Sunday, 13 May 2012

Nippon Fare, Perth CBD

Every few weeks I try to go into the city and meet Craig during his lunch break at work. He doesn't often take a proper break from his desk so this is a good way to encourage him.  We go and eat somewhere that is fairly near to his office (QV1, St Georges Terrace) so that he doesn't use up too much time trekking across the city (not that its big).

The last time we did this (a few weeks ago now!) we went to Nippon Fare in Shafto Lane. Its just off Hay street.

Nippon Fare is Japanese food, and its quick, easy and cheap.  I got there early so was able to bag us one of the few tables outside in the lane so we could watch the world go by as we chatted and ate our lunch.

I had a pack of the Chicken & Avocado Sushi rolls. The regular size is 5 pieces but you can also have a large size with 10 pieces. Each roll was quite large and lovely and fresh. The avocado was nice and soft. There was a sachet of soy sauce which I tipped into the lid of the box as I couldn't think how else to use it? I don't like pickled ginger so I didn't try it.

Craig had a hot dish of Teriyaki Udon Noodles. I have to admit I'm not keen on this type of noodle because it reminds me of something else that I wont mention however if I don't look at it I don't mind, so I shut my eyes so I could try a bit and it was tasty. A decent portion for $8.90 which fuelled him up for the afternoon ahead.

We also shared a portion of Gyoza Dumplings which came with a little pot of dipping sauce. They were delicious, soft and crunchy at the same time.

Nippon Fare

Sharon x

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Weekend in Margaret River - Part 4 (final part)

Day 4

Its our last day and we are heading back to Perth this afternoon, but not before a long and leisurely lunch at Knee Deep. This was another recommendation by Chris our tour guide from Top Drop Tours.

We managed to get a table booked however it was the last one available and was one of those high tables with tall bar stools. I was worried about this, but as it turned out it was one of the best tables in the restaurant. It was right in the window which were opened right up and overlooking the beautiful vines. The sky was blue and the sun was shining......perfect.

The table was also near the wine tasting room and our waitress invited us to go and have a taste before we decided what wine to order with lunch; it would have been rude not to take advantage of the offer!

We ordered two entrees to share between us.  The first was the Knee Deep Charcuterie Plate. This consisted of Chicken Liver Parfait and Rose syrup, Pork Belly Rillette and Bread Wafers, Buffalo Chorizo and Cornichons. The first thing to say about this dish (and all those that followed) is that it was beautiful presented.  The stand out element for me was the chicken liver parfait. It was exceptionally smooth and silky and had an amazing flavour, not at all bitter.

The second entree was Barossa Valley Camembert baked in paper bark and served with rye bread wafers, apple and quandong chutney. The second photo shows the cheese cut in half. It was lovely and gooey. The chutney helped to cut through the richness of the cheese.

For his main course Craig had what was described on the menu as Margaret River Venison topped with potato puree and served with braised red cabbage.  In reality the dish was a venison Shepard's pie type thing which happens to be his favourite meal, just a bit posher.  It seemed wrong to be eating such hearty comfort food on such a glorious hot day but it was very moorish indeed.

I wanted something light and refreshing so I opted for a Yabby and Chicken Salad. This was a Chicken breast and herb roulade with yabby tail on a Nicoise style salad. I had not eaten Yabby before (not something readily available back in the UK) so this was a first for me. They were sweet and tasty and not at all chewy as I had assumed they would be. The whole salad was a pleasure to eat and looked so pretty on the plate. 

And then came dessert. We were using our Margaret River Gold Pass which gets you various discounts and offers around the region. At knee Deep the offer was for a free dessert and coffees if you buy entrees and main courses. It would be rude not to partake. The dessert we were given is a tasting plate of various desserts and to be honest it was a few weeks ago now and I don't remember all the elements of the dish. I do remember however that it was scrumptious (yes I did just use that word!). I'm glad it was for the both of us to share as I am not a big pudding person so just a little was good for me.

As it was Easter Monday we were given a little bowl of chocolate mini eggs to go with our coffees which I thought was a nice touch.

I should mention that the service throughout the meal was excellent and it was a pleasure to eat lunch here. No rush, no pressure.

So that's it, part 4 of our weekend in Margaret River.  To sum it up we cant wait to return to the region for another weekend of food and wine. We shall try (and write about) a whole new set of places. Meanwhile, I really hope this write up and the three previous will inspire you to visit yourself.

Sharon x

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A weekend in Margaret River - Part 3

Day 3

After another great breakfast, we headed out for the day to explore the Margaret River region on our own. We had a rough plan on the places we wanted to stop, some of which we had been to the previous day, plus some additional vineyards and food producers.

Craig wanted to visit some of the brewery's so I was doing the driving.  During the course of the day we went to Duckstein Brewery, Bootleg Brewery and Colonial Brewery.  Bootleg was a disappointment, but we liked the other two. However we found that you cant actually buy the beer they brew which seemed a bit odd! Anyway Craig enjoyed a tasting tray at Duckstein and Colonial.

We also went to Margaret River Venison. The previous day we had some of their venison chorizo on a pizza and loved it so we wanted to buy some to take home. Because it can keep for a long time we bought a couple.  The shop sells every cut of meat (venison) you can think of including some fabulous looking sausages. If you want to buy some meat and don't have an esky with you, they sell polystyrene eskys and ice for $8.

At lunchtime we stopped at the Olive Oil farm, Olio Bello for something to eat. The farm is right next door to our accommodation and we had been told that the food here is good. That turned out to be 100% correct. There are a mixture of table both under cover and on the grass under the olive trees. We chose a table on the terrace under cover. The menu was obviously olive oil inspired with most of the dishes featuring the oil in some way.

I had the homemade pasta with a crab, olive oil and chili sauce. It had huge chunks of crab meat and whole slices of chili. The homemade pasta was beautiful, and the dish has inspired me to have a go at making some myself (but first I have to buy a pasta rolling machine). The only downside of the dish was although the oil was beautiful in flavour, there was a bit too much of it.

Craig had the local venison chorizo pizza which he enjoyed very much.

After we had finished eating we went into the shop and sampled a few of the oils. Every oil they sell is layed out in little bowls for you to try. There are also other OO products to but like soaps.

Craig is a chocolate lover so we had to get in a visit to a chocolate shop. Most people head for the MR Chocolate Factory, which while its very good we had already been to the Swan Vally one. Our tour guide from the previous day suggested we go to Gabriel Chocolate. He described it as a chocolate shop for grown ups.  Now its not as big as the MR Chocolate Factory BUT its far less touristy and it feels like more personal care and attention goes into the products. They do all the chocolate processing on site and the smell is amazing. Craig bought himself a tasting pack of all of the dark chocolates.

In the evening we had booked a table for dinner at Arc of Iris Restaurant in Margaret River. This turned out to be a good decision. The restaurant was very busy when we arrived which apparently it always is.

Its a BYO place so we took along a bottle of SkuttleButt Rose from Stella Bella Vineyard.

For my entree I ordered the 7 spice squid on Asian coleslaw with chili lime dressing. This was absolutely delicious and would have made an excellent main course. It was light and fresh and the 7 spice was full of flavour.

Craig went for the Seared scallops & venison chorizo with rocket salad and homemade chutney & pesto. He really enjoyed it. Admittedly, both dishes could of done with better presentation but that's not the end of the world.

Having been to the venison farm earlier in the day Craig chose the Tender venison rib rack with red currant jelly and sour cream, potato mash, and green beans for his main course. This was a dish made for a man, and in fact as we were sat at a corner table and people could not really see, Craig picked up the bones when he was finished so he could eat every last morsel!

I had the Tenderridge beef fillet with gratin dauphinoise, caramelized onion, and shiraz jus. I could have used a spoon to cut the meat it was so tender, and full of flavour. The dauphinoise potato ( a favourite of mine) was delicious and not to creamy. The only niggle I had (apart from the presentation again) was that it didn't come with any vegetables. I ordered a side of green beans and what I got was six beans that had not been topped & tailed and were nearly raw!

By this time we were both very full, however we both wanted something sweet to finish. So we decided to share a dessert. We ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding - chocolate ganache with vanilla bean ice cream. When it arrived it also had a shot glass of fruity berry sauce which was an excellent addition to cut through the richness of all the chocolate. It was a very impressive dessert and tasted delicious but I am very glad we had one to share!

All in all we had a fabulous day. We visited many places and bought lots of treats to bring home. We had a great lunch and dinner and drank some good wine. And best of all, I did it all with my wonderful hubby :-)

To be continued..........................

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Weekend in Margaret River - Part 2

Day 2

We wanted to be able to appreciate the wine of the Margaret River region and not worry about one of us having to drive so we decided to book one of the wine day tours. Now there are quite a few to choose from and its personal choice, but I was looking for one that didn't take many people. We didn't want to find ourselves on a large bus with a group of drunk people whose goal was to chuck as much wine down their necks as possible. After some extensive research I settled on Top Drop Tours. We booked onto the Wine & Dine full day tour.

We were collected from our accommodation at 10.30am. Chris was our tour guide for the day and owner of the company.  There were only six of us on the tour in a lovely black 7 seater vehicle.  Chris explained that we would be visiting five vineyards during the course of the day, which scheduled tastings at all and lunch at one of them. I believe that each tour if different in terms of vineyards visited depending on various factors. Some of those that we visited were Hay Shed Hill, Leeuwin, Stella Bella, Pierro. Stella Bella was my favourite and we returned to this one the following day on our own to buy a few extra bottles. 

The photo above is the list of wines we tasted at Pierro Vineyard. I can highly recommend number 4.

Our lunch stop was at Hay Shed Hill. Top Drop Tours had us a table booked and waiting for us when we arrived which was a blessing as it was the holiday weekend and very busy. We were given menu's and told we could choose 3 dishes per couple plus a glass of wine. Between us we had the Venison Chrizo Pizza, Crumbed Calamari with Fennel Salad, and Charcuterie plate – duck rillette, venison pate, pork terrine, beetroot relish, caperberries. All three dishes were really tasty and just what we needed while drinking lots of wine. The glass of hay Shed Hill Chardonnay I had to go with lunch was very drinkable.

During the course of the day we purchased a few bottles of wine and also made a note of places we wanted to return to the next day. This is a photo of our haul.

 If you go down to MR and decide to book a tour I thoroughly recommend booking with Top Drop Tours. It was a pleasure to spend the day with Chris and he really knew his stuff. It was obvious that the winery's we visited also like him and they all very much looked after our group. Chris also runs other tours including half days and Private tours.

At the end of the day when we were dropped back to our accommodation, we had already pre planned to not go out anywhere. Instead we had bought some crusty bread and some nice cheese to eat while watching a DVD in our villa.

A fantastic day all round.

To be continued.............

A weekend in Margaret River - Part 1

As a very belated Christmas gift to each other, Craig and I had a weekend away down in Margaret River at Easter.  We left Perth early on Friday morning and arrived home on Monday evening so in all we had three nights away.  We packed loads into our time away including a wine tour, brewery visits, beaches, restaurants etc. Rather than write a long piece about each of the places we visited I am going to condense them all here into one piece.


We left Perth at 8am and headed south to Bussleton. This is where we had decided to stop on the way down to get some breakfast and have a walk along the jetty.  We arrived around 10.30am and parked right on the foreshore near the jetty.

The Goose

The first cafe we saw looked great and it had a fantastic view out over the jetty and the ocean, so in we went and bagged ourselves a table for breakfast.  The menu had all the usual breakfast options. Craig had poached eggs, bacon, spinach, toast an mushrooms. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, spinach and toast. The portions were huge and neither of us finished the whole lots but it was delicious and just what we needed to kick our foodie weekend off. Juice and coffee was also ordered.

After breakfast we had a walk up the jetty. Its nearly 2km long but to be honest we turned round about 3/4 of the way up and walked back. There is an underwater observatory at the end but you need to book this as its busy so we missed out this time.

Next onto our accommodation. After much Internet research we decided to book Merribrook Retreat. The retreat is set in beautiful grounds with a lake in the middle. There are only ten villas, some of which are built near the lake. We had one of these. It had everything we needed including some thoughtful little touches such as a torch for when you get back in the dark, and an umbrella for when it rains. There is no TV or internet although there is a DVD player in the room so you can watch a film.

Breakfast is eaten at the lodge overlooking the lake. Each morning the owners lay out a buffet with fruit, yogurt, muffins, toast, freshly baked cake, juice etc. Then you are given a choice from three hot dishes cooked fresh in the kitchen.

Merribrooke has a lovely pool and spa for the guests to use.

After we checked in we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, having a bubble in the spa and sitting on the veranda and watching the wildlife around the lake. The Kookaburra especially gave us hours of entertainment.

In the evening we went out for something to eat. Now as it was Good Friday we found ourselves extremely limited on choice however one of the places I had in mind was open so we were lucky. I called them earlier in the day and booked a table.

We arrived at Winos an hour early for our table so sat on one of the squashy sofas and had a drink while we waited. This gave us a chance to have a really good look at the menu and decide what we were going to eat. The menu is Tapas, and its all written up on a series of blackboards on one wall. To be honest its not that easy to read but we managed.

We hadn't eaten since breakfast so by now we were both starving and as such we probably slightly over ordered.  We had the following dishes

  • Venison Chorizo
  • Whole Banana Prawns with Bloody Mary flavours
  • Steak with a green sauce
  • Blue Crab Pate with a Lime Jelly topping and toasts
  • Salt & Pepper Calamari
  • Pork Crakling shards & Apple sauce
  • Balls of Joy (mini doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce)
All the food was good and the dishes came out as they were ready in the kitchen so we had a steady stream of food. Some of the combinations were a little odd, and although the prawns were good I thought it was a shame to add so many flavours to them.  The atmosphere in the place was loud and buzzing and we both really enjoyed sitting there for a few hours drinking wine and eating good food. The wine list was very good and as the place was in the middle of Margaret River and was called Winos I expected nothing less.

To be continued....................

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Leapfrogs, Cafe/Restaurant

One of my favourite things about the weekend in Perth is going out for breakfast with my boys.  Yesterday after a short but intense session in the gym, we headed over to Leapfrogs Cafe/Restaurant at Wanneroo to refuel.

Leapfrogs is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven Tuesday - Sunday (dinner only served on Thursday - Sunday).  It specialises in pizza straight from their wood fired ovens, and they also serve just coffees and drinks on their own throughout the day.

Most of the seating at Leapfrogs is out on the wooden terrace surrounded by lush greenery in the botanical gardens. Sitting there reminds me of sitting amongst a rain forest (minus the rain).  There are plenty of large umbrellas so hardly any of the tables are in full sunshine.

We started by ordering coffees and drinks while we looked at the breakfast menu.  Craig went for a long black with a shot of milk, James had a Pepsi max! and I went for a skinny cappuccino.  My coffee was well made and just the right strength however I noticed just as I started drinking that there was a large chip in the cup right where my mouth would drink from the cup.

It was very busy in the cafe and we were informed by our waitress that there was a 25 minute wait for food coming out of the kitchen. This was fine with us as long as we had the coffee to drink, we were in no rush and our surroundings were relaxing. It was a good chance for the three of us to catch up as a family.

I ordered poached eggs on toast with a side of bacon. The eggs were perfectly cooked and were not wet at all. My pet hate with poached eggs on toast is when the chef lifts the egg out of the pan and puts it straight on the plate or toast without draining it properly. You either get soggy toast or a wet plate (or both).  Two chunky slices of lightly toasted bread came alongside, it could of been done for a few seconds more as it was very pale.  Then last there was a good portion of bacon which had a lovely flavour but was a little fatty. Overall though I really enjoyed my plate of food and finished nearly all of it!

James went for the Big Breaky, and boy was it big! Scrambled eggs (his choice) bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, baked beans, toast and a potato fritter. The fritter was just like a large potato cake and I think would have made a nice breakfast just on its own. James enjoyed his breakfast although his eyes are bigger than his belly and he left quite a lot (I told him he's getting the "small" breaky next time)

Craig ordered the poached eggs on toast with a side of grilled field mushrooms. All very nice in his opinion and he cleared the plate.

Half way through our meals we decided to order more coffee and a couple of fresh juices. Craig had a freshly squeezed Orange juice and James had a freshly squeezed apple juice. Both juices were really fresh and delicious and very good palate cleansers. I loved the apple and will be getting it myself next time.

We had a really nice and relaxing breakfast at Leapfrogs.  We waited a while for the drinks to come the second time but apart from this I cant fault the place. We are going to return to try out the evening dinner menu and listen to the live music they have going on at weekends. Check out the website for more details.

Leapfrogs Cafe

Sharon x