Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Heritage

The Heritage Bar & Brasserie
131 St George's Terrace
Perth 6000
(08) 9226 5596
www.theheritageperth.com.au

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Figure 1: New kid on the block 

For such a long time, my learned friend Benjamin and I had made several attempts at organising a food-date, to no avail. We had both just been terribly occupied - he'd been busy getting VHD's (very high distinctions) and I'd been busy going off the rails in every sense of the word (just ask my insurance company). Finally, on a cold and crisp Wednesday morning, we committed to 8am at The Heritage for breakfast. It's right next door to The Trustee on St George's Terrace, and underneath it is the adjoining cocktail bar called Bobèche, named after a French clown of the 1800s. Naturally. 

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Figure 2: Stylishly European

The Heritage is a European-style brasserie that opened in April, in one of the beautiful sandstone buildings at the foot of the new BHP tower (the really ugly skyscraper where you can tell the engineers made a boo-boo). The restaurant is grand in every sense of the word: high ceilings, polished marble floor, chandeliers, black and white furniture and white tablecloths. It kind of felt like being on the set of the Titanic.

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Figure 3: Extensive menu 

The Heritage's food is described as 'brasserie classics'. But I realised when I started writing this post that I don't actually know what a brasserie is. The word itself is actually French for 'brewery', as places that produced their own beer and served food were the humble beginnings of brasseries as they are in their modern form today. Brasseries are upmarket, ornate but relaxed French restaurants that always offer professional service and are open every day of the week. I had a bit of a laugh when I saw the menu had a contents page, but there's actually reason for that - brasseries are typically open all day and serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper as well as a wide range of alcoholic beverages, so inevitably, the menu would be much longer than normal.

Brasseries are not to be confused with bistros, which are small, fairly casual and typically family-owned French restaurants, which serve traditional, unsophisticated food and are similar to the Italian trattoria.


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Figure 4: Long macchiato ($4.9) and latte ($4.5)

As soon as we were seated, I lunged for the menu and flicked straight to the coffees page - (I was trundling along on 3 hours sleep). I was so desperate for a caffeine hit that I ordered a SLMXH (soy long macchiato extra hot), topped up, which I hadn't had for about 6 months because my doctor told me to stop drinking them. True story.

When the coffees came out, my coffee appeared similar to Ben's in all aspects but the colour. It looked like someone had maxed out the saturation button, because my long mac was a gorgeous, deep toffee colour. And after my first sip... I felt like my bones were humming. My long macs to me are like Ryan Gosling to Rachel McAdams in The Notebook - as much as you try to convince yourself you're happy with someone else, in the end, you'll always come back to your first love!

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Figure 5: Chocolate croissant


With our coffees, me and Ben split a freshly baked pain-au-chocolat ($4.5) which came served with a little fresh strawberry sliced in half, and dusted with icing sugar. I've always wondered why the never seems to be enough chocolate in a chocolate croissant. Usually it's two measly little pieces of chocolate the size of a small pencil, laid parallel to each other, wrapped up in the bottom of the pastry. But nevertheless, a flaky, delicious chocolate croissant it was. And any excuse is a good enough excuse to eat chocolate in the morning. 

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Figure 7: Photography by Tomasi J

For our actual breakfast meal, we chose the same dish: the Heritage muesli with berries, apples, pear and yoghurt ($10). I have no idea why I ordered it. I usually have to order something for breakfast that has eggs in it, whether they're fried, boiled, poached, scrambled or in pancakes, or at least something hot. I had a good feeling about this one though.

We definitely chose well - it was a perfectly balanced breakfast meal. The muesli had just enough bite to it, was smooth and creamy and topped with a bit of clotted cream (I altruistically ate Ben's cream too) and the berry compote was fresh and nicely tart, not too sweet. There was just a small sprinkling of buttery crumbs on top which completed the dish. I can't believe I'm saying this about muesli, but it's probably one of the better breakfast dishes I've had so far this year. And all for just $10. 

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Figure 8: Sparkling or still? 

We got the bill promptly after finishing in order to get to 10am Property on time, and Ben gave me a lift to uni in his Monster Truck. I left the Heritage with a full belly, an emerging headache (shouldn't have finished that coffee) and a curiosity to check out their dinner menu some time, when I can afford it. So hopefully this place is still open in 2020.

The Heritage Brasserie, Bar & Boardroom on Urbanspoon


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Christmas in July

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Figure 1: Brandied strawberries 

I love Christmas. Every year, I'm that irritating, incessantly cheerful pain in the ass that insists on putting up a tree (sometimes two: a big one for the living room, and a little one for the dining table of course), a wreath, mistletoe, tinsel, strings of christmas cards, putting the Christmas CD on repeat, and fashioning a mini Santa-hat for my dog out of scraps of fabric. And then taking lots of photos of him.

So it kills me that I've never had a White Christmas, like the ones you see in the movies where they look out the window and the world is wearing a beautiful white blanket. I've celebrated every single Christmas in Australia, bar a couple in Malaysia with family, so I've never even had a Christmas under 35°C. So last holidays I decided to throw a Christmas in July party, which I definitely want to do again next year. There's just something about the combination of cold weather, comfort food, winter clothes and good company that makes you feel like you're being hugged.

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Figure 2: Game. Set. Ready. 

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Figure 3: And all the trimmings 

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Figure 4: Christmas feast

Everyone brought something along: Mingi was on booze duty, Mali brought some roast chicken, I did up some honey soy chicken wings and a salad, and for some reason, Tung's mum just happened to have access to a slab of roast pork the size of a small microwave on the day, so he brought that. We finished everything, including Von's vegies and all of Janelle's fried asian goodies. 

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Figure 5: Comfort food 

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Figure 6: Pass the butter 

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Figure 7: Tung's face time-travelling 

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Figure 8: Love these flavours

Pear, walnut and fetta salad 
  • 1 firm pear (the crispier the better)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup fetta cheese, diced 
  • Baby rocket
  • 1/2 a lemon plus extra for pears
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Slice the pear fairly thinly and toss in a bit of lemon juice to stop them from browning. 
2. Top rocket with pear, walnuts and fetta. 
3. To prepare dressing, combine oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a jam jar and shake it like a polaroid picture.
4. Toss salad with dressing and serve immediately. 

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Figure 9: Straight to the thighs, baby

In terms of volume, I think we had the same amount of desserts to choose from as we did mains. It was a sugar smorgasboard: Jeed's delicious ice cream sandwiches, brandied strawberries and vanilla ice cream, marshmallows and melted milk chocolate, Ainsleigh made a cheesecake, Ann's macadamia cupcakes, and of course, Derek's amazing trifle - of which the leftovers became my sole reason for weight gain over the next week. I think most of the desserts had alcohol in them - but that's what I love about Christmas. Not only is spiking allowed, it's tradition!

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Figure 10: Ainsleigh's raspberry coulis cheesecake

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Figure 11: Drool

Jeed-cream sandwiches
  • 1 tin condensed milk (395ml)
  • 500ml whipping cream
  • 2 packets Arnott's Malt 'O' Milk biscuits 
  • 3 packets chocolate of your choice
  • 1 packet chewy lollies
1. Chop chocolates and lollies into small pieces.
2. Whip cream in electronic mixing bowl until peaks start to form. Fold in condensed milk, lollies and chocolate.
3. Cover two baking trays with cling wrap and place biscuits bottom-side-up.
4. Place cream mixture evenly on top of biscuits, and top with another biscuit.
5. Place in freezer at least 4-5 hours or overnight.

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Figure 12: Icy creamy goodness!

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Figure 13: Ohana 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Louis Baxter's

Louis Baxter's 
Shop 2, 50 Subiaco Square, Subiaco 6008
(08) 9380 4203
www.louisbaxters.com.au

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Figure 1: City chic


As Desiree's month in Perth was slipping away, and it would be 12 months before she was back home, we decided to check out Louis Baxter's (more commonly known as The-Eamon-Sullivan-Café). We were so keen that we had already chosen our menu items a day in advance on the website. When we sat down at our table, I kept yabbering on and flapping my arms around, toppling over my travel flask of green tea so that it looked like I peed on the floor.


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Figure 2: Louis

But the reason I was so psyched about this place is that Eamon has proved he actually knows his stuff when it comes to food. It started in high school, when he picked up home economics as a way of swiping an extra meal on school days that included four hours of swimming training. Turns out he performed well in the swimming pool and the kitchen (dream husband), and was contemplating becoming a chef if the swimming thing didn't work out.

But as we all know, the swimming thing did work out, and Eamon was soon appearing on everything from Sunrise to Gillette advertisements to The 7pm Project. In 2009, Eamon won the title of Celebrity Masterchef, knocking out supermodel Rachel Finch in the Invention Test with his amazingly complex Chocolate Delice. It was on the show that he met one of the producers, Laki Baker, who shared a love of food and pets with Eamon. In 2011, they opened Louis Baxter's as a tribute to their French bulldogs, who are so goddamn cute I could just die. 

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Figure 3: Look closely... she's walking a dog!

Their café is found at the centre of Subiaco, in the train station square. The interior design is, for want of a better word, 'ave'. Nice enough, but nothing special. I feel like on many levels, Louis Baxter's have played it safe, making everything a little bit too simple than it needs to be. The space is fairly small but has been utilised well. On the wall is a striking mural by a local Perth artist, and there's an industrial feel to the place, given by the exposed piping, timber furniture and enormous lightbulbs hanging haphazardly from the ceiling.

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Figure 4: Best chai lattes in town

Whilst reading up for this post, I noticed a lot of amusing comments about the barista being a bit of a tosser who reprimands people for ordering short macs topped up (technically they're piccolo lattés, apparently). But he was a perfect gentleman to me and Desiree, plus he made us some freaking good coffees. A chai latté ($4.3) for Desiree, which was probably one of the smoothest chai lattés I've ever tasted. It was like drinking sweet, spiced velvet. I'm getting one of these next time I come here.

The website raves on about their Campos coffee beans, but because I don't know enough about coffee, I couldn't really tell the difference. My soy flat white ($4.5) was excellent, anyway. Not a trace of bitterness was to be found in my coffee, and the crema was a beautiful caramel colour. 

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Figure 5: Come at me crema

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Figure 6: Fuelling up on caffeine

Louis Baxter's sports a very basic menu, and I guess I was expecting something more, coming from a seasoned foodie like Eamon. Urbanspooners have commented that there is "nothing particularly exciting" at Louis Baxter's - I don't completely agree with them, but I do feel like a café that's featured on Today Tonight as one of the best cafés in Western Australia should offer something with a bit more oomph. There's toast, porridge, a breakfast trifle, a bacon & egg roll, slow poached egg, spanish eggs, and eggs benedict. That's it. Although, I'll give points for having everything sourced locally: New Norcia bread, Swan Valley eggs, Mount Barker chicken. 

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Figure 7: They butter your toast for you! Naw. 


Upon Great About Perth's recommendation, I ordered the 60 min Slow-Poached Egg ($14) with New Norcia toast, roasted mushrooms and spinach. And because I'm annoying, I asked them how they cooked the egg: they sous-vide them in a hot water bath at 63°C, tap a hole in the shell and the perfectly cooked, silky egg flows out. I'd never seen an egg cooked like that before - it was the same consistency all the way through, from the white to the yolk, almost like the filling of a custard tart. Fascinating stuff.

But I found this dish very plain. There was no herbs, no spices, or chutney, or sauce, nada. If it weren't for the fancy slow poached egg, it would just be a plate of fried mushrooms, spinach, and bread that I could make myself at home for a lot less than $14. Maybe I'll try the trifle next time instead. 

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Figure 8: Glossy slow-poached egg

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Figure 9: Good shot!

Desiree had the Spanish Eggs ($15), which made me rather jealous. It came in a little red oven dish, topped with slivers of almond and fresh coriander, served with a side of New Norcia sourdough toast. A fairly rich breakfast dish, with just the right amount of chorizo. When you smeared the eggs on the toast with a bit of feta, it all melted together and became a mouthful of spicy, gooey goodness. 

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Figure 10: Gooooood morning!

Thanks Desiree for letting me steal all of your photos from your amazeballs camera - and also for being an inspiring person to me. Seeing how much you have grown on exchange makes me really excited for my own French exchange coming up! I'm so glad that we've stayed friends all this time, and it was nice to catch up with you and see how happy you are now, doing your own thing and following your heart. Can't wait to go on more food adventures with you again when you come back again! 

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Figure 11: In my element 

Louis Baxters Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Tuck Shop

The Tuck Shop 
178 Newcastle Street, Perth 
9227 1659

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Figure 1: Homey 

Everyone's been raving about the Tuck Shop recently, and it's had a disproportionate amount of foodblogger reviews (over 20) for the short time it's been open, so I came to see what all the fuss was about. I am delighted to report that the rumours are true. This place is a perfect example of simple things, done well. It doesn't serve anything mind-blowingly different - there's some nice pies, your standard selection of little cakes and slices, espresso coffee, and familiar things like mushrooms or smoked salmon on toast. But what sets the Tuck Shop apart is attention to detail: presentation, good customer service and simple, fresh flavours. It was a place that I came away from, thinking this is the kind of place I'd like to open one day.

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Figure 2: Recess 

There's literally nothing on either side of the Tuck Shop. You can't even see it from the main junction. Yet it still manages to pull a lot of regulars (they have a board with a bunch of loyalty cards stuck on, with the names chalked next to them). I did find it a bit amusing to see a room full of smartly dressed businessmen trying to look as professional and dignified as possible while sitting in primary school-style wooden chairs, sipping milkshakes. On the eastern wall is a long bookshelf lined with cookbooks, which you're allowed to take down and read while you're having your meal. I grabbed a copy of Barista Bible while Aaron the health-conscious Crossfit champion took down one about salads and for the next 10 minutes, shamelessly took photos of all the recipes he liked.

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Figure 3: Asparagus and lemon risotto salad

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Figure 4: Almost everything everything came topped with an egg!

Every day, the Tuck Shop prints a new menu for the café with the date on the top. The only other place I've been to that does that is Rockpool, so things were looking pretty promising already. The menu was a page long, and full of all the right kinds of words like "lemon ricotta" and "slow cooked lamb" and "hummus" and "vanilla marscapone". I was pleasantly surprised at the wide range of the dishes they had on offer for such an unpretentious café. It took us a while to decide because everything looked so good - I think the waitress came round three times to take our order. Aaron did the honours:

"Scuse me - yes - we're ready. She'll have the moroccan meatballs, and I'm getting the ragu pie, the hand-cut chips and the pork belly."
"No problem! Right, so I'll get you guys the meatballs, the pie, the... wait. Are you gonna eat all those three by yourself?"
"Yeah."
"Seriously?"
"Yeah."
"... but no, seriously?" 

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Figure 5: Christmas colours?

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Figure 6: Crunchy golden frites with house aioli

All of our food came together, but I instinctively dived into Aaron's hand cut chips with aioli ($7.5) first. The chips were cooked to perfection, everything that good frites should be: crisp and crunchy, not at all oily, with enough fluffy potato inside to make them satisfying. Get them. 
I only stole a bite of the pork belly, chorizo, potatoes and fried egg ($18.5) but it was enough to make me want to order it next time I visit the Tuck Shop. That pork belly was somethin' else - so rich, crispy and succulent, I could have sworn it was deep fried. Definitely not something you'd want to have for breakfast, but rather for lunch. Followed by a ferocious work out at the gym.

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Figure 7: Tuck in! 

Aaron's final victim was a beef ragu pie ($12 dine-in), which came served in a pool of this gorgeous caramel-coloured gravy. Generally, I hate pies, and find them a total waste of a meal. But this one was lovely - fairly chunky and rich in flavour, and just moist enough for the amount of gravy it came with. 

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Figure 8: A pie fit for a foodie

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Figure 9: Vibrant colours

I finally rounded onto my moroccan meatballs with flatbread, hummus, tomato and za'atar fried egg ($17.5). Good points: the lightly spiced meatballs, gorgeous presentation and the fabulously crispy egg. The flatbread however was a little stiff and hard. I'd be willing to overlook that though, especially because of the lovely spices on top. Za'atar is a beautiful Middle Eastern spice mixture usually containing thyme, sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano, sumac (a crimson-coloured lemony spice) and seasalt. I'd never had it before, but it reminded me of dukka, which I adore. 

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Figure 10: Hungry? 
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Figure 11:
Must... have... carrot... CUPCAKE. 

I was very very close to ordering one of the cakes from their selection, but was way too full, so I had a nicely done cappuccino ($4.5) instead. I left in a very good mood indeed. A leisurely late lunch on a Tuesday afternoon, with nothing planned for the rest of the day except to enjoy my hard-earned university break and sleep off my food coma. 

The Tuck Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon