Charcoal Charlie’s Currumbine

Charcoal Charlie's CurrumbineBarbeque has been on trend for a few years now. In my own ‘hood there’s been a distinct lack of BBQ’s meats… until now! There’s a brand new BBQ ‘n burger joint in Currambine – Charcoal Charlies. If you love your meats cooked low and slow, then CC’s is well worth trying out. First and foremost, Charcoal Charlies is a takeaway, found at Currambine Central Shopping Centre. We found about 8 tables there too, which made it the perfect spot to enjoy a casual family meal close to home.

The eatery, which has recently opened, specialises in slow cooked meats, and burgers. Tender meats are cooked in a custom built smoker and Chef Andrew makes all his marinades, sauces and rubs from scratch. I’m very happy to report there are no nasties, additives or MSG here!Charcoal Charlie's Currumbine

Ordering your meal can be a little tricky, as we wanted to try everything! The menu has lots of tasty meats to choose from charcoal rotisserie cooked chicken, saucy ribs, and more coming soon.

I chose the lip-smackingly delicious lamb ribs, which are full of smoky flavours, moist and incredibly moreish. On the side I had the tastiest, herb-y rice, as well as a salad.

Charcoal Charlie's Currumbine

There are loads of delicious sides to pick from, including about 4 different freshly made salads. The potato bake, mac n cheese, poutine (on my list for next time!) and charred corn cobs look great too.

Charcoal Charlie's Currumbine

Chef ordered the “Chubby Charles”, which is not for the faint hearted. Two thick beef patties, double American cheddar, a gooey fried egg, smoked bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, pickles, American mustard and the special CC burger sauce. He devoured almost every bite, but the burg did bet him! The seasoned chips are also very tasty too.

Charcoal Charlie's Currumbine

Little Chef picked the “Cluckin Hot”. There is a kids menu, but the little chili addict just HAD to try this adult sized burger. A buttermilk fried spicy chicken breast, American cheddar, slaw, chipotle mayo and lashings of CC burger sauce are all served on a buttery brioche bun.Charcoal Charlie's Currumbine

There’s vegetarian and gluten free options, so everyone can enjoy the epic burgers. Charcoal Charlies is a walk in spot serving soul warming food. I’d happily grab a tasty chook, salad, rice and chips for a “chef inspired take away” family meal if I’m short on cooking time too. If you love meat and live in the Joondalup area, then Charcoal Charlies is for you!

Find Charcoal Charlies at 1244 Marmion Avenue, Currambine.
(Right on the outside corner of Currambine Central, on the Shenton Ave side)

More info on their website.

I was invited to dine at Charcoal Charlies at a discounted rate. Thanks for having us! 

Lil’ Sistas Yanchep

20180916_143314There’s a new café in Yanchep! The outer northern suburbs spot is found in the location that was once home to Bib’s Tuck Shop. And the story behind the name? Lil’ Sistas is the sister café of Burns Beach Café, so I was sure that it would have amazing coffee, just like our local by the beach. There’s not a lot of tables inside the small, narrow café, so we sat on the long bench bar table along the wall. Gone is the vibrant spray-painted lily mural, now a pretty tree with birds hiding in the branches gives a more grown up, but still playful vibe.

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We had popped by for a coffee and sweet bite to eat, after a lunch nearby. On the all day brunch menu there’s loads of taste bud tempters like Belgian waffles with grilled banana and marshmallow gelato, Salmon eggs benedict, a big brekky, burgers, fish n chips, salads, and much more. My flat white was excellent. The coffee roast used at Lil Sistas is by the organic artisan Fix Coffee.

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There’s plenty of sweet treats – muffins, slices, doughnuts and tarts in the chiller cabinet. I loved the rich and fudgy chocolate brownie, which is also gluten free. Winning!

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Little Sistas is a vibrant local café that’s pretty rare to find north of Joondalup. I wouldn’t mind trying their brunch offering, as the smells from the kitchen were mighty tempting! Next time I’m out that way, we’ll be sure to stop by.

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More on Lil’ Sistas here.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

Over the years, Chef and I have eaten at many Michelin starred restaurants throughout the UK and in France. Chef has fond memories of running his own section in the kitchen of a Michelin starred restaurant in the Derbyshire countryside. I worked in the kitchen too… as a dishy! So, when I heard a Michelin starred standard restaurant was hitting Perth, I was very, very excited.

Tim Ho Wan Perth (13)

I was invited to Tim Ho Wan, which originated in Hong Kong, on their sneak peek launch night. The arrival of the Dim Sum spot at newly opened Raine Square has been causing a lot of buzz. It was a hole in the wall eatery that was hailed as the most affordable Michelin starred restaurant in the world. While we don’t have the Michelin bench mark here in Australia, this set my expectations very high.

Tim Ho Wan Perth (14)

Being the opening, we were treated to Chinese lion dancing, music and good luck traditions.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

I’m not that familiar with most Chinese cuisine, so the pictured menu did come in handy. There’s a lot of choice of Dim Sum, or “bite sized offerings”. We were given a notepad, for writing up your own order.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

Then I pressed the “doorbell” button on the table when we were ready to send the order to the kitchen.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

Our Chinese tea and food came out of the bustling kitchen in record time. No sooner had our order been picked up from the table, plates and trays started arriving just minutes later. The food comes out as its ready and soon our entire table was brimming with food.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

Being gluten intolerant I was limited to what I could order but there was enough to fill me up. I tried congee with pork, century egg and salted egg, a sort of savoury rice porridge. Rice with chicken, sausage and mushroom was also a GF winner.Tim Ho Wan Perth (9)

I couldn’t get enough of the steamed beef balls with bean curd skin. The poached fresh seasonal vegetables were nicely coated in soy sauce. Other dishes people on my table enjoyed were pan-fried turnip cake, steamed prawn dumplings, spring roll with egg white and these pretty crisp, deep fried wasabi salad prawn dumplings.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

I’ll put my hands up and admit I was far too chicken (!!) to try the braised chicken feet with abalone sauce. I’m pretty adventurous, but that was a bit too much, even for me.

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By this time we were starting to struggle, but had just enough tummy space to fit in a sweet and creamy mango sago pomelo.

Tim Ho Wan Perth

I did expect Tim Ho Wan to be a bit more “high end”. I didn’t realise we placed our orders on paper and used the bell – like at Pappa Rich. We liked Tim Ho Wan – we both left feeling full, the menu wasn’t expensive and I’m sure it’s going to be an incredibly popular addition to William Street.

Find out more on Tim Ho Wan here.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

We dine early at Piccolo Trattoria, not because it’s a school night or we think it’s better for our digestion – five o’clock is the only time we can score a booking at the Shenton Park newbie. The incredibly popular Italian is already pumping before 6pm on a Thursday and we’re curious to see what the fuss is about.

The family business has already amassed a loyal following, after opening its doors just a few months ago. We’re greeted by chatty wait staff, who make us feel like old friends that have popped over for dinner. This is all part of trattoria-style dining. Trattorias are Italian-style eateries, known for being more casual than a restaurant and where bread is broken over hearty, home style meals.

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The cosy dining room has a faint whiff of paint. We see that the small restaurant is being extended to accommodate more tables, which hopefully improves the odds of snaring a table in future! Italian singers croon in the background and the tables are covered with traditional red and white checked cloths. This could be a little twee, but it works here in the otherwise modern dining room, making the spot on the Nicolson Road strip feel homely and inviting.

The rustic menu is heavily influenced by hearty Sicilian cuisine, where Owner and Head Chef Carlo Collova’s parents originate from. It wouldn’t be much of an authentic trattoria without a menu brimming with antipasto and of course there’s pasta aplenty – even gluten free pasta for coeliacs.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

This BYO restaurant is the perfect spot to bring along a favourite drop of wine from your collection. A good selection of soft drinks, tea and coffee are also on offer. A dish of salty marinated olives, finished with a squeeze of lemon juice, get our juices flowing.

My entrée, a melanzana parmigiana ($14) is ooey-gooey goodness. Grilled softened eggplant is layered with a rich tomato sauce, fresh basil and grana padano, a kind of parmesan cheese. The delicious dish is topped with even more fresh herbs, caper salsa and a rustic loaf for wiping up the lip-smacking sauce.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

Plump polpette beef and pork meatballs ($14) are slowly cooked in a tomato sugo, topped with cheese, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Chef dips his thick-cut bread into the sauce, it’s a soul-warming dish, just like Nonna makes.

Meatballs

For main, I choose the game-y goat chops ($38), having got a taste on a recent trip to Carnarvon, where goat is plentiful. The grilled baby goat chops are oozing with flavour, marinated in garlic, rosemary, fennel seeds and thyme. A crisp potato croquette and well-dressed Greek style salad, that’s brimming with chunks of tomato, cucumber and creamy goat’s feta are on the side.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

Chef relishes the La Cotoletta Parmigiana ($38). A thin beef fillet schnitzel is coated in crumbs and pan friend, giving it a slightly charred crust. The tender meat is topped with a little tomato sauce, melted grana padano cheese and a generous amount of fresh basil leaves. On the side is a silky eggplant and tomato chutney, potato croquette, sautéed spinach, and a sweet and spicy pickled chili. Chef admits he’s not eaten beef schnitzel since the 1980s and thoroughly enjoys his trip down memory lane.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

Chocolate torta ($14) has to be one of my favourite Italian sweets. Piccolo Trattoria’s version is a flourless chocolate almond cake, with roasted pistachios, a dark chocolate ganache, mixed berry compote and lashings of double cream. While the flavours are robust, I find the texture far too crumbly.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

The rich and creamy mousse al cioccolato ($14) is divine. Decadent chocolate mousse is topped with mixed berry compote and a sprinkle of roasted pistachio.

Piccolo Trattoria, Shenton Park

There’s a lot to love about Piccolo Trattoria. The simple dishes are mouth-watering, making it much more than your average local Italian. Though they’re not reinventing the wheel, the kitchen is serving up well cooked Italian dishes with gusto, a bucket load of flavour and loads of heart. Welcome to the neighbourhood Piccolo Trattoria!

At a glance

■ Piccolo Trattoria
205 Nicholson Road
Shenton Park
Phone 9382 1778
■ Opening times
Mon – Sat 5pm to late
■ Rating
food 4
service 4
ambience 4
value for money 4
■ style – Italian
■ wine – BYO wine and beer
■ Chef – Carlo Collova
■ Owner – Carlo Collova
■ feel – casual and cosy
■ wheelchair access – yes
■ cost –
Entrée – $4 to $39
Mains – $19 to $45
Dessert – $7 to $14
■ all in all – bookings are essential at
this new Shenton Park spot, where
the delicious Italian offerings are
far from average.

Piccolo Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ, Kalamunda

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Robs Pit Stop BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There’s a new BBQ joint in Kalamunda – Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ. If you are a carnivore and love your meats cooked low and slow, then Rob’s is well worth trying out. In what was once a suburban deli, opposite Kalamunda High School, is now home to the casual eatery – a dedicated mecca of meat.

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Chef and I are a bit obsessed with a TV show called “Southern Fried Road Trip” – a road trip through the southern US states of Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama and more. Half the weird and wonderful dishes we’ve never heard of and we’re absolutely fascinated by it. So many of their discoveries are at tiny shacks by the side of the road or retro cafes owned by generations of the same family.

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Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ has that laid-back southern American feel, people are just here for a soul-warming feed of BBQ, there’s no airs and graces and you eat from paper plates!
There’s plenty of seating – inside in the diner-style room or outside in the enclosed patio area.

Rob's Pit Stop BBQ

When it comes to ordering your meal, things are a little different at Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ. Here, meat is ordered per 100 grams. Don’t worry about over-ordering, you’re welcome to take the leftovers home. The menu has lots of tasty meats to choose from, you can keep it to yourself, but we think it’s more fun to share and you get to try lots more that way. It’s served up in a very different way too!

Rob's Pit Stop BBQ

We chose Texas brisket, Carolina pulled pork, Memphis style pork ribs, Kansas City beef short ribs and Kielbasa sausage. My favourites of the meats had to be the very tasty brisket, huuuuge beef short rib, with a lip-smackingly delicious charred crust. In truth it was all good. I would have liked to see a meat dish that was a little saucy too, to mix things up a bit.

Rob's Pit Stop BBQ

On the side we had coleslaw, potato salad and mac and cheese. Little Chef was obsessed with the creamy mac n cheese which came in a huge paper cup. You can help yourself to pickles, chillies and pickled onion, as well as a range of hot sauces.

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This feast was shared between five people and at about $36 dollars per head, we found it was good value. The meat is full of smoky flavours, moist and incredibly moreish. We did end up having a little extra to take home too, good for sandwiches later!

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There’s plenty of choice for soft drinks and bottomless cups of iced tea – nice one!

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Little Chef chose a Canada Dry, there’s also imported cans of cherry cola and more.

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If you want to try Rob’s pit stop, but maybe not have such a meat-fest, try a brisket and coleslaw roll or a Ruben, with pastrami and sauerkraut. To finish we enjoyed some mini pecan pie and chocolate brownies. The American pumpkin pie also sounds delicious.

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Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ is a walk in spot, with bookings available for larger groups of eight or more. If you love meat – then Rob’s Pit Stop BBQ is for you!

More info on their website.

8 Yolks, Success

20180909_125156I’m the first to admit that I’m pretty clueless when it comes to dining in south-of-the-river Perth. I’m an ex-hillbilly and current northie, so I’m all over Joondalup, the inner city areas of Perth, swan valley and Perth Hills, as well as my “golden triangle” Post Newspaper region in the western suburbs. If I take a trip over the Narrows Bridge – I hit a bit of a blank. That goes to show just how huge Perth’s sprawl and foodie scene has become.

Over the years I’ve found a few southern gems like Rustico Tapas in Rockingham and Timber Café in Harrisdale. I’d been invited along to a brand new café in Success, 8 Yolks. Normally, I wouldn’t make a 110km round trip for brunch, but it just so happened I was heading south that day.

The Success café doesn’t have that rustic chic vibe like so many cafes do these days. I love that it’s totally original. The bright and sunny café has a fun colour scheme, incorporating my favourite brunch component – the humble runny egg! There’s cosy booths, inside and outside dining, and a gorgeous tiled communal table, where Little Chef and I set up camp.

8 Yolks, Success

First up we order some coffees – an almond flat white for me and a baby chino for Little Chef.

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The menu is made up of all sort of al day brunch goodies. Staples like bircher muesli and eggs benny are joined by a few Asian style dishes, so you’re sure to find a dish to tickle your fancy.  Nine year old Little Chef ordered the adult sized banana and nutella pancake ($17.5), Fluffy pancakes are topped with hazelnut crumble, banana, strawberries and finishes with a couple of generous scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. He managed to polish the whole lot off! It would be fantastic to see a kids menu for younger children though.

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I enjoyed the gluten free version of the Smokey BBQ Pulled Beef Benedict ($21). The tender Angus beef brisket is slow cooked for 14 hours and it shows. The meaty deliciousness is topped with two eggs and buttery hollandaise sauce. A gooey egg is my idea of heaven and these were perfectly poached – yolk oozing everywhere. Great for mopping up with the gluten free bread.

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All in all, we both loved the relaxed atmosphere and well cooked brunch offerings at 8 Yolks. If I lived in the area I’d be stoked to have it as my local café!

Find 8 Yolks at 660 Beeliar Drive, Success.

More details on 8 Yolks Café here.

I dined as a guest of 8 Yolks Café, all opinions are my own.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

20180810_120754As part of this year’s Gascoyne Food Festival I was attending many of the tasty events in and around Carnarvon.  I was told that the festival’s highlight is the Long Table Lunch and I could barely contain my excitement about the 10 course lunch that lay before me!

My word, the location under the shady trees at the Bentwaters Plantation was amazing. We took our seats and spent a sunny winter’s afternoon chatting and mingling over some good wine and seriously amazing food, much of which was cooked using fresh produce that we’d seen the day before, on the Chef Tour of the Plantations.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

I was there as part of the media group of food bloggers and journalists, it was so nice to get dressed up, after touring the farms the day before.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

L-R: Liz Sheehan (aka Breakfast Confidential) & Me

Chef Don Hancey

Chatting across the table to WA Food Ambassador, Chef Don Hancey, I discovered that the long table lunch gets longer each year! This year over 360 guests (locals and visitors) enjoyed the epic meal cooked with local produce by Chefs from all around WA.

Gascoyne Food Council

As a Chef that’s very passionate about supporting local growers, Don has been one of the key people involved in growing the festival over many years. It comes as no surprise that this year he was awarded with a Gascoyne Hero Award, for his contribution towards the Gascoyne Food Festival. Usually Don is in the kitchen, but this year he got to sit back and enjoy the lunch – which was very well deserved.

The Epic Long Table Lunch

To get our tastebuds warmed up, we devoured a canape of crab and avocado, with a sriracha kick on a tapioca crisp by MasterChef alumni Brendon Pang.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

Entrée of the chilled Mareterram prawns, with charred corn and melon salsa and a jalapeno sauce was created by Chef Jason Beste (of Suppa Road, an Award winning south west catering co). What a stunning dish!

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

The drool-worthy 12 hour beef rib by Chef Matt Neeble (of Arthur and Co, a new restaurant in Hibernian Place) was so meaty and delicious!

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Delish Ice supplied the palate cleanser, a combo of tomato, strawberry and basil.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

I loved the wood grilled BBQ lamb shoulder by Chef Melissa Palinkas (Owner/Head Chef of Young George). The yellow beans were so crunchy – I could have eaten a bucket-load!

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Chef Dean Wood (of Dean Street Quarters, all the way from Esperance!) dished up spiced roasted pumpkin with pickled beans and a smoked yogurt and granola. Chef Lucas Fernandes (of Long Chim, in the Treasury Buildings) created a scrumptious crispy fried goldband snapper dish.

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Stuffed eggplants by Chef Gurpreet Bagga (from Sauma, one of my favourite Perth Indian restaurants) were packed with flavour and served with paratha.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

The chefs had their own long table, where they carefully plated the components of the MOST spectacular Sweeter Banana Dessert by Chef Nathan Thomas (of Laundry 43, in Busselton).

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

The bananas were poached in beurre noisette and served with a banana and lime parfait. Trust me, it tasted as good as it looks!

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

And we finished our feast on a sugary high of the Desert Bloom strawberries and cream. I could smell the strawberries from about 10 meters away, they’re so sweet. A simple way to end the lunch, the strawberries are heavenly. I must have eaten about 10.

Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch

It’s so difficult to play favourites. For me, my highlights had to be the beef ribs, the snapper and the banana dessert, but in truth I loved each and every wonderful dish cooked under the verandas of the homestead by the chefs. 

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Well done to Chef Stuart Laws who brought everyone together and executed such a memorable meal!

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The Gascoyne Food Festival Long Table Lunch was a luscious lunch featuring so much of the produce we’d seen growing just the day before. It brought together the amazing local produce, the Chefs, the farmers and the landscape in one blissfully sunny afternoon!

I’d highly recommend you put the long table lunch and the Gascoyne Food Festival onto you WA foodie bucket list. The amazing produce really has to be tasted to be believed.

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I attended as a guest of the Gascoyne Food Council.

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Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef TourDo you know where your fruit and veg is grown? Is it from WA, over east or even China or the US? I love a local Farmers Market, where you can chat to the people who picked the crop just hours before. The convenient lure of the big supermarkets is often too much for me. I still keep an eagle eye out for the Buy West Eat Best logo and any other indicators that I’m buying local produce. I like to keep my shopping dollar in WA.

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The Chefs with our guide Robyn Bumbak (far right)

This is why I was SO excited to join in on the Gascoyne Food Festival’s Chef Tour of the Carnarvon plantations. We spent a day visiting just a handful of the many growers in the area. Carnarvon is an amazing food bowl – there’s such an impressive abundance of food grown and caught here. The quality is outstanding. Here’s what I found…

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Robyn Bumbak of Bumbaks & Sons Grapes was our tour guide for the day. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about Gascoyne produce. We stopped at the Gascoyne River, which only flows a couple of times a year. There was actually a little water flowing. This is the lifeline of the plantations. Even when the river bed is bone dry, there is still water to be found in the underground aquafers.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Before we got going we stopped for some delicious, freshly baked goat pies from Mundillya Homestead. You can grab them from Meat@79 in Nedlands too!

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Mareterram

First stop was seafood company Mareterram, where James Clement ran us through the fishing history of the area. Mareterram use sustainable methods to fish just 4000 sq kms of a 40000 sq km area per year for Tiger prawns, King Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab and scallops. Their premium product is dipped in an organic melacide to stop discolouration of the prawns, when many other overseas companies use chemicals to do this.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Bumbaks & Sons Grapes

Robyn took us to her huge plantation of grapes, where the vines were just starting to shoot for the season. It was interesting to hear how Bumbaks team up with other growers from the Swan Valley and around WA to offer their customers an almost year-round supply of grapes.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Sweeter Banana Co

My Mum has always drilled into me from a young age that Carnarvon Bananas may be smaller, but they are far tastier than their Queensland counterparts. I have to agree and now that’s all my own family eats. I was thrilled to see where my “nanas” came from at the Sweeter Banana Co.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Here bananas are brought in from the plantation and sorted into the very recognisable packaging. These bags are necessary to protect the fruit, as Carnarvon bananas have thinner skins than other varieties of banana. It’s really important to note that a leaf of the banana tree may brush the banana and bruise the skin, but the fruit will still be perfect inside.

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WA Food Ambassador, Chef Don Hancey loves the Sweeter Bananas too!

Kuzmicich Plantation

The next stop was the immense Kuzmicich Plantation. Which grows all sorts of fruit and vegetables year round. We marvelled at the rows and rows of capsicum and eggplant grown by the Kuzmicich family. Dan Kuzmicich took us through how the crops are grown, used high tech computerised monitors as well as the challenges they face. And who knew eggplants had such pretty flowers?!

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Bumbaks Farm Shop

Robyn’s family also have a very popular produce shop selling all sorts of by-products of their fresh produce – including some absolutely delicious icecreams and preserves. My choc dipped mango icecream was amazing! I wish you could get them in Perth.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Desert Bloom

Farmer Paul Shain gave us a walking tour of the produce around Dessert Bloom. The no-nonsense local grows an incredible selection of fresh fruit and veggies. His simple philosophy of “Don’t f*** with the fruit!” really resonated with me. All my favourite restaurants (like Millbrook Winery and Manuka Woodfire Kitchen) focus on seasonal local produce and don’t mess about and get too “cheffy” with it, allowing the produce to be the star of the show.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

These incredibly sweet strawberries are hands down THE BEST I’ve ever tasted. I was gutted to hear they don’t sell them in Perth, as their high sugar content means they don’t have a very long shelf life. We ate these at the Long Table Lunch, simply dipped in a little cream. I ate a bucket load of them!

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

Paul encouraged us to pick beans and corn straight from the plants. Everyone raved about the corn, it was deliciously sweet. Brendan Pang (from MasterChef) sure thought so to! Desert Bloom’s produce can be purchased at the Stirling and Claremont Farmers Markets.

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What the Farmers Think

The common ground all producers had, regardless of the type of fruit or veg they grew, was the concern over waste caused by our major supermarkets demanding perfect produce. For me, I don’t care if my broccoli is too big, or my banana is too bendy. It’s probably going to be chopped, sliced and diced anyway! Apparently, it’s what the consumer wants, but I’m not convinced by this.

What we Can do to Support the Farmers

I came away from the Chefs Plantation Tour feeling 100% compelled to make sure my grocery dollar stays in WA, but unless you visit a farmers market and speak to the stall holders, it’s often hard to figure out the origin of fruit and veg at the shops.

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

You may be like me. I’m on auto pilot every time I hit the supermarket, my mind on a hundred other mummy/wifey/work-y things. I like to buy Aussie. I very rarely purchase fresh produce that is grown in Asia or overseas. What I’d really like to do, is to buy West Australian whenever I can and be really mindful of keeping my dollar in WA.

If you shop at your local growers market, then you’re buying WA produce – well done you! If you shop at Coles, IGA or Wollies, be sure to ask the store manager where the produce is from, if you’re not sure. They often list fruit and veg as “Produce of Australia”, which for me is only half way there. I want to know that the produce is WA grown – that it’s picked from a tree in Donnybrook, or plucked from a plant in Carnarvon. This kind of thing…

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Off the top of my head, the only products I buy that I know are from WA are apples grown in the Southern Forests, Brownes Dairy/Harvey Fresh products, Mount Barker Chicken, Harvey Beef and Carnarvon Bananas – as they have labels and packaging that really catch my eye.

It’s hard yakka out on the plantations. Whether the producers have to contend with drought, floods or cyclones (some places are still repairing after the 2015 cyclone) or the supermarkets refusing their produce, as it’s “too big”, we need to consciously do our own little bit to support these wonderful West Aussies!

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I toured the Carnarvon plantations as a guest of the Gascoyne Food Council.

My Trip to the Gascoyne Food Festival

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

As a child, I visited my Nanna in Geraldton often, but I never made it any further north… until now! I was SO excited to be invited to this year’s Gascoyne Food Festival and discover a little about North West WA.

I know loads about what’s on offer in the south west, but I’ve always been a little clueless about what’s “up north” beyond beaches, fishing and the vast, arid outback. What could a foodie like me get up to? I’ve since discovered, that there’s lots of tastebud tempting things to see and eat in the Gascoyne!

Fresh Gascoyne Produce on the Chef Tour

The annual Gascoyne Food Festival holds events to celebrate the regions amazing produce – like fruit, vegetables, seafood and goats (yes, really!). It’s a remarkable food-bowl on the banks of the Gascoyne River. And after my four day adventure, I can tell you that it is produce well worth celebrating.

I started my trip on a damp, wintery morning at Perth Airport. I hopped on a REX twin prop plane…

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and before I knew it, I was in sunny Carnarvon! Here’s my rundown of events:

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Long Table Lunch

Many people’s highlight of the festival is the Long Table Lunch, held at the beautiful Bentwaters Plantation was amazing!

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This year over 360 guests (locals and visitors) enjoyed the epic meal cooked with Gascoyne produce by Chefs from all around WA. It was a luscious lunch and it’s so difficult to choose a favourite dish… the Carnarvon banana dessert was sensational! More on the Long table lunch to come.

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Taste of Gascoyne Sunset BBQ

This casual barbie showcased the best produce the Gascoyne region has to offer. Chef Stuart Laws from Showcase Events WA cooked Mundillya Homestead goat and lamb Asado style – long and slow over hot coals. It tasted absolutely divine!

Gascoyne Food Festival

There was also Gascoyne fish, prawns, fruit and vegetables alongside special dishes created by a local Vietnamese community group. Due to the unusual weather (rain in Carnarvon?!), this was held inside the old wool shed. The weather wasn’t enough to dampen the festive atmosphere and a delicious meal was had by all.

Chefs Paddock Tour

We spend hours traipsing around fields and plantations and I loved every second! From the sweetest strawberries and corn to fresh king prawns and the iconic Carnarvon banana – meeting the producers was so interesting and also really empowered me to make sure what’s in my own shopping trolley is from WA farmers.

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Fruit Loop

The annual Chefs tour is especially for the visiting Chefs and media. You can DIY your own tour of the plantation’s farm stalls and shops by grabbing the “Fruit Loop” map from the tourist information centre in the heart of town. The Fruit Loop is a drive yourself tour you can do at any time of year and brilliant for picking up cheap local produce. 

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Gascoyne Growers Markets

The weekly Saturday morning markets are a huge deal in Carnarvon’s town centre.

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As well as the freshest produce imaginable, you can find some really unique gifts, preserves and accessories. There’s goat handbags!

Gascoyne Food Festival

A popular goat pie, scrumptious mango pancake or very tall “church burger” are the go-to breakfast options at the markets.

Gascoyne Food Festival

Especially for the Gascoyne Food Festival, Chef Stuart Laws (Showcase Events WA) put on a cooking demo, along with Masterchef’s Brendan Pang and Chef Lucas Fernandes (Long Chim).

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And it wouldn’t be an outback market without a Bushchook windmill! #Straya

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Sue Helmut Art Exhibition

The Artist in Residence for the Gascoyne Food Council is local painter Sue Helmut. Her colourful landscapes in the “From the Source – A Landscape of Food” collection take you from the rains on Mount Augustus, which flow down the Gascoyne River, replenishing the underground aquafers that water the fruit and vegetables and then out to the sea, where the nutrient rich rainwaters trigger spawning of seafood. Who knew art could be so educational?! And well done to Sue on her first solo exhibition.

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Other highlights…

Dirk Hartog Island hosted a Campfire Seafood Paella Dinner by Chef Russell Blaikie. And Dirk’s Long Table Lunch cooked by Chef George Cooper.

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Pic : Gascoyne Food Council

The Carnarvon Races was an event to get your glad rags on for!

Outback Meets Reef at Mantarays Ningaloo Beach Resort was hosted by WA Food Ambassador Chef Don Hancey. For beer lovers a 6 Course “Beergustation” was held at Froth Craft Brewery, Exmouth.

Gascoyne Food Council

Pic : Gascoyne Food Council

And the grand finale The World’s Biggest BBQ at The World’s Biggest Rock will be held on September the 8th under the stars at Mount Augustus.

The annual Gascoyne Food Festival is the perfect excuse for checking out Carnarvon and the rest of the Gascoyne region. I’d highly recommend that you take a winter break in 2019 and enjoy next year’s Gascoyne Food Festival, some sunshine and amazing fresh produce!

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I attended the festival’s events as a guest of the Gascoyne Food Festival. 

D’s Authentic Japanese, Connolly

D's Authentic Japanese, Connolly

I’ve said it before – D’s Authentic Japanese is a local gem. The once teeny tiny restaurant opposite Gipsy Boy soon outgrew its spot and moved to a serene spot in suburban Connolly. The dining room overlooks a Japanese water garden and is the scene of organised calm. There’s boxes to organise handbags (is that good fung shui?!) and efficient waiters with earpieces.

D's Authentic Japanese, Connolly

We were there for a lovely friend’s big 4-0. The lunch specials offer great value for money. Each of the main dishes are accompanied by fresh salad, rice and warm miso soup. On the menu there’s lots to choose from, teriyaki, katsu and more. My Wagyu Teriyaki ($28) was delicious, I did struggle a bit with the chopsticks… it had been a while since last using them! Once positive though, it makes me eat a lot slower. I had time to really savour the meaty flavour of the thinly sliced beef and sautéed cabbage.

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The grilled salmon teriyaki is very well cooked and accompanied with a tasty dressed salad, rice and miso soup. Great value at $20. Chopsticks are provided, though you are welcome to request a knife and fork if you don’t want to struggle to use them!

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For dessert I loved the Yuzu cheesecake (GF). The baked cheesecake is served with a tasty blackcurrant sorbet. I really relished the chance to eat such a yummy dessert – I don’t have many cheesecakes these days being gluten intolerant.

D's Authentic Japanese, Connolly

The birthday girl enjoyed a sweet homemade Wasanbon Caramel ice cream presented in beautiful hand-made bowls. Wasanbon is a fine grained Japanese sugar, traditionally used in high-end Japanese cuisine.

D's Authentic Japanese, Connolly

D’s Authentic Japanese is easily the best Japanese spot in the outer northern suburbs of Perth . The fresh produce used is excellent quality and the service is friendly, if not a bit business-like. I hear amazing things about their famous tuna parties that they hold from time to time. Check their FB page for deets.

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D’s Authentic Japanese is fully licenced and also offers some delicious Japanese style teas. It’s well worth seeking out for an authentic Japanese meal.