Meet Sue Lewis – artisan chocolatier extraordinaire!

sue-lewis-9Meet Sue Lewis – artisan chocolatier. Her fine craftsmanship and deep respect for the ingredients she uses is tasted in every piece of chocolate her hands make. Forget Bruges. Forget Lucerne. Here in Perth is where you’ll find the freshest, most delicious handmade chocolates you’ll ever taste.

As you enter Sue’s store at 44 Derby Rd Subiaco, you’re instantly welcomed by stands upon stands of freshly made treats and (if you visit during an afternoon) you may be lucky to meet the incredibly talented and passionate lady herself. Upon saying hello I was offered a fresh-off-the-press creme-brulee inspired chocolate that she was making there and then! The incredibly crisp chocolate shell delicately breaks in your mouth to release an amazingly rich yet not overpowering caramelly centre, perfectly balanced by the bittersweet chocolate. (If only I was greeted that way more often!) I got the amazing opportunity to speak to Sue, and got an insight into the creative mind behind the chocolatier-ing process and what drives her.

Sue has had a long relationship with food, starting off in the kitchens back home in England as a youngster, working hard in the good old-fashioned way and progressing up the ranks. She’s had an illustrious and enjoyable career which has resulted in her working for more than twenty years in a number of reputable restaurants in London, including the eponymous Alastair Little in Soho and Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry. Despite not formally training as a patissiere, with a little bit of right-place-right-time luck (and I’m sure a lot of good reputation preceding her), Sue got the chance to work with Paul Young, who is not only a groundbreaking chocolatier currently leading the way in London’s gustatory sphere but who has also previously worked as one of Marco Pierre White‘s head pastry chefs for ten years. That’s some seriously big names there. (Have you been watching your MasterChef? If you’re not sure who I’m talking about, you’ve heard of Gordon Ramsay right? Well, let’s just say he was trained by Marco Pierre White who is rumoured to have made the aforementioned stony-faced potty mouth cry.)

This is a place I would definitely go out of my way to discover. Sue Lewis is not only a purveyor of beautiful chocolates but she also freshly produces the most irresistible ice creams and sorbets (think 70% Valrhona chocolate rippled with Calypso mangos or a luxuriously smooth sea salt caramel) that are an absolute God-send this summer. Trust me, you will not leave Sue’s empty-handed nor empty-stomached.

Here is a snippet of the fascinating and delicious afternoon I spent with Sue.sue-lewis-7 sue-lewis-3 sue-lewis-2 sue-lewis-1

Let’s start with a little about yourself. You’re a long way from home and have worked with some of the greatest names in food, so what brings you to Perth?

I suppose you could say I had a midlife crisis! I wanted to be somewhere less dreary and hectic than London, somewhere sunny and near the beach. I’d been to Perth a couple of times before visiting friends, it’s a beautiful city that ticked all the boxes – and so I thought, why not! I arrived and made Perth my home in October 2011 and finally got my store up and running in December 2012. It’s only a tiny shop, just enough for my marble slab to work my chocolate, my ice cream machine and the cashier, but I actually live upstairs! I have a lovely kitchen there where I do more baking and experimenting, and I also love relaxing out in my wee garden up there.

So what motivates and inspires you?

First and foremost is the quality and the source of the chocolate I work with. It’s very important to me that it comes from organic and ethical sources. One of the sources I use a great deal of are Bahen & Co who happen to be based in a family operated farm in Margaret River. All their chocolate is made with vintage equipment in the purest and most traditional of ways, and out of only two ingredients – cacao and cane sugar. No nasty or cheap additives, so it’s absolutely fresh and jam-packed with flavour.

Secondly, I’m influenced by the seasonal and local produce and try to incorporate it in creative and clever ways into my chocolate. For example, the mango season has been fantastic and so they’ve featured heavily over the summer. One of my latest creations specifically for Australia Day was made with Western Australian honey and wattle seed – so good!

I’m also a supporter of the Slow Food Movement, which was started in the 1980s to counteract the effect fast food was having on society. Essentially, good food should be linked with an awareness of your community and environment. I think it’s really important to be knowledgeable about where your food comes from and the wide-reaching effect your choices can have on the rest of the world.

I’m very passionate about getting the freshest and purest ingredients for my work, never adding any hidden preservatives or shortcut additives, so that what I create is injected with the best flavours and of the highest quality, and I hope others can see and taste that too.sue-lewis-4

So what is the next step for your store?

I’m currently holding chocolate tasting and tempering classes every Thursday night. Each student is greeted with a glass of bubbly and taken through the basics of chocolate tasting, and I share with them the fascinating process by which a tiny cocoa bean is harvested and ultimately makes its way into the form of the delicious chocolate we universally love. We then go through a lesson in chocolate tempering where I show everyone once and for all that it really isn’t impossible to get right! Like I say, if you haven’t poured kilos of beautiful melted chocolate out onto a cool marble slab at least once – you haven’t lived! At the end of the evening, everyone gets a box of Sue Lewis chocolates to go home with. Whether you actually arrive home with the chocolates uneaten – well, that’s up to you. Either pop in or email me at info@suelewischocolate.com for bookings and more details!

I’m also looking to collaborate with other like-minded foodies around Western Australia to drive this push to promote ethical, organic and local produce. It’s not just important for the food we eat ourselves today, but also for the future.

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Come visit Sue. If you want to taste a bit of heaven in a chocolate truffle that explodes in your mouth, the pleasure of ten degustation courses compacted into a morsel  that fits in your palm, and made from the finest and freshest of ingredients by hands and a heart so passionate about their trade – this is the place to be.

Sue Lewis Artisan Chocolatier / 44 Derby Rd Subiaco

0452 423 323 / info@suelewischocolate.com / Facebook / Website
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Loving the Laneway Night Markets

laneway-market3Just when we thought there couldn’t be anymore markets or festivals, On William and Fringe World decide to outdo everyone! I was meant to be packing for Broome (which still hasn’t yet been done) but once again I abandoned common sense and gave in to the irresistible draw of the Laneway Night Markets. The On William team have done it again, transforming Hook and Lock Lanes in Northbridge into an amazing hub of activity, food, art and general market-y goodness. We ended up doing a couple of laps of the stalls as we kept bumping into people we knew and chatting. It’s kind of only lately dawned on me that I won’t be seeing a lot of these people for a while so I think I’m subconsciously squeezing in all the future missed conversations and catch-ups into this one tiny concentrated week. I of course did not leave empty-handed, one of my favourite purchases being this awesome handmade oversized felt badge delicately stitched by oh, hello. Check out her Etsy store, it’s pretty amaze!

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***For those interested… 

1. Fringe World on the big screen!

2. Hand painting prints that are fresh off the press – Shiritori Press

3. Brenton See finishing off a work that will be finding its home at Captain of the Ship on William St

4. Cute goodness from Enid Twiglet

7. Retro chic from Pixel Closet

8. My new badge from Oh Hello

Australians all let us rejoice!

aus-day-9I trust we all had a happy Australia Day and are still enjoying the long weekend? We decided to relive our high school/university days and spread our picnic rugs out on the soft green grass of Kings Park under the gum trees, drinking in the gorgeous view over Perth City and the Swan River, whilst chilling out to the tunes of Triple J’s Hottest 100 (did you get what you voted for?). It’s been a while since I’d done a good picnic and this day really satisfied that little hole in my life – perfect weather (okay, a wee bit hot), captivating company, great catch-ups with lots of long-time-no-sees, wicked sandwiches (yeah I made them myself!) and my Karen Walker sunnies (hah, so vain!).

So there was one tiny little downer. We’d gotten to Kings Park nice and early (around 2pm) to stake out our prime piece of grass and view over the river where the fireworks are usually shot. From memory, the fireworks are usually blasted off somewhere very near to Kings Park so that they’re almost exploding directly above you! Unbeknownst to me, their location had changed. So much so that when the fireworks began I (and the other hundreds of people gathered in excitement) realised that we were very very far away. And behind a TREE! A BIG TREE! Haha, it was actually kinda funny. So we amused ourselves with all the crazy kids running around frenetically with their glow sticks and light sabres instead!

Don’t get me wrong. This was one of my best Australia Days ever! The fireworks were really only a tiny half hour portion of an amazing day, doing one of my all-time favourite things (picnicking!) in the company of a lot of my favourite people. A huge ups to all who managed to make it – it helped make this girl a little happier about being exiled from the lovely lot of you for six months!sa-bygwenaus-day-7sandwichaus-day-2aus-day-6aaus-day-1 planes-gwenaus-day-19aus-day-10 aus-day-11aus-day-23aus-day-12aus-day-28 aus-day-8aus-day-13aus-day-24sa-by-gwen2 aus-day-16 aus-day-17 aus-day-15aus-day-35

See what I mean about the tree?

***Thanks to Gwen for some of the pics!

Australia Day equipment for the discerning dude

aus-day-mood-boardThings have been hectic this week, what with my impending move to Broome plus being on night shifts (hence no post yesterday…sorry guys!) – so I got Jinn to do the hard work and gave him the task of creating this week’s must-haves. Australia Day is just around the corner! It’s one of my favourite public holidays for two major reasons – fireworks and Triple J’s Hottest 100 (what did you vote for this year?). We love spending the afternoon/evening camping out on a picnic rug at  King’s Park looking out over the gorgeous Swan River, chilling with good friends, drinks in hand and sweet tunes playing. Then as we cheer or boo over the year’s number one song (depending on how pleased/displeased we are with the result) the sun finally sets and gives way to the spectacular firework display.

***1. Obey San Juan Snapback, 2. Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunnies, 3. Unstatic board shorts, 4. Discraft frisbee disc, 5. Bush portable digital radio, 6. Herschel backpack (on sale!!), 7. Vans Authentic Rio Red sneakers 

Figs + Persian feta = match made in heaven!

fig-feta-salad-1I was recently browsing through my Instagram newsfeed when I came across a delectable photo of a fig and feta salad that someone else had uploaded (Thanks @fromforestsforthesoft aka Perth fashion stylist Hannah McGrath!). For some reason I had three large figs in my fridge (I don’t actually like to eat fresh figs, I think I bought them because they looked nice!) and so I instantly knew I had to try to emulate this salad. I paired them with Persian feta which has a rounder taste and smoother texture than your regular Greek-style feta, and they complemented the sweet, soft figs perfectly! It’s a seriously easy dish, super fast to whip up, and very satisfying. Here’s how I made my version…

Ingredients:

  • 400g mixed salad greens, washed and dried
  • 100g whole walnuts
  • 3 large figs, sliced about 8mm thick
  • 3-4 cubes of Persian feta
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cracked black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Spread your walnuts out on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes, they’re ready when they brown up and you can smell their nutty aroma. Take them out to cool.
  3. In the meanwhile, place your fig slices and honey in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil, and coat the figs by gently stirring (not too vigorously or else you’ll pulverise the figs!)
  4. Heat another dash of olive oil up in a large fry pan over medium heat. Gently pan fry the fig slices, taking care to maintain the shape and form of the fruit. They only really need 1 minute on each side, you’re only aiming to heat them up.
  5. Arrange your salad greens on a nice big bowl or platter, then top with the figs, walnuts and feta. I like to break the feta up into smaller pieces with a teaspoon and somewhat scatter them around.
  6. Finish off with a bit of cracked pepper and another slosh of glorious extra virgin olive oil.fig-feta-salad-3fig-feta-salad-4fig-feta-salad-2

Feeling feline…

feline-outfit-1I put this outfit together, really just trying to wear as many lightweight, breezy fabrics as possible given the hot weather of late. I then realised I was pretty much fully laden with cat-themed paraphernalia – the top has tiny jaguar head studs and the Zara pants have leopards printed all over them. Even my subconscious mind betrays me – this once cat-avoider is now a cat-lover, from head to toe…Literally!

Just a wee shout out to The Bunny, the local creative behind this gorgeous studded top and the neon necklace. They will be holding a stall at the upcoming Laneway Night Markets to be held in Northbridge on Saturday January 27th and Sunday January 28th from 4pm to 10pm, so be sure to check them out!
feline-outfit-4feline-outfit-6feline-outfit-12feline-outfit-14feline-outfit-10feline-outfit-3***What I’m wearing – white jaguar studded top by The Bunny (better get to the Laneway Markets!), leopard print pants by Zara (these are pretty dang amazing), neon yellow necklace also by The Bunny, white and black bangles by CC Skye (why hello my pretties…here and here)

Marimekko Spring 2013 – Colour explosion!

marimekko1I’d been longingly staring at this Marimekko teapot for a while, and finally caved in after Christmas when it was on special at Table Culture (oh, plus a Marimekko bowl and a Mud platter too…oops…).  I wasn’t aware that Marimekko also splashed their irresistibly cheerful prints all over a tantalisingly sweet range of clothing until recently when I was doing my usual internet ogling of homewares and stumbled across these pictures on their website! I kinda really want all of it. I mean, it’s a serious combination of a lot of things I absolutely adore – bright colours, spots, stripes, clashing prints – I almost fainted! I wonder what it would be like to live in the land of Marimekko – I think it’d put a constant smile on your face surrounded by so much colour, just oozing with life and happiness.marimekko2 marimekko6 marimekko3 marimekko8 marimekko7 marimekko10 marimekko9

***Photos courtesy of Marimekko

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