The Hummus Club, Northbridge

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Years ago, I discovered The Hummus Club at a Perth foodie event and it was love at first bite. I savoured the Club Mix, served from their pop up food stall,  a delicious combo of all their favourites – a generous serve of hummus, fluffy falafels, a middle eastern salad with a pomegranate dressing and fresh pita. All that was washed down with their refreshing pomegranate lemonade. It was absolutely delicious. When owners Ziad and Kaitlin opened their very own restaurant on William Street, I was so excited to visit!

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Earlier this year, one of my BFFs, Nays and I had booked a table at the Hummus Club. We were there for a early pre-movie bite to eat, before heading to the Rooftop Cinema, in Northbridge. I’d hoped their move from market stall to bricks and mortar restaurant had not taken anything away from what I’d loved about the simplicity of their food.

The very popular restaurant, with it’s vibrant feature wall and neon sign is buzzing and it has a really good vibe about it. Bookings are essential! IMG_4599

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Taste Budds Cooking Classes

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Taste Budds Cooking Studio, run by Chef Sophie Budd, is found in Highgate. Sophie has previously worked for popular British Chefs Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver. Predominantly, the cooking studio offers cooking classes for adults, catering, long table dinners, and during the school holidays Sophie runs her extremely popular cooking classes for children.

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Little Chef was invited along for the “hands on” class for eight to twelve year olds. Considering he’s from a family of three Chefs, he doesn’t have many kitchen skills (whoops!). Hospitality is a hard industry to work in and we don’t want to push him into it! Saying that, being able to cook is an important life skill and it’s high time he learned how to peel a spud!

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The class is run by Sophie, with help from Chef Brendon. The main focus of these classes is food preparation skills. Sophie’s passion for cooking is infectious. She’s really great with the kids in the class (usually about 12). Everybody warmed to her instantly and she managed to keep a friendly but authoritative rein on the class. Continue reading

Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale

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Millbrook Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Winery

I’ve been wistfully daydreaming for the best part of a decade that one day I’d enjoy a long lunch, glass of wine in hand, in the lakeside restaurant Millbrook Winery. To be fair, I don’t have a particularly good reason why I hadn’t made the trip to Jarrahdale, other than it’s at the opposite end of Perth to where I live. It’s not on the moon or even as far as Margaret River. So when I discovered that lunch at Millbrook was part of my research into the Peel region and it’s produce for Buy West Eat Best’s Signature Dish Competition, I was over the moon.IMG_8156

I’d been following Millbrook’s Head Chef Guy Jeffreys on Instagram, so I had an idea that fresh produce was a very important feature on their menu. He’s worked at some well renowned WA restaurants in the past, including Leeuwin Estate and David Coomer’s celebrated Star Anise. Not only is he Head Chef, but their head gardener too! More on that immense vegetable garden later…

Much to his disappointment, Chef was working, so I took my parents along for lunch at Millbrook on a sunny autumn day. Walking through the grounds, the leaves on the trees and vines were shades of red, orange and brown. It’s the sort of spot which really changes with the seasons. I hear Millbrook is also stunning in spring when the blossom is on the trees and their wisteria is blooming! IMG_8151

First off, we enjoyed an introduction to Millbrook at the cellar door with a wine tasting. These get very popular on weekends and a light menu, of cheese platters and the like, is offered to enjoy along with their wines by the lake. Picnic baskets are also available, I can’t think of a prettier setting to thrown down a rug.MIMG_7962

We tried some white and red varieties from Millbrook’s various vineyards around WA. As well as growing their own grapes on site, they require a cooler climate for other varieties, with drops from Margaret River, Pemberton and the Great Southern. My favourite of the wines I tried was the Millbrook Margaret River Vermentino, followed by their Shiraz blend.IMG_7996

The Food

The dining room is found upstairs, with panoramic views over the lake, jarrah forest, vineyards and manicured gardens. There’s a large stone fireplace on one wall, which must be wonderfully cosy on a chilly day in the Perth Hills.IMG_8009

The modern Australian menu changes regularly, depending on what is available from the garden. The food is filled with technique, imagination and passion. What you won’t find is overkill of fussy gels, soils and other Cheffyness – which is not needed when you have amazing fresh produce growing at your kitchen door. This is how good food should be, simple, exciting and delicious.

At the suggestion of our friendly waitress, we choose the 3 course choice for $75 per person, this also includes some sides. To start, we nibble on olives, warm bread and butter with a red wine salt. For entrée we share the kitchen’s choice, $42 for two people. This is a selection of dishes that’s made up from whatever is abundant in their garden each day. On this day it was three dishes – cured beef in lettuce cups with a fermented hot sauce mayo and tender squid with salsa and beans.IMG_8050

The real show stealer of the dishes was the bianco turnips, simply pulled from the veggie patch, washed and served with a creamy curds and whey and preserved lemon. We ate them root to leaf with our hands “bunny style” and absolutely relished the vibrant, fresh flavour. It says everything about Millbrook’s food philosophy – unfussy, flavoursome and fresh food. You don’t need to mess with food too much to create a memorable dish – it really starts and ends with outstanding local produce.IMG_8048

A entrée sized dish of pickles, charred octopus, chorizo and a safflower mayo ($23) was a perfect match for my glass of subtlety fruity Vermentino. If they don’t grow it themselves the Millbrook Chefs are on first name terms with their suppliers, like local pig farmer James Taylor, who they source their nitrate free chorizo from. It may not look pink like typical chorizo, but the greyish meat is packed with flavour. I’m glad it doesn’t come packed with preservatives and other nasties. The octopus is also delicious and it’s genuinely the most well cooked octopus I’ve ever had.IMG_8033

For main I bite the bullet and choose the Viognier braised rabbit risotto with bacon ($39). Having had pet bunnies as a child, I’ve struggled a bit with ordering rabbit dishes. With (a lot) of coaxing from Chef over the years, I recently plucked up the courage to give it a go and boy am I glad that I did. Generous morsels of Baldivis rabbit are laced throughout this creamy risotto, topped with shavings of parmesan. It’s a rustic, soul warming dish.IMG_8075

I have to admit, I was eying up the coffee rubbed brisket ($39), which sounded amazing. My Dad loved this dish and kindly let me try a bite, giving me serious food envy. The huge hunk of meat was cooked overnight making it moist and full of flavour. On the side was a mountain corn polenta (from corn grown in the garden), and a fresh snake bean salad. This dish was well paired with the Millbrook Estate Cabernets, which my parents agreed was a top drop of red. IMG_8063

My Mum chose the market fish of the day ($39), which was a Spangled Emperor from Broome. It was draped with the most enormous piece of broccolini. The stem was as thick as a tree trunk and easily the most flavoursome part of the vegetable. The moist fish was accompanied by a house made yogurt, Venezuelan Ají dulce chilli burnt butter and Manjimup roasted hazelnuts. These are a by-product of the truffle industry, as truffles are grown under hazelnut trees and another great example of reducing waste. IMG_8066

As well as all that, we enjoyed a generous side of potatoes and more garden fresh veg. To finish, my parents both enjoyed a light apple strudel ($16), with mascarpone parfait, shaved jujubes (an apple-like fruit) and a raisin syrup, made from grapes on the vineyard.IMG_8089

Scrumptious chocolate mousse cake ($16), with a white chocolate & ginger ice cream finished my lunch off perfectly. The candied macadamias were very moreish. IMG_8104

As well as having an abundance of rave-worthy wines to choose from, I really love how Millbrook offers some really interesting non-alcoholic drinks. I’m so bored of pre-mixed soft drinks and drinking water, after I’ve finished my glass of vino. Here there’s house made ginger spritzer, a Millbrook basil, cucumber & mint spritzer, Bannister Downs chocolate milk, Jarrahdale neccessiteas and more. I chose a refreshing seasonal fruit water kefir ($7) which on this day was made from figs.IMG_8083

The Garden

After our long lunch, Head Chef Guy Jeffreys took us for a tour of his veggie patch, which really belies the size of it. It’s quite immense, and absolutely thriving in it’s unique micro climate in the valley. Guy grows his vegetables from seeds that have been saved from the previous year’s crop, cultivating them by the moon. You can’t get much more “paddock-to-plate” than that! IMG_8119

Each day after service the chefs tend to the garden. The rows of veg are teaming with varieties of plants I’ve never heard of and are rarely, if ever, seen in Australia. If you want unique produce to work with, clearly the way is to grow it yourself. At this time of year you’re likely to see broccoli, kohlrabi, fennel, beans, rainbow chard, mustard greens, turnips, carrots, lettuce and much more.IMG_8131

Here Guy hands us green leaves, one similar to a sour sorrel, the other has the most punchy mustard flavours. The flavours from fresh veg are simply unbeatable. I’m most impressed and very interested to hear the stories behind the unique heirloom vegetables. And as well as been mindful of local produce, Guy also is careful of waste. There’s a “no waste” lunch, a selection of perishable items, on the menu for Mondays.IMG_8136

Beyond the garden there’s also an orchard, olive grove and bee hives. There’s not much on the menu at Millbrook that isn’t grown here.  We also got to say hi to the playful Lochie, Guy’s dog, who’s one lucky pooch getting to roam around this lovely part of the Perth Hills.IMG_8127

So after our tour, we stroll back up the gravel path to the winery, taking in that stunning building one more time. There’s so much to Millbrook. It’s more than just a pretty winery with a fancy restaurant. Their fresh produce philosophy means that you’ll have a unique dining experience each time you visit.

My lunch at Millbrook has in my all time top 5 meals, which includes Michelin starred spots in Europe. Do yourself a favour and don’t leave it as long as I did to book a table at Millbrook. It may well be the best lunch you’ve ever had!MIMG_8144

Millbrook Winery’s restaurant is open for lunch Thursday to Monday.

Find out more on Millbrook here.IMG_7978

Thanks to Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (MAPTO) we were guests of Millbrook Winery and enjoyed a heavy discount from our bill. Nothing is exaggerated or embellished. All words and opinions are my own.

Marumo – Nedlands

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Marumo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We are positively giddy as we arrive at Japanese restaurant Marumo. I’ve been looking forward to my meal at this much buzzed about spot on Stirling Highway for months. I’m not sure if the hype surrounding Marumo stems from the difficulty of securing a booking or the quality of the food. I’m ever so curious to find out.

With Chef out for the count with man-flu, my good friend, the chopstick challenged Jennie is dining with me at Marumo. Currently the earliest you can hope to enjoy a dinner there is October. Online bookings open just once a month and the entire month is booked out in a matter of minutes. We missed out on a booking a few times, having to wait another 30 days to try our luck again. Finally, we struck gold – a table for two at Marumo!IMG_3327

The menu is Omakase, a Chef’s choice set menu, which changes monthly. We’re advised by the friendly waitress that a sitting can last over three hours, which is fine. The simple, elegant dining room is small – seating about 25 covers. We take a seat in the cosy corner booth area.

There is no wine list, so BYO is the go at Marumo. I’d recommend you bring your best bottle of bubbles or sake, to compliment the menu which mainly features seafood. Thanks to the efficient wait staff I never get to the bottom of my glass of water or warm green tea. Before the seven courses begin we start with an appetiser of sliced squid marinated in vinegar. The salty squid cuts through the sweet vinegar and leaves my tastebuds craving more.

Soon enough we are presented with steaming bowls of suimono, a clear soup with wagyu niku-dango (meatballs) and sōmen, very thin white Japanese noodles. The subtly sweet broth is made from two types of edible seaweed, wakame and kombu.IMG_3330

I absolutely relish the king prawn tamagoyaki, a rectangular Japanese omelette which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg. Red quinoa, tossed with Manjimup truffle oil, sits on top of the tamagoyaki. It’s deliciously different.Prawn Omelette

Next is mouth-wateringly moist pan fried barramundi with pickled fennel.IMG_3334

Course four is Chef’s selection of sashimi. A platter of the freshest yellowtail kingfish, salmon and scallops is sliced to perfection and served raw. I love the simplicity of sashimi, dipped in a little soy sauce.IMG_3340

The dish of the night, Tasmanian salmon belly sushi, looks stunning topped with shimmering orange fish roe. Our waitress advises us that it’s best to eat each piece of sushi in one mouthful, so we taste all of the elements of the dish in one hit. It’s a tad unladylike, but we try to shove each morsel into our mouths as gracefully as we can with chopsticks. The sushi tastes even better than it looks.Salmon Sushi

A fruity sorbet of yuzu and navel orange arrives to cleanse our palates.

After a little pause and more green tea, a perfectly pink slice of duck breast appears. The tender duck sits upon a sweet potato puree, plump edamame beans and grape tomato. On the side is a little disc of onion, filled with a creamy Japanese style hollandaise. It seriously rivals the salmon belly sushi for my favourite dish, I only wish the slice of duck is a little more generous.Duck

For dessert we try something a little different, genmaicha mousse. Genmaicha is the Japanese name for green tea that is combined with roasted brown rice. A sweet granny smith apple gel is layered on top of the mousse and then topped with caramelised white chocolate and crunchy roasted rice tea. It’s not an overwhelmingly rich dessert, the almost savoury genmaicha balances out the sweet apple and chocolate. It’s very easy to eat.Dessert

Unlike other Omakase dinners I’ve had in the past, I leave comfortably full. Is Marumo worth the hype? Absolutely. At just $60 for a seven course meal that is full of technique, interesting components, quality local ingredients and most importantly exciting flavours – it is absolutely worth the wait. I better make my next booking soon!

 

At a glance

■ Marumo

22/145 Stirling Highway

Nedlands 6009

Phone 0431 040 899

■ Opening times

Tue – Sat 7pm to 10.30pm

■ Rating

food 4

service 4

ambience 3

value for money 4

■ style – Japanese

■ wine – BYO, $2.50 corkage

■ Chef – Moe Oo

■ Owner – Moe Oo

■ feel – cosy and intimate

■ wheelchair access – yes

■ cost

Set menu – $60

■ all in all – sensational value

for money – excellent food full

of technique, flavour and flair.

 

A Day On Rottnest Island

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Pinky Beach, Rottnest Island, Western Australia

I’d only been to Rottnest twice before, in my early 20s and it was high time Chef and I introduced Little Chef to the little jewel in the Indian Ocean that is Rotto. So close to Perth, but far away enough to feel relaxed and  detached from day-to-day life.IMG_2653

 

 

We’ve had our Pommie cousins staying with us and thought a day trip to Rotto would be a fun and different outing. We were excited to play tourist too. Setting off early, to make the most of our day, we arrived at our ferry just after 7am. Our ferry crossing from Hillarys Boat Harbour took about 40 mins and was very smooth.

IMG_2728Our first port of call after arriving at the main area of the island, Thompson Bay, was the Rottnest Bakery. There were  sorts of baked goodies on offer and Chef chowed down on a bacon and cheese pie for brekkie. Little Chef wolfed down a sausage roll and I chose a blueberry muffin. I suspect it was yesterday’s muffin as it wasn’t particularly fresh, which was a shame. I’d hoped it was just hot of the oven.IMG_2600

I’d ordered a coffee too, but the coffee machine was being serviced, so I headed to “The Lane” opposite and what a fab find that was! Great coffee. The little café has a gourmet hotdog menu, so I made a mental note to come back for lunch.20160329_090010

Little Chef was keen to meet a furry Quokka and we saw loads of them! The friendly little guys, only found on Rottnest Island, are so sweet and don’t seem fazed by people at all.IMG_2714

Topped up with caffeine, we headed to the bike hire shop. Pedal power is the most popular form of transport on Rottnest, which adds to the laid back pace. We were planning to ride about 3kms along the north coast of the island to find some beautiful beaches. First, we stopped at the Wadjemup lighthouse and realised that we were a long way from Perth!IMG_2609

We spent most of the day beach hopping. First, we rode to the furthest point we were planning on visiting –  stunning Little Parakeet Bay. We planned on a bit of snorkelling, sandcastle building, paddling and then to mosey our way back to Thompson Bay on our bikes. Though there were a few hills, it was a fairly easy ride, especially with stunning views like this along the way.

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Little Parakeet Bay – Rottnest Island, Western Australia

We stopped at Geordie Bay, Fay’s Bay and Pinky Beach too. Each beach perfectly white and the turquoise ocean a million shades of blue. Little Chef loved it and said the sand was soft like sherbet.IMG_2605
The Lane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

By the time we made it back to Thomson’s Bay and dropped off our bikes, we still had time for a late lunch. We visited my little discovery from earlier – The Lane. Chef had worked up quite an appetite and tucked into the spicy Tarantino inspired “Reservoir Dog”, $10. These are not served like traditional hot dogs, but a curled Portuguese sausage is served burger style. Chef’s organic snag was topped with jalapeno harissa, sliced tomato, mesculin leaves, cheddar mayo and fried onions. He loved it! Little Chef scoffed his “Pup Dog”. It got two big thumbs up from him.IMG_2688

I’d been eyeing up the “Mongrel Dog” or “Downward Dog” (I do love a good pun hehe), but the lady who was in charge tempted me with the special of the day the “Sheep Dog”. It was every bit as fresh and tasty as she’d described – with tender and juicy slow cooked lamb shoulder, cooked in rosemary, garlic, cayenne pepper and sumac. Topped with creamy coleslaw and served on a fresh roll baked by Lawley’s Bakery – it was top dog for sure!IMG_2695

Simmos Ice creamery, the Dunsborough favourite, was right next door. We figured it would be rude not to… We’d done a lot of exercise after all! Bubble-gum, choc mint and cookies and cream were the favourite scoops.IMG_2704

We all loved our day at Rottnest – despite being a tad saddle sore from our bike ride! This was the third time I’d been across to Rotto for a day trip and each time I come to love it a little more. I left feeling relaxed and like I’d gotten away from it all – albeit briefly. I’d love to stay longer and really discover more of Rottnest – its history, the southern end (which I’ve never visited) and the restaurants too. With a few planned accommodation developments, it makes me excited for an extended stay in a year or two. Though if Little Chef has his way we’ll be back much sooner, which is fine with us. See you soon Rotto!20160329_125616

Plume Estate Vineyard Cafe – Bickley

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Plume Estate Vineyard Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It’s no secret that I have a big love for the Perth Hills, in particular the Kalamunda area where I grew up. Back in the 1980s there wasn’t much to look at in the Bickley Valley – it was full of orchards, a couple of boutique vineyards and aromas from the Wheat a Bix factory. It’s still full of orchards and vineyards, though it is fast becoming an area full of places to visit, like The Core Cider House and many wineries with cafes and restaurants dotted through the bushy valley.IMG_0859

We went for a Sunday drive with my parents and ended up at a relatively new winery – Plume Estate. The carpark is down a steep gravel driveway, so we dropped my mum at the entrance. There’s a cellar door and a light and open rustic café – which has balcony views out over the rolling hills.IMG_0852

At Plume, the wines are made by Myattsfield and their range includes a sparkling pinot noir, a rosé made from merlot, some chardonnays, merlot, shiraz and a fortified shiraz too.IMG_0850

There is a beautiful Labrador called Nugget at Plume, who was chilling out at the cellar door. We were devastated to loose our Labrador, Bailey, mid last year. Though it was a few months down the track, I actually struggled with seeing a dog so similar to our Bailey. I was really fighting tears. Nugget seemed to have the same kind nature and was happy to have a gentle rub too.IMG_0849

We shared a Turkish Platter, $40. It’s really meant to be shared by 2 people, but we all just felt like a light graze – having already had lunch. It was well stocked platter: Turkish style meatballs Hummus, Egyptian dukka, Wilura Margaret River Olive Oil, Sicilian olives, almonds and marinated goats cheese. On the side was a loaf of sliced Turkish Bread.

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All the produce on the platter was of exceptional quality and very fresh. I particularly relished the tasty meatballs – with it’s rich tomato and cumin flavours. Also, I don’t usually eat green olives (just Kalamata), but I really enjoyed the Sicilian olives. They were plump, firm, fresh and they actually tasted like an olive – not like the salty brine soaked olives I’ve had in the past.

A glass of red went down very well with the food and my Mum bought a bottle to take home too. There is a limited menu, but there is also a cheese platter, sliders and some sweets available too.

Plume’s owners are warm and welcoming, it’s a relaxing place to be. Little Chef was stoked that there was a small basket of toys to play with and he was occupied with duplo, while we enjoyed the view.IMG_0855

It’s a lovely little spot for nibbles and a vino. We enjoyed Plume and would certainly return…IMG_0857

… especially for those meatballs!IMG_0841

Café 2TwentyFour – Belmont

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Cafe 2 Twentyfour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

One of the most talked about new cafés of the last few months is Café 2TwentyFour. It lured me in with the multitude of Instagram posts of MEGAshakes and drool-worthy brunch dishes. It’s found opposite Belmont Forum, which could have been an odd spot, but with Sapore just down the road, it’s not so out of place.IMG_1192

I met a couple of pal’s there for lunch – Kimee and Kez – with their baby daughters in tow. Though it’s a fairly small café, it was easily navigated with a pram and there was also room for two high chairs on our table. The day was a little warm, so we grabbed a table inside, away from the busy Belmont Ave.IMG_1193

The coffee at Café 2TwentyFour is very good – as are the juices. Though it was the giant milkshakes that tempted me, I chickened out on the calorie fest (they are topped with cream, cookies and goodness knows what else) and I chose a refreshing watermelon and strawberry juice instead. Unfortunately, they had run out of melons – whooopps. One of the waitresses dashed over to the shops and appeared a few minutes later with my lusciously sweet juice – it was worth the wait!IMG_1199

Kimee chose the Eggs Benedict (with side of avocado), which is pretty much all she orders when we go out for brunch. Apart from totally loving this dish, it also suits her dairy/gluten intolerances. Add some pulled pork to the dish and she is in heaven! Like many other brunch spots in Perth, Café 2TwentyFour does a eggs bene version with pork. Yay for pulled pork!!IMG_1203

I chose the Chorizo Stack and boy, am I glad that I did – it is a cracker of a dish! The toast was topped with wilted greens, crumbled soft cheese, chorizo and two perfectly runny poached eggs – with some sweet roasted tomatoes on the side. Every component was as tasty as could be.IMG_1207

Kez enjoyed her generous serve of scrumptious pulled beef nachos. It was finished with a dollop of sour cream and a pretty cornflower, adding colour and making it totally insta-worthy!IMG_1200

Café 2TwentyFour is a super little brunch spot. I “mmm’d” and “yum’d” all the way through my chorizo stack – it is absolutely one of the tastiest brekkie dishes I’ve had in a while. I wholeheartedly recommend it and next time I might be brave enough to order a decedent milkshake too!