Monday, December 28, 2009

Summer Seafood

With Christmas over and New Year fast approaching there's been a lot of indulging - in everything!! So while I was lazing about watching Heston Blumenthal cook door mice and venison during a Holiday Special on the Lifestyle Food Channel, hubby suggested we visit Herdsman Fresh and Seafresh in Innaloo to stock up on some fresh, local produce for the night's dinner.

I love shopping at the Herdsie - everything sold there is fresh, delicious and most importantly made or grown here in WA. We bought fruit, vegetables and dairy products all of which we were in serious need of having not been grocery shopping over the Christmas period. On the way home we stopped by Seafresh Innaloo and bought some fresh squid and West Australian mussels ready to be turned into a couple of dishes I found in my new cookbooks.

Never one to really jump into the kitchen it was nice to hear hubby say he wanted to get his hands dirty so he tackled cleaning the mussels while I cut and scored the squid. Together we created Giada's Chilli Mussels and Cafe style Salt and Pepper squid - here are the results:

Giada's Chilli Mussels

Cafe Style Salt & Pepper Squid
My verdict - I think we work brilliantly well together as a team and the results really speak for themselves!! What do you think? Have you ever cooked something out of the blue and been surprised by the results? I'd love to hear from you!! Bom Aproveito - Cooking in Choos :)

A Very Portuguese Christmas 2009

Hubby and I got married earlier this year so I thought it would be appropriate to hold a Christmas dinner at my house. Every year we do the whole traditional thing, roasted ham and turkey with vegies - the lot really! This Christmas however, I thought I'd go back to my roots and revisit the traditions held by Avo (grandma) and her family in Madeira Portugal.

On the menu were starters of Rissois de Camarao (Prawn Empanadas), Rissois de Carne (Mince Empanadas), Rissois de Bacalhau (Bacalhau Empanadas) an entree of Carne de Vinho e Alhos com pao fresco (pork in white wine and garlic with homemade bread), the mains included Constantina's Assado de Carne (My grandmas traditional roast beef in a tomato base sauce) and Portuguese style Roast Chicken with vegetables while our desserts included a traditional Pudim de Maracuja (Passionfruit pudding) and Bolo de Bolocha (Biscuit Cake).
Everything from the food, wine & decor was a hit especially the personal menu's and bonbonieres all made by Invitings Made Easy by Susana.
For me, there is nothing better than entertaining guests on a summer's day & this little Christmas get-together enforced this even more so. The holiday season is all about family and friends so whether it's a tradition dating back 100s of years or one you want to start up now - invite them all over and share the good times, food, wine and memories today!
My Cousin Veronica, me & Mum in the kitchen getting into the starters for the evening!


Veronica's beautiful place settings



Table for 15


Menu & bonboniere by Invitings Made Easy by Susana
http://www.invitings.com.au/


Constantina's Assado de Carne -my grandmas traditional roast beef in a tomato base sauce

Traditional Portuguese-style Roast Chicken

What did you do for Christmas? Did you have any traditions you kept or did you start some new ones? I'd love to hear from you so drop me a line - Cooking In Choos :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Christmas Wishlist

So earlier this month I said I was going to post about what I wanted for Christmas. Well truth be told there was a lot, including a new GPS (anyone who knows me knows I have no sense of direction!), a handycam so that I can start video blogging (this was given to me from my hubby who got one ages ago & never used it - problem solved), a Burberry or Gucci purse (I'm not fussy), Tiffany 1837 ring, Gossip Girl Season 1 & 2, a summery Christmas dress (hubby also gave me this) and cookbooks by Nigella Lawson, Giada De Laurentis, George Calombaris & Tania Gomes.

Imagine my surprise on Christmas morning when I woke up to find all of this under my tree!!!
Needless to say I still want the other stuff, which by the way hubby says will come my way when we head to the US come June & don't worry I'm holding him to it!!!But in the meantime I'll keep you posted on all the yummy recipes I'll be trying out - they are all so good!

What did you get for Christmas? Was it what you expected & had hoped for? Drop me a line I'd love to hear from you.

New Look Blog!!

Hey guys, just thought I'd post about the changes I'll be making to my Life According to Belle blog. As of today Life According to Belle will cease to exist with Cooking In Choos taking its place.

All posts on Life According to Belle can still be found in the archive section of Cooking In Choos so if there is anything you would like another look at there will be no problem in doing so.

As for Cooking In Choos (Creating Culinary Delights in Couture), this little baby is going to focus more on what I love best - cooking, eating and dining out all in Couture & Choos (Jimmy Choos of course)!!! I'll also be talking travel, pop culture & a little sport (depending on what mood I'm in)so stay tuned for further developments.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my new name/new look blog - I'd love some feedback!!!

Belle :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas with the Girls



It's become a tradition that just before Christmas my girlfriends and I get together for dinner and drinks. This year there was only a few of us but none-the-less we went out anyway, kicking off the night at The Cabin in Mt Hawthorn.

The Cabin's a cool Melbourne-style haunt that's got everybody talking and living only blocks, I'm probably one of the last people to try it out!

Starting with champagne cocktails, we inspected the extensive drinks menu which included wine, spirits, cocktails and beer. The Cabin also has a funky tapas menu or if you want something more substantial they offer that too. It's definitely something Perth was missing and had it not been 37 degrees outside we would have stayed longer.

Mt Hawthorn has a real vibe about it at the moment and another one of the places taking off is The Azure Restaurant. I've been there several times before and am yet to be disappointed with the food, service and ambience - it's just beautiful.

On this occasion I ordered their chargrilled chicken and tomato roulade and for dessert the trio of creme brulee. The chicken was moist, tender and not at all dry and teamed with the tomato and potato gratin was an absolute winner.

The creme brulee trio of mocha, lime & pistachio & vanilla was delightful and very light making it even easier to devour.

All in all my girlfriends enjoyed our dining experience at Azure - in fact we were the last to leave (they had to practically kick us out!). Do yourself a favour and visit them soon!!


Devouring the chargrilled chicken and tomato roulade

The Girls

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tackling Desserts

Readers of my blog will know as a food writer and editor of a food & lifestyle publication, I see, eat and cook food a lot!! It's part of my research to get to know food better and so I eat, cook, write and eat some more.

One of my weaknesses however is dessert; baking in particular gets me all the time and never ever am I quite satisfied with how my baked treats turn out. For instance a few months ago we had a few ripened bananas which were no longer nice enough to eat so hubby suggested I bake a banana cake. Having never baked one before I trawled through my cook books (OMG there are 30 of them, I never knew this until the other day)and after much researching I found one which was easy enough for me to attempt - or so I thought!

When I took the cake out of the oven I could not get it out of the tray - you see I forgot one basic rule - line bottom of try with backing paper!!!Anyway after gentle tapping and a longish wait the cake came loose from the tray and we were all able to enjoy warm banana cake.

But the story continues and I was determined not to let the banana cake get the better of me so weeks later and a few more ripened bananas, I tackled said dessert again.

The verdict - presentation needs more practise, taste however delicious!!

Here's the proof:


Now it seems the dessert bug is catching on in my family. Yesterday I attended a family barbecue & my cousin Josie attempted a passion fruit & kiwi fruit cheesecake. It too was delicious and we polished it off with problems at all. I guess as they say practise makes perfect so even though it's still not my favourite thing to do in the kitchen I will keep on keeping on until I get used to it.

Is there something you struggle with in the kitchen if so I'd love to hear your story - until next time Happy Baking!!

Here is Josie putting the final touches on her cheesecake:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trying it @ Home with Justine Schofield

So a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch up with former Masterchef contestant Justine Schofield during her first visit to Perth. Although only brief Justine managed to pack a lot into her whirlwind trip including visiting PMH, eating out at Pata Negra and catching up with old friends.

Her main reason for stopping by however was part of JVG Events inaugral TRY THIS @ HOME presentation. In conjunction with Buy West Eat Best, the event held at Joondalup shopping Centre saw Justine create four simple dishes that audience members could recreate at home by purchasing $20 showbags filled with all the necessary ingredients needed to do so.

Justine and JVG Events director Jo Garnett in action on the day:


Justine working on the Chicken BLT


After the event I did what any good foodie would do and bought myself a showbag to try Justine's Chicken BLT for dinner that night. The verdict, absolutely delicious, quick, easy and a winner with all who ate it. It's definitely going to become a permanent fixture on my weekly menu - thanks Justine!

My attempt to recreate Justine's Chicken BLT


No visit would be complete without a few questions here's what we chatted about when she was here:

What was it like being on Masterchef:
Amazing, it has really changed my life. Not only career wise but also with my confidence in getting the job done.

Do you think being on MC has changed your cooking technique:
Yes... at the beginning of the process I was just a home cook, but because of Masterchef I have become faster in the kitchen and have learnt to be more methodical. The way I chop, present my dishes and combine flavours have also changed.

What are you doing at the moment:
I've done some work experience at Aria, both in Sydney and Brisbane.
I've done Food demonstrations at the Good food & Wine show in Brisbane, other smaller food demo's, catering, cooking for corporate events, charity, appearances and the most recent thing I'm doing is going to compete the LG world cooking competition in Thailand. I'll be flying the Australian flag and hopefully will do well!

Do you have a favourite ingredient & what do you like to make with it:
Tarragon..... bearnaise sauce, butter,really good olive oil, French shallots and cream are also always in my kitchen!

What is your favourite dish:
Daube de Boeuf... Amazing if done right.
And of course a good aged piece of Steak and chips with bearnaise sauce.

Justine enjoying a glass of white



What were you doing prior to the show & will you go back to it:
I was a sales executive for a security company selling CCTV software.
No I wont because I've now realised have a desk job is just not for me!

Have you had a cooking disaster & what was it:
Slow cooking a shoulder of pork overnight in the oven .... waking up the next day and it was charcoal! Someone had accidently turn the heat up and I didn't realise! ... So lunch was pretty much a disaster that day!

What is your favourite restaurant:
Marque by Mark Best in Surry Hills, Sydney for fine dining, Quay in Sydney also fine dining, Sel et Poivre, Darlinghurst Sydney for casual dining and Nobu in Melbourne again for casual dining.

And who is your favourite chef:
So many!!!!
Raymond Blanc
Alain Ducasse
Mark Best
Matt Moran... to name a few.

Justine & I catch up the day before her Try This @ Home Event

A big thank you must go to Jo of JVG Events for organising such a fantastic event, here's hoping there will be more of them in Perth in the very near future.


Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm back!!!

Hey guys I know I've been slack with the posting but I've been super busy and have not had the chance to scratch myself.

Sooooooooo what have I been up to - well I'll be blogging about all of that and more over the coming days. You see I'm having a HOLIDAY woohoo - it's been a while & well hubbie & I did not get that honeymoon we had hoped for so this is it!!!

I know you're all probably thinking NICE ONE; blogging on your honeymoon but don't worry he's actually sleeping after a hard day laying by the pool sipping cocktails - it's all good!

Me, I'm sitting here waiting to have a spa pedicure & full body massage(yes, hubby too will join in on the indulging minus the pedicure!!)and while I wait I thought I'd touch base with you all so that you don't think I've deserted the bloggosphere for good!!!

FYI I'm in Malaysia, Penang actually, and we are staying on the famous Batu Ferringhi beach strip at the newest Hard Rock Hotel Penang. It is awesome and has surpassed all my expectations. There is so much to do in one location, everything is at our fingertips - it's hard to work out where to start!!! That's right yes I do - PAMPERING!!!

Anyways best get back to hubby before he develops a complex!!

Til next time

Selmat Datang :)

P.S Here's a pic of me enjoying my favourite poison - The Cosmo!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Julie & Julia The Movie - A Review

Julie & Julia premiere held in Los Angeles

As a big-time foodie I've been dying to see this movie since the previews came out in August. Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell, a 30 year old secretary living in Queens who one day decides to spice things up in her life by writing a blog about cooking 524 recipes in 365 days using Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking as inspiration.

Powell played by Amy Adams is joined on the big screen by Meryl Streep who plays Powell's mentor Julia Child. Both are brilliant as their on-screen characters as they take viewers on a food safari through New York and France (both places I'll be visiting in the New Year). Streep in particular shines in her role as one of the world's first television chefs, even grasping Childs' high pitched voice perfectly.

There were many reasons why I enjoyed this movie - the story line, the food and the fact that I too am a blogger & believe in dreams are just a few. With the foodie-phenomenon exploding everywhere Julie & Julia's timely screening in cinemas will more than satisfy even the most discerning diner's appetite! 5 STARS

Monday, October 12, 2009

Spring in the Valley 2009

One of my favourite events of the year is definitely the Swan Valley's Spring in the Valley. The weather is warmer, people start venturing out and if you end up on an awesome bus it makes the day all that much better.

On Saturday our group decided to spend the day at Sandalford instead of trekking round the valley and risk getting in to others also holding events. You see this year's festival saw charges for entering the Valley, charges for entering your event and then of course whatever you spent there was added to the day's expenses. I don't know why it was done this way this year (in previous years you paid your bus fare and only a select few charged for entering the door) but I heard it was to keep out the undesirables - anyhooo we paid up and proceeded to enjoy ourselves.

Halfway through the day Sandalford thought it was best to cut off selling alcohol as there was trouble about - no problem I had stocked up earlier and had enough to last me the rest of the afternoon. An hour later though the event was closed due to circumstances out of the wineries control (apparently trouble was really starting to brew and it was best everyone cleared out).

We were all pretty peeved off considering we were having such a good time and it's a shame a select bunch of tools seem to ruin a great day for everyone else. We were lucky though as we partied it up back at our troop-leader's house who provided music, pizza and pasta - saving the day and making it all the more memorable. Let's hope next year's fares better than this one!!!

Here are my girlfriends & I early on in the piece!!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A visit to Gigi's on George

Last weekend I paid a visit to Gigi's on George on funky George Street in East Fremantle for an upcoming review in Menu Magazine. This place has been around for a while but has undergone some changes in recent months.

Now I won't reveal too much about my afternoon but I will say Gigi's is definitely one to look out for, if you're ever in the area or even looking for somewhere different to dine. The food was fabulous, the staff were brilliant and the cocktails to die for!!!

With summer just around the corner their new and brilliant Tapas menu provides even more delectable treats to choose from their already extensive and gorgeous menu. But that's enough from me, you can read more about the day in our December issue of Menu Magazine - in the meantime though here's a sneak peak of me enjoying their delicious entree of scallops!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

CRAZY - BUSY!!!

So again it's been a while since I blogged but I have had a full on few weeks so again you will all hear about it one after the other in the one post - make sense - no, then just keep reading!!!

Where to begin a few weeks ago I was invited by Simon from Dimattina Coffee's in Osborne Park to take part in a barista course. Now I've owned a coffee machine since March but don't even look at it, let alone use it. Don't get me wrong I love coffee but when it comes to using a professional machine - forget it. When the offer came up to take part in a Barista Basic's of course I jumped at the chance.

So what did I learn, well Kaya our very knowledgeable instructor covered everything from how to extract the perfect shot of espresso to how to make cafe coffees with confidence including a cappuccino, flat white, ristretto and long black.

We also learnt how to correctly steam milk and how to avoid making coffee
too weak, too bitter, too hot or too cold. We also dabbled in some awesome coffee art making hearts and leaves (with her help of course), though I do think I'll stick to using my skewers to make my coffee look flash as this sort of thing takes practise!!!

Dimattina offer all sorts of courses from your basic, to industry based and learning how to get the most of your machine at home. To find out more visit http://www.dimattinacoffee.com.au/dc/index.htm

Take a look at what I got up to below:

On the Sunday of the long weekend Ari & I decided it was time we had a date night. It's been so long since we went out on our own so a night on the town was just what the doctor ordered (only these day our nights out as you all know revolve around FOOD). Ari rang around looking for places to go and would you believe it people there are hardly any good places open on Sunday.

We tried Jojo's, Osteria, Pata Negra, Andaluz and Galileo and they were all CLOSED. In the end we decided we try Azure in Mt Hawthorn and were pleasantly surprised with what we found.

I'd heard mixed views about this place and was very happy to discover the good stuff seemed to be all true on the night we dropped by. The waitstaff were very attentive and the food was first-class. This gorgeous resort-style, mediterranean cum Asian fushion restaurant is definitely one to try.

We ate the Italian salsiccia with garlic & Rosemary ciabatta to start and for my main I had the braised beef cheeks on a polenta mash, while Ari opted for the Pork Belly (so good). My beef cheeks were perfectly braised in a rich tomato sauce and just melted in my mouth with every bite. The polenta was soft and fluffy and mixed with the sauce was just delicious.

We were tempted to try the desserts ( which are baked daily & look oh so good) but after finishing of my beef cheeks and having to unbutton my jeans my stomach knew we both had more than enough.

I would go back to Azure in an instant and I have told many of my friends to try it out too, so why not give it a go. I promise you'll love it!!!

Me about to dive into the yummy Beef Cheeks


Last weekend Ari celebrated another milestone - his 34th birthday and as usual we celebrated with our favourite thing - FOOD & plenty of it!!!

After hosting several dinner parties at our house (and lack of space) Ari thought it was best we take him back to his roots and spent the evening at his mum's house. Of course she fed us with antipasto, entrees, mains & desserts & we were left absoutely stuffed!!!

It was a lovely night spent with both families celebrating another special day!!

Here's Ari blowing out the candles on his gorgeous Ruby's Patisserie cake - Yum!!


Now to the really exciting news (not that the rest isn't but this is really exciting - for me any way!).

I fulfilled a long-time goal of mine yesterday by apearing on one of my favourite cooking shows Foxtel's Charlie's Kitchen. I interviewed Charlie a while back for Menu Magazine and I asked if I could have a go at cooking on the show, he said yes and the rest is history.

It's been a long time coming as the interview was back in April (I think) but with work and other commitments it's taken forever - anyway I digress.

I won't giveaway too much as I want you all to tune in but what I will say is that it was an experience and one I would love a chance to do again (hopefully they'll have me back). I got to cook three meals, an entree, main and dessert & I also got to combine the cultures of both my parents and my husband's family which was an absolute treat.

Here is a sneak peak of what I go up to with the good man himself & I'll let you know when it airs on Foxtel soon.



Me making my dessert

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze - A True Gentleman of the Screen

It's been one hell of a year this year - both good and bad. And this morning we lost yet another superstar of the screen in Patrick Swayze. My memories of PatrickSwayze as I'm sure with all of you lie strongly around his role as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. This was the second movie I saw him in after the classic movie The Outsiders (not only a great movie but featured some of the best eye candy you will ever see in one movie).

Patrick went on to do a lot of movies including another one of personal favourites Ghost, Road House (hot hot hot), Young Blood and Point Break, all of which were helped me, my sisters and cousins get through those awkward teenage years - I mean which woman didn't dream of being Baby, Dr Clay or Molly in Ghost.

Today we lost one of the true gentlemen of Hollywood, who not only oozed class, style and humility. His courage in fighting this horrible disease that touches us all in some shape or form is to be commended and looked upon when we too are having a bad day.

May you now rest in peace with the others who have gone before you and may your light shine on forever in our hearts and in your movies always. You will be sorely missed....

Feel free to share your favourite Patrick Swayze movie or to leave a comment.

RIP Patrick Swayze 18/08/1952 - 15/09/2009
Tragic Patrick Swayze died earlier today after a long battle with cancer, he was 57

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Food Glorious Food - Belles Fave Dishes of the last THREE Weeks!!!

A few weeks ago I promised I post about my Favourite Dish of the Week in my blog - BUT I've been quite slack (in posting that is) and have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen instead!! So tonight rather than give you one dish this week I'm listing my fave dishes from the last three weeks. Again if you like what you see email me and I'll email through the recipe - Bom Approveito!!! (I'm learning how to say enjoy your meal in every language possible)


This slow cooked beef stew is one of my favourite things to cook. It reminds me of living at home with mum & day and its so easy it really does cook itself'!! It's the perfect meal to enjoy on a cold winter's night.


This pasta with sugo (Rigatoni with fresh tomato sauce) is a regular in our household. It's so easy to whip up and all you need to do is add some mince or gravy beef and some shaved parmesan and it will transport you to Italy in an instant - YUM!!


This beef stir-fry is a quick and easy meal perfect to whip up after a hard day at work. I haven't really done it much lately and I've missed it so it was good to cook it up again.



I held an afternoon tea for Father's Day and my sister-in-laws birthday so for the first time ever I BAKED!! It may not seem like a big deal because I enjoy cooking but let me tell you cooks and bakers are two different breeds. For me baking requires a lot patience (none of which I have)and I think a lot hope for things to work out the way they look in the cookbooks. So here is my baking attempt Hazelnut Chocolate Tart and Strawberry Tiramisu (no baking required here and actually quite easy), I also threw in fruit skewers dipped in chocolate for good measure too.


The Hazelnut Chocolate Tart was actually a winner on the day despite my pastry making dramas!!!


My version of Tiramisu - Strawberry instead of coffee. This dessert would be great on a hot summers night with a sweet glass of white, just glorious...

So there you have it hopefully this week I'll come up with something new for you to check out - Food is life so eat & enjoy!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Masterchef, Cookbooks & Wine Awards - Oh what fun!!!

It was a big food week for me last week. As you can see I've covered French book launches, tried a cooking class (see previous post) talked Masterchef - AGAIN and enjoyed some fine food and bubbly at WA Sheraton Wine Awards.
So here's a run down of all my events with the most recent starting at the top!!

The glitz and the glamour of WA's wine industry were out in full force last Friday as they celebrated the best in the industry at the Sheraton Perth WA Wine Awards for 2009.
I was again lucky enough to get an invitation to the night which included an exquisite four-course meal along with gorgeous matching wines and a first-hand look at what the WA wine industry is producing.
Some of my favourites included the gold medal winning 3 Drops 2009 Riesling, gold medal winning Castle Rock Estate 2008 Pinot Noir and gold medal winning Koolama 2007 Chardonnay.


Enjoying bubbles and fine food at the Sheraton WA Wine Awards

Other winners on the night included:

Class 1: Riesling
Silver medal: Castelli Estate 2009 Riesling
Gold medal: 3 Drops 2009 Riesling

Class 2: Sauvignon Blanc
Silver medal: Knee Deep Wines 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Gold medal: Stella Bella 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Class 3: Semillon
Silver medal: Sittella Wines 2007 Semillon
Gold medal: Evans and Tate 2004 Semillon

Class 4: Verdelho
Silver medal: The Growers 2004 Verdelho
Gold medal: Ashbrook Estate 2009 Verdelho

Class 5: Chardonnay
Silver medal: Ferngrove Vineyards Estate 2008 Chardonnay
Gold medal: Koolama 2007 Chardonnay

Class 6: Dry White Other Varieties or Blends of Varieties
Silver medal: MillBrook Winery 2008 Viognier
Gold medal: Redgate Wines 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Class 7: Sweet white table wine
No Gold Medal to be awarded in this class
Silver medal: Xanadu Wines 2008 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Class 8: Rose
Silver medal: Woodgate Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold medal: Sandalford Wines 2009 Cabernets

Class 9: Pinot Noir
Silver medal: Abbey Creek Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir
Gold medal: Castle Rock Estate 2008 Pinot Noir

Class 10: Merlot
No Gold Medal to be awarded in this class
Silver medal: Rockfield Estate 2007 Merlot

Class 11: Cabernet Sauvignon
Silver medal: Wine by Brad 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Gold medal: Capel Vale Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Class 12: Shiraz
Silver medal: Mongrel Creek Vineyard 2007 Shiraz
Gold medal: Knee Deep Wines 2008 Shiraz

Class 13: Dry Red, Other varieties or Blends of Varieties
Silver medal: Windance Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Gold medal: Preveli Wines 2007 Cabernet Merlot

Class 14: Sparkling Red or White, Other varieties or Blends of varietiesNo Gold Medal to be awarded in this class
Silver medal : Old Kent River 2006 Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Class 15: Fortified Any style
Silver medal: Sandalford Wines NV Pedro Ximenez
Gold medal: Jane Brook Estate Wines NV Liqueur Verdelho

The Chairman's Award for the Wine of the 2009 Sheraton Perth WA Wine Awards is: Koolama 2007 Chardonnay

The Most Successful Exhibitor in the 2009 Sheraton Perth WA Wine Awards is: Evans and Tate


Thursday August 27 2009

Those of you, like me, who loved Masterchef will be happy to hear that former contestant Trevor Forster's restaurant Capricci's is doing very well and unlike previous rumours people can still go in and enjoy a meal and say hello to the friendly fellow too!

I went down on what turned out to be a gorgeous winter's day and Rockingham I have to say, was out and about in droves enjoying their beautiful foreshore. Speaking of foreshores this is exactly where one finds Capricci's and come summer-time I think it will be the perfect spot to enjoy a nice long lunch and a few glasses of chilled white.

On this visit to Capricci's my collegue and I started with a couple of lemon, lime and bitters and the antipasto tasting plate. All I can say is do not eat anything before going because Capricci's is all about warm, generous portions fit for kings or in our case queens - in my opinion this dish could have satisfied four people quite easily!!

Next on my list was Trevor's Lamb Cacciatore made famous on Masterchef. Living up to all expectations this lamb was tender, flavoursome and fell off the bone. Accompanied with mash potato and vegetables it's generous serve again left me feeling more than satisfied.

After my meal Trevor and his wife Marianne came over to chat with us and he told me his main aim with the restaurant was to cook good quality, Italian food which never left you hungry. And after this visit their I can honestly say they've got that down-pat!!


Loving Trevor's famous Lamb Cacciatore - so good!


Monday August 24 2009

I love a good book launch but even more so when the book comes in the form of cookbook! Last night I attended the launch of award winning French pastry chef Emmanuel Mollois' new cookbook Et Voila!

Beautifully put together and published by Fremantle Press the book features more than 60 easy-to-follow recipes alongside some gorgeous photography.

During the launch foodies feasted on a range of pastries both sweet and savoury all of which are also covered in the book.

Those with a sweet tooth can learn how to make the French croissants, Palmiers and the ever popluar chocolate eclair in the comfort of their home.
Et Voila! is available now at all good bookstores.


Enjoying one of the yummiest chocolate tarts ever!!

So there you have it my week in food - I ate, I read, I cooked and I drank - A LOT but it was all in a weeks work - Bon Appetito!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sex and the City 2 - It's Coming WOOT WOOT!!!

First pics of Carrie in the new movie.Sarah Jessica Parker is Sex and the City
I know I'm not the only one out there that's excited to see the above pic of style icon Carrie Bradshaw in fine form and ready to set the fashion world on fire once again.

This photo among many others I discovered on the web put a smile on my dial and I cannot wait to see what the producers of SATC have install for us when it hits our screens sometime next year.

After last year's suprises there are many questions being asked as to what the producers will do with our beloved characters and with the rumour mill running hot you don't know what to believe.

Some have again suggested someone will be killed off, Big & Carrie will split/have a baby/or both and Samantha will finally fall in love?????? I don't know what to believe but one thing I know for certain is the fashion won't disappoint - bring it on I say, can't wait!!!!

Have you heard the rumours? What do you think the producers will do with our characters and their storylines?? There are so many conspiracy theories out there and I'd love
to hear your thoughts on it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Question

Hey guys, this is just a quick post to find out if there is anyone out there following my blog???

I've had a few comments and a few people sign up as followers but I really would like to find out more about you all. Where are you reading my posts from, where did you first see my blog and what you like and don't like about it?

Is there anything you don't want to see and think I should scrap or is there something you would like to see more of - please send me through your suggestions.

In the meantime I've got lots to fill you in on including a French book launch, my dish of the week and a wrap up of last week's wine awards.

Chat soon Belle xoxo

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Going Wild in Mexico!!!

So as you can probably tell from previous blogs I have a slight fascination with all things Mexico. The food, the culture and the people are just gorgeous and I'm hoping to go there next year. Yesterday I got the opportunity to learn more about Mexican cuisine after being invited to attend an Upper Crust cooking class taught by chef Susanne Wilder.

Susanne has been in the food business for decades as a food stylist, food writer and chef. Her mentor Julia Child, encouraged her to study at London's Cordon Bleu famous for teaching French cuisine in English. She has since travelled to different parts of the world educating people about the wonder of food!!

Straight off the bat I knew we were up for a Mexican fiesta as I saw a Pinata hanging from the ceiling. Proprietor Gabriel Zahra welcomed us with a nice drop of the 3Drops Cabernet and we nestled in to see the expert at work.

Gabe and Susanita hard at it in the kitchen

To start us off on our gastronomical journey "Susanita" served us a starter of spicy Chile con Queso dip with TORTILLAS (remember it's said torteeya the L is silent in Mexican - Ole!). The dip was flavoursome and creamy but not too heavy or rich and had just a hint of chile.

Susanne then served us three different soups ranging from the super-healthy, the super hearty and the super caliente.

The super caliente soup otherwise known as the Spicy Tomato Soup was light, fragrant and very spicy, in fact I'm sure I started to feel chest hairs sprouting!!!

Our last dish the Decadent Killer Chocolate Mousse was worth the wait. But as we waited for our sweet treats to firm in the fridge, students took turns in hitting the Pinata. The Gypsy Kings playing in the background and Armada chef Sonny de Ocampo's crazy antics only added to fun!

Our night finished off with the delicious mousse and a Masterchef-style taste-test of Sangria - FYI I missed out on taking out the prize by one guess!!

All in all I would recommend an Upper Crust Cooking class to anyone. They are lots of fun, very informative and you get to lots of yummy food too!!

They are currently taking bookings for the month of September so visit their website www.uppercrust.com.au for more information, until next time Bueno Gusto!!


Susanita and I with the prized chocolate mousse

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wagamama Baby

Wednesday July 29 2009
Last Wednesday night the team from Menu Magazine was invited to attend the Fremantle Wagamama launch. Industry locals and media attended the soiree which was to promote their new Catering Menu.

Of course we jumped at the chance to try the goodies on offer and first up was the Kare Loman Rice Balls, yummy curry infused riceballs with a pink grapefruit dipping sauce. I love a good rice ball but had never tried a curry sort before but am happy to say it was so good that I went back for seconds and third!

Also on the menu was Ebi Katsu - King Prawns in panko breadcrumbs with chilli and garlic dipping sauce. Again a highlight of the night and downed with my lemon ice-tea was just delightful.

The main course of the night was a choice of two noodle boxes or two rice boxes. I went Teriyaki Steak Soba - tepan fried Soba noodles with baby bok choy, red onions, snow peas, bean sprouts and chillis garnished with grilled beef tenderloins - definitely the overall winner of the night!

With winter in full force it's a shame many people don't venture down to Fremantle Harbour to experience the new Wagamama on the beach but with spring around the corner I'd get in quick as I'm sure it will be pumping as the warmer weather arrives!
My favourite dish of the night the Teriyaki Steak Soba

Another Girlie Lunch

Friday July 17 2009
Girlie lunches are so much fun, even more so when you have gorgeous wine and yummy food and where we found this was Banca Cafe off Wanneroo Road in Tuart Hill.

I've been to Banca a couple of times and from memory it was pretty damn good and after choosing our last girlie venue (see below) I was hoping it would still be that way - and it was!!!

Owner Joe Fiorda runs the smooth operating restaurant and unlike its namesake it's nothing like waiting in a bank queue (Banca was originally the Tuart Hill Commonwealth Bank). The staff are pleasant, attentive and definitely looked after us on this occasion.

I knew it was going to be a long afternoon when my cousin started with a bottle of the Giesen Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and we clinked our glasses to every toast imaginable.

On my hit-list were the starters which included Garlic bread, Marinated Olives and Fetta and a serve of Italian Sausageand for my main I went the Papardelle.

The starters went down a treat and mixing and matching these little treats are just the way I love to eat, a littlew bit of this and a little bit of that and you feel like you're not missing out on anything.

The main well, was sensational. I don't often eat pasta out as my mother-in-law does a pretty good job of it at home but after seeing two Italian ladies making it fresh in the kitchen I knew it would be worth a try. The colourful dish was filled with red peppers, fetta, olives and Italian sausage and was something I could imagine eating in a Tuscan Villa - just gorgeous.

You would probably think that I was full by this stage but no I wanted more and so for dessert I just had to have the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Loosening my belt this certainly pushed me over the edge but I enjoyed every tablespoon of it. Served with ice-cream and you betcha cream this was scrumptious!

All in all Banca Cafe is a great place to try and somewhere I will visit again soon.


Banca's Papardelle - oh so good!

Just A Little Taste of Home

Monday July 13 2009
I don't often go to Nandos as I can get the real deal at home but after a busy day at work and another Siren's Movie Night on the cards a quick bite there was just what the doctor ordered.

The thing I like about Nandos is that it reminds me of my family everytime I walk in the door. The folky music playing the background, the Portuguese pictures and Portuguese phrases all over the wall, just scream GOOD TIMES as I visualise Madeira, Portugal circa 95 and 98!!

Having not been to Nandos for a while I noticed the menu had grown to include two types of rice, Portuguese style salads, Espetada (meat on skewers - my favourite ) and the old faithful Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart).

These types of dishes are typically Portuguese and you can bet your bottom dollar you would be served at least one of these if you had lunch in Portuguese household - just ask my hubby he can definitely attest to this! My pick of the day however was Chicken Tenderloins dressed in Lemon and herb (hey I may be Portuguese but that Peri Peri is some HOT stuff) and a side of chips. I would normally also go the Pastéis de Nata for dessert but I'm spoilt for choice at home and have these on a weekly basis - jealous????

Although there is quite a large population of Portuguese people living in WA, there is not a lot of choice when it comes to their cuisine. What Nandos has done is introduced the cuisine into the mainstream market targeting those unaware of the taste sensations Portuguese food can unleash - ande I'm all for that!!!


Chicken Tenderloins just the way I like it - Portuguese do, do it BETTER!

Issue 7 Launched at Every Woman Expo

Friday June 26 2009
I was so excited to launch Issue 7 of Menu Magazine at the Every Woman Expo this year. It was the first time Menu Magazine had a stand at the expo and it was fun getting to meet new readers as well as catch up with some who have followed the Menu trail since we began.

In our latest issue we reviewed some fantastic cafes and restaurants and tasted some great drops of red and white. We also looked at the growing industry of drive-thru coffee and met some true kid connoisseurs, who enjoy a change from the typical kid's menu. Everything from truffles to tea is covered in this jam packed issue, as well as our regular columns, book and music reviews.

There's also a chance to win a trip for 2 to Malaysia, so have a read, get hungry, and get out there and enjoy what Perth has to offer and thanks to everyone who came to visit us - be sure to drop by our stand at the Good Food and Wine Festival in July!!


Working it at the Every Woman Expo

A Nice Surpise

Tuesday June 2 2009
Coming home from work on a Tuesday evening and being surprised with dinner with family is just what one wants to hear when she has no idea what to cook. And living in the northern suburbs there is an array to chose from - this time Asian Cuisine at The Tamarind in Mt Hawthorn.

I love this little place on Scarborough Beach Road, it's quaint, affordable and there is plenty on the menu to chose from. This visit we went for a banquet style meal and had a little bit of everything just to make sure we didn't miss out.

Knock-out favourites were the Pad Thai and Teriyaki chicken although one can't go past the vegetarian spring rolls and chicken legs (to die for chicken drumsticks without the bone and stuffed with beautiful herbs).

The Tamarind is a trusty old favourite which never disappoints. Your guaranteed good food, good service at affordable prices - it's even better when someone else is paying as was the case with us!!!



Teriyaki Chicken so yummy!!

The Best in WA

Monday May 25 2009
THERE were no signs of the economic crisis as WA's restaurant and catering fraternity came out in droves at this years WA Restaurant Catering and Industry Awards for Excellence held at the Burswood Grand Ballroom on May 25.

More than 900 members of the hospitality industry's glitterati turned out to hear "Gourmet Godfather" and Chair of Judges John Maiorana declare the awards the best he'd seen in its 15 year history, adding it was the new crop of chefs who were now leading the way in WA.

This year's big winners included Restaurant Amuse in East Perth who took out the biggest gong of the night winning Restaurant of the Year Award, while owner and chef, Hadleigh Troy took out the honour of Chef of Year. Not the first time to win an award Restaurant Amuse, were also winners of last year's New Restaurant Award and are known for their strong reputation of serving modern French Cuisine in the form of two degustation menus. Chef Hadleigh Troy, not an industry unknown, has worked overseas and was formerly at The Loose Box and Jackson's Restaurant.

Other star performers on the night included Nahm Thai who took out the award for Informal Restaurant of the Year and Best Thai Restaurant. The Judges Commendation Award went to Star Anise and Christina's in East Victoria Park won the Most Popular Restaurant Award while the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre was awarded the Caterer of the Year.

The 23 Restaurant Awards for Excellence were judged by a 53-member panel who visited the 97 finalists over a two-month period. Winners of the WA awards in eligible categories can contest the national awards to be held in Canberra in October.

See page 52 in the latest issue of Menu Magazine for detailed information on the award winners.


Enjoying a drop at the WA Restaurant & Catering Awards

An Old Favourite

Friday May 8 2009
On a balmy Autumn evening there is nothing nicer than visiting my favourite local haunt, Piazza Del Sol otherwise known to regulars as LuCafe. Being a Friday night and not wanting to cook after a hard week slogging it out at the office hubby and I decided to hit Lu's with avengence. I of course ordered my usual the Tortellini Alla Panna while hubby stuck to his favourite the Capriciosa Pizza. The Tortellini Alla Panna as always was just delightful! Freshly made pasta that's not too creamy, drizzled with almonds and topped with Parmesan - oh so good!!!

This trusty little eatery hidden in the backstreets of Tuart Hill is just the place to go when you want to avoid the city crowds and get good value for money. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves to eat good, Italian, rustic fare at affordable prices!!


My all-time Piazza Del Sol fave the Tortellini Alla Panna

The Long Wait

Monday April 27 2009
Going out on a long weekend has its advantages and disadvantages. You want to chill out, enjoy good company and soak up the day in all its glory, after all that's what long weekends are all about - not this one though. After months of planning my cousins and decided on a girlie catch-up at The Windsor for the ANZAC Day long weekend.

Having eaten at The Windsor several times (and loving it) I suggested we go there instead of going where we always go - not one of my finest moments I must admit! Our booking was for 1pm and when we arrived the place was pumping and packed to the brim. It was a beautiful day and being seated next to the waterfall was just lovely. Our waitress took our drink orders and then told us we should really put in our food order also as there could be a wait, so taking her advice we placed our orders and waited.

An hour later and no meals to be seen we asked the waitress what the hold up was and she told us there was a wait on the food because of the long weekend crowd - they hadn't expected such a turnout. She then told us it would be at least another half hour before we got our meals.

Much to my tables horror I proceeded to talk about the weather and hope the sound of everyone's stomach rumbling would fade into the distance. When our food finally arrived we went for it and whether it was my hunger pains talking or the few too many wines I consumed -the Fish and Chips were the best I'd had in a long time and well worth the wait..

Will I go there again? All in all The Windsor has never disappointed, I'd just suggest going on a normal weekend as opposed to a very long one!!




Diving into my long-awaited Fish and Chips!

The Sirens

Wednesday April 15 2009
Those of you who have read my articles before should know I am a Freo girl through and through. I was born and bred in this great town and absolutely love it! Speaking of which with Freo comes my beloved football team the Dockers and mock as you may I have supported them since day dot. So where is this going I hear you ask - well yesterday I attended my first Sirens function. The Sirens are a group of dedicated and PASSIONATE women supporting this fantastic team (who will one day get there).

It's a great little supporter's group who get together to network, enjoy yummy food and wine while talking footy, definitely my idea of fun! Last night we were treated to delicious canapes including broccoli mini tarts, satay chicken kebabs and mini pizzas washed down with wines provided by Swings and Round-a-bouts. We also got to watch the boys first training session, speak to general manager of football operations Chris Bond and after training got to drill players Roger Hayden and Michael Johnson on their game plan. It is a pretty good night out and one I would recommend to any LOYAL, PROUD and PASSIONATE female fans. For more information on the group click Sirens to email the club.

Pizza and wine and I'm good to go - Freo Heave Ho!

Mexico Here We Go Again!!

Thursday April 10 2009
Arriba Arriba let's go to Mexico - AGAIN!!!!

After last week's successful visit to Mexico I decided to take my overseas visitors there again but this time a little closer to home. Acapulco Annies Mexican Restaurant and Cantina has been around for almost 30 years yet I'd never stepped foot in their doors and they are literally around the corner from where I live.

Every night from 6pm to 7pm is Happy Hour so imagine my surprise when we rocked up at 6.15pm and were offered the cocktail menu straight off the bat - Margaritas all round!!!

Dinner again was a difficult choice and clouded by six carafes, yes carafes (they don't do things by halves in this joint) of Margaritas I chose to go with the yes you guessed it the Beef Burritto - it just screamed safe to me considering how under the influence I was.

Served by our waitress (a native Mexican) the meal came out complete with Mexican flag in tow and I devoured it whole heartedly, so yummy! Speaking of Miss Mexico, she was fantastic, constantly checking to see if we needed anything else as well as offering some Mexican tourism advice - Los Cabos here I come.

All in all I loved this place and am glad I finally went and experienced a meal here, it was the perfect way to start off my Easter weekend.



Beef Burritos and Margaritas make for a very happy Food Editor!

Allergic Reaction

Sunday April 5 2009
There are three things I'm allergic to; pesto, avocado and Kiwi fruit. I avoid them at all costs, so why on my pleasant visit to The Royal did I decide to eat a chicken pesto pasta dish?? Your guess is as good as mine.

Put it this way I love pesto, I also love Kiwi fruit but somehow they do things to my body that nobody should put up with as was the case last night. The Royal had a heap of delicious meals on the menu which included a steak burger and chips, calamari and other pasta dishes but because the dish I chose was not available I thought I'd try the chicken pesto pasta, surely I'd be ok - right? After all it was just a little bit of pesto.

The dish itself was lovely and went down well with a lemon, lime and bitters (of course). The staff (particualarly their Brazilian waiter) well they too were fantastic and ever so helpful. But whether it was the mix of the cream and pesto together or the fact that I am allergic to pesto all together made for a very unpleasant afternoon and evening.

Needless to say I won't be ordering that again....whoops my bad!


Me and the yummy pasta dish in question!

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