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The Food Lovers' Guide to Perth

The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth

By Julie Mews & Lisa Hummel-Robson
Photography by Tracey Gibbs
Published by Fremantle Press

Reviewed by Serena Nathan


Want to know all those glorious foodie secrets?   Flourish has found the answer with The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth.


If you’ve ever done the working holiday bit and lived in London, or spent time travelling at all, you will   know that here in Perth we are completely spoilt for fresh food choice and quality.  Not only are we surrounded by farms and stations providing superb quality foods, they are readily available all over the place in specialty local shops that pride themselves on fresh, seasonal, local produce.


The trick is to know where to go – problem solved: The Food Lovers' Guide to Perth is a wonderfully easy guide to shopping locally.  Well-travelled and highly experienced Perth foodies and authors Julie Mews and Lisa Hummel-Robson have written down many of the best sources of good fresh meats, vegies, fruits, bread caterers, chocolates, fish, flowers, organic foods, wine and much much more in an easy to read book published by another local icon, Fremantle Press.


The book is cross referenced in detail, so you can use it as a locality guide or food type guide (36 of Perth’s best butchers!).  Each listing has been given an A5 page of description or more, so rather than just being a list guide, Food Lovers' Guide is a comprehensive outline of the specialties of that shop and often a little information about the owners, the history of the place and why they are so passionate about their fare.


Lisa Hummel-Robson, co-author, is a mum with kids at school and says she and Julie started out writing the book just for themselves.  “We really just wanted to have the information all in one place rather than on little scraps of paper,” she says, and I immediately relate to the scraps of paper reference.


She is genuinely excited with the swing back to local buying trends.  “It’s great to see people getting excited by seasonal food.   I was shopping with the kids the other day and saw fresh cherries and thought ‘Wow, Christmas is coming, the cherries are here!’   I love that we are going back towards how our grandparents shopped – a local butcher, fishmonger, grocer… And we’re all understanding more about the ease and taste of locally grown and produced seasonal food.”


We have the celebrity chefs to partly thank for this.  The likes of Jamie Oliver have done a great deal for encouraging the adventure into not only preparing food, but sourcing it locally.


One of the concerns a juggling mother like me might have is the cost of boutique food shopping, one quickly dispelled by Lisa; “It’s not more expensive to shop at the little guys if you know what you want and only buy what you know you will eat.”


Unlike the supermarkets, where we are often bound to how much we buy by packaging, getting fish or meat from the local butcher or fishmonger means a much greater choice and the cut, quality and quantity that suits your own needs.  Another welcome trend is that of eating on the bone, again something that can be talked about with your local butcher (but not with the checkout person in the supermarket).


The Food Lovers' Guide to Perth goes further than telling us about great places to shop.   At the beginning of each category there is information that helps with making good choices.  The butcher’s chapter begins: “…Many have told us they go personally to the market of even the farm and buy on the hoof.  The most humane methods of slaughter are those that result in the highest quality.   Butchers told us again and again that stressed animals do not produce good meat… Cheap meat comes at a terrible price.   To keep the price down birds and animals have to be reared in unnatural conditions and fed on unnatural foods, too horrible to describe in a family publication.”


At the back of the book is a locality guide, an alphabetical guide and a seasonal produce guide (it’s a great time now for cherries, figs and snow peas).   There’s even a seasonal fish guide and a list of great wine suppliers and wine classes for budding sommeliers.


Lisa and her co-author Julie Mews are locals who know, love and understand the Perth food market.   Julie has many years experience in catering (including on the set of the movie, Babette’s Feast) and lives in the Chittering Valley.  Lisa is a London trained cook and has cooked and worked all over the world.  She has worked as a specialist food advisor and cooking teacher at Vans, The Grocer and Matters of Taste in Perth and lives in Cottesloe, Western Australia.


Pictured, Lisa and Julie 

The Food Lovers' Guide to Perth
comes highly recommended by Flourish.  I have already stowed the review copy in my bag and that’s where it’s staying! If you’re interested in picking up a copy, you’ll find it at good bookshops and at Fremantle Arts Centre Bookshop for under $25.

****There is a new edition of The Food Lovers'Guide to Perth available now with a Foreward by Janet Holmes a Court and a quote from Serena's review on the back cover.  Be sure to get your copy!******


Want to read more? Other food and cookbook tidbits can be found here and here and here.

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