Breaking the drought

Hey folks,

It’s been a while… Any by a while I mean probably a year or so. Of course if you’re following me on twitter or Facebook you’ll realise that I haven’t exactly disappeared from the online world, but it seems every time I venture to this website I end up half writing something, deleting spam, editing photos, updating plugins, and then never actually publishing anything.

Now that’s pretty common in the blogging world, but given that I am organising a national food bloggers conference this coming weekend called Eat Drink Blog you’d really think I should be doing better at actually blogging myself.

So this is really just a quick note to say I’m alive and well, and in case you missed it, which is likely because I didn’t put it up here, I am now proud father to a bouncing baby boy Harold, who is 9 months old and going on strong. I’ve got lots of things to catch up on, which lets be honest, probably won’t happen… but Abstract Gourmet is still alive and well and as opinionated as ever, if somewhat sleep deprived occasionally.

2010 The year that was


So a lot has happened in the past year, and as usual I’ve been too busy living life to actually document it all.

It’s been a year of love, a year of work, a year of food, a year of wine, and one that
will probably change the shape of my life for a long time to come.

I’ve been working hard (kind of) making websites for other people, trying to improve my photography with a new camera,
writing for the excellent SPICE Magazine, and hopefully picking up some very exciting new writing
opportunities in the new year.

I’ve been honoured to attend dinners and weddings with some very special people, and have eaten and drunk
and laughed with a group of wonderful friends more times than I can remember.

You may also have seen a certain Latin influence creep into some of my posts and photography throughout the year,
and if you were paying very careful attention, you might have found out that in July I got married to the most amazing
woman I’ve ever met. My beautiful wife now shares my kitchen and we are very proud to bring a taste of her homeland
(Colombia) to the food loving community of Perth. We started at Mondo Markets with her delicious empanadas
this year and hope to continue it next year in a few different guises.

The face of Perth has also changed this year, with so many great new venues and bars opening, it’s so great to be able to watch
a city evolve in front of your eyes.

So here are some photos to mark the passage of time and reflect on an amazing year, and perhaps promise to try and write to you more next year :) Anythings possible…

Sudado de polloMi ChicaFrutasEnsalada de frutascon quesoEnsalada de frutas con quesoBBQ'ing in the dark**Making Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con HuevoMaking Arepa con Huevo20100404-IMG_2409****************************************.....Colombian EmpanadasEmpanada pressingEmpanada dough ready to be rolled.Scrambled.Arepa con huevosTinto en la manana.Sopa de arroz con albondigas y aguacateSudado de pescadoArroz con cocoIMG_9510OystersTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesTamalesBirthday breakfastBirthday breakfastHearts in my fruitBirthday poached eggA mini Happy BirthdayBirthday cake numer 2Sopa de frijole y aguacateMondo MarketsColombian Empanadas & GuacamoleMondo MarketsEmpanadas about to be friedHalf a Colombian EmpanadaMondo MarketsArepa de chocloArepa de chocloCarnitas - Slow cooked shredded porkCarnitas - Slow cooked shredded porkArepa de chocloMondo MarketsMondo MarketsMondo MarketsMondo MarketsMondo MarketsTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaTeam EmpanadaEmpanada + MojitoScallop Ceviche with mangoArepa con queso, avocado, steak, shredded cucumber

And as a bonus added extra, here’s a video of most of my photos to date, compiled into a video:

A little (big) news

I don’t necessary use this site as an online diary. I’d best describe it as a small window into the kitchens and dining rooms of my life. It does invariably say a lot more about myself than I think, but then other times can be suspiciously vague. This hasn’t really been by design, it’s just that most of the interesting things that happen to me do so when I have a knife and fork in my hand. But then ever so often, something does come along that is both non-food related and noteworthy. So i thought it best to let the long time readers know about a little piece of personal news that’s happened recently.

That being, the dreamy looking young lady you in see in the photo above you has said she’ll marry me.

Queue the marching band and put the champagne on ice :)


Not so Tiny Bites


The world of blogging is indeed a marvellously serendipitous place. I am constantly amazed by the number of interesting and special people I come across, and am privileged to be able to get to know. The virtual links I’ve established over the years have not only taught me a lot about the way other people live, and eat, but they’ve also made me firm friends around the globe.

One such friend is Karen of Tiny Bites. Back when I met Karen she was a food crazy, salsa dancing, photo snapping, Vancouverite. Merrily uploading her photos to Flickr, blogging about food and life and translating Spanish salsa songs into English.

Every time I’d talk to Karen the subject of food, wine, and restaurants would inevitably arise. We’d discuss the reasons why dining in Vancouver is better than dining in Perth (many) and the reasons why Australian wine (Shiraz especially) is better than BC wine (also many :) ) Seeing all of this effort though, it seemed to me that Karen would be an ideal candidate to start up her own food blog, where she could properly explore and have her own place for all her food thoughts and ideas.

So with a little prompting from myself and a few others, Tiny Bites was born, and Karen has yet to look back. It’s been a year now since she started it, and has just launched a new version of her site, where her popularity and success has led her to move into food consulting full time. She now photographs, writes, and develops web sites for Vancouver restaurants and businesses. She’s been heard on radio, written about in news papers, and surely television appearances can’t be far off :)

So this is just a little note to say, well done Karen, I always knew you had it in you, and I will never miss your birthday :)


So yes… I’m back. Three weeks, three countries, and three thousand odd photos to process… Photos will soon start to arrive and posts I guess will come along with it. Funny that in such a short time so much can happen.

I feel a little light headed at the moment, which could either be because of jet lag, or the cold I picked up the day before I left, or the cold and flu drugs I’ve been taking to get rid of it. But rest assured as that soon as the world starts making sense again I’ll be pouring my meagre thoughts out and hope you’re all around to read it.

Apologies in advance if I ramble, and flood the screen with lots of boring photos… but this is my catharsis for readjusting to life in the real world that is Perth.

Spring Cleaning


I hate cleaning. I hate pretty much everything to do with cleaning, aside from the fact that at the end of the process, things are less dirty than they were at the beginning.

I’ve been running this blog for the past 3 years now… Without so much as a birthday or a blogiversary, or whatever the hell else people do to make a bit of fanfare. So I figured that with the changing of seasons, both climatically and philosophically, now was a good a time as any for a new coat of paint, and a bit of a polish.

So here it is. With very little mess and only a smidgen of fuss, my stirling graphic designer put together a new look and feel that I think captures the essence of the old one, but pulls it all together just that bit more. Veering scarily close to some kind of coherency of style that only my laconic wit and haphazard use of punctuation… will be able to keep in check ?

The new me

There’s still a bit of work going on behind the scenes and a few more changes to make, but I hope you can bear with me and that you enjoy the new style. A special thanks goes to Teresa, for putting together a lovely, simple, and ultimately very me new design.

Of course if you have any issues with it please let me know, but otherwise look forward to same level of lazy postings and slanderous reviewing as per normal :)

Mundaring Truffle Festival

Manjimup Black Truffle Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders

Truffles… those precious little nuggets of earthy goodness that are fought over by pigs, dogs, and gourmet food lovers. There is nothing quite so revered in the world of haute cuisine as this ruddy little gem, though apparently only 0.05% of the entire population of Australia has ever tried one.

Making some effort at remedying that fact, is the Mundaring Truffle Festival, held in (wait for it) Mundaring (up in the hills of Perth). This was the 3rd year the Mundaring Truffle Festival has been held, and my first visit to the hills in a long while, to partake in the spectacle that only the truffle can create.

The festival was initially the brainchild of Alain Fabregues, French chef extraordinaire and owner of the renowned Loose Box restaurant who is as creative as he is entrepreneurial. He was a part of introducing truffles to Western Australia, and has been a very strong advocate for WA to become as famous for truffles as it has for wine.

My day started with a master class by none other than that orchestrator of all things magical in Melbourne, Mr Shannon Bennett. Head chef of Vue de Monde, and also restaurants in the Sultanate of Oman, and soon Singapore (in case you didn’t know, which I didn’t either). Shannon had been invited over last year to share his love of truffle and its preparations with us lowly mortals, and was back again this year for more of the same.

The whole event was sponsored by lots of umm, sponsors. They plied us with wine at 10:30 in the morning and gave us lovely brochures to look at while we waited for the show to begin.

Shannon strolled out looking like he’d had a hard night. Or perhaps a hard life. Most likely both. I’m not sure what it is about him, but the man does not look healthy. I think he’s developing a serious hunch from bending over too many pans of simmering sauces.

I do however, like his food. His commitment to absolute excellence in everything he does, and his ability to pronounce French words without putting on a ridiculous Franglais accent (Something Toby Puttock would be wise to take note of).

Shannon Bennett shaves truffles

So the dishes he prepared, were a mushroom consomme infused with truffle, fennel, more mushroom, onion, and a few other things. It was infused using the Cona coffee maker vacuum method that he’s fond of in the restaurant. It was served with a truffled pastry twist and a young Riesling.

He then followed it up with perhaps the fanciest egg on toast I will ever consume. A cep (mushroom) puree infused with truffles, laid at the bottom of a carefully cut egg shell. With a ‘confit’ egg yolk on top, that he made by very gently heating a single egg yolk in warm oil for a few minutes til it went gelatinous. To dip, nothing less than truffled soldiers. And not skimping on the truffles either. Thick pieces of bread rolled in egg and copious amounts of truffle and then fried. I may have died a little on the inside after that one. Knowing it will be a few and far between experience.

Afterwards Shannon hang around for a bit to sign his book, and after a quick handshake and a ‘yeh good onya’, I was on my way back to the main arena.

Next on the agenda was the Slow Food ‘Down the road’ lunch. I’m still not sure why it was called ‘Down the road’… as It was way up the road from where I came from. But that was all rather inconsequential in the end. [Edit: Jamie says it was called Down the road because all the produce for the lunch was sourced locally]

The chef for the day was once again Vincenzo Velletri. Master of more rustic Italian dishes that I know exist, and one of Slow Food Perth’s previous ambassadors to Terra Madre. On the menu was a list of simple dishes which have had the added lift that only fresh truffles can give.

We started with a trio of bruschetta with truffled toppings. A truffled pate, truffled mushrooms, and tomato and onion… with truffle (I think).

We then moved on to a wonderful truffle polenta. Dutifully stirred by Slow Food Perth co-leader Jamie Kronborg to a wonderful creamy consistency. Over the top was a lamb spezzatino (stew) with truffle sauce and (wait for it) fresh shavings of truffle.

So much truffle… it was enough to drive a man to drink. As our cunning aged wine loving companion
helped himself to a specially smuggled in treat, we grabbed a bottle of Myattsfield Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my favourite wineries in the Perth Hills district and makers of some fine drops.

* a delicious downfall

To complete the meal, it was that old classic, in all it’s wobbly glory, the vanilla bean pannacotta.
This incarnation was sitting atop a truffled syrup and ordained with a single perfect slice of shaved truffle on top. This was probably my favourite dish of the entire day.

The subtle earthy pungency of the truffle and the sweetness of the pannacotta melding into a wonderful array of flavours right across my palate, which If I close my eyes and tilt my head to the side in an oddly reflective way, I can still taste.

Which until next years season comes around again, is exactly what I may have to.