Sunday, 31 August 2014

Jamie's Italian, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Jamie's Italy was the first cookbook I ever owned. My mother, ever the rabid fan of all things Jamie, originally bought the book for herself when it came out in 2005. I soon became clear however it was I who really took to actually cooking from it, and she told me that when I left home the book was mine to keep. While my favourite cookbooks these days are more challenging works by people like Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Daniel Humm and Ben Shewry, I cannot stress how important Jamie's Italy was for me in becoming a better home cook - my ability to improvise a pasta dish out of what is in the fridge or make Carbonara or Trapanese Pesto from memory is indebted to the lessons I learnt cooking from Jamie's Italy.

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Silver Sushi, Willetton, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Although Alissa and I have been living in the Bateman for almost two years, we have been slow to explore the suburban restaurants of Willetton. Perhaps owing to the close proximity of our regular local favourites Kai and Kitchen Inn combined with the fast food chain-centric nature of the shopping centre precinct but, Alissa and I rarely crossed Karel Ave until recently realising just how close Southlands really is. One of the instigators for this recent branching out was chasing down a lead we were given by a diner we met at Formosa Vegetarian Eating House in Kardinya, who strongly recommended that we try a Japanese restaurant in the Southlands complex called Silver Sushi.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mama Tran, Perth & Ton Sian Grocery, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

My father introduced me to banh mi many years ago, and from my first bite I was hooked on a dish I truly believe is the King of Sandwiches. My first banh mi was from the Ton Sian Grocery store located on Palmerston St in the city. Being a manager with regular meetings in the city, it became a bit of a running joke that my father simply could not come back from a meeting without popping in. This unassuming suburban outpost that began the Tran's Emporium empire may not seem like the most likely place to get an incredible sandwich, but they are so good it became clear just why my father just had to pop in here.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

MoG @ Home #1 - Momofuku Ko (Ministry of Gluttony at Home)

Something I haven't really talked about on the blog is home cooking. When I started the Ministry of Gluttony, I obliquely referenced cooking when I subtitled the blog 'gastronomic adventures at home and abroad'. Up until now 'at home' has meant dining out in Perth (or more generally Australia), but as a passionate and adventurous home cook I had always meant to include the meals that we make at home. I've been cooking since I was 5 or 6, and if I hadn't stumbled into Art School, I may very well have gone down the path of being a chef. As a student much enamoured with the avant-garde, new media and conceptualism while being decidedly unpainterly, I used to half-jokingly refer to myself as a failed painter, but when you consider I was for many years a member of an art collective named Spatula which interrogated and challenged contemporary food production, perhaps its more accurate to say I've always been more of a unrealised chef.

While I'm not really interested in a career change, in the last few years I've been really wanting to put more effort into upping my skills in the kitchen and challenging myself with recipes outside my comfort zone. I'm a confident home cook who is just as comfortable cooking from Heston Blumenthal at Home as I am freestyling a pasta of whatever is in the fridge, but as someone who is very much a product of my Art School education, the challenging modernism of contemporary fine dining restaurants is the kind of cooking I find most appealing. It is to this end that I've started Ministry of Gluttony at Home - a series of multi-course dinners for 8 (including Alissa and myself) focusing on recipes from challenging chef's books; the kind of cookbooks filled with multi-component recipes and esoteric ingredients that combined with time consuming methods and restrictive equipment requirements means most copies sold end up on coffee tables rather than kitchens.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Maya Indian Restaurant, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Revisiting a restaurant after many years can be like catching up with an old friend. With all the incredible openings in Perth over the last few years, dinner in Fremantle is a somewhat uncommon practice for Alissa and I. Combined with my general reluctance to go out and eat Indian food whenever I come back from a trip to India, its been at least 4 or 5 years since I last dined at Maya, a much lauded Indian restaurant and small bar located on Market St, just off the main drag of the Cappuccino Strip. When I dined here last it was between my first and second trips to India, and I recall thinking the food was some of the better Indian I've had in Australia. After a stalled attempt to book the Winter Dego advertised on their website in July (they weren't offering it at the time), I received an email informing me that they would be served their 'Winter Banquet' every Wednesday of August. At an extremely reasonable 10 dishes for $38, this is quite likely one of the cheapest tasting menus in town (albeit seasonal), and after conferring with a few friends eager to get in on the bargain, we made a booking for six for the first Wednesday of the month.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Bateman Eating House, Bateman, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

After a long day's work, there are those nights when you just can't be bothered to cook, and driving into the Perth CBD or one of Perth's major eat streets seems like something that is not worth the time and effort. On these nights you want something a). good, b). quick and c). close, and in desperation a). is almost optional. Every suburb has its local flavour for these kind of nights, and living in Bateman we're gifted with a plethora of excellent Asian restaurants to choose from. Want killer Japanese, especially a steaming hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen? Kai's just 5 minutes from home, and is one of our favourites in Perth. Or how about an excellent bowl of authentic Kolo Mee or Hor Fun? Kitchen Inn has got us covered. Even vegan-friendly faux meat Asian is represented by Formosa Vegetarian Eating House, and it was a result of our meal there that I was given a list of even more places to check out in the Melville area. Trying to decide what to order, a customer at a nearby table recommended that we try the Spicy Hou Tou Mushrooms. Seeing me pull out a camera and take photos of our meal, he assumed that I was a blogger, and waited to see a post for Formosa appear on Urbanspoon. When it was published he got in touch with me, and kindly gave me a list of a few nearby places I hadn't tried yet, including more ramen joints to check out (always a welcome thing).

Friday, 1 August 2014

St Michael 6003, Highgate, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

In March this year, Alissa and I attended one of the 'Limited Edition Degos' at Jackson's before eponymous chef Neal Jackson closed his iconic Highgate restaurant after 15 years as a trailblazer in Perth's fine dining scene. Given the huge shadow its cast, I'd wondered what could possibly be bold enough to take its place; would it become another fine diner that would have to forever battle with the reputation of its predecessor, or would the new tenants go in the opposite direction with another casual and hipster-ready restaurant to add to the vibrant Beaufort St dining scene?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Dear Friends (Last Supper Degustation), Caversham, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Earlier this year Alissa and I visited Co-op Dining, the East Perth restaurant owned and operated by chef Kiren Mainwaring and his wife Kelli. Impressed by their sustainable Farm to Table and Foraging-focused philosophy even before visiting the restaurant, the Tuesday special 5 Course Vegetarian Experimental Menu we went for remains one of the best vegetarian meals Alissa and I have eaten, and one that I frequent recommend to vegetarian and vegan friends due to the creativity of the menu; it changes every week (being drastically different when visited by friends a few months later) and the $69 per person asking price is excellent value for food of this calibre. As omnivores, Alissa and I have been meaning to visit Co-op again to experience their full 10 Course Menu, and with regular themed event dinners hosted by the restaurant, Alissa and I would have booked for their recent Canadian Roots dinner if not for a clash with Alissa's schedule and a decision to book 1907's Truffle Degustation meaning our fine dining budget was already allocated for the month.

Being on the Co-op mailing list, I received an email informing of Kiren and Kelli's decision to close Co-op Dining's sister restaurant Dear Friends in Caversham so as to focus their full attention on the East Perth restaurant. With their final service on July 19th themed as a 'greatest hits' Last Supper of their 7 years as a Swan Valley mainstay, this was both our last chance to visit Dear Friends and an opportunity to try Mainwaring's food again. Having already booked 1907 for earlier that same week, two degustations in such a short length of time was the kind of splurge we hadn't quite figured into our monthly budget, however given the limited nature of both menus we decided to make August a more frugal month to make the most of July's opportunities.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

1907 (Truffle Degustation), Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Winter is one of the best times of the year. Sure, its cold and rainy, but it is also a season overflowing with opportunity. Unlike the oppressive searing summers of Perth, the cooler weather is conducive to dressing up to go out - instead of sweating even in t-shirts and shorts, it's time to step out comfortably in jackets and collared shirts, and to accept the warm embrace of jumpers and knitwear. During the season, I find myself increasingly drawn to the outdoors; rather than worrying about the rain I'm more likely to get excited about being able to push it on a bike without even breaking a sweat, and there is something about the cold air that fills me with nostalgia for childhood holidays in the forests of WA's south west.

For a foodie, wintertime in WA also holds one of the great seasonal gifts - Truffle Season. With the increasing global recognition of the Manjimup truffle industry, the unique flavour of the black truffle (tuber melanosporum) has well and truly cast its spell on Perth restaurants and diners, with truffle being featured on seasonal menus by everyone from Must Wine Bar, Lalla Rookh and even shaved on top of the barbecued meat of Old Faithful Bar! One could not have imagined this prized ingredient being used so liberally even 5 years ago, and as a self-confessed truffle pig its like Christmas in July for us antipodean gourmands.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Old Crow, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

The Old Crow has been on our wishlist for, well, almost as long as we've had an actual written wishlist of places to try. In spite of being open for little over a year, this Northbridge restaurant has built up an enviable reputation for delicious, crowd-pleasing American-inspired Soul Food, and has been a consistent fixture on Urbanspoon's 'Talk of the Town' list (sitting at #1 at the time of writing). With glowing reviews from friends, other bloggers and professionals alike, Alissa and I were pleased a catch up with our friends Justin and Sarah (who joined us previously for a meal at Pleased To Meet You) served as a good opportunity to see for ourselves if The Old Crow lived up to all the hype.