It has been a huge week for the boy and I. If you're a regular reader you'll know that last year he was accepted in to the St John paramedicine degree, giving up his previous career. I'm so incredibly proud of him, watching the way he's thrown his everything in to studying what is his second degree, and so far his results have been extremely high - which goes to show what you put in is what you get in return!
This week marked the completion of his final exam for this first semester at Curtin University, which was in itself reason to celebrate.
But to top that off, things have been pretty crazy for me too. For nearly five years I've built up a great career at P&N Bank in the marketing team (starting when it was still Police & Nurses and working my way up with two promotions during that time), but I've just been offered a new job and great opportunity.
And then to really accentuate what feels like a roller coaster of emotion, on Thursday I found out I've been selected as a finalist for B&T MAD Week's 30 Under 30. There's 60 of us selected, with 10 in each category - and there will be 5 winners in each of the 6 categories. I'm in the Marketing & PR category, and the only WA finalist. How incredibly humbling! The boy and I will be flying over for the awards ceremony at the end of July... I'm already nervous!
Ochota barrels fugazi grenache
So in honour of such a momentous week, we decided a date night to celebrate was in order. Our original choice was The Old Crow, but after a quick drive by assessment (it was jam packed!) we continued our drive south to Fremantle's Bread in Common. We'd only been for brunch here when it first opened and while it was nice, we weren't blown away. We were hoping things would be different now that it was well established and it was dinner (which also means wine and dessert).
Arriving around 7pm the venue is packed, but we manage to get a seat in the waiting area where we stay for around 15 minutes. Not too bad at all! While we're there we each order a glass of the Ochota Barrels Fugazi Grenache ($15).
The boy is a seasoned red wine drinker but I'm relatively new at it, and I've been training up my tastebuds. So far the best one I've had has been a lovely Argentinian Malbec so I may have found my drink of choice! But this grenache was just delicious - smooth, easy to drink and just what you want on a cold winter's night. It goes down a treat and before I know it we're being shown to our table.
Freshly shucked oysters
The lighting is dim and intimate, the space incredibly wide and well utilised. There's just so many people around us it's almost baffling how everything is working like such a well oiled machine! That goes to show that the people running this restaurant have set it up exactly as it should be which is pleasing to see as a customer.
While we were waiting for our table Jeremy and I ordered a couple freshly shucked oysters each ($3.50 per oyster). These are delivered not long after we sit down, giving us something to enjoy while we pick out the rest of our meal for the evening.
Coffin Bay oysters from South Australia seem to be the go to oyster at Perth restaurants these days. They're small, sweet and have just the right balance of saltiness and creaminess. For me, natural is definitely the best way to enjoy fresh oysters with just a squeeze of lemon juice on top. Jeremy likes to add tobasco, though since I've got a rubbed raw throat from the flu, I decide to steer clear of the pepper sauce.
Mushroom and chickpea
For the rest of our food that night we each pick two dishes from the share menu - opting for two from the lighter end and two from the heavier. Our waitress advises us she'll break the delivery of these into the two groups to echo an "entree and main" service.
Jeremy's choice of the mushrooms, fried chickpeas, chickpea gnocchi and hommus ($17) is by far the dish of the night... and easily in my top five dishes for 2014. An array of al dente mushrooms that are buttery and lightly seared to release their natural earthy flavour work so well with the crunch of the fried chickpeas and the pillowy softness of the gnocchi. The hommus is different to ones I've had elsewhere - less garlicky - but in this case it works perfectly with the other elements on the plate. I really love it. In fact so much so I'm trying to figure out the best way for me to recreate it. Looks like I'll be stopping by the shops tomorrow for some chickpea flour!!
I choose the baked jersey milk ricotta ($12) which comes with nasturtium, edible flowers and a lovely green sauce. It's ethereally light, with a cloud like texture that works in harmony with the vibrant greens on the plate. I love just how fresh it is as a dish and though it's a cold night, having a cold dish feels right at home in the warmth of the restaurant.
After a nice pause after our dishes are cleared, the "mains" part of the night is unveiled - bringing with the plates some incredibly heady aromas. I fall in love before I even take a bite!
Jeremy's choice for us to share is the duck leg ($27) which comes out on a red cabbage sauce (almost like a puree) with green olives and dates. The duck is tender, juicy and as crunchy as you could ever hope for on top. I adore the use of dates in cooking, and they're the ideal accompaniment to the richness of the meat. It's a really smart dish that takes into consideration textures, colours, flavour balance and offsetting the heavy protein with the light vegetable garnishes. Very yummy and very, very wintery!
My choice for the evening is the beef rump ($25) which comes out as perfectly pink slices of meat sitting atop a swimming pool of deliciously soft lentils and a herbed yoghurt sauce. This is definitely our second favourite dish for the night after those mushrooms and chickpeas!
The meat has been cooked so well that the meat has retained no toughness nor chewiness. It's melt in your mouth, with a good level of seasoning. I love the lentils which have a gravy like consistency and warm my throat to my tummy with each bite. I happily spoon mouthful after mouthful - and while I know I'm a bit biased since I do so love lentils - these really do hit the spot.
Though I'm both quite full, I'm insistent that I'd like dessert - and the boy concurs, telling me that he's not full yet but will be after a sweet course. In a way I'm tempted by the cheeses they have on offer, but I can never just have cheese - I like to have sweets too. Such a pig!
Jeremy's dessert is the saffron cheesecake mousse with pear and raisins ($17). It's such a great display of Bread in Common's skilled mastery at combining unexpected flavours with fresh herbs and spices. The mousse is airy and creamy, working well with the slightly tart pear and sweet raisins. It looks beautiful and I can see why the waitress tells us it's her favourite dessert on the menu.
Banana and marshmallow
Banana and marshmallow
I pick the banana, meringue, rosemary, marshmallow and caramel dessert ($17). Talk about delicious! The bananas are sliced lengthways and have a nice golden brûlée like crust on top, which is so thin it shatters with no resistance at all.
The soft marshmallow is light, fluffy and has a wonderful torch to the edge. I love how sticky and moorish they taste, working well with the velvety creamy ice-cream and the crunch of the scattered meringue pieces. The rosemary inclusion is quite inspired - subtle but bringing a different dimension and edge to the dish as a whole. It really elevates the flavour profile and injects some freshness.
Needless to say when our spoons scrape the last of the food into our mouths, we're both extremely full but oh so satisfied. It's been awhile since we've had the time to just relax and go all out on a meal, with no sense of urgency to rush home and study or prepare for work. Having time with my boy is always a treat even though we live together, it's wonderful having date nights like this.
It was the perfect night's celebration at Fremantle's gorgeous Bread in Common. It has definitely come a long way since my first experience there. I can't wait to come back soon!