Tuesday, 27 August 2013

perth holiday wrap-up with odds and ends!

It's been a while since I've returned from Perth to Melbourne, and I've finally gone through all my photos. So to wrap it all up, I thought I'd share some of the mix of other things that haven't yet made it to my other posts. Consider this a summary of leisurely daily life in the Perth Hills with Simon and his family.

First, can I share one of the most indulgent and wonderful holiday rituals? Instead of going out and painting the town red, we would rug up with conversation, cured meats, cheese and wine almost every night. Such happiness. The below is one of my most favourite pairings. Incredibly spicy cured meat that burns, rounded out and softened by cumin-studded cheese.

"Burner" - spicy cured meat by Butch's Smallgoods (left) and Dutch Gouda with cumin seeds (right).

During the day, Simon and I would occasionally go for casual walks in the neighbourhood. Eucalyptus trees abound, along with quirky-looking gumnuts.

Eucalyptus trees with gumnuts.

Mundy Regional Park was just nearby. When we felt like we were becoming couch potatoes and spending way too much time on the internet, we would trek there for a bit of exercise and fresh air.

A little creek in Mundy Regional Park.

A nice view within Mundy Regional Park.


I don't know what these plants are, but I thought they were pretty.

Blue flowers...

A fuchsia something... flower, or leaves? A succulent look to it...

A red flower...

Yellow flowers...

And the silhouettes of the trees against the last rays of the dusky sun were lovely to look at.

Sunset at Mundy Regional Park.

We also met the neighbour's cat, Zoe. She was really shy and timid during our first days, and would run away before Simon or I could even get close. But on the very last day, lo and behold, we became friends.

Zoe and me. Look, we're friends!

And because this is a food blog, here is a picture of Zoe enjoying some salmon.

Zoe sniffing, licking and eating salmon.

Delicious.

Hello and goodbye, pretty Zoe.

Finally, we said our farewells to the Perth Hills, knowing that it shall not be too long before we meet again...

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

a day at fremantle markets

Entrance to Fremantle Markets.

I love markets. I love my local markets, and I love exploring markets that are foreign to me.

So it goes without saying that when we were in Perth, I enjoyed it very much when we went to Fremantle Markets, with Simon's brother and his wife playing tour guides. They love food and are happy to recommend their favourite eats! My kind of tour guides.

Oh, we did other wonderful things as well, like strolling around, visiting a museum, appreciating the ocean. But as usual, all that I seem to capture is the food. So here we go.

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Michele's Crepe Suzette was an interesting start to the day. They are very popular, so there was a queue. We got a number and returned about ten minutes later for our lemon cinnamon sugar crepe. This is different to the wispy-thin crepes I usually have - they're thicker, chewier, more substantial. Keeping that in mind, I'm not sure about the authenticity, but they work as sort of a humble comfort food, if also a bit messy to eat in takeaway form - watch out for the syrup!

Lemon cinnamon sugar crepe by Michele's Crepe Suzette.

Michele's Crepe Suzette on Urbanspoon

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Then we stopped to purchase a cup of soy chai masala from Black Cherries Espresso. I've mentioned before that Simon and I are picky about our chai, ever since he came back from his India holiday with the real thing. But we fancied this one - Simon even suggested this could be on par with the ones from India, or at least very close. While it does not emphasize the biting hot spices like peppercorn, it is certainly well-endowed with other lovely, fragrant, warm spices... my memory fails me now, but if I recall correctly, the notes of cardamom and cloves were particularly pretty in this one.

Masala chai from Black Cherries Espresso.

Black Cherries Espresso on Urbanspoon

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I forgot to mention that the above two stops were, in some ways, placeholders for the main event - a ramen lunch at the famous Dosukoi Ramen Bar. We had registered our interest with them earlier in the day, and were told it could be up to a two-hour wait. So we gave them a mobile phone number, and happily wandered about until they called us. I'm not normally someone who hangs around this long for a meal, but hey, we're tourists with so many other things to explore, and all the time in the world! In the end, I think the wait was an hour and a half?

For starters we had chicken karaage. It was nicely seasoned, though that didn't stop us from liberally using the shichimi shaker on the table. You can almost never have too much spice. It could also be crunchier, but it was addictive regardless. Come on, it's deep-fried chicken.

We got the soft pork ramen, and while, given the hype, I think there is room for improvement, it was still tasty. I relished the kick of miso in the broth (though I suspect there is also added MSG swimming around in there, and the stock could use more depth); the noodles were perfectly cooked with great springy texture.

Pork ramen at Dosukoi.

Dosukoi - Japanese Noodle Ber on Urbanspoon

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Finally, I became the cheerful owner of a chocolate doughnut from Levi's Doughnuts, made fresh so it came piping hot, much to my approval. This rustic, irregularly shaped beauty concealed a luxuriously glossy melted dark chocolate filling. It's both down-to-earth and sexy.

The dark-chocolate-filled doughnut from Levi's Doughnuts.

Levi's Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

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Next post - saying goodbye to Perth, and then, finally, a recipe post, for those of you who miss them.
So do stick around!

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

corica pastries (& the famous apple strudel), northbridge

A long, sturdy box, containing Corica's famous apple strudel.

When I updated my Facebook status to say I was in Perth, one of my friends was quick with his recommendation: "You must have Corica's apple strudel!"

Apparently the apple strudels from Corica Pastries are so famous that travellers from Southeast Asia often bring it back with them on their flights home. That's pretty impressive stuff.

So off we went to Giuseppe Corica Pastries (106 Aberdeen St, Northbridge).

We had other plans for the day so we just made a quick stop. In addition to the must-have strudel, I was curious to try their other offerings, too. I chose a couple of smaller things to snack on - a shortbread sandwich with buttercream and apricot jam, named "Amore", and a custard horn.

Amore (left) and custard horn (right), $2.90 each.

The Amore was sweet, dainty, and also rather expensive for how tiny it was. The custard horn had a delightfully flaky pastry encasing the lusciously creamy custard - so good, I wish I had bought more. In fact, I'd say it deserves some of the limelight alongside the strudels at Corica.

Ah, yes, those famous apple strudels. You can get the classic apple strudel and/or the blueberry-apple strudel. We got the latter. It survived the car ride home mostly intact, with just some minor damage.

My suggestion? Heat the strudel up in the oven first - it really brings it back to life. I loved it so, so much more when it was warm and crispy, and it was then that the wow factor really properly hit me - oh, the layers of crunchy and creamy and comfort! - and I finally knew what the fuss was all about.

Yep, I'm passing on the recommendation. 

Corica's blueberry apple strudel, $20 - yields about 4 servings.

Corica Pastries on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, 8 August 2013

swan valley food and wine trail, western australia

A vineyard in Swan Valley.

Here's something I promised a couple of weeks ago, a post about my Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail experience.

Now if there's one thing that a food lover loves, it's a food and wine trail. I mean, a whole day swanning around (heheh, see what I did there?) and being indulgent in all things edible. Heaven.

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So after having lunch at Taylor's Cafe, Simon and I went around to Whistler's Chocolate Company, which was just next door.

Oh, what fun it is to be in a chocolate showroom surrounded by sweet delights!

The chocolates on display at Whister's Chocolate Company in Swan Valley.

We purchased dark-chocolate-coated dried strawberries, and raspberry licorice. I liked the novelty of the dried strawberries as I don't think I've had them before, but overall I found the quality of the products quite average. If by any chance I go there again, I'll ask for samples before buying.

Whistler's Chocolate Company on Urbanspoon

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After that, we stopped by at Caprino Farm, known for their goat dairy products. Unfortunately, it seemed that they didn't have any milk and yoghurt for us at this particular time of the year. (Upon visiting their website later, we see that it's best to call before dropping by.)

Still, all's not lost. During our quick gander, we met this adorable puppy called Boo, who jumped up at us ever so enthusiastically.

LOOK HOW TINY HE IS.

Awwww, Boo.

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I haven't had nougat in ages, so of course we stopped at Mondo Nougat. The selection is quite dazzling, and I decided to go with the easy decision of an assorted bag.

A bag of assorted nougats from Mondo Nougat.

It was fun going through the different flavours, which included the classic vanilla as well as interesting ones like lemon, cappuccino and more. I only wish they do more crunchy versions - I enjoy soft nougat, too, but I do have quite a fondness for crunchy nougat. Considering how skewed their offered options are, perhaps I'm in the minority?

Mondo Nougat on Urbanspoon

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Next, we dabbled in the viscous wonders of The House of Honey. Lots of honey tasting ensued. We bought a block of honeycomb, a jar of Jarrah honey (a dark honey purported to have extra awesome health benefits), and a jar of lavender honey (which tasted absolutely gorgeous).

Our haul from The House of Honey.

We also took a quick break at their Sticky Spoon Cafe. Much as I wanted to try their cakes and scones, we were still super full from our lunch, and settled for a "honey spider" instead - basically, a float made with honey sparkling water and honey ice cream. It was gentle, sweet and refreshing. However, our ice cream tasted like a plain vanilla - not quite sure what happened there. Hmm...

The Sticky Spoon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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It's time for something savoury, and The Cheese Barrel, run by Olive Farm Wines, fits the bill. This is not a cheese factory - it's just a place to buy and enjoy cheeses from all over the world, and matched with their very own wines, if you like.

They don't do free tastings here, but the staff were pretty helpful in assisting us with our choices. We ended up taking home Queso San Simon from Spain, and Healey's Pyengana Cheddar from Tasmania.

Queso San Simon from Spain (left) and Pyengana cheddar from Tasmania (right).

I only discovered smoked cheese in recent years and I am a big fan. So it goes without saying that Queso San Simon absolutely won my heart with its smooth, buttery texture and smoky ham notes. I relished the Pyengana cheddar as well - rich, crumbly, with hints of salt crystals. Yum yum.

The Cheese Barrel on Urbanspoon

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What's a food and wine trail without the wine? Don't worry, while we're not exactly connoisseurs, we do enjoy the occasional tipple. There were so many wineries on the trail, but Harris Organic Wines stood out to me, thanks to their natural approach to wine making.

My positive impression of this winery was further enhanced after meeting their cat, Arthur. He was a little reserved at first, but we quickly earned his trust.

LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL HE IS.

Arthur the cat licks me affectionately. He loves me, he really loves me!

Simon and I are quite partial to dessert wines. We picked their Rose Muscat and Tokay (aka Topaque). The Rose Muscat is lovely - sweet but not syrupy, it was light and fresh with a nice hint of acidity, and I even detected lychee notes. Then there is the Tokay, which undergoes an even more natural process - no preservatives are used, and if I recall correctly, winemaker Duncan mentioned that it was not fortified nor filtered, either, so the alcohol content is lower, and there are traces of sediment. It was indulgently delicious - like liquefied spiced honey raisins.

Wines by Harris Organic - a Rose Muscat and a Tokay ( aka Topaque).

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We made our second honey stop for the day, at Windarra Honey. This is a very simple and rustic shop, and what it may lack in shiny sophistication, it makes up for with personal charm. The beekeeper himself greeted us, showed us the beekeeping box, then led us through different honey samples plus other tasty honey-related products like honey tahini and passionfruit honey spread, which we ended up getting, along with some bee pollen and Parrot Bush honey.

Honey goodies from Windarra Honey.

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It was getting late, and Cape Lavender was our last stop for the day. Their cafe had all but closed, but we were still able to get takeaway lavender scones, which came thoughtfully packed with small tubs of cream and strawberry lavender jam.

Lavender scones from Cape Lavender.

The following day, I warmed the scones up in the oven and assembled them together with the jam and cream for breakfast. They were divine - fluffy, flaky, floral, fabulous. A real treat. It made me very, very happy.

Cape Lavender Swan Valley on Urbanspoon

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P.S. The Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail seems like it may be best experienced from Wednesday to Sunday, when most of the producers are open to visitors. If there are any particular stops you fancy, check their opening hours. To be honest, we didn't do a lot of research - other than Urbanspoon, I got some information on the Swan Valley website and we also popped by the Swan Valley Visitor Centre for a free map - great for planning your journey the old fashioned way, with a pen for circling places of interest.

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