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 :)

Sandcastle Organic

A lazy Sunday afternoon in Perth. They’re all lazy afternoons when I’m involved. I have a natural aversion to waking up before noon on the weekend, and today was no different. Wandering around the house in a barely awake haze, I was too lazy to even eat breakfast or (shock horror) make coffee.

So after a mild case of cabin fever, the eventual decision came… Let go out. Where ? Fremantle !

Now I don’t like to regionalist when it cames to where I eat. A lot of people in Perth get caught up in the whole North of the River vs South of the River thing… Not to mention the Western Suburbs vs Hills people. Personally I really don’t care where I am as long as the food is good and the weather is nice. Having said that however, I live a good 45 minutes drive from Fremantle (home of many a good restaurant and an occasionally decent football team), so it’s not like I pop down every day.

Sundays, therefore, are the day to conquer the distance and let the tastebuds soak up the quasi meditteranean vibes that Fremantle always seems to have on offer.

Restaurant of choice today was Sandcastle Organic on South Terrace in South Fremantle. I’d been told good things about the organic beef there and they were also given a write up in the most recent edition of Spice Magazine. I have to admit, I’m sometimes skeptical of organic food. Not because I don’t think it’s legitimate, or inherently good, but mainly because I see the term “organic” as a catch phrase bandied around by marketers with flagrant disregard for what it actually means. Most accurately illustrated by a type of “organic” flavoured yoghurt I was recently asked to try. In the end it’s my stomach (and initially tastebuds) that make up my mind about a place, and so it was with that in mind that we decided to go.

Sandcastle Organic

So after finally getting ready and making it down there it was 3pm, and we were the only people in the place. Lucky for us the kitchen was still open and we had our pick of the tables. We chose alfresco. The warm autumn sun is just about all my complexion can handle… So I make the effort when I can.

Hola ! We're in Italy !

After not having breakfast and it now being the late afternoon, we were pretty hungry. Sharon got a curry puff and I ordered some bread and olive oil. I think i subconsciously judge a place by the quality of it’s olive oil. Luckily they use some very nice organic stuff that was quite peppery and managed to hold its own against the balsamic vinegar.

Olio e Pane

On to the mains. I couldn’t go past the centre cut fillet of beef on oak smoked mushrooms… The decision was made and a glass of Grenache Shiraz Cabernet to go with it. The beef was excellent, although sadly, not cooked the way I asked. I asked for medium rare and it came out a most definite medium. Still tender, but scarcely pink as far as my eyes could tell in the glaring 4pm autumn sunlight. It was already late enough though, and it was still very edible, so I waived the offer to recook it, and instead was offered my drinks for free… a lovely compromise.
Organic Vino Rosso

Centre Cut Fillet

Sharon ordered the smoked tofu and roast tomato en croute (on cru), with cumin potatoes, which was also particularly tasty.

Smoked Tofu

Overall the food was great. Rich earthy flavours and complimenting textures from each dish we tried. Definitely a place to try if you’re looking for a healthy change or a tasty distraction from the sterile masses. The owners are very friendly people too, good service is always a delight.

Sand Castle Organic
11/396 South Terrace
South Fremantle
(08) 9335 2445