Stones and Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland

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Pic Credit: Amanda Killen

Chef and I are both a little obsessed with the TV show Game of Thrones. A few episodes into season one, I was totally hooked. The strong plot line of treachery and scandal and interwoven characters gets better and better with each episode.IMG_3279

When we discovered that 75% of the medieval fantasy series is filmed in Northern Ireland, where we planning to stop on our holiday last year, we HAD to pay a visit to some of the filming locations. For centuries giants and dragons have been part of Northern Irish legend, so it’s very fitting that much of the show is filmed there. The beautiful landscapes of Northern Ireland are ideal for the barren and unforgiving lands of Northern Westeros. The perfect place to crack out my “You know nothing Jon Snow” impression!IMG_3271 We happened to be visiting the world heritage site, The Giants Causeway – a couple of the locations are very close to that area. The unique volcanic rock formation was every bit as stunning as we thought it would be. Though the Giant’s Causeway itself isn’t used in Game of Thrones, the ocean and area around it has been used for shots of The Stormlands. The Glens of Antrim and their isolated rugged landscapes have been used as parts of the Dothraki Sea.20140712_121349 Dragonstone – Downhill Beach

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Pic © 2015 Caught on Set

Standing on a cliff top above Downhill Beach is the Mussenden Temple in County Londonderry. This location was used to film the scene in season two when Stannis and Melisandre were burning the old gods on the beach in “Dragonstone”. It’s a dramatic setting and lovely beach too, though the water is a bit chilly!IMG_3186 Iron Islands – Ballintoy Harbour We drove on, past a town called Castlerock – inspiration for Castery Rock perhaps? The picturesque Ballintoy Harbour is where Theon Greyjoy returned to his true home – the Iron Islands. He also met his sister Yara here in “Pyke”.IMG_3297

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© [2014] Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc

We stopped for a bite to eat in a quaint little café right on the harbour wall. We enjoyed an authentic Irish stew made with mutton, potatoes, carrot and onion with champ (mash with spring onion) on the side.IMG_3319

Stormlands – Carrick-a-Rede

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© [2014] Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc

Our next destination was Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It’s an iconic crossing, not for the faint hearted – that connects the mainland to Carrick-a-Rede Island. It’s not used in Game of Thrones, though the magnificent headland has provided a backdrop for many scenes.IMG_3347 It was pretty amazing to see “Westeros” in person. The drive along the Northern Irish coast is considered one of the best in the world and I’d have to agree. We zipped around the country roads in our Audi hire car and had a wonderful drive back to Belfast, which took about an hour. In Belfast, we passed the Titanic Studios, where the interior set scenes are filmed. It was a hive of activity as filming of season five has just started (July 2014).IMG_3363 IMG_3361Northern Ireland is a country of many facets and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the stunning building that houses the titanic museum. Game of Thrones is bringing a new generation of tourists to Northern Ireland. There are guided GoT coach tours and even an archery experience. We were wondering what to do with ourselves till the next season airs in 2015, we were happy that our holiday to Northern Ireland helped to fill the void! Find out more at; http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/gameofthrones/

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar – Joondalup

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Max Brenner Chocolate Bar on Urbanspoon

Just in time for Easter is a café for the chocoholics amongst us – Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. It’s a coco haven that is found all over the world – from New York to Moscow and now in Joondalup! It opened just last week and is located at Lakeside Joondalup, right next to the train station.IMG_8953

As an after school treat Little Chef and I checked out the chocolate bar. There’s a lot to choose from – waffles, fudge brownies, chocolate pizza, sundaes and much more. We settled on a Popsicle Fondue from the “Max I-scream” menu. Admittedly, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I was happy to share with Little Chef. It was nearly Easter after all!IMG_8958

The creamy vanilla ice-cream popsicles are accompanied by a melted milk chocolate fondue, caramelised pecans and sprinkles ($14.50). Little Chef had an absolute ball dipping his ice cream in all the sweet goodies to make his own popsicle creation – even if he did make quite a mess!IMG_8962

Little Chef also had his favourite drink – a babychino – with a chocolate twist.IMG_8959

I had an icy lychee and coconut white granita ($7.60) which was a tasty and sweet fruit combo. I loved the tall ceramic glass it came in too.IMG_8970

There’s also an adjoining chocolate shop where you can buy chocolate and lots of other goodies to take home. If you love San Churro and Koko Black you’re sure to enjoy a sweet and decedent afternoon tea at Max Brenner.IMG_8972

And look what I spied next door… Coco Cubano Cuban restaurant and bar coming soon! Cubano sandwiches here I come!IMG_8973

Meeka – Subiaco

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Meeka Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Meeka’s friendly service begins when we make our booking over the phone. We had settled on an early dinner, though Chef couldn’t quite decide on a time “6pm, no 6.30pm… ummm” Chef stumbles. Owner Faye replies – quick as a flash – “How about we meet in the middle – let’s make it 6.15”. Perfect. Faye also enquired if we’d dined at Meeka before and if we needed directions. Very friendly and happy to please – it set the tone for the evening’s service.IMG_8835

We arrive at 6.15pm precisely and are warmly welcomed by Faye at a beautifully carved Moroccan door in the restaurant’s entrance. We are seated at the window, overlooking leafy Rokeby Road. It’s our very first visit here and I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I had been imagining that we would step into a tented room, decked out like a colourful Casablanca souk. What we actually find is a modern, crisp and neutral restaurant – with a splash of Moroccan decoration. Meeka is a classy little place and reflects the style of food perfectly – modern Australian cuisine, with a Middle Eastern twist.IMG_8837

Meeka’s Head Chef, Leah Clarke, also happens to be Faye’s daughter. The mother-daughter team have together won a bevy of awards and accolades including “Wine List of the year”. Their wine list is seriously impressive, each vintage handpicked to complement Meeka’s menu. Chef chooses a glass of Friends of Punch Pinot Noir (NZ). Much of the drinks menu is scoured from Europe. I try a sweet French apple aperitif – it is exquisite and very smooth.

We share a mezze plate ($32) from the specials board. We devour the delicious harissa yogurt marinated chicken, served on ornate metal skewers. The tender chicken skewers are perfectly complimented by the delicately flavoured coriander and coconut sauce. The dainty pork neck pies are full of flavour and encased in flaky pastry. Black garlic labneh, a slightly sour cheese made from strained yogurt, is on the side. We relish the chargrilled corn and sweet potato croquettes.IMG_8842

We both choose a tajine, which is essentially a Moroccan stew, cooked and served in a colourful earthenware dish. There are options other than the hearty tajine dishes – also on the mains menu are braised ribs, lamb cutlets, gnocchi and much more – all with their own Moroccan flavour.IMG_8846

The aromas of cumin, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg waft from my lamb tagine ($38) as soon as the lid is lifted by our waiter. It is simply mouth-watering. Top quality Dorper lamb is used, which is very tender. The dish is full of texture from chickpeas, zucchini and crunchy harrissa spiced almonds. Prunes give the already delicious lamb an even deeper sweetness. The lamb tajine is served with a generous side of creamy hummus yogurt.IMG_8851

The tagines are designed to share, but Chef is not happy to part with a morsel of his main. After much persuasion he lets me try his dish and I soon realise why he wants to keep it all to himself! The wagyu beef tagine ($42) is absolutely sensational. The slow braised wagyu beef cheek simply falls apart at the merest touch of a fork. It is so buttery and tender. The beef is accompanied by saffron potatoes, mint preserved lemon yoghurt, pickled radish, sumac onions and fresh herbs. All the tajines are served with a side of Israeli couscous or quinoa for those with a gluten free diet.IMG_8850

It seems a crime not to look at the dessert menu, after such an enjoyable meal. I simply cannot say no to the Turkish delight stuffed doughnuts ($16). The fluffy little doughnuts – oozing with Turkish delight – are dusted in chocolate sugar and drizzled with a spiced chocolate sauce. On the side is creamy homemade pistachio ice cream. It is full of oodles of chopped nuts, which add a touch of crunch to the silky smooth ice cream. The sweet pistachio Persian fairy floss takes me back to my childhood. What an absolutely scrumptious dessert!IMG_8863

Chef manages to squeeze in a scoop of house made ice cream and candy floss too.IMG_8858

We are seriously impressed by Meeka Restaurant. The service, food, wine and casual, yet classy atmosphere is almost flawless and has the attention and care of a family run business.IMG_8867

**First published in the Post newspaper**

At a glance

■ Meeka Restaurant

361 Rockeby Road

Subiaco WA

Phone 9381 1800

■ Opening times

Tuesday – Saturday

6pm till late

■ Rating

food 4

service 5

ambience 4

value for money 4

■ style – Modern Australian

with a Moroccan twist

■ wine – award winning wine list

with an international feel.

■ Chef – Leah Clarke

■ Owner – Faye Clarke

■ feel – inviting, modern and classy

■ wheelchair access – yes

■ cost –

Entrée – $14 – $38

Mains – $30 – $42

Dessert – $7.80 – $38

■ all in all – absolutely delicious

Moroccan inspired dishes. Excellent

Service. Equally great for groups

or an intimate date night.

Night Noodle Markets – Northbridge

IMG_8901If you haven’t been to the Night Noodle Markets – get down to Perth Cultural Centre quick!! It’s part of the excellent Eat Drink Perth festival and on for just a few more nights (till Sunday the 29th of March) – well worth checking out. There are three distinct areas, all with a bar and plenty of seating.IMG_8931

What we found is that the Night Noodle Markets is not just about noodles! It’s a celebration of Asian cuisine and proving to be a huge hit. We’d heard that you should get down to Northbridge early to avoid the queues – and so it seemed had everyone else!

IMG_8894There was a BIG queue for Hoy Pinoy before the Filipino street food stall had even opened! Hoy Pinoy is usually found in Melbourne’s’ Victoria Markets and Perth was giving them a big welcome. At 4.55pm there was a line at least 50 people long – we took it as a good sign and were happy to queue for 15 minutes whilst smelling the BBQ aromas! Once Chef and I got our mitts on the prize pork belly skewers, with a banana ketchup glaze, we were pretty stoked. I happily tucked into my crispy pork belly – the heat from the bbq all but rendering the fat away – leaving crisp, but tender meat. $12 for two sticks.IMG_8900

Low Key Chow House on Urbanspoon
Next we popped next door to the Low Key Chow House.Usually, it’s home is on Oxford Street, in Leederville. We’ve heard a lot of positive buzz about LKCH. Chef and I ordered chili caramel pork buns, which hit the spot perfectly, two for $12.IMG_8905

There was a great atmosphere about, foodies chatting excitedly about their yummy finds,people enjoying a glass of wine at the Yulumba pop up with their food. There was a real mix of ages too, a lot of families, office workers and retirees. IMG_8936

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The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House on Urbanspoon
We then moved onto the food area opposite the WA museum. Chef made a beeline for a favourite restaurant of his – Apple Daily (found at Print Hall). He absolutely loved the Linley Valley pork ribs ($12). The sticky and delicious ribs are flavoured with a tamarind, chilli and coriander marinade – which he washed down with a Japanese beer.IMG_8909
Turban Chopsticks on Urbanspoon

IMG_8912I popped next door to Turban Chopsticks, to say hi to the lovely Mei and to meet her husband Suresh – the other half of the Turban Chopsticks team. I enjoyed some potato ricotta balls and a scrumptious curry. I actually lost most of the balls to Little Chef who to my surprise (and delight!) loved them. We have a box of them at home and Little Chef has plans to cook them – success! The lychee drink was so refreshing and he even liked that. I’m slowly getting there – I’ll convert this fussy eater!IMG_8913

The three of us then headed over to check out the last night noodle market area at the Urban Orchard.IMG_8932Here we found a sneak peek of Lucky Chan’s Laundry. The soon to be opened crowd funded restaurant. Chef ate a spicy Thai Green curry from Shallot Thai, where the curries were being cooked in traditional clay pots, $12.IMG_8928

It was a fantastic family night out and the three of us all enjoyed it. It’s great to try a bit of this and a bit of that and there’s still pleanty more to try if you go back for a second or third night! We’ll be back next year for sure!IMG_8880

Shiro Japanese Restaurant – Perth CBD

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Shiro Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After a presentation in the city, J and I decide on hanging around a bit longer and enjoying our child-free night out. Faced with the choice of the entire city’s restaurants, we let J’s Entertainment Book app narrow down where we were to go for dinner. There was a lot of choice in the immediate area – we were at Brookfield Place  – we decided to take a wander to the other side of “The Terrace” and try Shiro. The modern Japanese restaurant was somewhere neither of us had tried, but heard great things about.IMG_8794

Being a weeknight, we didn’t think a couple of walk-ins would be too much trouble. The waiter looked a little perplexed when we said we didn’t have a booking, but since the restaurant was pretty quiet, it didn’t seem to be too much of a problem. We were seated at a booth overlooking the leafy Central Park.IMG_8798

We both love Edamame, so sharing a bowl of the boiled soy beans was a no brainer. They came out steaming – I can never eat too many of those!IMG_8803

I can’t visit a Japanese restaurant without enjoying a bowl of miso soup!IMG_8810

For main, though the pork belly dish was so so tempting, I decided to choose  an old favourite instead – Chicken Teriyaki ($26). Years ago, I worked in West Perth and my work buddies and I would make the walk up Hay Street to Jaws for Teriyaki Chicken almost daily. The Chicken Teriyaki at Shiro was leagues above the take away I used to scoff at Jaws. The chicken breast and thigh were tender and covered in lashings of sauce, the bok choy, thinly sliced asparagus and cherry tomato gave me my vegetable fix. I also shared a side of steamed rice with J.IMG_8806

Caramel Miso Pork Belly ($32). I still managed to nab a bit of pork belly as J was kind enough to let me try hers. The pork belly braised in stock was very moist and full of flavour. A ginger salsa, herbs and pickled ginger were on the side.IMG_8804

All in all we really enjoyed Shiro. The food was very tasty, well presented and good value. The restaurant was classy and the service was mostly good. J even got a sneaky pic of this lil food blogger! We’d certainly return – maybe for some sashimi next time – now that we’ve been practicing our chopstick skills!11034168_10155185797840391_8700594956739803973_n

Scarborough Beach Bar

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Scarborough Beach Bar on Urbanspoon

Lately I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern appearing in our family dining, being that it’s usually somewhere Chef can enjoy a wood fired pizza and an ice cold beer! Ahh the simple things… So when he suggests that we go to Three Sheets AGAIN – I suggested that we try somewhere different – and the new Scarborough Beach Bar sprang to my mind. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for sitting on the balcony at the upstairs bar and watching the waves roll in.IMG_8704

The interior of the bar is light and airy, with a bit of a nautical, coastal theme. There’s plenty of spots to sit, we opted for the high bar tables.IMG_8699

There’s no table service, so orders are placed at the well stocked bar – Chef was impressed with their huge range of beers and drinks.IMG_8702

Poor me, always the driver, had a pre made juice. It was an interesting and tasty mix of apple, peach, orange, mango, blackberry, elderflower, grape seed and green tea.IMG_8701

The menu is typical of a modern pub with share food and gourmet pizzas to choose from. I was feeling like a “bit of this and that” so chose a couple a smaller dishes. The super tender salt and pepper calamari ($17) with a spicy chipotle aioli was a hit.IMG_8723

I also chose the potato skins three ways ($19, GF) thinking that it wouldn’t be a massive serve – I was wrong! There were six potato skins stuffed full of pulled pork, smoked bacon with sour cream n chives and also tomato and red onion salsa. I enjoyed the fillings, though the pulled pork was quite soggy. I love a pork dish and this unfortunately, fell short on my pork-o-meter.IMG_8720

Chef chose the Farmhouse pizza ($18/$26). It is available in two sizes, Chef opted for the larger size, which he struggled with. The kitchen is very generous with toppings and the pizza was smothered in eye fillet, sliced bratwurst, bacon, diced chicken, Spanish onion, roasted capsicum and cheddar – all on a bbq base. He liked his pizza, the base was nicely crisp, but he said he’d order the smaller version in future. His eyes were definitely too big for his belly on this occasion!IMG_8713

There weren’t a lot of kids around – mostly only children like Little Chef. He was well catered for with a good kids menu and he wolfed down his hotdog and chips. IMG_8711

All in all Scarborough Beach Bar is a great casual venue, where the food is mostly good and reasonably priced. The Scarborough beachfront is far more upmarket these days with new bars and restaurants opening left right and centre. With more additions to come it’s fast becoming the place to be. And who can argue with a view like this…IMG_8744IMG_8747IMG_8746

 

{PERTHfect product} Cooking with Turban Chopsticks & a “Little Bites” giveaway!

IMG_8777Recently I received a package of goodies from the lovely Mei and Suresh at Turban Chopsticks – this was a very welcome delivery as I have been using their products for a while now and absolutely love their concept of easy to make, authentic foods inspired from their Indian and Asian backgrounds.

I like the idea of cooking, I used to love it years ago. For various reasons I don’t enjoy it so much anymore – being crazy busy juggling my job/Blog/Social Media Management and also Little Chef being a terribly fussy eater make it difficult to be adventurous. I am a “one pot” fan, loving something that’s no fuss and that I don’t have to think too much about. I usually whip up the Turban Chopsticks Biryani if I’m making a curry in my slow cooker – its packed full of hand roasted cashews, sultanas and I usually add some veggies into the mix too.IMG_9648 (2)

I also am really strict when it coms to “E Numbers” or artificial colours/flavours and preservatives. It’s hard to find convenience food without these and knowing the Turban Chopsticks range is 100% natural gives me peace of mind.IMG_9654 (2)

Cooking with a little help from Turban Chopsticks is perfect for me and my family’s needs. It’s wholesome – no nasties at all. A lot of the products are gluten free too. There is a little bit of cooking involved – enough to make me feel like I’m making an effort and not just shoving a frozen pizza in the oven!

IMG_8772The “Little Bites” range are perfect little morsels for picnics, party finger foods, BBQs etc And so easy to whip up! I tried the Onion Bhaji Mix, admittedly I got Chef to chop the onions (my eyes are very sensitive! haha). After that all I did was add the dry mix to the onion, stir in some water and a little chilli and coriander. Too easy!IMG_8773

I deep fried the mixture for a few minutes then – tah-dah!! Deliciously crisp bajis in under 10 minutes. Chef and I love to have sides with curry and when we make a curry at home we’ll often pop up the road to the local take away to get some onion bhaji. NOT ANYMORE! Turban chopsticks bhajis taste 100% authentic, they’re absolutely delicious!IMG_8787

Now, I don’t want to get all “sell-y”. That’s not a word, but you know what I mean. I’ll only promote products now and then on my blog and I will only do this if:

A) I totally love them and

B) they are a local company

Turban Chopsticks absolutely covers this criteria and you can find their packages in the Asian food section of specialty food stores and selected Coles, IGAs and Woolworths. You may even bump into Mei at various farmers markets, festivals or Perth’s Upmarket like I did. Find out your local stockists and much more at http://www.turbanchopsticks.com.auIMG_8789

Turban Chopsticks on Urbanspoon

***GIVEAWAY***New Image111

{Win a Turban Chopsticks Pack!}

To enter – simply pop over to my facebook page “like” the competition post and answer the below question, in the comments section of this post. (Please read the rules first). Question: What Turban Chopsticks Rice pack do I cook? https://www.facebook.com/TheChefHisWifeTheirPerthFectLife

RULES

The competition closes at 6pm MONDAY 16th March 2015.

1 winner wins a Turban Chopsticks Pack – 6 boxes – (value $50).

You must live within Western Australia

The winner will be selected at random from all comments made.

The winner will be contacted and the prize mailed out – if the winner does not respond to their message within 24hrs, there will be a re-draw.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. By entering this competition you are agreeing to the rules and acknowledging that Facebook is not connected in any way to this contest. Good Luck!!