Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mandurian Adventures: Part 1

If I could have any job in the whole entire world, it would be Valli Little's - food editor of delicious. magazine. Amongst other things, her job is to travel the world, staying in magnificent hotels and dining at Michelin star restaurants, taking photos, and then writing about it. And this is a paid job we're talking about here.

Big dreams start small.

The Sebel Mandurah is a beautiful little 4 and a half star hotel, perched on the tip of The Point Peninsula which stretches right into the Mandurah Estuary. Whilst driving up the narrow strip of land towards it, with the bay sparkling in the sun on both sides, the tall blue-and-white building surrounded by Norfolk pines just screamed the word holiday.


Me and the girls booked a Studio Guestroom for the night - I loved it. The Sebel's only been open for a little over a year, so everything just looked so untouched and perfect. Our room came equipped with a  king sized bed, private balcony with a water view, large flat-screen TV, a big comfy couch perfect for napping, an immaculate bathroom with a wonderfully spacious shower, and most importantly, a minifridge. One of my favourite things about this room was the phone, with a one-touch button dial for room service, reception and housekeeping. We may have exploited it a little.

If Perth is a 'sleepy' town, then Mandurah would probably be classed as being in a coma. As school had already started, and we were staying at a hotel on a Monday night, the lack of people around during our stay was absolutely unnerving. I got up to take this photo at 6am to watch the sunrise, and in the hour or so I was outside for, I didn't see a single soul drive, walk or cycle past anywhere I could see from up where I was. I felt like I was on the set of I Am Legend (minus the flesh-eating zombies).

We had a nice view from the fourth floor as well, overlooking the inner estuary and the jetty cafe-strip, including the iconic Mandurah Cicerellos. We were fairly high up, but still low enough to see the people walking along the foreshore with their kids, the cars driving up Mandurah Terrace, and the odd swan gliding from one side of the bay to the other, just chillin'.

We decided to head out for lunch, so we drove up to the Dolphin Quay in search of a good feed overlooking the water. The boardwalk is lined with casual-looking restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlours, and right in the middle is an entrance to the indoor markets. The girls let me pick our lunch spot, so I just went for the one that looked the liveliest at the time, which was D'lights Café. Places that are busy are usually busy for a reason. Plus, they had cool umbrellas. 


Emerald had the Pumpkin Soup ($12.5) which came with a highly satisfactory serving of proper cheese bread. There's just something about the way grilled cheese cooks and becomes that tasty and crusty-on-top-yet-gooey-underneath that I never get tired of. Mingi had the Prawn Sub ($16.5), which was basically a hot dog roll which had been popped on the grill, filled with creamy garlic prawns and shaved parmesean.  I'd never seen it before in my life and doubt I will ever see again. Mandurah's an interesting kinda town.

I ordered the Grilled Red Emperor ($18.5) which was, as always, an item on the specials chalkboard. The salad and chips were average, but the texture and sweetness of that fillet of Red Emperor was just divine. When at a fish 'n' chip shop, I always just order the standard type of fish - snapper or that horrible 'hake' stuff, which is usually mushy, breaks when you poke it, and tastes like chicken. This fish fillet was meaty, firm and the flesh came apart in big, smooth segments. Really clean taste, with the oil in the fish coming through really nicely. It was served minus any bones, plus some very morish tartare sauce. Yum.

No visit to Mandurah is complete without a visit to Simmo's, which was fortitiously located a mere 2 minute walk from our hotel via the boardwalk! We stumbled into the glorious air conditioning after lunch, shiny from the humidity and heat outside, and took appropriate action. 

We had some delicious selections, one being Hazelnut nougat - it really tasted like hazelnut (unlike hazelnut bubbletea) and was sharply sweet just like nougat. Mango passionfruit was another good one, an oldie but a goodie combination of tropical fruit flavours. As with all things food, I took 10 minutes to choose my flavours, testing, thinking, irritating the shop lady, until finally settling on a half Strawberry Contrieu Cheesecake and half Pecan Caramel. The Pecan Caramel was delightfully different and brown-sugary, but the SCC was the winner, with bits of shortbread and small chunks of strawberry-ry goodness mashed in.

♥ New favourite ♥


 ♥ Old favourites ♥

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