Archive | December, 2010

Annalakshmi, Perth

31 Dec

Anyone who knows me will know that over the last three years I have developed a gigantic love for Indian food. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that I live in a suburb in London with the most fantastic authentic Indian restaurants or because everyone in my household knows how to cook a good curry. It’s the spices – one taste of a good curry and I believe that there’s no going back.

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So to my delight, the restaurant on the agenda for one evening meal in Perth this week was Annalakshmi on the Swan River. We arrived, a group of 14 of us and were seated outside on the balcony overlooking the beautiful Swan River. The concept of Annalakshmi was what drew us – an Indian buffet and when you’ve eaten as much as you possibly want/can fit in your belly, you simply pay what you think the meal was worth or what you can afford. Wow!

Annalakshmi is run by a crew of loyal volunteers, one woman who has been working there for over 20 years and was founded by a Hindu Monk. The first restaurant was founded in Malaysia and then brought over to Perth. The money that you pay for food is donated to charity and is used to help the underprivileged in India via The Temple of Service, providing free food and medical services.

Annalakshi inside

The food itself is no frills homecooked Indian food. Honest and simple but honestly delicious. The day we went there had unfrotunatley been a death in the family of one of the volunteers so there was slightly less food than usual but when it’s a buffet, a three options is all you really need.

Like restaurants in India (and the authentic ones in England), food is served on a metal round plate with a small metal dish for the sambar, a staple in South Indian food. It is traditionally eaten with Rice, Dosas and Idliy – altough it can be eaten with anything.

On offer on the evening were two different types of Boiled Rice, a Split Yellow Pea Daal, Potato Curry, Butternut Squash Curry, Sambar and Spiced White Cabbage. I didn’t pile my plate too high because I was told that as soon as one curry runs out, another different dish is brought up from the kitchen. My first plate was demolished extremely quickly and despite there being a long line at the buffet, I queued up for more.

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My favourites were definitely the Daal and the Butternut Squash curry, although I think it had just a tad too much salt in it. Didn’t stop me from completely clearing my plate for the second time though.

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One of our party got into a semi argument with ‘a regular’ because he was moaning about having to queue and the member of our party was sticking up for the volunteers at the restuarant who do such as fantastic job to provide the public with utterly delicous authentic South Indian Curry.

As a thank you, the woman who had been there for over 20 years thanked our party member and gave him a free pudding gift of Lassi, which is a Punjabi yogurt-based drink of India and Pakistan. She had never seen the ‘regular’ before. We couldn’t believe that someone could be so rude about having to queue for 10 minutes.

We all stuffed ourselves until we couldn’t fit anymore in and left donating a suitable amount for each person. I’m not going to tell you how much we paid because you’re supposed to make up your own mind but it was fun deciding!!

I just love the concept and will be visiting a similar restaurant when I go to Melbourne next week – it’s not curry so let’s just hope that it is as good.

Jetty No 4
Barrack Street
Perth, WA 6000

Annalakshmi on the Swan on Urbanspoon

Wholemeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

29 Dec

My boyfriend’s little brother LOVES chocolate and asked me to bake some chocolate chip cookies for him. The only flour that we had in the flat was Wholemeal Plain Flour and there were no weighing scales so I had to look online to convert grams into ml.

I also used a mixture of Dairy Milk and Dairy Milk with Crunchie bits in (they do a large bar of this in Australia!). The result – a melt in mouth cookie with a great texture from the Wholemeal flour and a welcome crisp from the Crunchie bits in the chocolate.

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I have converted the recipe into ml and I have to say it’s really easy – there’s minimal cleaning afterwards too!

Ingredients

215ml Wholemeal Plain Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
230g Chocolate (1/2 and 1/2 Dairy Milk and Dairy Milk Crunchie)
6 tbsp Butter, softened
200ml Dark Muscovado Sugar
2 Eggs

Method

1. Place Flour, Baking Powder and Salt into a bowl and set aside
2. Melt 1/3 of the chocolate in a bain-marie – meanwhile cream the butter and sugar
3. Add in the melted chocolate and beat in the eggs
4. Add the flour and chocolate chips and mix well
5. Freeze for 20 minutes before baking in the oven at 175degrees for 10-12 minutes

Make sure that the cookies are not fully baked before you bring them out of the oven if you want them to be gooey. Enjoy within 3 days.

Sayers, Leederville

28 Dec

Another day, another early beach walk followed by a delicious brunch. This time – Sayers in Leederville, my favourite suburb in Perth.

Having had one of the best brunches of my life here last year, the visit this morning was highly anticipated. Having already had French Toast and Pancakes, I decided to go for a savoury option.

Three of us decided to share two savoury dishes and then get the Crepes with Hot Chocolate dipping sauce and Peanut Brittle for pudding. The breakfast menu is pretty large and Sayers pride themselves on providing the best quality ingredients including locally baked Barrett’s Bread, fresh free range eggs from Pioneer Farms, Perth Pura Milk and 5 Senses Coffee.

We shared the Claypot of Sayers Coriander and Cumin Beans, Baba Ganoush, Poached Egg & Toasted Rosemary Oiled Turkish Bread and the Potato Rosti, Poached Eggs, Bacon, Onion Jam, Lemon and Scented Wilted Spinach.

My boyfriend ordered the beans last year and they stuck in his memory – we have recreated this dish a few times over the last year when we’ve had time for a lazy Sunday brunch. The Chickpeas and Butterbeans are slow cooked in a tomato sauce and topped with a perfectly runny Poached Egg. I didn’t try and of the Baba Ganoush as I’m not a fan of Aubergines but the Coriander sauce was fantastic – almost like Pesto.

The Potato Rosti came as a fat wedge, accompanied by two slices of Bacon with the Onion Jam slathered on top of the Rosti. I didn’t notice at the time but they had substituted the Spinach for Rocket – I do prefer Rocket so in retrospect it was probably better! There were also two Poached Eggs on the top, again cooked perfectly and with a sprinkling of delicious fresh Parmesan.

We finished the two savoury dishes and moved onto the Crepes. I have to say that they were slightly disappointing. They came in a fancy bowl with rounds of Orange, which was not on the menu and not to any of our liking! The hot Chocolate Sauce that came in a small bowl was faultless but the Crepes themselves were doughy and not cooked properly. This however is no reflection on the cafe and when I told the waitress, she gladly took them away and promptly replaced them with a fresh batch. We realised that the batter might be too floury because apart from being slightly browner and crispier on the outside, the middle was still quite doughy.

My boyfriends sister had her own dish – the Nutty Muesli with Poached Pear, Yoghurt and Honey. I was slightly jealous as this was what I had my mind on before we arrived at the Cafe due to seeing it last year and liking the look of it. The only reason that I didn’t order it is because I think I could have that anywhere and make it just as good myself.

Sayers also have a wide range of freshly baked cakes (amazing flourless chocolate cake) although it’s expensive even for one slice. At $7, it’s worth getting the breakfast.

The coffee is also exceptional. Aussies often complain about the Brits coffee when they come over to the UK and I can see why. I tasted (or should I say stole about 1/3) of my boyfriends Latte and it was beautifully creamy and not too strong.

I only have another 8 days in Perth and I’m praying that I’m going to find a moment to go back to order the Muesli for myself.

224 Carr Pl Shop 1
Leederville, 6007
(08) 9227 0429
http://www.sayersfood.com.au

Sayers on Urbanspoon

Beaches Cafe, Cottesloe

27 Dec

When it’s 40 degrees in the midday sun, it’s better to wake up early and have a walk along the beach or around the river.

So on Boxing Day, we did just that. 9am and the beach was mobbed with people walking and playing with their dogs – it was great to see. We worked up a breakfast hunger and after our walk headed to Cottesloe to get some brunch.

The place we went last year for an amazing brunch was unfortunately closed so we wandered down the front and reached Beaches Cafe. It was very busy – probably because it was one of the only places open for breakfast.

You order your food at the counter and pay – cash only. As there were 9 of us, we had to pay a deposit and run to the bank. They serve a wide range of juices and smoothies plus hot and cold breakfasts. They also have around three specials each day.

One of our party asked for one of the smoothies to be made with Soya Milk instead of Apple Juice, to which the girl that was serving replied ‘I don’t make it with Apple Juice’. Slightly shocked, our party member asked if they were ready made. Her reply was no but that she just doesn’t make it like that. Eventually she budged.

I ordered the Pancakes with Banana, Maple Syrup and Whipped Cream, my boyfriend ordered the Eggs Benedict and there were a few other dishes ordered, along with Chocolate Milkshake and three smoothies.

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The Pancakes arrived and I was shocked at the size of them – four massive Pancakes drenched in Maple Syrup with a mound of Banana and Whipped Cream. Yum. Not delicious but good. My boyfriends Eggs Benedict was again good, but not great. The Hollandaise sauce looked slightly orange, rather than an enticing creamy colour and the Ham tasted slightly plastic like. The egg was cooked perfectly and the yolk burst out all over the Muffin.

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The smoothies arrived and one of them was wrong and one of them was warm – not a good start. They were sent back and took so long to come back out that we eventually cancelled them. My boyfriends dad ordered a Raspberry Pastry tart, which also never turned up so a refund was in order for the smoothies and the tart. As soon as they brought the money out, they brought with it another Chocolate Milkshake and the illusive Raspberry tart to say sorry. Why they could not have brought this out as quickly after we ordered it I do not know.

The staff were extremely rude and the service was terrible. Maybe it was the fact that they seemed overrun with customers and there were hardly enough staff to deal with it.

The food was ok but I’ve come to expect more from brunch in Australia because I’ve had so many good experiences and at $16.50 for Pancakes, they could do better. But having said that, this cafe was the equivalent of a greasy spoon in the UK and I really know which one I would prefer. I’d love to be able to go to the beach in the UK and order a huge portion of fat Pancakes from a beach cafe! There’s hope yet.

Beaches Cafe
122 Marine Pde
Cottesloe, 6011
(08) 9384 4412

Beaches Cafe on Urbanspoon

Brawn

25 Dec

As you may have seen, I only very recently visited Terroirs for the first time so having heard that the owners have just opened a brand new restaurant on Columbia Road called Brawn, we decided to take my mum and check it out when she came to visit the weekend before Christmas.

It was the coldest day of the year and we trudged across London through the snow to get there. Market stalls outside were selling Christmas trees like crazy, which added to the Christmassy atmosphere!

Outside Brawn

Brawn doesn’t have a sign outside – luckily we had taken note of the building number before we left. The decor is different to Terroirs – Brawn is very East London with cool, vintage/reclaimed furniture and the inside is white, much brighter than Terroirs. The tables are white with old reclaimed wooden chairs, good quality cutlery and very thin glass beakers, which I LOVE.

I scanned down the menu and immediately decided to order the Pork Rillete – after having the Duck version at Terroirs a couple of weeks ago, I knew I was in for a treat.

I have to say that I didn’t know what the majority of the menu was due to the fact that a lot of it is written in French (maybe I should have paid more attention at school). So we asked one of the many attractive French waiters that was on hand to explain.

The fresh Bread basket that is brought to the table at the beginning of the meal is most certainly my downfall, especially since it was delicious freshly baked Sourdough Bread from local e5 Bakehouse.

Along came the Pork Rilette and we all tucked in. I didn’t think that my Boyfriend and Mum would like it due to the high fat content but they wolfed it down. The best way to eat this dish is by buttering a slice of Bread, slathering the Pork Rilette on top and adding a slice of Cornichon (that’s Gherkin to me and you).

Pork Terrine

Next came the Brandade with Green Beans and Warm Duck Egg Yolk. Brandade is an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil – the addition of Duck Egg Yolk was fantastic, rich and runny. Again, a dish that needed to be eaten with the fresh Bread.

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We also ordered the Mongetes – another dish that I had to check before hand. It is a Catalan dish of Sausage with White Beans and it arrived at the table hot and sizzling. The Sausage proved too much for one of the party so it was left to two of us. It was quite a filling dish and we had trouble finishing it all. It would definitely be good to recreate this dish on a cold winters day.

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We also shared the Puy Lentil and Ham Hock Soup. The Lentils had been purified so the soup had an extremely creamy texture. It was delicious – the only slight problem was that there were only two bits of Ham in the dish and that wasn’t enough since we were sharing!

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We were only out for lunch so we didn’t have a pudding but instead moved on to another cafe just off Brick Lane.

I think that Brawn is a fantastic place for lunch but I’d like to go back for dinner and sample the wine list and experience the atmosphere of the restaurant when it is busier.

Brawn
49 Columbia Road
London
E2 7RG
020 7729 569

Brawn on Urbanspoon

Drink Shop & Do

24 Dec

My dream is to open somewhere like Drink Shop & Do. Everything in this quaint cafe in Kings Cross is for sale – crafts, vintage tea sets, 1950’s dressers and unusual tables and chairs. Plus, they serve home made Cakes, Ice Cream, Speciality Teas and even Cocktails.

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They hold a range of events and are open to serve afternoon teas, lunch and the have a licence to serve cocktails at what they call ‘Cocktail o’clock’.

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The shop is in two parts – a sweet shop in the front as you walk in plus a range of designer crafts for sale – even wool and knitting needles if you wish to have an afternoon nit in the cafe up at the top.

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Then it’s up the stairs to the high ceilinged cafe. We sat on a large round glass table with mis matched vintage chairs – there were a few board games under the table to play if you wanted.

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There is a selection of food available from Sandwiches, Pork Pies and Quiche to home made Goulash Soup. We opted to share a couple of portions of the Goulash Soup, which came with a hefty wedge of Tiger Bread and the Quiche, which came with a delicious Lentil salad.

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The only downside was that the Quiche was cold – we should have checked before we ordered but it’s not something that we were keen on eating on a cold snowy day.

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The Tea came in mis matched vintage tea sets, which looked beautiful – i’m a sucker for old tea sets.

One day, maybe in a few years, my dream will come true.

Drink, Shop & Do
9 Caledonian Road
London
N1 9DX
0203 343 9138

The first Brunch. Toast, East Perth

24 Dec

I’m probably one of the luckiest people that passed through Heathrow last weekend. Normally I would be so happy that snow had stuck to the ground but not then. Two days before we were due to fly to Australia, the snow came thick and fast and temperatures dropped to their lowest for 20 years. There was carnage at Heathrow airport, which was the worst affected airport in the country. Great. 

We weren’t able to get much information as our airlines phone lines were engaged for two days – finally we got through to Heathrow on the morning who said that our flight was scheduled. We arrived to queues to even get into the airport – they weren’t letting you in unless your flight was going. Struggling to hear the Heathrow workers, we stood behind a mass of people eagerly awaiting an announcement. Then it came, our plane had just landed from Singapore – and we were in. Straight to the check in, straight through security and a short wait before we boarded the plane. We were sat on the runway for 2 hours but as soon as we took off were thanking our lucky stars. I felt awful for the people who were spending a third night sleeping on the floor.

I had done my research before I arrived this time and to my delight one of the best places for brunch in Perth is called Toast and it is right below the apartment. Annoyingly, most cafes in East Perth close over Christmas and don’t open again until 6th Jan so we went on our second day for lunch.

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I had my eye on the French Toast with Ricotta and Blueberries before I even left London so I had that and my boyfriend shared the Roasted Tomato with Basil, Avacado and Feta on Toast with his mum. The portions were pretty large and more than enough for two people sharing – in this heat anyway!

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I became obsessed with brunch after my Australia visit last year. The Auzzies have it right – not a fry up in sight and I love it!

Toast cafe view

Toast is situated on the River, which provides a beautiful setting and next to a bustling restaurant, which provides a fantastic atmosphere. They sell a wide range of foods, amazing hot drinks and milkshakes plus home baked cakes, which looked delicious. It’s such a shame that they’re not open again until the day before I go back to England.

I will be visiting my brother in Melbourne in a couple of weeks so expect more delicious brunch posts!

Toast
21/60 Royal Street
East Perth WA 6004
(08) 9221 0771

Toast on Urbanspoon

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