Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Arimia, Yallingup, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

One of the peculiarities of Western Australia's public holiday calendar is how sparse the long weekends become in the second half of the year. While the first half of the year averages 1 a month, after WA Day its over three months before the Queen's Birthday long weekend provides some respite from the relentless working week. The Queen's Birthday then is a holiday we all look forward to, independent of whatever feelings we have for the monarchy. This Queen's Birthday weekend was particularly important for Alissa, as it marked the end of her prac for her university studies and a weekend down south celebrating the birthday of our friend Annaliese Hutchison. After heading down with our friend Ben on the Friday night, Alissa and I had some free time on the Saturday morning to explore. After tasting (and purchasing) wine from the cellar door at Flying Fish Cove, Alissa and I decided to stop in for lunch at the cellar door restaurant at the nearby Arimia Estate.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Neighborhood Pizza, Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

I've always felt that pizza is one of those dishes that is easy to make at a half-decent level, but difficult to do exceptionally well. Perhaps part of the difficulty is that the standards for judging pizza are wildly divergent; is it all about interesting and inventive toppings, or is it about getting the most perfect wood-fired base? Rarely do the two come together in the one pizza, as progressives like Little Caesar's tend to make incredible toppings on largely unremarkable bases, while in their attempts to not mess with the formula, conservative wood fire traditionalists tend to rely on age-old classic combinations rather than dare to try new things.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Darlings Supper Club, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Alissa and I are massive fans of Varnish on King. Ostensibly a whiskey and wine bar, the quality of the food that they serve is as impressive as their drinks list, with their Beef Short Ribs and Sweet Potato dishes being some of the most memorable and satisfying dishes we've eaten in the last year. So when we heard that Varnish's owner Andy Freeman had just opened an Asian Fusion venue in the form of Darlings Supper Club, we quickly added it to our list of places to check out. With a Truffle Degustation at 1907 and the final service of Dear Friends taking priority due to their limited nature, our planned dinner at Darlings fell by the wayside. Additionally, with early reviews a bit mixed, we decided to give them a bit of time to settle in before we finally popped in for an impromptu dinner in early September.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Matisse Beach Club, Scarborough, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

It's been quite a while since Alissa and I headed out to Scarborough. When Alissa lived in North Perth, we used to include walks from City Beach to Scarborough as part of our regular walking route repertoire, however since moving to Bateman our visits have been much more sporadic. So when we received a surprise invite to attend a blogging event at Matisse Beach Club, we were delighted by the chance to return to an area of Perth we probably haven't visited for a year.

Located along the Esplanade in Scarborough's main beach precinct, the first thing one notices about Matisse is the immense scale and ambition of this undertaking;  the Beach Club is a massive venue, and one that bucks the trend of the small bar boom. The intimacy and often 'bespoke' and 'artisanal' nature of the best small bars make a persuasive argument that smaller is better, however Matisse avoids the impersonal pitfalls of larger venues by having one of the most eye-poppingly colourful and boldly futuristic venue designs I've seen in Perth.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thach's Quan Restaurant (TQR), Nedlands, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

When Alissa and I want a quiet Saturday night in but are ill-prepared or can't be bothered to cook, deciding on a place for an impromptu dinner out can be a real challenge. We invariably want something a bit more than just the regular local haunts, however having only just decided to eat out, the places that take bookings would be largely booked out already, and wait times at hip places with a strict walk-ins policy will be many times longer than the meal time itself. The last Saturday of August was one such night for us, and all the options didn't gel - I wasn't in the mood for pizza or Indian or Thai, and we'd just popped into Kai for ramen and udon the night before so Japanese was out of the equation. Having watched a Hanoi-oriented episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations earlier in the day, I was craving Vietnamese food but couldn't be bothered facing the crowds in Northbridge or the long drive to our favourite Bun Cha restaurant Little Lang Nuong in Girrawheen. That's when I remembered Thach's Quan Restaurant (also known simply as TQR), a Vietnamese restaurant on Stirling Highway in Nedlands across the road from Pata Negra.

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.

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.