The first stop was Melbourne for the Fine Food Australia Show – a massive trade show five times bigger than the SA Good Food & Wine Show.
As I travel on my food safaris, there is nothing better than catching up with old guests over a glass and bite– Melbourne guests Craig, De Villiers and Brett did not disappoint! The first culinary destination was that of Prix Fixe –the creative hub of Philippa Sibley, one of Australia’s leading dessert chefs. In Sibley’s words – “Chefs become associated with dishes like an artist to a painting or a singer to a song. Freshly Shucked Oysters washed down with a glass of NV Mumm Champagne was a great way to start the evening. Confit Salmon, Crayfish, crushed purple potatoes, Japanese flavours – from est est est 1997.
I was fortunate to have a great tour guide in the form of Craig who the following day showed me around greater Melbourne and had lunch at Chin Chin – a sharing experience where the many different dishes have exotic and varied flavours of Asia. That evening we dined at Cicciolina in St Kilda – a fabulously packed Italian restaurant, the place to go before a show!
A lodge like Londolozi, although famous for its wildlife, is about far more than just that.
The Boy arrived on the Friday ready for a short weekend city getaway and was able to join me for my last afternoon hangout with her the following day at the Hospital.  It was so sad to say farewell as I had been having such a fabulous time seeing her but I have vowed to myself to not leave it so long between visits.  What better reason to return to Sydney!?!
I started the night off with the only type of Champagne available by the glass; some Rene Geoffroy Purete Brut which was quite vibrant and crisp with a dry finish.  The perfect way to start a meal! The sommelier of the night was the only exception to the team and I was drawn to a heightened level of excitement for each wine he introduced as he described it and why it complements the food so eloquently. This first course dish was quite amazing having quite distinct separate layers of flavours almost like you get with some macarons! The Wagyu was marbled perfectly and was accompanied with tiny little pencil thin dill cucumbers which were sliced into miniature little medallions packed with a zing. In the aftermath of the delicious potatoes, the grouper didn’t excite either of us much at all.  Although it looked quite attractive on the plate, but it was fairly bland and was made even less inspiring by the following duck egg dish which was outstanding. The first dessert course was right up my alley of dessert styles; there is something about combining sweet yet piquant berry flavours with contrasting tangy yoghurt tastes that really hits the spot for me. The night ended on Mark Best’s Signature Sauternes custard.  I had read a number of amazing recounts of this dessert and was keen to see if it lived up to the hype. Follow me as I discover where to find gluten free, fructose friendly eating with a mix of recipes, restaurant experiences and foodie events. Whilst trying to deal with all of this turmoil, I injected my energy into writing and saw this humble blog blossom into something even my critical mind can be proud of. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend my time more wisely and make more effort to hang with those I heart. Following with my New Years promise to myself, I met with Ai-Ling for a ladies lunch at Circa in Mount Lawley.
Circa do not indicate on their menu gluten free options however after a brief chat to our waitress she was confidently able to let me know what I could have.
For our main we shared the roasted duck, a tender slightly pink breast served on cauliflower puree and charred cabbage with a sweet apricot jus. Disclaimer: Chompchomp paid in full for this meal as a gesture of friendship however also because Ai-Ling actually ran out of time and had to race off for an appointment.
The Swan Valley have recently been awarded the accolade of becoming Australia’s first Humane Food Region.
The Humane Food movement is aimed giving recognition to businesses that are dedicated to improving the lives of food production animals to allow them to live a more natural and a happy life.
Entwined in the Valley was the first official public event hosted in the Valley since it was declared a Humane Food Region. The indulgent degustation was prepared by Masterchef judge George Calombaris and one of my favourite Perth-based chefs Kiren Mainwaring. Lucky for me the majority of the dishes were already gluten free and therefore required minimal if any adaptations.
Our first entree was a decadently soft slab of bark smoked West Australian Rainbow Trout with wattle seed and the tiniest shavings of white chocolate.
For those of you familiar with Kiren’s amazing repertoire of dishes, you will know his slow cooked eggs are out of this world.
A silky smooth cylinder of slow cooked hen’s yolk was served with shards of savoury meringue, cauliflower puree, green olive and shaved Moorish pistachios.
The second main course was a slow cooked kangaroo tail with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and puree, fresh apple and crisp salt bush.  I was a bit nervous to eat this dish as I have a history of reacting to kangaroo where the back of my throat becomes puffy and swollen almost like a mild anaphylactic reaction. The Boy suggested I try a small mouthful and wait ten minutes or so to see if I still had a problem with it. Having survived my re-entry into the kangaroo eating world without the need to reach for an Epipen, I was very excited to tuck into the selection of artisan cheese from the Cheese Barrel complete with gluten free crackers for me to enjoy.

The final dish was one of Kiren’s dessert masterpieces, once again gluten free and as always totally addictive. As I nearly slipped into a food coma, I had to remind myself that I had a full day of work the next day and wished I hadn’t enjoyed quite so much of the free flowing wine!
There are a small handful of restaurants dotted around Perth that I have particularly soft spot for. Whilst our bistro lunch was kindly on the house, the Boy and I wanted more than just two courses for no other reason than we are greedy.
I am a total purist when it comes to my oysters and will always be satisfied if they are served to me natural however the Boy wanted to try something different so we also ordered some Rockefeller oysters grilled with spinach, Pernod cream and Gruyere. The Boy was provided with soft slices of toasted brioche however as there was no gluten free equivalent I was happy enough to make do with the rice crackers provided. The Boy opted for the char-grilled Huon Tasmanian salmon served on a bed of creamy lemon risotto with a fennel and caper salad.
Despite being relatively un-fazed by the beauty of chocolate lava, he barely uttered a word as he scooped up spoonful after spoonful until his plate was empty. Based on a different theme every month, the restaurant concept is inspired by people, the arts and music whilst bringing together fresh seasonal produce, transforming both the interior and menu itself into a whimsical dining experience from 1997 – 2014.
This wasn’t without receiving a few frowns from the surrounding patients in the ward as we are invariably very loud together. One of these details is the execution of unfaultable and impeccable service.  The wait staff should literally gush over their guests and make them feel like royalty.
For example Restaurant Amuse; where each of my three visits has left me completely awestruck with the fabulous experience. The initial strong flavours of the soft crab were lifted by a layer of light almond foam, progressing on the palate to the salty fresh sea taste of the avruga and ending with the sweeter butter popcorn aftertaste.  Magic!  The wine was matched beautifully (as were all the wines of the evening) and its oily aftertaste lingering on the palate with the corn flavours was divine.
Similar to many goats cheese, it was quite tangy and lemony, with sour cream notes, but also with some earthy depth to it.  It was topped with tiny slivers of raw velvety mushroom. Sadly, I walked away disappointed especially as I thought it would be the highlight of my time in Sydney.  On a much brighter note, it turns out hanging out with my pal in the Respiratory ward of RPA took first place as the most wonderful experience in a long time.
Why can’t these people understand that without us the customers – they have no job! I will make you appreciate that having food intolerances doesn’t mean you have to miss out!
It was a roller-coaster experience of opportunity coupled with some of my darkest times in years. The only occasions I would see many of them would be at invited foodie events and even then this would be a rushed and distracted moment in time.
Ai-Ling from Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse and Perth Food Truck Rumble is one of the first food bloggers that I became close friends with. Being able to chat without all the fan fare of an official foodie event was such a better way to share company.
She showed a deeper level of understanding of what constitutes a gluten free dish explaining that some dishes don’t contain gluten however they will still have some contamination and therefore would not be suitable for Coeliacs and those very sensitive. We were kindly offered normal bread for Ai-Ling to enjoy and each serve of bread was served on separate plates to ensure no mixing of crumbs. Not the most fructose friendly of choices but I have been eating so much vegan dishes in my post-Christmas guilt that I was craving some poultry. I don’t think there was a silent moment for the whole two hours that we sat together and it felt like our time was over in a flash. Earlier last month I attended their launch party held at Sandalford Winery where I learnt all about this RSPCA driven initiative. To become involved businesses must undergo an accreditation process and those that meet the high standards set by the RSPCA are identified on the Choose Wisely website. It was an elaborate evening of seven stunning courses matched with individually selected wines held on the grounds of Houghton Winery. Our evening started with canapes to share around the table; some Mt Barker humane farmed chicken liver parfait served on a crisp onion skin with pickled celery, and West Australian wild prawn crackers topped with fresh prawn meat and fennel. The second entree reminded me of one of his creations that we loved at the Farmer’s Long Table lunch at Truffle Kerfuffle. A buttery soft confit duck leg topped with germinated lentils and drizzled with a spiced plum puree.
Last time I ate kangaroo was over ten years ago and long before I was diagnosed with my all my food intolerances. I bravely tried a mouthful and within minutes developed only a slight scratching at the back of my throat.
A moist thick cut slice of chocolate and beetroot cake was literally engulfed in a sour cream mousse with some chocolate sorbet hidden inside the mousse. Lucky for me I can survive for a short time on little sleep and whilst I cannot say the next day was easy I can guarantee it was all worth it!

As paid tickets to this event were very popular there was no offer of a plus one so Chomp was happy to fork out her dosh for another ticket so that the Boy could accompany her.
The mention of their name will always bring a smile to my face and propositions to return will always be met with a resounding yes. I am not sure what has overcome us both this winter but we have both been eating like there is no tomorrow.
Whilst the flavours of the rich cream and Gruyere were luscious, I remained a loyal fan to the naked oysters. After sectioning off a non-contaminated gluten free portion for myself I proceeded to get quite excited by my feelings of nostalgia.
I ordered the Sirloin steak with frites and bearnaise sauce; a classic French dish that is one of my French-born father’s favourites. His choice was also gluten free allowing me to be able to sneak a couple of mouthfuls as he reached over and simultaneously stole some of my frites. Time needed to see as much as possible – lectures on upcoming food trends, taste new products, see equipment on offer and meet some great chefs. Stuffed Zucchini Flowers followed by a Souffle of Blue swimmer crab meat, shallot and lemon thyme served on a champagne & chive veloute ended my stay in Melbourne sufficiently satisfied. She is by far and by large the most positive, brave and strong willed person I know, occasionally to her detriment!  But there is only so much a pair of lungs can take and since the birth of her gorgeous doe-eyed daughter, her lungs have been on a slow and steady decline.  She has been on the transplant list for the better part of a year now and we are all crossing every finger and toe that some beautiful brand new shiny lungs will be on her doorstep soon.
Having this above and beyond approach to customers forms nearly as big a part of the wow factor as does the food and is a vital part of the whole experience. To add to this the remainder of the wait staff were cold and almost snooty giving an air of pretension that in no way added to the experience. I'm a born and bred Australian with a very multicultural background - my father is French and my mother is half Chinese and Irish – not surprisingly as a result of this upbringing I became a dedicated foodie from quite a young age. I expected 2014 to be a wonderful year of post–wedding bliss but sadly the Boy and I were not that lucky.
The parfait was velvety smooth and reminded me of the enormous dish Mum always makes for us around Christmas time.
With Anna Gare as the MC, she successfully managed to maintain lively banter with the chefs and sommelier on stage and kept the feel of the night humorous and light hearted.
Thin slivers of fresh beetroot that I nearly mistook for rose petals decorated the dish with a splash of bright colour. Each one of my oysters still had a pool of fresh sea water revealing to me just how freshly shucked they were.
Eating it conjures up comforting memories of my childhood at Christmas time when Mum would made enough parfait to feed an army yet there were only three of us. It wasn’t long before my flying hands has sent the Boy’s water glass tumbling across the table onto his brioche and separate portion of parfait.
A family feud that commenced in the months before our wedding resulted in my family fragmenting apart, and then to add to this heartbreak my business came very close to a similar fate.
Both being a little quirky in our own individual ways, we connected immediately and have been great friends ever since. She does everything from scratch and we eat parfait on toast for days until it’s all devoured. The chocolate particles were so small that they dissolved on contact with my tongue leaving a subtlety sweet after-taste. I have always wondered whether it was something else in the dish each time or I was actually allergic to just the roo itself. I cautiously ate a few more mouthfuls before surrendering my plate to the Boy to finish it off. I have enjoyed countless meals in this classic French bistro with friends and family alike and I feel that I can always depend upon them to deliver polished service and quality dishes. The bearnaise sauce was rich and buttery with a lovely sweet aniseed aroma from the fresh tarragon. Taking time out from the rat race of life to laugh, connect and share with those you love is so important.
I MAY have run my finger across my empty plate a couple of times to smear up the last chocolate fragments but there is no proof I actually did this at such a premium event.
The sprouting process also has the added benefit of raising the nutrient level of these legumes making this dish somewhat healthy! Of course this meant that upon receiving an invitation to return to sample their new Bistro lunch special I was quick to schedule this lunch date in.

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