Tiger, Tiger

Tiger Tiger Coffee Bar

Tiger, Tiger is the kind of place that people who hang around the kitchen at parties will like. That’s according to Clare Wayne, the owner of this funky little inner city coffee oasis, who I think may have a point.

Clare is slowly carving out a little slice of the CBD for her very own, and crafting it into the kind of place where people can feel comfortable hanging out, and perhaps find a bit of solace in this hectic (wait am I talking about Perth) city. Complete with plush booths, eclectic furniture (sourced individually), a burgeoning herb garden, and some damn fine coffee.

Clare was the manager at Oxford 130 for a long time, so running a cafe is like second nature to her. Never short of an opinion, she’s quick to make sure cocky lad-about-town (ha!) coffee geeks like me know exactly what kind of effort goes into running one too… and it’s that passion (horrible but inevitable word) and drive that sets her apart from your run of the mill “how many people can we get through the doors today” cafes that abound in our fair city.

Tiger, Tiger (I really should ask if Clare is a William Blake fan) is located in Murray Mews. If you’re not familiar with a mews… it’s kind of a cross between a lane and an alleyway, the most important part being that it is hidden or secluded. I’m not sure how that affects business, but it creates a wonderful secret garden type vibe when you happen across Tiger, Tiger for the first time. It’s tucked away in a corner in between Hay and Murray Streets, turning past clothing store El Dorado (I’m sure all you fashionistas) know that one), and 100m or so back from the Belgian Beer Cafe (scene of my glass stealing infamy in the days before you had to give them your shoe).

The coffee they are using is Fiori (more on them later), and it’s really starting to hit it’s strides. On a cruisey Thursday morning last week I popped in and sampled a fine short macchiato that had excellent body, as well as just the right amount of sweetness from the milk to keep my taste buds happy. Clare, and roving barista Jackson are pumping out some great shots, and are producing what would be the peak expression of the Fiori blend at this point in time.

Aside from the coffee (and a superb hot chocolate with dessicated coconut in it), they also have a little kitchen, and make fresh meals daily and have a commitment to using organic produce.

The crowd is just as eclectic as the furniture. From coffee nerds like me, to every flavour of trendy (and not so) business types, to the rest of the hipsters who have somehow found themselves no longer in Leederville. They all add to the vibe of the place, creating a sophisticated but grungy atmosphere that would not be out of place in a quiet Melbourne lane way.

Not done yet

So next time you’re wandering through the “west end”, take the time to peer down a few of the little alleys and you may just come across a hidden gem or two.

Tiger, Tiger
Shop 4, Murray Mews
329 Murray St, Perth
t: 9322 8055
f: 9322 8077


Poker & Cigars

No food here, so run away now if that’s all you’re after… And if you’re reading this post through a feed reader like bloglines or google reader, or something obscure I don’t know about, then do yourself a favour and head on over to the site to witness the grainy beauty that is a bunch of guys smoking cigars and playing poker, in full lightbox hipness…

Incidentally, we started night off with a thai beef salad and a warm kipfler potato salad and a feisty Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon… so… you know… relax. This gourmet does not take a night off.

Mr Barista This is how you light it. DTM Some chumpThe Flop Smoke master

Somewhere around midnight, things got hazy Gav

Congratulations to dtm for the comeback of the century to kick all of our arses, and for bringing over some damn fine Mexican Maragogype coffee that along with the cigars, and wine, kept us upping and downing all night.

For the aficionados out there, the list of cigars we had was:

Me: Montechristo Petit Tubos (courtesy of Cin)
DTM: Montechristo No. 2
Mr Barista: Cuesta Rey robusto No. 5 maduro
Gav the cigar virgin: H.D.M Epicure No. 2
Smoke Master: H.D.M Epicure No. 2 and a Padron 1926 series No 2. maduro

Hard Copy


Just a little note to West Australian readers that might be interested. One of the photos I took of latte art at Epic Espresso was used in the West Australian newspaper’s “Fresh” section on Thursday the 9th November as part of a short piece on the new cafe. I’m not sure why I get a buzz out of having my work in print, it’s not like I don’t have countless outlets for creative expression, but it’s still kinda cool. It was uncredited, but I’m hoping to rectify that when I get more experienced in this whole photography game. It was also cropped a bit in the paper, so for the record, the full photo is here. It wasn’t my favourite shot, but it’s still nice to see it get a slightly wider audience. Any cafe owners looking to get some quality shots done can feel free to shoot me an email before my ego (too late) and prices go through the roof… ha :)

Bitter Chocolate Tarts

tart stack

Just a quickie thats been kicking around in my head for a while now. I liked the idea of bitter chocolate tarts ever since having one at Divido in Mt Hawthorn a while back. I’m not a huge fan of really sweet desserts, so the idea of the bitter chocolate appealed to my savoury sensibilities quite strongly.

I’d been sitting on a block of dark (80%) Spanish cooking chocolate for a while, waiting for the next outbreak of the war on terror to hit and send my stocks through the roof. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet (although the current one is bad enough), and so my resource speculation will have to take a back seat to my baking.

I picked the chocolate up while visiting the lovely lady at Spanish Flavours in Wembley (who i’ll call Maria for the sake of cultural stereotypes), it’s a great store full of all sorts of Spanish and Latin flavoured products. Anyone familiar with “Steve Don’t Eat It” (go there, its good) will be glad to know there is a place where you can find your very own can of Cuitlacoche to play with.

So Maria pointed me in the direction of this chocolate and said it was just the stuff for baking all kinds of delicious desserts “But not for drinking !” She said… “I got a nice one for you to try for drinking”. So after being softened up by a mug of free hot chocolate, that looked more like chocolate yoghurt in consistency, I made the purchase and was on my merry way.

Now with my recent tart making success during the Moroccan dinner under my belt, it was time to roll onto the next tart based challenge. So here we have…

Bitter Chocolate Tarts

Pastry Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Bitter Chocolate Filling:

  • 300mL thickened or whipping cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (80 per cent)
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butterscotch schapps
  • half a cup of sugar (if you can’t take the bitterness)

bitter chocolate

How I Made Mine

For the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Mix it all around and then add the butter by cutting it up into small pieces and dropped in a piece at a time until the mixture turns into a rough mixture. Add the egg and cream while the processor is still going at which point it should all come together and turn into a big ball that sticks together quite well.

Take the ball out of the processor and onto a floured surface. Knead it a little and when it seems to be a good consistency that is both soft and a little crumbly, but doesn’t completely fall apart, work it into the shape you’re after and press it into your baking dish. In this case I made a bunch of little tarts. So I broke off small balls of dough and pressed them into discs before lining them into a texas muffin tin. Then prick the bottom of the tarts all over with a fork and put them into the freezer for about 20 minutes before cooking.

When they’re mostly solid and have a good shape after being in the freezer, pop them into a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re golden brown. Take them out and let them cool.

For the filling I heated the cream until just below boiling point and then transferred it into a bowl along with the chocolate that had been shaved finely so it would melt quickly. Then let that sit for a minute before stirring in the butter and bringing it all together with the baileys and butterscotch schnapps (which you can quite happily omit if you don’t like cowboys). At this point please taste the mixture… I was going along happily and then I had a taste and realised it was too bitter even for my espresso loving palate (although don’t get me started on the bitterness in espresso debate). So i added a half a cup or so of caster sugar to the mixture and stirred it through to lighten the soul destroying bitterness that was currently lurking in the bowl.

Once it’s cooled, pour it into the waiting tart shells and pop it into the freezer or fridge for a good few hours until solid.

bitter chocolate mini tart with ice cream

Take them out and serve with a good dollop of cream or ice cream to add in the digestive process. Incidentally, mine were still really bitter when I took them out of the fridge the night I made them, but after a couple of days they seem to have mellowed. Don’t ask me how… perhaps all the sugar and alcohol settled at the bottom of the bowl and all got poured into one of the tarts, but either way they tasted great.

The best thing is that if no-one else likes them you can just criticise them for having woefully unsophisticated palates and still come out looking good :) Tasty.

Coda Alla Vaccinara (oxtail stew) with Olive Fettucini

Coda alla vaccinara  with olive fettuccine

Coda Alla Vaccinara is one of the great Italian peasant dishes. It originates from the slaughter houses around Rome, where the oxen were sent after retiring from their lives ploughing fields. The vaccinari (slaughtermen, from the word vacca, meaning cow), who were responsible for turning the oxen back into meat, were paid for their labours with the skins, horns, offal, and that modern day sexy cut of meat that is the oxtail. This created a style of cooking associated with the neighbourhood where the slaughterhouse and tanneries were located, and the vaccinari developed their own particular style for turning this once unwanted by-product into a delicious rustic meal.

Traditionally coda all vaccinara is served as a soup, often left for a day or two before being eaten, as the marrow in the oxtail enhances the flavours with time. If any was left over after the first serving, it was often used as a rich sauce to go with fettuccine.

So true to form, I skipped the bits of the process that didn’t appeal and went straight to serving my dish over fettuccine. An olive fettuccine no less. Mangled together from some left over marinated olives and rolled into being by hand after my pasta machine decided to try my patience for the last time.

Olive pasta

Olive Pasta (Fettuccine)

  • 250 grams ’00’ rated pasta flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 g pitted olives
  • tablespoon or so of olive oil

So the pasta is as per normal. I’m sure there are a million home made pasta recipes out there, so I won’t feel offended if you go and find another one, I do it all the time myself just to keep things interesting.

For the olives, I pitted a whole bunch of marinated black olives I had lying around, and then threw them into the blender to disintegrate into tiny little olive bits. Then, not entirely satisfied with the level of evisceration I’d achieved, I put the blended olives into my mortar and pestle with a little olive oil, and crushed and ground them down further into what was now a kind of thick olive slurry paste…along the lines of tapenade perhaps.

So then the pasta is simple. Basically make a mound of flour on a clean dry surface, then make a little well in the middle. Crack your eggs into the middle of the well and start to work the flour into the middle by slowly incorporating the egg into it. Once its mostly incorporated, add the olives into the middle and work them all through so it’s an even distribution throughout the dough. Add a little more flour or water to the dough, depending on whether it needs it, and once its a firm ball, need it for about 5 minutes to make it quite elastic, before cooling it in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes.

Once you’re ready to go, pull it out of the fridge and onto a floured surface, and roll it out into thin sheets. Preferably in a pasta machine that will not send you to the brink of insanity by refusing the stay in one place while you try to crank the handle that refuses to turn no matter how wide you make the opening. I ended up giving up and using an empty wine bottle to roll mine out into something any Italian nonna would probably faint over… the fattest fettuccine in the world. But hey, it worked for me.

shabbily rolledcut and dried

Now to the main attraction…

Coda Alla Vaccinara

  • 1kg beef oxtail
  • 8 celery stalks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 150 grams pancetta chopped
  • handful or two of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 cans Italian roma tomatoes
  • water
  • 5 cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf

How I Made Mine

Firstly, rinse the oxtail under running water and get rid of any fat or gristle. The chop the celery,carrot, garlic, onion, and pancetta, and start to fry them in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Now add the oxtail to the pan and brown them all over. At this point, pour in your red wine, let it reduce a little, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and then add the cloves, bayleaf, (tied up in a beggars purse (bouquet garni style) if you like. If there isn’t enough liquid from the wine and tomatoes, then add water enough to barely cover the oxtails, then reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan, and leave it to slow cook for a couple of hours (more if you can).

This is not the quickest dish to prepare, but the slow cooking is so good for the oxtail. It’s a kind of meat that really appreciates taking the time so it can absorb all the flavours and the added marrow adds a soft melt in your mouth texture to it.

Once my dish had been cooking for a couple of hours and the meat on the oxtail was literally falling away from the bones, I carefully removed the oxtail from the rest of the stew and let them rest in a bowl for a few minutes. Then when they were cool enough to work with I pulled all of the meat away from the bones and got rid of any more gristle I came across. Then turned the heat up on the stew to reduce it down further into something thick enough for a pasta sauce. Then added the oxtail meat back in, stirred through a little nutmeg and some more seasoning, and it was all done.

Onto a plate with a little more freshly chopped parsley over the top of my olive fettuccine.

Coda alla vaccinara  (the start) Coda alla vaccinara  (3 hours later)

Coda alla vaccinara  with olive fettuccine

The flavours in this dish are sublime, but the star of the show is the oxtail. I can not recommend slow cooking highly enough. Take your time… have a glass of wine…or 3… eat some cheese if you’re peckish, and wait for the luscious flavours to develop. You will not be sorry (unless of course you manage to burn it somehow, which would be bad).

Apologies to any Italians I may have offended during this post. I love you all.

Ria: Authentic Malaysian

This is restaurant review in as few words as I can manage.

I went to Ria recently with my fellow bloggers from Perth Norg, for a bit of a get together and to see what we could see. I had previously heard some quasi Malaysian friend of a friend bagging it out for not being ‘authentic’, which made me wonder if it was any good or not. What I’ve since realised after going there is that the only thing that probably wasn’t authentic enough was the price, and the fact that some actual care has gone into the food rather than just throwing it onto a plate and grunting in your general direction (ala many of the Malaysian restaurants I’ve been too).

Now I’m not going to put myself up to be some kind of expert on Malaysian food, or curry, or really anything to do with original authenticity of ethnic dishes… personally the ‘authentic’ debate doesn’t interest me. It’s tired and is constantly pulled out as a reason to dislike a style of food or restaurant for unjustified reasons. Just because someone makes a style of curry in a different way than your great great great grandmother who originated from the very village where it was FIRST CREATED EVER… it doesn’t mean it is a bad meal. It just means it different. Funny little word that, but a very significant one. If uniformity in food was a good thing, then we’d all be eating at McDonalds and Han’s (and that’s a world I don’t want to have to imagine).

The nature of food in Australia is such that it is inherently a conglomeration (avoiding the word ‘fusion’) of many different types of food. You’ve got ye olde English roasts, your Irish stews, the huge Mediterranean influence of Italian, Greek, and French food, all manner of styles of Asian cooking, and most recently the middle eastern and African migrants bringing lots of lovely spices and styles for us to absorb into the ever growing organism that is the Australian diet.

So onto the restaurant. It’s kinda funky and relaxed, up market but not overly wanky. It is Leederville after all… If it was in Subiaco it would probably have turned out like Buddha Bar, which would not be a good thing. The restaurant is run by chef Deborah Ting and her husband Richard Serrano, who apparently got bored of cooking Italian food, closed up the shop, and reopened as Ria. She is Malaysian Chinese, and the food takes into account a lot of family recipes that she has given her own particular style. It’s quite hard to describe the food, but hearty currys and piquant flavours flow through the whole menu. Look up the style of cooking that is Nonya, and you’ll get a good idea of what some of the food is like.

Her signature dish is a braised caramelised duck called ‘Mum’s lok ak’, and its superb.
Other things we tried were the Chinese Shredded Beef and a Beef Rendang, along with some bok choy and tofu as a side. All very tasty and surprisingly moreish. So much so that I went back the next night to try a few more dishes.

Knowing Sharon would be keen to try this place out too, we headed back again on a Thursday night, after having just eaten there the night before. This time we ordered a chicken and chickpea curry, a lamb curry with star anise, the Nonya Acar Fish (absolute stand out), rice, more bok choy and a bottle of wine. Which was in fact more than we’d ordered the night before when we had 4 people.

Second time around it didn’t disappoint either. We also managed to do some star spotting with ‘HG Nelson‘ apparently in town, and stopping by for a casual dinner with his lady friend.
My only complaint about the place was that our waiter looked like had never carried more than one plate before in his life, and I was expecting to wear half of the dishes he brought over as he shakily fumbled them onto the table. That an the fact that he decided to finish his shift before asking if we wanted any desserts didn’t help either. But I’m not going to write off a place for a couple of oversights.

All in all the food was excellent, the vibe relaxed and happy, and the price just right to not break the bank while probably sending the majority of people who bemoan ‘newfangled’ upmarket restaurants that make traditionally based foods, back to food court land to get their fill of cheap eats with plastic forks. Most dishes are around $18 or so, and substantial enough so that you don’t feel ripped off.

So yeh…that’s all. Go try it, authentic or not, it’s intensely tasty… and keep your eyes out for some Nonya inspired meals coming to an Abstract Gourmet near you soon.

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food
Unit 1
160 Oxford St
Leederville 6007 WA
Phone: (08) 9328 2998