Saturday, 26 July 2014

Must go destinations for food and beer sampling at Lamont's and Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley

Lamont's, Swan Valley
A sandwich made evil by immersing it into the depths of a deep fryer...
Lamont's, Swan Valley
A few weekends ago, a group of us piled into a car and sang our way on a road trip to Swan Valley for the day. The weather was extremely kind to us that weekend and we were blessed with a warm, cloudless sunny day right in the middle of the winter season. This picturesque, vineyard saturated region with rolling hills and green fields is as popular a tourist destination and a weekend getaway visit for locals, even though it is only a 10 minute road trip for a few of my friends who live down the road from this beautiful untouched region.
Outdoor seating, right off the beaten track
We arrived at Lamont's location, with no Lamont's in sight. We got over the initial confusion and drove straight into the barren field and followed the dirt track around the bend and met with the restaurant, spread out over an impressively large outdoor area. The seating area with large wooden benches is inviting, spacious and littered with sunlight, shaded by a large patio.
Alternative outdoor seating
Next to the patio are several wooden barrel tables shaded with large umbrellas and stools that provide alternative seating options.
Inside Lamont's
In addition to outdoor seating, there is ample indoor seating amongst the cosy and surprisingly homely ambiance of Lamont's. The artwork on the walls, pops of colour from flowers in vases dotted around on tables and various items for sale (even hats and bags) add charming touches to this indoor area with a busy, neatly cluttered feel.
Indoor seating options
We are greeted by a friendly lady from behind the counter who we tell that we are ready to eat everything from their kitchen. Armed with a handful of paper menus (which change frequently) and an army of rumbling stomachs, all of us have undeniably voracious appetites. With a recommendation to order 8 dishes from the 9 items on the menu to share between the 6 of us, we argue over what not to get. Everything, and I mean everything, looks mouthwatering at this stage, even though they are nothing more than words on a page.
What ordering everything on the menu looks like
We make our way back inside the restaurant to place our orders at the counter. The dishes on the 'Small Tastes' menu are designed to be plates to share, which makes it a great opportunity to try absolutely everything on the menu. And I am quite sure this is the first time I have ever walked into a restaurant and was able to say, "I'll have everything on the menu, thanks".
Hot chocolate; Straight cut chips and rosemary salt - $9.50
A few drink orders arrive around the table once we start digging into some dishes. The chips are unbelievably crunchy, as suggested by their golden brown colour and straight, crispy edges.
Duck and cognac parfait, crushed toasted hazelnuts, mandarin oil and crostini - $17.50
The first item to arrive in record time is the one thing I had the highest anticipation for. Nothing makes me weaker in the knees than a rich, decadent parfait, and sure enough this plate was stationed in front of me and became my own main meal.

One of my pet hates is the lack of bread with parfait in some restaurants, that it almost feels like it is a sneaky tactic to encourage diners to order more servings of bread to have with the parfait. My eyes boggled at the sight of generosity on the plate in front of me; a hefty slab of creamy parfait loaded with a layer of crunchy toasted crushed hazelnuts and an unbelievably large mountain of crostini on the side. The parfait and crostini is served with a light drizzle of mandarin oil which I am grateful for - it is certainly easier to have the already-rich parfait with fresh, crisp bread that is not saturated with oil or butter. Explains how I demolish half of the block of parfait. Alone.
Pork and peppercorn rillettes, roast pears, Malbec syrup and crostini - $16.50
The next dish is a similar looking dish to the parfait, in terms of the same pile of crostini served with the main component of the dish. The pork and peppercorn rillettes are a favourite amongst a few of us - it has the look of shredded tuna with a creamy, soft consistency.
Adding more to the flavour of the melt-in-the-mouth tenderness of the pork is the malbec syrup and the three delicate roasted portions of pear balanced on top of the rillettes, providing a complementary light sweetness to counteract the otherwise fatty, heavy feeling from eating the dish after a while.
Potato croquettes, smoked salmon and horseradish creme fraiche - $20.50
The potato croquettes and smoked salmon is a more guilty version of your usual Tom, Dick and Harry breakfast dish of hash browns with an extra side of smoked salmon. The potato croquettes have a golden crispy exterior and a thick, fluffy filling. The element that made the dish pop for me was that horseradish creme fraiche; its lightly savoury flavour tying all the other components of the dish together.
Beetroot, rocket, crisp pancetta, marinated feta and raspberry vinegar - $16.50
The beetroot and rocket salad was initially the underdog dish which was wildly unpopular amongst everyone on our table except one. She ultimately gained the bragging rights to making the great decision to push through with her choice which we were all grateful for, after being defeated by the rich, creamy and many deep fried components on every single other dish. The rocket and raspberry vinegar dressing was a refreshing saviour with its acidity to cut through the satiated feeling. The long, paper-thin strips of pancetta were crisp and so brittle they cracked apart easily, providing a different texture to the softness of the beetroot and marinated feta. The earthy taste of beetroot is not something I usually fancy, but in this instance was a good pairing with the rest of the dish with its raw and fresh flavour.
Deep fried sandwich, shaved ham, mozzarella and anchovy butter - $14.50
There was quite the hype for the next dish, which created a lot of commotion when someone first spotted it when scanning the menu. The equally as heart-stopping as it is heart-racing deep fried sandwich is a combination of the classic ham and cheese sandwich made evil by immersing it into the depths of a deep fryer. We really can (and do) deep fry anything these days!
You dangerously beautiful thing, you.
The crunchy golden crust on the sandwich encased two slices of bread, already cut into sections with anchovy butter and melted mozzarella oozing out from its centre. The crunchiness, the creaminess, the 'meltiness' of the cheese; it's a sinful treat that tugs at your heartstrings with its guilty pleasure.
Duck and orange arancini and orange syrup - $18.50
Carrying on with the deep fried theme of the day comes the duck and orange arancini and orange syrup. Similar to the sandwich, the outer crumb is a thin, crisp layer that conceals a hot, molten heart of creamy, cheesy rice and thin shreds of duck.
Grilled "Butterfield's" scotch fillet, hot onion jam tartlet and aioli - $22.50
We all reach eagerly for the next dish - a grilled and sliced scotch fillet on aioli alongside a hot onion jam tartlet. Whilst the beef is soft, tender and cooked to perfection as we had all expected of it, the onion jam tart is a small pie with pastry that was a little dry. In terms of flavour however, this dish was a winning combination for me.
Coq au Vin pie and pumpkin cream - $18.50
The last dish to arrive after a long while was the coq au vin pie, a colourful, vibrant plate that is reminiscent of fresh, warm wintery flavours edging onto spring.
Dill, red onion and parsley adorn the crown of the small pie, housing a filling of wine-braised chicken with a strong, nearly musky flavour. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the moat of pumpkin cream that surrounds the pie is what keeps the dish close to me - spoon after spoon is light, buttery and moreish.
A beautiful picture on the wall that could easily double as a window to the similar views in the Swan Valley region
We were too hungry to notice the small print on the menu, and unfortunately I only now notice Lamont's offers complimentary wine tasting with your meal. In addition, there is a discount for your purchases if you decide you need to buy some, right there and then!
We made a new loyal friend that sun-baked at our feet during our entire meal, who followed us around from when we first stepped out of the car
Lamont's offers a seasonal menu with great food to share at reasonable prices in a picturesque environment surrounded by nature, which definitely adds much to the experience. Being far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, busyness and the general buzz of city sounds makes the usual weekend brunch even more relaxing and special, especially when Mother Nature becomes your main dining companion.
Lamont's, Swan Valley
Thursday - Sunday: 10am - 5pm

Tel: (08) 9296 4485
85 Bisdee Road, Millendon WA 6056

Lamont's Swan Valley on Urbanspoon

The Feral Brewing Company
Considering the myriad of wineries and breweries in the Swan Valley area, a full day of destination-hopping and sightseeing is essential to experience all that this region has to offer. After brunch, we wander aimlessly up and down the different roads without a plan and pull over to whatever catches our eye. After a few inevitable touristy photos, we pull into the Feral Brewing Company for some beer guzzling.
Feral Brewing Company
This family-owned handcrafted microbrewery and restaurant in one incorporates a large restaurant with shaded outdoor seating and a large beer garden setting, making it a perfect backdrop to enjoy a few beers.
Seating areas with picture perfect views
The backyard of The Feral Brewing Company
Beer Tasting Tray - $16.50
We are all quite defeated by brunch at Lamont's and don't order much else besides this visually stunning tasting tray after we pass many tables on the way into the restaurant with this on them.
There are six miniature glasses holding the variety of Feral Brewery beers, which regularly change between their different brews. The glasses are lined on a wooden tray and are numbered for easy distinguishing between the beers. On this particular day, the sample of beers (L-R) is the Feral White, Sly Fox, Hop Hog, Kelisaison, Smoked Porter and the Land of Plenty.
The range of beers range from light, citrusy, spicy flavours to strong, smoky tastes with a bitter after taste. We taste and sip, passing the six different beer parcels around the table and share them around like tapas dishes. Whilst I really don't know how to appreciate the strength and flavour of the after taste of some of the beers, what I do appreciate is having such a wide choice of renowned food and drink right in our own backyard.
The Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley
Feral Brewing Company
Sunday - Thursday: 11am to 5pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am to late

Tel: (08)9296 4657
152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville WA 6056

Feral Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

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.

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