Peel Zoo, Pinjarra

IMG_7774As part of our weekend in Mandurah and the Peel region, Chef and I took Little Chef somewhere we knew that he would love – Peel Zoo. It’s found on the banks of the Murray River near Pinjarra. The boutique zoo specialises in Australian native animals and some farm animals too.

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On entry, we are given a bad of small pellets to feed some of the animals. One of the Zoo’s unique features are the ‘hands-on experience’ that is available to all guests. Children and adults can enjoy hand feeding animals, having a bird fly onto your shoulder, holding a slithery snake and more.

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The grounds of the zoo are lush and shady, making it a lovely spot to stroll around. Peel Zoo is home to over 100 species of birds and animals. We started off at the possum enclosures, they were all having an afternoon nap in their logs. We followed the map around, you can also scan the unique QR code on each of the Peel Zoo enclosures. You do this with your smartphone that will provide you with the name of the animal, as well as a Fact Sheet about each of the animals.

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We spotted some turkeys in the bushes roaming around. A sleepy Koala was munching away on some gum leaves in a tree. We then fed some friendly roos in the Kangaroo enclosure. Continue reading

Trees Adventure, Dwellingup

IMG_7654Now, maybe for the first time ever, I’m going to blog about something that doesn’t involve food. Well, there was a hot chocolate…Resized_20170514_101045.jpeg

As part of my collaboration with Buy West Eat Best for the WA Signature Dish Celebrity Cooking Competition, I’ve been exploring the “Anytime Adventures” that the Peel area has to offer. Peel isn’t just about the coast and Mandurah, it extends all the way east to Dwellingup, where Trees Adventure provides a tree top adventure obstacle courses at Lane Pool Reserve. Offering a variety of flying foxes and tricky challenges, the fun obstacle courses are suitable for the whole family!IMG_7616

When we arrived on a chilly morning I got to warm my hands on a complimentary hot chocolate (since it was Mothers Day!). There’s hot and cold drinks available from the kiosk as well as snacks.IMG_7659

Chef signed the forms and I was “photographer”, I’m not really much of an action woman! We arrived about thirty minutes prior to our allocated two hour session, to allow time for the boys got kitted out in their harnesses, gloves and helmets.IMG_7560

Next up was an introduction on how to use the equipment, including how to safely lock on and off the ropes with the clips. You’re always attached to the rope, which put my mind at rest that it was nice and safe for my boys!IMG_7561

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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.

Café Moka, Mandurah

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Cafe Moka Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

To me, there’s not much sweeter than finding a gem of a brunch spot. Mandurah locals are 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 my Mothers Day breakfast. It’s part of our May weekend staycation in Mandurah, and we’d been invited to enjoy a tasty brekkie there by Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation, who have expert local knowledge for the perfect brunch spot for my foodie family.IMG_7519

Chef and I ordered a couple of flat whites ($4.50). The Toby’s Estate roast really hit the spot! And being Mothers Day I also got given a rose – what a lovely gesture!IMG_7492

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Pinjarra Bakery

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Pinjarra Bakery and Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whenever we’re in the Peel region, driving to the South West or staying in the Mandurah area – we pop to Pinjarra Bakery for a bite to eat. It’s less than 10 minutes from the Forrest Highway and totally worth a detour. The bakery has won a bag full of awards and we love their baked goodies!IMG_1341

Of course, most people go there for their award winning pies – like Chef! He usually picks something fairly traditional like a meat and potato pie or beef, bacon and cheese pie, but there are also interesting fillings like satay chicken, bacon and egg and butter chicken.IMG_1343 Continue reading

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.