In March this year, I married the love of my life in the most magical fairy-tale wedding of my dreams. Because we chose to get married in Thailand, our wedding was not legally recognised back in Australia unless we made a pre-wedding pilgrimage to Bangkok to arrange the necessary papers. Prior to getting hitched, the Boy and I had already spent more than ten years together and we had always celebrated our anniversary in April often with much greater enthusiasm than for either of our birthdays. It seemed logical to us, that upon our return from Thailand we would arrange a very private official ceremony back in Perth specifically on our anniversary date. This enabled us to invite special friends that weren’t for able to join us in Thailand. It also means we now get to celebrate TWO anniversaries! 😉
In total contrast to the extreme detailed organisation of our Thailand wedding, this second wedding was a much more casual affair. Ann Lord, a lovely celebrant I met at a Wedding Upmarket day helped with the proceedings. We found a patch of grass in Burswood Park and without all the fanfare, anxiety, nerves or build up we repeated our vows once more.
To celebrate the legalisation of our marriage, we booked a Loft room at the Crown Promenade to enjoy one more night of luxury before we started making a serious attempt at paying off all our wedding debt! I had called in the morning to request an earlier check in and was told by the reception desk that this was not a problem. Unfortunately upon our arrival this was to prove not true; we were informed our room wasn’t ready for another hour and to make ourselves comfortable with our suitcases in tow in the lobby area.
This would have frustrated me greatly if I hadn’t managed to find to find myself a beautiful collection of macarons to snack on. Seeing as I no longer had to fit into wedding dresses, I slipped back into my excessive ways and ordered a whole box to share with the Boy. By the time the reception staff gestured to us that our room was ready, all the macarons were gone.
The loft room has an expansive balcony that gives glorious panoramic views of the city’s skyline. It was not as breathtaking as the views from our Andara villa in Thailand, but it was by no means shabby.
The loft itself is of considerable size with a living room, dining room and well stocked kitchen complete with a full mini-bar. There was an iPod docking station for music and flat screen TVs screens in the living room, bedroom AND the bathroom. Not that we watched any television that is!
The bathroom is ginormous with separate his and her vanities, wall to floor mirrors and a lovely deep spa bath. The flat screen television is positioned directly facing the spa…how relaxing would it be to sink yourself into bubbles while watching a movie. And drinking bubbles of course!
The bedroom is similarly spacious with a full King sized bed and reading area overlooking the city scape. The curtains successfully make the room pitch black no matter what time of day meaning a late checkout can be well utilised to gain those extra ZZZs if you need. We certainly did.
After the very short ceremony, we all headed over to the main casual pub of the Crown complex; The Merrywell. The Merrywell’s style of cuisine has been coined “dude food” by a number of professional food critics and whilst I don’t really like this terminology it does describe it well.
Artery clogging Mexican cheese fondues, fish tacos, burgers and hot dogs regularly feature on their changing menu. At the time we went, the waitstaff were not overly familiar with what dishes were gluten free and what wasn’t, but I have since noticed they now offer gluten free buns with their burgers so I presume they have improved their understanding.
One of my favourite snacks of the night was the lollipop Buffalo wings served with a rich blue cheese fondue and celery sticks. I am pretty sure I slurped at least half a dozen of these wings off the bone each one mouthful at a time. All my bridal grace was thrown out the window!
The drinking session progressed fairly late into the night and by following morning the Boy and I were nursing a fairly rocking hangover. But we didn’t mind one bit because it was official.
From this point we are now legally “Mr and Mrs”.
Just the very thought of this fact was enough to cast away most of our pain and we eased our stomachs back into the real world with some ultra-healthy room service. My egg white omelette was so fluffy is nearly looked like an Aerobar and it came with some roasted shiitake mushrooms, avocado, feta and fresh micro herbs. Washed down with a black coffee I was re-energised and ready to officially be a Mrs!A big shout out of thanks to my dear friend Tara for taking most of the above photos. On the day I decided to give Chompchomp a night off and Tara was more than happy to take over the job role of photographer. She got some awesome shots and I am very appreciative. xxx Crown Metropole Perth, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979 | (08) 9362 8888 We stayed in a Loft room and took advantage of their advance purchase rates which gives a significant discount off the standard rates. The full price for this room is around $1250 per night. The Merrywell, Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA 6979| (08) 9362 7551
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
I cannot believe it is nearly six months since the Boy and I tied the knot in Phuket. I still have a long backlog of blog posts from our wedding holiday that I desperately need to finish. Normally I am such a disciplined person and I think part of my procrastination is because I’m sad that it’s all over and our lives have settled back down to normal. I have finally decided to bite the bullet and plan to complete the last of my wedding trip blog posts over the next few weeks including our time in Thailand which was followed by our four day eating binge in Singapore.
Once we arrived in Singapore glowing with post-nuptial love our serotonin levels were high and thus so were our appetites so we filled our days with sleeping, eating and drinking. For our wedding present to each other we both decided that a gift was far too traditional and wanted to have an experience together instead. Memories are always more precious than materialistic objects and some of my best memories are of course involving food. So the Boy suggested I pick anywhere regardless of price to enjoy a meal of a life time together.
In Singapore that is no easy feat. This is a city known for its fine dining and the decision wasn’t an easy one. Our last trip to Singapore we dined at Guy Savoy’s celebrity restaurant so I wanted to choose something other than traditional French and settled for Chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands. Ok so there IS a bit of French influence in Tetsuya’s style but it is very Japanese focused. A fusion of two of my favourite cuisines! A perfect way to celebrate the fusion of two people!
Waku Ghin serves a ten course degustation only and you are advised to book your table well in advance as they have a reasonable waiting list and only seat 25 people each evening. They have been awarded number 68 in the San Pelligrino World’s 100 Best 2013 and achieved 11th place in Asia’s 50 Best. I have always fantasised about having a world trip where we visit as many restaurants as possible off these lists, so it was fitting that one of them should feature on our wedding holiday (Note this is NOT our honeymoon!). I had emailed in advance to notify them of my gluten free requirement and asked them if they needed me to bring gluten free soy sauce with me. They do not have their own gluten free soy available so I was grateful I had been lugging it around in my luggage all the way from Perth.
After making a bit of a spectacle of myself at the bar by knocking my cocktail over with my animated flying hands we were shown to our dining room which only seated four people. A lovely Japanese couple were just finishing their meals and left shortly after we arrived giving us the whole room to ourselves.
Our chef for the evening came out and introduced himself before presenting to us a box filled with all the seafood delicacies we were about to commence devouring. Everything looks so exceedingly fresh and some creatures where still alive.
Our evening started with a salad of Buratta cheese with dried tomato, rocket and fennel. Burrata means “buttered” in Italian and you will understand where this fresh cheese got its name when you taste it. It literally oozes creaminess and paired nicely with the full rich flavour of the dried tomatoes. It was the perfect lead into the following much more opulent course.
Next up was one of Tetsuya’s signature dishes, the marinated Botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietra caviar. Mind blowingly creamy and luxuriously luscious this dish left us hanging on the edge of our seats for more. The balance of salty caviar, sweet shrimp and custardy uni was an orchestra of perfection.
Our next course was some slivers of slow cooked John Dory layered with smoked eggplant and drizzled with a richly flavoured chicken jus. The fish was slippery soft and melted in the mouth like sushi. I am a big fan of slow cooked anything; it introduces such a silky element of texture to ingredients unobtainable with traditional cooking methods.
Our fourth course was a steamed Alaskan Crab claw with lemon and olive oil. With such simple preparation and very few ingredients the secret of this dish’s success was in the freshness of the crab. The chef shows us the bright red crab claws before proceeding to steam them on a bed of rock salt on the grill right in front of us.
Once cooked to perfection he dressed them with just a light splash of lemon scented olive oil. And it needed nothing more. With four courses down and our eyes wider than saucers we sat on the edge of our seats ready for more.
Our next course was live Tasmanian abalone served simply with fregola, tomato and basil for the Boy with the fregola omitted for my gluten free version. This was my first time having fresh abalone. I found it a little disturbing watching the live abalone squirm before my eyes as the chef cooked it on the stove top.
I consoled myself with the thought that that surely these creatures don’t have enough awareness of self to suffer? I was surprised to find the abalone a little chewy and tough but not having tried it before I’m not sure if this texture was to be expected? Maybe the abalone eaters out there can educate me better.
The next course was certainly one of my favourites; braised Canadian lobster with tarragon. Although I have enjoyed Australian “lobster” countless times I only recently tried Maine lobster for the first time at Sky on 57. Anticipating it to taste much the same as crayfish I was astounded by the lobster’s delicate textured richness. I didn’t realise I would get to try it again so soon.
Waku Ghin prides itself on its fresh produce which is flown in fresh and often live each day. Our Canadian lobster was prepared in front of us braised in a robust flavoured tarragon sauce that is made with stock from the lobster’s shells. The rich sauce balanced the sweetness of the oh-so-tender lobster precisely. I cannot wait to eat lobster again sometime.
Wagyu is such an overused term in the restaurant world and I never realised how truly amazing it can be until we tried Waku Ghin’s version. They serve Ohmi Wagyu beef which comes from the Shiga prefecture in Japan. This type of Wagyu is considered to be distinctive from other types as it is the only type with fat that has “viscosity” which gives it that incredible dissolve-in-your-mouth sensation.
Cooked with utmost precision this meat needed minimal garnishes and was served simply with some freshly grated wasabi, garlic chips and light citrus soy. It had the texture of butter and was truly like no other cut of beef I have ever tasted. The chef was so flattered with our crooning that he offered us another serve which we both wildly agreed to.
It was hard to believe our evening was drawing to an end and we were up to our last savoury course. This last course was a bit of a let-down considering the repeated wow factors we had received consistently throughout our evening. The Boy was served a consommé with rice and snapper which was tasty but had no specific element that amazed him in any way.
My gluten free version didn’t even contain any fish. I received a small bowl of polenta with a scoop of ratatouille. I am a huge fan of ratatouille; it reminds me of my father’s cooking however considering the price of our meal I expected a replacement dish with a bit more effort.
Before being moved into the lounge room for desserts, we were given some gyokuro green tea. Gyokuro is considered by the Japanese as the finest green tea and has a very delicate, sweet flavour. The tea is grown under shade cover, usually made from reed or straw screens, for around three weeks before harvesting. Reducing the available sunlight alters the level of photosynthesis in the young leaf buds thus reducing the chlorophyll concentration in the leaves. This has a direct effect on the proportions of sugars, caffeine, amino acids and flavonoids resulting in a much milder and sweet taste.
For dessert we were moved in to the main dining area which overlooked the stunning skyline of the Marina Bay area. Our first dessert course was a salad of raspberry with wasabi and honey granita. This dish was more of a palate cleanser than anything else and whilst it was refreshing it didn’t have any of the elements of excitement we were anticipating.
The Boy’s main dessert came complete with a message of “Congratulations” for us smitten newly-weds. His chocolate mousse cake glistened like a mirror and I was so jealous it had gluten and I couldn’t steal a mouthful. Gluten schmooten….no fair!
My envy deepened as I looked down at my replacement option; a fruit platter. Whilst each piece of fruit had obviously been carefully selected and prepared it was still just a fruit platter nevertheless. I confess this was my only real disappointment of our evening.
Our night ended with some very moreish petit fours; vanilla and pistachio macarons, chocolate orange mousse, meringues and tangerine jellies. The kitchen kindly separated the gluten free ones to avoid any confusion. I was able to have most except for the orange and chocolate mousse which the Boy took great pleasure revealing to me how amazing it was via his facial expressions and rolling eyes.
Accustomed to missing out on some foods I still gain some level of enjoyment just by watching love ones eat so I requested to our waiter to bring us some more petit fours so I could watch my husband savour the flavours once more. It made a great series of photos but to maintain his privacy I’mu afraid you won’t get to see them!
Waku Ghin was quite possibly one of the most expensive meals we have ever eaten with the end bill entering the four digits for just two people. Was it worth it? Eight out of our ten courses left us amazed, impressed and totally nailed the wow factor that I would expect to receive for such a price. The two courses that lacked wow were still executed beautifully and I cannot fault them with anything specifically except for the fact they just weren’t incredible like the remainder. The service doesn’t skip a beat with a warmth and friendliness that you don’t always see at fine dining establishments.
My answer; yes it was worth every cent.Waku Ghin The Shoppes, Atrium 2, L2-02, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8507 | www.marinabaysands.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.5/5 (they just need a little bit of work on their desserts) Service: 5/5 (impeccable) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels exclusive and special) Drinks: 4/5 (a very extensive bar; with a very wide price range) Total: 18/20
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
After nearly two years of preparations and a lot of blood, sweat and tears here we are……finally in Thailand for our wedding week extravaganza! With my insane desire for attention to detail, we had arrived 4 days prior to our wedding guests to finish off all our last minute preparations. There were welcome presents to arrange for each of our guests, gifts for the parents, cake testing, hair and make-up trials and so much more! For the final touches to our wedding welcome gifts we headed into Phuket’s largest shopping centre Central Festival.
I was trying so hard to be super adherent to my dietary requirements as I didn’t want any last minute facial eczema to ruin my bridal beauty preparations. Sushi is always a good option for me in these circumstances provided I stick to simple options. With this in mind we stopped at Sukishi Japanese Restaurant for a bite to eat. I didn’t have any gluten free soy with me and hoped the sashimi would be fresh enough not to need any.
After weeks and week of being subjective to Slim Pasta, the Boy was rebelling against any form of weight loss and got back in to the Thai rhythm of things ordering himself a strawberry daiquiri. Despite not having a girlie bone in his body he certainly loves his pink drinks! I opted for some Japanese Green tea knowing that coffee in this place would be bound to disappoint. The tea was refreshing and uplifting and perfectly calorie free.
The menu was more like an encyclopaedia and it took us some time to look through all of its pages. It contained a combination of Japanese sushi and sashimi with more Korean style BBQ meats. Normally when we eat out we love ordering unusual things but with only a few days to go I didn’t want to risk any sort of reaction. I stuck with a simple, but enormous serve of sashimi. The prices were dirt cheap compared to Perth with the whole “boat” costing us about 350 Baht (about $11 Aussie dollars). Bear in mind that this restaurant was in the middle of a touristy shopping centre so I’m sure it was considered pricey by Phuket standards meaning you could get such a meal even cheaper elsewhere.
To fill the Boy up we ordered a couple of plates of sushi rolls in the hope that there wouldn’t be any gluten. To increase my chances of this I showed our waitress my Thai eating card with information regarding my allergies written in their language. She nodded her head at our menu choices assuring me they were suitable. Unfortunately however for both dishes the rolls contained seafood extender sticks in them and I didn’t want to take any chances as these are generally not gluten free.
After a few annoying attempts at poking the offending ingredient out with a chopstick I eventually gave up and left them for the Boy to eat for himself. Not such a bad thing as it stopped me stuffing me face right before the wedding anyway! The rolls were freshly made and the fish was delicate and soft. Next visit I will be more prepared and bring my own gluten free soy which by the way, I suggest you bring with you from Australia as it is hard to find in Thailand. I usually bring a bottle with me whenever I travel in Asian countries.
My apologies for the poorer quality iPhone photos in this review. Lugging dear “Gordon” (my Nikon SLR) with me shopping all day was not my cup of tea.Sukishi 3rd Floor, Central Festival Phuket, 74-75 Moo 5 Vichitsongkram Rd., Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000 Price: $ Food: 6.5/10 (not bad for a shopping centre sushi joint!) Service: 2.5/5 (meals were slow to come out but were made fresh to order) Ambience: 2.5/5 (tables are set up like booths so although big and busy you still have privacy) Total: 11.5/20
I have been a loyal Qantas girl for most of my life and I try to book the majority of our flights in Australia and around the world flying with my favourite airline. However late last year when I was booking our flights to Phuket in Thailand for our wedding, the need for a direct flight with no stopovers became much more important than any airline loyalties. The logical preference was to fly with Virgin Australia. Virgin operate direct flights to Phuket from Perth arriving on the sunny island in less than 7 hours.
My experiences with Virgin airlines have always been very positive and for an allegedly budget airline they run circles around their competitors. Last month I was on a flight from Melbourne to Perth escorting THE dress from Luci Di Bella back home and the pure sight of a dress in a white suit bag brought an air of delight among all the cabin crew. Unbeknownst to me I had purchased a Flexifare ticket which includes a cooked meal in the fare. Being totally unaware of this beforehand I had failed to notify them of my gluten free meal requirement. Amazingly our flight attendant proceeded to go to great lengths to try find me something to eat culminating in her raiding fellow staff members meals for some fresh fruit. I was astonished at this level of customer service.
Fast forward to the present and as we board our flight to Phuket the air hostesses all grin excitedly upon seeing my white dress bag. They kindly made a point of ensuring to treat this very special cargo with the utmost of care. This flight didn’t include any meals and unfortunately there were very limited gluten free options available on the menu. After my previous experience of minimal in flight food, I planned ahead and had purchased a couple of very sad looking items from the cafeteria inside the departure lounge back in Perth.
As I sat munching my tired looking salad our flight attendant came round with the service cart. The Boy and I were obviously both very keen to kick off our celebrations and ordered ourselves some drinks. The Boy also ordered a gourmet beef pie with tomato relish. To our complete surprise, our lovely air hostess told us drinks and food are “on the house”. I love how some people get so excited about weddings even if they are for people they don’t even know! It shows such a beautiful side to a person’s character.
After all the stress and running around in the lead up to our departure I found myself agreeing with the Boy that one drink most certainly wasn’t enough. We were both in a slight state of disbelief that this was really happening! Years of dreaming, planning and organising ….. and now this is it! As we placed our order for more drinks, we reached for some money presuming that this second round would have to be paid for like the rest of the passengers on the flight. Once again, our hostess with the mostess beamed back to us with pure joy and refused to take any money. What an absolute sweetie! I guess this is a once in a lifetime celebration; you only get married once! Well, at least you hope so!
Virgin Australia airlines fly four times a week from Perth to Phuket direct.
The exciting event of the wedding of a close friend brought us back to the lovely city of Singapore for the first time in over ten years. It was to be my first experience of a Chinese wedding banquet and was to be held at Szechuan Court, Fairmont Hotel, Singapore. I felt so privileged to receive an invite and prepared myself right from the outset that for that one night I was just going to have to eat gluten. Avoiding gluten in a Chinese banquet of any occasion is literally impossible due to the ubiquitous use of soy sauce. I knew that if I was to eat the banquet regardless of the gluten I was going to suffer for it the next day however I figured it would be worth it.
As we were shown to our seats I noticed that both our table and the bridal table next to us was much more lavishly decorated than the rest of the tablets. Our table was covered in a bright red table-cloth and decorated with bigger bouquets of flowers. As the night progressed I also observed that our plates were filled with more food and served to us in larger bowls.
In eager anticipation for the feast I forced myself to only graze on a few small snacks over the day. As we headed to Szechuan Court I was so hungry I could have nearly eaten my own arm. If only I had known before that it is common custom at these important Chinese events for there to be quite a wait before food is brought out! By the time our starter combination arrived I was so utterly famished that I demolished it all far too quickly. There were beautifully plated slices of roast duck sandwiched around a fresh sliver of mango, there was a richly coloured chunk of Soya chicken, a thick wedge of succulent honey glazed pork and a cute little lettuce cup of chilled spicy jelly fish. This was one of my favourite dishes for the night and I really regretted my gluttony wishing I had savoured its flavours for more than a millisecond.
I love the deception of clear soups. Gazing into my reflection in the bowl I always wonder how something so watery looking can manage to pack such a powerful punch of flavour. This crab soup was no exception and the table went silent for a few minutes while everyone slurped away hungrily.
Bamboo fungus is a type of mushroom that is claimed to have many medicinal properties including antibacterial and anti-cancer effects. Another more unusual fact about this fungus is that the smell of the fresh fungus has been reported to trigger spontaneous orgasms in women!
The next course was some lightly steamed live Marble Goby served in a broth of superior soy sauce. Marble goby is a type of freshwater fish that considered something of a delicacy by many Chinese as for its flesh is delicately tender yet has a lingering sweet flavour.
With a number of gluten containing courses now under my belt, I accepted my fate that in a few hours I would start to feel the aftermath of my indiscretions therefore I really had nothing to lose and must press on. I had psyched myself up for this banquet for months and certainly wasn’t going to turn any of these sumptuous dishes away! The next two dishes steered away from the more traditional Chinese style infusing some modern fusion flavours. The wasabi prawns crunched loudly as I bit into their crispy exterior and I couldn’t help but feel liberated to cast off the shackles of my allergies for one night even if it made me unwell and covered in eczema!
I was informed earlier that evening by the dear mother of the bride that sea cucumbers are very laborious to prepare for eating. There is an extensive amount of work involved over several days which include slitting them open, turning them inside out and then repeatedly washing and boiling them over a few days.
The Boy and I first tried eating sea cucumber many years back at Shung Fung in Perth and we both really loved its slippery, nearly rubbery texture and subtle flavour. Sea cucumbers are a highly nutritious food and contain large amounts of protein in addition to many essential compounds including iodine, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, manganese, chondroitin sulphate, saponins and vitamins like vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
The beauty of eating slowly is that you get full much more easily as your brain has time to actually register the food you are shovelling into it! The polite sized scoop of seafood fried rice was just enough to fill the last gaps in my stomach before dessert.
Many of my dear readers may recall my obsession with food shaped in tiny balls; tobiko, caviar, sago, tapioca, you name it I’m sure to squeak with delight if you serve them to me. I think this obsession is one of the main reasons I love Asian desserts so much! The chilled cream of mango was not overpoweringly sweet and the tang of the pomelo gave it more depth and flavour.
By this late stage of the night things had started to become quite rowdy, but in a good way. The bride’s father proudly led the bridal party in a procession to each table individually bearing a very elaborate looking bottle of whiskey. At each table he would stop, pour healthy size nips of whiskey to everyone before drinking some himself and then commenced to singing very loudly at the top of his lungs. No one required much encouragement to join in and before long dining room was filled with the booming voices of all the guests joyous for this wonderful marriage of two very beautiful people.Szechuan Court, Fairmont Hotel, Singapore 80 Bras Basah Road, Marina Bay, 189560 Singapore | www.fairmont.com/singapore Tripadvisor Price: $$$ Food: 8/10 (I am no expert on Chinese fine dining but my taste buds don’t lie!) Service: 3/5 (a little slow serving drinks) Ambience: 3.5/5 (the function room was filled to the brim with cheerful, noisy guests) Total: 16.5/20
It was the weekend before Christmas and I had flown into Melbourne a day earlier than the Boy in order to attend to some “secret wedding business”. It was for my final dress fitting at Luci Di Bella and despite enduring a terrible flight with crying babies, vomiting toddlers and a delay on the tarmac for nearly an hour I remained hyped with excitement.
My Dad and Stepmum’s apartment is very conveniently located just off Flinders Lane; meaning with a short skip and a jump you can find yourself submerged in one of Melbourne’s hottest spots for restaurants; PM24, MoVida, Chin Chin, Cumulus Inc, Coda, Ezard…need I go on?
Despite their close proximity, I have not had the fortune to visit many of these fine establishments as my family are also star entertainers. They are well known for throwing many fabulous dinner parties that often carry well on until the wee hours of the morning. As a result when I am in Melbourne, I rarely get the chance to check out the local eateries because there is too much good food to eat at home!
Arriving late on a Friday night we were all in agreeance that cooking would prove to be too much of a hassle and headed out to one of their favourites: The French Brasserie. We were greeted by the owner of the restaurant like we were family, which is not an uncommon occurrence when out with these two. They get a similar reception from many of the fresh produce sellers at the Prahran Markets which is something you wouldn’t expect in a big city like Melbourne. We were given some complimentary champagne to celebrate the beginning of the silly season with him and sat out in the alfresco dining area sipping away before being ushered to our table.
After enjoying some freshly shucked Sydney Rock and Pacific Oysters I started to feel the warmth of the champagne glow through my veins and all my stress from the crazy, hectic week slowly drained out of me. Living in separate cities makes it hard to keep my family up to date with all my wedding plans. As a result there was a lot of catching up for us to do! What made this moment even more special to me was that all my bridal babble was met with excitement and genuine interest. As not all my close family members have been by my side during this precious time, so their love and support has been worth its weight in gold. Or black truffle even 😉
Knowing there was a long weekend of Christmas feasting ahead of us we scanned the menu for something light. My Stepmum and I chose the filet de bouef. My thickly cut tender yearling eye fillet was seared to a firm crust on its surface yet carved smoothly like pate under my knife. An elegant smear of ruby red beetroot purée gave a hint of sweetness to the delicate meat. It was exactly what I felt like. The dish is normally accompanied by a long block of potato salardaise; potatoes cooked in duck fat. I was unfortunately informed that the potato contained gluten or onion, I can’t quite remember, but basically it wasn’t suitable for me. They served us an extra dish of French fries to make up for this.
Dad ordered the paillard de boeuf, a yearling beef minute steak served with marrow and bordelaise sauce. The decadent flavours of the bone marrow gave a richer and bolder flavour to the beef and if his dish wasn’t laden with onion I would have loved to have given it a try. I cannot remember that last time I tried bone marrow, possibly it was at the family table as a child? What a perfect start to what was to prove an incredible Christmas weekend. Let the eating begin!!French Brassiere 2 Malthouse Lane, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1632 | http://www.thefrenchbrasserie.com.au/site/ Price: $$$$ (Entrée $16-20, Mains $34-43) Food: 4.5/5 (ultra-fresh cuts of meat, faultless preparation) Service: 4/5 (I almost felt like family, I love that all the wait staff are French!) Ambience: 4.5/5 (hidden down a little lane way, has a bistro vibe) Drinks: 4/5 (Dad picked the wine, it was something scrumptious from Bordeaux) Total: 17/20
It is finally getting close enough to our wedding to start to feel the buzz and excitement and relieved to say I think I am pretty well set. Well, at least for the important stuff!. I have found the perfect dress from Luci Di Bella, I am blessed with two of the most awesome bridesmaids who also have fabulous dresses, I have a choice of stunning Dior or Jimmy Choo bridal shoes and our wedding venue at Andara, Phuket is something dreams are made of. Best of all; I have found the most amazing man who I could have ever wished to marry. Naw, that’s enough gushing for one post I think!
My engagement ring was designed at Linneys; a well-known West Australian jeweller famous for their Broome pearls and Argyle diamonds and it seemed fitting to return there for our wedding bands. We both arrived wide-eyed and smiling as the reality of our big day approaching fast sunk in. We helped each other deliberate over all the beautiful wedding band designs and each ended up selecting ones we both loved.
It seemed ridiculous to go home straight away while on such a high so we strolled over hand in hand like newly found lovers over to the Subiaco Hotel to relax with a few drinks and a bite to eat.
It was still early in the evening and strangely neither of us had very big appetites. Maybe it was due to all the Slim Pasta we have eaten lately because it is quite an unusual occurrence for either of us. Perhaps the knowledge we didn’t have much time left to get our bride and groom bodies in fit shape played a factor. We both ordered some small dishes to share.
Our food took an exceedingly long time to arrive and our quick drinks started to drag out into the evening. The quail breasts served on kebabs were stringy and dry making them very hard to eat. I didn’t try the eschalots for obvious fructose reasons however the Boy felt that they greatly improved the dish and he didn’t feel it was as great a failure as I did.
The barbecued lamb ribs were sticky and tender, slithering off the bone easily and leaving a sweet caramel after-taste in the mouth. The addition of sharp tangy pomegranate brought an exciting extra level of flavour and we were both thankful there was an even number of ribs because I’m sure we would have fought over the last one.
The balsamic poached chicken salad was nothing spectacular but served its purpose to cleanse the palate after a taste overload from the ribs. Anything more complex may have been a bit much to eat all at the same time.
I didn’t think to ask if the chickpea dish contained onions and alas it was full of it so I didn’t try much of this one. The chick peas were lacking in flavour and had a very soft texture making me suspicious they may have come from a can. The addition of avocado saved this dish.
I have never been big fan of Geláre waffles; not even back in the day when I was oblivious to my gluten intolerance and could have eaten them to my heart’s content. But let’s be honest, you don’t have to be a fan of waffles to be stopped dead in your tracks by that sweet aroma that wafts out of their stores onto the facing street.
As we walked down Rokeby Road toward Geláre on our way back to car I recalled they recently started offering gluten free waffles. Once we were hit by the fragrance of maple dough, I turned to the Boy and suggested we try them.
He declined, not really being a dessert type of guy, so I ordered a small gluten free waffle with maple syrup and cream. I planned to just have a couple of mouthfuls then walk away. Wasteful I know but I need to fit into that wedding dress! It has been many years since I tried a normal waffle to compare but this one had all the layers of texture I vaguely recall makes a good waffle. It was crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. I put my spoon down and stared into the distance daydreaming for a few minutes. Before I knew it the Boy had eaten the lot! So much for not wanting to share!Subiaco Hotel 465 Hay Street, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9381 3069 | www.subiacohotel.com.au Price: $$$ (Entrée $15-25, Mains $25-37) Food: 2.5/5 (interesting menu but hit and miss execution) Service: 2.5/5 (a long delay until our food was served despite an empty dining room) Ambience: 3.5/5 (relaxed, lots of natural light) Drinks: 3/5 (reasonable wine list) Total: 11.5/20 www.gelare.com.au Price: $ Food: 8/10 (tasted like normal waffles to me!) Service: 3/5 (quick, efficient and with a smile) Ambience: 2/5 (sticky, dirty tables) Total: 13/20
Our last visit to Singapore was during a stopover ten years ago en route to London where we lived for a number of years. We had spent our last few weeks in Perth burning all the candles at every end bidding our friends farewell and by the time we arrived in Singapore we were left feeling like a clump of melted wax. We were young and comparatively naïve and got easily caught up in the flurry of hotel booked tours and commercialised tourist traps.
Fast forward to the present and we are now both savvy travellers; we know what we enjoy and more importantly how to find it. Consequently I was super excited to be returning to Singapore to attend a close friend’s wedding armed with a multitude of eating recommendations from all my fellow blogging friends.
The wedding banquet was to be held at Fairmont Hotel so to simplify things we took opportunity of the discounted group rates and stayed there. The location is very central being walking distance to the harbour, CBD and Marina Bay Sands; and has a subway train station in the shopping complex attached to the hotel. Public transport in Singapore is quick, efficient and easy to use. We actually discovered it to be a quicker way to get around the central city than a taxi.
We stayed in the Fairmont Room which is their most basic room; however it was relatively spacious with a lounge chair, extremely comfortable king sized bed, fully equipped working desk and a private balcony overlooking the city.
There was a selection of bathroom amenities using Le Labo products scented with their signature Rose 31 fragrance. The thought of rose fragrance conjures up in my mind subtle, underwhelming, floral scents so when I took a waft of the luscious hand cream I wasn’t expecting the complexity of spice and woodiness. Other components of this fragrance include cedar wood, cumin and olbanum giving a sexy, nearly masculine scent. We only stayed for two nights but I ensured to clear away the products each service to ensure getting refreshed with another batch!
Another highlight of our room was the addition of a Nespresso machine. Since my Mum gifted to us a Nespresso machine for our engagement last year, I have realised my coffee addiction has been lifted to new heights and I cannot start my day without a decent coffee.
My initial excitement at seeing a Nespresso machine was short-lived when I realised the only pods on offer were in fact the only pods I didn’t like! Thankfully a Nespresso Boutique was not far from our hotel and before long I was back in 7th coffee heaven.
Breakfast is served buffet style downstairs at their Italian restaurant Prego. I always find Asian hotels offer a much great variety of foods for breakfast buffet than our Australian counterparts and this buffet was no exception. Gluten free bread was available on request however unfortunately none of the buffet food was sign posted whether it was gluten free so I was a little nervous in knowing in what I could and couldn’t eat. The non-allergic Boy on the other hand went nuts and piled his plate high of an assortment of curries, pastries and meats topped with a pile of crispy bacon.
On our second day in Singapore we returned fairly late back to our room after a full day walking around the city. The wedding banquet was to be held that evening so we planned to quickly beautify ourselves ready for a few pre-dinner drinks to set the mood for the occasion. To our dismay, on entering our room we were confronted by the same mess we had left hours earlier that morning. Housekeeping had forgotten to clean our room! I cannot deny this is a major oversight for a premium hotel establishment and I couldn’t help but be annoyed that I had to wait for fresh towels before I could start getting ready for the evening celebrations. Consequently we missed out on the pre-drinks and had to rush straight to the wedding reception.
Despite this frustrating hiccup the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore proved to be a great accommodation option for us during our recent stay. The central location, reasonable room rates and well-appointed room made our whirlwind 2 day stay an enjoyable and comfortable one. Our only complaint (other than our un-made room) was we didn’t have enough time! As a result we have decided to stop over again on our way home from our wedding to finish off our hit list of must-eats!
80 Bras Basah Road, Marina Bay, 189560 Singapore | www.fairmont.com/singaporeTripadvisor reviews Food: 3.5/5 (based on buffet breakfast at Prego only) Service: 2.5/5 (check out process was slow, housekeeping forgot our room) Rooms: 4/5 (clean, well-appointed and spacious, BTW the bed is the BOMB) Location: 4.5/5 Total: 14.5/20
This year has been such a hectic and emotional one which has flown by with the speed of light. It has been a whole year since the Boy finally managed to convince me after much persuasion to start writing a blog. After an initial few quiet months while in its fledgling state, it has now grown to be something I am proud to call my own. Many of my close friends are loyal regular readers and are always keen to be part of the Chompchomp phenomenon by joining me on my gastronomic expeditions around Perth.
My wedding expert friend Tara is one of these supportive people and she jumped at the opportunity of a night out with our respective others to Duende to celebrate my first blogiversary coupled with a bit of “wedding talk”.
It was one of those first glorious balmy spring days and I was drunk on the delightful sunshine and perhaps maybe also the bottle of Billecart the boy bought for us in the afternoon. I donned a short summery frock, slipped on some killer Diavolina platforms and bared my winter legs. Call it a stark rebuttal against any further threats of the dreaded cold weather!
We started at The Garden for a few rounds of drinks before heading over to Duende for dinner. Neither Tara nor her husband suffer from any dietary intolerance and were happy to order a selection of dishes that were suitable for me so we could all share. We started off with a bottle of gorgeously bright ruby coloured Pe Tinto Tempranillo, an organic and biodynamic wine from Portugal. We then proceeded to work our way through most of the gluten free options on the menu. Of which there were many!
The marinated olive selection contained over four different types with a broad range of textures and tastes to suit all of our palates. The chorizo had generous amount of heat in it and was thickly cut and juicy.
Patatas bravas are one of my favourite Spanish dishes. Parboiled potatoes are deep fried before being coated with a variety of spices, vinegar and red pepper. They can be served with a number of different types of sauces depending on the area of Spain and which can range from a tomato based sauce to more of an aioli style. These crispy slices of heaven had a generous paprika dusting and were seasoned with some lemony tasting vinegar. The level of spiciness was fairly mild and I would have preferred a bit more of a punch however the Boy was relieved with the relatively low heat.
The pork belly had a luscious creamy texture and literally melted into the polenta without any fatty aftertaste. The pear and plump muscatels gave a pleasant sweet note but I did my best to avoid these two fructose filled fruits.
The lamb rump was quite a surprise. I didn’t really read the menu carefully enough to be prepared for the enchanting sweet maple flavours from the fenugreek. It actually took us all a few moments to work out where the flavours came from! The rump was succulent and pink.
The pickled beetroots were hidden under a loose pile of fresh rocket, goat cheese and hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are my favourite nut, in part due to my praline addiction but additionally it brings back indulgent teenage memories of eating Nutella by the jar full. Although an interesting dish this wasn’t one of the better ones.
Initially we were a little reserved in ordering the beef cheeks after hearing negative feedback from a friend that found them to be dry. Cheeks are a cheaper cut of meat with a higher proportion of fat, sinew, connective tissue and bone in them. Provided they are cooked correctly this generally means they are more delicious, though they do require a little time and care when cooking.
We were right in taking the gamble because our cheeks were incredibly flavoured, delicately tender and we really should have ordered two serves and maybe left out the beetroot.
The sensation of squeaky haloumi always brings a smile to my face. Coupled with rich smoky undertones of eggplant puree this simple dish was a crowd pleaser.
Px vinegar is made with the sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes and was the perfect combination with gorgonzola to top the earthy mushrooms. I know I’m a little biased as I have a mushroom addiction but these slippery little nuggets packed a powerful burst of flavour and I could have eaten many more had I not already stuffed my face with everything else!
We chose 3 out of the selection of five available French and Spanish cheeses and it was quite a feat narrowing it down to three. If I wasn’t already bursting at the seams I would have said one of each! Our choice included a semi-firm cow’s cheese Mahon from Spain and two French cheeses; Roquefort, a creamy blue sheep cheese and Sainte Maure, a soft buttery goat cheese.
For sweets we ordered the doughnut balls with condensed milk ice cream. Obviously these were not for me as they are full of all the gluten in the land; a fact my companions were very content with as it meant there was all the more for them!
After reading a multitude of positive reviews on Duende over the years I cannot believe it took me this long to try them for myself. They more than exceeded my expectations and have to be the best tapas I have experienced in Perth by far. We loved it so much that we actually headed back for a quick midweek bite later that following week! And yes….we ordered more of those patatas bravas.Duende 662 Newcastle Street, Leederville 6007 | (08) 9228 0123 | http://www.duende.com.au/ Price: $$$ (Tapas share dishes range from $4-25, we share 11 dishes/4 people = stuffed!) Food: 4.5/5 (if I had more room I would have tried more!) Service: 4/5 (dishes didn’t come out too quickly, friendly and helpful) Ambience: 4.5/5 (buzzing vibe, I could nearly imagine myself back in Spain…) Drinks: 4/5 (interesting wine list, plenty of by the glass options) Total: 17/20
I like to be organised. Being surrounded by a world of order gives me a great feeling of peace and tranquillity. To avoid any confusion or lack of clarity for our wedding guests I ensured to keep them well-informed. Save the Date Cards were mailed out a year in advance and the Boy and I designed a detailed wedding website that is packed full of information about Phuket, Kamala and our chosen resort Andara.
This is not to say that a formal wedding invitation will be overlooked. In a similar vein to my early wedding dress shopping days, I found out that I know very little about such matters and was relieved to be invited to a Wedding Upmarket Expo by my friend Tara. Tara is an expert in all things wedding and quickly steered me on the right track helping me obtain the beginning of a vision of what I would like. We came upon a stall for Annie P Paperie. I have driven past their store in Nedlands numerous times and was always curious as to their individual style. We flipped through a few of their portfolios and my curiosity heightened to keen interest.
I made plans to meet the Bestie out at Elixir Coffee one Monday morning to fuel our creativity with caffeine before heading to Annie P’s to start the exciting process of invitation design. Elixir Coffee call themselves coffee specialists and they certainly do take their coffee very seriously. They source single origin unroasted beans direct from traders to promote fair trade and to ensure they only buy beans that are in season and fresh. All beans are roasted on site at Elixir.
I chose the El Salvador coffee “Finca La Fany” served as my usual short macchiato; it was quite sweet and nearly honey-like in flavour with hints of citrus. The Bestie chose one of the house blends which consisted of three beans: El Salvador “Talapo”, El Salvador “Miravalle” and Guatemala “Santa Clara Antigua” which she had served as her usual latte. We ended up both going back for seconds. And thirds. No wonder I felt so hyped for the rest of the day!
For a bite to eat I ordered the Pollastrini sardines on toast. It was served with some fresh fennel, capers, tomato and parsley. I requested a fried egg on top which I was told I could have “only this once”. I figured they must get very busy and don’t do any menu alterations normally. Pollastrini sardines are not like your standard supermarket variety. They may cost $7 a can at Scutti our local green grocers, but you definitely get what you pay for. There is no overpowering fishy odour and the meat is chunky. Cantina 663 often has them on their menu. The thinly sliced fennel was wonderfully crunchy and the addition of the egg gave some gooeyness to tie it all together.
The Bestie chose the house made granola clusters with berries and yoghurt. Initially she was a little disappointed in the small number of clusters however once she started eating she could not stop raving about how fabulous it was. She was amazed at the juicy bursts of tart flavour and was thankful the only sweetness was natural.
At this point we had overdosed on coffee and needed something a little more refreshing to the palate before we headed over to Annie P’s. The Bestie chose a pot of soursop tea for us to share with a slice of flourless orange cake. The tea wasn’t sour at all and had a tropical fruit flavour a bit like a combination of pineapple and pear. It was immensely revitalising and just what we needed. The flourless orange cake was fairly standard; reliably delicious but certainly nothing out of the ordinary.
Excited albeit a tad jittery we left with full tummies guided by Google maps in the direction of the Paperie. It was a gorgeously balmy day and so we both decided to walk but after about 15 minutes of walking I started to get the feeling we were heading in the wrong direction. I couldn’t understand how Google could be wrong. Google couldn’t be wrong could they?!
After a few more minutes as we walked past each landmark my feeling grew much stronger until we eventually agreed we were on the wrong track. By this point in time we were running extremely late for our appointment with the graphic designer so we turned around and sprinted for the car! No more walking in the sunshine! Hot and sweaty we both piled into our cars and I plugged the address into my Tom Tom which confirmed my suspicions that Google was totally wrong! A quick few minutes hurtling through the back streets of Nedlands and we arrived all flustered but pumped for action!Elixir Coffee 45a/145 Stirling Highway, Nedlands 6009 | (08) 9389 9333 | www.elixircoffeespecialists.com Price: $ Under $15 /meal, cash only, free WIFI Food: 3/5 (small selection of dishes, gluten free bread available) Service: 3/5 (quick and efficient but don’t ask for alterations!) Ambience: 3/5 (alfresco, café or living room style areas to choose from) Drinks: 5/5 (the coffee is out of this world – I will be back if anything just for the coffee) Total: 14/20
I hadn’t seen my Bestie since our last outing together a few weeks ago when we went hunting for my wedding dress. Once we finally did manage to meet up, we had so much to catch up on that it was hard to know where to start. I was excited to hear all about her new yoga business venture that she was embarking upon. I have never seen her so inspired and passionate about something before and it makes me so happy that she has found her calling in life. Not everyone gets to experience such satisfaction.
Late last year during the whole post-Engagement party debacle we stopped in at The Sentinel for a couple of drinks while we were waiting for The George’s manager to get back to us with the whereabouts of my iPod. In sharp contrast to the abrupt, unfriendly service we had received only minutes before at The George; the Sentinel staff all greeted us cheerily as we entered. This jovial attitude left a lasting impression on our memories.
Recalling our previous experience, we decided to return back for a quick lunch in between errands in the city. The Sentinel is owned by Stephen Scaffidi who also owns the popular Bar One. Sentinel’s dining areas are stunning, sophisticated and oh so suave – I simply love all that dark polished wood and massively high ceilings. Initially when the restaurant first opened early 2011 they received a scathing review by The Australian’s veteran food critic John Lethlean. John scored them a measly 1 out of 5. Luckily for them since then it appears they have picked up their game receiving much better recent reports in local restaurant reviews and blog posts.
We bubbled in to the swanky restaurant chitty chatting away like only besties can. Over the moon to be having some quality “bestie-time” as we like to call it we were determined to make the most of this quick and impromptu catch up. I hadn’t called in advance to notify the chef of my allergies and so I was prepared to be given limited choices off their menu. To my surprise, our waiter and the kitchen worked together to provide us with a number of options to choose from and were not bothered at the potential nuisance of my requests.
As we waited for our food to arrive, our waiter brought to the table some complimentary, freshly toasted gluten free bread with whipped butter. This is not something that happens often and I was suitably impressed. As it was only a Monday afternoon, we both initially hesitated as we gazed over the wine list until we saw some champagne and from then on our rubber arms didn’t need any twisting. Glasses of Mumm champagne in hand we settled in quickly and managed to cover a lot of conversational ground in a short space of time, spanning from weddings to people management through to newsletter writing and coconut water! (Which by the way I am totally addicted to at the moment.)
Kate and I planned to share a few entrees together and seeing as I didn’t get the quinoa dish I wanted recently at Cullen Wines I was keen to try The Sentinel’s version. Kate has been a fan of quinoa for years and has been trying to convince me how awesome it is for some time. It was served with roasted beetroot and dollops of tangy smoked goat’s cheese perched on top of some pickled radish. I am starting to understand what she has been going on about – if prepared with the right foods it is a lovely treat. I did however struggle to taste the smoky notes of the goat’s cheese, they were too subtle.
We also ordered the marinated octopus served with julienned carrot and fennel with a fresh lemony chilli dressing. The octopus was lovely and soft without any chewiness. My only gripe was the serving size – way too small for something this tasty (and for the price I guess)!
For our third dish we chose the steak tartare. This is something I have enjoyed a number of times at Rockpool and been blown away every time with its buttery texture and gentle flavours. Recently the Boy and I have been part-time vegetarians so it actually felt a little odd if not a bit scary to eat this dish once again. To make matter less palatable the meat wasn’t quite as fresh as I would prefer if raw. The crisp and peppery watercress helped somewhat to disguise the tainted flavour of the meat.
The potato chips served with this dish were nothing like what we were expecting. I was anticipating some frites, something I consider a classic combination with steak tartare. Instead there were a neat stack of potato crisps. They were cut incredibly paper-thin to the point of being translucent but unfortunately they tasted like stale oil and not much else. This potentially amazing but simple dish was very poorly executed.
Overall our lunch was enjoyable but with a few hits and misses and I would be keen to go back to sample a greater selection of their food in order get a better idea on their overall quality. The service was friendly and efficient and I look optimistically to my next visit.
Like Me on Facebook!Sentinel Bar and Grill 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 6103 0507 | http://www.sentinelbar.com.au/ Price: $$$$ (Entrees/snacks $4.50-21.50, Mains $26.5-45) Food: 2.5/5 (raw meat has got to be fresh) Service: 3.8/5 (brilliant and enthusiastic) Ambience: 4.5/5 (lovely warm décor, very swanky feel to it) Drinks: 4.5/5 (extensive and interesting wine list) Total: 15.3/20
I was woken up abruptly at around 3am feeling very nauseous and sweaty with my stomach churning and cramping. I had a big day ahead of me with a number of appointments booked at bridal boutiques and I refused to accept that anything could ruin this special day. I gobbled down some antacid tablets and managed to scull a few mouthfuls of Gaviscon. I lay still in bed hoping that my increasing desire to vomit would pass and that I would at least get a couple more hours of sleep before I had to rise in the morning for what would be a very busy day!
The sun rose a few sleepless hours later and I continued to try to force myself into believing I felt ok but to no avail. Our first appointment time crept up way too quickly such that I was relieved to get a message from Kate saying she had slept in and was running late as I was struggling to get going myself. She cancelled the first booking for me and embarking in the pouring rain we managed to make it to our second booking. Woozy and achy I worked my way through so many dresses as best I could and prayed I wouldn’t vomit when the assistant cinched the dress as tight as she could to “show off my figure”. The problem with our first two boutiques was that their display dresses were all size 12s and they were all far too large, so the girls in the store would clamp the dress with a bundle of clips and pins. From this I was supposed to be able to visualise what the right size dress would look like! A very difficult task indeed, especially with a gastro developing in the mist.
As an interlude to all this rushing around Kate suggested we look along Scarborough Beach Road for a gluten-free café she recalled seeing previously. We initially stopped in at the New Norcia Bakehouse where the only gluten-free options they had to offer were a selection of cakes. Given the state of my stomach I wasn’t one to brave the stickies and we continued further down the road. We stumbled upon Cultural Tastes which is both a shop and café rolled into one.
I walked in presuming that my on-the-spot demands for no wheat, no gluten, no onion and all the rest would be too big an ask for such a small quaint little café. To my delight I was met with a series of “of course, no problems” to all of my requests – no onion in the omelette, gluten-free toast, and finally a freshly juiced fruitless, fructose friendly drink made especially for us with carrot, celery and ground coriander.
Our omelette came out quickly and was fresh and piping hot, full of delicious roasted vegetables and packed with flavour. The side salad was crisp and dressed thoroughly but not excessively so. The gluten-free bread was the only downside of the meal and could be improved.
Our juices were divine. Iced and not watery; the dash of ground coriander gave it an ideal flavour boost. They were a refreshing improvement on my own concoctions at home for sure. Thankfully our rest stop saved the day and gave me enough energy to solder on and continue our journey.
Our last stop was at Fara Couture, where our appointment had fortunately been changed to later in the day. This allowed my darling bestie/personal chauffeur for the day to take me home for an exhausted slump on the couch for a few hours before braving the bridal world once more. We received a warm and animated welcome from Fara herself who had opened the store on her day off for us and another bride to be. I noted her dresses were all a little bit different from the bog-standard ones we had looked at over the course of the day. I also liked the idea she makes them all herself rather than outsourcing overseas. We have definitely found a couple of potentials but I’m not ready to stop looking by any means yet…..Cultural Tastes 167 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn 6016 | (08) 9242 1688 Price: $$ (I was too sick to remember to take a pic of the menu but it came to $40 for 2 omelettes, 2 juices and a coffee) Food: 3/5 (great omelette, they need to source better GF bread though) Service: 3.2/5 (not overtly friendly but very accommodating) Ambience: 3/5 (quaint little courtyard out the back in the sunshine) Drinks: 3.5/5 (I didn’t get to try their coffee due to my illness but the juice was excellent) Total: 12.7/20
I really need to start looking for a wedding dress! Or at least I need to start to have some sort of vision on what I am looking for! It all seems like a bit of an overwhelming task to begin so thankfully my bridesmaid Amber took the lead and knowing my style she kindly booked an appointment for me with Donna Tobin. The task of co-ordinating all three of us (Kate, Amber and I) proved more difficult than we thought as on the day each of us ran late for our own individual reasons. This resulted in us arriving nearly 45 minutes late for our appointment. We sheepishly entered the old bungalow style house in Subiaco apologising profusely all hot and sticky from the rush.
After browsing through her collection I chose four different styles to try on and in nearly a blink of an eye our time was up! I had officially entered this weird world of bridal and was starting to really enjoy myself! We walked away with some valuable ideas on things to look for in our next dress expedition and chatted excitedly about them as we headed down to Rokeby Road in search of a thirst quencher!
After a short few steps we arrived out the front of Bistro Felix – a familiar favourite of mine. I have dined here a number of times and always been impressed with whole package – great service, food and prices. They have a “petit lunch” menu which you can enjoy two courses for $40 or three courses for $45 including a glass of house wine. Excellent value right in the heart of Subiaco! We relaxed into the bistro feel of the place while we cooled our parched throats with some buttery sparkling wine (which I cannot recall the name!).
The Boy and I have recently been on a bit of a vegan detox which has left me craving fish, fish and more fish. Consequently I went a bit overboard and ordered fish for both my entrée and my main. Very unconventional but so satisfying! The home cured gravlax was tender and slightly sweet however could have done with a touch more creamy sauce gribiche.
Amber ordered the “wild game” terrine which was made from pork and had pistachios speckled through it. It was topped with some port and apple chutney and served with some toasted brioche. It looked so meaty and she was very happy with her choice.
Kate decided to go vegetarian and ordered the buffalo mozzarella salad with artichoke, sun-dried tomato and aubergine. Her dish was beautifully balanced and she was delighted to note that every component of her salad was served at the perfect cool temperature with no pockets of tepid food to mar any of the flavours.
My main was so simple but executed perfectly, two fillets of garfish with a lightly dressed salad and some fresh lemon. It complemented my entrée just how I wanted it to and I was left satisfied with my fish fix.
Amber had the wild mushroom risotto which was packed full of meaty mushrooms of all types and topped with shaving of parmesan. I was very envious of this dish!
Kate had the Toulouse sausage which is a traditional pork sausage from the South-western part of France. Her meal was a decent size with a fat juicy pork sausage sitting atop of some creamy Paris mash. It was garnished with a colourful array of flowers that she shared around for all of us to nibble on for fun.
Of course I had to order the mushroom sides. As many of your dear readers will know I have a strong affinity for mushrooms and seeing as I couldn’t have the risotto this was the next best thing! They were served in the cutest little Scanpan pot and were so succulent. Hidden in the pot amongst the mushrooms were also some little gems of whole roasted garlic cloves which oozed out their pasty contents into the pan giving even more flavour!
The girls had the chocolate and caramel tart which was so decadent and rich. Both of them struggled to finish their dessert after their decent sized mains. I ordered the crème brûlée (which I had NO trouble eating by the way!). After my previous lumpy experience of this dish at Celyta’s where instead of caramelising the surface they poured blobs of toffee on top, this was a wonderful and much more traditional reprieve to my taste buds. Always a favourite, I will look forward to continuing to return to Bistro Felix for more long lazy lunches in the future.Bistro Felix 118-120 Rokeby Road, Subiaco 6008 | (08) 9388 3077 | www.bistrofelix.com.au Price: $$$$ (Petit lunch menu 2/3 courses $40/$45, Dinner entrees $22-26, Mains $37-41) Food: 4.8/5 (excellent value, would go back just for the mushrooms!) Service: 4/5 (fairly attentive, occasionally needed prompting for topping up our wine) Ambience: 3.7/5 (great bistro vibe – love the artwork on the walls) Drinks: 4/5 (big wine list – lots of options) Total: 16.5/20
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On the last night of my 3 day birthday eat-drink bender we booked a table at Nobu for a romantic night out just the two of us. My only request to the Boy for my birthday present this year was for him to get me a gift that would be a total surprise! Upon suggesting this to him some weeks before I was met with a number of retorts and complaints as he was certain that there would be no way he could think of something without any guidance. I knew he was wrong – when he puts his mind to it he comes up with the most awesome present ideas.
As the taxi pulled up outside our house, the Boy handed me a birthday card in a red envelope saying “Here’s your present!” I decided to wait until we got to (A)LURE for our pre-dinner drinks before opening it. It was such a fine evening so after ordering our drinks we sat out on the balcony basking in the setting sun. I opened the envelope and in it was a card containing a printed piece of paper……curious….
“Happy Birthday Beautiful! Hope you’ve had a marvellous birthday and looking forward to an extra special one next year!” Before even reading the enclosed piece of paper it suddenly dawned on me what he meant and I felt an overwhelming feeling of excitement and happiness! Next year for my birthday we will be in Thailand celebrating our marriage!!! Wooot!!!
To my even greater surprise the paper read as follows:
“Aerial Combat Flight for Two: If Top Gun looked like fun then you’ll be thrilled by these combat formation flights with your family member alongside you! Strap into a war bird and get set for an adrenalin fuelled flight!
When you and your companion arrive at the airport we’ll have you looking the part in no time when you put on your flight suit! You are then strapped into the seat behind the pilot and briefed on the mission ahead. Then it’s out to the flight line – the fun is about to begin!
The combat formation flight is performed with two CJ-6A Nanchangs. At the beginning of your flight you will experience the art of close formation as practiced by the air forces of the world. Then it’s time to split the formation. The fight is on! Diving and turning to gain position behind the opposing aircraft, your pilot will take you on an amazing aerial combat adventure, using real military rules and procedures. This is not a simulator or computer game – this is the real thing!
The CJ-6A Nanchang is the current primary trainer of the Chinese air force, with a 9-cylinder Radial-engine and sliding canopies. This aircraft is still in use, being employed by several air forces in training military pilots around the world.
After your aerial combat flight you and your friend will climb out of the cockpits, grinning from ear to ear and buzzing all over with excitement after having experienced an absolutely mind-blowing flight!
Far out!!! This has to be one of the most original and brilliant presents yet! The Boy has totally excelled himself! After guzzling a couple of glasses of champagne we moved over to Nobu to continue our evening.
We were warmly greeted and shown to our table where our waitress offered to bring us the cocktail special of the evening. It was something sparkling and peachy but unfortunately I cannot recall much other detail. The drink was very sweet almost overpoweringly so but totally enjoyable nevertheless. Without even needing to ask, she came back to our table as we were sipping our drinks to remove our normal soy from the table and replace it with gluten-free soy.
Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the menu and was thrilled to enthusiastically describe some of the preparation in the kitchen to us. We started with the yellow tail sashimi with jalapeño – a true example of how Nobu does Japanese differently with Peruvian flair. For this signature dish, we were advised to eat each delicate velvety slice of tuna with a coriander leaf to experience all the flavours. The cool freshness of the coriander along with the bite of the jalapeño was out of this world! Being a big fan of wasabi – the heat of the jalapeño is quite a different kind of heat and made a unique and interesting change.
Miso is traditionally used as a paste to flavour a vast number of Japanese dishes. To dramatically increase the flavour Nobu has pioneered the technique of processing the paste to create “dry miso” and he uses it throughout the menu as a powerful seasoning. To make the dry miso, the miso paste is spread out onto baking paper and cooked for a few hours in the oven at low temperature. It is then crushed in a food processor to produce small granular chips of intense flavour. Our white fish was served with dried red miso, fried garlic chips, a sprinkling of chives and a tangy lemony dressing. After the combination of heat and sweet coriander with the yellow tail tuna, the more salty and acrid flavours of this dish was a great progression in flavours. An excellent second choice.
If you are going to order anything off the menu – the Miso Black Cod is a signature dish that cannot be missed. This is where you really better believe the hype. After being wowed by a copy of the same dish at Ku De Ta in Bali, I can truly appreciate how the original version here at Nobu has been perfected and mastered. The fish is marinated in miso for no less than three days allowing it to fully permeate through the thick slab of Alaskan Black Cod. The texture of the fish is so buttery and slithers into your mouth like silk.
The pork belly with miso caramel is another signature dish but this in no way compared to the show stopping black cod. The miso had caramelised to a sticky sweetness but the crackling lacked oomph in its crunch which was a little disappointing.
The marron spinach salad was a bit of a spontaneous order as we originally wanted to have a mushroom dish but were informed that all the mushrooms were marinated in wheat based soy and therefore not suitable. Surprisingly the spinach was the highlight of this dish with the dry miso giving such an incredible flavour. The marron was quite humble in comparison to its salad.
The soft-shelled crab was one of the specials of the evening and I was so pleased to hear it could be adapted to be gluten-free! It was served with fresh watermelon and sesame which I haven’t seen before. Although I know I shouldn’t eat watermelon I did eat some this time and its bursting watery sweetness was an interesting match with the salty crispy crab. I really shouldn’t have though because I did suffer a bit the next day! Watermelon and other melons are a no-no for fructose malabsorbers.
Now that we had sampled some hot dishes and some cold dishes, we moved onto some of the sashimi and sushi. We order some squid, salmon and smelt egg sashimi. The sashimi was fairly good quality but not the best we have ever tried. The squid was particularly well prepared with no chewiness. It was the sushi rolls that we both found most special. The tuna and asparagus rolls looked so simple but they were like little bombs of flavour and the larger house made rolls were even more so. I highly recommend all of the sushi rolls we tried.
For dessert I ordered the Bento box purely based on it having green tea ice-cream which I adore. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she opened the box lid and sitting innocently in there was a gluten-free chocolate fondant with one lonely little scoop of green tea ice-cream. My eyes lit up like a child at Christmas as I cut my spoon into the centre and out gushed delicious chocolaty goo. My birthday celebrations were satisfyingly complete!
Nobu definitely broke the birthday budget, and it may indeed be sometime before we return there but it was totally worth it!
Follow Me on Facebook!Nobu Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com Price: $$$$ (Cold dish $18-65, Hot dish $22-52, Sashimi $3-10/piece, Sushi rolls $8-28) Food: 4.5/5 (one word – cod! OMG!) Service: 3.5/5 (although initially brilliant, service slowed significantly as evening progressed) Ambience: 4.5/5 (great lighting and relaxing but sophisticated) Drinks: 4/5 (tried the Hokuetsu Junmai Daiginjo sake – floraly sweet and refreshing) Total: 16.5/20
It is so exciting to have all my family over in Perth for our engagement party tonight. My Mum and Dad have been divorced since I was a young teenager and so my sister and I have grown accustomed to dividing our time during any major holiday events between each of our parents and their loved ones. Incredibly this party will not only be a first for us all to be together in Perth, but it also will be the first family event that both my parents have attended simultaneously since I was a little child. Understandably I am thrilled to have them all here!
Dad and his wife arrived late the night before so we planned to catch up on the morning of the party for a light brunch and chatter at the Greenhouse. The Greenhouse seems to be a restaurant you either love or you hate. I have eaten here a number of times and have never been disappointed with the food or the service. The bizarre interiors are all made from recycled materials which gives it a real bohemian greenie vibe. Even the light fittings – which look quite spectacular – are actually just made from wound up barbed wire fencing. The meals are served in quirky pieces such as old milk bottles and terracotta plant pots. It definitely is not for everyone, but I love it more and more with each visit.
Last time I came here for breakfast I had wild mushrooms with slow cooked eggs served on my own gluten free bread – it’s such a shame they do not have any gluten free bread available. The mushroom dish was very memorable and I was eager to see if something similar remained on their ever changing seasonal menu. To my exquisite excitement a new version of this dish was on the menu accompanied by their amazingly gooey slow cooked eggs and some grilled polenta. I wasn’t going to need my BYO gluten free bread after all. Everyone at the table except for Dad ordered the mushrooms and none of us were disappointed with our choices. The eggs were perfectly soft and I’m sure there must have been at least four different types of mushrooms in there. As we sat in the fabulous Perth sunshine basking in its therapeutic glow I felt proud to call this city my hometown.
My Dad is a fashion designer for his own shoe label and spends a lot of his time for work in and out of China. So when he saw there was crab congee on the menu it was no surprise to us all when he ordered it for himself. I am yet to decide how I feel about congee; I think it’s my love of eggs for breakfast that always sways me away from choosing to eat it and I always end up opting for ordering a dish with googs instead. I had a little taste of his congee and found the saltiness and texture of the crab gave it that perfect lift, turning it from a potential bland baby food into a filling and delicious meal. Despite this deliciousness, my mushroom addiction overrode any regrets as I quickly devoured my own amazing breakfast and was left wishing the serve was a touch bigger!
After breakfast, I walked back to the car hand in hand with the boy as we both enjoyed the glorious warmth of the sun I could feel it energise me and give me increasing bounce in my stride. We chatted animatedly about our wedding plans for Phuket. By the time we got back to the car I was feeling a little on the ditsy side and I ended up leaving our parking ticket on the boot of the car as we drove off towards the exit. Unable to find the ticket when at the exit, I started to wonder if this beautiful morning was too good to be true and that the party day was destined to be filled with mishaps. We drove back to our original location and the boy started scanning the ground while I rummage through my handbag hastily. But to my surprise and relief there was the paper ticket still sitting there innocently on top of the car boot! We exited the car park without any further drama and made our way back to my Dad’s hotel room where I was spoilt rotten with a whole suitcase of Robert Robert and Diavolina shoes!
Score: Service 7.9/10 Food 9/10 Venue 8.5/10Greenhouse 100 St Georges Terrace, Perth 6000 | (08) 9481 8333 | greenhouseperth.com
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!