New Normal, Subiaco

IMG_9572Subi is on the up – home again to some of Perth’s best restaurants. LuLu La Delizia was recently named Australia’s number one pasta restaurant and another to add to this list of must-try Subiaco dining spots is New Normal.IMG_9604

The new bar and kitchen, found in the Simon Chugg heritage building, is a place to share grazing plates with friends over some carefully selected local wines. There are long communal tables with vases of native flora, cosy booths draped with art deco style light fittings and high stools at the bar.IMG_9600

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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

Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, Freo

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Manuka Woodfire Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A chilly winters evening begs for a wood fire. We find a cosy little eatery in Fremantle that fits the bill perfectly. Manuka Woodfire Kitchen, on High Street, serves hearty comfort food cooked exclusively in its wood fire oven.

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Head Chef Kenny McHardy is a champion of West Australian produce. It’s showcased in his ever changing menu which is currently full of winter goodies including roasted beets and truffles. I can sniff out a truffle as well as any truffle dog, so I am pleased to see that they’re currently being featured at Manuka – we’re in the thick of truffle season after all. They’re sourced from a boutique truffle orchard in Manjimup, run by none other than Chef David Coomer (Star Anise, Pata Negra).

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The intimate restaurant oozes Freo with its limestone feature walls. A friendly waiter presents us with a small, though well chosen, drinks menu that features WA wines, beers, ciders and spirits. We enjoy a velvety smooth pinot noir from Mount Barker winery Mount Trio. The drop has cherry aromas and is a great match for slow cooked red meats.

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The popular spot is soon full with customers and the open kitchen is a hive of activity. In saying that, it’s not a noisy restaurant and we’re happy we don’t have to shout over the table as we order our meals. The menu is made up of share plates and gourmet pizzas.
We choose the “Chef’s Menu” at $55 per person. This includes seven dishes from the menu, with the addition of the fresh truffles for an extra cost of $20 per table. Money well spent in my opinion! Along with our wine, we devour roasted olives, which are served warm. The roasting process gives them a softer texture and slightly milder flavour.

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The deliciously spiced flat bread is served with Cooladerra Farm olive oil from Frankland River. The simple bread, freshly baked to order, arrives hot and fluffy from the wood fire. We tear at the bread and dip chunks into the luscious smoked eggplant babaganoush, lapping up every morsel.

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The wait staff are very knowledgeable about the produce used and tell us a little about each dish as it’s served. Next, we share organic feta from Over The Moon Organics, a small Albany dairy farm where the farmers milk the cows and make the cheese. The creamy cheese is delicious drizzled with honey and a scattering of walnuts.

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Little Chef tucks into a smoked beef chorizo pizza ($21) topped with olives, capsicum, spring onion and feta. We sneak a slice and discover that the base is as fluffy and light as the flat bread.

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The first of our meat dishes, Manuka’s award winning charred chicken thigh, is incredibly moist and full of smoky flavours. On the side is pickled red cabbage and a moreish miso sauce. Continue reading

Team Peel – Winners of the WA Signature Dish!

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Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the WA Day Festival, where one of the main events was the Buy West Eat Best WA’s Celebrity Signature Dish competition. For all involved, particularly each of the celebrities and Chef mentors, it’s been a month long battle of identifying their region’s produce, creating recipes and practising their kitchen skills to be on their game for yesterday’s epic cook off event held at Elizabeth Quay.

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Each of the celebrity contestants represented produce from four of WA’s major food producing regions the Kimberley, Peel, Southern Forests and the Swan Valley and soon enough there was a flurry of activity onstage.

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Mark Gibson (7 Perth) who was representing Peel, had a wealth of produce to pick from, as the Peel and Mandurah region has a bounty of fresh produce. A dish featuring Mandurah’s famed crabs was deemed “too obvious”, so to represent Peel this year Mark devised a dish centred around the “hero ingredient” of Harvey Beef with Chef Kenny McHardy.

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You’ve gotta have a glass of wine when you’re cooking!

 

Mark’s Peel region dish featured a huge Slow Braised Harvey Beef Shin which had been cooked overnight in the wood fired oven at Chef Kenny’s restaurant – Manuka Woodfire Kitchen in Fremantle.

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On the side were roasted local sweet potato, served with Mundella yogurt and pickled baby carrots. A glass of Peel region wine like a Millbrook shiraz or Drakesbrook malbec complements this dish perfectly. IMG_8572 Continue reading

5 Top Foodie Spots in Mandurah & The Peel Region

Mandurah and the wider Peel area is home to great produce and some top foodie experiences. Relax by the water at a Mandurah café or restaurant and watch the dolphins swim by or head to the hills and enjoy a long lunch at a top winery. Here’s my pick of the top foodie spots in the Peel region for your Anytime Adventures:

Café Moka

IMG_7497Mandurah locals are very lucky to have the waterside Café Moka on their doorstep. Found at Dolphin Quay, the bustling café overlooks the marina, which is a lovely backdrop for a breakfast, lunch or coffee n cake. There’s a lot to choose from on the all day brekkie menu. Our picks are the flavoursome shashuka and the decedent pancake stack, complete with ginger bread and house made banana ice cream.

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Read more on our breakfast at Café Moka here.

Millbrook Winery

IMG_8063A lunch at Millbrook Winery is not to be missed. Found in historic Jarrahdale, in the Perth Hills, the winery is home to a wonderful restaurant. Head Chef, Guy Jeffreys’ fresh produce philosophy means that you’ll have a unique dining experience each time you visit. Most of their produce is grown onsite by the chefs, in the huge vegetable garden, where many unique varieties of veg is found. The exciting food coupled with excellent wines and a beautiful vista from the lakeside restaurant, will make for a memorable meal.

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Read more about our lunch at Millbrook Winery here.

Flics Kitchen

IMG_7446Flics Kitchen is found on the bustling Mandurah foreshore. The Head Chef and owner, Felicity Evans, has created a tastebud tempting modern share menu. Her wait staff are warm and helpful. The drinks offering is well curated with wines, local craft beers and more. We really enjoyed each of the dishes we tried, particularly the sticky n sweet, twice cooked pork belly with crisp puffed pork crackle, crunchy peanuts and a rich chilli and lime caramel. We’d recommend that you visit the popular Flics Kitchen if you’re in Mandurah too – they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Read more on our dinner at Flics Kitchen here.

 

Pinjarra Bakery

IMG_1343Pinjarra Bakery is a good place stop for a quick n casual bite to eat. The bakery has won a bag full of awards and we love their sweet and savoury baked goodies. Dine in or takeaway and eat by the Murray River.

Read more on Pinjarra bakery here.

DPM Café

We stopped for our morning coffee fix at DPM on Mandurah Terrace (found next to Flics Kitchen), where they claim to serve the best coffee in Mandurah. The teeny tiny café has a cool vibe and there’s seating outside for sunny days, overlooking the foreshore. There’s also a small selection of fresh bagels, croissants, raw treats and other yummy take away foods. The Geisha coffee really hit the spot!

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Let me know in the comments below if there’s anywhere awesome I should try on my next trip to Mandurah and Peel.

Thanks to Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (MAPTO) we were guests of Millbrook Winery, Flics Kitchen and Café Moka. Nothing is exaggerated or embellished. All words and opinions are my own.

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.

WA Signature Dish Launch

IMG_6893I was very excited to attend the launch of WA’s best known cooking competition, WA’s Celebrity Signature Dish, at the fabulous Arthouse eatery in Northbridge. The popular comp is back for 2017 with a new twist! In the past the competition was a cook-off between amateur cooks, this year four celebrities have been paired with some of Perth’s very best Chefs.

Each team will represent one of WA’s four major food producing regions: Peel, The Kimberley, Swan Valley and The Southern Forests. Using fantastic local produce, they will prepare and cook a dish that represents the flavours from that area.IMG_6902

I’m going to be the Digital Influencer cheering on “Team Peel” and I’m also very excited to be working closely with the Mandurah and Peel Tourism Organisation in an Ambassador role. Being a Perth northie I’ve rarely visited the Peel region. So I’ll be exploring that area in the coming month and sharing my foodie finds with you.IMG_6883

Here’s my first find… a delicious rose from Peel winery Drakesbrook, in Waroona. Their Viticulturist, Bernie Worthington, was telling me that they’ve won several awards for it and I’m not surprised. It’s a top drop.IMG_6867

The Department of Agriculture and Food’s “Buy West Eat Best” program is holding the competition during the WA Day Festival weekend at Elizabeth Quay.  Four of WA’s leading media, lifestyle and sporting personalities will compete in a 60 minute cook-off to be held on Centre Stage at the 2017 WA Day Festival. Here’s the line up of “Perthonalities” and their Chef mentors.IMG_6907

Peel Region

Talent: Mark Gibson (Channel 7)

Chef: Kenny McHardy – Manuka Woodfire Kitchen

Blogger: Me!

Southern Forests Region

Talent: Rayne Embley

Chef: Ollie Gould – Shorehouse

Blogger: Martin aka Morsels

 

Kimberley Region

Talent: Peter Curulli (Mix 94.5fm ‘Lisa & Pete’)

Chef: Pete Manifis

Blogger: Kristy aka Queen of Bad Timing

Swan Valley Region

Talent: Justin Langer (Former Australian cricketer)

Chef: Caroline Taylor

Blogger: Gus aka Gusface Grillah

The cook off event will be hosted by Scott Taylor (Owner of The Trustee Bar & Bistro, Shorehouse and more). A judging panel will make the tough decision on our State’s best dish, including Dan Masters (Rockpool), Anna Gare (Junior Masterchef) and Rob Broadfield (The West Food Editor). The cook off event will be hosted by Scott Taylor (of The Trustee Bar & Bistro,  The Shorehouse and more). It is expected to be a very popular event at the WA Day Festival at Elizabeth Quay. The cook off will commence at 1.30pm on Sunday the 4th of June.

I’ll see you there – go Team Peel!

Stay tuned for more about Chef Kenny McHardy, Mark Gibson and their preparation for the cook off and the wonderful Peel region too.IMG_6876

 

For more information on WA’s Celebrity Signature Dish visit  the Buy West Eat Best website and visit the WA Day Festival site for program information.