On Saturday I avoid the Ikea area like a plague. The traffic banks up the freeway as people from all corners of Perth head to the big blue building. Now I accidentally lied to my American visitors in May telling them this was the biggest Ikea in the Southern hemisphere. I was 4 days off and got pipped at the post by an Ikea in Melbourne. I’ve actually never bought anything from Ikea except a 95 cent apple slicer, which is handy for making my signature apple pie (you got me I’ve only used the contraption twice). Rather I go to the Ikea for the restaurant (euphemism for canteen with plastic trays). My sister has been asking me for ages to take her to Ikea for meatballs and now with Sunday trading and no plans I find myself stuck in Ikea traffic. It’s no longer just Saturday. I was in a bit of a Swedish mood anyway as I had just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For those who haven’t read the book you are probably scratching your head but it is set in Sweden and they do mention Ikea a couple times. It really has nothing to do with anything that I am about to write about…it’s time to talk food. The restaurant was jam packed; there were long queues on both sides. As we crept along I was in two minds, do I get the salmon salad or do I get the salmon fillet except it didn’t have my favourite potato cake. After putting the salad on my tray, then taking it off, then putting it back the indecisiveness was annoying me. The salmon salad won out. It has been ages since I have seen those potato cakes at Ikea. Mind you I only dare to go into Ikea once every few months. My sister got her wish and had the meatballs and chips. Let’s be honest the food is not amazing but for some reason it does the job and you always head back there. Even I was stealing meatballs off my sister’s plate. For $20 it fed us both and we also got dessert, the dark chocolate tart. The salmon salad has your standard mixed lettuce leaves, red onion (which I scrape off), salmon fillet pieces, tomato and sour cream. I now know why people say you don’t make friends with salad because I was still hungry. To my sister’s chagrin I started on her chips. It’s my own fault I should have got the salmon fillet. Is it the most cost-effective meal going around? The answer is no. I would have probably been more satisfied with Subway or Nandos for the price I paid. But the truth of the matter is that I won’t learn my lesson. I’ll be back in a few months saying the same thing. That blue building really has a magnetic pull. This time at least I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need though I was very close to buying a grizzly bear soft toy. I got stuck in the soft toy section on the way out; Ikea has traffic even in store. I think it takes more time to get out of the store than it is to eat at the restaurant. But that won’t stop me and the thousands of others making the weekend pilgrimage to Ikea for the Swedish meatballs.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Sorry Suzy for stealing your meatballs and chips. Of course I got food envy…I was eating a salad.
It was yummy but not filling. If only the potato cakes were on the menu that day.
So I have spoken about my talent of reciting movie quotes and song lyrics incorrectly but there is one minor exception…I can quote Friends quite accurately because of the hundred billion times I have watched the show. It’s not surprising that in my daily life there will be a moment where I think of something that happened in Friends that relates to the situation I am in. Today’s treat is an example. The new Bistro Guillaume opened at Crown Perth and I was excited. I have a not so secret crush on Guillaume Brahimi, the chef behind this new restaurant. Actually it’s a family crush shared with my mum, aunty and cousins. I was lucky to meet him at the Good Food Guide awards night at Print Hall a couple weeks ago and he touched my arm. It’s like that Simpson’s moment when Bart falls for his new next-door neighbour/baby sitter Laura who jokingly reads Bart’s palm and tells him that he’s going to be rich except the swimming pool in his house is empty. She asks if she wants the pool to be full so she spits on his hand and Bart says he’s never going to wash his hand again. So yes when Guillaume touched my arm that’s what I thought of except you will be glad to know I have since washed it. Now that was way off topic and I haven’t got to the moment that reminds me of the Friends opens episode, the one where Joey speaks French. I also haven’t uttered one sentence about food. Let’s begin. On this Friday night the cousins and I had just feasted on ribs, fried chicken and chilli fries at the Merrywell and were tossing up having French or a thirty cent cone. In order to make a decision we paper, rock, scissored it. My cousin Nen was French and I was thirty but I lost out after three rounds so off to Bistro Guillaume we went (for once in my life I didn’t do a Monica I was happy to lose). Arriving to the beautiful lime green décor, chequered black and white floors and pretty light fixtures we decided to sit in the cold outside. Bistro Guillaume without doubt has the best view than other Crown Perth restaurants as it overlooks the pool area. We decided to warm up with a chai latte, flat white and peppermint tea while we shared a dessert, the riz au lait with poached rhubarb and strawberry sorbet. The riz au lait reminded us of a Lebanese dessert, riz b-haleeb aka rice pudding. The main difference is the proportion…the Khouri family size is a generous sized ramekin while the Guillaume version was a large plate with a tiny shallow hole in the middle which fit about five spoonfuls of the rice pudding mixture. Now it makes sense why French women are so skinny, their portion sizes are tiny. The main drawcard for this dessert for my cousin Nen was the poached rhubarb but the five strips that were on the plate did not satisfy. The best feature of the dessert was the strawberry sorbet despite the chill in the air we enjoyed the zingy and refreshing taste. So this dessert was disappointing to say the least but it didn’t stop me from visiting my mate Guillaume the next night for Neha’s birthday surprise. After an amazing vegetarian meal at The Prophet (see Treat 35) it was time to feast on French desserts. I wanted to take my French speaking friend Neha here for a proper meal but unfortunately the French aren’t vegetarian friendly in contrast to the abundant vegetarian options at The Prophet. So we made do with dessert…yes I know life can be hard sometimes. After some oohing and ahhing we decided on sampling the Petit Fours and then conformed to all getting the chocolate soufflé. In the Petit Fours we enjoyed a tropical jelly, pistachio macaron, salted caramel, chocolate truffle and a Madeleine biscuit. My favourite was the salted caramel (no surprises there see Treat 33) for its chewy sweet goodness. The tropical jelly had mixed reviews. I was a fan of the soft gooey texture and its fruity punch. The macaron lacked the pistachio flavour it should have but in terms of texture it was spot on. My friend Kristen made a good point, usually petit fours are complimentary at fine dining restaurants not that the $5 will break the bank but it is a valid observation. Now let’s talk about the star dessert, the chocolate soufflé. I always forget what a soufflé is mainly because I don’t eat it often. I was thinking of a chocolate moelleux, which is like a self-saucing pudding or lava cake so when you crack into the cake, chocolate sauces oozes out. Guillaume’s neighbour, Nobu does a cracking lava cake, they Japanesefy it by putting it in a bento box and adding green tea ice cream to break the richness of the chocolate. A chocolate soufflé on the other hand is lighter in texture, almost mousse/meringue like thanks to egg whites and sugar folded into chocolate. However, the light texture will fool you because it is still a rich dessert. The waiters recommend putting the pistachio ice cream scoop into the pudding, which we all did. It’s all about breaking up the richness as I quickly found myself induced into a food coma. More than anything I love the whole experience at Guillaume from the Lacoste wearing French speaking waiters, the lovely décor and plating as well as the delicious desserts (except the riz au lait). The table next to us had the shared lamb dish with the smell wafting over making me hungry again. I think I found the cure for a food coma…more food! I can’t wait to see my friend Guillaume again and try the savoury options. Now that we finally spoke about the food I can tell you about the Friends moment. I did not realise but I have been saying Guillaume’s name wrong this whole time. Apparently it is pronounced Gi – yum but I keep saying Gua-lim but I don’t realise this. Even when I’m thinking I’m saying Gi-yum I’m actually saying out loud Gua-lim. No matter how many times Neha tried to explain it to me I kept reverting back to Gua-lim. It reminds me of the episode when Joey has on his CV that he speaks French fluently but obviously he doesn’t when Phoebe tries to teach him. Je m’appelle Claude becomes blah blah Claude. Don’t worry Joey I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Can you tell I have the iPhone3? Yes it’s about time I get with technology. I actually have an old Nokia that has a flashlight, maybe if I use that as a flash when I take photos with my iPhone3…or I could just invest in the iPhone 5. Anyway there wasn’t much to see or eat in the riz au lait so opt for the chocolate souffle instead.
Is it really petit fours when you get five items? The answer is yes…petit fours is French for small oven and are small confectionary eaten at the end of the meal. So you can have your cake and it too and then have your petit fours.
C’est très magnifique = it’s very magnificent.
P.S. Happy Birthday Neha!
I love surprises. It’s become my thing. Instead of buying presents for friends I take them out but don’t tell them where. It’s such a surprise that even I forget that I gave them a surprise. Exhibit A, I took Rochelle and her little sister out for lunch to Mrs S in Maylands and was so excited about the surprise that I accidentally scraped my car on their brick letter box (sadly not the first time). Another example is taking my friend Svet to Nobu because I remembered on her USA and Canada trip how much she loves sashimi and wanted to try Nobu in New York but had no time. So I’m driving along to Crown Perth and we are not even halfway when Svet’s Baba (grandma) realised we were going to the casino and got so excited. I think Svet realised quite quickly what surprise I was hatching. Here are my basic rules in successfully pulling off a surprise: keep numbers to a minimum and tell no one (not even your mum). This is Surprise 101. However, as you soon will find out there are downfalls to being the only person who knows where you are going. I will explain. Today’s treat is about Neha’s birthday surprise. You would have met Neha before as she introduced me to Mama Tran (see Quick Treat: I love you mama). I really wanted to take Neha to Bistro Guillaume, the new French restaurant in Crown Perth but the French aren’t vegetarian friendly and I didn’t want her to get disappointed by the lack of choice on her birthday. Instead I went with my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Perth, The Prophet. You should have seen her face when she saw a whole column in the menu devoted to vegetarian options. Before we get to the destination let’s talk about the journey. Neha lives in Leeming, south of the river and so her northie friends like me make jokes all the time about the long road trip there. It takes about 20ish minutes down the Kwinana Freeway but we do usually bring a CD with us to make the time go faster. I was on schedule when I picked up Neha for the 7.30 booking but the problem was I didn’t know the quickest way to Victoria Park from this direction (remember I’m a north of the river girl after all). The fatal flaw in my plan is that all my passengers did not know where I was going so I had to go by memory. I was about to take the Canning Highway exit, which would have been the fast route but I hesitated and kept driving. I kid you not as soon as I missed that exit, fireworks started across the Swan River. Yes I did take credit for it and pretend it was part of my surprise. It was like a Sliding Doors moment, by missing the exit and taking the long way we had free fireworks. Another part of the surprise was car-aoke (thanks Rochelle for that one), singing along to the radio was a distraction tool to stop them asking where I was going. After detouring into the city I was finally heading in the Victoria Park direction. Crown Perth was conveniently located on the way and was the guess by most people in the car. Another guess was Ciao Italia in South Perth, which I have never been to but is on my wish list. By the time we hit Victoria Park, Rochelle was the winner and picked out we were going to The Prophet. I was assigned the tough job of choosing what to order since I had the Lebanese card. Without further ado…finally we get to the food:
• Vegetarian mixed platter – hummus, baba ganoush, vine leave, cabbage roll, tabouli and lentil rice.
• Vine leaves
• Cabbage rolls
• Loubyeh bi Zeit (green beans sautéed in olive oil, tomato and onions)
The biggest hit was surprisingly the loubyeh bi zeit, which if I do say so myself is one of the better dishes I cook (Babuna and Nen if you are reading this I know you will be laughing your heads off at this sentence). This dish is so simple but has so much flavour. Don’t make the rookie mistake of eating with your fork. That is not how Lebanese food should be eaten. What do you think the bread is there for? Step away from the fork, grab the Lebanese bread and fold it over the beans then put it in your mouth. How easy was that! I know you might have separation issues from the fork but trust me you will enjoy the mezze experience more if you eat with your hands. Mezze is a style of eating where you have a number of dishes to choose from to pile on your plate. I am biased here but I find mezze more filling than tapas. I think it’s because Lebanese food is very fibrous with beans and rice filling the stomach. No surprise here we were all full. As usual I over ordered. Another favourite was the vine leaves, which my friend Kristen kept thinking was a banana leaf. I also loved the tabouli, which is probably the best I’ve had outside my house. My friends were starting to stare when I started to drink the dressing but I couldn’t help it. Lemon, olive oil and salt is so simple but so delicious. What I love about The Prophet is that it makes authentic Lebanese food accessible with the Chef also understanding that some people need their more westernised lamb skewers and chips. The menu is arabese, a mixture of traditional and westernised options. It explains why the clientele is so mixed. The Chef was very excited to have and I quote ‘pretty ladies’ at his restaurant and so we were spoiled. Thanks for the complimentary strawberries and lemon labne. A couple of the girls didn’t like the tartness of the labne but once it was spread over the sweet strawberries dusted in cinnamon it was a marriage made in heaven. I was telling the girls about how my Aunty Gugu can read fortunes from a coffe cup. So we ordered a small coffee to share. Lebanese coffee is made on the stove spiced with cardamon with a touch of sugar sweetness. After you drink from your tiny cup you turn it over so the liquid drains out and then the fortune teller, in this instance me will look for pictures. These pictures represent something about your future. I know it sounds airy fairy and you take it like a grain of salt but it is a lot of fun and if I do say so myself I think I did a cracking job. Don’t you think Kristen? I will finish this treat off by quoting an arabese song (a mixture of Arabic and mainly English lyrics), yes I know can you believe these songs exist. Faydee’s Shelter your Heart sums up a meal at The Prophet, ‘Ya habibi (sweetheart) mat khafi (don’t be scared) I’ll make sure your heart (except change it to stomach) is safe with me’. Putting down the fork and eating with your hands can be scary at first but don’t worry because that is what mezze is all about. This is not the end of Neha’s birthday surprise; see the next treat for phase two.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
I hate dry falafels…fortunately these are not! Enjoy with taratoor (tahini dip).
My favourite…cabbage rolls (malfouf). I like to eat it with yoghurt or borrow from the Greeks and have it with tzatziki.
A traditional favourite…tabouli. I love the simple lemon juice, olive oil and salt dressing.
The star of the night…Loubieh bi Zeit. Again simple flavours and amazing taste.
A classic Lebanese dish…vine leaves (warak enab).
Thank you for the complimentary strawberries and labne.
Reading the future in a coffee cup.
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Tagged arabese, baba ganoush, bread, cabbage rolls, coffee, falafel, Hummus, labne, Lebanon, lemon, lentils, loubieh, malfouf, olive oil, rice, strawberries, surprises, tabouli, The Prophet Lebanese Cafe, vine leaves
I have never been slapped before but today I could imagine what it felt like. It’s not anybodies fault but my own…I jumped the gun. My teacher friend Svet usually compliments my good listening but I must have missed the bit when she told me that West End Deli do a variety of mocha flavours. All I remember from her story is that West End Deli does a fantastic mocha. On this weird weather Saturday my poor listening and reading skills were on show…I’ll get to that in a minute, first to the food. The brunch menu is not very extensive; there really is only four items to choose from but like a budget airline has a lot of add-ons to complete your experience. I cheekily went first and stole the omelette right under my dining companion’s nose. We both ended up choosing that option except he added a slab of bacon. It truly was a slab of bacon, one piece of thick cut bacon. This is when my mum would have piped up, for $9 I could have bought a whole kilo of bacon and fed the family. The omelette was fluffy and had an unusual topping of pear, manchego and walnuts. I have no idea what manchego is so I googled it for you and for me. The answer for you…it is sheep cheese and Manchega is the breed of sheep it’s from. I’m not going to lie…I wasn’t blown away by it. I missed the variety of options of a Sayers menu BUT then at the same time I do appreciate that it is a brunch menu and if it was closer to 12 then 10.30 I would have went for the home made spaghetti option. A lesson for next time. Here is the biggest lesson though….read the drinks menu. Don’t do what I do and blindly ask for a mocha. That’s the rookie mistake I made. Don’t be lazy, get the menu and see what’s on offer. Don’t get drink envy like I did when the other person orders a honeycomb milkshake, which you didn’t know was on the menu especially if the chocolate honeycomb was your favourite Brownes Supershake growing up. The consequence of this… when the drinks get put on the table and the waitress informs you there is a honeycomb mocha you might act like a child throwing a tantrum. I’m not proud to admit it but I did act a little childish but it worked because the waitress felt sorry for me and sprinkled honeycomb on the top of my mocha. I can’t wait to go back there and order the real deal.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
You can’t make an omlette without eggs…here I am guessing they used four.
The mocha without honeycomb….a lesson for next time.
Before you think my head is stuck in the 90s (well I’m not going to argue with you I do quote Friends in high frequency) I don’t mind me Tracy Chapman and this song I think represents the revival of William Street. I have already treated about my increasing visits to catch up with William (the street not the Prince) to eat waffles and drink coffee (see Treat 28). Today I caught up with a couple friends bright and early before work at Little Willy’s for breakfast and the much needed coffee especially as I am not a morning person. Today I will test your psychic abilities…what do you think I ordered. If your answer was poached eggs you would normally be right but not today disco lady (or man) as today I took the road less travelled and ordered a breakfast burrito. This healthy option of scrambled eggs, mushroom, spinach and corn salsa was tasty and filling. I only stomached half the wrap and took the remaining in a doggy bag for morning tea. The only criticism is that I wish the burrito had more relish because I found it a little bit dry. My friend Nush ordered the bircher muesli and was very impressed with the fruit offering of rhubarb and grated apple. This has inspired her to make her own bircher muesli and knowing Nush’s cooking her version will taste amazing if not better than Little Willy’s. Thanks Nush for the instagram photo. I might have to ask my neighbour’s nine year old granddaughter to teach me how to use it. She taught me how to use Face Time the other day. I know she puts me to shame. Kids these days are to techonology advanced for me. One of the manager’s at work brought their three year old in and I excitedly printed out Dora colouring in only to be upstaged by an iPad. I digress, back to treating about Little Willy’s. I was excited to see Little Willy’s offers Fiori Coffee and my cappucino gave me the caffeine hit I needed to wake up. This chic little cafe has cute little booths, fancy mint and lemon infused water and there are copies of the newspaper for your reading enjoyment. It’s these little extra touches that make Little Willy’s a fantastic addition to the William Street stip. The Northbridge revolution continues with the growing number of cafes replacing bodycon dresses for poached eggs instead.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Say hola to a breakfast burrito (instead of poached eggs).
Instagram really does make photos look better. This is the Bircher muesli Nush ordered and instagrammed. It’s on the to do list for me to learn.
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Tagged bircher, breakfast, burrito, coffee, fiori, Little Willy's, muesli, mushroom, Northbridge, scrambled eggs, spinach, william
Urban dictionary defines coco jumbo as an adjective describing something superb, excellent or perfect, which is a perfect definition for Koko Black, a chocolate haven in the Claremont Quarter. I was so excited to see my latest addiction was the flavour of Spring. Guess what it is? Give up? The correct answer is salted caramel. As a person who always mixes their savoury and sweet together, the salted caramel is the ultimate dessert solution. Do you know those days where things aren’t going your way, you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you feel tired, exhausted and absolutely buggered from the world? Here is Dr Rita’s recommondations on what you can do to turn your frown upside down…eat chocolate (disclaimer: I am not really a doctor but google does say chocolate releases happy endorphins so it’s still a wise suggestion/solution). If you are near the Claremont area then eat chocolate at Koko Black. On this Koko Black occasion I was having a bad day and besides tripping on the step coming in I began to feel a lot better once I saw the chocolate. Koko Black is all about sharing is caring so make sure you have your share buddies in tow. I highly recommend the Chocolate Moelleux for it’s gooey chocolate centre and the delicious raspberry espuma helps cut the richness. I also usually get the Beligian Spoil so you can try an assortment of chocolate delights including the walnut brownie, mousse and ice cream. I have also tried the high tea here but as this place caters more to the sweet tooth I did find the savoury and sweet assortment unbalanced. A couple extra quality savoury options would be preferred. The Koko Black menu changes seasonally. My bad day was turned into a good night thanks to the Spring Spoil, a dessert platter including salted caramel ice cream, chocolate mousse, two pralines, chocolate coated Graham crackers and a caramel milk chocolate delice. When I was looking at the array of desserts in the glass cabinets, the caramel milk chocolate delice spoke to me so I was very excited to sample it along with other salted caramel treats. I initially thought getting the caramel milk chocolate delice on its own would be too rich but was surprised by the creamy lightness of this dessert. A delice is a three layer genius creation consisting of a bottom chocolate brownie layer, chocolate caramel cream and a chocolate glaze on top. How mouth watering does that sound? The answer is very. The graham cracker took me back to my USA college days combining melted chocolate and marshmellows to make the Babysitters Club favourite sleepover dessert…S’Mores. The two pralines that came with this platter included the salted caramel milk, which tasted like a chewy Werther’s Original and a caramel mousse that melted in your mouth. Speaking of melt in your mouth moments, the chocolate mousse with crispy caramel crumble was a delight to the senses. My spoon kept going for more…it was like I had no control of my spoon. Another highlight for me was the salted caramel ice cream, which gave a refreshing touch to the rest of the platter. Now before you think I am an absolute pig, I didn’t take that extra step and order a hot chocolate. No instead I had a peppermint tea, which apparantly assists digestion (another google moment for you). So next time you are looking for a cure for your bad day head to Koko Black instead of Chemist Discount Warehouse and enjoy the antioxidants, endorphins and sugar high that chocolate lovingly provides.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
The unofficial medicine for a bad day.
Yes I know it’s meant to be Layla but I’m sure Eric Clapton won’t mind. I’ll be honest I’m not the best at remembering song lyrics and on my walk towards La Lola I was singing the wrong lyrics. Don’t judge me. Anyways let me tell you the story about the first time I met Lola. It was 2010 and I had a feeling that this restaurant would be the beginning of my career as a restaurant suggester. You know that person that everyone asks where to eat…that’s who I wanted to be. To make it challenging I took my Italian mate Fran to an Italian restaurant of my choice…as you can guess that was La Lola. Fran was very impressed and I think it’s been my biggest achievement to date with her in terms of my restaurant choices. In the beginning of La Lola’s life it was doing amazing pizzas, pasta and other Italian favourites with crazy long queues as La Lola does not do bookings. The pizza is no longer there with the Chef deciding to focus on the main menu. Even though I loved the pizza and don’t get me wrong I do miss it, I do understand the hard decision that the Chef made. I wish more restaurants made this wise choice of simplifying their menu and doing less things amazingly well instead of lots of items poorly (not mentioning any names or pointing at anyone Modo Mio in Crown Perth but yes that’s a criticism directed at you). A few years later and the waiting remains…just shows it has become a favourite in the peoples’ hearts of the western suburbs. I have been there a few more times since feasting on freshly made pappardelle with duck ragu, one of La Lola’s signatures. It had been awhile between drinks, in particular a fine Sangiovese cutely named Pinocchio that I traditionally order when I am visiting Lola. This time I introduced my friend Louise to La Lola, greeted by a charming Italian waiter who gets brownie points for making a big deal about my name. He told me how his family in Italy celebrate the feast of Santa Rita but he couldn’t remember the date. I gladly reminded him it was May 22. Not sure if my treats have revealed yet but I am a twin so I have to share a birthday. But May 22 is all mine and without fail my dad always buys a mud cake to celebrate my name day. Sorry for the tangent but as usual I couldn’t help myself. There was about a fifteen minute wait so the friendly waiter took down my number and recommended my friend and I get a drink at the Byrneleigh across the road. So we did. As promised, fifteen minutes later we got the phone call and back to La Lola we went. In past experiences at La Lola the portions have induced me into a food coma so I was very happy that Louise agreed to be my share buddy. We ordered the arancini with spinach, ricotta, silverbeet and gorgonzola and for mains we had the pasta of the day, which was tagliatelle with pancetta, swiss brown mushrooms and a poached egg. All I can say is La Lola gets me; I love poached eggs why do you think I go to brunch all the time. To go with the meal we of course ordered the Pinocchio Sangiovese. The arancini was delicious with the complementing flavours of spinach and ricotta. It’s a nice change from the Bolognese or pumpkin arancinis that frequent Perth. What can I say about the pasta….it was cooked al dente. La Lola has yet to disappoint me. The simple flavours of the mushrooms and pancetta matched perfectly with the yolky goodness of the poached egg. Such simple flavours with such powerful taste. The service here is like a well oiled machine. But like any machine there is the occasional break down. You have to understand that this place is constantly busy and are limited by space so sometimes there are service slip ups. In saying all this, on this night there were no problems. I normally don’t like small restaurants but as the warm weather rolls in, the doors have opened up and the alfresco seating makes the place feel bigger. Next time you feel like Italian that won’t let you down then visit Lola…she’ll have you on your knees. Sorry I couldn’t help myself.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Carbo loading at its finest.