Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beauty for Breakfast

Today, God prepared a breakfast banquet for me in the sky.

Just before dawn, I was asleep in my bed when I was woken up. Kind of like the way you wake up in the morning to the smell of bacon being cooked in the kitchen. But for me, it was the faintest tinge of red appearing on the horizon that made me stir. I slinked out of bed and tip-toed up the creaky wooden stairs to the rooftop terrace of my hostel.

I settled in one of the hammocks, and started to eat.

The sky was a neverending summer trifle. The first layer was red jelly, like the red colour of childrens lollipops wrapped in squares of plastic, bright and a little transparent. On top of that was a pale tangerine mousse, perfectly smooth. Next, there was a shade of white with the faintest yellow tinge, like good quality whipped cream. On top of this summer trifle was the blue sky, like God had picked the most beautiful two colours of blue he knew; one light, one dark, and brushed them across the sky with one steady sweep his palm.

And the strange thing about all of these colours was that they were so distinct - one vivid colour would stop abruptly and the next one would begin. I felt like I could reach up to the sky and peel the blue from the white, the white from the orange, the orange from the red.

As I savoured this magnificent meal of a sunrise, the sky began to change.

The colours which were condensed at first started to spread vertically, as if someone had grabbed the sky with both hands and was slowly stretching upwards. The indigo retreated over my head behind me, and all the layers of colours lengthened and slowly followed the night. Then, as I watched, the low-lying clouds turned into an amazing, soft, purple colour, like God was churning taro gelato for dessert.

Last but not least, He added a final touch - He added the sun, which appeared between the two peaks of Sugarloaf mountain, splitting into the sky and glowing a deep, dark scarlet.

And at this point, as I sat on the roof, breathing in the cool January air of Rio de Janeiro, watching the living masterpiece that God made me for breakfast, I could not help but cry.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Bellhouse

The Bellhouse
Mends Street Jetty
South Perth, 6151
(08) 9367 1699

Figure 1: "...There's a café on the jetty?" - Angela

I wouldn't have known it ever existed either, if not for my dad. When I was little and he moved into his bachelor pad on Mill Point Road, we would often go fishing at night on the Mends Street jetty. We'd sit there for hours: he'd bait his hooks and cast the lines so far I thought they would reach the other side; I'd  be wrapped up in a pink blanket holding my little reel, staring at Perth's skyline until its lights stencilled into my vision. 

Occasionally, when dad would catch a decent-sized silver bream, we'd celebrate by buying an ice cream from The Bellhouse. I'd always fall asleep in the short ride home to Mill Point Road, and wake up in bed tasting cocoa flavouring with sugar all over my fingers. 

Figure 2: Was tempted to steal the white beach umbrellas!

So until my New Year's Eve brunch with Lilian & Angela, my culinary experience of The Bellhouse only extended to their Billabongs. Our meal was passed leisurely, accompanied by much animated discussion about boys, travel, new years' resolutions, some serious arm-flapping, uncontrollable laughter (much to the delight of the scowling couple sitting right next to us), and for some strange reason... almost identical anecdotes involving children's ride machines in shopping centres. 

We opted for the table outside in the sunlight, with an unobstructed view of our little city. Within about a minute of being seated, cold water in glasses materialised in front of us, which put me in a fantastic mood. So many places these days, you have to fight to get tap water even when you ask for it. Belinda happy! 

Figure 3: Iced tea and aviators - hello, Summer!

I am passionate about good iced tea. There's nothing more refreshing after a hot summer's day at the beach, served in a tall glass packed with ice, topped with a thin slice of lemon. I'll only ever order iced tea if it's made from scratch. The bottled stuff is way too sugary, and when you drink it you still have this gritty taste of corn syrup on your tongue hours later. Me & Lilian ordered a Peach Iced Tea ($4.6) each, which could have done with more tea and less syrup... actually, I was wondering if there was any tea in it at all. But it still hit the spot. Everything tastes good after living off Chinese powdered coffee and 100 Plus for three weeks, trust me. 

Figure 4: Beer battered is best. 

None of us could decide on what to order, so we just picked three dishes and shared them out. First came the entree size Market Fish & Chips ($25) which was coated in a perfectly crispy beer batter, served with a delicious chunky tartare sauce. It wasn't super oily like the fish & chips you get in Fremantle that makes its wrapping go greasy and transparent. I probably could have had a whole main size portion to myself, it was just so light!

Figure 6: Good shot Angela! 

Next was the Grilled Chicken & Avocado Toasted Sandwich with Aioli ($17.5), which was actually a burger, but potato potah-to. The aioli actually came served inside the burger, and when Angela asked for an additional serve of aioli on the side, it came promptly with no extra charge! The avocado + aioli combination was a tad rich, and the sandwich itself was pretty average, probably wouldn't order this one again. The shoestring fries were very morish though. 

Figure 5: Satisfying those salad cravings. 

I am in love with their Grilled Mushroom, Pear, Walnut, Rocket and Blue Cheese Salad ($18). Coming from an Asian family where 'salad' means lettuce, tomato, cucumber dipped in mayonnaise, I am always on the look out for interesting flavour combinations that are healthy too. The blue cheese was just right, not too strong, and went down so well with the woody walnuts and just-sweet-enough pears. Perfect summer food. 

Figure 6: Happy children. 

Figure 7: Summer of 2012, here I come! 

It really was a lovely way to finish another year of food blogging, sitting there on the jetty, no schedules, no time limits, no work to rush off to. Just me and the girls, making too much noise and enjoying the food & sunshine. It's times like these I'm reminded why I never give a place an arbitrary score or rating. There's no way to truly quantify moments like these where you feel so relaxed and contented, spending time with friends, passing the afternoon munching on delicious food. For me, when you go out to eat it's not just about how good the food is. It's about the company we keep and the memories we make. 

Thank you to all those who have supported my foodblog this year, by following online or by coming on food adventures with me. Special thanks to Michèl who still takes me out to eat even though I embarass him on a regular basis with my relentless photo taking, and occasional high-pitched squealing.  I'm looking forward to sharing more of my passion for good food with you guys in 2012. 

Happy New Year! 

Bellhouse Cafe on Urbanspoon