Treat 67: I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since my last treat!

It’s blogging time finally. Sorry for the delay in treats but I have a decent excuse. I just packed my bags and moved to the other side of the country. So the treats will take on a different flavour. You’ll hear me rave or rant about restaurants in my new home town of Sydney. In terms of ranting…price might not be one of them. I had brunch the other day including coffee…set me back $15. That’s double in Perth. Happy hour with half price drinks besides Carnegies on a Wednesday then you are dreaming. Besides eating out I’ll also post recipes (I actually mean it this time). My mum is an amazing cook but me I cook like my teta (grandma). I’m always in a rush. My problem is I cook when I’m hungry so I’ll eat along the way or rush so I can eat it sooner. However by living at home I became complacent. To quote a wise man (Hugh Jackman)…you can either stay complacent or grow. I decided to grow, not in height though that would be handy but in cooking ability and independence. For example, hummus is a staple of my house but not once did I attempt it. Why? Because my mum does an amazing job. When she tried to teach me it was in one ear and out the other. But I gave it a go and besides making too much (you only need one can not three for one person to last you a week). I made enough for a small army. So another challenge is cooking for one because I’m naturally engrained to cook bulk. Now I will use this post to talk food and not just update you on my life. Let’s talk one of my fave meals of the day…brunch. I alluded to it earlier when I was having my usual rant about Perth prices. My first brunch in Sydney was at Cowbell 808 in Surry Hills. I initially wanted to go to Bourke Street Bakery but at 11.30 on a Sunday I had no chance with the line bending around the corner. As you know I don’t wait (see Treat 44) My friend Patrick recommended Cowbell for its bacon ice cream…yep you heard right. How was it? Well I couldn’t tell you because they took it off the menu. I almost threw a tantrum like the 2 year old next to me. She too was obviously upset about the lack of bacon ice cream. Instead I got an egg and bacon wrap, which was delicious! The relish that went with yum! It was an alternative version of a bacon and egg roll…I was impressed. Their version of shashuka also looked a stand out. I say looked because I was eye dropping the table next to me. It was a couple on a date and the girl got the bigger meal. I was proud of her. My friend Alisha opted for the traditional scrambled eggs on toast. Just a couple negatives…table numbers were a bit disorganised. There were three table 13s, which became 13 1/2 and 13 3/4 by the end of it. The food was slow to come out but in Cowbell’s defence the place was heaving. We were lucky to get a table straight away. All in all this was a fine introduction to the Sydney brunch scene. I’ll continue searching high and low for the best brunch in Sydney. Tuck Shop and Sayers jointly took out the title in Perth. So watch this space…

THE FOOD JOURNEY
Good news…I have upgraded to an iPhone 5. No more dark and blurry photos.
Bad news…I’m so out of touch that I forgot to take a photo.

THE DESTINATION
Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Treat 66: Because you had a bad day…

I really wanted to like this place. I really did. But all I feel is disappointment and hunger. My first visit to No 4 Blake street was more successful. Good coffee and I enjoyed the banana bread. Though disappointed that at 11am I couldn’t get the brownie as they hadn’t made it yet. The menu said it was available. Now I still don’t know what homemade aero tastes like. I still liked the cafe enough to suggest to my culinary adventurous friends from my European travels to join me there for an overdue catch up. How I wish I did not spearhead this decision. Firstly, the coffee was undrinkable. It was so bitter that I thought my glass still had detergent remains from the dishwasher. I barely had a quarter before giving up. My friend Daniele also didn’t enjoy his coffee. The tea however was a hit with both Kirsty and Krystle, which helped keep them warm on this blistery cold winters day. So if the coffee was bad, how about the food? The disappointment sadly continued. I ordered the chakchouka after having a very positive experience at Boucla in Subiaco. Boucla’s chakchouka had intense flavour. Chunky tomato pieces made it easy to pick up with bread. The egg was baked to perfection, the white was dense and the yolk gooey. For $14 it was great value.The Blake version was the complete opposite. It was not cooked properly. The egg whites were clear and runny. Only two tiny pieces of olive bread were provided to dip into the small clay pot. The intense tomato flavour was missing. The red peppers were few and far between. It lacked the kick that made Boucla’s chakchouka soar. In fairness Daniele who also ordered the chakchouka had better looking whites. The fact he left most of it in the clay pot is not a good sign. For $18 I wished I suggested Boucla in the first place. I was left hungry and popped down the road to Hobart Street Deli for my coffee fix. Sorry it doesn’t end there. Kirsty’s sourdough bread was either stale or not properly toasted. In other words it was inedible. On a positive note her poached eggs were perfect. Krystle also ordered the poached eggs but on gluten free bread. Her side of avocado never came. Getting the waitstaffs’ attention was near impossible. I think they forget the section up the stairs. Everytime we tried to wave them down they had quickly turned their backs down the stairs to the kitchen. So the service was also a let down. If you see a table with most of their plates with food remains and cups with undrunk coffee…that should be a sign in itself that the party is not happy. We tried to complain in the end but the waitstaff serving us wasn’t very receptive. All in all it was a letdown from start to finish. I’m hoping Blakes was having a bad day because I’ve heard great things from quite a few people. I just checked their website and they have taken the week off. Me thinks it’s good timing to get the staff refreshed. Hopefully the food improves, perhaps a good opporunity to clean the coffee machine and next time I look forward to seeing service with a smile. Otherwise go to Boucla instead for chakchouka that won’t let you down. And yes…I like to say chakchouka.

THE DESTINATION
No 4 Blake Street on Urbanspoon

Treat 65: Not my typical café

So I branched out to a new café in Claremont that has its own coffee roaster. Apparently the machine is worth over $800,000. It better be good coffee then. Don’t worry it is. Typika is not a typical café I would frequent. I’m never in the Claremont area. Too much temptation to buy expensive items I don’t need. Plus I’m a bargain hunter…expensive is not for me. What is the difference between Typika and my other favourite cafes (Tuck Shop and Sayers)? Space. Typika has almost a warehouse feel to it. Though I did have to wait 5 minutes before getting seated. I blame the newness factor. New in Perth means everybody has to go there. I had the same problem at the Stables Bar in the CBD. Perth people flock to new places. I am guilty of this. So what can you expect at Typika? It has a comprehensive breakfast menu that you can order till 3pm on weekends. Brownie points right there. Then lunch is designed to share. I can’t wait to back there for the ribs. I’ve heard it’s sticky sweet amazingness. Today I opted to take advantage of the breakky menu at 1.30pm. Poached eggs over a bed of spicy slow cooked beef served with a harissa hollandaise. I savoured every bite. The beef was tender. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked. Yolky goodness oozed onto the beef and cape seed bread. Minor criticism…more spice please. Thank you Thailand holiday for improving my spice tolerance levels. If this dish is a reflection of the rest of the menu…then I can’t wait to go back again. I’ve also had the kale juice there. It is what it is…health in a cup. Yumminess is optional. You must get a coffee. Just be warned ordering a coffee in a take away cup while dining in proved difficult. Actually impossible. Despite a couple service mishaps, the wait-staff were generally patient and considerate. Get out of your comfort zone and make the trek down Stirling Highway to enjoy the fantastic coffee and food options that are typical of Typika.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

MUST TRY!

MUST TRY!

THE DESTINATION
Typika Artisan Roasters on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: A few hours in Freo

This treat won’t be packed with South of the river jokes. Scout’s honour. Except I was never in the scouts and I can’t help myself. Talking to my friend Fran, who had never stepped foot into tourist favourite Little Creatures, Fremantle is very much still a day trip. You don’t pop over there just for lunch. Well that’s just lies. Because you can and I am living proof that the drive to Freo is worth the couple hours you spend there. You don’t have to spend all day there. Just lunch. So that’s we did at Ootong Lincoln. We missed the breakfast menu by half hour (I underestimated the time it would take me to get to Freo…sorry I told you I couldn’t help it). I was impressed that the breakky menu lasts till 1.00pm. I like Freo’s laid back style where breakfast and lunch menus co-exist together. I ordered the ‘Asian salad’ as the waiter described it when he gave it to me. In his defence I couldn’t pronounce it either. Crispy bean sprouts, fresh capscicum and a small portion of chicken was combined with a refreshing Thai fish sauce dressing. Sweet, sour and delicious. My sister’s frittata was gluten free and vegetable packed. Did she like it? Well she finished it. But I couldn’t tell from her poker face if she was in love with it. Now the salted caramel macaron or coloured biscuit as she likes to call it was a hit. We demolished them in no time. My friend Kirsty had the salads and wasn’t overly impressed. The couscous salad was bland with the large corn pearls absorbing any form of dressing. The rocket and pomegranate salad was enjoyable but it didn’t hit the ball out of the park. I talk baseball because my friend Erin at work is heading on an amazing six week trip that includes a baseball game in New York. We spent many a minute on wikepedia figuring out how long the game goes for. So the salads weren’t amazing but it just proves my point. You don’t make friends with salad. I’m definately more brunch than lunch so I’ll be back at Ootong Lincoln before 1pm for their breakfast menu. P.S. Love the vintage bikes and jar lighting. Makes bric and brac from the verge look cool. Screams Freo. Actually I should say screams South Freo. Yes I admit I got lost finding south Freo. I can’t wait to spend a few more hours (no day trip necessary) there.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Pumpkin arancini with the peski couscous salad.

Pumpkin arancini with the peski couscous salad.

Vegetable packed frittata

Vegetable packed frittata

Asian salad....I loved the dressing.

Asian salad….I loved the dressing.

THE DESTINATION
Ootong & Lincoln on Urbanspoon

Treat 64: Screams Melbourne but with Perth service

I’m a tragic when it comes to new places in Perth. I try to be the first one there. If I like the place I keep going back. So that’s the situation I have found myself at Gordon’s Street Garage. Don’t get me wrong, it has let me down at times. The coffee that never came, receiving a white wine when I ordered a very red Sangiovese, getting charged for three bottles of wine when we only ordered three glasses….sadly the list of service mishaps goes on. Can we put it down to teething problems? I do have to criticise how each mishap was handled. Apologies were never received. In fact the coffee that never came was blamed on us even though we had paid for it and had an itemised bill to prove it. When you order two take away coffees and only receive one take away cup – there is no other way to explain it but a miscommunication between the barista and wait-staff. This should be rectified immediately rather than questioning the customer. That was my second breakfast visit at Gordon’s and compared to my other visits was the one with the worst service. Considering it was quite empty for a Wednesday morning, it was very slow to have our orders taken and even slower to get coffees to four dedicated females who don’t work in West Perth but wanted to experience Gordon’s breakfast delights. Sorry for the negative start to this treat. I will now write with a more positive tone. The first breakky experience showcased how busy a new place in Perth gets. Though we didn’t have to wait long to get a table for our big group of seven. Service was polished despite mounting pressure from the heaving crowds. The food that came out was delicious. The bruschetta, avocado, heirloom tomato, labneh and rocket combination was spot on. The labneh was deliciously tart as I expected it to be. The gluten free banana bread toast with cinnamon butter was a hit with my coeliac sister Suzy. I think I ate most of it (poor Suzy). All my dining companions were impressed with their breaky dishes. The vegetarian breakfast was very filling and I admit food envy as I saw my friend Louise plough through it. The only negative point was they ran out of the savoury muffins, which sounded amazing. It was an artichoke number. At this stage, Gordon’s had been opened for less than two weeks. So far I was impressed. The second breakky visit as discussed above let me down. The pumpkin and feta muffin was slightly dry. The real let down was in the service. Now to dinner. You will be happy to know that Gordon’s is open late Monday to Sunday. About time there is a late night dining venue where you can have a nice red wine and graze over a pizza with your mates. The first dinner experience had hits and misses. My friend Krystle has severe gluten intolerance so we had to be careful with what we ordered. That rules out the pizzas and half the salads. Unfortunately the menu isn’t very flexible so asking to have the buckwheat replaced with quinoa in the tabouleh was a fail. The highlight was the beetroot salad. So elegant. Delicately shaved beetroot perfectly matched the walnuts and blue cheese. The fish was delicious but we needed more of it. As it was on the share menu, there wasn’t much of it to go around. The tabouleh was a disappointment. It was a modern take on this Middle Eastern classic and lacked dressing. What I do love about the menu is that it works well for sharing. The next dinner experience was all about the pizza. I was a big fan of the 4 seasons with prosciutto, artichoke and mushrooms. I just love artichokes full stop. It didn’t take much for this to be a winner. The Hunters pizza was like a fancy meat eaters with house made salami picante and prosciutto. Yes I googled what picante meant and it refers to the salami being prepared in such a way as to be spicy. I didn’t feel the heat from the salami but I have increased my spicy tolerance thanks to a trip to Thailand. The pizzas weren’t amazing like Dough (see Treat 26) but they do have a delicious flavour profile. Plus add a glass of Tempranillo, good company and you have yourself a lovely night. So there is room for improvement at Gordon’s. However, I can’t believe I left it this long to describe the interior. The space screams Melbourne. From funky booths, to an upstairs area with an old-fashioned record player, it is quirky, cool and industrial. It is loud. The universal music playing in the background will make you think you’re in Spain one minute, the Middle East the next and then off to France you go. I’ll also make a note about the bathrooms. Thanks to the low basins I felt very tall. Maybe not practical but hey it was nice to feel tall for a moment. Overall I would go back to Gordon’s Street Garage. I am not ready to give up on it. Though it’s had woeful service in a couple of my visits, in my last visit service was spot on. We even had a few laughs with the wait-staff as they patiently waited for us to make up our mind. This place makes you feel like you are in another place (Melbourne or Barcelona come to mind because of the arty décor) but a couple of the service mishaps bring you back to earth that you are in Perth.

THE DESTINATION
Gordon St Garage on Urbanspoon

Treat 63: The one with Unagi

One of my favourite episodes of Friends is the one with Unagi. In this episode Rachel and Phoebe want to learn self-defence and Ross pipes in about his karate past. He goes on and on and on about Unagi, which he describes meaning a state of awareness. This is a lie. Unagi is a Japanese eel dish. However, this is apt for me because I had none of Ross’ unagi in my last two visits to Nobu. Both times every single dish was explained to me. I even tried writing them down but only got to three dishes before I got swept away by food and forgot. So I have beautiful photos thanks to my friend Theresa but no awareness of what they are. One of my struggles at Nobu is knowing what to order from the menu. Now I just rock up and let the chefs and waiters do the work for me. It’s worked out really well both times. If I listed every single dish I have eaten at Nobu this treat would become a novel. So instead this is my highlights reel.

1. Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno
This is one of my favourites. The yellowtail is so fresh and melts in your mouth. The jalapeno elevates this dish to another level. For sashimi haters, this will convert you.

2. Black miso cod
I can’t believe it’s not butter. That’s what I think of when I eat this Nobu signature dish. The cod is so soft, flakey and moist with delicious buttery goodness. This is a heavenly dish. Even for cod-haters like my friend Fran, you will still have a go and try it. Warning – don’t eat the ginger root as this is for after you eat the cod to help with digestion and possibly to prevent a coronary.

3. Mushroom Salad with Yuzu Dressing
If mushrooms are the meat for vegetarians, this dish will convert me to the herbivore world. It’s all in the dressing. Yuzu is a citrus fruit with a flavour cross between mandarin orange and lime. The frequency of yuzu in Japanese cooking is equvalient to that of limes in Mexican. The mushrooms are sautéd in this gorgeous dressing and definately takes this dish from boring to party animal (without killing any animals). Don’t just let the vegetarians enjoy this dish. Get over your caveman pride and give the mushroom salad a go.

4. Yakimono – Rib eye in Teriyaki sauce
If you are a carnivore like myself, then I will admit that the mushrooms go perfectly with the rib eye in teriyaki sauce. Cooked to your liking (medium rare for me) this dish reminds you that you are in no ordinary restaurant. You are in fine dining heaven. Reap the rewards and empty the wallet for this succulent quality piece of meat. It truly is a pleasure to eat. No chewiness. A word I will say often for Nobu….it melts in your mouth.

5. Chocolate bento box
I would come to Nobu just for this dessert. Yes you heard me correctly, I would go to a Japanese fusion fine dining restaurant for dessert. To be honest there’s not much Japanese about this dessert then the bento box it comes in and the green tea ice cream. The chocolate fondant is amazing. As soon as you dive your spoon into this pyramid of pleasure, the chocolate oozes out. I’ve had this dish over six times now and it never fails me. I can officially say this is my favourite Nobu dessert because I have tried all the desserts on the menu thanks to my friend Theresa. See below a photo of the dessert platter that says it all. It was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. I’ve done the hard work and tried them all for you. At the end of the day I’d always go back to the Bento Box.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno

Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno

The Nobu signature - black miso cod

The Nobu signature – black miso cod

Wagyu rib-eye with the delicious mushrooms

Rib-eye with the delicious mushrooms

Green tea ice cream - give it a go.

Green tea ice cream – give it a go.

The Nobu dessert spread.

The Nobu dessert spread.

THE DESTINATION
Nobu Perth on Urbanspoon

Treat 62: My favourite Canadian is Celine Dion

I thought I’d dedicate this treat to my favourite Canuck, Celine Dion. Though she has ignored me both times I tried to visit her in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, I choose to forgive her. Why? Have you not heard her Falling into You album? ‘Because of you’ remains one of my favourite songs. ‘The Power of Love’ is a classic. Who could forget Titanic’s ‘My Heart will go on’? Now before this treat becomes an ode to Celine I will move on to a new restaurant to grace the suburb of Inglewood. There is a connection as Miss Kitty’s Saloon has strong Canadian and North American western influences. Think cowboy and Indians. The first time I discovered this place I was actually visiting it’s across the road neighbour, Il Pasto. As I stumbled in I quickly realised this was not an Italian restaurant. I said to myself that I’d come back to check this place out. So one day I said to my friend Patrick ‘what do you say to takin’ chances’ and giving this new place a go? He was initially quickly impressed. I love to impress my friends with new places, especially the hard to please Fran (See Treat 32: Lola you’ve got me on my knees Lola). The awesome décor with the beer barrel at the entrance; quirky chairs and tables; and eclectic bibs and bobs live up to the saloon name. There was a great selection of music from the glory days. Unfortunately to Patrick’s chagrin, I didn’t know many of them until he spelled it out for me. The hostess was very helpful and when we asked if we could be moved to a more comfortable table she happily obliged. Now to the food, which we really hoped would live up to everything else. This is where it came unstuck. Did we choose the wrong food? Did we over order? I will answer these questions shortly. The beef chilli on corn waffle with avocado butter was lacklustre. There was no heat. I asked the waitress for Tabasco sauce that never came. There was no chilli in this beef chilli. In fact there was no flavour. I wanted to like it I really did but the waffle it came with made it worse. It was not off to a good start. The grilled local octopus with smoky eggplant, roasted cauliflower and jalapeno salt for $18.80 was overpriced for the portion size. Give me the octopus salad at Inglewood-favourite Estia’s Greek restaurant any day (see Treat 58: Anything you can do…I can do better). The octopus itself was flavoursome and grilled to perfection. There was just not enough of it. The fried pickles with house cured ham and spiced mayo was a highlight. However, I am embarrassed to admit but the fried pickles at Hooters are better. Fun fact there is a Hooters in Parramatta (New South Wales). The only reason why I know this is my friend from the USA who now lives in Sydney goes there when she’s homesick. I think it was because Miss Kitty’s used good quality pickles compared to the cheaper ones normally found in cheeseburgers fried at Hooters. What can I say, the USA do junk food better. It’s hard to make fried food fancy. However, I do think Merrywell (see Treat 27: Born in the USA ) has done a great job and is better proportionated in price. Again Perth portion sizes disappoint with Miss Kitty only providing a few pickles to share. If you were in a group of four you might need two serves. I’m assuming with Crown Perth’s backing, the economies of scale allow the Merrywell to have a lower price point. Quality in Perth does not come cheap so I understand why the prices and portion sizes at Miss Kitty’s are the way they are. Any of the Northern American themed restaurants in Perth don’t replicate the low prices and big portions that you find in this region. Instead you have Perth’s higher prices for smaller portions. That’s just a reality we have become used to. From here the meal took a turn for the better. The poutine, which is the Canadian way of saying chips and gravy, was delicious. Add curds (just like the ones Miss Muffet ate with her whey), it was simple and delicious. Chips and gravy take me back to my childhood swimming lessons at Beatty Park. Till this day the best chips and gravy of my life. Unfortunately the café is being renovated so on the rare occasion I’m down at Beatty Park doing laps (at least once a year I go on a health kick) I really miss them (even though they defeat the purpose of what I’m there for). The final dish that was placed down was the roast suckling pig with a tomato relish that wasn’t really needed. It was at this point we realised we over-ordered. If only the food came all at once then we would have eaten more of the delectable pork. It really was melt-in-your mouth pig meat. The crackling did exactly what it was meant to do. Crunch! There were hits and misses but like Celine Dion once said, this place will go on. I definitely will give Miss Kitty’s brunch a go. Otherwise I’d be happy to pretend I was in Canada, drinking my Brooklyn brewski and quoting How I Met your Mother Canadian jokes or singing my praises about Celine Dion (warning I might actually sing her tunes because those lyrics I know). Maybe I got them on a wrong day as Miss Kitty’s Saloon is still relatively new. I’ll wait till a new day has come and give this Canadian/USA inspired restaurant/bar another chance.

THE FOOD JOURNEY
The dark interior does not allow for quality iPhone 3 photos so unfortunately there are no food shots. So here is a photo of my favourite Canadian instead.

celine-dion-300[1]

THE DESTINATION
Miss Kitty's Saloon on Urbanspoon