Almost There, All Things Italian
One thing that I could not get enough of during this trip was mussels, well, and oysters. Fresh, plump and delicious mussels! Oysters and mussels are probably the only time when size does matter. For me, the smaller the better! I once watched an episode of Surfing The Menu where they ate an oyster(raw!) that was the same length as the span of one of the chef's hand. That man is over 6ft tall, imagine how big that horrible giant oyster was, lying across his big, able and manly hands. Swoon. Er, where was I? Oh yes, giant oyster. Yes, can't imagine eating an oyster that big. Shudder. I can see how oysters may have a high "eew" factor to some especially when eaten raw. I mean the more I start to analyse the soft, gelatinous, mucous-like consistency the more I am starting to feel allergic to them. However, when they are small and fresh like those in Perth, there is nothing that tastes quite as beautiful as natural oysters. I even converted Hunky. Initially, he watched with mild disgust as CW and I downed oyster after oyster like thirsty chinamen yumseng-ing whisky. By the fourth day, we convinced him to try oyster kilpatrick. You know Hunky, torn between indulging in those crispy and salty slivers of bacon and the grey-tinged mollusc lurking underneath. Once bitten, he was smitten! There was no stopping Hunky after that. He even lamented how much he regretted not joining us earlier. Awww.
One night, I insisted Laura take us to a restaurant for chilli mussels. Without any hesitation, she suggested Il Ciao in Applecross. Its a cosy neighbourhood Italian restaurant that only opens for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. Well, when you are as busy as they are, one can afford the luxury of such relaxed opening hours. The menu boasts wood-fried pizzas and hearty Italian fare. We shared two huge bowls of hot steaming mussels between the five of us. Unfortunately I was sitting next to Peter and felt like I needed to eat really quickly before he finished the entire bowl! Poor Pete got an earful from Laura about that. Sorry Peter! It was worth the risk of ingestion as I raced Peter to the bottom of the bowl. They were so juicy and yummy! They were cooked in a white wine, garlic and tomato sauce which we dipped freshly baked bread into until the bowl was completely dry.
In between, our pizzas arrived. One was boscaiola with tomato, mushroom, mozzarella, prosciutto and olives; the other mediterraneo was smothered with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, olives, eggplant and Italian sausage. They were both very good. Nicer than the one at Ecco Cafe but then these people do specialise in wood-fried pizzas. You can see from the picture how generous they are with the toppings and the crust was just right - like crispy flat bread. I wanted to try one of their pastas and which better than homemade canneloni filled with ricotta cheese and spinach smothered in a fresh tomato sauce. This was just gorgeous! I managed to eat a whole roll despite proclaiming over and over again how full I was. You know, kind of like those annoying skinny saying "I'm so fat, I'm so fat". Yeah, whatever. I wasn't all that full really because we still had room for dessert! Hunky's favourite pit stop throughout the trip - Gelare! He even snuck off without me once. I lost count of how many waffles he had but he was pretty sad he managed to miss "Half Price Tuesdays"! Geláre is an institution (not the mental kind) for quality homemade ice cream. It was right here in Western Australian that they open their first ice cream cafe in Fremantle in January 1987. I had my first cone in 1993 (that was when the franchise started) and have been in love ever since. It still tastes fanbloodytastic! The picture below is Hunky's waffle with rum and raisin ice cream. Mmmm...
For more information on Il Ciao, click here