Friday, 28 September 2012

South Bound

Some great pals from sunny Queensland were headed in our general direction so we had planned to meet them at Albany and make our way back up the South West coast together.

The trip south was fairly uneventful considering we had on board a two year old (say no more), an unruly 5 year old and a teenager minus iPod (confiscated for reasons I will not enter into here..) Had Garrick and I gone completely mad? Clearly..

It was crazy windy on the journey down but it was sunny.. sadly that was the last of the sun for a few days.  Bummer.

Bad weather.. meh.. Nothing a few drinks and some shopping couldn't fix.

Those banana benders had arrived in their camper van from Kal.  How 4 girls and 1 fella ever survived in that confined space with so much luggage is a notable achievement. Rumour has it, it was the first and last camper van trip.. ha ha

Albany was.. well.. COLD! Brrrr.. good weather for eskimos.  Those Antarctic winds bounced off the Southern Ocean and straight through my bones - nothing a few drinks and some shopping couldn't fix though.. is there an echo in here? pffffft..

Some great eating spots in Albany for the gluten challenged out there..

Joop Thai
130 Lockyer Avenue, Centennial Park

a few options available at:
Venice Restaurant (menu link via 
179 York Street, Albany

Tanglehead Brewing Co.
Located within the White Star Hotel
72 Stirling Terrace, Albany

Tanglehead Brewing Co. was by far the standout for me during our stay - kid friendly, heaps of gluten free options, welcoming staff and great food.

Our journey continued along the South Coast Highway enjoying the beautiful countryside of Denmark, stopping to do the Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants, then onto Walpole, Pemberton and finally Margaret River.

What can you say about Margs that hasn't already been said before.  Quite simply, my favourite South West destination.  It is beautiful, it is gluten free friendly, it has a myriad of accommodation options and is home to some of the most outstanding wineries in the WORLD.

On this short stay, sadly only time to visit one.  Watershed  located on Bussell Highway was a perfect choice.  With a semi indoor playground to keep the kids entertained while we enjoyed a cheeky bottle of 2008 Cab Merlot, there was nothing to fault.  Beautiful surrounds, great company, sensational food including lots of gluten free options, it was a fantastic afternoon.

The Berry Farm

Settlers Tavern located at 114 Bussell Highway is always a sure bet for great food and a few bevvies.  So many gluten free options, kid friendly and always more than accommodating.  Throw in some shopping, a trip to The Berry Farm located at 43 Bessell Rd, Rosa Glen where everything is gluten free, some touristy stuff and a coffee or three and you have the perfect getaway.

A quick stop at Equinox Cafe Busselton on the way home proved to be a brilliant decision.  Heaps of gluten free options for breakfast including the most sensational home made gluten free bread I think I have ever tasted.  Located at 343 Queen Street, Busselton - you don't want to miss this one.

Busselton Jetty

Home again.  Back to reality for a while..  *sigh*    

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Rockpool Bar & Grill? No way..

So a couple of weeks ago Garrick totally blew me away by announcing that 'we' were going to the fabulous Rockpool Bar & Grill.  NO WAYYYYYYYYYY.

I was just a little bit excited..

I had heard so many wonderful things about this place.  OMG 'we' were actually going!!  I had read that this establishment had taken out three awards at the 2011 Gold Plate Awards -  named Best New Restaurant, Best Steakhouse and Best Wine List

Classy, sophisticated, elegant.. it was all that and more.  This place was really fancy schmancy and just quietly,  I was loving it.   I had visited the hairdresser earlier in the day, had on my LBD & cocktail shoes, Garrick was looking spunkalicious - we were feeling pretty spesh.. we strutted in like we rolled off the set of Saturday Night Fever ha ha.. lame..   We were the FIRST to arrive.  What?? Oh God, we didn't want to appear too enthusiastic and give away our carefully constructed ruse of super coolness (I kid of course.. as if..) but unfortunately our game was up at the bar.. Thinking that the safe bet was to order a timeless classic, a G&T, I was bombarded with a barrage of complex GIN options and not only that but in a french accent.. dear me, I was clearly out of my depth.. I looked at Garrick and pleaded desperately with my eyes to salvage this pitiful and clear lack of street smarts but it was hopeless.. Garrick was as clueless as I was.. we had no bloody idea.. what a bunch of amateurs.. I uttered in defeat.. "surprise me".

.... meanwhile Garrick ordered a beer and the whole vicious cycle started again (Dear God we were in pre-dinner-drinks HELL)  This wasn't the kind of place to be expecting a XXXX Garrick.

It turns out my Hendrick's Gin & in-house tonic with a sliver of cucumber was right on the money.  When our friends arrived moments later 2 of our party very stylishly ordered that exact concoction.  I had mixed emotions.. I mean I had somehow managed to order a very cool drink but clearly by default.. When I say we don't get out much.. that is an understatement of the most mammoth proportion,  we have KIDS, we NEVER go out and we had a lot of catching up to do.. we were hacks.

Our party was escorted to our table.  I might add at this juncture, the decor was fabulous.  The floor to ceiling mesh curtains sectioning various dining areas was complimented by warm lighting and some funky background music.  It was perfect, the  ambiance was lovely.  The chairs were super COMFORTABLE.  So important.  BUT the absolute standout for me was the SERVICE.  I wanted this night to be perfect.  After all, I wasn't sure when we we would be venturing out again. I needed this night to be perfect.. I needed to make the most of this opportunity.

I had contacted the restaurant about a week before and I had explained that I was GLUTEN CHALLENGED, I  was in fact, sadly more than that, I was .. a COELIAC.  I explained my dietary requirements and the importance of food prep for 'said affliction' and was seriously expecting to be met with *groan* "Hey Neil.. we've got one of 'those' again.." (ha ha like he was even there..) but I was way off the mark .  Brilliant.  The staff bent over backwards to make sure I had a good night.  Almost as soon as we sat down, a waitress introduced herself and proceeded to go through the entire menu discreetly, highlighting what I could have rather than what I couldn't - and you know what? The pros far outweighed the cons and I'm not kidding. Anything that was a potential risk, they would endeavour to transform to make the dish gluten free. There were minimal menu options that were off limits - seriously. I'm talking pasta (derr) obvious bread dishes but alot could be converted, fried calamari, the hand cut fat chips - but seriously, do you go to a place like Rockpool to have chips? COME ON. So on this particular night this is what I had -

Wood Fired Grilled Fremantle Octopus with Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Preserved Lemon Pesto
A 250g Cape Grim Dry Aged Fillet 36 Month Old Grass Fed
Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms
Charcoal Roasted Peppers and Red Onions with Marjoram
Green Beans with Creamy Anchovy, Chilli and Lemon Dressing, Toasted Almonds

Now I am going to go out on a limb here and say that my starter was possibly the best thing that I have ever tasted. IN MY LIFE. EVER. Big call I know but I'm putting it out there..

The steak.. well.. I mean these people KNOW steaks. They are STEAK PEOPLE.  I'm talking medium rare hot knife through butter.. GLORIOUS

And the sides? The worst thing I can say about the sides is that we had to share.. pffffft
and all washed down with a cheeky red or two..

Dessert? Look, at this point, I was feeling like a fat little bird.. happy and warm and enjoying my wine.  OK so I didn't stop there.. so I partook in some salted caramel merriment? What? DON'T JUDGE ME

I love FOOD.  I will ALWAYS love food.  Thank-you Rockpool. Thank-you for turning it on.
Thank-you from deep inside my being. Thank-you for looking after my Coeliac-ness.  BEST NIGHT out in a long time. I'll be back.

Crown Perth
Great Eastern Hwy

Phone: +61 8 6252 1900

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Elmar's in the Valley

Did you know that Elmar's has been around since 1987?  Yes! Initially as a smallgoods outlet in Highgate, then another outlet in Myaree, this german success story led to the birth of a wonderful establishment in Henley Brook.

As a family we have frequented Elmar's in the Valley many times.  Situated in the heart of the picturesque Swan Valley, we really are spoilt for choice - with so much on the menu, fabulous surroundings but perhaps best of all (in my opinion anyway), so much GLUTEN FREE.

Yes my Coeliac friends & gluten intolerant compadres, Elmar's will not disappoint. Their menu options are extensive and delicious (I can vouch for this!) If you would like to peruse their menu click here.

You will notice that many menu options have a © or a ©* next to them.  This indicates that the menu item is either Gluten Free or can be prepared Gluten Free.  Happy days!

Chloe from Elmar's in the Valley was more than happy to speak to me about 'gluten free options' and 'food preparation'.  She referred directly to the chef who advised the following -

“We ensure quality control in the kitchen based on strict HCCP guidelines. This means all food must be cooked, prepared and stored properly. The majority of our sauces are made from scratch so we know exactly what is going into our food, and ensure everything is prepared properly.”

What about the small goods you ask?  Are they Gluten Free?  This from their website -

"Elmar uses only the highest quality products and freshest ingredients in all of his traditional smallgoods recipes. In addition to this, all of the Elmar's Smallgoods products are GLUTEN FREE, and free of any artificial colours or flavours. This allows customers with most allergy problems the ability to happily indulge in Elmar's delicious products without the risk of allergic reactions".

More information can be found about Elmar's Small Goods here

Click here to source other locations for Elmar's Small Goods 

Elmar's also host the fabulous Elmar's in the Valley OKTOBERFEST - Saturday 13th/Sunday 14th and Sunday 21st October - a weekend full of live music, German food and beer (PLEASE NOTE ELMAR'S BEER IS NOT GLUTEN FREE) - but PLENTY of other gluten free beverages available of course!

So it's all good really.  Feel like a trip out to the beautiful Swan Valley?  Go on.. your tummy will thank you for it :)

The restaurant is open for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday and both lunch and dinner from Friday to Sunday.

Guten Appetit!

Elmar's in the Valley
8731 West Swan Rd, Henley Brook
Tel (08) 9296 0058 Fax (08) 9296 6356