Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: Ha-Lu

Ha-Lu is a wonderful, wonderful little Japanese restaurant in Oxford Street, just round the corner from The Paddington hotel in Leederville. It's not much from the outside and, truth to tell, not mind-blowing from the inside either, but the food, in all its hues and textures, is glorious. Ha-Lu spurns the entree-main-dessert habit and instead encourages diners to order several dishes each so that everyone at the table can dig in and be sociable. Sort of like a Japanese tapas.

The menu is extensive, as is the variety of sake, which can be ordered warm or cold. Our waitress suggested ordering ours warm and drinking it with the sashimi, which was a magnificent combination.

The sashimi was some of the best I've tasted in Perth. Thick slabs of salmon, tuna and mackerel that, once bitten into, retained its shape beautifully. A bit daunting for those new to sashimi, however.

Meals were in itty-bitty tasting portions so that everyone got just one sublime mouthful each. Which can be a little frustrating if you don't like your mouth being teased. We kept ordering more and more and, in the end, I think we ordered the whole menu. It was fab.

What we ate: Wagyu beef tataki; pork belly 'Kaku-ni'; Nigiri sushi; premium Dorper lamb cutlets; duck and aubergine with Madeira sauce; spicy ginger pork; sashimi; Patagonian toothfish nitsuke; foil-baked salmon; aubergine with soy dashi broth; karage chicken; prawn tempura; chocolate parfait; green tea/mango ice-creams.

What we drank: Hideyoshi sake (warm); Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (2008)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recipe: Camel Fillets with a Shiraz Butter Glaze

We currently have over half a million feral camels roaming around our deserts. They're not native to Australia, they're a pest and they're terribly grumpy. So we may as well eat them.

Chop up one onion and two carrots finely. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and carrots until brown. Trim the fat from two camel fillets and add to the pan. Add 250ml of Shiraz red wine and 250ml beef stock to the pan and simmer for 30 mins. Strain. Add 2 tbspns butter and whisk until the sauce has a buttery glaze.

Add oil to another pan and heat the oil until very hot. Cut the fillets into medallions. I followed Debby the butcher's suggestion of searing the fillets very quickly, around thirty seconds on each side. Take off the heat and leave to relax for a couple of minutes. Serve with couscous, dates and a green salad.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Debby the butcher was right. Camel tastes like sweetened beef. Lovely.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Treat from Mates Meats Butcher


I went for a nice, long drive with my little one today and we found ourselves in the backstreets of Maddington ("Where ARE we?" asked my little one. "I have no idea, honey. Lock your door, will you?" No, not really).

We went for a wander around the local shopping centre and happened upon an absolute find - Mates Meats. Really, all I wanted was a leg of lamb for this Sunday's roast. Instead, I felt strangely compelled to buy the whole shop. The names of the fare on offer were all written nonchalently on scraps of butcher's paper with a highlighter pen and stuck on the display glass but oh, what fare. Emu. Kangaroo. Goat. Venison, duck and rabbit. There were slices of camel ($7.99 per 100gm) that, according to Debby the butcher, had the flavour of "sweet beef". There were fillets of crocodile that tasted "partly of lobster, partly of chicken". What's a girl to do? Let them eat camel, I say, I wanted it all. In the end, I went with the camel. Recipe to follow in the next few days.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review: The Prophet Lebanese Cafe

Image: manpasand

Step over the threshold of this snug Lebanese eatery in Victoria Park and wonder as every trite wintery cliche comes to mind. Cosy, warm, inviting, traditional, etc etc. As decor goes, The Prophet really does live up to every one of them. Colonial chairs and rustic display cabinets abound and I was back in my Mum's country kitchen, greedily guzzling her home-made chicken soup (see earlier post).

I was there with a group of raucous Mums who were letting off some steam after a heavy week of parenting. To hell with it, we cried, as we threw the menus back at the waitress and demanded the banquet. Actually, we didn't demand it but were told we had to have it because there were ten of us. No matter, we weren't there to read.

Entree ensued with a trio of dips. How strange, we mused. One of them tasted of garlic puree which - surprise - it was and we gleefully ruminated how offensive we would be the next day: perhaps the kids wouldn't come near us? Such was the power of Lola's Garlic Dip in all its smooth creaminess, which chef and owner Jihad Moussallem apparently spent years perfecting. We also enjoyed a solid hommus, a smokey baba ganouj and layer after layer of warm Lebanese pita.

Where does the time go? Entrees disappeared and mains materialised in the form of gigantic falafel balls, spicy beef and lamb kebabs, and mounds of fresh, palate-cleansing tabbouleh. I'm sure there was more but by this time we were at the musical chairs and taking silly photos stage of the night so I didn't get back to the eating bit until a generous square of Turkish delight appeared in front of me.

The service was a little slow and sullen but overall an excellent night was had by all. The Prophet is a busy place so book in advance, and it is BYO. You can always purchase a bottle of wine from The Balmoral two doors down if you enjoy spending $20 on a cleanskin, but for my money I'd pick one up on the way.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Perth Good Food & Wine Show 2008

Caterer extraordinaire Anna Gare (Lifestyle Food Channel)

The Perth leg of the Good Food & Wine Show was in town over the weekend and, while I enjoyed the buzz (both from the crowd and the wine), I couldn't help but be a tad disappointed. Much of the marketplace feel that I remembered from earlier years seemed to be missing. Gone were the enormously popular oyster shucking demonstrations and the big stainless steel bowls of freshly steamed mussels. In its place were an awful lot of packets, bottles and jars. And how many EVOO and chutney tastings can one venue handle?

On a positive note, the new celebrity theatre was a big hit and there was an excellent turn-out of winemakers, both local and interstate. Some yummy foodie goodie bags too.

Ben O'Donoghue from 'Surfing the Menu'

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recipe: Nutella Chocolate Pinwheels

A bit of an addendum to the previous recipe on pizza pinwheels: Liss gave me this achingly simple recipe (as if the original recipe wasn't simple enough!). And the results are tres yum.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease an oven tray. Cover a sheet of filo pastry with lashings of Nutella (or other chocolate spread. Or perhaps jam? Hmm..!). Sift icing sugar over the top. Roll up. Cut into 2cm pieces and lay flat on the greased tray.

Bake for around 20 mins. Serve with fruit or, if you're feeling really gluttonous, whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Review: Jackson's Restaurant

Jackson's has elicited so many reviews from so many outlets, does it really warrant another one? I'll leave that for you to decide.

According to Perth's foodie contingent, Jackson's is notorious as the pearl in the city's gastronomic crown, and for good reason. Chef Neal Jackson seamlessly marries traditional produce with artistry, the old with the new, and gets away with it completely. His front-of-house reflects the relationship. White linen napery seems not at all out of place against a canvas of chilled clubhouse beats and neon stalactites, the white gloves of the waitstaff providing a theatrical teaser of more madness to come.

And yes, there is more, much more. The blue cheese souffle that is there and yet not there, so intense in taste and physical prowess and yet so lacking in texture that it almost seems molecular. The edible gold foil strewn about a swirling funnel of chocolate mousse and hazelnut meringue. The rich venison countered with mocha. The test-tube water bottles. Neal's glasses. It's crazy. It's sublime. It's Jackson's.

What we ate:
Starters: pumpkin soup with cheese & chilli biscuits
Entree: Stilton souffle with pear salad; seared scallops with pork belly & pigs' ears
Sorbets: mandarin & Campari; pineapple, coconut & Jamaican rum
Mains: beef fillet with foie gras, truffle and chanterelle mushrooms; roast duck
Dessert: chocolate & hazelnut pyramid with raspberries

What we drank:
Veuve Clicquot; Kir Royale; Terlato & Chapoutier 'lieu dit Malakoff' (2006)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gordon Ramsay & Melbourne - Part II

All bets are off: Gordon hasn't decided any such thing as opening in Melbourne over Sydney. Naughty Daily Telegraph!

After making enquiries, I received an email this morning from Gordon Ramsay Holdings:

At this time there are no concrete plans to open in Melbourne although this is of course something that we are considering.”

So there you go. No GR restaurant for Australia just yet. Boo.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gordon Ramsay Swears by Melbourne

Image: Sydney Morning Herald

Gordon Ramsay has apparently just announced he will be opening his new Australian restaurant in Melbourne, knocking the favorite, Sydney, out of the running.

“Melbourne is like New York,” said Ramsay this week. “It has that culture of foodies that are finicky, hard-ass and very possessive of their city.”

Ramsay has speculated the new restaurant will open in the next 18 months and will be run by a local chef. He is currently sourcing a site for the new eatery.

Look, I know that other foodies will most likely castigate me for it, but I rather like Gordon Ramsay. Sure he's a smart-arse and he's got a mouth on him like a soiled diaper but I think he's smashing entertainment. And I'm proud he'll be opening an eatery in Australia too, especially as it's going to be in my old stomping ground of Melbourne.

Now, I wonder who amongst our culinary stock will be sworn in as head chef..? Get it? Sworn in? Oh, never mind.

Source: The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recipe: Pizza Pinwheels

While this might not be the most gourmet of dishes, it rates a special mention because (a) it is incredibly easy, and (b) it is incredibly quick - both vital criteria for a busy Mum. This is a recipe kindly provided by friends of mine. Pretty much any variation of pizza toppings can be used but I have gone with bacon and cheese.
Take one sheet of frozen puff pastry and smear a generous amount of tomato paste onto one side, leaving around 1.5cm on one edge tomato-free. Top with grated cheddar cheese and chopped bacon. Roll it tightly, adhere the end with water, wrap in foil and partially freeze.

Remove from the freezer and chop into 2cm pinwheels. Place them face-up on a greased oven tray and cook in a pre-heated oven on 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Super easy.