Tour de France 2014 – Grand Depart

IMG_2496I’ve sat through many years of the Tour De France on TV. Chef gets really into it, almost to the point of sitting on the sofa with his bike helmet on. And so, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that our trip to the UK just happened to be at the same time the Tour De France was in England this year. Admittedly, I was looking forward to see it live and in person. IMG_2490

The people of Yorkshire were out in force to watch the Grand Depart. Stage Two of the tour de France peddled its way from Harrogate, through the beautiful countryside of the Pennine hills to the finish line in the city of Sheffield. IMG_2482

After a 5 mile walk from the car park on the outskirts of Sheffield, Chef found a good spot to watch the cyclists make their way through the village of High Bradfield. There was a carnival atmosphere - yellow bikes and bunting everywhere. Before the competitors came through, there was a parade too.IMG_2552

On stage two there were some challenging category graded climbs. It’s crazy to see how fast these riders go – it’s so much faster than it looks on television. The pure speed of the cyclists going down a hill is amazing. Chef got a good spot – watching the riders coming into the village on a downhill bend and then after they’d whizzed by, a steep uphill climb.

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The stats for the cote de Bradfield;IMG_2515

10470607_761693573882128_3552737804984825264_nThe Le tour Yorkshire was a massive success, with a fantastic turnout. There’s now talk of it becoming a yearly event, as Yorkshire is considered a hub for road riders in the UK.

 

Back in Blighty at last!!

IMG_2434Just shy of a decade away from the UK (9 years and 10 months), we arrived at Birmingham International Airport, for a holiday in England. Driving to my cousins Derbyshire home, I marvelled at the fact it was almost 9pm and still broad daylight!! I love long summer nights in the UK and we will be able to get so much more out of our holiday with more daylight hours. Driving though the Midlands, I also couldn’t believe how brilliantly green and lush everything was.

IMG_2407I view myself as a bit of a Pom. I was born in Perth, Western Australia – but with English parents we would yo-yo back and forth to Blighty a few times through my childhood. I have lived in Yorkshire four times in my life – a few years here and there adding up to about 10 years.

When Chef and I had been seeing each other for a couple of years, we did an 18 month working holiday over in England too. Chef loved it and I loved showing him my family and friends from my “other life”.

IMG_3275We’ve reminisced for years about returning and we have finally made it. This time we’re sharing our other life with Little Chef and he is loving every moment of his first overseas trip.

I have a pommie to-do list as long as my arm. Places to visit, food to eat… My Mum has warned me that I will return to Perth 10kgs heavier after too many fish and chip suppers!! Join us on our trip around the UK, we’re visiting many places for lots of fun and food! IMG_2326

Straits Cafe – Rendezvous Hotel Scarborough

IMG_2260Rendezvous Scarborough and Chef go way back. Back when he was a 4th year apprentice – probably about 2002, he was “Executive Chef” for one night in the Rendezvous kitchen – leading a brigade of HGT apprentice chefs to cook a banquet feast at the HGT annual ball. That year the ball was held at Rendezvous (or “Ob City”). We stayed the night, and had a swim in the rooftop pool. It was nice, but starting to look a bit tired.

Fast forward 12 years and Rendezvous is all shiny and new. Its muti-million dollar refurb over the past couple of years has injected new life into the 1980s hotel. Scarborough as a whole is enjoying a resurgence, with a new café or bar opening every other week and the City of Stirling starting a much needed upgrade to the beachfront in a matter of weeks. In another year or two Scarborough should be back to it’s bustling heyday.

3I was kindly invited to the winter menu launch at the Straits Cafe. I’d been to Rendezvous for my work Christmas party last year and was keen to see more of the impressive make over. We met in one of the stunning 25th floor suites for canapés, oysters and espresso martinis. The view, by night, from the top floor was stunning.

We then headed back down to Straits Café (formerly The Pines). It has a contemporary feel with floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the Indian Ocean. It would be a stunning venue for a sunset dinner. We met a fellow Perth blogger Kristy – the “Queen of Bad timing”. It was great to finally meet her and have a natter about food with her and her partner Jeremy. You should check out her wonderful blog at http://www.queenofbadtiming.com

IMG_2265We had some moreish Truffle Popcorn to nibble on whilst we looked over the menu. Executive Chef, Wendelin Ulrich (formerly of PCEC) welcomed us and explained that the winter menu was made up of simple comfort food, with earthy flavours.

For entrée we had;

IMG_2268Chorizo croquettes ($16) with a spiced cauliflower puree and crispy sweet potato Chef thought these were flavoursome – the smokiness of the chorizo enhanced the flavour of the cauliflower.

1Twice cooked free range pork belly ($23) seared scallops, honey & cinnamon infused pumpkin (gf) The pork was cooked perfectly and I just love the combination of belly and scallop. The honey and cinnamon pumpkin was a wonderful warming flavour – perfect for a winter menu.

2Roast duck breast ($39) grilled asparagus, pangrattato, kipfler, shallot and agrumes dressing The duck was succulent and I loved the batons of kipfler.

IMG_2284Oven roasted lamb rump ($37) served with soufflé potato, seasonal baby vegetables & jus Chef enjoyed this meaty dish. The lamb was very juicy.

After our lovely dinner, feeling rather full, we went to the lobby bar for some srumtious mini desserts and nightcaps.

IMG_2299los acones origin dark chocolate fondant ($15) vanilla bean ice cream & coffee sauce

IMG_2298mandarin & coconut mascarpone cream ($16) meringue, candied orange & citrus gel (g/f)

The Rendezvous is an absolute knock out. Hardly recognisable from a few years ago. It would be great to treat yourself to a date night or overnight stay.

Chef and I would like to thank Natasha, Wendelin, Matthew and their teams for a wonderful night.

Straits Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wild Duck – Nedlands

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Wild Duck on Urbanspoon
Wild Duck restaurant was an Albany favourite for over six years, winning many accolades and awards. In 2012, with nothing much left to accomplish in the great southern, the Chef-owners Andrew Holmes and Clinton Maclou upped sticks and moved their restaurant to Nedlands.

 

New Image3On arrival, we are greeted and seated in a small dining room, one of three intimate spaces at Wild Duck. It’s a modern restaurant, with quirky little duck statues and warm timber furnishings. Wild Duck is Modern Australian – fine dining, in it’s food style and very well regarded for its degustation menu. Chef and I opt to dine a la carte. The service is friendly, but off to a shaky start – it’s some time till we get a food menu and the first drink I order never appears.

 

We look over the menu and the entrée “Dam Buster” ($25) catches my eye. Soon Chef and I are holidaying where the original dam busters (a World War Two plane operation) practiced their secret missions – The Derwent Reservoir in England’s Peak District. So choosing that was a no-brainer

 

Wild Duck 1The “Dam Buster” arrives with theatre. As the domed cloche is lifted off the plate, it releases fragrant spirals of smoke. The delicious smoked seafood chowder is held back by the dam wall – fish mouse piped along the plate. Perfectly cooked scallops and prawns are on the side. I can see why this is one of Wild Duck’s most popular dishes – it’s rarely off the menu.

 

Chef enjoys the charcuterie plate ($29). It’s brimming with small goods. A smear of chicken liver parfait, pork loin with confit pork, prosciutto and pork jelly.

New Image2We have a delightful mid-course dish. It’s a roasted potato consume, with a quenelle of potato and a drop of cream. We really enjoy this, it’s excellent and quite different. It tastes just like roasted potato skins.

The wine list is extensive – a mix of Australasian and European wines. Chef chooses a fab little red from the Heathcoat region in Victoria – renowned for producing premium Shiraz. The Archer Eagle Eye Shiraz ($84 for bottle) is wonderfully smooth. Despite the initial hiccup, the service is very good.

 

New Image5I enjoy Pork Belly ($39) for main (also with steamed pork bun, a sweet corn puree, grilled polenta and crisp apple salad. The pork is slow cooked for 16 hours; the skin is perfectly crackled. There’s a multitude of different textures on this dish, that work so well together. It’s a beautiful dish and I’m a bit miffed that the camera didn’t like the mood lighting very much. These pics don’t do the artful and precise plating any justice.

 

wild duck 3Chef tucks into the Beef Duo ($38) of braised beef and sous vide fillet is so tender. It is accompanied by veg and a parsnip and blue cheese sauce. Chef thinks the sauce was a good change from having a jus and it didn’t overpower the flavour of the meat.

 

wild duck 4For dessert, we share a Basil Crème ($16). The green crème is topped with a crumbled balsamic meringue and sweet tomato sorbet. Its the most unusual dessert I’ve ever had – perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea! Though the flavours are all sweet, it is essentially a Greek salad of sorts. We enjoy it, as a change from a traditional dessert, though my tastebuds are left a little confused. It is a challenging dish. It’s great to see these chefs are thinking outside the box.

 

Andrew and Clinton’s innovative food is a delight. It excites Chef and I. The technique and execution of the dishes are superb. The kitchen is also backed up by some fine young talent. James Cole-Bowen is on the Australian junior culinary team. Wild Duck is a perfect spot for a special occasion or date night – I’m hoping to visit again for sure!Wild Duck 2

The Coffee Club – Joondalup Sqaure

New Image1Admittedly, I don’t usually visit chain coffee shops. Though thinking about it, places like Dome and Miss Maud’s are WA businesses, which we should all support. Similarly, The Coffee Club is an Australian company and it recently opened its doors at the very new “Joondalup Gate”. It has a funky fit out, with a large communal table – great for spreading out with the morning newspaper. This particular Coffee Club is owned by local couple Neil and Andrea Platts.

New Image6It’s in an excellent spot – right opposite the humungous new Bunnings on Joondalup Drive. It has a take away window – perfect for the tradies to grab a coffee on the run. The Coffee Club is also opposite a soft-floored, shaded playground, so also great for a catch up for the mum’s n bubs. There are lots of child friendly choices on the menu, as well as a dedicated kids menu too.

New Image2Chef and I stopped there for a spot of lunch. They’d only been open a day, so we didn’t know what to expect. The service was great and the food very good too. There was a lot of choice for breakfast and lunch, and lots of hand made goodies at the counter too. I loved that each item on the menu had the kilojoules listed. Handy if you’re watching what you eat. We had;

New Image3Chef really enjoyed the Philly cheese steak sandwich ($16.90). It’s sliced steak, along with caramelised onion, roasted red capsicum and melted cheese on toasted ciabatta was very tasty. I’s served with seasoned chips and a garnish salad.

New Image4I had the roasted beetroot, feta & candied walnut salad ($16.90) This was tossed in fresh baby spinach, along with snow peas and  tossed in a zesty fat-free lemon and oregano dressing. I also added squid to this salad, which was some of the softest squid I’ve ever had. I really enjoyed this salad – beetroot, feta and walnut is a favourite combo of mine.

We’ll be back for sure. Chef is a bit partial to a Bunnings sausage sizzle, I think we’ll be headed to Coffee Club instead, next time we’re there for some hardware supplies!!New Image7

Official Launch of The Truffle Kerfuffle Festival

The 4th annual Truffle Kerfuffle is on in Manjimup, the biggest producer of truffles in the southern hemisphere, on the 28th and 29th of June. It’s a weekend full of everything a foodie could wish for; the star of the show being the West Australian truffle. There’s also fine food, wine, farmers market, master classes and more celebrity chefs than you can poke a stick at!!

IMG_1945Chef and I were more than happy to go along to the launch of the Truffle Kerfuffle at the Oceanside restaurant Bib and Tucker – which we rate very highly. We knew they’d be some excellent truffle inspired food by Head Chef Scott Bridger – and we were right! There was Jerusalem artichoke soup with shaved truffle, truffle tortellini and little bite-sized steak tartar too.

IMG_1963The Potato and Truffle Pizza was divine and whilst I was taking a snap of Chef Scott shaving the truffle onto the pizza’s, he quipped that he better not grate any of his fingers on there too!! Using WA truffle, one of the world’s most expensive ingredients, you’d want to be using every last morsel.IMG_1967

Bib and Tucker do sliders very well. So, it was no surprise that our favourite of the delicious canapés was the Manjimup marron sliders on a truffle brioche – it was outstanding. It showcased WA’s finest produce superbly.IMG_1948

I was very excited to see a truffle dog in action. The beautiful Labrador “Viva” put her very talented nose into action to sniff out some well hidden truffle. She did very well considering it was a packed room of Perth’s foodies and most of us had a truffle pizza or slider in our hand! A well trained truffle dog can actually sniff out a truffle from 50m away! The launch was also a great chance to catch up with some foodie friends too.20140603_194659

Thanks to Caitlin and Zara at Peach and Pineapple Events for the invite and A-Mazing goodie bag with delicious treats from The Wine and Truffle Co and Whittingtons. So stoked to get my mitts on some truffle oil!!

Find out more at http://www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au/IMG_9692 - Copy

Alphabet Soup – Pop Up Restaurant

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Alphabet Soup Dining on Urbanspoon
The pop up movement has taken over the world and Perth has fully embraced it. It would seem the more temporary the venue, the cooler it invariably is. Alphabet Soup Dining, a new Perth pop up restaurant, is the epitome of this. Popping up on Wednesday nights in Subiaco and soon moving around to other inner city suburbs of Perth.

Alphabet Soup is the wonderful creation of Chef Melissa Palinkas (Head Chef of The Cabin Small Bar) and Susan Whelan –  who runs the front of house with ease. The basic concept of this pop up restaurant is that each six course menu is focused around a certain ingredient. Its used on each and every dish. Last month the theme was “B for Beetroot”. Chef and I were dining the first night of the “C for Citrus” menu.

We found Alphabet Soup at Milk’d on a Subiaco side street. Milk’d café is a coffee haunt by day and usually shut at night. But not on this night! I like the idea of using a space that would ordinarily not be open. There was a warm ambiance with lots of candles and soup tins adorning the “Alphabet Soup” logo. We were greeted by Susan and joined other fellow diners, excited to see what was in store!

IMG_1982I looked at the menu in anticipation. Susan brought out something to nibble on – some citric pepper seasoned popcorn – so tasty! I made a mental note to myself that it would be a fab healthy snack to make at home.

UntitledThe preserved lemon chicken bomb was, ahem, the bomb! We squeezed in the little tube of sauce and popped the morsel in our mouths – it was scrumptious.

IMG_1995Fremantle octopus with grapefruit mojo, finger lime and black salt
When we eat out, Chef avoids octopus like the plague, as he finds it chewy. Thinking about it, I don’t think I can truly say I’ve ever had an octopus dish that I’ve enjoyed – until now. It was sliced so paper thin it melted in the mouth. That’s how octopus should be served! It was an absolute surprise and we both thought it was a cracking little dish. The saltiness of the seafood and the sweet citrus worked well. We just love finger limes.

IMG_1999Mandarin sweet n sour duck shank with a carrot cream, topped with crispy shallots
WOW! If there’s something we find Mellissa does exceedingly well its game meats – we’ve had excellent rabbit, quail and duck at The Cabin. I loved this duck shank (leg) and it had such a depth of flavour. Our favourite dish of the night!

IMG_2001Choko slaw with crab, lemon ponzu, citrus segments, herbs, cashews and black sesame
Great dish!

IMG_2003Linley Valley Pork Belly with quince a l’orange and salted desert lime
The pork belly was cooked to perfection, with a slither of crunchy crackle on. It was so tasty and left me wanting more! I’d been so focused on devouring the pork, I’d almost missed the odd look Chef was giving me. I popped some more food into my mouth and then realised why – he was waiting for me to try the salted desert lime. It was indeed salty and very tart. I first ate the desert lime on its own, then I had it along with the quince, so the sweetness of the fruit balanced out the salty taste. It was much better second time round!

IMG_2008Citrus S’mores – Blow torch marshmallow – lemon biscuit – yuzu foam – choc orange
I love the American comfort food s’mores (marshmallow and biscuit). The jaffa version was very more-ish! A fab little dessert.

IMG_2013Cheddar shortbread with lime & pepper goats cheese and an olive oil caviar
The final course – the cheese course – was lovely. The cheesy shortbread was crumbled, so eating it with the creamy goat’s cheese and little pearls of olive oil was a breeze. A great way to end a delicious meal.

Clearly Melissa has a passion for cooking. Most Chefs do – but this is another level. Head Chef of The Cabin, a favourite food spot of Chef and I, Melissa is now prepping and cooking on her days off too. That is absolute dedication!! You can really feel that love of food with each dish that is sent out from her kitchen, be it The Cabin’s or now at Alphabet Soup.

We’d recommend that you visit. Currently running on a Wednesday night, you will have to get in quick to secure a booking. This week’s dinner (June 11th) is sold out. At the Milk’d venue it’s BYO. Check out http://www.alphabetsoupdining.com/ to see current location, details and menu, it changes regularly.

Melissa’s aim is “to deliver several small courses of flavour bomb food”. The food certainly lives up to that - Melissa has an excellent pallet. Thank you to Susan and Melissa for having us dine as their guests. We thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a pleasure to meet you both!IMG_2017