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This week Julie-anne Sprague wishes a happy 105th to one of the city’s landmark watering holes, The Melbourne Hotel. Other events worth celebrating are the serving of traditional Thai at the Kuppa Bar at Claremont and wins by a couple of WA wineries in national competition.

TOM Lapping’s Kuppa Bar and Restaurant in Claremont is going all Thai on Monday and Tuesday nights. And according to restaurant manager Andrew Moody, customers are turning up in their droves on what are traditionally slow trading nights.

“The nights are going really well,” he says.

“It’s authentic Thai and it’s exceptional value. It’s great to see the place really busy on Monday and Tuesday evenings.”

A three-course menu has been designed with a choice of four entrees, four mains, and three desserts. At a set price of $22 you can understand why it has become a popular dining outing.

Tom says the decision to offer Thai dinners on Monday and Tuesday was a result of customer demand.

“Our regular menu has a lot of Thai influences in its flavours and presentation. We’ve found these are the dishes that set Kuppa apart, and what our regular clients are wanting more of,” Tom says.

And authenticity is certainly what the owner can provide. Tom also owns Kuppa in Bangkok.

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Gusto may have sent readers on a sightseeing tour of Perth to find out details of the food tour to Italy mentioned on these pages in recent weeks.

Gusto may have had you travelling up and down Wellington Street looking for the flyers detailing the events of the two-week Italian culinary adventure. In fact you need to be one street up, at 357 Murray Street, to be precise. Drop in to Focus on Food Colombera and Moore and have a coffee while reading all about the October trip to Italy’s culinary cultural heartland, Lucca.

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Singapore native Steven Yong is cooking up some home-style favourites at Joe’s Oriental Diner. His signature dish Bak Kut Teh, as well as five-spice soy duck hot pot, Singapore chilli crab, and tofu goreng will be available until May 25.

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Technology marketer Melissa Kendrew (formerly Italiano) has joined Howard Park Wines as marketing manager. What’s the link between technology and wine, you might ask? Melissa was heavily involved in developing e-business and website development for wineries at her old company, Method, and will transfer that knowledge across to the new industry. Starting at the beginning of this week, Melissa will promote the recent wins by Howard Park and two other WA wineries in national wine competitions.

Howard Park’s 2000 Scotsdale Shiraz won first place in the 2002 National Divine State of Origin Shiraz competition. WA won first second and third place in a field of 60. 1999 Plantagenet Shiraz came in second, followed by 1999 Houghton’s Frankland River Shiraz.

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You may have noticed the celebrations surrounding The Melbourne Hotel’s 105th birthday.

So what is the history behind the Perth landmark?

The Melbourne’s staff, including general manager Tony Pallotta, had to do some digging to uncover the facts, but came up with the following pieces of trivia.

p Originally opened in 1897 during the goldrush period, during which time Perth’s population quadrupled.

p Built and owned by American-born John de Baun.

p The hotel was built on the corner of Hay Street and what was then known as Melbourne Road. The road was later renamed Milligan Street after Dr William Lane Milligan, who opened the first colonial hospital in Perth.

p The hotel was transformed into a nightclub during the ’80s.

p Known as the Old Melbourne Hotel, it was refurbished and renamed The Melbourne Hotel in 1997.

p It is classified on the National Trust and the Register of Historic Places.

The birthday celebrations continue until Sunday, with plenty of prizes to be won.

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Former C Restaurant director Pete Clements is an experienced tour guide. Yes, a tour guide, but not of the Aussie outback type. He’s more the Scottish highland type of guide. Pete has had a long association with GuinnessUDV and is currently the tour guide for the Johnnie Walker Journey of Taste.

The Journey of Taste is an hour-long program detailing the history and geography of the Scottish label and incorporates tastings of single malts and blended scotch whiskies.And it’s free.

While it may sound like a drunken expedition, the Johnnie Walker Journey of Taste evenings are actually very informative and will suit all palates, including those averse to generic varieties of scotch.

“Scotch isn’t just scotch. There are so many different varieties and blends, just like you have in wine,” Pete says.

“There’s a blend of scotch that I can find to suit anyone.”

The Johnnie Walker Journey of Taste evenings are free and available to the general public, but can be arranged for private functions for 50 or more people.

The preference is for boardroom entertaining, but should you wish to host the event else where, the Johnnie Walker team will take a journey to you.

And of course it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the difference between highland and lowland malt because Pete will be able to walk your guests through the tasting process. Free public tasting events happen every Thursday at 6.30pm at the Spirit Sound Bar. If you are interested in the public tasting, register your place on the Johnnie Walker website at www.johnniewalker.com.au and if you want to book for a private journey email journey.of.taste@guinnessudv.com

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