Posted on March 15, 2013
Well, this year is the big year. It’s the year I hit the big you-know-what (has a three in it, rhymes with Bertie, come on work with me people)…It’s the year I turn thirty! Yeah, I’m just gonna say it. Because I refuse to join that pessimistic, doom and gloom, it’s-all-downhill-from-here club! What rubbish!
To tell you the truth, I’m feeling better than ever and I still feel like I’m “on the way up” so to speak. I think what’s changed for me in a big way over the last few years is that I’ve stopped trying to be what others want me to be and also learnt to accept myself for who I am – my strengths, my weaknesses, my wonky right ear. Looking back, I realise that I’d been a personality-contortionist, trying to fit myself into wrong and uncomfortable shapes in the hopes of pleasing people. I was also painfully shy, too terrified to say anything in case someone disagreed or worse, laughed at me. But turns out my personality is just as inflexible as my hamstrings of steel (it takes me a whole hour of warm ups to touch my toes, don’t laugh!) but it’s taken me some time to find it and then gain the confidence to just put it out there and say who-gives-a-flying-duck what anyone says.
There. Catharsis over. Now you know I have a wonky ear and am that person in the back row at Pilates who can’t do a proper roll-down.
Now what I actually started off trying to tell you guys, is this is my dream outfit for my upcoming birthday festivity! I would usually go something more light and pretty, or quirky and boyish, but this time I’m fantasising of an outfit that conjures up the word soiree, a bit glam, a bit sexy, and dare I say, a bit more mature. But not mature in a needing-a-hip-replacement way but in a more self-assured, strong alpha female way. You know, the type that’s not afraid to turn a few heads and cause a bit of a stir.
Tell me what you think about this outfit! Or what would you wear to your big birthday bash?
Posted on February 6, 2013
Still searching for the perfect Valentine’s gift? Or simply looking for something fun and different to do where you can even learn to do the impossible (i.e. temper your own chocolate!)? Look no further than an evening spent with Sue Lewis, a true artisan chocolatier who makes all of her delectable and sweet morsels from the finest and freshest of ingredients, and is so so passionate and knowledgeable about her trade. Read more about her and what inspires her here. Every Thursday night at her store at 44 Derby Rd Subiaco, Sue holds classes on chocolate tasting and tempering – and if that doesn’t turn you on, you must be a two hundred and ten years old! Or a zombie. Or a cucumber. Ok, basically anything that’s not alive!
Sue let me try my hand at tempering some chocolate when I last visited her. There is something truly therapeutic about pouring out all that delicious, molten chocolate out onto a marble slab and then swirling it around – almost hypnotic! So nice…
Not only will you get the chance to play with your food (something I still get in trouble for!) but chocolate tastings and a glass of bubbly await you as you arrive. Treat yourself and your loved one/bestie/Mumsy to an evening of taste bud titillation. Call or email Sue for more details and to make bookings. Or even better, visit the store in person and leave with the best chocolates/ice cream/sorbet/brownies/all the above you would have tasted this side of the equator, or dare I say, ever!
Sue Lewis Artisan Chocolatier / 44 Derby Rd Subiaco
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