Fairbrossen Estate – Carmel, Perth Hills

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A few months back, Chef and I visited a few vineyards in the Perth Hills, for the Bickley Harvest Festival. I’d made a mental note to return to Fairbrossen as it looked like a wonderful spot for a Sunday afternoon with my mum. The cellar door and café overlook the boutique vineyard and wishing well. We were lucky to get a table in the cafe, I’d defiantly recommend booking, as it was very busy.IMG_1508

We were there for some afternoon tea. Mum had a Devonshire tea, two super fresh scones with home-made jam and cream. I had a deliciously moist cake made from Carnarvon bananas. We shared a pot of tea for two.IMG_6801

If you’re after something a bit more substantial they also have steak sandwiches, homemade pies and humongous share platters on the menu.

The Fairbrossen café caters well for the little ones too. As well as children’s options on the menu – there’s a corner full of toys and books. Little Chef was very happy with that and he made some new mates whist we had a pester-free chat.IMG_6799

Next time I’ll have to head back to the cellar door – there is some very nice wine at Fairbrossen, to suit all tastes. From sparkling, rose, shiraz, tempranillo etc etc  The family run winery also has a vineyard in Margaret River where they have cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines.IMG_1504

“I’m fair Brosen” means “full to bursting” and we certainly were after sweets and copious amounts of tea! Fairbrossen is a lovely spot in the Perth Hills. From the warm welcome, to the home-style food, to the freshly picked flowers on each table – it’s a taste of the country just 25 minutes from the city.

 

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Haynes Street Larder – Kalamunda

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Over the last few years, many councils in Perth have deregulated and relaxed a lot of licences in the hospitality industry. From that “common sense attitude” we’ve seen wonderful small bars and other new businesses really thrive and make our communities much more vibrant.

I really like to support our local businesses, so it really pains me when the little guys are still being stomped on by some local governments with endless red tape, bureaucracy and regulations. An example of this happening is the Haynes Street Larder – a lovely coffee shop on the main street in Kalamunda. They’ve been open for about five months. Due to a misunderstanding, the wrong licence was given, so they are unable to make their own food on the premises. Everything at the Haynes St Larder is pre made by other businesses. They’re not even allowed to cold press their own juices… for now at least.IMG_6767

Kalamunda has a few cafes, but they are either favourites of retirees or chain coffee shops. Not that there’s anything wrong with either I hasten to add – they just might not be your cup of tea (pardon the pun!). A funky, allergy friendly café with fresh healthy food is something Kalamunda really needs. A few coffee shops on the main street have shut recently, so you’d think the Shire of Kalamunda would be encouraging new business in the area. The tone I get from people that live in the area is the Kalamunda Shire is pretty out of touch with what their rate payers want and has been for a very long time.IMG_6769

I popped into the Haynes Street Larder for a takeaway juice and some morning tea snacks to take to my parents’ house. I almost missed it, as there’s no sign out the front – look out for the stripy canopy! For now, the peeps at Haynes Street Larder are focusing on sourcing food from local artisan suppliers. The raw treats come from Molly’s Picnic, the bottled juices from the Swan Valley’s “World’s healthiest Juice Co”. The “Rainbow” juice I chose was one of my favourite combos – carrot, apple, beetroot and lemon.

I purchased a couple of Choc mint spirulina slices – which contain ingredients that help cleanse the mind and body to fight off stress and body fatigue. Spirulina is a nutrient rich salt water plant. The slice was pretty indulgent for health food – I felt like I was eating an aero bar! Delish. I also got a couple of ginger slices, but there’s no pic of them as they got squished in the bag! Whoops…IMG_6775

The locals tell me the coffee is great at Haynes Street Larder and I’d love to enjoy a nice brunch or lunch there in the future. The menu is “coming soon” – I’m really keen to see what they can do in their own kitchen, hopefully we all will find out very very soon!

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Bistro des Artistes – Subiaco

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Chef and I had a fleeting experience with Parisian bistros on a French mini break. We loved their bustling vibe and the excellent, inexpensive food. The only thing that was lacking was the service. Every waiter we encountered in Paris gave us a hefty serve of attitude with “le boeuf”. Maybe it was our fault for being bumbling tourists?

Bistro des Artistes, in Subiaco, is quintessentially Parisian, but here the wait staff are very welcoming. The bustling bistro has a casual atmosphere, with jaunty accordion music in the background. As we’re taken to our table, I spot fresh baguettes, and to our delight we’re soon given a basket of the crusty bread.

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Chef and I are dining on a busy Friday lunchtime. Two courses is $45, or you can push the boat out and enjoy three courses for $50. This pricing shows what French bistro dining is all about – modest food, at modest prices.

Bistro des Artistes, which opened in 2012, is the creation of celebrated French chefs, Alain Fabregues and Emmanuel Mollois. Emmanuel left early this year to pursue his own catering business. Alain’s iconic hills fine diner, The Loose Box, closed its doors last year.

 

IMG_6710Chef choses a French pinot noir from the wine list, which is made up of a very good selection of French and Australian wines.

For entrée, Chef chooses the crispy pigs trotter. The glutinous meat is crumbed and fried. It is served with a cauliflower “semolina” – finely shredded raw cauliflower. Served alone, it is a bland companion to the tasty trotters. They are also accompanied by an organic Quark dip. Quark is a curd cheese and this too is plain and under seasoned.IMG_6714

Though the Croque-Monsieur is essentially a ham and cheese toasted sandwich typically made with a bechemal sauce, I am keen to try something that is a staple on Parisian bistro menus. This version, usually called a Croque-Madame, is topped with a poached egg. As it is truffle season, I add truffle, for an extra charge of $10. I love the addition of this pungent, earthy flavour; it makes the Croque Monsieur feel decadent. The crisp, butteryness of the toast, the oozing egg yolk and the generous shavings of truffle, is a really great way to start lunch.IMG_6715

Chef couldn’t get enough of his main – Lamb belly cooked two ways. Firstly the lamb is confit with rosemary and then grilled till deliciously crisp. The moreish lamb is served along with finely sliced, Alsatian braised root vegetables and a lamb jus. Alsace is a prominent cooking and wine region in North Eastern France, renowned for its rustic style of cuisine with strong German influences. This is wonderfully hearty comfort food on a cool winter’s day.IMG_6726

My main is a seafood lover’s delight; a large quenelle of creamed crimson snapper and local prawns. The rich quenelle is poached to perfection – it has a light and fluffy mousse-like texture. It is served with brocollini and a crab bisque, which is well seasoned and has a great depth of flavour. The dish is absolutely spot-on.IMG_6729

For dessert we just have to share a vanilla crème brulee. It makes just the right cracking noise when I tap the caramel with my spoon! Perfect.IMG_6731

Bistro des Artistes has a certain je ne sais quoi. We enjoy the robust French cuisine and friendly service. Our little piece of Paris on Hay Street.

Indian Ocean Brewing Co – Mindarie Marina

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My life pre-blogging / food writing was a lot more laid back! Now it’s all about newspaper deadlines, replying to tons of emails and also my self-imposed blog deadlines. Admittedly though, sometimes the wheels fall off and I totally forget that I met some friends for lunch and took some food pics on my phone, then come across them months later. Whoopsie!

One such outing was a casual dinner at the Indian Ocean Brewing Company, at Mindarie Keys. The night we dined was well into autumn, but we encountered an unseasonably warm night, perfect for sitting outside by the marina and enjoying the beautiful pink sunset.IMG_1026

We like the vibe at the Indian Ocean Brewing Co – they often have live music on the weekend. It’s a modern venue and the vista over the Indian Ocean is to die for.IMG_1006

Chef is into his craft beers and he really rates the brews at the Indi. His personal favourite is the Larger. They also brew a pale ale, pilsner, a cider and many more on site.IMG_1014

The stone baked Sicilian pizzas are great – Chef often comes down here with his mates for a pizza and pint. On this occasion, Chef had a Carne de Carnivore. Topped with Cacciatore, prosciutto, char-grilled chicken, tomato, onions, pimento & mozzarella, on a thin and crispy base ($24).IMG_1040

Essentially the Indi is a microbrewery with pub food; parmi, fish n chips, burgers etc. Nothing too fancy, but generally well cooked. There is also a large share food menu. IMG_1042

We love the Indian Ocean Brewing Co for the amazing view, which gives us that “Perth-fect” feeling every time we gaze at it, when go there for a drink. It makes us feel very lucky that we live in this pretty part of the world.IMG_1053IMG_1017

Sapore Espresso Bar – Belmont

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It’s not very often I escape the confines of my busy workplace – an office in the middle of an industrial estate. It is a foodie’s worst nightmare! One lunchtime recently I was craving some tasty, healthy food – something the greasy lunch bar on the corner has no concept of. So I drove five minutes down the road and came across Sapore, which opened this year. It’s just outside Belmont Forum shopping centre.New Image

The hip espresso bar has the kind of vibe that a café in Leederville or Mount Lawley would have. I love the vintage / rustic look. There’s not really anything else like it in the area – Belmont really needed a quality coffee hangout like this.

I popped in for a take away lunch and latte. I instantly wished I had more time on my hands to stay awhile and look over the menu. Sapore has excellent coffee – Fiori from the Swan Valley. The fridge cabinet brimming with fresh, home-style food.7

The arancini rice ball is cheesy and delicious, with a crispy outer shell of deep fried breadcrumbs. The salad – beans, fetta, olive and roasted pumpkin fits my “healthy” needs perfectly. I got change out of a $10 note too, which was a plus!3

Sapore is a very welcome addition to Belmont, if I lived in the area it would be a fab local. The staff are really friendly too.  I’m looking forward to a return visit so I can really check out the lunch menu. I hear they also do a good breakfast.

Savour, flavour, taste… That is the translation of the Italian word “Sapore”. And what a tasty little Espresso Bar it is!9

Sushi Wawa – Innaloo

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After a mid-morning trip to Ikea – Chef and I decide to skip the meatballs and head to the newly opened Sushi Wawa, right next door. As we enter, we are greeted by a cheerful and lively “Irasshaimase”, by many of the staff, which is a traditional Japanese welcome. IMG_2228

The restaurant is so well branded you could be excused for thinking you’d walked into a nation-wide restaurant chain. Sushi Wawa is not a chain – in fact it is even named in honour of WA! It’s decked out in its signature bold orange and images of “Bob” their cartoon sumo wrestler. The feel of the restaurant is fresh and funky – which is exactly what Sushi Wawa aims to be. 1

The rectangular open kitchen is slap-bang in the middle of the light and bustling restaurant. The train moves around it. We watch the chefs busily making the 110 varieties of sushi, sashimi, and hot and cold dishes available on the menu. The Sushi Wawa kitchen team is run by Head Chef Hiroaki Fujioka, an accomplished Japanese Chef, formerly of Nobu Perth.IMG_2223

 The sushi train is an impressive 62 meters long – thought to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. We sit in a cosy booth. The sushi train runs past the end of the table. Neither of us have experienced a proper sushi train before and we are a little mesmerised. We sip some warm Miso Soup ($3), while we watch sushi and other Japanese treats pass by our table. New Image2

Chef and I start lunch buy trying a few plates, fresh off the train. We don’t recognise a lot of the dishes, so we begin with a “safe” option – a sushi roll filled with Chicken Katsu ($4.20). We agree they’re very crisp and tasty. We quickly reach for plate two.

The Soft Shell Crab sushi roll ($5.60) is totally lush. I’m a big fan of soft shell crab. This sushi felt decadent, the rice covered in salmon roe which shone like tiny jewels. IMG_2203

One of Sushi Wawa’s original creations, The COB ($4.90) is a sushi roll filled with cream cheese, onion and beetroot. The homage to Australia’s love of beetroot is a random combination. I think it really works and the COB becomes a fast favourite of mine. I grab another plate! IMG_2189

Then we start getting really adventurous, trying the Takoyaki ($4.20). On the plate are 4 little deep fried balls, filled with octopus, pickled ginger and spring onion. We weren’t too keen on those, the diced octopus was a little chewy.New Image3

IMG_2220After we’d amassed a pile of colourful plates, we decide to try something a little more substantial. Chef chooses the Wagyu Beef Don ($20) He tucks into his bowl of wagu and rice – for the price he thinks it’s very good value. IMG_2202

I have my old favourite – Salmon Teriyaki, salad and rice ($22). The main meals are very fresh and tasty. IMG_2216

Sushi Wawa is family friendly, as long as your children like Japanese food. There is a kid’s zone, with a TV and play area. It is also open for dinner and offers BYO – I think a nice bottle of SSB would go down a treat with some fresh sushi next time we visit! New Image4

UK Road Trip – The Lake District, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Causeway Coast)

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Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – Northern Ireland

At the very beginning of our 5 week trip, we decided that since we had very limited time and a to-do list as long as your arm, we had to make every day count. We crammed as much as we could into a five day road and air trip over four countries. Visiting many interesting and delicious places along the way – including servos with Krispy Kreme machines – dangerous!20140708_114110
We started from our base in Sheffield, England, We drove our hire car (the “Chelsea Tractor” Land Rover) up the A1 and west through the Yorkshire Dales to our first stop. The Yorkshire Dales are stunning – lots of hills and valleys covered with farmland – made famous round the world by TV series such as James Herriot, Heartbeat and even Postman Pat!IMG_2743

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Bike on Hillside – Hawes, Yorkshire Dales

Chef was super excited, as just two days before, the Tour de France had passed through the dales. It was a real thrill for him to be driving the route of Stage One. The bunting was still out in the villages and there was a festive atmosphere in the market towns. We even spotted a huge bike on the side of a mountain!
A few hours later we came to the first destination – The Lake District. This is a very popular holiday spot in England’s North West, as it’s filled with beautiful scenery, lots of culture and so many things to do. To Chef’s delight, I’d booked our two night stay in a country pub. It was in the village of Hawkshead. Somewhere I’d holidayed as a child many times. All roads in and out are very narrow, so there were some very hairy moments when we met busses and trucks coming the other way, nearly ending up in a hedge full of brambles.

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Peter?! Hill Top Farm

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Hill Top Farm

Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and many other beloved children’s tales, lived in the Lake District. The National Trust has preserved her house, Hilltop Farm, which we visited. Before entering the house, to the delight of our son, we saw bunnies hopping in a meadow. He was calling “Peter” out to them, to see which one looked – so cute! One of the guides in the house took Little Chef to one side and read him parts of the book “The Tale of Samuel Whiskers”. It quickly transformed what was just a dark old house to a very magical place to him. She showed Little Chef the chimney place where Tom Kitten got stuck and the rat hole where Samuel Whiskers lived. His eyes were wide with wonder – oh to be five years old again!!

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Wray Castle

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World Of Beatrix Potter

We also visited Wray Castle, Windermere, The World of Beatrix Potter and Grizedale Forrest – where we went on a Gruffalo hunt.
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Our Accommodation – The Quaint “Queens Head” gastro pub. Hawkshead, Lake District

Back at our pub, the Queens Head, we had some fabulous food. The 17th century inn is regarded as the best in the village by many of the locals (there are 4 pubs in Hawkshead). We had some excellent breakfasts and dinners at the gastro pub. The dining room had a cosy feel – with low ceilings and wooden beams, it was brimming with character.

IMG_2830The pick of the bunch was a slow-cooked lakeland pork belly dish, with creamed mash, roasted root, pickle jus (£15.95) that Chef really enjoyed and Little Chef loved the local specialty of sticky toffee pudding (£6.50). Our room and en suite were lovely too and we thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Queens Head.IMG_2833

We drove up to Scotland the next morning and after a couple hours, we found ourselves at the venue of the Commonwealth Game’s opening ceremony – Celtic Park. We then took a trip through the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow and to the gorgeous old Central Train station.

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Magnus the Viking – Largs, Scotland

We took a short train ride to the lovely holiday town of Largs – on the west coast. We were there to catch up with Chef’s Aunty C and Uncle W. We were made very welcome and had a lovely time with Aunty and Uncle. They treated Little Chef to fairground rides and numerous ice creams! We even met a giant Viking called Magnus – Largs has a rich Viking history.

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We all had a lovely dinner together at the appropriately named “Scotts” – at the Largs harbour. We sat in a booth in the stylish restaurant. Scotts overlooks the Firth of Clyde and as Chef noticed – some VERY expensive boats! Our pick of the dishes were an entrée of pan friend king scallops and pork belly was a well-cooked dish (£7.45). It came with pomegranates and cauliflower puree. 20140710_182136

For main, I REALLY should have tried the Scottish delicacy of “Haggis with Neeps and Tatties” (Turnips and potatoes), but I totally chickened out. I regretted it a bit, but after eating out for four days solid, all I really wanted was something light, healthy and fresh. The Asian sirloin salad with a hot and sour dressing (£12.95) fitted the bill nicely.20140710_184214On the penultimate day we flew from Glasgow to Belfast. The fight took a whole 25 minutes! Once in Belfast we picked up our slick Audi hire car and Chef drove us west through the Northern Irish country side.

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Giants Causeway – Northern Ireland

The roads were some of the bumpiest we’d encountered so far, we felt like we were on an hour long rollercoaster! Soon enough we crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland. We stayed in a lovely town, full of little shops and bars. Chef isn’t usually a Guinness drinker, but he agrees that it somehow tastes much different in Ireland, so he had a couple of pints of the black stuff.
IMG_3207After a nights rest, in our County Donegal Hotel, we drove back to Belfast. This time taking a route through Derry/Londonderry and along the magnificent Northern Irish coastline. We stopped at the world heritage site, the Giants Causeway along the way. The unique volcanic rock formation was every bit as stunning as we thought it would be.

 

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Irish Stew at Ballintoy Harbour – Northern Ireland

We also stopped at a few filming locations for our favourite TV show – Game of Thrones (which I’ll cover in a future post). We carried on through small fishing villages, pausing for a traditional Irish Stew (lamb/mutton, with potatoes, carrot and onion) and champ (mash with spring onion) lunch.

IMG_3365Eventually we ended up back in Belfast. I loved the stunning building that houses the titanic museum. In stark contrast to this, we also found ourselves in East Belfast – which I found very interesting, not having any Irish heritage of my own. The ends of the terrace houses were covered in murals, depicting images from the past conflict in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a country of many facets – through it was a flying visit, we thoroughly enjoyed it.