Monthly Archives: November 2012

Treat 45: Mi dispiace

One of my favourite Italian phrases is mi dispiace, which means I’m sorry. I like the way the word sounds and there are no R’s in it. As I have mentioned before I can’t roll my R’s despite my friend Fran’s coaching session back when we were 13. I can’t even say my name properly in Italian. Today I was again risking my reputation and chose a new Italian restaurant for Fran and I to try. Remember how I passed with flying colours with La Lola (see Treat 32: Lola you have me on my knees). I was curious to try L’Enoteca in Victoria Park for its menu was bursting with fresh pasta offerings and small plate favourites like arancini and meatballs. After being half an hour late (mi dispiace Fran) due to traffic on the causeway caused by a booze bus we were starving. The restaurant is modern with great attention to detail from the tables to the lighting fixtures. The owners did not skimp on the fit out. The beautiful chandelier towards the back of the restaurant did catch our eye as did the extensive wine rack. The wine list is mainly Italian and Fran recommend a lovely white from Abruzzo, which was nice and light working well with our heavier meals. Now to the food. For appetisers we ordered arancini with Bolognese and a caprese salad. The arancini had a golden cheesy centre and was a standout for the night. One serving is three arancini balls, which was perfect for our table of three. The caprese salad unfortunately was stingy on bocconcini and disappointed. It was really a tomato salad with a mixture of cherry and roma tomatoes. The basil and bocconcini was like a distant relative, hardly seen. Fresh bread for $6 made me squirm in my seat. That wouldn’t even cost a loaf at the bakery but we were so hungry the carbs were required. If only we knew how big the mains were we might not have wasted money on bread. I was tossing up between my usual crab pasta and a pappardelle with duck ragu. I went for the latter. Fran enjoyed her beef cheek ravioli and was impressed with the quantity of meat in each piece. Kristen wasn’t too impressed with the crab and prawn linguini. She said it could have had more flavour. The pappardelle with duck ragu was very filling. I barely made a dent in it. I think I got too excited with the appetisers. Next time I order a main here I would bring a share buddy. However, I think the mains at L’Enoteca lacked the finesse of La Lola (see Treat 32 ). I think my pappardelle was slightly overcooked as it didn’t have the al dente bite. As the restaurant is still new I would not be opposed to trying it again. It definitely is roomier than La Lola and I would love to go back for the arancini and a glass of Chianti. I must have a thing for pappardelle with ragu because I also ordered this dish at Lalla Rookh, another new bar and restaurant on the St Georges Terrace strip. It’s become an unofficial search for the best pappardelle in Perth. Watch this space to find out the winner.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

More cheese please

My usual choice…prawn and crab linguini.

Pappardelle with duck ragu…yes I know I need a better camera.

Finally a generous serve of ravioli

THE DESTINATION
L'Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Treat 44: I just can’t wait

I hate waiting in line; it’s time you never get back again. I just don’t have the patience to wait similar to Simba in the Lion King who just couldn’t wait to be king. So why I keep heading back to Northbridge for dim sum on Sunday is beyond me. When I used to work Sundays at Myer in the city I would see the lines stretch out on Roe Street. This obviously didn’t stop me from trying my luck. On this stormy November morning the cousins and I were craving dim sum and despite getting lucky finding parking we weren’t lucky at avoiding the queues. Back in the car we went with my cousin Nen in the backseat googling suburban dim sum options. She stumbled upon the Imperial Court in Como so down the freeway we went while the rain bucketed down. After finding the restaurant quickly, easily finding free parking and joining a much smaller queue the food was in our reach. Within twenty minutes we were seated and food was on our table. The first thing that stood out for us at Imperial Court was its cleanliness and comfortable chairs. It was quite roomy despite being packed to the rafters. The star dish was the prawn and bean curd flour rice roll. Usually I order the original prawn flour roll. The bean curd added an amazing dimension to this dish and I will never go without it again. Today was all about trying new things. A friend of mine introduced me to shanghai dumplings in Singapore at Michelin acclaimed Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung (see Treat 13: Dim Sum in my Tum). The Imperial Court might have trumped them. The delicate broth and orange zest made this elegant dish a pleasure to eat. The pork filling was delicious and I couldn’t help getting a spoon to sip the broth. The least favourite dish was the soft shell crab. It still had a lot of flavour but there was more batter than crab. As my cousins would say…no no no no no no (Nen and Babuna you know what tune this goes to). We finished off the meal with our favourite greens, gai lan. It’s the easiest dish for us to replicate at home…you just steam them. However whenever I buy bok choy or any of the Asian greens family I always forget and it goes mouldy before this 2 minute steam job gets done. As we sipped the last of the Chinese tea and left our table, it was like a ninja effect with the table quickly cleaned and turned over to the next waiting people. The Sunday dim sum lines never stop. I am so glad I am impatient. My ability to not wait in the Northbridge dim sum lines brought me to my new dim sum love, Imperial Court. The cousins and I christened it as our regular dim sum feasting location. It’s in a brilliant location overlooking the Swan River if you ignore the freeway that is in between. I can’t wait to go back just for the Shanghai dumplings. It might be awhile before I even think about joining the Northbridge dim sum lines when ten minutes down the road is the Imperial Court with its easy parking and delicious dim sum offerings.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Prawn and bean curd flour roll is now officially on my favourite list.

One of the best shanghai dumplings I have ever eaten

THE DESTINATION
Imperial Court on Urbanspoon

Treat 43: Happy Turkey Day!

I love thanksgiving.  It brings back so many happy memories for me – from my first thanksgiving with my host family in California where my host mum went all out decorating the house for turkey day to my second thanksgiving with my college roommate Rachel’s family in Carmel, Indiana.  Now the thanksgiving tradition lives on back in Australia with my friends and I getting all turkey ready for that one time of the year. It’s all about spending time with loved ones and….EATING!  Emphasis is added because really that’s all you do all day.  I could talk about the history of thanksgiving of Pilgrims and Indians but as it has no context in Australia then let’s focus on the food.  So instead I will give you a collection of all the different foods that I have experienced so far in my Thanksgiving career.

Appetisers are aka as fillers in thanksgiving because let’s face it bacon wrapped sausages is a lot of protein and fat that fills you up.  This little treat quoting my host mum is called Trailer Trash.  Other appetisers to fill the stomach can vary from pretzels to devilled eggs and Spanish dip.  My friend Kirsty fancied up our appetisers with cute cherry tomatoes stuffed with basil, feta and olive, fresh Turkish bread from a local Serbian bakery, prosciutto, beef sancho bows with coleslaw and the always welcome cheese board including blue vein and camembert.  This first round of food can be a killer of appetite so it’s all about self-control, which less face it we will automatically fail if the food is on the table.
Let’s get to the star of the show… Mr Turkey.  The hunk of meat and all the preparation involved was first evidenced in 2004 when I saw my host mum Lulu slave over this ‘damn bird’.  But the result speaks for itself – succulent white fleshy meat that will be your leftovers for a good week.  For smaller audiences you can do a simple turkey roll with creative stuffing like pistachio and cranberries.  This is what me and my friends had in our first celebrated thanksgiving in 2010.  This year we went full kilter and had a 6kg turkey to share amongst 4 people.  Could we eat more than 1kg of turkey each?  Of course not, so the leftover tradition lives on unlike Joey in Friends who had a whole turkey in one sitting and still had room for dessert.  This is just proof that there is always room for dessert thanks to the safety dessert stomach. My friend Nush did the turkey justice by bathing it in a Nigella Lawson infusion of maple syrup, honey, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, fresh parsley… there’s a lot of ingredients required to make a turkey moist and tender. Nush’s first attempt at bathing and cooking a turkey was perfection – you can’t fault a juicy turkey.
The next big tradition of Thanksgiving is sides and lots of them. The key here is whatever vegetable is on the table it must be coated in cream or at least butter.  So for this thanksgiving I made garlicky green beans that I usually coat in olive oil with his evil brother butter instead.  My favourite side is candied yams – oh how sweet potato is made a whole lot sweeter with sugar.  In thanksgiving of 2008 with my Indiana family I first learnt about canned yams and the magic touch of marshmallows on top – don’t be shocked because it’s actually a delight to eat.  In 2011, my friend Fiona made the side of the year with a smooth sweet potato bake and crunchy caramelised pecan topping.  Remember Thanksgiving happens in the USA in the fall (Autumn) so the food is warming and very orange and brown. Therefore, it’s no surprise that dessert is also orange with pumpkin pie.  I had a lovely pumpkin pie cheesecake for my Indiana Thanksgiving.  If there’s one thing the USA do well besides movies is the assortment of pumpkin things – pumpkin bread, pumpkin lollies, jack-o-lantern pumpkins…I could go on for days but I won’t.  The best part of the day is going around the table and saying what you are thankful for so I will end the treat the same way. I am thankful for family, friends and food, put these ingredients together and you have many happy memories.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The appetisers

Trevor the Turkey!

I love Thanksgiving!

Quick Treat: Wild thing you make my heart sing

Scarborough is getting heaps of flack on the news for the unruly hooligan behaviour polluting the beach. Since spring has hit the air the number of fights is the same amount as the shark sights, which is a lot. If you still want to enjoy Scarborough’s beach views but skip the bloodshed then you will feel safe in the Wild Fig café surrounds. On this beautiful sunny day, we sat outside to hear the sounds of the birds chirping, the wind blowing and cars hooning. You can’t have it all. Today we only stopped by for coffee and cake. The Wild Fig was still buzzing at 3pm with most of its tables full. The service was a bit sharper than previous visits to the Fig franchise. I have only been to Swanbourne’s Naked Fig and Scarborough’s Wild Fig and the service is notoriously slow. One of my work colleagues has this harrowing story of asking for a large coffee on a Saturday brunch only to be told they only do regular coffees during this time. So when she asked if she could have two regular coffees instead of a large there was no problem. The logic however escapes me because the manpower required for two coffees would be more than one large coffee with two cups to wash instead of one. This must be a form of revenue raising. I always find it awkward here when it comes to paying. Do you go to the front or do you pay at the table? I have always gone to the front but haven’t been told otherwise. Today was probably one of the better service experiences. The orders were taken quickly, tap water was put on our table and we didn’t wait ages for coffee and cake. I’ve had a couple nightmare experiences here so this was a pleasant surprise. The Persian love cake said it all; it was love in a cake. Nice and moist with a lovely rosewater touch and not overpowered by sugar. The pistachio crunch on the top was a brilliant touch. The best part for my sister Suzy is that it was gluten free. Who says gluten free has to be tasteless? Not the Persian love cake. My friend Davina enjoyed her lemon meringue tart. I got a sneaky taste and was happy with the lemon to sugar ratio. For the million dollar views the bad service at the Wild Fig is forgiven but not forgotten. Today they actually impressed me with their service and I think the next test is to challenge them during peak brunch hour. Also does anyone know the origins for the name Naked Fig? Are the rumours true that it overlooks a nudist beach? There’s only one way to find out….by treating at the Naked Fig.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

There is a lot to love about the Persian love cake including the fact it’s gluten free.

For a bit of zing…get the lemon meringue tart.

THE DESTINATION
The Wild Fig Cafe (Scarborough) on Urbanspoon

Treat 42: I’m walking on sunshine

Finally, the sun is out in Perth and it feels like summer is around the corner. Today I had a brunch date with Fran. We initially planned to go to Tuckshop but as we drove past the line was crazy long as usual. So I suggested Tarts as I had never been and Fran had heard great things from her boss. It was around 11.30 by the time we got to Tarts and we were starving. The menu is very extensive but I was too hungry for my indecisiveness to take hold. I saw potato cake and I locked it in. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs (Quick Treat: Ikea Traffic) I love potato cakes especially the one from Ikea. I ordered the Potato Head, which included two poached eggs, asparagus, mushrooms and spinach on a potato cake with hollandaise sauce. I have heard great things about Potato Head in Bali but that’s neither here nor there. On the warm day I decided to be different and get a beetroot and carrot juice. Great decision. The juice came in a cute glass bottle. Fran and I couldn’t get over them. At first I thought Tarts was a small café mixed with a gift store but we saw the light outside and found a sizeable backyard area. I say backyard because it was very homely with herbs and bric and brac tables that reminded me of my own backyard. My dad loves his garage sales and collecting random crap so our backyard consists of a jungle (his herb and vegetable garden), a couple of buddas (even though we are not Buddhist) and to make it even more confusing there is a large picture frame of Jesus’ last supper. Sorry another digression. Both the drinks and food came out promptly despite them being very busy. There was a baby shower also happening in the backyard. I think baby showers are stalking me. I went to one in Geelong for my friend Sami’s baby shower, then I had another one the following week and now I was unofficially attending this one at Tarts. It’s obviously baby season. Ok now I will finally talk about the food. My last treat was filled with negitude (Treat 40) and I am so happy to report that this treat is like a ray of sunshine. The poached eggs were runny. Hooray! The potato cake was delicious, I wish there was more of it. All the elements of the dish were perfectly cooked. I was in food heaven. I was happy with the amount of Hollondaise sauce, not like at Dome where your eggs are drowning it. The whole experience at Tarts from start to finish was joy. Fran and I were making excuses to go back there and I was eyeing off the dessert cabinet on the way out. If you are looking for a carefree brunch experience with a homely touch then make your way to Tarts Café.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

How cute are the juices!

You don’t need to go all the way to Bali for Potato Head.

THE DESTINATION
Tarts Cafe on Urbanspoon

Treat 41: I’ve got the munchies

It was a weird weather day and I was feeling the effects. The cloudy sky was making me grumpy and it was 4pm and I was still without lunch. How hard is it to find a place open for lunch at 4pm on Sunday? As I found in Mt Lawley in my hangry (hungry + angry) mood it was very difficult. Before relegating to Grill’d (which is spreading like hives with new outlets in the city and Scarborough) my brother and dad stumbled further down the arcade to find Mr Munchies Sushi. This was a great option for my gluten free sister. Now Mr Munchies Sushi is fairly new and well hidden from the Beaufort strip. It’s easily to get trapped at Grill’d or Gelare and if you don’t take those couple extra steps you might not even know it’s there. I was happy to have a break from burgers and meet Mr Munchies. Here you can customise your sushi in four easy steps. First choose your meal, a sushi roll or salad. Then choose your base from beef, chicken, pork, salmon, tuna and other delights like octopus and eel. You can also add a stuffing like cucumber, carrot, lettuce and cheesecake (whatever that is). But wait there’s more. There’s also toppings like sesame seeds, garlic chips and fried shallots to choose from and don’t forget the array of sauces including wasabi aioli, sweet teriyaki and mayonnaise. Mr Munchies is like the Subway for sushi. If this is too confusing for you then you will be happy to know that Mr Munchies also has a set menu. Today we chose two sushi rolls from the set menu. The crunchy spider roll had deep fried soft shell crab, lettuce and cucumber. This was a tasty number and the crab serving was quite generous. The seafood roll also was generous in its portions including salmon, steamed prawn, cucumber and topped with fresh tuna flakes. Don’t you hate when the star of a dish you order ends up only being a supporting act when the plate is in front of you. You won’t feel like that at Mr Munchies. Plus you get to see them make the sushi right in front of your eyes. My brother again went off the beaten track taking the customised option with a pork katsu base and who knows what else he put in there. I didn’t try to find out. For my sister the customised option is fantastic because the sushi is made to order you can pick and choose. The problem with many fast food sushi outlets is that it’s all premade and once you rule out all the teriyaki and katsu options there isn’t much to play with besides vegetarian. It’s the sauce that’s usually the gluten carrier. She got grilled salmon with carrot and avocado and the smile on her face says it all. She was a happy chappy. I changed my tune too once I had food in my stomach. My dad who isn’t the biggest sushi fan enjoyed being the only diners at this restaurant. His main problem with sushi is that there is not enough sauce for him. He was happy with the extra step in adding sauce to your sushi. That didn’t stop him from pouring soy sauce over his sushi pieces. Mr Munchies is still quite new so it’s a hidden gem for the sushi-lovers out there. If you get the munchies at 4pm on a Sunday then meet Mr Munchies for your sushi fix.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The spider roll (no actual spiders are in this sushi)

Suzy’s special salmon sushi

The star of this sushi is the seafood!

Pork katsu sushi with the weird and wondeful extras that only my brother would choose.

THE DESTINATION
Mr. Munchies Sushi on Urbanspoon

Treat 40: Taken 3

I recently watched Taken 2 and I barely made a dent in my Cadbury popping candy chocolate before the credits were rolling. That must be the shortest movie in cinema history. Liam Neeson gets taken, then he gets found, then he gets taken and then he gets found and celebrates by eating ice cream. Good on Liam Neeson for celebrating with ice cream, I would be doing the same thing after a near death experience probably with a Maxibon. So what does Taken have to do with anything besides me venting about the duration of the movie and the tired formula. This is not a personal attack on Liam Neeson who I actually find charming especially in Love Actually. This treat is about disappointment. My cousins and I try to catch up once a week for breakfast before work. Each week we take turns choosing the breakfast location (for an example see Treat 31). Today was my turn. I love trying new places and I was so excited to try the new Small Print Baker & Roastery in the popular Print Hall. So after driving around trying to find parking we finally arrived at Brookfield Place and I couldn’t wait to see what house baked goods were on offer. Here comes the sad part…we couldn’t find it. I don’t know why I was too stubborn to ask someone. So while we were standing outside Print Hall I had no idea that we were actually standing on top of it. It was right under our noses this whole time. Why did we not think of going down the stairs? Well it was early in the morning, we were hungry and a stair climb wasn’t on the cards. So unfortunately we did not get to try Small Print today. We settled for Basilica, which was the more prominent café in Brookfield Place. I’ll be honest I was in a deflated mood. You know when you want to wear an outfit and you can’t find it but you had your heart set on it and you look all around your room and you can’t find it. That’s how I felt so poor Basilica had no chance to wow me. I ordered the vegetarian breakfast, which included grilled haloumi, sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach, vine ripened tomato, avocado, served on sourdough but I added protein with a poached egg. For $17 I was wishing we were at Sayers instead. One of my pet peeves in life is bad poached eggs. I have attempted many times at poaching eggs at home to no avail and it’s one of my major reasons why I love brunch so much so I get a trained chef to poach an egg for me. This poached egg was not runny and my bad start to the day got worse. The rest of the components of the breakfast did the job with Basilica providing a generous amount of avocado and tomato. The sourdough wasn’t amazing and the halumi was rubbery, not enjoyable to eat. I had a similar dish at Voyager (see Treat 29) which knocked my socks off. The Basilica version did nothing to improve my morning. They also got my coffee order wrong, I asked for a large flat white and I got a regular latte. I was too much in a mood to argue. So unfortunately Basilica won’t be seeing me again anytime soon mainly because I don’t work in the city and finding parking is a nightmare. My friend Neha did recommend the panini she had there. My cousins and I did enjoy the cherry danish and wished we kept our breakfast short and sweet with the pastry options. My good mood might have been taken but my spirit is not broken. Now that I know where Small Print is I will be back. Sorry for all the negitude in this treat, I promise to be more upbeat next time.

THE FOOD JOURNEY
Basilica on Urbanspoon

The hard yolk ruined it for me.

Next time I’ll keep to a pastry option.

THE DESTINATION
Basilica on Urbanspoon