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
The sweet round – shame about the sour strawberries
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Tagged Atrium, bacon, buffet, coffee, Crown Perth, danish, dim sum, eggs, pancakes, pastries, roasted vegetables, sausage, scrambled eggs, strawberries, waffles
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
On this random Wednesday morning it was time for a long overdue catch up with the cousins. Today’s breakfast adventure was at Miss Mauds in the city for an all you can eat feast. Now at 7am it might be hard to stomach a buffet. That’s what I thought till I got there and all of a sudden the hunger pains hit. For $26 you get a decent spread. I’ve had better. In terms of hot food there is fried and scrambled eggs, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, sausages, baked beans, hotcakes and French toast. Another section included a variety of boxed cereals, pastries, yoghurt, fruit, bread and spreads. On my first trip to the buffet I went straight to the hot food. The scrambled eggs were a favourite, nicely salted which I ate on rye. The hash brown was a let down, there was one bite where I had a nasty hard piece of bacon. One of my favourite hash brown/potato cakes is the one at Ikea which I normally get with the salmon. I normally get disappointed because I keep going to Ikea on the day when they have chips or boiled potato instead. I really have to nut out what day they do the potato cake. On my second lap I tried out the French toast, slightly dried out from sitting out on the buffet table. The star of the show was the custard pastry ignoring the tired looking fruit. I love good danish. My local IGA makes this awesome apricot danish, with a crunchy yet soft lattice and jammy fake apricot taste. Don’t ask me why but I have fond memories walking with my mum to buy this danish. It’s obviously just a frozen pastry that is baked in store but it tastes delicious when it’s warm out of the oven like most things do. The fruit offering was extensive with your standard fare including strawberries, melons, pineapple, banana, apple and oranges. Unfortunately the strawberries were quite tart and not enjoyable. I think the most disappointing feature of this buffet is the drinks. Even Ikea gives you a real coffee; the beans are even fair trade. At Miss Mauds all you get is the percolated kind. Disappointing Darren. I felt like I was at a diner in the USA but at least the waitress pours it for you. I think for the amount you pay you are better off going to brunch spots like (sorry but I can’t help it) Sayers, Tuckshop, Mrs S and Boucla. In saying that though buffets are a lot of fun, getting to do laps of the buffet tables and having competitions to see who can eat the most. Yes I know I’m immature at times. I am going to test out another buffet breakfast, the Atrium at Crown Perth to see if you get better bang for your buck. Miss Mauds breakfast buffet still packs a punch, it was crowded this morning. If you feel like doing something different and you conveniently work in the city then say hello to Miss Mauds for a random all you can eat breakfast adventure.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Round 1 – great scrambled eggs!
Round 2 – get a pastry.
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Tagged breakfast, buffet, coffee, danish, eggs, French toast, fruit, hash brown, Ikea, Miss Mauds, pastries, percolated, potato cake, salmon, strawberries