Christmas is the time of year when the distance that separates me from my family feels the longest. December is our busiest month at work so I can only return back home for the silly season once every few years. This year I had booked our flights well in advance to avoid the last-minute price blow outs; flights across the continent triple in price around this time of year as people arrange to visit their family and friends.
Because we would not be in Perth to join the Boy’s family for Christmas Day, we agreed to celebrate our family lunch the weekend before our departure in a casual pool party affair at our house. However, in the lead up to flying out my work pressures were at boiling point so in order to avoid having a mental breakdown I opted for simple fresh dishes that were bound to please the Boy’s very hungry family!
These wasabi devilled eggs were so quick to prepare and were snuffled up in minutes. Even by those who don’t really like wasabi!
To replace the classic blinis that smoked salmon is traditionally served on, I baked these little potato “blinis”. They turned out a bit more like a rosti but still managed to complement the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Being baked and not fried they were light and not oily at all.
For mains I cooked a prosciutto wrapped beef eye fillet using some of my Dairy Free Pesto Sauce sent to me complementary to try by Roza’s Gourmet Sauces. The original recipe used a Wattle Valley Chunky dip so I adapted and added chopped cashews. I was secretly hoping that after all our starters the Boy and I would end up with a fridge full of left overs but everything obviously tasted too good because alas there was slim pickings in the fridge the next day.
The following weekend we jetsetted over to Melbourne where we were to celebrate with my family. My Mum had also flown in from Adelaide so we could all be together. The schedule was a busy one: wedding dress fitting on day one, followed by some last-minute Christmas shopping, an indulgent night out on Christmas Eve at Rockpool with my Mum and then a day of festivities with eleven people and seven dogs at my Dad and step mum’s house on Christmas Day. Here are some more snap shots of our memorable day!
I apologise for the lack of photos of our mains; but for those interested we feasted on honey roasted ham, cranberry and macadamia stuffed turkey and roast pork with crackling. In my eagerness to get stuck in and eat I totally forgot to take photos! The best I can offer you is a shot of the duck fat potatoes.
My Step mum’s sister owns a cake shop and so it was logical that she was delegated to make the Christmas pudding for everyone. I have grown accustomed to missing out on this fabulous end to a traditional Christmas feast but this year I was so lucky as the lovely folks from Just In Time Gourmet had kindly delivered to my front door a sample of Newcastle’s Pudding Lady gluten free pudding for me to taste test.
Moist, rich and overtly fruity I accepted that while a fructose overdose was inevitable (and tolerable) I was to relish in the knowledge that no serious gluten aftermath would follow. With freshly made brandy cream drizzled on top this was a delightfully decadent way to end a feast. For those gluten intolerants out there…grab one while you still have the chance or risk having to wait another whole year!
Hoping all my lovely readers had a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fabulous New Year!
I am not originally from Perth having moved here nearly twenty years ago to commence my university degree. During my time at Uni I always imagined I would move back to the East coast. After completing my degree and obtaining a year’s experience in the work force, the Boy and I moved to London for a few years where we played it hard and fast in the big smoke. Returning to Perth a few years later, I found myself really appreciating this beautiful city for what it is and realised that in fact she had become my home. It was at this point my loyalties turned and I became a faithful lover of this sunny city.
There are some things about Perth that never stop giving me the wow factor and one of those is our regular running/walking route around the Swan River. Having the river on our doorstep makes exercising easy and the distractions of the scenery make the actual process much less onerous. To make it even better, dotted along this circuit is a number of excellent breakfast venues serving piping hot coffee and delicious food.
Toast in East Perth is a long-standing favourite of mine – we have been coming here on a regular basis for well over 4-5 years. It is conveniently located on my route around the river at the picturesque Claisebrook Cove. The sheltered location makes the most of the rising sun and protects the outdoor seating area from any wind meaning that nearly year round (excluding rainy days) the weather feels perfect.
The Boy and I had planned to do a big 17 kilometre walk together around both loops of the river but unfortunately the boy woke up feeling unwell and thought it wise to rest. Seeing as I would be making the journey alone, I thought I would embrace this opportunity and race myself from home through South Perth, running around the river to meet him over in East Perth for a late brunch. Thankfully Toast serves an all-day breakfast menu.
Not wanting to leave my fiancé waiting at the café for me feeling poorly, I took off at a steady pace with the aim to pick up speed even more once I hit half way. As I crossed the imaginary half way mark my legs still felt like loaded springs so surging forward I raced my virtual partner to the finish.
As a result of my mock running race, I arrived in East Perth all red-faced and heaving with about fifteen minutes to spare. This gave me time to compose myself before wandering down to Toast to meet the Boy. There are a lot of gluten-free options here; one is really spoilt for choice.
This time round I ordered the roasted tomato, feta and basil on gluten-free toast with added poached eggs and mushrooms. I have eaten this dish many times and am always chuffed with the knowledge my eggs will be cooked perfectly and each meal is consistent in quality with the previous. Their gluten-free bread has a beautiful rich pumpkin colour and is excellent in both texture and taste.
The Boy ordered the avocado and Vegemite on whole grain bread with added poached eggs. The Vegemite was warmed slightly allowing it to be easily spread over the crunchy grainy bread. The avocado was soft and creamy and his eggs were similarly poached to perfection. As we sat in comfortable silence in the sun soaking up its energy we were both so thankful we chose to settle down in Perth. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Two weeks later the Boy was fully recovered so we made plans to do our big double loop walk together. The weather forecast had threatened morning showers yet as we set out the sky was clear blue and a fresh autumn breeze was blowing. We were rewarded once again with another stunning morning.
We both maintained a cracking pace as we had plans to meet with his family in King’s Park for a Mother’s Day picnic later that afternoon. Despite Toast being even busier than usual we were seated fairly quickly and had a short wait for our meals considering they really were flat out.
It is a very rare occasion that I can be convinced to forego Toast’s poached eggs. If they aren’t included with my menu choice, I have a tendency to add it on the side so I don’t miss out. This time round however I was craving something sweet and as I gazed over their menu my eyes kept returning to the French toast. Their gluten-free bread held together fabulously and the delicately creamy ricotta with the tart berries had me in seventh heaven. I would have preferred just a dash more maple syrup to end on a stronger sweet note.
The Boy had one of his favourites, the big breakfast. This is definitely not one for the faint hearted, or those with heart disease more to the point. A massive pile of crispy bacon, three chipolatas, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and toast made this a very decent sized meal. Once the Boy finished, he patted his stomach in a satisfied manner and groaned at the thought we still had to walk home. Unfortunately we had no time to linger in the morning sun and so we pressed onward with our journey back. Understandably our pace on this second leg was much slowed down due to our overindulgence but I guarantee we will do it again and again!
Like Me on Facebook!Toast Shop 21/60 Royal Street, East Perth 6004 | (08) 9221 0771 | www.toasteastperth.com Price: $$ ($8-20 breakfast/brunch, gluten-free options available) Food: 4.5/5 (seriously good breakfasts) Service: 3.5/5 (relaxed, efficient & casual) Ambience: 4.5/5 (blissful view gazing out onto the water) Drinks: 4.5/5 (serves high quality Rubra coffee, freshly squeezed juices worth a try too) Total: 17/20
I had made big plans for myself to get up super-duper early each day when I was in Sydney so that I could stroll over to my new favourite restaurant Bills for breakfast before heading to the Uni for my conference. Those big plans were all fine and dandy until I had a succession of late nights. I think the Boy’s keen passion for a good night’s sleep and his persistent cry of complaint to turn the lights out each night actually has a great influence on me. Just don’t tell him I admitted that. If you take his sleeping demands away and leave me to my own devices I seemingly want to have the best of both worlds. I want to be a night owl AND a morning person. This is a hard act to follow and before long something had to give.
I fell asleep to dreams of Bills’ eggs only to feel like I woke up five minutes later. That night I had finally decided to pull the curtains closed for the first time in three nights and the hotel room was cloaked in pitch black. I guessed it to be around 3 to 4 o’clock in the morning and gazed lazily over at the clock. To my horror it wasn’t 3am or even 5am. It was 7.15am and I was supposed to leave at 7.00. I needed a good 45 minutes to shower and get dressed so a deviation via Surry Hills was not an option.
Begrudgingly I dragged myself out of bed, into the shower and out the door as quickly as I could and Urbanspooned while I walked. I found a suggestion called Clipper Café that had great ratings and was very conveniently located directly on my route from the hotel to the Uni. I was greeted by an effervescent American waitress who proudly told me I could have nearly anything off the menu gluten-free. I ordered my usual short Mac while I perused the small menu which contained traditional staples with a few slight twists. The coffee is Clipper’s own blend roasted at Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville. I really enjoyed this cup; it was much sweeter than my coffee at Bills with a lovely creamy aftertaste.
I ordered poached eggs on gluten-free bread with prosciutto, tomato and Pecorino. My order came out in great time as I was definitely on a tight schedule due to my little lie-in. The salty crisp grilled Pecorino totally overpowered the prosciutto flavour and I was left wishing that I had read the menu more carefully before ordering. To make matter more disappointing my poached eggs were slightly overdone leaving only a small amount of gooey egg yolk to goomp everything together. The gluten-free bread tasted like standard shop bought bread and was nothing special.
Overall I enjoyed my breakfast but it simply did not compare to my repeat experiences at Bills. The coffee however was very good. Oh, and by the way just a little heads up if you go there – they are cash only so bring your wallet.
Check out my other Sydney posts hereClipper Café 16 Glebe Point Road, Glebe 2037 | 0411 800 063 Price: $ ($7-12 Breakfast) Food: 2.5/5 (slightly overcooked eggs, crumbly GF bread) Service: 4/5 (quirky, fun and quick) Ambience: 3.5/5 (country café feel) Drinks: 4.5.5 (scrumptious coffee) Total: 14.5/20
I love the constant pulse of Sydney’s heartbeat. You can feel it as soon as you arrive. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way complaining about the laid back lifestyle and beautiful sunny days we get to enjoy in Perth but Sydney is most definitely a city that feels like she is alive. I could happily see myself living here if it wasn’t for all our strong ties back in the Wild West. We both have our careers which we love and also as a direct result of living in London, the Boy has a complete dislike for residing in big cities. He needs space around him to grow all his delicious fresh produce, loves open spaces and craves peace and quiet. I’m easy either way as long as we are both happy, like I said, Perth is a beautiful and relaxing place to live and despite my yearning for bright lights and the big smoke I still love Perth with a passion.
Not keen on subjecting myself to an overpriced and tasteless hotel breakfast, I consulted my fellow Foodspotters’ from Sydney for advice on local gluten free breakfast options. I was advised to avoid the CBD area directly surrounding my hotel and take a short stroll over to Surry Hills where I was given a range of venues. One of those venues was Bills which I have since learnt seems to be an essential item on most foodies bucket lists when coming to Sydney. I am quite familiar with Bill Granger’s story, he is a self-taught chef who has now gone on to become something of a global phenomenon owning restaurants around the world, he has published best-selling cookbooks and has had his own TV shows on BBC.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of being able to walk everywhere here. Not an easily accomplished task back in my home town. As I strolled past the colourful costume shops on Oxford St which were stocked all ready for the Mardi Gras, I stopped to peer into a couple of windows to see an abundance of multi-coloured fairy wings, feather boas and a variety of tightly clad male mannequins.
Upon arriving to Bills I was greeted in a very warm and friendly manner and was supplied with my short Mac before I could even think about how much I needed it! I noticed around me a number of regulars were on a first name basis with the wait staff. Return customers are a sure sign you are doing something right.
Bills uses their own organic coffee from Single Origin Roaster. My short Mac was served at the perfect temperature and had my preferred balance of slight bitterness with a creamy aftertaste. I must confess though I still prefer my Nespresso Arpeggio. I had their famous scrambled eggs on gluten free toast with a serve of button mushrooms and cumin roasted tomatoes. I apologise for the poor photos due to an unintentional misty effect on my lens, it was a little rainy on the walk there and the lens fogged up! For those more talented photographers out there any recommendations for remedying this?
The gluten free bread was of a very high standard. Some of you may be familiar with the problems that result from the omission of gluten in bread. It can often be crumbly and dry and can taste more like a savory cake than bread. Alternatively on the other side of the extreme, it can be hideously stodgy and heavy like a rock. This bread was crisply toasted on the outside with a soft and fluffy bread texture in the centre. There was no bitter or gluggy aftertaste. Positively one of the best gluten free breads I’ve eaten in a long time. The only downside was the butter served with the bread was very hard and impossible to spread.
I was happy to overlook the hard butter because piled upon my plate was fold upon fold of light fluffy scrambled eggs. They almost tasted aerated! The button mushrooms were meaty and firm, with generous lashing of EVOO and fresh thyme. The cumin roast tomatoes had caramelised into intense sweet deliciousness.
I enjoyed my breakfast so much I decided to get up half an hour earlier for the next two mornings so I could work my way through their menu prior to my return to Perth. The next morning I decided to step out of my predictable choice of anything eggie and ordered the cured ocean trout with fresh curd on gluten free with fresh avocado and tomato. Fortunately my camera was back in action this time to capture the brilliant colours that were arranged on my plate. Once again the toast wowed me and I savoured the enjoyment of trying to get a small amount of each ingredient with every mouthful. The trout was delicately soft and the tangy curd lightened the whole dish. As opposed to yesterday I didn’t feel overly full this time round which was an added bonus as Sydney Uni (where the Conference was held) was another good 40 minutes’ walk from Bills!
My final breakfast at Bills came a day late due to a minor accidental sleep on the following day. It’s surprising how just a three hour time difference can throw your sleeping rhythm quite out of whack! I’ve been remaining bright eyed and bushy tailed until far too late each evening. In order to have enough time to walk to Bills, have breakfast and then walk to Sydney Uni I need to get up by 6am – very difficult when you’re wide awake until all hours!
For my final breakfast I chose the soft boiled eggs with “toy solder” bread, fresh tomato and aged cheddar. This was my favourite and made me so chuffed I made the effort to return one more time. The thinly sliced strips of scrumptious gluten free toast were cut to the perfect size to dip into the gooey eggs and I was definitely in seventh heaven. I’m really looking forward to my next excuse to visit Sydney for a number of reasons and breakfast at Bills is one of them!
Check out my other Sydney posts hereBills 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills 2010 | (02) 9360 4762 | bills.com.au Price: $$ ($12-18.50 breakfast, $10.50-23 lunch)
Food: 4.5/5 (awesome GF toast, fresh produce)
Service: 4.5/5 (very efficient with a bit of funky)
Ambience: 4/5 (buzzing brilliant breakfast vibe)
Drinks: 4/5 (good eco-friendly coffee) Total: 17/20
As I dragged myself out of my warm cosy bed at 6am on my day off I thought about the long drive ahead of me in the pouring rain for a partners meeting and wondered if I was a little too dedicated to my business. We normally go to the Dome café in Midland of which I am not the biggest fan after numerous past disappointments. After such as lovely experience at Jezebelle in Guildford I suggested we try a change in scenery and go to The Lounge Room which is just a short way down James Street.
Despite a table booked for 7 am and the fact they open at 7am we were left waiting outside the front of the cafe in the cold morning weather. You would think that they could have made the effort to be ready with open doors to greet customers when they had tables pre-booked? We were to soon find out this was just the first in many incidents caused by a lack of preparation and attention to customer service.
Upon gazing at the chalkboard menu one could not help but be distracted by the multiple pieces of paper stuck onto several of menu items that were not available. This looked quite untidy and I would recommend getting a proper chalkboard and handwriting items if things regularly go out of stock. Perhaps maybe doing this in addition to ensuring you have adequate stock to start a new week are just like opening on time…. too much effort for a Monday morning to bother with?
I ordered the breakfast Panini without onion. I was then informed this would not be possible as the Panini were already made up – I wondered if it was really too difficult to make a fresh one? They certainly weren’t that busy. Instead I ordered scrambled eggs on toast with mushroom and tomato… unfortunately I was then informed there were no mushrooms left. Really? First thing on a Monday morning and you have no mushroom to go with your breakfast menu? I thought I would take a gamble and ask for avocado instead – nope, none of that available either! I reluctantly opted for bacon as my second addition.
I also ordered a short macchiato. I should have thought to describe what a short mac is before ordering as the ratio of milk to coffee was way too high for me. The meal itself reminded me of food you would get from a “diner” style restaurant, not a cafe marketing itself as upmarket. I got one piece of toast, a pile of unseasoned flavourless scrambled eggs, some pale tepid tomatoes and some bacon. Not a lot of value for the price which was a pricey $20!
It was certainly edible but not much more than that. We continued our meeting while our empty plates remained on our tables as the wait staff pretended that neither us nor our empty plates were even there. Not once did we get asked if we would like more coffees, desserts or anything of the like. Surprising as we stayed for another two hours while they ignored us and lost the business opportunity our seats should have been providing. Oh well, they won’t have to worry about that happening again!
Service 2/10, food 4/10, venue 5/10
The Lounge Room
187 James Street, Guildford, 6055 | (08) 9379 3791