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While Easter means different things to different people, to Julie-anne Sprague it evokes memories of silver foil and chocolate. And she’s looking forward to creating a few new memories later this month.

IF you want quality chocolate this Easter be sure to remember these tips from Robert Pijls, owner of the Belgian chocolate outfit Les Pralines Belges and agent for Leonidas chocolates.

To tell if it’s top shelf stuff, place a piece of chocolate in your hand and wait for it to melt. Put a finger tip in it and, if it sticks, throw it all away. Why? Because the ‘stickiness’ is the shortening that is used in ‘regular’ chocolates and can’t be found in the good stuff. Robert sells a selection of chocolates that are flown in from Belgium and says 95 per cent of chocolates sold on the Australian market use vegetable oil and shorteners – even some popular Belgian branded boxed varieties.

“Leonidas chocolate is made from 100 per cent cocoa butter, fresh cream and fresh butter. It has a much lower melting point,” he says.

Robert’s chocolates are sure to melt in your mouth (melting point of 21-25 degrees compared with 30 degrees for chocolate with vegetable oil as an ingredient). Visit his store in the Trinity Arcade, Perth, and have a look at the gorgeous assortment of goodies. There is plenty of Easter stock, including a large Easter egg filled with an assortment of chocolates (all up 500g), Easter bunnies, whole eggs, baskets etc.

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If there’s a restaurant strip worthy of a regular visit then it has to be Beaufort Street in Highgate. Just a couple of minutes from town, this place is a gem, whether it’s for lunch, drinks or weekend frivolity. The new entrants, Must Wine Bar and Luxe, operated by experienced hospitality magicians, have added more scope to the strip between Perth and Mt Lawley, joining stalwart the Queens Hotel, the popular Red Orchid and the renowned Jackson’s. All within walking distance and all now firmly established, this strip has become a hive of activity and a carnival of experiences with food, wine and social adventure. Must Wine Bar has a wine list that is a strong contender to win Anne Marie Banting Tucker Seabrook’s wine list of the year for WA award.

And if you’re looking to impress, the wine and food combination will do it. They’ve got a rotisserie and wine dish for $22.50.

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While on the subject of grand acts, the Food and Wine Fair takes place this Sunday. The event is held from midday at Russell Square in Northbridge, and more than 80 restaurants, caterers, wineries and other related industries will congregate and offer punters selected products. All stallholders are donating their time, resources and produce to the event, which is organised by the WA AIDS Council and the AIDS Trust of Australia. This event is great for exhibit holders because they are not charged an exhibiting fee, one reason the festival is receiving lots of attention.

Last year’s festival attracted 12,000 people and WA AIDS Council event organiser Russell Dewson-Jones expects the turnout to be bigger this year.

New to this year’s event line-up is the long-table lunch commencing at 12.30pm. Beaumonde Catering will prepare a sensational meal to accompany Xanadu wines, Heineken and Sovereign beers. Tickets for this lunch are $50. But if grazing from store to store is your thing, be sure to purchase food and wine tokens and enjoy as much as you possibly can. And the stores should be looking impressive this year. For the first time there are prizes up for grabs for the best-dressed stall, best-presented food and the sexiest chef. Russell says Agni Fine Cuisine will be a good chance to take out the best-dressed food stall award.

“They’ve been with us from the start three years ago and have presented their stall really well … they even bring in Indian furniture. We’ve organised these awards to recognise the effort that goes in to make the festival look fantastic,” he says.

Among the 80 stall holders are the CBD Restaurant, Oriel Cafe, The Sprout Factory and first timers Food by Christopher Hiller, Little Creatures Brewery, Must Wine Bar and LinQ.

Concact Agni Sathy on 9244 2000 for comment.

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The first WA Wine and Food Forum (a conference for the wine industry) will be held at the Burswood International Resort Casino in the lead up to the annual Wine and Food Festival. It’s an opportune time for wine producers to look at marketing and promotions, with the event being staged at the completion of most vintages. The WA Wine and Food Forum will explore current and future issues of wine and food tourism. Keynote speakers – international, national and local – will be appointed to dispense intimate knowledge of their expertise, and there will be seminars and workshops for people interested in, or working in, the wine and food industries. The forum will commence on May 30, continuing on May 31, and will conclude on the opening day of the Food and Wine Festival on June 1. For further information visit www.wineandfood.com.au

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Frasers and the Margaret River Wine Club are hosting a wine dinner tomorrow night. The event will showcase some of the South West’s best boutique wines from Clairault, Happs, Deep Woods, Virgin Block and Redgate. A five-course meal will ensure there is plenty of food and wine matching. There also will be a collection of work from Bob Litchfield’s photographic exhibition Cape to Cape. Tickets are essential and can be purchased for $95 from Frasers.

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The summer has left a distinct impression on Subiaco’s Oriel Cafe and Brasserie. The newly decorated cafe has gorgeous high-back brown cane style chairs, as well as new colours to the logo. Gone is the green and in is the bronze. The newly coloured logo featured on the Oriel’s new menu is symbolic of the cafe’s move forward with the new kitchen staff and head chef Robert Parkin comfortable in their Subiaco surroundings. The menu has received a similar refurbishment and Gusto believes the fragrant beef curry with steamed jasmine rice is one of the best dishes featuring on the newly designed and structured menu. Known for its trend setting, this cafe has added a range of rare and exotic teas, which are served in gorgeous cast iron teapots (all the way from Japan). The teas include monk pear, peach ginger punch and buddha’s tears.

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Director of Beaumonde Catering Mark Dimmitt says he is thrilled with the announcement that there will be two new categories added to this year’s Gold Plate Awards. The annual Catering Institute Awards judging begins in April and winners will be announced at a gala dinner on October 14 including the Outside Caterers Award and Venue Caterers Award.

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