Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

May I say that Perth has become a go-to destination in recent years? I'm hoping it's not an age thing because i used to think that Perth is damn boring! Anyway while researching on where to go on a long weekend, i discovered that Perth has quite a lot to offer!
If you're the active/nature sort, you could go hiking, explore caves, surfing, diving, swim with dolphins, cycling, hunt down quokkas (which are the happiest animals on our planet) etc. If you're a foodie, there's lots of fresh produce and great food, and coffee, and WINE (hello Margaret River and Swan Valley).
After doing some serious research, we realized that a 5 days 4 nights trip isn't sufficient to explore Perth quite thoroughly. :( Nevertheless, the following itinerary would give you a flavor of Perth. 
Day 1- Fremantle, Cottlesloe
I'm glad we chose to base ourselves in Fremantle because FOOOOODDD! Well there's the Fremantle Market where you can get fresh produce and also plenty of ready to eat bites. The market is only open on Friday to Sunday so make sure you visit at the right time!
We caught the full glory of the market when we came back from Margaret River and we weren't disappointed by the selection of food. Just look at this monstrous burger! It was too filling even for 2 of us.
There are also a couple of noteworthy cafes like Ootong and Lincoln (we kept going back because it's one of the rare places open over Easter weekend and coffee was good too), Roasting Warehouse/ Port City Roasters, Moore & Moore Cafe. There are more cafes to check out in the Perth CBD but the city was dead over the holidays. You would have better luck than me if you are there some other time.
Make sure you check out Ootong and Lincoln's Potato Cake ($21.50) with semi wilted spinach, hollandaise, 2 poached eggs. We went for the mushroom option which was very hearty. Their quiches and cakes are great too (don't miss their carrot cake)!
For dinner, head to the Fremantle Harbor for (not Cicerello's fish & chips) but Little Creatures Brewing for some really awesome craft beers and food, like this incredibly juice streak sandwich with jammy onions. Their freshly baked wood-fired pizzas were also flying off the oven and by the looks of it, they must be really delicious. Don't miss the grilled octopus too!
Enough of food for a bit, we also had a fun time at the Fremantle Prison Tour, which brought us around the compounds. Depending on your comfort level, you could check out the solitary cell (where prisoners spend their days in pitch-darkness), as well as the gallows. 
Depressing hur. There’s some beautiful art in the cells and the church/chapel is really serene.
We also found time to drive up to Cottesloe beach. There isn't much to do there except to sunbathe/surf, neither of which are activities we'd wanna do in winter though we did see some hardcore kite-surfers. 
Day 2- Rottnest Island AM, Margaret River (PM)
One of the must-do on our itinerary was to visit the quokkas on Rottnest Island. Purchase your ferry tickets online as they sell out for the popular timings. We took the earliest ferry out on Rottnest Express because we were planning to continue our trip to Margaret River after. The ferry departs from B Shed Victoria Quay, Fremantle. For all day parking, head there early and look for the long term parking near C and D sheds. They cost AUS$10/day. The parking at E shed is limited to 3h only and that is definitely insufficient for a trip to Rottnest.  
First thing to do is to rent a bike to explore the island. The bike rental includes helmet and bicycle lock. You could also rent snorkels from them! Fret not if you are looking for a more relaxing way to check out Rottnest. There are also buses and segways, as well as guided walking tours if you do not want to head out too far. 
If you are going for the bike option, be prepared for a workout and dress for it. I obviously thought that it was gonna be an easy cycle but no. There are many hills and no shelters/food along the way, just toilet sheds and open benches at the lookout points. Make sure you have sufficient water and sunscreen. Pardon the ridiculous outfit, the jacket was to protect me from the sun. 
We made our own wraps and carried other snacks in our bags! These are essential! Unless you are fine with having a late lunch back at the main bus station. I certainly don't recommend that. Plus i don't think the food options are great. 
Also, don't expect to see quokkas everywhere! It took us forever before we spotted any and then we had to crawl on all fours in order to get a proper wefie with them. But yea, definitely quite a fun experience but tiring experience! We had to cycle non-stop (there were short breaks), and only managed a short stop at one of the beaches. There are some shower facilities at the main bus stop but don't expect anything fantastic. We just about made it in time for the 2.10pm ferry back to Fremantle. If you are staying in the city still, you could take the 4+pm ferry instead. I wouldn't recommend staying on the island as there is really nothing much to do.  
Then it was a long drive to Margaret River and we made it in time for a relaxing dinner before exploring the wineries the next day. 

Day 3 Margaret River
Margaret River is definitely worth the 4h drive out of Perth city if it's your first trip. The wines are great, and so is the food. Make sure you do a wine lunch/dinner at one of the vineyards. I'll do another post on the Margaret River wineries next. If you are hard-pressed for time, Swan Valley is a good replacement. 
If you are in Margaret River on a Saturday, definitely head to the Farmers' Market for the local produce, fresh bakes and confectioneries. Don't miss the granola parfait! 
Take a break from drinking with a visit to one of the caves in the area- Ngilgi, Lake Cave, or Jewel Cave. We also took a drive around Boranup Forest. Visit Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse if you have time for the drive down south. There are also accommodation options in this area. 

Day 4- Margaret River AM, Busselton Jetty stop, Fremantle Market PM
We left MR but not before grabbing some delicious breakfast. Aussie breakfasts FTW!
We also stopped by Busselton Jetty on the way back. There's nothing much here actually unless you managed to get a ticket to the aquarium at the end of the jetty (we didn't).
Still, it's a nice stop just to stretch your legs from the drive. Another stop would be Bunbury or Mandurah where you could grab a mid day bite.  
We headed back to Fremantle for the evening and it was bustling with performances. Definitely hang out here!

Fremantle Day 5- Rockingham Island, Perth CBD
We decided to head out to Rockingham Island on the last day as there was no life in the city at all. I really wanted to check out the cafes but oh wells, I settled for little penguins instead. 
We were hoping to see the penguins on the island but we did not spot any (they were all out fishing for food). If you have more time, i think Mandurah would be a better option as you can go watch/swim with the dolphins.
Hope this itinerary provides you with some ideas on what to do in Perth! I certainly wouldn't mind heading back again. :)
Till the next one. 

Moving away from its previous tapas concept under Michelin starred Chef Carles Gaig, La Ventana at Dempsey Hill has rebranded itself as an equally star-studded fine dining Spanish restaurant, serving dishes by their new Espanol chef-consultants Chef Roberto Terradillos (El Serbal restaurant in Santander) and Toni González (El Nuevo Molino, Puente Arce, Santander). 
No tapas? Well, the owners feel that the market is ready for Spanish fine dining and we couldn't agree more. I've been mourning the closure of Santi since 2012 and there hasn't been anyone to break me out of that depression.  
Over at La Ventana, while they have done away with the tapas sharing concept, they do still have Spanish classics like Jamon y Pan con tomate, croquettes, calamari, and a couple of paellas. However these are presented fine dining style. Their 4-course lunch is rightly priced at $50/pax while tasting menus start from $108/pax.
We sampled a few items, some of which are on the tasting menus. A cold Carabinero Prawn Salmorejo Soup ($19) brought me back to that rainy night in a hole-in-the-wall Madrid tapas bar. La Ventana's tomato soup is a lot punchier with a distinct raw onion bite to it, which could have been better toned down. The spiciness was reduced by the refreshing cubes of watermelon, a slice of olive and a random grape. I thought the prawn was going to be the surprising element to this classic dish but it only played a decorative purpose. 
The disappointment was forgotten when the Octopus with wasabi mayonnaise and tapioca balls ($28) arrived. The tentacle was so tender and i could remove the suckers with the push of my fork. The flavor of the octopus was amazing but it got a little tired as it was all the flavor you'd get on this plate. The tapioca balls (or sago/pearls) are also cooked in the octopus jus. There was hardly a hint of wasabi to cut through the briny seafood, which was a waste because the touch of spice could have elevated this dish. 
Next, the Tuna Belly with Peppers Broth & Toasted Garlic Parmantier ($51). Note that this is only a tasting portion and i'm sure you'd get a bigger slab for $51.

Just look at that gorgeous piece of marbled tuna belly! This is exactly like a piece of aburi chutoro and the creamy meat simply melted in our mouths. If you want to enjoy the natural flavors of the meat, i'd suggest you not smear any of the garlic potato mash on the fish as it would completely overwhelm it. 
The one dish that was the most balanced is the Iberian Presa Charcoal-Fried, Carrot & Toasted Coffee ($44). Now it may look really meh and possibly dry, but an easy cut reveals a lovely juicy pink under the charcoal crust (made of ground squid ink puffed rice). Best fried pork cutlet I've eaten in my life. I can't quite describe the marinate except that it tastes a little Asian (it reminded me of five-spices but not quite). The salty sweet pork was complemented with a smoky caffeine coated carrot which had a lovely cocoa bitterness. Definitely a must have at La Veneta.

If this doesn't satisfy you, we heard that the Crispy Suckling Pig with Passion Fruit ($39) is also worth a try! For carbs, you can't go wrong with the Lobster Paella Carnaroli Rice with Whole Maine Lobster ($78)
We must have our sweet ending but we don't like it cloying. La Ventana's Carajillo ($18) sweetness comes from the hot brandy-espresso. The brandy brought out the sweetness in the plated dessert made using the same ingredients. Boys would like this one. 
I preferred the Cheese Ice-cream, White Chocolate Cream, Quince & Honey ($17). Pretty sure this is a better cheese dessert than Cheese tea from you know where. There's a light saltiness from the use of parmesan in the ice cream and it is perfect with the buttery crumble. 
We enjoyed our meal at La Ventana even though some tweaks could be done to bring the dishes to the next level. The wines are pretty good too- we had the 2010 Bodegas Julian Chivite Navarra Coleccion 125 Blanco and the 2011 Contino Rioja Graciano Variedad, both recommended by their sommelier. Make sure you get him to recommend you something.

La Ventana
16A Dempsey Road, #01-01 Singapore 247695
Has it been half a year since i last visited Wildseed Cafe at The Summerhouse?! Well so much has changed and we hear that Wildseed Cafe no longer does those yummy sandwiches. :( There's no fretting though! The Summerhouse has just launched their new weekday lunch and weekend brunch menu and you will be spoilt for choice! The weekend brunch menu is the more extensive one, and you'll get some of the more filling dishes on the weekday lunch menu. 
For starters, i absolutely adored the Burrata Rocket Salad ($20) which has a meaty flavor to it despite it being vegetarian. I love every component on this salad- the creamy burrata, meaty rocket pesto, citrusy dog fennel, umami marinated tomatoes and crunchy toasted sourdough. If you're gunning for a healthier brunch/lunch, this could be your main course. 
What's better than sweet potato fries? Presenting the Yellow ($14), which is a dish of crunchy Mimolette-cheese-covered sweet potato cubes topped with an earl grey and passion fruit vinaigrette, mustard puree, and pickled pumpkin and carrots. This dish is definitely more savoury than sweet and we found the pickled sides rather refreshing. 
WARNING. Do not mistaken The Summerhouse's Eggs Benedict Modernist ($22) to be a traditional full-size breakfast plate because it is clearly under the starters portion. Instead, Chef presents an innovative egg dish with various textures of egg with Black Forest Ham, and a unique chive hollandaise. On this plate, there's an interesting bacon infused egg white custard with an amazing panna cotta texture; breaded and fried egg yolks, and a runny sous vide egg. I would love for something sharper to cut through all that egg though.
Now i'm gonna skip to 'Desserts' because that's where they placed the ah-mazing French Toast ($14). I obviously have no issues having something sweet for breakfast, especially if it is this pretty. The fluffy brioche is soaked in egg with cinnamon and brown sugar before being pan-fried for that nice caramel crust. Chef serves this with seasonal fruits, zingy raspberry-yuzu sorbet and raspberry tuille. I thought that the use of vanilla bean custard was ingenious- it's not as heavy as ice cream, but it was smooth enough to provide the same mouthfeel while harmonizing the tartness of the sorbet.

Another dessert i may take for breakfast would be the Natural Yoghurt with Grilled Pumpkin Ice Cream, served with granola and local cinnamon, and local honey. I mean, it's essentially a granola bowl no? 
My other favorite brunch dish is the Pulled Pork Scrambled Eggs Burger ($19). YOU CANNOT MISS THIS FOR YOUR LIFE. I will leave nothing on the plate, not even the burger bun because it's filled with bacon and cream cheese with sambal mayo!
The bun is fried and then sliced to sandwich a juicy and tangy pulled pork made from pork collar, creamy scrambled eggs, avocado, Mimolette cheese, and more greens. This may possibly be the best burger of 2017. Really.
For heartier lunch/brunch options, there's the Miso Shiitake Linguine ($22) with 3 grilled prawns (+$8). If you would like a less heavy carbonara, this would be it. The fried ebi sakura was very much bacon-like, which i thought was missing the umami seafood flavor. It's possible to have this as a vegetarian option if you tell the kitchen to hold the ebi. 

If you, like i do, miss the falafel sandwich previously served at Wildseed Cafe, there's the Falafel Platter ($14/24) which uses pretty much the same ingredients in the sandwich! Think generous serving of the crusty herbal falafel, feta cheese, eggplant ragout, sautéed pak choy, butterhead lettuce, rocket pesto and yoghurt sauce. 

Other items available for lunch includes a Wagyu beef burger made with wagyu beef MS8 patty, and a grilled chicken thigh with smoked rice (Summerhouse's take on the local chicken rice). 
Sweet endings begin proper with the Balinese chocolate ice cream ($12) which cannot be missed as well. A freshly baked crunchy but gooey hazelnut cookie is topped with the smooth vanilla bean custard, chocolate ice cream made from Bali-grown Valrhona cocoa and a dehydrated hazelnut praline powder. If i may add, this dessert provides the same comfort you'd derive from a glass of rich chocolate milk. 
Loving the new brunch and lunch menu at The Summerhouse Dining Room. We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Bliss Family Vineyards Chardonnay from their cute little wine cellar. The stock of wine comes from the 1 Group's suppliers and you could purchase a bottle to enjoy it at the restaurant or at home.

3 Park Lane Singapore 798387
Tel: +65 8608 3340
Mon – Thu: 12 – 3pm
Fri, Weekends & PH: 12 – 3pm, 6 - 10pm 
It was a throwback to my gorgeous Greece holiday (read more about my itinerary here) when i stepped into the natural light-filled breezy space that is the newly opened Bakalaki Greek Tavern at Tiong Bahru. We heard that Bakalaki's kitchen is run by Greek Chef Spiros Palaiologos (formerly of Blu Kouzina) and they use traditional ingredients are sourced from Greek suppliers. A range of Greek wines and other specialty products like extra-virgin olive oil are also available here.

We started with a bottle of Avaton – Gerovassiliou ($86.90), a dry full-bodied red which consists 3 Greek red varieties. The wine held up well with the accompanying rich meats that we ordered. For starters, we had the Spanakopita (2pcs for $15.90), a Greek filo pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese, leeks and dill. We enjoyed the refreshing aromatics used in the filling though the dill was a tad overwhelming. 

We made it a point to not over-order and so the eggplant dip Melitzanosalata Agioritiki ($14.90) was forgone. I trust that the smoky spread with red peppers would go so well on the pita (which we also did not order, because carbs).
Moussaka ($25.90) it was for us because it's one of the defining dishes in Greek cuisine (at least for me). I ordered this at every opportunity i could when i was in Greece and i had the best one in Delphi (Epikouros Tavern). Bakalaki's version was a huge disappointment due to the overwhelming curdy béchamel sauce. There was hardly much of the tart tomato minced beef sauce to cut through the richness. The star of the dish should be the eggplant but i could hardly taste it. Skip the Moussaka and go for the crowd favorite grilled octopus Htapodi ($32.90) instead.
After a recent refurbishment, Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant at Holiday Inn® Singapore Atrium welcomes new Executive Chinese Chef Chan Shun Wong and his new dishes. I was hoping that the dining experience would be better than that forgettable Chinese New Year meal i had earlier in the year and I was not disappointed.
Dinner started with Xin's Signature Home-style Roast Duck with Tea Leaves ($32 half duck/ $58 whole duck). The mouth-watering perfume of the duck reached us before we saw the glistening bird. I can still hear the crackling of the skin as Chef was carving the meat for us. I expected the tea flavor in the tender meat to be pronounced but it wasn't as the the tea leaves were used in the smoking process prior to roasting. We also had stir-fried assorted mushrooms with white truffle oil ($10/portion) to accompany the duck and it brought out the earthy smoky flavors. 
I thought the Poached Clams Xin Cuisine style ($22/ $33/ $42) was cooked with the duck bones a la Peking Duck dining format as the soup tasted very meaty (like salted duck soup). However, there was none! We concluded that our taste buds could have been deceived by the preserved vegetables, ginger and Chinese wine, which are also typically used in a salted duck soup. The broth was tasty but overpowered the light sweetness of the juicy clams (if that's what you're looking to taste in this dish).
I enjoyed Chef's version of the typical deep fried prawns with <insert fruit/veg/egg> mayonnaise. Xin's cuisine serve their lightly battered and succulent prawns with a light and refreshing yuzu mayonnaise that isn't too rich in texture ($10 per pax/ $26/ $39/ $50). I thought the cornflakes were going to be part of the batter but turns out they were just purposeless sprinkles on the side.
Ask me where to get the best scones and Regent Singapore will be rattled off the top of my head. There may be a lot of other great scones but my goldfish memory only retains the most memorable ones, and I can never forget the light fluffy texture of their scone paired with buttery clotted cream and lemon curd. Thankfully the renovation at Tea Lounge at Regent Singapore did not take too long and you can now enjoy their lovely afternoon tea in a more contemporary colonial garden setting. 
Interactive and theatrical elements have also been added to Tea Lounge's repertoire of delightful bites for their Weekday Three-tier Afternoon Tea. A table-side trolley service provides hand-brewed coffee and special tea blends, brewed to perfection at their optimum timing and temperature; while award-winning Pastry Chef Alex Chong and his team conjure some sweet dreams for the dessert course you pick from the menu. 
First things first, the scones! I knew something was different when i bit into them and i confirmed that the recipe had been tweaked to produce a slightly denser scone that doesn't break apart so easily. I can't tell it i liked it better than the previous version, but i did enjoy it very much. The scone has a nice crunchy crust all around but still retained a moist center. Of course, it was perfect with the Devonshire clotted cream and smooth-like-butter and not-too-sweet lemon curd. There's also a house-made strawberry preserve that's served but i'm simply not a jam person. 
We were also huge fans of the seasonal quiches, which were the best savory items on the tiers. That amazing snappy buttery shortcrust held the moist egg custard with heirloom summer tomato and cherry wood-smoked ham. 
The rest of the petite savory bites sounded fancy with their extravagant ingredients but failed to deliver. The best of the lot was the sweet Alaskan king crab wrapped in watercress crepe, and the smoked Norwegian salmon with caviar on beetroot loaf. The open-faced Wagyu Beef and Lancashire cheese with Périgord black truffle sandwich was dry and bland; and the Duck Breast and Lavender infused Foie Gras Terrine on tart had a slight gamey flavor to it. Needless to say, i could not be bothered with an egg sandwich as it affords no satisfaction at all.