Saturday, February 19, 2011

Voyage Kitchen & Delicatessen

As much as us Perthies whinge about small our city is, the time difference of the Eastern states office hours, the lack of nightlife and the rising cost of milk; we are damn lucky to live here. We have become so accustomed to pristine beaches, blue-skied summer days and our laid back way of life that all we can do is complain about how hot it is when the sun is shining.

Last week when I drove up to Sorrento to visit a good friend of mine, and she took me to Voyage Kitchen & Delicatessen for breakfast. And while I sat there tucking into some freshly cooked pancakes with her, looking out onto the Indian Ocean, with the salty sea breeze in my hair and the sun on my skin, I finally realized just how much I love Perth. 

Voyage is a little place on West Coast Highway which does breakfast, lunch and coffee, and apparently, does it very well indeed. It won the Lifestyle Channel's "I  ♥ Food" Award in the Café category in 2009 and 2010, as well as equal 1st place in delicious. magazine's café awards in WA. It's also been featured in various articles over the years in the West Australian by way of favorable reviews and barista articles. 

According to their website (which features a droolworthy photo gallery), almost everything at Voyage from their sauces to the pastry in their savoury tarts is hand made from scratch (apart from the bread). The menu is rather multicultural and includes quesadillas from Mexico, banana cream pies from the US and plenty of Mediterranean flavours. What I love about this place is there's a big emphasis on natural, organic and free range produce. I like to think of it as food with no make-up on.


The interior design of Voyage is relaxed and simple - which is great, because it means that the food doesn't have to fight for the attention it deserves. There's little jars and boxes of gourmet tea, coffee and jams on display on the walls. Next to the front counter is a large glass cabinet full of colourful wraps and toasties, a range of cakes (all baked on premises) and more.

Being a beachside venue, far away from any shopping centres, and a good 7 or 8 freeway exits away from the city, there was not a office worker in sight: just a bunch of laid back West Aussies having a nice relaxing weekday morning at their local café. It was so refreshing to just be in a place where nobody seemed stressed or in a hurry to get to work. No mobile phones constantly going off, no hustle and bustle, no pretentious yuppies - just genuine smiles, flat whites and no worries.


I've always wondered by Eggs Benedict is called Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine is called Eggs Florentine. I always thought they were just named after some kind of royal couple that could never agree on how to have their eggs, and so immortalized their quarrel in their respective dishes. But there are oodles of variations! So perhaps Benedict and Florentine were polygamous:

  • Eggs Blackstone - substitutes ham with streaky bacon and adds a tomato slice
  • Eggs Montreal - substitutes ham with smoked salmon
  • Eggs Neptune - substitutes ham with crabmeat (dying to try this)
  • Eggs Hussarde - substitues Holland rusks for the English muffin and adds marchand de vin sauce
  • Eggs Sardou - substitutes artichoke bottoms for the English Muffin and achovy fillets for the ham, with an added truffle slice
  • Eggs Beauregard - biscuit filled with sausage patty, country gravy and fried eggs
  • Irish Benedict - replaces ham with corned beef

When Amanda's Eggs Benedict ($16.5) was served, it became very clear why Eggs Benedict will always be the classic version. There's something so luxuriously rich, yet so perfectly balanced about the combination. Whilst eating it, you're extremely conscious of the fact that a bajillion calories are coursing through your veins and straight to your thighs (hollandaise sauce is essentially eggs yolks and butter), but at the same time, it simply tastes too good for you to care. 

Everybody knows that free range egg yolks taste better than caged eggs, and those deep orange, softly poached yolks with Karri smoked free range ham on an organic, crusty muffin was just heavenly. If you ever go to this place, I beg of you: do it. Order this damn dish. 

The waitstaff actually made a mistake and brought out another whole plate of Eggs Florentine to our table which we hadn't ordered. It took a good five minutes and every shred of decency in my body to tell them it was someone else's and to take it back to the kitchen.

I ordered the Grilled Peach Pancakes ($16) with 'orange water and vanilla marscapone, toasted macadamia praline and maple syrup'. I've never had macadamia praline. In fact, I don't think I've had macadamias in anything except Cadbury chocolate or on their own. But it was what made this dish such a delight - intensely sweet, crunchy, shatter-in your mouth toffee with the toasted, buttery macadamias, some crushed and some whole. And sweet marscapone cheese on any kind of breakfast never fails to please. Pancakes were cooked exactly how I like them: thick, dense, fluffy, dark on the outside and fairly firm. There was nothing I didn't like about this dish.

And is it just me, or does cooked fruit taste amazing on just about anything!?

Summer is over in a month or so, so grab your boyfriend, girlfriend, manfriend or bestfriend and take them on a little trip up to this place for brekky before uni hits. I guarantee he/she and you will love it. The drive up the coast is delicious enough as it is. 

I was dreading spending an entire summer vacation in Perth to work in retail, saving up for my big trip at the end of this year, while just about every single one of my other friends and family were off traveling the world. 'Stranded' as in: 'stranded on this miserable Godforsaken island in the middle of nowhere' would have been a suitable word for the feeling. But over the last few months as I've been forced to find things to do, places to go and things to see, and I just gotta say: Perth has really grown on me.

P.S: National Eggs Benedict Day in America is on the 16th of April every year. Make sure you mark this splendid celebration in your calendar. 

Voyage Kitchen & Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Eat Greek

A Mediterranean buffet lunch,

on an absolutely beautiful Sunday afternoon,

on the waterfront in East Fremantle,
  at Eat Greek Restaurant,

 ... free of charge.

I love my life.

As a happy-go-lucky 18 year old girl with her head in the clouds, I am incredibly ignorant when it comes to many, many things. But with things like international affairs, I am particularly bad - I walked into the restaurant for the belated Christmas Party around midday and waited with my co-workers for everybody to arrive. But I sat there for half an hour wondering why on earth this Greek place was so crazy about the colour blue... 


Eat Greek would be the perfect place for a big family do. Heaps of space inside the restaurant for the kiddies to run around, for mingling, and lots of long tables for big functions. There was a large table holding a baby shower next to ours, who came with blue balloons, blue dresses and ties, and the cutest little biscuits in the shape of baby footprints covered with baby blue icing! I was dying to take pictures but I was sitting next to my boss, and didn't want to make him think that I was some kind of crazy food blogger or something.

The view was delicious: surrounded by ceiling to floor windows overlooking a little boat harbour, and the whole place was flooded with summer sunlight.

As for other visuals, I don't think I have ever been to a restaurant with so many waitresses! And although this may seem like a strange observation, I swear all of them had passed a rigorous screening process to get the job, the requirements being: female, tall, skinny, blonde or brunette, young and pretty. Being served here was like being waited on by an army of Barbie dolls - but without the vapid expressions, and with excellent customer service skills. Orders were taken quickly, empty plates and glasses were taken away promptly, and any requests were answered with a polite answer and a smile. Lovely.



If I had to choose one word to describe the buffet, I'd probably choose fresh. The selections were never less than half full because the cooks were constantly coming out to replace them. The food wasn't too dressed up or seasoned to high heaven: the salad tasted like salad, the chicken tasted like chicken and the chili mussels tasted like chili mussels. Just real food, simply cooked.

Following my standard protocol for eating at a buffet, I took a tiny spoonful of as many different things as I could, and slowly hovered back to my table with my plate, rainbow-coloured, piled-high. I love surprises, so I tried to pick as many things as I could that I couldn't pronounce. Here were a few:

Taramosalata: (The pale pink one in the corner) A Greek and Turkish dip made with taramas, which is salted and cured carp roe, mixed in with breadcrumbs or mashed potato, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar. Served with a flat kind of turkish bread, I went to grab a mouthful thinking it was strawberry flavoured. I'm told my facial expression was pretty classic.

Soutzoukakia: (Below, bottom right) Greek ground meatballs, lightly fried then cooked in a wine-sweetened tomato sauce. These were great! Make sure you grab a few of these if you ever go. These'd be great for canapes. Mmmm.


Pastitso: A baked dish of tubed pasta, meat sauce and béchamel sauce or custard. Named after Italian pasticcio, large family pies of pasta and ragù. I must say it looked pretty ordinary next to the other greek nibblies but it was oh so satisfying! I'll be making this in winter as comfort food. I didn't get a photo though. Ate it too fast.

Moussaka: A baked dish layered with eggplant, tomato, minced lamb and topped with a creamy white sauce, which I had been too scarred (not scared, scarred) to try since my mum cooked it a few years ago, but this one was a redeemer! Perhaps the texture of it was a bit out of my comfort zone, but the creamy topping and the subtle spices were a good combo.

Taramokeftedes: (Above) Fried fish balls made with fish roe, breadcrumbs and spices. The texture inside was quite firm, completely different to the deep fried items you get at dim sum. You have got to try them! I got my hands on some of the Greek dip in the middle of the table and had it with that.

Dolmades yalantzi: (Above) The funny looking green parcels are actually vine leaves stuffed with rice - I had no idea what was going on. They were kind of sour on the outside, and cold and sticky on the insid. No idea what flavours they were, I think there was lemon, some kind of nut, sultanas (?) and mixed herbs. Interesting.

My favourite ones would have to have been the taramokeftedes, and the two types of calamari which had a fair few mentions on urbanspoon last time I checked: one deep fried, and the other served in a tomato-based sauce. It's so hard to find places that don't cook calamari to a rubbery or toothfloss-like consistency these days, and Eat Greek's was lovely, tender, and yummeh in my tummeh. 


After dining at the Atrium in Burswood, no dessert buffet will be able to measure up for a while. But there was definitely lots to love at Eat Greek's:

Baklava: Rich, sweet layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts, sweetened with syrup or honey, cut into diamonds. My dad goes bananas for this stuff, and never fails to buy a slice every time we walk past a kebab shop (thus, heart disease - its got a wicked amount of calories).

Ravani: A sweet cake made of semolina, soaked in syrup. Often made with coconut, and sometimes with orange flower water or rose water. More commonly known as basbousa, the Arabic version. Didn't get a photo of this either - see 'Pastitso' above.

Other goodies there was the custard and fruit trifle (I think I had 3 helpings)  the chocolate mousse (a favourite at our table) and the apple crumble. And last but not least: there was a soft serve ice cream machine. 

Oh baby. 


The Sunday Lunch Buffet usually costs $39.90 each, but my boss took care of that as our annual treat. And before the end of the meal, everyone was handed a blank envelope to open, saying it was our 'Christmas Present'...

So in actual fact, I got paid to eat.

...did I mention I love my life?  

Eat Greek Restaurant on Urbanspoon