Monthly Archives: December 2012

Treat 48: Thai time

I am still learning about the abundance of different cuisines from the world’s largest continent. I mean technically Lebanese food is geographically under the Asian umbrella except you wouldn’t find any soy sauce in the traditional Lebanese recipes. With all this modern fusion going around you never know what they might do the traditional dishes. My mum is guilty for fusing her Lebanese flavours when she cooks an Asian dish. She’s shy when it comes to spice. So it was refreshing visiting Saowanee’s Place Thai Restaurant and getting dishes with punchy flavours. I loved it so much that after going there on Saturday night for Christmas dinner with friends I went back there the next night to take the parents. The standout dish was a recommendation from my Thailand loving friend Kirsty who always raves about the paw paw salad. Usually the only paw paw I digested was incidental from my Lucas paw paw ointment for my lips. I didn’t even bother to check the menu to see what was in the paw paw salad but I was happy as Larry to see prawns. My favourite part of the dish was the sweet and sour sauce. I tried making it last night and I could not get the balance probably because I used the wrong sugar. The lemons from my garden also weren’t the best. I could think of countless excuses as to my failed attempt at replicating the sauce that Saowanee’s Place has mastered. I recently bought a mandoline and besides making coleslaw I haven’t used it much. Now with the introduction to paw paw salad I will be saying hello again. This dish has crunch, spice, sweet, sour and with those flavours combined you get a party in your mouth. Another favourite was the duck curry. Normally duck can be quite rich and sometimes I get food regret when I order it especially if it’s dry. This duck curry was nice and light with a great kick of spice. My mum was happy with the amount of vegetables in the dishes; this is usually her chagrin when it comes to eating out on the cheap. One serve of fried rice though for $18.90 is not a cheap and cheerful and did not satisfy our party of five. So we ordered another plate. The tom yum soup was my dad’s favourite dish because he is man who likes his spice. This hot and sour soup had us all steaming and my mum in a coughing fit. It was disappointing to see canned mushrooms were used in the soup especially when you are paying more than restaurants that give you the real deal. The only criticism from my dad was the sambal. He loves the sambal at Kulcha in Joondalup but he barely touched the one here and he had to pay $3 for it. While at Kulcha it’s complimentary plus they always give him a container to take away with him. There’s not much that can be said about the décor and service. The yellow walls and the burgundy chairs are a feast for the eyes and well to put it kindly wouldn’t be colours I’d be combining in an outfit. The service was quite abrupt at first and when we requested if we could have a different table apparently they were fully booked. At 5pm only one other table was occupied. I’m assuming they didn’t want to clean in between patrons because no one came to claim the other tables in that time. Overall Saowanee’s Place has some standout dishes. I definitely recommend the paw paw salad and duck curry. I would avoid the fried rice, I just can’t the amount you pay for it. I’ve never been to Thailand but my friends Fran and Kirsty rave about it. I found the food addictive and am craving my next paw paw salad. I guess it’s back to the drawing board and attempting that delicious sauce again, hopefully this time I can get it right.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The new love of my life - paw paw salad. It's overtaken my love for Thai beef salad.

The new love of my life – paw paw salad. It’s overtaken my love for Thai beef salad.

Is it worth $18.90...me thinks not.

Is it worth $18.90…me thinks not.

THE DESTINATION
Saowanee's Place on Urbanspoon

Treat 47: Pick pocketing

This is the first year in a long time that I have not flown overseas and it’s starting to get me. The itchy feet have started. So what does one do when they feel like jetting off to a tropical island like Bora Bora when you unfortunately haven’t won the $100 million lotto jackpot? You buy a Glasshouse candle from David Jones. On this Friday night I felt like going to Barcelona and enjoying music, tapas and wine from the Catalan region. So I ventured to Fremantle’s Gypsy Tapas, which provided all three. For $40 you can have all you can eat tapas for two hours. My group of four decided to opt for choosing from the menu and a bottle of red. I asked for a bottle of tempranillo (pronounced tempra -ni – yo courtesy of Google) but they sold out and provided a lovely Cabernet Merlot instead. Items ordered included broccoli, patata bravas, lamb koftas, baked feta, garlic chicken drumlets, artichoke dip (that ended up being hummus) and eggplant fritters. I was looking at the photos I took and again the iPhone 3 has failed me. However I did like the dark lighting…it helped create the atmosphere of the small bars that populate Barcelona’s La Rambla strip. Before I went to Barcelona I was warned by many people about the pick pocketing epidemic. A friend of mine actually had first hand experience and as soon as we arrived and caught the train from the airport to the city there was a pick pocketing incident right in front of our eyes. So for the four days I was there I went sans handbag (See Treat 4: Barcelona the salt of the earth and Treat 5: This little piggy went to the market for more musings about the Catalan capital). The small plates for $8 though feel like you are being pick pocketed. For example, $8 will get you a slab of feta, seven pieces of broccoli florets, four mini chicken drumsticks or dip and bread to which my mum would argue that she could feed the whole family and get a kilo of the ingredients instead of a small plate. In a way the premium price is paying for the entertainment and awesome ambience. It’s cheaper than buying a flight to Barcelona that’s for sure and though the drive to Freo for a Northie like me is a bit of a trek, it still beats a 20 hour flight. Unfortunately for us Perthians, we pay a lot more for our food, which is probably the Perth version of pick pocketing. I’ll definitely go back to Gypsy Tapas for its ambience, music and I did enjoy the small plate offerings. The food was tasty. Would I go there starving? Probably not. Would I order a few small plates to share over a bottle of tempranillo? Si signor! Another option is to pay $40 for all you can eat tapas, which I might try next time as it potentially is great value for money depending on the speed the food comes around. The service here is laid back. So laid back that when they ran out of artichoke dip they gave us hummus instead without telling us. The waitress was quite cheeky and said she was meaning to tell us but forgot. She did remember to take it off the bill though which made up for it. Next time you feel like a taste of Spain then make the trip to Gypsy Tapas.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

All I want for Christmas...is a new iPhone!  This will help me keep my new years resolution - take better photos and blog more.

All I want for Christmas…is a new iPhone! This will help me keep my new years resolution – take better photos and blog more. I’m not putting the rest of the photos up – they’ll make you think you need glasses because they are all blurry

THE DESTINATION
Gypsy Tapas House on Urbanspoon

Treat 46: The day a carnivore became a herbivore

I am a meat eater. Give me a hunk of steak, a slab of ribs, a pot roast, a chicken schnitzel…I could go on but I won’t. However, growing up my mum always made sure there was two days per week when we ate seafood or a vegetarian meal. The older I get the more I embrace vegetables. For two days a week I’m like the shark in Finding Nemo – animals are friends not foes and I attempt to be vegetarian except technically not because I’ll still eat seafood. So really I’m nothing like the shark but more like forgetful Dory. Though my cousins have nicknamed me Nemo. Did you know there’s a Finding Nemo 2 coming out in 2014? Sorry for the major sidetrack -I’ll get back on topic now. On this beautiful hot Saturday my sister and I braved the crowds at the Beaufort Street Festival. Though there was countless food stalls, there were no comfortable places to eat. Instead I saw Veggie Mama open doing a roaring trade and luckily a table of two was free. I have wanted to try this place for awhile because my friend Fran raves about it. She works across the road and this is a handy and healthy lunch option. Not only is it vegetarian and vegan friendly, Veggie Mama also embraces the gluten free and has well displayed signs indicating what you are getting. My sister got the mushroom and walnut pattie with salad. For $13 it’s great value and as you can see from the photo – it’s a vegetable rainbow. The patty had an earthy taste with the walnut providing a nice crunch. The array of salad transformed a boring patty into an exciting and filling lunch. Now someone needs to get taste testers from Sumo Salad to try the Veggie Mama salads. You won’t find the preservativey taste of Sumo Salad in the Veggie Mama salads. Instead you will taste fresh vegetables lightly dressed. I chose the burger option with a chickpea and quinoa patty. The only disappointing element of this dish was the bread. Next time I will get the patty by itself. I was surprised that white bread was used when the place prides itself on healthy options. It wasn’t even tasty white bread. The relish was also a miss – it tasted more like ketchup than a relish. Instead of the token chips that it’s rival across the road, Hungry Jacks would supply with the burger you receive a rainbow salad. I was a happy camper diving into the array of broccoli, carrot and beetroot coleslaw and rice pilaf. The banana yoghurt smoothie was also a hit and helped cool us down on this hot day. Sorry I couldn’t give you a review of the Beaufort Street Festival food but the cool air and bright vegetarian options at Veggie Mamas won my stomach on the day. I will definitely go back there for the tasty vegetarian and gluten free friendly options.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Note to self - get the burger without the bread.

Note to self – get the burger without the bread.

It's like a rainbow!

It’s like a rainbow!

THE DESTINATION
Veggie Mama on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Good things come in small packages

It’s no secret that I’m below average height. I actually think I’m taller than I am but reality hits when you try to reach for something that falls on your head. One of my favourite sayings is good things come in small packages and today’s quick treat is not about my height but more about the offering at Small Print. This is my second attempt at treating this new bakery and roastery that is part of new Print Hall complex in Brookfield Place (see Treat 40: Taken 3). Luckily this time I did my research and found Small Print with ease. It’s quite an expansive space with a window exposing the bakery similar to the open kitchen in it’s upstairs relative Print Hall. The cute black director chairs were also a nice touch. I was slightly disappointed with the breakfast offering. Small in name and in nature. It basically serves bakery items rather than a cooked breakfast so no poached eggs for me this morning. I chose the healthy looking banana cake. Anything with pepitas on top is healthy in my eyes. I think the cake needed a bigger banana kick; it would have been a welcome textural surprise to actually bite into the cake with banana pieces. Mind you banana desserts or even the texture of bananas is not a selling point for many people. But I am not many people and I like bananas in all its shapes and forms. The second function of Small Print is its roastery and the coffee did not disappoint. I ordered a long macchiato and was impressed by its creamy smooth taste. When coffee is bitter or burnt I tend to add sugar to compensate. It was not the case here. Apparently, their lunch offering is more extensive to appease the office workers. I’ll have to venture into the city one Saturday to test this theory. I definately recommend visiting Small Print for a coffee…if you can find it (my tip is to take the stairs downstairs and Bob’s your uncle there it is).

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The healthy looking banana cake.

THE DESTINATION

Small Print Bakery & Roastery on Urbanspoon