten poisoning.
Our waitress was extremely apologetic and promptly swapped it over for me. The chocolate pot was a huge serve of which neither of us needed to finish it all. Of course we both did polish off the lot which made our dancing attempts later on at the Pier nightclub not exactly easy!
The following morning we gathered ourselves together for a refreshing coastal walk. There is a walking track along most of the town’s coastline with gentle undulating hills and some of the most breathtaking views of the beaches. If I hadn’t binged so much the night before it would have made a fabulous running track to burn off those excess calories.
Sadly our weekend had nearly drawn to an end so before we headed back to the airport, Kate took us for a drive to Monjingup Lake Nature Reserve. She is a master at pleasing everyone and given I had already had a fulfilling foodie weekend, she wanted to take us somewhere that she knew the Boy would love.
The reserve has a well maintained boardwalk which takes you right out onto the lake giving gorgeous views of the reflections of the trees on the water.
There was an abundance of bird life that the Boy spotted with great ease; wildlife watching is something of a talent of his and he takes great pleasure in being the first to spot any signs of life. Once again I regretted not travelling with the appropriate camera lens!
While the Boy wandered off ahead in search of birds and frogs, my Bestie and I took our time to treasure our last hour together.
Whilst it had been a whirlwind trip this is something the two of us have grown accustomed to over the years. Previously we would both end up being shattered by the end of our rushed catch up due to our desperate attempts at making the most of our time by indulging in all the excesses.
Nearly decades later, our best-friendship has reached a point where we know we have each other for support no matter where we live and what we are doing. Our times together are becoming much more cherished and the influence of her yoga practice on living a healthy life is having a positive impact on both of us. It is a beautiful point in our lives to be.
Despite being all “zen” about my best friend living so far away, as I watched her leave us at the Esperance airport, I shed more than just a few tears. 😥To the bestest bestie; we had such a fabulous weekend with you in your hometown of Esperance. Let’s hope the time until we meet again is short. Whaa-toot!
Chompchomp travelled to Esperance on her own budget purely just to be with her bestie. She is confident that no one in town knew of her blog’s existence and was happy to be completely incognito. Pier Hotel The Esplanade, Esperance Western Australia 6450 | (08) 9071 1777 | www.pierhotelesperance.net.au www.taylorsbeachcafe.com.au loosegooseesperance.com.au
This afternoon marked the inaugural AHA International Great Waiters Race held over in Claisebrook Cove, East Perth. As part of my official Eat Drink Perth reporting duties I planned to attend this event knowing there would be a number of gluten free options for me to enjoy in the Gourmet Food Village. I took it for granted that the Boy would feel the same way and was quite disappointed when my attempts to convince him to join me failed miserably. It was raining, he had study to do and apparently the idea simply did not appeal to him. As I resigned myself to attend alone, he suggested that we go somewhere local instead and check out the International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair at the South Perth Community Centre. I couldn’t find a lot about this food fair on the internet so being curious I obliged to his wish.
Whilst I would never called myself a strict vegetarian, I do eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. I would only really eat meat once or twice a week and it tends to be more of a garnish to the meal than the central point of it. The Boy on the other hand will go out of his way to avoid eating meat and is much more compliant with his vegetarianism than I.
The International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair is into its tenth year and they are moving to holding the annual event twice yearly as it has become very popular. The Fair is run by the Dao Ji Association of Perth in order to raise funds for their not for profit organisation. There is a very family friendly vibe with most stall holders very obliging to help work out what is gluten free. There were a wide variety of Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Chinese dishes to try.
All the stall holders had a full list of ingredients on display which made it easy to narrow down which dishes to ask further details with respect to their gluten free status. Most of the mock meats contained gluten however some stall holders used a tofu based product instead. One of my favourite starters were the highly addictive taro and sweet potato rolls. The rice noodle netting was so super crunchy that it was hard to eat without making a lot of noise. Inside the rolls soft, subtly sweet mashed taro and sweet potato felt lusciously smooth and silky in texture.
The Boy had free rein to try whatever he liked as obviously all the dishes were vegetarian and in fact the vast majority of them were also vegan. He really enjoyed the mock fish balls which had a strong, salty flavour. He also tried the “pork” crackling which was made using wheat flour however he didn’t think these were nearly as tasty as his fish balls.
For my main dish I chose the nasi lemek, a beautifully fragrant rice dish made with coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rice accompanied a richly flavoured curry made from coconut milk, galangal, potato, carrot, tofu based mock chicken, chilli and lemongrass. Some fresh cucumber, fried peanuts and tofu skin were served on the side. It was a substantially filling dish and left me feeling pleasantly content.
The Boy ordered the Thai green curry which was made using mock chicken. His dish wasn’t gluten free so I sadly didn’t not get to try any of it however he did comment that my curry tasted much better than his. What a nice change that makes, the gluten free dish tastes better than the normal option!
I couldn’t walk past the Thai sweets stall without buying some layer cake or as it is known in Thai, khanom chan. This dessert was the highlight of the night markets in Thailand as I always knew that they would be gluten free. They have a gelatinous sticky texture with a lovely coconut taste. I planned to take my serve home but ended up eating them all while the Boy wandered off looking for his dessert choice.
He settled on the vegan equivalent of ice cream; ice kachang. For those of you who haven’t travelled in South-east Asia chances are you may not have tried this super sweet dessert. Firstly, a variety of beans, sweet corn, bread and jelly is served and then this is topped with super fine ice shavings. The ice is then drizzled with brightly coloured flavour syrups and condensed milk.
The ice particles are so small that they dissolve on contact with your tongue releasing all the flavours of the syrup. I wasn’t sure if this would be the Boy’s kind of thing but he happily polished off the lot which indicates to me it was a winner.
I cannot believe this fabulous day out has been happening in Perth for a decade and I had no idea of its existence. We had a great day out and I have no regrets missing out on my original plan of attending the Waiters Race. It is an event for all food lovers regardless of whether you are a strict vegan, vegetarian or you are just someone who realises that there are huge environmental, ethical and health benefits if you eat less meat in your diet.
It was only about six weeks ago that the Boy took me down to Margaret River on a prescribed weekend of rest. We wined, dined and came back as fresh as daisies albeit slightly rounder in shape. It was a comparatively unplanned and impromptu trip which is quite out of character for me and I love that the Boy can have this sort of influence on me. I had barely finished writing up all my blog posts from the trip when it was time to head back for Gourmet Escape.
For my non-Western Australians readers; Gourmet Escape is a three day food and wine festival held in Margaret River in November each year. Famous chefs from around the world join along including Heston Blumenthal, Harold McGee, Rick Stein, Adriano Zumbo, Hadleigh Troy, Guillaume Brahimi, Matt Stone, Tetsuya Wakuda and Neil Perry to name a just few!
We had a full weekend planned with different events to attend on each day in addition to a two-day pass to the Gourmet Village. The Gourmet Village is held on the spacious grounds at Leeuwin Estate and the whole day is filled with activities, classes, shows and stalls offering wine and food from all around Western Australia. It was a wonderful way to showcase what a richly diverse State we live in and how lucky we are to have such a strong focus on quality produce.
Basic general admission tickets to the Village cost $38 per adult. We opted for premium tickets for $64 which also included 4 “GEMs”. GEMs are your village currency each costing $7 and most items to eat or drink cost one GEM. Despite buying some extra GEMS in advance we managed to guzzle our way through nearly 20 GEMS on the first day and had to buy more from one of the GEMs sellers that can be found walking through the crowd. There were also outlets in the Village selling GEMS but the queues for these were reasonably long.
The Classroom bar in North Perth set up their own Classroom Cocktail Club were you could buy their famous N2 espresso martinis for one GEM. For my review on this signature drink read my review here. The Boy missed out coming along to my cocktail Master class because he isn’t a blogger so we made a bee line as soon as we arrived to get him one to try!
One of my favourite dishes for the day was The Studio Bistro’s Butterfield beef fillet, cooked rare with a sumptuous dark sear on the surface, served with a melting dollop of decadent Café de Paris and some hand cut Royal Blue chips. I actually went back for seconds on day two! It definitely has inspired me to pay them a visit next time I’m in Yallingup. My other most enjoyable dish was the freshly shucked Pacific oysters at 34 Degrees Blue’s stall. These guys got slurped up in a flash before I even thought of snapping a picture. Oysters are best shucked right before serving as they taste completely different when served freshly shucked. I am glad we have our own oyster shucker extraordinaire in our family; namely my Dad!
Some of the presentations were of particular interest, the Boy and I loved Matt Stone’s demonstration on cooking with insects. The Boy is a great lover of eating these crunchy critters and he reminded me of the damage to the environment that farming my luscious, just devoured beef would have caused. I guarantee he would have been happier if there was a stall that he could have bought me a bag of crickets from!
The Southern Forest region is one that is lesser known to interstate and overseas tourists however it is also an area rich in world class produce, luscious forests and fine wines. This is the region in Western Australia where black truffles are grown commercially. The Southern Forests Food Council are committed to spreading awareness of the value of this region as a foodie’s mecca and were selling a variety of fresh and prepared produce including free samples of trufflicious risotto.
There were a number of gluten free options spotted around the Village and every time I saw something that I could eat I felt compelled to buy some. A little hedonistic I know and suffice to say I suffered for my overindulgence for several days afterwards!
As our second day in the Village drew to a close we had to decide how to spend our last three GEMs. We agreed on a cup of Matso’s Mango beer for the Boy, a glass of Snake + Herring ‘Corduroy’ Single Vineyard Karridale Chardonnay for me and a bowl to share of kimchi and vermicelli noodle salad topped with a couple of grilled Augusta whiting fillets courtesy of Cullen Wines. Cullen Winery are very focussed on sustainability and their impact on the environment, operating a biodynamic winery that is carbon neutral. Their restaurant specialises in using organic and local produce and is a must to visit if you are in the region. They have loads of vego and gluten free options. See my review for Cullen Wines here.
Gourmet Escape was a fabulous foodie weekend away and we hope to be able to attend for many years to come. We enjoyed a wonderful mix of satellite events along with visiting the Village although next year I think one day at the Village will suffice. This will leave more room in my stomach for attending one of the beach BBQs which I believe were incredible.
The Studio Bistro, Yallingup WA
Prevali Wines, 99 Mitchell Drive, Prevelly, WA 6285
Leeuwin Estate, Stevens Road, Margaret River, WA 6285
The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House, 125 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
Ole Paella Catering
Cullen Wines, Lot 4323 Caves Road, Margaret River, WA 6284
Last year was the first time that I was selected to attend the Eat Drink Blog Australian Food Blogger’s conference and I spent three days in Adelaide eating more food than I ever thought was imaginable. And for those of you who know me you will appreciate that is a LOT of food! My blog was barely a year old at the time and I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many talented writers and photographers. Friendships that had previously only existed in cyberspace were materialised and new friendships were created. It opened my eyes to the strong sense of community and togetherness that food bloggers share and inspired me to improve my blog with the aspiration it would become something much more individualistic and personalised.
This year Eat Drink Blog was held on home ground at Perth City Farm where many of you may remember I visited to go behind the scenes for Mushroom Mania just a few months ago. Eat Drink Blog is a free conference for selected delegates and all costs are funded by sponsors and donors. Coordinating such a venture with zero start-up funding sounds like a horrendously difficult task yet despite this significant hurdle the Committee managed to create an experience that exceeded most people’s including my expectations.
Although a large part of the weekend involved a serious amount of eating; contrary to popular belief that isn’t ALL us food bloggers do. Behind each blog is a person with their own aspirations, core values and ambitions. Some bloggers are in search of a big break such as a cook book deal, some blogger’s ultimate goal is to score free meals or products and on the opposite end of the spectrum there are some bloggers who are so determined to do it on their own that they refuse to write anything sponsored be it a free product, meal or holiday.
At the end of the day’s motivating lectures and discussion panels, I reflected back to try to define where my blog falls on this spectrum. Whenever considering a sponsored post or free meal, I always stop to think very carefully about whether it is applicable to my blog content.
I bring myself back to my vision of why I created this blog in the first place: to connect with others with food intolerances and show them that you can still be a foodie despite the barriers and restrictions.
I ask myself “Would I pay to go and eat a meal here?” or “Would I use this product at home?” If I find myself answering Yes to this question, this prompts me to give the offer further consideration.
Ultimately one of the most important things I try to achieve when writing these types of reviews is to remain truthful, accurate and give you dear readers full disclosure. I am naturally quite a blunt and truthful character, so I feel that this honesty comes relatively easy to me but because of the potential bias for sponsored posts I never give these meals a score because this cannot be done accurately unless I’m incognito.
In total contrast to Eat Drink Blog’s more formal sit down dinner last year at the Hilton Adelaide, this year the team organised a pop-up dinner containing a number of Perth’s well-loved food trucks. Butty’s, Marcelita’s Empanadas, Jumplings, Delish Ice and Bangkok Jump Street all donated their time to provide an evening of highly addictive scrumptious street food. We even managed to twist a few rubber arms and get a West Winds Gin bar spontaneously created at the thirteenth hour after a series of thirsty gin-craving tweets from delegates earlier the day.
I MAY have played a central part in the last-minute gin-spiration! 😉
As the celebrations drew to a close for the evening, Michelle from Foodie Cravings and I headed into Must Wine Bar along with our newly found friend Coconut Joe for a couple of night caps before heading home. Michelle’s blog remains one of the most popular Perth based blogs and is usually one of my first go-to references to suss out new places to eat. I find her a wealth of knowledge for advice and guidance with blogging but even better she is a wonderful friend who can always make me laugh.
Although she does think I’m a little crazy. Just you wait until you read her Coconut Joe post and then we can discuss crazy!
Our final stop was at Enrique’s School for to Bull fighting where we continued in the spirit of the ongoing gin-theme for the evening. We were served Glorious Gin from Brooklyn based Breuckelen Distilling mixed with Kaffir lime leaves, fresh white grapefruit and the uplifting botanical flavours of Fentimans Tonic. Without any doubt it was the best G&T I have ever had and THAT is a big call! It provided the perfect ending to a fabulous day.
Organising an event of this magnitude wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, energy and efforts put in by the most awesome five Committee Members. My thanks and appreciation cannot be expressed enough in words and without these dedicated people none of EDB4 would have been possible.
Thank you 100 billion times over! You guys rock!
● Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse (Chair)
● Matt from Abstract Gourmet
● Bri from Eatmeetswest
● David from Food Blarg
● Chris from Bon Viveur
It is literally impossible to put down in words the sheer joy and emotion of our wedding day. I have wanted to share our big day with you, my dear readers, for months and months but every time I try to put pen to paper I come up blank. How do you describe the best day of your life?
We chose to have a very intimate wedding with only 34 guests including our close friends and family. Every single one of our guests came with such wonderful love and happiness and this injected immense energy and passion into the whole day. Here are some moments from our day. (Note all photos are copyright and by Julian Wainwright)
I booked Lisa Allen for my hair and make-up and I cannot sing high enough praises for her and her team’s professionalism, kindness and talent. Her calming influence and total focus on perfection for her work is something to be admired. Thank you Lisa!
Our photographer Julian Wainwright was truly a master at work and I was amazed at how quick he was at capturing each moment. I love his photojournalism style; I never wanted a bunch of posed stiff plastic images. I wanted photos that would take me back to the emotions and experiences of the day. Whilst I have avoided including any photos of our guests for their privacy, you can still feel how successful he was at achieving my wishes from these images.
Our ceremony was held at our Andara Resort Villa. They placed a podium out on the infinity pool allowing us to be surrounded by the most incredible views as we pledged our love to each other. It was like something out of a fairy tale. No detail was left over looked and every staff member from Andara worked around the clock to ensure our day was perfect.
The night before the wedding we were sitting out in the sala overlooking the ocean with my family and bridal party. Trying to kick back and relax as much as one can the day before one’s wedding, we could see out in the distance a number of glowing Sky Lanterns or “Kom Loy” being released. I had already gone well over budget for the wedding so I had chosen not to have these for our wedding. As my Dad watched these gorgeous beacons float off into the sky he turned to me and said “What do I have to do to organise some of these for tomorrow?” Isn’t he the best Dad in the world? So thanks to my father, after our villa wedding ceremony we journeyed down to the beach front and released our own family of flickering lanterns up into the night sky before heading back to Silk restaurant for our Reception.
We arranged to have our own personalised wedding dance choreographed to Muse’s Dark Shines by dance instructors Kate and Craig from Ceroc Perth. Ever since we got engaged I envisioned this track being our first dance however as neither of us dances I wasn’t sure whether we would be able to pull it off. In the weeks preceding our wedding day our dance practice became a roller-coaster ride of success and failure as we kept repeating it over and over in the hope we could perfect it. On some occasions we achieve this but more often than not we would keep making mistakes or forget our moves. You can imagine our nerves by the time it came to the actual dance on our wedding day! We both walked in silence out onto the dance floor and it was like there no one else was in the room. Focused, elated and totally in sync we became one united force and completed the performance from beginning to end without pause or hesitation. What an incredible, bonding experience.Spa in the Park for all my pre-wedding preparations, Ceroc Perth for choreographing and teaching us our wedding dance, Lisa Allen for my hair and make-up, Luci DiBella for my dress, my shoes were by Dior and the pearl earrings by Jan Logan, Peter from Les Diables Patisserie for our stunning cake, Julian Wainwright for our perfect photography, Mod, Su, Daniel and all the Team at Andara Resort And last but not least, to Dexter and Dan for our tear jerking video
My first experience of Red Hot Spatula’s cooking was at the Clandestine Cake Club last year. Yvonne made these amazing gluten free Asian cakes called Kuihs that were steamed cakes made with rice flour, green bean flour and tapioca flour. I greedily ate a number of them that day before I physically had to stop myself from over eating my welcome. In fact I loved them so much that a few short weeks later I ordered a batch of my own to be delivered to work to share with my colleagues.
Since then Yvonne and I have crossed paths at many foodie events, markets and degustation evenings and I have grown to appreciate her passion and drive for success. Her business has grown from strength to strength and it is so inspiring to see someone reap the rewards from so much hard work.
She recently conducted a series of cooking classes themed on Asian and Exotic food at the Accento Home Kitchen in Claremont. I chose to attend the evening titled “Cambodia and Thailand – The art of balancing flavours from fresh herbs to chillies”. I invited one of my close friends Tara to join me knowing she would enjoy this style of girl’s night out as much as I would, especially as it included wine!
For the duration of the evening we all sat around the exquisite gourmet kitchen in a very relaxed manner laughing, giggling and sharing stories about food. Each course was carefully matched with wines from Swan Valley Wines, a boutique family winery that has produced wines in the valley for over twenty years.
We were all provided with detailed recipes for each dish including tips on where to obtain the freshest and cheapest ingredients around Perth. For someone who has very little spare time in the kitchen, I was impressed with how easy each dish was to prepare and felt confident I could take the recipes and new skills straight home with me and prepare something delicious for the Boy and I to enjoy together.
I offer a word of warning about these cooking classes; make sure you arrive with an empty belly! I was glad I had prepared for such a feast and eaten a very light lunch. By the time we got to the dessert we were all pleasantly full. Needless to say that didn’t stop Tara and I reaching for the bowl of sauce for the sweet sticky rice and scraping out the least dregs with our spoons grinning childishly.
The next round of Red Hot Spatula’s cooking classes kick off from October 2013 and will be held at their new facilities in Middle Swan. She will be covering a variety of popular topics including gluten free cooking, how to make healthy lunch boxes for fussy eaters, how to use super foods to promote better health and how to pull together the perfect High Tea.
For more information on their upcoming events and contact details head over to Red Hot Spatula’s Facebook page.
Part Two: Our Phuket Wedding Villa at Andara Resort
After a few short and very hectic days staying at the stunning Andara Resort in one of their Pool Residences we finished off our last-minute Phuket wedding planning just in time for our wedding guests to start to arrive. This moment signalled our “moving day” where we were to move into the villa of our dreams. This would be the place where we would say our vows, become husband and wife and spend our first days as Mr and Mrs together. Eeeeek! So exciting!
Andara’s villas are situated up high on the mountain side overlooking the Andaman Sea. Each villa has its own full-time staff including a private chef. The villas are kept in an immaculate state and no matter where I took photos from various points around our enormous lodgings; I could never completely capture its incredible emotion and beauty. After an initial scare where our original choice of villa was alleged to have water damage, we managed with some persuasion to negotiate getting a larger but just as beautiful villa replacement.
Our master bedroom opened out onto our private balcony with expansive views of the Andaman sea and angled to afford glimpses of the sun setting into the sea. Our bathroom was as big as our living room at home with a massive spa once again with those incredible sea views. Our bath was filled with rose petals both on our arrival and also for our wedding night. We each had our own separate walk in robes meaning all my wedding attire could be hidden away from prying groom’s eyes until our big day.
The villa was an enormous building set over three levels allowing each of our guests their own private areas. There are two separate indoor living areas; a living room with a ten seater dining table and a separate family room. Both are equipped with large flat screen TVs and entertainment systems.
Despite the opulence and spaciousness for indoor relaxing; most of us spent the week outdoors basking around the infinity pool and eating under the sala. I couldn’t understand why you would want to dine indoors when there was such a beautiful view to gaze upon outdoors.
Our villa’s chef Su proved to be one of the biggest assets to this breath-taking villa and we would have all loved for her to return home with us to Australia! Every time we chose to eat out in Phuket we were reminded how much better Su’s food was and we should have just stayed at the villa and let her look after us.
She would approach us each morning after we finished eating our cooked breakfast in order to plan our menu for the day so she could head down to the markets and buy all the produce fresh. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she never complained about all the “blow-in” guests we repeatedly invited up to the villa to join us.
For our first night we invited all wedding guests up to the villa for a “casual” BBQ to welcome them all to Thailand. Expecting something simple, we were in no way prepared for the half a dozen or so staff that came up hours in advance to set up for the party.
Tables were set with white linen, flower centrepieces placed on the tables, bamboo flame torches embedded in the garden around the pool and a bar was set up complete with a bartender. This was to be the standard of attention and care we received throughout the duration of our stay making us really feel like we were kings and queens. This could be a lifestyle I could easily get used to if I had the money for it to be sustainable!
The only downside of Andara’s villas is their price tag. This level of luxury and opulence doesn’t come cheap. In the lead up to our stay I cannot deny I was cringing at the cost, but in all honesty our week staying at our villa was truly the best week of my life and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Part One: Finalising our Phuket Wedding Preparations!
Prior to getting engaged I often toyed around in my head with the idea of eloping off to somewhere exotic. Like many people I have a divided family with my real parents and my respective step parents not exactly being the best of friends. Having to brave getting all these loved ones in the same room sounded like a daunting feat and one that could prove best to avoid. Our engagement party at The George provided me with a safe way to test the waters and despite all the anxiety and tension in the build-up to the evening along with very disappointing customer service from the George’s staff; everyone managed to get along wonderfully. In fact we all had an absolute ball. It dawned upon me that I should give my family much more credit.
As with all brides, the last few months before our big day flew past at the speed of light. No day seemed long enough and I forgot what it was like to relax. Some may say I got a bit pedantic about details however I prefer to see it as purely just ensuring everything was done properly and thoroughly. Consequently, despite previously being so paranoid that I wouldn’t be elegantly slim enough, in the last few weeks before the big day I could barely keep weight on for all the running around I did.
Our wedding invitations were designed by Jessica, one of the lovely designers at Annie P Paperie. My theme if you can call it that was “simple elegance”. I didn’t want any froo-froo, lace, feathers or glitter and opted for letter pressed stationary instead. Following with the Thai theme they designed me a simple “logo” of orchids intertwining gracefully around the edge of the page. I used this design throughout our wedding; on our invites, personalised canvas tote bags used for the welcome gifts, small gift note pads, menus and name place cards. The orchid design was sent to the Bella Figura in New York where they used antique cast iron presses to make the invitations the old-fashioned way.
After visiting many different resorts in Phuket during our previous trip in November 2011, we both agreed unanimously that Andara was the place of our dreams. Andara has two accommodation options in its expansive resort; they have massive privately owned villas perched up high on the mountains and then they also offer smaller, apartment style residences lower down the scarp by the beach.
Both are managed by the hotel and ooze luxury and attention to detail. We arrived about five days prior to all our wedding guests and initially stayed in one of their residences for a few days before moving into the opulent villa with our bridal party. Although the residences do not quite have the wow factor of the villa, each is still appointed with great care and attention. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a pool residence for these few days and on arrival received a bottle of champagne on ice.
Each residence has its own fully equipped kitchen, full sized fridge and all the utensils you would ever need while on holiday. Not that we did any cooking. For four days we busied ourselves organising welcome packs, choosing wedding music, practising our dance and finishing off all the important little wedding details whilst the hotel’s room service kept us well fed. The kitchen went above and beyond to diligently ensure all my allergies were strictly catered for without sacrificing on taste.
Breakfast for the residence guests is served at the hotel’s only restaurant Silk. They provide a combination of a continental style buffet coupled with a freshly cooked hot meal off their al la carte menu. Every morning the food and beverage manager would come over to our table and reassure me that my gluten free bread and muffins along with my hot meal was on its way. The gluten free muffins were sweet, coconutty and fluffy light and I had to stop myself from eating them all each morning. They were served warm and spread generously with Lescure butter they were close to heaven.
If I hadn’t already had my socks knocked off by the impressiveness of our wedding villa then the Andara residences would have had the same effect. However I knew we were soon to move into even bigger and better lodgings and the beauty of our suite was somewhat lost on me. Looking back now on our stay there I can appreciate what stunning accommodation it was and for a couple travelling on their own the suites are a more affordable way to stay at Andara.
In my next Wedding blog post I will take you through our breath taking Villa where overlooking the Andaman Sea the Boy and I declared our vows to the world and became husband and wife!
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
I admit sometimes I completely underestimate my dear husband. I thought that after the first week of our Raw Food Meatless Monday Man Challenge his enthusiasm levels would start to wane. This is a man who used to eat a whole roast chicken in one sitting. I’m not saying that I don’t have faith in him changing his eating habits, but I didn’t think it would happen easily.
The following Monday arrived and to my astonishment he bounced out of bed all excited and ready for his next smoothie to try. He is not a morning person and seeing him with this much energy first thing in the morning was a little out of the ordinary. Knowing how much he loves his pink drinks it was logical that this would be the colour of his next smoothie to taste test.
- ½ pineapple
- ½ medium beet
- 1 carrot
- 1 cup strawberries
- cup of cooled green tea
- water, as needed
- Place all ingredients into the blender and blend on high for one minute or until smooth. Drink immediately.
- ½ cup young coconut meat
- 2 tbsp raw coconut butter
- 1 red chilli
- 2 tbsp raw peanut or almond butter
- Coconut water as needed
- ½ small ½ inch piece of ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea salt to taste
- Juice of 1 lime with ½ of zest
- 4 small zucchini cut julienne or spiralised
- 1 bell pepper, cut julienne
- 1 medium carrot, cut julienne
- ¼ cup finely shredded dried coconut plus more for garnishing
- In a blender combine the sauce ingredients and process until smooth.
- In a large bowl combine the sauce with the zucchini and bell pepper and carrot and ¼ cup of coconut and toss to coat.
- Place on plates and sprinkle with additional coconut.
Over the next coming weeks I will be publishing some blender recipes that I have created with my OmniBlend. The concept is for each Monday to not only stick with Meatless Monday and eat only vegetarian but to take it to the next level and make it a Raw Food Meatless Monday. For the whole day we will only eat raw, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and fructose friendly.
You would think after several trips to Thailand in a relatively short space of time we would be sick of Thai cuisine. That has definitely not been the case in fact it has done the complete opposite. Thai food has become our go-to comfort food, the meal we crave after a bad day at work or when we are feeling run down. There are a number of Thai restaurants in the Vic Park area; Little Ying Thai is one of our favourites and they know us on a first name basis. I’m the “no wheat, no onion, no soy sauce, no gluten” customer that many restaurant owners would prefer to run a mile from yet Little Ying always embraces my allergy request with smiles. So when a fancy looking Thai restaurant named Pinto Thai Restaurant opened up just a short walk from our house I was left feeling torn between my curiosity to try their food and my guilt for betraying Little Ying.
The interior of Pinto Thai is unlike most of the more casual Vic Park Asian restaurants. It is stylish, modern and they even had some jazz playing in the background. We arrived hot and thirsty from our thirty minute stroll paired with healthy appetites. After enquiring about which dishes were gluten free, I was advised that a lot of their dishes were prepared using their own homemade oyster sauce which wasn’t gluten free. This unfortunately left me a little limited with my choices.
We started off with a serve of Thai fish cakes made from snapper with chilli and herbs. This was a bit of a gamble as I have found over here in Perth many Thai restaurants serve rubbery and flavourless fish cakes. The memories of eating them fresh at the Phuket Night markets were still fresh in my mind and I optimistically hoped for good things from Pinto. To my total satisfaction I was rewarded with them having both perfect texture and flavour. Lucky our serving had an even number of fish cakes otherwise there may have been a fight for the last one.
After the wow factor of the fish cakes the duck spring rolls seems comparatively flavourless and needed much dunking in the chilli and lime sauce for added oomph.
During our stay at Andara Resort for our wedding in Phuket we had our own private chef named Su and she is quite possibly one of the best Thai chefs I have ever dined with. Her duck curry was a particular favourite of mine and over our eight days at luxurious Andara we asked her to make it for us on multiple occasions. She is a beautiful person and made our stay even more incredible, both my Dad and I wanted to bring her home with us! To our surprise and extreme happiness, Pinto’s red duck curry actually came pretty close to Su’s wonder-duck curry in deliciousness and is certainly the best red duck curry I’ve had in Perth. It had all the elements of proper Thai food: sweet, spicy, sour and salty.
Unfortunately the papaya salad didn’t met Su’s standard like the duck did. I have to presume this is in part because those tropical fruits just don’t taste the same here as they do in Asian countries. I had just enough room for some dessert and started dreaming of coconut rice until our waitress came over. To my disappointment she informed me they do not do desserts! In all honesty if I waited another five minutes I would have realised that in fact I was too full anyway so perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. I asked the owner if it would be ok if I brought my own gluten free oyster sauce for our next visit so I could try more items on their menu. She was absolutely fine with this and on the walk home I started planning our next visit.
A few weeks later we returned to Pinto Thai with dreams of more roast duck swooning around in our heads. I came along super prepared with my gluten free oyster sauce in hand only to be told they now have their own gluten free sauces to use in the kitchen! Talk about listening to the customer’s needs! In addition to another serve of fish cakes which were just as amazing as the first time, we ordered some Tom Yum soup. This sweet and sour Thai soup is the perfect way to start a meal and it is so refreshing and light unlike many heavy Western style soups. It contained a heap of seafood including Green lipped mussels, prawns, scallops, squid and fish. It was a little too spicy for the Boy meaning I found it to be just right.
Despite a very strong yearning for the red duck curry again, I wanted to try a few more of their dishes to see how many “hits” we could get. I chose the vegetarian Panang curry with tofu. Panang curry, or Phanaeng curry as some Thai people call it is a very light and mild curry and I thought this would be a good choice considering the Boy doesn’t handle too much spice. The Panang curry is also much sweeter due to the pumpkin and it lacks the sour taste found in other red curries. Once again we were nearly spotted licking our bowls to get the last millilitres of sauce. How my Mother would cringe!
Although we showed will power of steel not ordering the red duck curry, we still couldn’t have a meal with no duck could we? During the previous meal we were told the Five Spice duck couldn’t be made gluten free however this time round it was no problem! The meat was just as succulent as it was in the curry and sweetened with a thick plum sauce, five spice marinades and some freshly steamed bok choy. A marginally healthier option but scrumptious nevertheless. I am now torn where is my favourite local Thai…Little Ying or Pintos? They even both do home delivery.Pinto Thai Restaurant 2 Moresby Street, Kensington WA 6151 | 0451 209 892 Price: $$ Food: 7/10 (mostly hits with the occasional miss) Service: 4/5 (Thailand isn’t called Land of the Smiles for nothing) Ambience: 3.5/5 (funky decor) Drinks: BYO Total: 14.5/20
One of the best ways to get a taste of the local street food in Thailand is to head to one of their night markets. Most towns in Phuket have their own markets held on specific days once or twice a week but the biggest night markets are the Phuket Town Night Markets (Talad Tai Rot to the locals). These markets are open on the weekends from 4pm until around 9pm. Unlike a lot of the smaller markets in Phuket, most of the ground surface at these markets is cemented meaning you don’t have to pick your way through the mud. My advice is to get there fairly early as it gets very busy from around 5pm as the sun sets and the weather cools.
I arranged two minibuses to transport our wedding party of over 30 people to the markets. The trip took around 45 minutes one way from Kamala Beach. Once we arrived we set a time and meeting point and then split off into groups. As the Boy and I entered into the markets with Dad and my Stepmum, he had to duck down under the tarpaulin roof as he was too tall! Thai markets are not designed for 6 foot 3 Dutchmen!
The Phuket night markets have a vast array of new and second-hand clothes, wood carvings, toys, DVDs, souvenirs and more. There even is a “petshop” section selling live little rabbits and kittens; this was an area my step mum and I trotted past as quickly as possible. Despite trying not to look I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of rows of small cages stacked on top of each other all jammed packed with poor little creatures. If only I could save them all!
The best part of these markets is the local street food. The four of us purposely bypassed all the trinkets, clothing and electronics to follow our noses to the heart of the aromas. The Boy was once again attracted to the fried insect stall. I cannot understand why he likes these snacks so much, I think part of his enjoyment is seeing the shock value he creates when everyone sees him munching on a big bug. However even when no one is watching I noticed he continued to happily crunch away whilst picking legs and wings out from between his teeth.
Meanwhile my attention was directed at the plethora of Thai desserts on offer. It was like an Eastern version of a candy store. I found it hard to decide what to try so I ended up trying a little of most things on offer provided I knew they were gluten free. Fortunately the vast majority of Thai dessert are made with gluten free flours such as mung bean flour and rice flour so I was spoilt for choice. Just a little tip, make sure you bring your Thai eating card with you to the markets so you can check with the vendors before purchasing anything.
After a few hours at the markets, we all regrouped and made the short journey up the scarp to Tunk Ka Cafe; a Thai restaurant recommended to me by a friend that lives in Phuket. The restaurant is located on top of Khao Rang Hill and gives practically 180 degree panoramic views across the city from their terraced open styled dining room. Although it is worth visiting just for the views, the food at Tunk Ka can hold its own. The menu is all Thai and is very extensive offering over 100 dishes.
Now seeing as I was on my wedding holiday I have to confess my usual dogged determination to photograph and review all the dishes on show was taken down a number of notches. It was the first night that we were lucky enough to be joined by all our wedding guests and my attention was much more focused on enjoying these precious moments with those I love dearly.
Thanks to my Thai eating card and some very obliging staff, a number of special order dishes were brought out for me specifically made gluten free and onion free. I was touched by the care and attention they gave me to ensure I had enough to eat. I highly recommend the soft shelled crab and the tamarind prawns. All our dishes contained ultra-fresh ingredients with all the elements of Thai food sweet, sour, salty and bitter balanced elegantly. A big thank you to my dear friend Carole for such a fabulous recommendation.Phuket Town Night Market (Talad Tai Rot) Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 16:00 til 21:00
Location: Talad Tai Rot is located along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket’s main thoroughfare, one kilometre south of Central Festival shopping mall and is opposite Wat Naka, a Buddhist temple. Take a left at the first set of traffic lights. Tunk Ka Café Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
Location: At the top of Rang Hill, Phuket Town
Everyone has their favourite types of cuisine but just to be a bit complicated I have three. Staying close to my roots my first favourite is French cuisine. Secondly, thanks to my incurable addiction to raw fish, the logical next player is Japanese. But in more recent years, my love of Thailand and their food has grown exponentially fuelled by some incredible trips to Thailand with the Boy where we have celebrated a close friend’s wedding, got engaged and found the wedding venue of our dreams and ultimately returned there to marry. It holds a very special place in both our hearts.
Many Thai restaurants here in Perth are a little Westernised and cook up what my novice experience tells me is Bangkok style cuisine. Although the immense variety of dishes you can eat in Thailand is exciting, over here in Perth I find a lot of restaurant stick to the more common dishes such as green curries, ginger chicken, basil beef and the like. Worst still, a lot add way too much sugar into each dish meaning the flavours of the dishes become very simplified and sweet. True Thai should have more complexity in its flavour achieving a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and sometimes bitter.
Our favourite local Thai is Little Ying Thai on Albany Highway. Although I wouldn’t say it’s the best Thai in Perth, it is cheap; it’s local and hits the spot every time. Better still the owner recognises me over the phone once I ask for “no gluten, no onion” in our order. They have yet to get our orders wrong and I always feel very confident ordering from them.
A new Thai restaurant Red Basil opened up last year on the Albany Highway café strip and being even closer to our house than Little Ying we thought we would give them a try. Immediately upon glancing at the menu I started to get a bad feeling as there were a couple of more Chinese looking dishes on there. Thai and Chinese are two very different cultures and more importantly cuisines! We started with the soft-shelled crab which was deep-fried and served with a “Thai” dressing, carrot, tomato and chilli. I asked for the onion to be omitted but it still was placed on our plate. The crab had barely any meat and was mostly just crispy shell.
Larb is one of my favourite Thai appetisers. It is a mincemeat salad made typically with chicken, pork, duck or mushrooms and flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, toasted ground rice and then mixed with fresh chilli, mint and other herbs. I love the mixture of sweet mint, the heat of the chilli and the crunchy texture of the toasted ground rice. This version was a small for an entrée, was very mild in heat and a little too sweet. My request for no onion was observed for this dish.
The Boy also ordered some vegetarian spring rolls for his entrée. I was unable to taste them as they contained gluten but he described them to me as being somewhat soggy and tasted like stale oil. They contained carrot, cabbage, corn and glass noodles and were served with sweet chilli sauce.
Unfortunately by this point my disappointment had led to me drinking the majority of my bottle of wine and my ability to capture our last dish on camera failed me. We ordered the ginger chicken with mixed vegetables. The dish came with plenty of veggies but had very little ginger flavour to it and tasted like a basic stir fry.
Overall, neither of us were that impressed with Red Basil. With a couple of other good Thai options nearby our home it would seem unlikely that we would get to return to get them a second chance either. Perhaps some other readers can tell me otherwise? On the bright side, our meal came to under $50 bucks which fitted very nicely into our weekend budgeting!Red Basil Thai Cuisine 2/335 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, WA 6100 | (08) 9361 2661 Price: $ (under $15 per meal) BYO, Cash only Food: 4/10 (too sweet without any other flavour) Service: 2/5 (forgot my allergies, uncertain they avoided gluten as I reacted the following day with my usual skin and gut upsets) Ambience: 2/5 (none really, but then it is cheap so you get what you pay for) Total: 8/20
It never ceases to amaze me how welcoming and friendly the food blogging community is. Here in Perth it is no exception and friendship is made easy through sharing two passions: food and blogging. We all immediately have something to connect over; so when Carolanne from Carol Anne’s Kitchen informed us all that she was moving to South Africa, plans for foodie farewells got well underway.
The first in our series of gatherings brought me back to the lovely Rochelle Adonis for High Tea. It has been nearly a year since I have indulged in her exquisite delights yet the experience remains relatively fresh in my memory. The attention to detail with every single morsel is one you cannot forget easily and she is more than happy to accommodate for us gluten free people. Additionally my ‘no onion’ request due to my fructose malabsorption posed absolutely no problems either.
Rochelle now serves the stunning Seventh Duchess Teas to accompany her High Tea. These artisan teas are “individually sourced from the finest tea gardens“. All teas are hand-picked and are free from anything artificial. I chose the Queen of Hearts herbal tea which is an exclusive blend made just for Rochelle. It contained lemongrass, vanilla beans, juniper, raspberry leaf, rosehips, blueberries, elderberries, pomegranate flowers and hibiscus. It was light, sweet and left no bitter after taste.
For my savoury course I received five delightful little dishes. A refreshing Thai salad was served in a glass cup topped with a son-in-law egg or “khai luuk kheuy”. This traditional Thai dish contains deep-fried hard boiled eggs topped with a sweet and sour tamarind dressing. In this version a cute pint-sized quail egg was used instead of the usual chicken egg. The sweet and sour taste of the tamarind was subtle enough to not be overpowering and left a clean sensation on the palate.
The ashed goat’s cheese pannacotta was a curious liquorice colour and it was a surprise to my senses as I was expecting something with such a bold colour to have a similarly strong flavour. Instead my palate was entertained with a soft tangy creaminess and I was left desperately wanting to lick every last portion off the spoon. I was informed the colouring was achieved using a black bamboo charcoal powder that is flavourless and allows the goat cheese to remain its wonderful unadulterated self. Rochelle sourced this herself when in Singapore recently.
“Fish and chips” were served as a perfectly shaped ball of wafer thin potato chips encasing a soft flaky portion of fish in the centre. It was like a savoury truffle! It was accompanied by aged balsamic vinegar made from an 8 year old Spanish cabernet called Forvm. This vinegar had a gentle berry-like flavour and you could easily smell the oak.
My remaining two dishes were poached prawns with cream of corn and a beetroot salad with Danish feta. The prawns had a distinct crunch to them to signify freshness and the cream corn was very mild in flavour so as not to take anything away from my enjoyment of the prawns themselves. The beetroot salad was a little fibrous for my liking so the creaminess of the Danish fetta was a welcomed addition.
To cleanse our palates we were given some lemon sorbet served on a cute little paddlepop. It had a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness refreshing us all ready for our dessert courses.
My gluten free dessert course was so pretty I didn’t quite know where to start. Everything looked so adorable and almost too good to eat. Don’t worry, that feeling didn’t last long and after a little photo-shoot my little gluten free beauties didn’t hang around for much longer!
The raspberry and coconut cake sundae was topped with crunchy corn crumbles and a tart raspberry dressing. The ice cream was buttery soft and just at the point that it melted on contact with my tongue.
Namelaka is a Japanese term for “creamy texture” and this technique is commonly used in the Valrhona chocolate kitchens. Rochelle has been a big fan of Valrhona chocolate for many years and once you have tasted their chocolate you will understand why. The soft ganache-like milk chocolate namelaka was smeared elegantly and topped with a delicate scoop of milk sorbet. I thanked my lucky stars that I can eat dairy as this was the epitome of dairy milk goodness.
The apple cloud with cider ice cream and pink lady apple gel delved a little into banned territory for my fructose malabsorption. I figured that surely there would be enough glucose in all these treats to counteract any fructose. The fragrant apple flavours were so gentle yet long lasting.
The pièce de résistance of my collection of goodies was Rochelle’s take on Eton mess. A crisp meringue shell dressed with caramel popcorn and one of the freshest blueberries around was filled with a dulcet gooey corn curd with a hint of lemony goodness. The standard non-gluten free course missed out on this darling and I’m sure I saw the glint of food envy in a few of the girl’s eyes! That’s not to say I wasn’t suffering from envy right back at their gorgeous churros and walnut baklava with orange blossom buttercream!
Yes, a year later Rochelle has done it again. I have suitably been wowed by her awesomeness and am desperate to return for a dessert degustation. After hearing a mouth-watering description from some of my companions over High Tea, I realise that I probably should wait until after the wedding for such calorific indulgence. Another thing to look forward to in my married life!Rochelle Adonis 193 Brisbane St, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9227 0007 | www.rochelleadonis.com Price: $$$ (High tea $45 for two courses and a palate cleanser, two pots of tea or coffee) Food: 5/5 (honestly this IS perfection) Service: 4/5 (although Rochelle admitted herself she has taken some time to warm to food bloggers, she was very open friendly and courteous) Ambience: 4/5 (bright, light and airy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (7th Duchess Teas are divine, we also BYO-ed French Champagne) Total: 18.5/20
Back when I first became a partner in my business over six years ago, I was lucky enough to come on board with two other amazing and inspiring people; Chris and Muzz. Chris still remains in the business today, she is the talented surgeon who recently operated on our darling “son” Rollie the Burmese cat and saved his life. Muzz on the other hand sadly had to leave the partnership a few years ago in order to move overseas with the love of his life. As fresh, new and super keen incoming partners, we both shared the same vision for the practice and our enthusiasm would infectiously feed off each other’s. We would spend many of our spare moments and late shifts brain storming and business planning and achieved a lot of growth and development within the business during this time. We both learnt so much from working together and his departure from the country was a hard knock for all who knew him. But thankfully best friends are ones that you can go without seeing for many years and then when you eventually cross paths again, you can pick up right where you left off.
As you can imagine, I was so excited to hear that Muzz was making a brief trip back to Australia and couldn’t wait to catch up and share stories. From the moment we left my house for lunch, until he dropped me back at my front door hours later we did not stop chattering; hearing of each other’s successes, trials and tribulations from over the past three years since we had last seen each other.
The sun was shining gloriously in a clear bright blue sky so in order take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Perth coastline we headed over to Cottesloe to the Blue Duck. The view from the restaurant is one I could easily enjoy day after day but having not been to the Blue Duck for a number of years I was surprised that such an iconic restaurant had allowed its interiors to outdate themselves so badly. I almost got the feeling I was in a upmarket kiosk rather than a restaurant.
Our service was prompt yet friendly and casual. Our waitress for lunch was very bubby and tried to crack little jokes as we placed our orders. I advised her of my allergies to which she said there was no problems. We wanted to order a couple of nibbles before eating our mains but there were fairly limited gluten free options. Despite the limited menu, the kitchen was happy to alter the salt and pepper calamari to exclude the flour dusting and coupled with some marinated olives there was ample food for us to start with.
The mixed marinated olives were fairly standard fare; in fact they were certainly not bad at all however they in no way could compare to the delicious olives I ate recently with Tara at Pata Negra. Needless to say we are comparing two very different dining establishments here! The salt and pepper squid was extremely tender and the Asian salad was sweet, light and quite moreish.
I was quite surprised to be told the duck curry was gluten and onion free. I don’t get to enjoy a lot of curries as they are usually neither of these so I eagerly ordered this one. Massaman curries are really one of the kings of all Thai curries and manage to cover all those delicious quadrants of flavour you find in Thai food: spicy and sweet, coconuty and sour; all in one curry. It is a relatively easy curry to make taste amazing however although this was a very good it wasn’t quite spicy enough for my liking. Given it was a stinking hot day outside that was probably a good thing. Unfortunately I also noted that there was some onion contained in the rice, an oversight that gave me a bit of discomfort later that afternoon.
Muzz’s linguine looked mouth-wateringly good and eyeing it across the table gave me a pang of food envy! I don’t often miss eating pasta on my gluten free diet but this dish sure made me jealous! The only negative feedback I got was that poor Muzz ended up wearing a lot of it on his shirt by the end of lunch!
Thanks to its fabulous ocean views and beach front location Blue Duck café is something of an institution in Perth and will always be somewhere I will return to from time to time. Compared to some previous experiences, I had a very enjoyable lunch although would have appreciated more attention to detail with my meal so I didn’t suffer consequences from onion ingestion that night.Blue Duck Café 151 Marine Parade, Cottesloe 6011 | (08) 9385 2499 | www.blueduck.com.au Price: $$$ ($16-26 Entrée, $26-39 Mains) Food: 2.5/5 (fresh ingredients but need to be more careful with diners with allergies) Service: 3/5 (friendly and casual) Ambience: 2.5/5 (awesome view but interior needs urgent work) Drinks: 4/5 (WA focused wine list with good range of choices and some well-loved classics) Total: 12/20
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
The excitement for the upcoming engagement party is escalating. The bubbling began at work with our girlie chitter chatter of our personal shopping expeditions for outfits of which some of us had success in our searches but for others it was still a work in progress. As team work is such a vital element of a well-run veterinary practice we are all quite close friends and any social outing sparks a lot of enthusiasm and animated conversations among us all. This level of excitement has further risen up a notch with the arrival of my darling mother early this week. My Mum is the type of person you will immediately love from the first moment you meet her – even my beauty therapists go on about what a gorgeous person she is! With the early arrival of my sister tomorrow, the three of us decided to pop out for a light meal and the perfect cuisine to fit the bill for this was some delicious Thai!
Dusit Thai is something of an institution in Perth and has been open since 1988. The atmosphere in the restaurant is effortless and comfortable, and its spacious size means it’s never hard to get a table. Having eaten here many times on business dinners I figured it would be a sure-fire way to have an enjoyable and quick meal with my love and my Mum. This would allow us to enjoy our last quiet evening together before the festivities really start to kick in.
Dusit Thai is not the cheapest of Thai restaurants in Perth but I have found they reliably serve delicious meals no matter what I choose to order. They are very flexible with adapting their dishes and have always ensured to make an effort to avoid specific ingredients for me which reveals to me just how fresh each meal that is served is. Prior to our travels to Thailand I created an eating card with my special dietary requirements for gluten-free and fructose friendly written clearly in Thai on one side of the card and in English on the other side. Every time we dined out in Thailand I would show this cute little card to our waitress where it would then proceed to do the round trip from my hand via several waitresses to the kitchen and back to the table. Often it would actually make two trips as all the staff would eagerly want to make sure that I have no problems with my meal. Unfortunately I have to admit that back in Australia; even in Thai restaurants this well-travelled little card hasn’t received such glorified attention. Consequently, it was to my delight that on this night I was reminded of its tour of duty in Thailand as it was escorted on a similar round trip around the restaurant to the kitchen before returning back to me.
The waitresses were genuinely helpful in discussing our choice of dishes for the evening and the chef appeared very flexible in attempting to accommodate my requests whenever he could. We started with my latest Thai favourite; some mixed seafood Tom Yum. This delicious clear spicy and sour soup is such a refreshing way to begin a meal, and if you’re not actually that hungry is enough for a light meal on its own. To my great disappointment, prior to the soup being served our lovely waitress came back to inform me that there actually is a lot of onion used in the stock for the soup. I was recommended to order chicken satay instead. I cannot deny my internal reaction to this was “how boring” but seeing as they had already gone to such great lengths to help me order the rest of the evening’s meals I decided I didn’t want to make any more fuss and just went along with her recommendation.
The Tom Yum was requested to be served mild because both the boy and Mum have delicate palates when it comes to hot and spicy food. Despite this request they both found the soup to be too spicy, so for those who do not like heat in their food I recommend that you make sure to emphasize to your waitress that you want your soup very mild. I had a little taste of the seafood contained in the boy’s soup. As I watched him struggle through the spiciness I became quite jealous as I really enjoyed its tangy sourness and wished I could finish it off for them both. I did notice the soup lacked the rich colour I would expect for Tom Yum however the seafood was soft and not chewy or overcooked. The satay was a delicious surprise. The chicken was juicy and tender, the peanut sauce thick and creamy and the ajat (cucumber relish) took me back to Thailand! Many restaurants here in Perth don’t serve their satay dishes with this traditional yet elegant condiment made from palm sauce, cucumber and coriander. Yum!
The duck larb was a tasty alternative to the more commonly served chicken and fortunately for me the kitchen had no issues omitting onion out of this dish. The little pocket rockets of baby chillies packed a fierce punch, but if omitted they allowed this dish to be eaten by my two companions with comfort. I must admit accidentally shovelling two of the crispy numbers into my mouth at once did temporarily take me out of my comfort range!
The stuffed squid is a dish I have eaten here before, unfortunately on this night I felt this wasn’t the dish served at its best. There wasn’t anything overtly wrong with it, it was present beautifully, and the squid was not rubbery but the stuffing just didn’t quite have the flavour I recall enjoying so much in the past.
The beef basil was cooked medium rare leaving the meat tender and succulent. It also contained large pieces of chillies meaning it could be spiced up or down depending on your preference. I double dosed on these babies without much trouble. The stir fried vegetables were the most uninteresting of the dishes and were cooked simply with some oyster sauce. The generous addition of enoki mushrooms saved this dish as some of the other vegetables were slightly undercooked. I enjoy crunchy vegies but not quite that crunchy.
Overall, I never walk away from Dusit Thai disappointed and I know I’ll be back.
Score: Food 7.8/10 Service 8.5/10 Venue 7/10Dusit Thai 249 James Street, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 7647 | http://dusitthai.com.au/
I cannot believe we are back in Thailand already! It was only about three months ago we arrived in Phuket for the first time to celebrate our dear friend’s wedding and yet here we are again. But better still this time we are here to start planning our own wedding! So exciting! We were both so amped to start the hunt for our venue and after our interesting culinary experiences at the Patong night markets last night we were also pretty keen to enjoy some more traditional Thai food!
I am a bit of an organisational freak – I gain great pleasure in planning things down to the finite detail. So in my preparation for our wedding venue search I had spent hour upon hour back home in Perth trawling over the internet to ensuring we would to check out every perceivable suitable wedding location in Phuket. After numerous emails I managed to whittle my ridiculously long list down to a much more manageable eight resorts.
Our first stop was Andara Resort in Kamala. I was really attracted to the idea of staying in Kamala as there are a lot of little restaurants and bars all within walking distance from each other. A full spectrum of accommodation options can be found ranging from the exquisite Andara Resort and Villas to the much more economical and family orientated Courtyard Marriott Resort that we were staying in this time round. In addition to this it is much more family friendly than the madness of Patong and a fair bit cleaner as well!
Andara Resort sits up on the hillside towards the southern end of Kamala beach overlooking the blue expanse of the Andaman Sea. Immediately upon entering their luxurious lobby we both felt a really good vibe and looking about the place it just felt very “us” which was very good start. We were promptly greeted by the resort wedding planner Mod. She initially sat us down to show us some photos of a few weddings set up around the resort pool and also in their spectacular villas. Having seen many of these stunning photos previously in her emails I was impatient to view the property and was hoping that it wasn’t going to disappoint.
In some ways, it was kind of shame that we both fell in love with the very first venue that we looked at as over the course of the next week we found the majority of other locations we visited just simply didn’t compare. Not even close! There were only two other locations we saw that could begin to match up to Andara’s beauty – Trisara in the far north of the island, and the very expensive Amanpuri.
The villa that Mod recommended as her favourite for us to have our wedding ceremony sits high on the edge of the cliff and is built over three levels giving every room incredible views of the sea. No detail is left untouched throughout the villa with exquisitely appointed interior design using natural dark wood and warm Thai silks to create a beautiful wow factor throughout. She said they could arrange a platform to be placed in the infinity pool allowing us to say our vows with uninterrupted views of the bay as our backdrop! Imagine that! Saying our vows with views like this will be breathtaking!
Mod’s beaming pride as she watched us appreciate the beauty of the resort shone through as she took us on a detailed tour of the whole resort, showing us their world class, icy cool air-conditioned gym (which rivals my university gym back at home) and the enormous and elegantly appointed spa which included a whole level of rooms for the bridal party to beautify. We then ended the tour in their popular restaurant Silk overlooking their spacious pool deck.
After our detailed tour, we were then treated to a complimentary four course Thai lunch where the chef’s had carefully prepared Thai dishes taking into consideration both my fructose malabsorption and gluten intolerance. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this lovely meal as Mod, the boy and I were busy engaged in lengthy conversation talking about further details in which Andara could provide us with an amazing wedding. Highlights of our lunch included Goong cinnamon (Cinnamon prawn – to die for!), Tom yam soup and absolutely huge Tiger prawns cooked in garlic and pepper and presented gorgeously.
To help us to make our decision we headed back to Andara for dinner on one of our final nights in Phuket. I thought seeing as I’m actually able to punish myself with gluten while on the prescribed gluten challenge I wouldn’t be quite so restrictive and let loose a little on the menu. For entrée we ordered a started platter which had some fish cakes, chicken wrapped Pandanus leaves and prawns. The chicken was soft and fell apart in the mouth and was sweetly scented with the Pandanus. The prawns were wrapped in noodles – similar to what we ate at Old Cathay, but less oily and easier to eat. After memories of our enjoyable meal at Old Cathay returning to my mind, I also ordered some satay tofu. This was not silky smooth this time round and definitely didn’t excite either of us.
To keep the boy happy for mains we ordered some soft shelled crab, one of his favourites, which were deliciously meaty and crispy, some tamarind duck and stir fried Morning Glory. Morning Glory is considered a weed in Australia however is very popular in a lot of parts of South-east Asia where it is often called “water spinach”. It is quite sweet in flavour, not bitter at all, and was cooked very simply with oyster sauce and garlic.
After all this delicious Thai food, I can’t help but wonder….I do hope all our wedding guests are happy to eat Thai at our reception? I just don’t feel right going to a country that has such wonderful culinary culture and eating “Western food”.
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
We were so lucky to be part of a friend’s wedding in Phuket earlier this year as it has sparked the beginning of our love affair with Thailand. After a week of wedding celebrations in Phuket, we then flew over to the Eastern coast of Thailand to stay for another week on the island of Koh Samui. It was during this memorable and fun filled holiday that my love proposed to me. He dropped the question during the most amazing private dining experience at Six Sense’s Dining on the Rocks which he had all pre-arranged before we left Australia. A single stunning table was decorated lavishly with roses and orchids and placed romantically isolated on a wide expanse of wooden decking on the cliff face overlooking the distant neighbouring islands and fishing boats. We had our own two butlers serve us a seven course degustation while we sipped our way through bottles of Verve. It was an experience I will never forget.
Subsequently it was a bit of a no-brainer that we both envisioned returning to Thailand for our wedding vows. Choosing a venue for such an occasion wasn’t really a decision we wanted to make via photos and email so this provided us with a great excuse for an impromptu holiday. I planned a busy week for us sashaying around Phuket touring resorts and dining on their food.
To get ourselves in the mood, our first night we decided to brave it into the bedlam of Patong to go the night markets. The boy has a strange and burning desire to eat unusual foods; this is actually something we used to share in common before all my allergies came to light and I starting being more wary of ingredients. Uninhibited and giddy on the street vendors rocket fuelled cocktails (80 Baht/$2.50) AUD), we dived into one of the many night markets and found ourselves surrounded by interesting smells. There was a lot of familiar fare, such as roast pork, chicken and duck but lo and behold we found the piece de la resistance……intestines?? Now you must be thinking we have gone a little mad, but there it was all snake like and coiled neatly in its mesenteric fat like a distorted grotesque fan.
Before I knew it the boy had ordered us a dish and was eagerly watching them dice it up for us into smaller more bite size pieces. I cautiously ate one, and to be honest with all the soy and chargrilling it didn’t taste too bad. There was none of the unpleasant smells you would have expected. However after a few morsels I began to remember my public health lectures at University and stopped myself before I worked myself into a nauseous state. I fell asleep that night dreaming of hydatid cysts in my brain and vowed not to be swayed to such a dark side again!
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
Travelling to Thailand? Be sure to checkout the Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide before you go!