Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Little snippets from the Good Food and Wine Show 2011

Just thinking back to this show about food and wine makes me hungry (and thirsty, even after that slipper of port I just drank).  This year the Good Food and Wine Show was again held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and was attended by thousands of people, and even families.

Part of the large crowd at the Good Food and Wine Show

One of the main attractions (the celebrity theatre) included shows by Anna Gare, Gary Mehigan with George Calombaris, Matt Moran, and Manu Fieldel.  I went along to Manu's show.

Manu's opening short film setting things a little bit risque

Manu's show started out with a short film highlighting Manu's French heritage, his recent win on Dancing with the Stars and was completed with dancing girls.  At the end of the film, Manu arrived on a bike wearing his French outfit before changing into his chef uniform, not to mention being accompanied with lots of screaming women.

As always, Manu tries to entertain his audience.  Amongst Manu's chef talk and general chat about his life, Dancing with the stars, and his new cookbook, Manu's show was filled with lots of suggestive comments.  Bearded vs Brazilians for mussels, "it's all in the wrist" and moans during a session where Manu got a teenage boy to whip cream - the show was a bit risque and perhaps not completely appropriate with the diverse audience (and was met with mixed audience reactions from disapproval to laughs) but you could tell that Manu was trying to be playful and fun.

Amongst the entertainment and antics (including eating three apples that he was juggling), Manu prepared four portions of each of three courses: a mussel pie; a caramelised witlof wrapped in bacon and roasted with cheese and cream sauce; and a baked pear served with ice cream and cream.  Not to let good food go to waste, twelve (happy) women were invited to try one of the prepared courses and were also received cheek kisses from Manu.

Photo of Manu winning Dancing with the Stars

Manu's witlof main course dish

Gary comes and rides off with Manu's bike

Manu preparing his mussel dish (sans the need to spit out the mussel beards)

Manu with a teenage audience member helping to whip some cream for dessert

Other attractions included the Riedel bar and wine theatre, Barilla pasta demonstrations, a Malaysian cooking demonstration booth (with guest cook Alvin Quah), a Thermomix stand, and the countless food and wine tasting and demonstration booths set up to show us what's on offer and what we may have been missing out on.

Yum - you gotta love a duck!

Alvin Quah with a Malaysian cooking demonstration

So after another year of Good Food and Wine, let's wait to see if they can beat it next year.  Perhaps if the weather permits, they can hold it out in a nice park and make it more like a market stall and family fun day?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harvest, North Fremantle

Harvest Fremantle reviews; Harvest North Fremantle; Harvest Restaurant review
My first dinner at Harvest was met with intense screaming.  Unfortunately they weren't screams of culinary ecstasy and definitely not the suggestive "YES! YES!" from the Clairol Herbal Essences girl.

Our party of five for the night turned up to Harvest for dinner and were seated next to a small wedding reception group.  Possibly due to Harvest's modest yet sufficient drinks menu (including a Pimms Pitcher - YES! YES!) a couple of their guests burst into a fight with one woman screaming and then a guy threatening to punch her.  Suffice to say at that point the wedding reception was clearly over.  Poor bride and groom.

Back to Harvest, from the outside the entrance looks quite unassuming and dimly lit.  Inside, the atmosphere at Harvest is cosy with a rustic atmosphere and dim warm lighting that felt quite intimate but also relatively casual.

Whilst Harvest does a la carte dining, when we made our booking we were informed that Harvest would only be serving a tasting menu / degustation on that (Saturday) night.  The six course tasting menu was priced at $80 per person or $120 with matching wine.

For a fine dining restaurant, our experience for the night was a mix of some great friendly service to parts where we had to repeatedly wave someone for service.  Overall though, we thought the service was fine for our table even with the at times slow service.

Amuse Bouche

This amuse bouche was an appetiser of a cheese and cream blended soup combined with truffle.  The soup was rich and creamy and had combined cheese and truffle flavours that glided all over the tastebuds.  The delicious hit on the palate was just enough to start the evening on a good note.

Green Gazpacho, liquid fetta, pickled zucchini, rockmelon

Maybe we just looked ravenous or something but when this course came out, the waiter rushed placing our plates down whilst saying there was “more” coming out.  Though our initial reaction to “more” was a bit of confusion, looking at the plate and noticing the lack of gazpacho I had an idea of what was to come.  So after all our plates were on the table, there was a bit of added excitement when the waiter came back with a pitcher of gazpacho finishing off each plate in front of us.

The gazpacho itself was chilled, had a watery consistency, and was light in flavour apart from having a large amount of salt that caught me off guard and reaching for my glass of water.   Balancing that out, all the other components on the dish seemed salt-restrained in comparison.

The pieces of liquid fetta were cleverly encased in little packets of a very light transparent coating making the liquid fetta look like little shiny droplets of gnocchi.  Taste-wise, the mild fetta gave the gazpacho a nice cheese flavour (perhaps like putting cheese with tomato in a fancy way).

Rounding out this dish the pickled zucchini added some zest, whilst the rockmelon sorbet was smooth and subtle in flavour with its mild sweetness balancing out the dish.

Venison, cauliflower, baby sun rose, pain d’epices salad

I was looking forward to this dish; however it didn’t quite wow me as much as I was hoping.

The centrepiece of the dish, a small piece of venison was cooked medium rare – though not quite melt in your mouth.  This tender piece of venison was a good “appetiser” for some more red meat to come.

Complementing the otherwise simple venison, the cauliflower puree was rich with cream and butter, and ultra-smooth.  Finishing off this dish was some raw baby sun rose that tasted like eating a raw leaf (which didn’t do much for me other than add a bit of colour to the plate), and crisp pain d’epices.

Margaret River Wagyu Rump, bread sauce, garden greens, veal tongue

There were two options for mains – fish or beef.  The fish option was described as a crispy skin fish with mussel broth, wilted cos, and rouille.  However I couldn’t get past the beef which was a Margaret River Wagyu Rump with bread sauce, garden greens and veal tongue.

The wagyu rump was cooked medium rare – we weren’t offered a choice, however I wouldn’t have argued with medium rare.  Despite being (an undisclosed grade of) wagyu, the rump was not as tender as say my preferred cuts of rib eye or tenderloin.  Still, the rump was cooked excellently, tender for a rump though not quite melt in your mouth, and the rump was full flavoured.  Accompanying the steak, creamy herb butter melted around the steak adding nice flavour and moisture.

The bread sauce had a strong beer flavour running through it that complemented the big meaty taste and texture of the rump steak – though personally I preferred the flavours of the herb butter and the beer taste running through what seemed a bit like soggy beer flavoured bread didn’t do much for me.

One other thing I have to say about this dish is I am not really a fan of tongue so unfortunately most of the veal tongue was left behind on my plate with other people on our table following suit.

Watermelon sorbet

After the main course, this watermelon sorbet helped cleanse the palate.  Rather than big flavours of bold sweetness or acidity, this sorbet had a subtle watermelon taste with only a mild sweetness.  It was still refreshing, but without a big aftertaste.

Fourme D’ambert , pear, quince

This French blue cheese was blended with cream to make its flavours subtler.  The result was unsurprisingly like cream cheese, light and creamy, melting in the mouth like creamy brie.  The blue cheese taste was definitely dulled down (in a good way), but was still prominent enough to make a few people on our table stop at one small mouthful.

Accompanying the cheese were the always complementing pear and quince flavours, as well as garlic crumbs which whilst I thought was interesting went very well with the cheese and especially its blue creamy cheese taste.

Chocolate pudding, dehydrated chocolate mousse, oloroso jubes

A welcome rich and creamy dessert, the chocolate pudding was a silky smooth pudding that melted in the mouth effortlessly.  Together with the texturally contrasting but still richly flavoured dehydrated and hard chocolate mousse this dessert ended the meal on a big chocolate punch line.

The oloroso jubes were like strong sherry flavoured jellies coated in nut like crumbs that met the rich chocolate flavour, whilst ginger beer powder added a tangy zest.

In summary, Harvest has a rustic feel and the chef innovates and presents his fine-dining-style creations that in ways seem to match the rustic feel.  Personally, I enjoyed sampling the different tasting dishes even though for a tasting menu none of the courses quite got me on the verge of my own "YES! YES!".

Points to note:  Book in advance for Friday and Saturday nights, and note that like us you may be limited to the degustation menu only on some nights.

If you’re vegetarian, Harvest does cater for you with their degustation, however expect that the courses may just be the menu course sans meat.  For example, the venison course above was served by removing the venison and adding more of the other ingredients to the dish.

Go for:  A rustic type of fine dining with food to match.

1 Harvest Road
(08) 9336 1831
Trading Hours
Tuesday to Saturday – 6pm till late
Friday to Sunday – 8am till late

Harvest on Urbanspoon