Friday, 18 July 2014

Already reminiscing The Good Food and Wine Show, Perth 2014

As a food blogger, I'm mostly reluctant to refer to myself as such. The term conjures up an image of a food and wine connoisseur, someone who can tell you the size of the very subjective 'pinch of salt' used in a slice of cake they eat. Your classic foodie.

Me? I pick up the same piece of cake and stuff it in my mouth, most likely not aware of what has gone into it. I'm your classic anti-connoisseur 'eatie' who gorges on anything that resembles food. I eat, I enjoy and I occasionally rave about it. But above all else, food makes me smile - because that is what it does; it nourishes, it satisfies and it comforts like no other.

I surprised myself then, when walking through the Perth Convention Centre, I realised this year's Good Food and Wine Show was the first I had ever been to. This national celebration of good food is one huge party bringing together the finest local quality produce for the people who are passionate about food and get excited talking about their next meal.
Good Food and Wine Show, Perth
Walking through the exhibition floor is navigating a huge maze of different producers that I had never come across before.
Different areas, exhibits and displays
Hundreds of exhibits and stalls are dotted all over the area, that you require a plan of attack to ensure you visit all of them. Walking up and down the floor is a sensory experience itself, with the many sights, sounds and smells that fill the area from the compact arrangement of stalls. There are chefs to see, the aromas of hot fresh baked rolls to smell, countless samples to taste, even more countless produce to empty your hard-earned cash on and even celebrities to crush on. Why did I not invite myself to this massive food and wine party earlier?!
"Oh we're famous!"
Wandering around the exhibition aimlessly, my legs eventually brought me to the smells and sounds of this particular stand. Here I briefly met Don Hancey, WA's proud food ambassador, who works closely with local producers to showcase the quality food the WA region supplies.
Menu from Linley Valley pork stand
There was a 3 option menu at the stand, all priced at $10 per item. The menu was simple but hunger inducing, and consisted of slow roasted and smoked pork, fresh apple and calvados sauce; a pork rillette bun, slaw and apple sauce; and a pork and Manjimup potato croquette with cidery aioli.
Making one-pan dishes extremely easy
We ordered a toasty hot and glossy bread roll, which was filled with a generous amount of pork which was first grilled in the pan before being carved and stuffed into the pillowy bun.
Hello, sexy!
Admittedly it was hard for whatever reason to get a decent photograph of this and it had cooled down considerably when I was finally satisfied with the shot after 17 or so different angles. Nevertheless the bun was satisfyingly fluffy on the inside with a tasty lashing of a rich gravy.
Roy, from the ever popular Jumplings and their fashionable head wear :)
I am a self-confessed Jumplings devotee and find myself craning my head high and low looking for the Jumplings van whenever I find myself at any food-related event or festival. The food we eat is very much influenced by the people behind it, their efforts invested in it and the passion they have for their product, and this very much rings true to what makes me so clingy with Jumplings' products.

Roy's philosophy to food, food trucks and business-related matters is something that shines through his venture. It always is inspiring to speak to people who love what they do, and there is nothing better than a warm, genuine smile that accompanies your order. 'Be happy' is Jumplings' current motto after all!
Jumplings with truffled ponzu
Jumplings is fast becoming a well-known name, with their established food truck stationed at different locations throughout the week. On the menu at the show is their signature slow cooked duck jumplings, chicken jumplings and a chilli crab jumpling option, all served with a cabbage and coriander salad, sesame sauce and truffled ponzu.
Innards of a jumpling
Chicho Gelato cart
Having heard of these guys but never came across them, I was excited to see them at the exhibition and finally getting to understand what all the rave was about. I'm ready to take on all the ice-cream I can.
Lemongrass and ginger gelato
I went easy and tried only three flavours (ha!) which all made it more difficult to decide. The banoffee pie flavour stood out like no other with its rich, sweet toffee and banana flavours but the ultimate winner for us that day was a refreshingly sweet lemongrass gelato with intense gingery tones that leaves tingles on the tongue. The ice cream is smooth, creamy and everything you would hope for and expect from a good ice cream.
Jalna Yoghurt stand
Yoghurt, yoghurt, yoghurt!
I've become abnormally addicted to toasted muesli and natural yoghurt lately and have literally resorted to having it for breakfasts, lunches, and as a dessert after many meals. I've even gone as far as having just that for dinner (it's what happens out of desperation and when the pantry is so empty it's embarrassing). I was very excited to taste the yoghurts from the Jalna stand with its abundance of different flavoured yoghurt samples, I practically pounced.
Yoghurt samples
I grabbed one (possibly more) sample of the natural Greek yoghurt before taking another one of their vanilla infused yoghurts. After licking the pots clean I can definitely vouch for the quality of these creamy, flavoursome yoghurts which are rich, thick and sinfully delicious. The vanilla yoghurt in will be in my shopping basket for many shopping trips to come.
Turban Chopsticks
The guys from Turban Chopsticks sell a full range of products from pastes and marinades to sauces and dips, right down to convenient meal kits with Singaporean, Indian, Malaysian and Chinese influences.
Turban Chopsticks food samples
There's always an awkwardness about grabbing your food samples, particularly when you have a genuine desire to try them all before deciding what to buy. Fortunately the lovely ladies at the stall handed me the samples I was so eager to try, which was a tasty chunky chilli sauce and rice. The two complemented each other well and I can definitely see how their products will fit right in with my busy lazy schedule, and how meal kits will be my one and only true best friends.
Rawsome chocolate caramel slice
Plain and chilli flavoured beef jerky
Droƫwors and Boerewors
Nougat Limar's extensive soft nougat range that melts in your mouth and came in flavours such as vanilla almond; vanilla pistachio, wildberry macadamia; chocolate almond and chocolate pistachio
Impressive macaron and tomato displays
WA Sandalwood Nuts stall, selling jars of dukkah and other products
"Did you get a photo of him?! You have to get a photo of him!"
I was attracted to the word 'bubbly' in these Luscombe drinks, all handmade in small batches. I ended up buying the Wild Elderflower Bubbly drink after tasting it for its slightly bubbly, pure and mildly sweet refreshing flavour. We downed this in seconds - food exhibitions are exhausting stuff!
Lemon, pistachio, blueberry, raspberry, rose, cola, vanilla, coconut, cookies and cream, salted caramel and chocolate macarons. Clearly people do not like salted caramel very much.
Laucke Creative Kitchen
I stuck around for a little to watch the making of radicchio pizzas and brioche beef sliders. This space is free for audiences to watch quick and easy cooking classes that use the products available from show exhibitors.
Riedel Wine Bar, a small intimate space offering wine classes
Riedel Wine Theatre, with free sessions to discover familiar and new wines with wine connoisseurs.
The Grazing Garden, a compact space featuring a selection of Perth's food vendors
Lil Tortilla Boi, with items such as Creole and coffee-pulled pork tortillas, curly fries and fried okra
Merrywell food truck, offering wagyu beef burgers, BBQ pork quesadillas and mac & cheese bites
Shak Shuka, serving authentic Moroccan cuisine to the many people I walked past with a vibrant plate of shakshouka in their hands and a vibrant smile on their faces
Nudie chill out area
The Good Food and Wine Show is an amazing way to bring lovers of food and wine together into one central location to celebrate everything that food means to every person. You'd have an amazing time if you are a foodie, but will get lost in amongst the activity even if you are just the kind of person who eats to live.

Personally I think the exhibition needed waaay more seating areas as you are forced to eat messily and leave a trail of crumbs behind you (especially if you lose yourself in the wine exhibitors section). Not that free classes, endless food samples and dizzying amounts of wine isn't enough, but by talking to and immersing yourself right into the passion of the producers who give everything they have to bring us the best products they can, makes the whole experience that much more meaningful. I'm ready for 2015 already, for a Great Food and Wine Show.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Some of Perth's freshest sashimi at Hanami, Mount Lawley

As far as we know it, this is what sashimi heaven is like...
Hanami Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
It was the night of my birthday when we made a frantic phone call for help, pleading for a last-minute empty table on a public holiday so that I didn't have to end up with an extravagant instant noodles and canned sardines birthday dinner at home.
"What day would you like to book the table for?" the lady on the line asked.
My timid reply - "Um...actually can we come in 10 minutes?"
While I am not a loyal customer at Hanami, I can definitely vouch for the freshness and quality of their food from the multiple times that I have visited. The small restaurant was always bustling and packed to capacity, and evidently a very popular choice on the ever popular Beaufort Street dining strip.
Sleek looking menus - I'm a sucker for beautiful bounded menus
On many occasions when I was seated right outside the toilet door and closed in by 3 walls, I always found myself thinking how much better it would be if the restaurant expanded its premises to accommodate for the excess customers. When we arrived that night I was surprised to see this is exactly what happened - Hanami doubled in size; the newer side of the restaurant refurbished to a modern and spacious dining space with the older side still looking a little drab in comparison. Honestly though, this was the last thing on my mind - I had a feast to eat!
Beef Tataki - $10.90
Hanami's menu is divided into sections and we made it our mission to order at least one dish from every section (hey, you never get far without setting challenging goals right?) Everyone in the family are carnivores of the raw kind and love to eat the rainbow - we like our beef pink and our salmon bright orange!
I'd like the spring onion dish with beef garnish thanks
For this reason, beef tataki is an all-round favourite. Even for somebody who lives to eat spring onions (she puts spring onions on her steamed rice, seriously), my mum found the excessive amount of spring onions on top of the beef amusing. Along with large flakes of pickled garlic, they sit on top of 8 pieces or so of lightly grilled beef in a pool of vinegar sauce. The beef is soft with a pink, juicy centre and a slightly seared crust along its edges. We're off to a delicious start.
Large Assorted Sashimi (18 pc) - $30.90
A big, euphoric grin spread across my face as I subconsciously clapped my hands in excitement for the arrival of this large assorted sashimi platter. It does come with a price but it also comes as thick-cut, fresh and vibrant pieces of our favourite thing to eat raw. The assortment includes kingfish, tuna, salmon, squid salad and smaller diced pieces with caviar sprinkled on top. We were very diplomatic about sharing the sashimi but I didn't hesitate to take the last piece (or two, because you know, it was my birthday). :P
Hanami Special Salad - $14.90
The Hanami Special Salad is not as special as I remember it to be. There is considerably less ingredients now than what used to be in it and I'm not sure if I'd order it again. Compared to before, there are two prawns but an absence of salmon sashimi, seafood extender and seaweed and not enough of that sweet, citrus dressing that paired so well with all the crisp, fresh vegetables. With avocados casually priced at $4 each, they're my luxury food and a blessing to eat. (I did manage to buy 5 for $2 recently - it was the closest I got to winning the lottery).
Unadon (Eel) Set Menu - $23.90
For its price, I would suggest other dishes from Hanami rather than their sets. They are very minimalistic and contain the main, a bowl of rice, mixed salad, miso soup, edamame and some uninspiring pieces of fruit thrown in. There is only so much you can say about them, and one of them is that my salad had close to no dressing in it whatsoever.
I've yet to come across a poorly cooked piece of eel, unless they have all been cleverly masked under that thick blanket of sweet sauce slathered over all unadons I have ever eaten. Eel is most definitely one of my favourite things to eat, however my only gripe is the serving size of it in this set menu.
Spider Reverse Roll (5 pc) - $11.90
Mum has never fell harder or faster for a dish since trying the soft shell crab sushi roll at Matsuri in the Perth CBD. I wouldn't blame her new romance, I did too; the crab is delicate, meaty and pairs perfectly with the mayonnaise that spirals through all the sushi rolls. It's definitely a winner, so she was eager to see how Hanami's version fares.
Soft shell crab sushi roll
The spider reverse roll is a tightly packed wheel of a nice thin layer of sushi rice, encasing a compact arrangement of deep fried soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado and cheese cubes before being pressed with toasted sesame seeds. On the side is a serving of pickled ginger pieces and wasabi, however I do think a creamier sauce would work wonders for the dish.
The dishes start arriving quickly one after another and fill up the table, fast. Despite the busy night at Hanami, the service is quick and efficient without compromising on the quality or presentation of the dishes. Out of the many times I have dined here, the quality and freshness of all the ingredients has been consistently tops - no wonder the need to expand the seating capacity!
Large Assorted Sashimi (18pc) - $30.90
 Given we were feeling anything but full after demolishing all the dishes we ordered, we waved down a waitress for the menu again. The first plate of sashimi was barely enough to whet our appetite and so a second order of another large assorted sashimi happened, and even more dazzling than the first. All the pieces were thickly cut and we scored the salmon toro - juicy, velvety cuts of salmon from the belly which were rich with fat and tasted absolutely amazing as a result. As far as we know it, this is what sashimi heaven is like.
Beef Teppanyaki - $22.90
Since all the dishes until this point have been cold dishes, and because I have fond memories of the teppanyaki section of Hanami's menu, I chose the beef teppanyaki as our final order. I think what delighted me most initially was the sight of the pieces of garlic and slithers of caramelised onion that lay amongst the cubes of glistening beef. Teppanyaki dishes are grilled on the hot plate and this beef was perfectly done so with its gently crisp exterior. The component that elevated the beef however was that unassuming bowl of mustard sauce - it was strong and fragrant with a bitey flavour that made me end up drinking some with a spoon long after drowning the garden salad in it. It seemed to have the juices from the pan mixed in because it had a rich, beefy, caramelised flavour to it that I never expected.
Seating area
Hanami's new fit out is inviting and elegantly minimalistic, with dark furnishings contrasting with its bright walls. A mural adorns the back wall, adding a cultural charm to the interior along with the sake bottles, kimonos and cherry blossoms used to decorate the seating area.

The seating area lit with different types and forms of lighting
Crane folding
Towards the end of the night, 2 staff members begin on an origami task of folding cranes with serviettes that are placed at each seat. Having had a goal of reaching 1000 paper cranes when I started folding them when I was 10 years of age, it is often a long, arduous task that I realised I will probably never complete. I became mesmerised on the trained, skilful hands of the lady who effortlessly created a crane in seconds, which became an entire flock in minutes. I stayed fixated on the growing flock of precise, perfectly folded cranes...
A very serious attempt at a peacock-like crane
 ...until I turned around and saw this before laughing my head off. Turns out dad had become inspired to fold his own crane with his aged and experienced but not so skilful origami hands. Atrocious looking, yes; but the international sign of peace and hope has never managed to make me smile quite as much as this one was capable of.
Hanami Japanese Restaurant, Mount Lawley
Hanami Japanese Restaurant
Lunch Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner Monday - Sunday: 5:30pm - 10pm

Tel: (08)9371 9855
Address: 685 Beaufort Street Mount Lawley, WA 6050
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