Monthly Archives: January 2013

Treat 54: The Buffet title goes to…

My cousins and I give each other titles similar to royalty that claim a special skill/talent. Actually it’s not like royalty because this title is not a birthright…it is earned. For example I have the title of being the baby whisperer. I have this knack of getting kids on planes to like me or stop them from crying. Exhibit A is 4 year old Ryan on the long haul flight from LA to Sydney back when I was 16 who laughed at all my jokes. However, my title is on the line with my cousin Nat winning the affections of a 2 year old on our recent flight to Sydney. I also have stolen the title of beach person from my cousin Nen by going to the beach every day for 2 weeks but she took my title of being the person that attracts free stuff. So as you can tell these titles are taken seriously, you work hard to claim them. So what does this have to do with treating? Well as my followers would know by now my cousins and I meet regularly for breakfasts before work. We take turns deciding where to go. This time round Nen decided we be daring and branch out to Crown Perth for a buffet breakfast at Atrium. So not only do we have to wake up an extra thirty minutes early we are also competing for the title of the best buffet person. The criteria includes how many laps you can do, how much of your plate you actually eat and how many different food combinations you can make. My problem is I fill my plate to the brim and pick at things and only eat what I like. Most things on my plate have only one bite taken out of them. For my first lap I did the traditional scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and hash brown along with some random breakfast options like steamed fish, roasted vegetables and glazed ham. The fish was discarded quite early on…my mind couldn’t comprehend fish for breakfast. The ham made me feel like it was Christmas again but it is no match to the wonderful glazed ham efforts of my Aunty Georgette and the Nigella inspired ham that my friend Nush made for Thanksgiving 2012. I was disappointed that for the premium price you pay for this buffet that poached eggs are not an option. They do make an omelette in front of your eyes but for a majority of the time this was left unattended so I didn’t benefit from this. Another criticism is that they only offer percolated coffee. You have to pay $5 extra for your standard cappuccino/flat white options. You could end up out of pocket by $45 for breakfast. It’s not the best way to start the day. Round 2 I tried the Asian offerings like gai lan, dumplings and stir fried noodles. I’m not afraid of such savoury options around 10am dim sum time but at 7am I was struggling. This round was left mainly on the plate. After the overwhelming savoury options I went for sweets in Round 3. Think waffles, hot cakes, pastries and fruit. The highlight for me was the snail raisin pastry. It was light and crunchy. The hotcakes were slightly cold…unlike the freshly made ones you get at a Hyatt High Tea buffet. Same issue with the waffles. The strawberries were out of season and sour. Overall, the Atrium breakfast buffet has a lot of options. Maybe too many because the execution and quality isn’t always there. It’s that small attention to detail that can raise a buffet from ordinary to exciting and worth the premium price. Would I go back to a buffet before work? No. I should have learnt my lesson after the Miss Maud experience (see Treat 31). But my philosophy is at first you don’t succeed pick yourself up and try it again…and again. I was wrecked for the rest of the day. I think I was in a food coma that required intensive care (a nap) rather than work. Congratulations to my cousin Nen for her five laps of the buffet tables and for scraping her plates clean rather than my poor attempt. I also liked what she did with her pancakes…great choice with the berries. She has officially been crowned the Buffet Queen of the cousins (well between Nat and I at least). If you have time on your hands (before work is not recommended) and want to enjoy breakfast at a leisurely pace with a variety of options then head down to the Atrium buffet at Crown Perth. It is a guaranteed food coma especially with a title up for grabs you will be doing a lot of laps to win. Yes the competitive Monica (from Friends) in me comes out and a buffet becomes a competition. Except I lost…I don’t how to feel. I’ll have to steal back my getting things for free title from Nen or my baby whisperer title from Nat.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Round 1

Round 1

The sweet round - shame about the sour strawberries

The sweet round – shame about the sour strawberries

THE DESTINATION
Atrium on Urbanspoon

Treat 53: Catching up with (yerba) mates.

I am fascinated by Spain including the food, culture and Rafael Nadal. I have spoken of my Barcelona experiences with paella and the confusing question of whether there should be a crust on the bottom (see treat 4 ). Well guess what there is a name for it, la soccarat is the crust of rice on the bottom of the Paella pan. Yes another google moment from me. Barcelona was not a fan of the la soccarat and neither was Spanish Flavours, this cute little Spanish restaurant in Mount Hawthorn. I stumbled upon Spanish Flavours because I was early (for once in my life) for a hairdresser appointment. It is a café/restaurant and during the day has a store with wonderful imported Spanish produce. I got distracted for a good half hour staring at the shelves and was excited to see Yerba Mate on the shelves. Yerba Mate is like the South American equivalent of green tea and gives you more energy than coffee. It’s great for 3.30itis. After having trouble finding it I got overexcited and bought a kilo of the stuff. Unbeknownst to me my brother had bought the same tea from T2. It’s easier to find than I thought. My friend Theresa works in Christmas Island and so doesn’t get an amazing spread of cuisines like we do here in Perth. She was craving tapas and I took the opportunity to try out Spanish Flavours. They have two pages of tapas to choose from, slightly more authentic then some of the offerings at Gypsy Tapas (See Treat 47 ). We decided to pick an item of tapas to share:
• Mushrooms sautéed in garlic and white wine
• Meatballs soaked in tomato sauce
• Spinach croquettes
• Empanadillas
The mushrooms were a favourite across the table. Mushrooms and garlic are a match made in heaven. The empanadillas had a nice pastry crunch and the beef filling was nicely flavoured. The spinach croquettes were delicious and I happily went for seconds. I was torn between choosing the meatballs or the stuffed capsicums but the decision was made for me because the latter had sold out. Those meatballs were amazeballs. I think I forget how much I love mince. One of my favourite Lebanese dishes is kafta, which is like a mince patty flavoured with herbs, garlic and onion. These meatballs were complimented by a tomato sauce and were full of flavour. My pet peeve is when mince, which has quite a bit of fat in it ends up being dry and lacklustre. This was not the case here. We started filling up and were regretting the fourth tapas option because of the huge serving of the paella. Now they usually charge $27 per serve per person. If you are a table of four you only need two serves and you will still have leftovers. I was impressed by the seafood quantity. I hate seeing seafood paella with only one or two prawns. This had enough prawns for about two each. They weren’t the big prawns; they were small and in the shell. I just went for it and ate the prawn shell and all. I was slightly disappointed that frozen vegetables were used. Considering we were paying over $50 for this dish I thought they would be able to use fresh vegetables. I don’t mind frozen peas but this paella was given the mixed vegetable treatment. The square carrots were the giveaway. Now back to the contentious issue of the rice crust at the bottom of the pan. This had a slight crust but not to the level that Miguel showed us on Masterchef. Overall, this was such an enjoyable meal. Fantastic service and cute décor make you feel like you are in a hole in the wall in Spain. I will definitely be back. But not for the yerba mate as I barely have made a dent in my kilo bag.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Spanish croquettes - pillows that melt in your mouth,

Spanish croquettes – pillows that melt in your mouth,

Takes me back to the Barcelona markets off La Rambla

Takes me back to the Barcelona markets off La Rambla

The hero...paella

The hero…paella

THE DESTINATION
Spanish Flavours on Urbanspoon

Treat 52: I am home

When I go to Sydney I feel at home. I’m a city girl at heart and I feel at ease among the frenetic pace, busy roads and huge buildings. On my December visit to Sydney I drove for the first time and I was surprised at how comfortable I was behind the wheel. There were moments of nervousness and panic especially on the narrow Parramatta roads. Then there was the time where we tried to avoid a toll on the way to Brighton Le Sands and added forty minutes to the trip. This actually has nothing to do with what I’m about to treat about, I just wanted to boast about my driving. What I did want to talk about is Home Thai restaurant on Sussex St in the Sydney CBD, which I was hinting at in the first sentence. As a frequent Sydney traveller I now have favourite dining spots including Home Thai, Marigold, Max Brenners, Wow Cow frozen yoghurt and the Winery. Ok some spots are chains but you will find me there at least once while I’m in Sydney. I first was introduced to Home Thai back in 2009 and have gone back a few times now. My first impression was how busy the place was, there was a constant line but the food service is so fast that you are sitting in no time. Another cool thing was that they took your orders from iPads, which back in 2009 was quite a novelty before everyone had them (and when I say everyone I don’t mean me because I’m a late adopter). On my recent trip in December 2012, I had just come from a Thai weekend binge in Perth (see Treat 48: Thai time). This is when I had my first papaya salad experience. However, the papaya salad in Home Thai was probably too authentic for us with the black crab leg pieces confusing the cousins and me. Do you eat them? Nat’s friend So-Fun answered this for us, yes you do. The sweet and sour combination also wasn’t as palatable as Saowanee’s Place in North Perth. It was overdosed in fish sauce. Now I’ve tried to make this tasty sweet and sour sauce and have struggled getting the right balance. So I can totally understand with the frantic pace of Home Thai that in the rush extra fish sauce contaminated the balance. Here am I complaining about my favourite Thai restaurant in Sydney, in a way it’s my way to discourage you going so that the place doesn’t get busier than it already is. The other two dishes ordered, the pad thai and the fried rice were hands down amazing. The plates were scraped clean. Packed with delicious vegetables, seafood and chicken we were in food heaven. I also remember fondly of a prawn curry dish here. I am envious of the workers in Sydney’s CBD who can go there on their lunch break. It’s definitely worth making Sydney a home just for Home Thai (another bonus is Max Brenners – I can’t wait to treat about my quirky brunch there).

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Not the best papaya salad - too fishy and the crab legs scared me.

Not the best papaya salad – too fishy and the crab legs scared me.

Fried rice yummy yummy

Fried rice yummy yummy

THE DESTINATION
Home Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Enjoy the Perth sunshine

I have a backlog of treats to write about so I apologise if I keep referring to Christmas and December in the next few treats even though we are well and truly in January. The silly season makes brunching hard to do with many cafes closing up shop for a well-deserved break. I found out the hard way on this Saturday post-Christmas with Boucla in Subiaco closed and not opening till January 14. Despite initial disappointment as I was so looking forward to eating spanakopita, you can’t stay gloomy when the sun is shining. It was such a nice day and I wanted to roam in the outdoors so we went off to Subiaco Farmers Markets instead. Now these markets have such a great buzz. You get that wonderful family vibe because it’s on Subiaco Primary School grounds along with the manic market atmosphere. Today I was in luck because my feeling for spanakopita was happily met by Tom the Greek. The spinach and ricotta filling hit the spot. It helped me survive the long line for coffee. Despite the crazy amount of orders I think I was ninth on a growing list that the barista ploughed through in no time. The coffee was delicious. Enjoy Perth’s sunshine and make your way to Subiaco Farmers markets for quirky brunch options. There are heaps of stalls and an array of cuisines. I almost got swept away by the aroma of spices from the Moroccan stall but I stuck to my initial desires for pastry. I can’t wait to go back and give raw food a go…you heard right, raw food. Watch this space and learn with me what this is all about.

THE DESTINATION
Subi Farmers Market
Subiaco Primary School, 271 Bagot Road, Subiaco
Every Saturday 8am – noon

Treat 51: You know I like a place when I go there two days in a row

I had a whinge the day about Cottesloe beach…it was flooded with people and I think I was still carrying a grudge from the time I fell through the sand and got dunked by a wave back in May 2012. In the last past two weeks I have been back to Cottesloe five times. The first was with the cousins for one of our beach days to try out the frozen yoghurt. It’s my favourite food in the world at the moment. All I want is natural flavour and Red Spoon in Cottesloe is one of the rare places in Perth that does it. Unfortunately it doesn’t open late like frozen yoghurt chain Wow Cow in Sydney. I was so surprised to find out in my last Sydney trip that Wow Cow is a hang out. You get your yoghurt and then depending on the location you sit down and people watch. I’m waiting for someone to bring this to Perth. That requires the yoghurt place to be open beyond 9.30pm; yes I’m talking to you Red Spoon. So yet again I’m on a tangent. This whole time I wanted to write about Il Lido, the cute Italian café on the corner in Cottesloe. On this gorgeous Friday night I was celebrating my three years working for the same company. Coincidentally, when I first got the job there I celebrated at Il Lido. Three years later and I’m still in love with that café. It’s almost become a forgotten love because I actually hadn’t set foot there since that dinner three years ago. I fell in love all over again. The menu has quite a few of your Italian favourites but you can tell they make the effort of using seasonal ingredients. I ordered my Italian usual, crab linguini. When the waitress first put the plate down in front of me I was surprised at the serving. It wasn’t generous. I probably could have eaten four extra forkfuls. I will give it this, plenty of flavour. That was noted by everyone at the table. Well not everyone. Il Lido offers communal dining so you sit next to strangers. I didn’t ask the people next to me if they like their meals but the people I was with were all very happy. Another minor criticism about the crab linguini is the saltiness but that’s because of the capers. Overtime I have realised I’m not the biggest caper fan so I’m slightly biased on the salty issue. My dining companions Louise and Carly also ordered the linguini and had no problems. The dessert menu was very tempting but we had our minds set on frozen yoghurt next door at Red Spoon. Except it was CLOSED before 9.30! Now you can understand my anger. Do I have to go all the way to Sydney to get my frozen yoghurt fix after 10pm? It looks like it. Ok I’ll hop off the soap box. Actually, speaking of Sydney I have to give kudos to the Cott Hotel for their new Beach House beer garden. I’m loving the South of French vibes, which is thanks to the same architects as the Ivy in Sydney. You can see it in the splash of yellow at the bar, the white furniture and striped umbrellas. I’m looking forward to trying the food there. Back to Il Lido again, sorry I am easily distracted. The next day I spent with my friends Svet, Sami and Sami’s beautiful baby Anastacia. With Sami’s mum on babysitting duties we ventured to Cottesloe because now Sami lives in Geelong, the WA coast is like a distant relative now. We did drive by Ciao Italia but didn’t realise how hungry we were till we arrived in Cottesloe. I am yet to try Ciao Italia, that’s on my very long list. So Italian was on the menu and off to Il Lido we went. I chose the mushroom and zucchini crispelle, which is hard to describe but it’s like layers of thin crepes with the vegetables in between. It was delicious! Again full of flavour. I think that’s what Il Lido’s tagline should be, full of flavour. This contrasts most Italian restaurants in Perth with their huge servings but lacklustre flavour (see Quick Treat: It is what it is). At Il Lido the servings are a lot smaller including their salads. Sami ordered the poached chicken salad and the plate was underwhelming. Full of flavour but lacked foliage, it could have done with a few extra handfuls of rocket. Sitting outside, hearing the birds chirping and watching the sun set, Il Lido definitely has one of the best café views in Perth. I can’t wait to go back there to try the breakfast. So Il Lido has officially taken the title for my café of the month. The Tuck Shop is closed till January 22 so that explains my need to branch out. Keep following my Cottesloe treats, next up is Vans Café.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The zucchini and mushroom crispelle.

The zucchini and mushroom crispelle.

THE DESTINATION
Il Lido Italian Canteen on Urbanspoon

Red Spoon Cottesloe on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: I am officially a beach bum

With the Christmas break over it’s time to reminisce on that relaxing period of my life now that the daily grind of work is back. For two weeks I enjoyed a lady of leisure existence. I went to the beach 7 days in a row. This is quite odd behaviour for a person with high maintenance hair. Previously going to the beach was a rare occurrence because it turns my tresses into seaweed. Since my Indiana visitors in May 2012 I’ve been making an extra effort of becoming a beach person. Having lived in land locked Indiana I now appreciate WA’s sweeping crystal blue coast. So the next couple treats embrace coastal dining. On my last day of holidays my cousins and I pretended to go to Bora Bora except it was like the Friends episode when they go to Barbados, it was cloudy and raining. So the venture to Scarborough Beach was a failure. The angry clouds reflected the mood we were in. Food normally cheers me and the cousins up and after a great gyros experience the week before after a hard day in the surf we decided to go back to our friend Peters by the Sea. However, I think the salt water and hungriness may have affected us last time because it was not the same. The beef gyros was very dry and no amount of sauce (sweet chilli and garlic) could disguise it. We must have got the last pieces of the cow as it was overcooked, which explains its toughness. The chips were heavily chicken salted by us but any vinegar was absorbed by the cardboard the chips came in. My cousins make fun of me because after I eat I always say the same thing. ‘It’s either a hit or a miss and this time it’s a miss.’ Unfortunately Peters by the Sea didn’t come through for us this time but the Nerds candy strap from the BP nearby was a definite hit. If you have a spare $1 look out for it the next time you get petrol. At the end of the day Peters by the Sea is your stock standard kebab shop with slightly inflated prices because of the beautiful view. My negitude will clear up like the skies in my next treat when I branch out to another beach dining experience.

THE FOOD JOURNEY
IMG_0983[1]

THE DESTINATION
Peter's By The Sea on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: Luck of the Irish

Unfortunately today I didn’t have the luck of the Irish. Though I was dining with my Irish colleague Clare for dinner before Jennifer Lopez’s concert, I was unlucky in my ordering. We decided to eat at Durty Nelly’s after a failed attempt at eating at the neighbouring pub James Squire in Shafto Lane. We did get lucky in securing a table because it was also chockers. It was the silly season so people were out in numbers celebrating or there were a lot of JLO fans in our midst. I ordered the Thursday special, beef parmigiana There was nothing special about it. The meat was as big as my face. It was chewy, hard to eat and the sauce had no flavour. It was a struggle to eat. The chips were yummy, I’ll give them that. At least an Irish pub got the potato right. It was my own fault for ordering an Italian dish at an Irish pub. A rookie mistake. I haven’t given up on the Irish pub just yet. Clare raves about the curry chips at Fibber McGees in Leederville, I can’t wait to try it. I’ve never had curry chips. Apparently it’s the Irish version of a kebab after a late night out. The other people I was dining with enjoyed their Durty Nelly’s meal. Try the calamari, chicken parma and wedges – they all got nods of approval. Don’t get the beef parma unless u want a jaw workout. On a side note Jennifer Lopez was amazing! She’s made me want to go on a health kick. It started straight after the concert, after her diva delay in starting the concert at 9.30 it was a run back to the car before the parking closed at 11pm.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

The beef parma was a jaw workout.

The beef parma was a jaw workout.

THE DESTINATION
Durty Nelly's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon