The Serendipity of Perth

Kervella Little Creatures

Perth is a funny little town. One minute you’re sitting in a restaurant enjoying some excellent cheese and wine with some friends, and the next you’re chatting to one of the worlds premier food bloggers.

Such was my experience last Wednesday night.

Our dear friends Alex and Linda had invited us to join them at Must Wine Bar, to once and for all time farewell the wonderful Kervella goats cheese (pictured above on the left), which is no longer being produced. Russell Blaikie, head chef at Must, has been an avid supporter of Gabrielle Kervella and her goats since the early days, and saw it only fit to farewell them in style with a week long expose of special dishes featuring the cheeses.

Now I was aware that Clotilde was coming to Perth. I (along with a hundred or so other people) had given her a few recommendations of places to try and things to do. But I should have known that the beauty of Perth being a big country town would come to the fore once again.

Sitting in the restaurant enjoying a fresh goats cheese souffle and a shallot tart tatin with Kervellas famous ‘rondolet’, musing as to whether or not I liked the glass of Marsanne I’d ordered, I turned around and who should be sitting at the table next to us, but the one and only Clotilde.

So after some umm’ing and ahh’ing reminiscent of a pimply teenager plucking up the courage to ask a date to the school ball, I went over and introduced myself. Of course I needn’t have been nervous, Clotilde was perfectly lovely and accommodating. We chatted a little about the meal and her first taste of sparkling Shiraz (which I think was well received). Then made plans to have dinner later next week.

So then on Friday the first events of the Perth Writers Festival were held. Clotilde spoke of life and food in Paris and pursuing your writing dreams, along side Carmen Michael, a writer from Sydney who jumped ship and lived in Rio de Janeiro for 4 years. A great talk and very inspiring to anyone thinking of packing in their day jobs and living the romantic life of a wandering writer.

After the talk I got the chance to get Clotilde to sign her book for me, and attend another session with Lucy Malouf and Stephen Downes about food writing in general, chaired by the magnanimous Verity James. Then it was lunch time. I took the liberty of offering to show Clotilde a little of the city, and she graciously accepted. So off we went down to Fremantle and the effortless cool that is Little Creatures.

Now this place really deserves a post on it’s own. The high ceiling industrial setting of the brewery, mixed with the long bar, funky wait staff, and fantastic beer and food, sets this place apart from the majority of Perth pubs as far as I’m concerned. Clotilde was keen to try some local seafood and of course kangaroo, so we jumped straight into the ordering. Kangaroo skewers with bush tomato chutney, prosciutto wrapped prawns, a spinach, avocado and gruyere salad, and a serve of chilli mussels. Washed down with a pint of Pipsqueak cider. An ambitious amount of food according to our waitress, who asked if we were ‘wagging’ work or something, which I had to explain to Clotilde was Australia’s favourite passtime :)

Kangaroo and Bush Tomato Chutney

Little did she know that she was dealing with not one, but two determined food bloggers. One who can quote the entire menu by heart, and the other who has a lot of catching up to do in a new country. So a few short minutes later, and nothing but a sad bowl of chilli sauce with no bread left, it was all over. All seemed to go down well, and then it was off to the next spot.

Ice cream and sorbet at Il Gelato in Fremantle, and then a trek back to the city for a coffee at Tiger, Tiger. Getting back just in time to drop Clotilde at one of the afternoon writers festival sessions, while I snuck back to work for a few hours.

I can’t think of many nicer ways to spend your afternoon. In the company of lovely, down to earth people, who love food, and are happy to explore the finer points of this often overlooked city :)

The End is Nigh

Messy satifaction

Sorry to be so dramatic… but I think you need to know. If by any chance you came across my post recently about Suraj Indian Cuisine in Mt Lawley, and thought it looked like the kind of place you want to try out, then you’d better do it soon.

According to Roger, Suraj will be closing down in a little over a week. Making way for a new restaurant development that will span the shop next door as well as the current Suraj premises.

All I have to say that it’s a great shame that a place serving food as simple and honest as this is closing down. If you haven’t yet been in, then do yourself a favour. Put aside any preconceived notions about food, service, and ambience, and taste the love for yourself.

Last time I spoke to him, Roger did say that there is a possibility he will open up somewhere else, but the general consensus was that if he couldn’t find another shop to rent in a decent area for a reasonable price, then that would be the end of it.

My other suggestion of just coming round to Rogers place whenever I have a hankering for chicken korma, chickpea curry, and a decent poori, didn’t really get the response I was looking for.

Get in now before it’s gone.

Suraj Indian Cuisine
513 Beaufort St
Highgate, WA 6003
(08) 9328 2858
Get directions

Chinese New Year 2008

Lions doin lines

A belated happy Chinese New Year to everyone ! We spent a good couple of weeks eating and drinking our way through relatives, and friends places (not necessarily because of CNY mind you… but it seemed appropriate to mention it anyway), and tossing a few lucky noodles. I am also happy to announce my biggest ever haul from generous quasi relatives via the wonderful “ang pow”. If I’d known the benefits I would have become Chinese a long time ago :)

The only mildly official event we went to was the traditional lion dance ceremony, held in Chinatown’s the world over. The photos below were taken at Hawkers Cuisine Restaurant in Northbridge, where we had our ear drums ruptured by fire crackers and watched a performance by a local kung fu school, whilst partaking in a very decent Shaoxing Drunken Chicken, Salt and Pepper Squid, Red Hot (!) Sichuan Beef, and Red Braised Pork Belly.

Bring on the Rat ! (and try the red pork belly)

Hawkers Cuisine
66 Roe St Northbridge
Phone: (08) 9328 9668


Big Bowl – Noodle House

Pork & Chive Dumpling Noodle Soup

How very remiss of me to miss this lovely little spot out for so long. Big Bowl has been a welcome addition to the upper end of William St in Northbridge for a good year or so now, and has not disappointed every time I’ve been in.

The “gimmick”, if you can call it that, is that all of their noodles are made fresh to order for all the various dishes they serve.
There are two large machines behind the counter with big signs on them saying “No Photo!” that I was careful to respect, which would appear to be the driving force behind the fresh noodle phenomenon. It has a large container on the top full of flour, and various mechanisms that I assume add water and salt and mix the whole batch together, then spits the noodles out the other end, either of the thick or thin variety.

These noodles then find their way into an assortment of dishes of various types. There’s wonton noodle soup, char kway teow, something vaguely reminiscent of spaghetti bolognaise, and a few baked noodle dishes that taste a bit like macaroni cheese.

Regardless of what you’re after, there’s something to please just about everyone, and clearly people are pleased. A casual Monday afternoon lunch today saw the place as a hive of activity, with not a spare seat in the place, and a steady flow of people in and out hoping to snag a table.

The fact that it’s hugely popular with the local Chinese community means that there’s not a lot of reading material besides the local “Asia Times” newspaper, that I casually flick through on occasion just to put a lingering doubt into the minds of nearby Chinese speakers who might wonder if I can actually understand any of it.

Still, the place is friendly, clean, and simply appointed, and service is always accompanied by a smile and a laugh.

If you’re looking for a quick / cheap / tasty lunch or dinner option in Northbridge, I can highly recommend Big Bowl. Most of the dishes range from $8 – $12 maximum, and represent great value.

Do yourself a favour and try the Big Bowl on for size :)

Big Bowl

408 William Street
Opening Hours: 11:30AM to 8:30PM (Closed Wednesday)
Phone: 9228 4448