The Food Lovers' Guide to Perth by Julie Mews and Lisa Hummel-Robson

You'll never have bad food in Perth with this guide in hand

By Robyn Lewis
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The Food Lovers Guide to Perth

The Food Lovers Guide to Perth [©Fremantle Press]


How many times have you bitten into a store-bought peach, nectarine or apricot and been disappointed by the watery blandness and indistinguishable flavour? Skin them, blindfold yourself and you may be hard pressed to tell the difference.

I’m not alone in thinking that fruit picked too green, pumped up by irrigation and ripened by gas does not taste ‘like it used to’. Nor does most temperate fruit transported thousands of kilometres, whether sold in or out of season (tropical fruits seem to handle this better, and apples and cherries). Not to mention the price.

Luckily for my friends and family we have fruit trees at home, whose bounty acts as a flavour benchmark and assurance that our childhood taste memories are not distorted by time – and luckily for residents of Perth in Western Australia they have the fertile Chittering Valley an hour to the north. Plus Julie Mews and Lisa Hummel-Robson – dedicated foodies with media, writing and teaching experience – as their local food detectives.

It’s over two years since these two trufflehounds produced their much-needed first edition of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth, which met with critical acclaim and ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ musings, such was the obvious need. A food, not a restaurant guide, telling you where to buy the ingredients for your next meal through to dishes already prepared. It quickly hit the must-buy list for new and old Perth food-shoppers alike.

A lot has since changed. In the inimitable forewords of Janet Holmes à Court ‘not only has the global financial crisis made many of us rethink how we spend our time and money – more eating at home, more emphasis on quality, locally-grown seasonal food – but also there has been a proliferation of growers’ and producers’ markets and a greater focus on organic and health foods.

In this new edition you will find advice on everything food, from where to find the freshest fish and the choicest cuts of meat, the smelliest cheese and the tartiest tart, the most French of bread (baguette dough imported frozen from France) and the most German sausage, to the most inscrutable sushi and the tangiest preserved lemon.

There is also advice (and a very good explanation) as to why it is sensible to eat seasonally and locally produced food (well, except the baguettes – Australian flour is apparently unsuited in texture) – and a chart to help you do so. Think of the carbon emissions you will avoid by not eating food that has been flown in from overseas, not to mention the excitement and anticipation of biting into the first summer peach’.

This is the sort of book that every large city in Australia needs, particularly as new citizens flock to them yearly and our immigration increases dramatically. Where to buy fresh vegetables? Proper chocolate? The best fish? Indeed, to hunt out the best value? Online shop directories are all very well, but these provide only listings, and as we at well know, what people want is recommendations - a guide. For Perth’s food, all this and more is inside The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth.

The book is arranged in categories, which include types of food/foodsellers (bread, butchers, cakes, chocolate, fish, grocers, ice cream, organic, patisserie) to cookbooks and cooking schools, cafes, cake decorators, food to go, Asian food, kitchenware, markets, tea/coffee and even cupcakes.

Within each category businesses are listed alphabetically, but Mews and Hummel-Robson have sniffed out not only the best, but the best value. They insist that ‘cheap food isn’t good and good food isn’t cheap’. However when my home garden runs dry, the interim tasteless, short fridge-life vegetables that I find in the supermarket also prove that expensive does not equal good. You need alternatives, and to find them, a guide.

To the authors the best value food means the highest quality, freshest and most flavoursome at a price you can afford. Even those on a very tight budget can find quality with The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth in hand.

As befits another current food trend, fresh, local and seasonal are closely link (this wave is sweeping the developed world; the third world have been living it for centuries, of course). Buy food in season when it is plentiful, cheaper and tastiest. Luckily for Perth residents they have several food (and wine) producing areas nearby; a great deal of Western Australia’s food supplies can be found within its own borders or neighbouring seas.

There’s also some useful information on meat standards for beef and sheep with links to recipe sites, monthly availability charts for seafood – from wild barramundi to yabbies – and a seasonal fresh produce guide for fruit and veggies. Right at the back is a locality index so you can explore by suburb as well, and as well as the more obvious information like opening hours, there are even parking tips! (I can’t see a public transport guide, though).

Their aim is to make food shopping enjoyable, interesting and hopefully fun as well. (When did you last have fun in a supermarket?). Mews and Hummel-Robson recommend that once you’ve found your own faves from their short-lists – or the ones closest to you, to save even more food miles – that you get to know them and simply ask ‘what is best today?’

The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth is a treasure-trove of dedicated food retailers, whose passion for what they are doing shines through on every page.

Again in Janet Holmes à Court’s words: ‘another essential glove box item for those in search of the best, the unusual and the most original. … You have saved those of us who enjoy wonderful food a great deal of work’.

The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth is published by Fremantle Press (sc, 416 pp; Fremantle WA, 2009). RRP A$24.95. Winepros Archive and subscribers and Members can click here to purchase The Food Lovers’ Guide to Perth at 12.5% off RRP from our book partners, Seekbooks (postage extra).


  • Perth (WA)

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February 25th, 2010
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