A Birthday Treat


It was my wife’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and as a special treat I took her up to London for a bit of sight-seeing, a meal or two and a show. We stayed at the Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square which, although not cheap, is very handy for all the touristy things in our great capital city.

Citadines

Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square

A surprise notification of a parcel delivery delayed our departure, causing us to arrive in the late afternoon. On arrival we were efficiently checked in, and soon installed in our room. As we were meeting up with our granddaughter and her husband later for a meal we didn’t immediately head out to explore. Our decision was cemented by the fact that it was raining outside. We therefore, elected to relax a little, with a cup of tea.

Later that evening we met up with Hayley and Nick, at Skylon where we had a very enjoyable meal.

To start, Gerry had Pressed Watermelon (with Avocado, Shimeji mushrooms, yellow baby plum tomato, lemongrass, chickweed), Hayley had Smoked Salmon cannelloni (Creme fraiche, gribiche, salmon caviar, chervil). Nick and I both elected to have the Pan seared foie gras (Pickled cherries, apricot gel, toasted hazelnuts, oats, nasturtium leaves, cherry blossom).

For the main course I had Scottish Angus Cross beef fillet (Wild garlic, grelot onions, crispy shallots) while the others all chose the Roasted Lamb cannon (Crispy belly, wild mushrooms, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes).

A hard act to follow but none of us could resist having a dessert. Gerry, a sucker for strawberries, had the Gariguette Strawberries (Elderflower meringue, rose jelly, strawberry sorbet) while the rest of us plumped for the Iced Cappuccino Souffle (Bailey’s chocolate bon-bon). Gerry’s dessert looked fabulous ….

Restaurant

Skylon – Gariguette Strawberries

All of the food was superb and even better, that evening, there was a fifty percent discount celebrating Skylons new chef. Suitably sated and buoyed by a great evening we trudged back over the river to our hotel for a good nights rest.

The next morning we headed out to do a bit of touristy exploring. Our initial target destination was Westminster Abbey. Neither of us having been there before, despite many visits to London.

Whitehall – London

Travelling on foot we strolled through Whitehall Gardens, situated between the Whitehall buildings and the embankment….

There are three statues within Whitehall Gardens. They commemorate William Tyndale an English scholar who became well-known for his translation of the Bible into English, Sir Henry Bartle Frere  a British colonial administrator who had a successful career in India eventually rising to become Governor of Bombay and General Sir James Outram an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Looking across the river we had a distant view of the Shard seeming surrounded by the many cranes that dot the London skyline.

Shard – London

None of those cranes are anywhere near the Shard, just an illusion of perspective.

Also across the river is the iconic London Eye, towering over the nearby buildings. Principle amongst them is London’s County Hall.

London Eye & London County Hall

As you can see from the sky, the weather was very dull. Although, thankfully, not a drop of rain.

As we strolled along the embankment we came across the Battle of Britain Memorial Sculpture. A very striking work which certainly captures the emotion and horror of the times.

By now we were in sight of the Palace of Westminster, aka the Houses of Parliament.

We arrived at Westminster Abbey shortly after eleven AM and joined the throng making their way inside this ancient building.

Not unexpected, but security is tight and, from the notices, I was concerned that my camera bag might be deemed too big. However, after a short wait in a queue and a cursory check by the security guard we were in. Unfortunately, no photography of any kind is allowed inside the abbey. So the previous shots are all either outside or in and around the cloisters. However, they do make photos available for download, free. So here are a few ….

After so much history and culture we were not a little peckish. So we partook of a rather nice lunch in the Abbey Cellarium Cafe where Gerry had the Bream and I had the Chicken & Leek Pie.

After lunch we strolled over to Covent Garden. Enroute we passed the Cenotaph and the Monument to the Women of World War II. The Cenotaph was originally a temporary structure, erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. It was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial.

The Monument to the Women of World War II depicts 17 sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of jobs women undertook in World War II, and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war. They include uniforms as worn by the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, and a police overall.

Also along the route we passed Downing Street, Horse Guards and the Coliseum Theatre, our venue for later this evening.

Covent Garden is a district of Westminster and is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market which is now a popular shopping and tourist site. The district is a mix of independent shops, street performers and historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

As we arrived there was an escapologist reaching his grand finale.  We spent an hour or so browsing the many shops and stalls intermittently being entertained. There was a juggler ….

Juggler – Covent Garden

…… a contortionist or, as he would have it, a Yogi ….

Contortionist – Covent Garden

And then while we were sitting having a cup of tea we were entertained musically by an opera singer, followed by a string quartet ….

After a super day we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before heading out to the theatre where our day was completed by possibly the best show in London at the moment, Bat out of Hell, the musical.

Four Goo To Mullaloo


On a voyage of discovery, last Tuesday, we headed up North looking for somewhere to have lunch. Somewhere, that none of us had visited before. And so we found ourselves at Mullaloo, a northern coastal suburb of Perth. Apparently, Mullaloo is named after an Aboriginal word, believed to mean “place of the rat kangaroo”. Sounds attractive don’t you think.

After a quick recce we decided to check out the Mullaloo Beach Hotel for lunch. Unfortunately, we were not able to get into the restaurant. We elected to go eat in the bar area on the basis that the menus, according to the waitress, were the same for both areas.

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Mullaloo Beach Hotel

Having found a table, obtained drinks and ordered our food we sat back to chat and enjoy the views outside. We were thinking that this was quite a nice place to sit and chill.

The first thing to disabuse us of that feeling and to mar the pleasant ambience was that they decided to crank up the music volume. The music had been playing before but at a level which allowed for conversation to continue. Presumably too many people were kicking back and actually talking to each other. I can only think tat getting folks to shout at each other causes more drink to be bought.

The next issue was when the food was delivered. The entrees were delivered with the  mains !! When this was raised with the waiter the response was “Did you ask for the dishes to be delivered separately?”  Obviously, our mistake.

Not that of the staff who, had we been sat in the restaurant, would not have needed to be told our requirements. Checking the  hotel menus since returning home I have discovered that they are not the same, as we had been told. Restaurant “starters” are called “light bites”in the bar.

Obviously our mistake again, we didn’t realise that normal eater protocols had been thrown out the window.

The starter, entrees, light bites, what ever they were, were OK. Nothing to write home about. Denise had the bruschetta which looked good and was, I understand, tasty. Steve had the  salmon, bangus and prawn fish cakes although presented nicely were bland. Gerry and I shared the squid which, garnished with onion and chilli, is their signature dish !! It was not the best squid we have had since arriving in Oz. I think that accolade currently goes to the Boat at Mindari.

After what seemed like a long wait we were served with our mains. We did discuss that the long wait might be punishment for complaining earlier. Who can say. The mains were also just OK. I think the only truly positive comment came from Steve, who said that the fish was really nice. He had the tempura fish & chips with chef’s tartare sauce. He also reckoned that it was the smallest fillet he’s had in Australia. He’s been here a few years.

Denise had the “homemade” black Angus beef burger which elicited a fairly neutral response i.e. it’s nothing special. Gerry and I both had the black Angus fillet steak sandwich. The steak was nice but the aioli and the tomato jam made it a bit soggy inside. The turkish bread used for the sandwich was also nice.

So, over all a fairly neutral food experience. Not bad, but not good either. Once can only hope that the folks that managed to get into the restaurant had a better experience than we did. Hopefully they weren’t hit with sound levels designed to quell conversation. We left feeling that we would probably have had a better meal at the Dome next door.

I should also point out that make a big deal, via their multiple video screens, that their cuisine is courtesy of chef Pradeep who apparently worked with or served under Gordon Ramsey and has also worked at the Burj Al Arab. All I can say is that there was no sign of that standard of cuisine when we visited. The food did not look like the pictures shown on those same screens. …. Just sayin …..

After eating we felt we should take a stroll along the seafront. Here are a couple of shots from Mullaloo Beach.

Mullaloo Beach - Looking North, WA

Mullaloo Beach – Looking North, WA

The sound of a sun lotion sizzle was quite over powering.

Mullaloo Beach - Looking South, WA

Mullaloo Beach – Looking South, WA

Like a lot of areas in WA, the dunes along this part of the coast are being stabilised using natural means wherever possible..

Dunes in Rehab - Hope they get over their addiction soon

Dunes in Rehab – Hope they get over their addiction soon

At various points along the dunes, official, access points are provided.

Mullaloo Beach - Access through dunes

Mullaloo Beach – Access through dunes

One of the mysteries for the day was the significantly lower temperatures we experienced at Mullaloo and on the journey up. When we left home the temperature was in the low to mid thirties. By the time we reached Mullaloo the temperature had dropped to the low to mid twenties. And there I was thinking that in the southern hemisphere, when you travelled north, the temperatures increased.

So there you have it, lunch at Mullaloo.

 

Boxing Day – Seafood Bonanza


As has been posted elsewhere on the interweb and by fellow bloggers Boxing Day is typically a day when the leftovers from Christmas dinner get consumed.

Steve suggested, that we avoid the leftover trap, and make Boxing Day a seafood day. This idea was grasped wholeheartedly by all. So, on Christmas Eve Eve we headed down to Curullis Seafood Market to see what they had on offer.

With quite a large selection of fresh and cooked seafoods we were spoilt for choice. However, twenty or thirty minutes later we were away with our bags of treasure. Half a kilo of scallops, half a kilo of green prawns, six large salmon fillets and two trays of oysters.

We deposited the seafood into the car and made a commando raid on the nearby bottle shop . Where we picked up a few supplies to see us through the next few days. A couple of cartons of Millers Chill

Millers Chill

Millers Chill

for the girls. Some One Fifty Lashes

One Fifty Lashes

One Fifty Lashes

for the boys. A couple of bottles of Shiraz and some sparkling wine  for general consumption.

On Boxing Day the plan was to not have one big blow out but to just have a several snack like meals.

salmon

Herb & Lemon Roasted Salmon on a Bed of Roasted Potatoes

First up was the salmon, or rather I should say “Herb & Lemon Roasted Salmon on a Bed of Roasted Potatoes” This was lunch and our only formal meal of the day. Basically this dish comprises salmon fillets that have been infused with a lemon/herb marinade. Scalloped potatoes, that are pre roasted, to which the marinated salmon is added. The salmon is then roasted. The spinach and pine nuts are then sauteed. The cooked ingredients are then layered on plates, spinach first then the roast potatoes, and topped off with the salmon.

After a suitable period, to allow our food to digest, we retired to the pool as the air temperature was rising.

A couple of hours later and suitably refreshed, it was time for a light snack. Step forward the oysters, which were magically transformed into Oysters Kilpatrick

If the idea of raw oysters, or nude as I saw them described recently, do not appeal to you, then perhaps this is the recipe that may entice you to try. Very simple to prepare, the oysters are arranged on a bed of sea salt, cubed bacon and Worcester Sauce are added and the oysters grilled for five minutes or so until the bacon is crisped. Very tasty and the Worcester Sauce infused liquor certainly has a bite. These were accompanied by well chilled beers although, perhaps, we should have washed oysters down with a sparkling wine. I should point out that there are many different variations on this recipe and we ourselves were discussing the possible alternatives. Including chilli, horseradish, paprika, cheese, the options are endless.

As the afternoon ran into the evening our thoughts turned back to food and the prawns.And, no, they didn’t get thrown on the Barbie.

Another simple dish, Barbecued Prawns with Honey & Ginger Mayonnaise.

OK, I know it says barbecue but the prawns were sautéed. It seemed a waste to fire up the barbecue when the prawns were only going to take a couple of minutes to cook.

A marinade is made with olive oil, lime juice, lime leaves, lemon grass and fish sauce. This is added to the prawns and they are left to infuse.

The mayonnaise is created using fresh root ginger, coriander and honey all added to whole egg mayonnaise.

Once the prawns are marinated they are sauteed (barbecued) until cooked. Served in a bowl close to the mayonnaise. This dish was enjoyed so much, especially the mayo, of which there was quite a bit remaining after the prawns had disappeared, that I was dispatched to go and saute the scallops.

I can’t remember what we had planned for the scallops. I guess that recipe will have to wait for another day.

So, no prawns on the barbie, which will no doubt disappoint those of our UK friends and family who think that Ozzie cuisine comprises nothing more than tossing prawns and snaggers onto a red-hot barbecue.

I’d like to think that our Boxing Day seafood fest was the healthy option. I suspect, however, that the oils used to roast, saute and marinade have pretty much negated the healthier aspects of seafood.

Do I care ? Am I bothered ?

Nah !!

I do, however, hope you all enjoyed your Boxing Day.

 

 

 

Mundaring Weir Hotel


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Mundaring Weir Hotel – WA

We have, over the years, visited Mundaring Weir on many occasions. We have not, however, eaten at the Mundaring Weir Hotel which is just a few minutes away from the weir. So we decided to give them a try for lunch.

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Mundaring Weir Hotel

Apparently, there has been an establishment on this site since the turn of the century and was originally built to service the workers and visitors to the weir. In 1898 a single storey building called the Reservoir Hotel was built. Then in 1906, a two-storey building was added and the hotel was renamed Goldfields Weir Hotel. Not sure when it was renamed again but whatever name it is sporting the building still retains much of the decor and character of the original.

Food is only served during the day and it is what they term “counter food”. Back home in the UK I guess we would just refer to bar meals.

I had the Steak Sandwich which is described as “Graziers porterhouse steak with onion jam, cheddar cheese, beetroot & rocket with BBQ and ranch dressings. Served with chips”.

Gerry and Denise both had the Snapper Burger “with lemon & dill aoili, lettuce, chopped salad and beer battered chips”

All agreed that the food was very good although we would have preferred the food to have been served on plates rather than the wooden board which allowed the food to slide of onto the table. The star of these meals was the beer battered chips which were crisp on the outside and full and fluffy on the inside.

The girls each had a “midi” of refreshing Orchard Crush apple cider while I had a midi of an amber ale called Nine Tales . Both brews are from the James Squire Brewery. One thing I can vouch for is that Australian craft beers are seriously good and a long way removed from the horrendous lagers, such as Fosters, which they insist on exporting to us.

Mundaring is about an hours drive out from Perth and the road out to the hotel takes you though picturesque woodlands interspersed with open farmlands.

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Farmland near Piesse Brook, Kalamunda

On a previous trip out to this area we had encountered kangaroos crossing the road. On this occasion we spotted a much more diminutive creature, a Bobtail Lizard.

Apparently these fellows are quite often kept as pets but come with a government health warning  “CAUTION: These lizards can deliver a painful and bloody bite”. See this video.

Around the hotel grounds I came across these guys ….

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Parrot B-B-Q

After a BBQ lunch what do you need, why a nice cold beer of course….

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I Just Dropped In For A Swifty

These guys are obviously quite used to humans around the hotel grounds. They let me get quite close before taking off to the nearby trees.

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Who you looking at ?

All in all a pleasant afternoon.

Well pleasant except for the flies which were very much in evidence whenever we stepped out of our car.

Cams Mill – Fareham


Had a super meal, last evening, at Cams Mill, just outside of Fareham. We met up with some friends there after a big recommendation.
Cams-Mill-1
This is a brand new building, constructed in the style of the original tidal mill that stood nearby, around a century ago. I think they have struck the right balance. This place has old, rustic appeal and a friendly atmosphere. Definitely not one of your ultra modern, noisy, plastic pubs. This is a place to meet and enjoy the  social event, have a conversation without having to shout. Top it off with good food and drink.

Our small group started with Crispy Hampshire Hog (Breaded pork belly)with Cox’s Apple purée, London Porter Smoked Salmon Terrine with Cucumber, Quail’s Egg and Tomato Bread. For the mains we tried the Steamed Mussels In Seafarers & Lemon Sauce & Fries, Steak & Ale Pie with Mashed Potatoes, Winter Greens & Gravy, Pan-fried Calves’ Liver & Smoked Bacon served with Mustard Mash, Roasted Carrots in a Forest Mushroom Sauce and, finally, a Lamb Rump Steak served with New Boiled Potatoes and Minted  Peas.

The food  was well cooked, well presented and really tasty. All in our party commented on how tasty it was.  Portion sizes were about right, especially for me, since I am on a diet. If it hadn’t been for that “Vintage Ale & Molasses Sticky Toffee Pudding ” I would have met my daily target. Ah well !! As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

The staff at the Mill are friendly and attentive without becoming obtrusive. Once we had finished our meal they left us to chat at our table with no pressure to move on. This was a Saturday night. When asked they delivered the bill promptly.

All in all a very nice experience. Not bad for £90 including the drinks.

Little Creatures Lunch


Just had a very nice lunch, with my wife and two of my grandchildren, at the Little Creatures  brewery in Fremantle.

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Little Creatures Brewery – Fremantle, W.A.

Eats were a “Prosciutto, Mozzarella & Lemon Thyme Pizza”, “Chilli Beef Nachos with Guacamole, S/Cream & Jalapenos”,” Steak Sandwich, Beetroot Relish & Frites” and “Barramundi Fillet with Frites & Salad”.

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From our table this was part of the view at the back of Little Creatures. This is the replica of the Dutch ship Duyfken. The replica was built here in Fremantle.

Only two puddings, “Chocolate & Cranberry Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream” and “Apple and Rhubarb Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream”.

All that scrummy food washed down with Pipsqueak Cider (5 . 2%) for the grand kids, Little Creatures Pale Ale (5 . 2%) for my wife and a pint of White Rabbit Dark Ale (4 . 9%).

After adding all those calories we took a stroll round the quayside watching the fish and also took in a floating art exhibition ….

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