Posted on January 31, 2013
Meet 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
Posted on January 30, 2013
Just 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!
***For those interested…
1. Fringe World on the big screen!
2. Hand painting prints that are fresh off the press – Shiritori Press
4. Cute goodness from Enid Twiglet
7. Retro chic from Pixel Closet
8. My new badge from Oh Hello
Posted on January 28, 2013
I 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!
See what I mean about the tree?
***Thanks to Gwen for some of the pics!
Posted on January 25, 2013
Things 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
Posted on January 23, 2013
I 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…
Posted on January 22, 2013
I 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!
***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)
Posted on January 21, 2013
I’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.
***Photos courtesy of Marimekko
Posted on January 18, 2013
As usual, this week has been super busy (when has it ever not been?), especially having to sort out loads of things before the big move to Broome in February. Couple that with a full-on work roster, and suddenly it’s just two short weeks until I move. Our favourite housemate Schnooks has had a pretty big week himself. We hereby present a special edition of Bits and bobs – The Schnooks Edition!
1. My little Mr Orange. He loves a good snuggle. And we all love snuggling him!
2 +3. Even the cutest of dudes has to keep clean. I’d heard that cats often turn into little balls of fury when attempting to be bathed, so the very first time we tried this we covered ourselves from head to toe to protect us from any potential scratching. We should’ve known him better. He’s such a cool customer. He clearly doesn’t enjoy his showers, but seems to understand the necessity of it all and sits there, hunched in the corner, making a few sad mews occasionally when the water gets too cold. Then he gets released into the warm sunshine and proceeds to lick himself for hours until he’s satisfied with the result.
4. Sunny days.
5. He can’t stop playing Angry Birds Star Wars. He likes the Chewbacca bird the best.
6. Schnooks is incredibly vain. We had to run this photo by his editorial team to make sure he was happy with the angle of the lighting, the pose, the way his fur colour turned out, etc. So fussy.
7 + 8. Typical artistic nonsense. Such a poser.
Posted on January 17, 2013
I used to be an avid reader when I was a school kid. I would read anything I could get my hands on (even encyclopaedias – no kidding! What a dork!) but my favourite was always fiction, preferably of the fantasy kind and even better if it had a young girl with auburn hair, eyes like fire and a heart of gold as its protagonist, and oh I’d be completely sold if she also had to pretend she was a boy and was smarter and better at all the boy stuff than all the actual boys. Oh, and a talking animal, there’s gotta be a talking animal. (You know the sort of book I’m talking about, I know you do. Literary classics, I tell ya.) I’d spend many a night caught up in sword fights, dragon rides, secret romances with princes, and noble quests, always saving lives, always breaking hearts.
So my latest read, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, has really turned all of that on its head. To tell you the truth, I found it whilst browsing in this awesome secondhand book and record store we stumbled upon whilst in Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore, and only bought it because I loved the cover art, and the fact that it had the words “#1 New York Times bestseller” on the front meant that it hopefully wouldn’t be that boring. (Yeah, really highbrow.) It’s still fiction, but based on a real life scenario and there certainly aren’t any swashbuckling adventures, elves, wizards or damsels.
The incredible beauty of this book really lies in its artful narrative, the voices alternating between its two protagonists, and in the way in which the story behind the story unfolds. They’re both women but from such immensely different poles of life, they really couldn’t be any more different. The book explores so many difficult and grey areas in life, and also manages to portray moments of the highest highs and lowest lows of humanity plus everything in between with perfect proportions of painful poignancy, blunt realism and even lightheartedness in all the right doses and at all the right times. Two pages into the book and I even completely forgot it was written by a man and not two women with different voices. Just incredible.
I don’t want to give too much away because that would ruin the experience of reading this book. Just do it. Borrow my copy! I opened mine at the beginning of our flight back home from Penang and before I knew it we were touching down in Perth with only ten pages to go – it took all my willpower to close the book but I soon had my nose buried back into it. It is seriously gripping, even to the end. I also bought Cleave’s equally lauded debut novel, Incendiary, which I’m sure will be accompanying me to Broome and will be whipped out the moment I have a few hours to spare.
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles
Posted on January 16, 2013
Well actually for me it’s the end of my week (I’ve been working the last six days) and hence maybe why I’ve been feeling the need for a little pick-me-up lately. I’m a sucker for heart-wrenchingly beautiful flowers, particularly the kinds of arrangements that still have a “wild” feel to them. Somehow I feel that they just have more life and an undeniable character about them that needs no audible voice to express it – soft and beautiful, yet feisty with a sharp-witted reply always ready on the tip of its tongue. (Yes, I get all that from flowers, I do.) These beauties are the perfect example and combined with the citrus-y, sunny colours I just couldn’t help but feel inspired and that wee bit cheerier. If I got married all over again (but I hope and pray not so!) I imagine my bouquet would look a little something like this. And maybe paired with my new dream wedding dress – with long sleeves made of the most exquisite lace, a little like this one. Funny how our tastes change over the years – my actual wedding dress was totally different! But one thing will never change – I’ll always love lace.
***Photos courtesy of Terrain.