The stars inside Just a sip

Of the places I’d rather be, other than trying to cram far too much “life” into our new one bedroom apartment in the city, Boucla rates pretty high.

It’s one of the nicest cafe’s in Perth at the moment (in my opinion anyway), which is due to it’s fantastic food, wonderful coffee, and ramblingly eclectic ambiance… that feels like part cafe, part antique shop, and part shisha bar.

The menu is simple and honest Greek food prepared by owner Despina Tanner, and the coffee is a rock solid preparation of the Fiori blend by manager Luke (as true a barista as I’ve met).

If you’re lucky enough to find a table inside the tiny interior, then I can think of nothing better than to order a lamb pie or a spanakopita, a coffee or three, and watch the time and people fly by.

If you’re even luckier, and the day is nice, then head into the enclave inside the store, where the inside meets the outside in a funky little grotto. Great for catching up on some sun without needing to sit outside.

I think I might head there now… :)

Boucla Cafe
349 Rokeby Rd
Phone: 9381 2841


Fettucini Amatriciana

Fettuccini Amatriciana

The alternative title to this post is “I can’t believe it’s not Adelaide”.

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon. You’ve slept in well past the time where it’s even remotely acceptable to have breakfast (and you don’t have any milk for cereal anyway). But now there’s is a rumbling in your stomach that’s sending all the dogs in the neighbourhood mental, expecting the next earthquake. A quick glance into the pantry shows pasta… this is a good sign. A check of the fridge shows half an italian sausage, some tomatoes, and most of an onion. You’re in business.

The sweetener in this scenario for me, is that I also found a small jar of olives. Made specially by local olive nut and wild food lover Kamran of Fiori Coffee. I won’t give away all the secrets, but suffice to say, there is a lot of food around if you’ll willing to look for it. These little gems have been marinaded in oil, and are delicious on their own, but also add substance and depth when added to pasta and other dishes. A wonderfully complex saltiness that really gives it a lift.

Now bearing in mind that I cannot guarantee that this dish can be legally called Amatriciana (or if I’m even spelling it right), here is my version of the ultimate quick and easy dish. It really doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Fettucini Amatriciana

  • 1 Italian sausage (mine was hot cacciatore)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Tomato passata, or lots of fresh tomatoes, or a can of crushed tomatoes
  • black olives
  • a splash of red wine
  • Fettucini

How I saved Saturday

Slice the sausage up into thin pieces on an angle, and the slice those slices into mini slices. Then slice the slices of slices … actually no, that’s enough. Chop up your onions and mince the garlic, then fry all of that in a bit of olive oil, and splash over the red wine at some point for tasty goodness. Add the tomatoes / passata to the pan and stir the mixture through well, letting it simmer away nicely and reduce a little.

While you’re doing all this, cook your pasta. I cook mine in as big a pot as I can find, with a little olive oil, and intermittently with a pinch of salt. I’m not sure whether that makes any difference, but it feels right… so I go with it.

Once the pasta is almost al dente, take it out and drain it. Then add a little more tomato passata to the pan, add the olives, stir them through well, and then toss the pasta through. Give it a minute or so for the pasta to absorb a little of the sauce and soften up a bit until it’s just the texture you prefer, then serve it up.

Suddenly Saturday is starting to look a whole lot more productive :)

Adelaide – Day 4 : Barossa

a glass half there

Now to the final words on Adelaide, and what a time it was. This day sees us in that holy land of wine country… the Barossa valley. So often lauded as Australia’s greatest wine growing region, and I can now see why… Which is of course because everyone from the Barossa keeps telling you that so often, you eventually start to believe it :)

However, there is something about the Barossa and the people of the Barossa Valley area that is very unique. They are bound together in their love of food, wine, and the life gastronomic. Many times throughout the day of travelling through wineries, tasting delicious wines, did I hear stories about how people in the Barossa stick together. There was no bad mouthing of other wineries, and a helpful suggestion of other places in the area who we should definitely go and check out was often offered. Having been a fan of the tv show “The Cook and the Chef” for a while now, I’d been making stupid jokes about dropping in to have lunch with Maggie Beer (as well as how she can’t go 5 minutes without mentioning how much she loves the Barossa Valley), but I should probably have shut my mouth. Not only did I meet someone who sang in the local choir with her, but her daughter (who runs a catering company) was setting up for a cellar door managers dinner at one of our last stops of the day. It’s two degrees of separation in that neck of the woods. Cocky food bloggers beware, or there’ll be a Beer Lynching squad after you in no time… :)

So we whisked our way through Trevor Jones / Kellermeister wines, Charles Melton, Rockfords (managing to snag a tasting of the Basket Press Shiraz), Rolf Binder / Veritas (meeting Rolf the wine maker and purchasing a bottle of his Hanisch Shiraz), and finally Torbreck.

The lineup

My impression of the day and the wines can be summarised in one simple statement.

“Shiraz is not just shiraz”

The quality and depth of flavour from the different styles we tried was remarkably varied across all the wines we tried, which was barely a smattering of the wineries the Barossa has to offer. From spicey and peppery styles to smoother more fruit driven styles of the cooler Eden Valley, there really was something for everyone.

My only regret being that I didn’t have enough time or enough money to get all the wines I wanted. But with a few essentials under our belts (mainly the Charles Melton Nine Popes), it was a wonderful day. Very nearly surpassed by a great night to follow.

So following up on more website comments and suggestions, we’d given Melting Pot a call earlier in the day to try and get a reservation for Saturday night. Unfortunately they were completely booked that night, and so it looked like we were going to miss out. I figured I might try and put on my important / desperate voice for one last try though, and on calling back, found out there was a table for 2 available for that evening, Friday night. We booked it in, and hastily made our way back from the Barossa to be dropped ever so graciously by Serena (our chauffeur and future wine connoisseur) right out the front, and just in time.

Melting Pot

Melting Pot is hard to describe. I suppose you’d have to settle on Modern Australian (whatever that means) if you needed to find a label. The menu is centred around the degustation style that so many haute cuisine restaurants prefer these days, with matched wines for each course. We chose a 6 course tasting menu with wine, and a few extras thrown in for good measure.

Now while I’d love to write a glowing review about how every dish was a fantastic revelation of culinary amazement. The sad reality was that the majority of the courses were average at best, and just strange at worst. The popcorn quail in particular (which featured actual popcorn strewn across the plate, along with some “popcorn” quail pieces, reminiscent of KFC’s efforts at using up the left overs).

The wine matched with each course was mostly nice, though we’d been far too spoilt over the last three days of oenophilic
indulgence to get a lot of enjoyment out of run of the mill wines. Plus a day of tasting intense Shiraz had left my palate cleft of all love for subtle light wines that chefs like to serve with their dishes.

Still, by the end of the 4th course things were starting to pick up. The culmination of wines throughout the day and with each course started to work it’s magic, and as a light headed fuzzy feeling of mild intoxication came over me, everything started to taste a whole lot better.

By the end of the meal we were quite merry indeed, and can honestly say we enjoyed the experience. Though perhaps not as fully as I was hoping for.

The night still being young however, we decided to try our luck getting a taxi into the city and checking out the other “must go to” place on my list, Apothecary 1878.

Apothecary 1878

Now if you’re familiar with Adelaide, you’ll know all too well what Hindley Street is known for. It’s essentially the nightclub, late night, red light, anything goes district in the city centre. Bars, pubs, and clubs are full of people who have had too much to drink, and not enough clothes to wear.

So coming across a place like Apothecary, in the midst of the debauchery that is the rest of the street on a Friday night, was like a breath of fresh air. Walking in to what seemed like near silence, as the door closed behind us and our eyes adjusted to the subdued lighting and the relaxed mood that only truly cool places can so effortlessly attain.

The name comes from the fact that the place is fitted out to look like an 1800’s style chemist. All of the cabinets and bar had actually been bought and shipped over from the UK, so they do actually date back to 1878. No ikea style renovations for these guys.

The wine list was similarly impressive. Around 20 pages or so of every major style and region around the world. With plenty there to keep the wine geek in me flipping back and forth for a good 10 minutes before finally settling on something. If you live in Adelaide, you had better be making the most of this place, because it really deserves it.

Chorizo from Apothecary

But wait.. what’s that you said.. you serve food too ? Well, we have just had a 6 course meal with wine, and dessert… but what the hell, lets have a look. So after another couple of glasses of wine, some meatballs, chorizo, and olive tapas dishes, another chocolate pudding for Sharon, and a couple of glasses of sparkling wine, we concluded what was possibly the most gastronomically extravagant days of my life.

Before I could start thinking about whether it was possible or reasonable to have three dinners in one evening, fatigue start to set in. Still, it was a great day, and great night, and a wonderful trip all round to Adelaide, with some very memorable experiences with good wine, good food, and good friends.

Kara and Paul were married on Saturday to a wonderful reception. I didn’t cry once… but some dust may have got into my eye at one point. Anything is possible in Adelaide.