11/10/2005 - 22:00

Going gourmet in the great outdoors

11/10/2005 - 22:00

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As spring quietly announces its presence the Perth food community is busy changing seasons, changing menus and preparing the subtle differences of spring and summer foods.

Going gourmet in the great outdoors

As spring quietly announces its presence the Perth food community is busy changing seasons, changing menus and preparing the subtle differences of spring and summer foods.

In a climate such as ours, one of the biggest differences in our eating habits during the warmer months is the penchant to enjoy our food in the great outdoors.

Thanks to outdoor cinemas, open-air concerts and the many picturesque parks within easy reach, Western Australians have embraced the culture of relaxed outdoor dining.

And this has created a lucrative hamper market in Perth. Not content to dust off the wicker basket full of last night’s leftovers, we are now leaving our picnic wish lists to catering companies, gourmet delis and even cafes.

The competition has pushed the quality of these picnic hampers to exceptional levels and it is no coincidence that some of Perth’s most famous foodies are now packing up their wares to go.

With the most popular picnic hampers emphasising quality produce, usually from boutique local suppliers, these go-anywhere restaurant alternatives are marketed directly at the gourmet consumer.

And given that they are often packaged complete with traditional picnic items such as cutlery, plates and glasses, these hampers do their best to eliminate the fuss of a standard picnic.

Here is the pick of the Perth picnic bunch.

David Jones’ expansive CBD Foodhall acts as a base of operations for its hamper business. The department store creates hundreds of hampers each year, and while several standard alternatives exist, individual choice is always an option.

DJ’s meat, fish, bakery, patisserie and fruit and veg departments are at picnickers’ disposal. Highlights from the imported chocolate section and wine cellar can be included as well, finishing a huge range of options.

Jo and Edwin Grist, owner/proprietors of Subiaco’s gourmet food and wine provedore, Panache, take the idea of picnic hampers pretty seriously.

As passionate representatives of the local food and wine industries, Panache’s hampers often highlight local boutique producers of exceptional quality. A range of options is available, all including cutlery, plates and glasses.

Renowned gourmet hotspot Food by Christopher Hiller also caters to the picnic crowd. Again, a range of options is available with usually one day’s notice required.

Currently, Mr Hiller is offering choices such as smoked salmon, spring vegetable tarts, and fresh roast chicken along with an assortment of cheese, proving that food to go doesn’t have to be any less impressive.

Again in Subiaco, Ogilvie’s Speciality Foods can pack their homemade range of cakes, salads and light meals to take away. With a focus on flexibility, the gourmet outlet can tailor picnic creations to suit any needs.

And proving that the business of packing a quality picnic can prove profitable, lauded Perth caterer Robert Duval Foods also has ranges in the hamper department.

Choices can be made from the ‘celebrations’, ‘wild & rustic’ and ‘vegetarian’ hampers, all serving two people comfortably. Lately, Mr Duval’s picnics have been known to include everything from butter brioche with asparagus, smoked salmon and dill tartlets, crusty panini with Harvey beef roast, braised lamb shank pie with tomato chutney and strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce.

Similarly, the Mustard Catering group has been commissioned by outdoor tourist attractions like the Perth Zoo and Houghton’s Winery to provide picnic hampers on site.

All of which proves that the gourmet on the go needn’t sacrifice taste, range or quality.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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