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 December 17, 2012
Tis the season for street festivals it seems! We decided to ditch the usual fine dining dinner for our anniversary (plus we’d already blown a fair bit of money on some Michelin stars in NYC so we’ve been good to our wallets and gallbladders lately) to check out Illuminites Night Market at the Perth Cultural Centre. There were over 50 stalls – only three of them appeared to be food so I did impatiently have to wait about 45 minutes for some takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls – taste better than they sound). But I was finally let loose amongst the stalls, blood sugar and happy mood restored, and they did not disappoint. I have to say my favourites were The Bunny Shoppe and The White Square. There are a couple of pictures of my swag below – can’t wait to bust them out! Go here to find out more details about Illuminites and the stalls!
Posted on December 10, 2012
I’ve been on night shifts this whole weekend (working 10pm to 8:30am) and I don’t know why but I tend to get really sad and moochy when I’m on nights…This weighty, sticky inertia just sets in and I need to muster up huge amounts of effort and enthusiasm to do anything – my hair remains unbrushed (why hello Helena Bonham Carter!), food that requires anything more than a one minute pirouette in the microwave is way too difficult, socialising is totally out of the question (unless you like to see my sad sad face and don’t mind receiving grunts to all your questions), and even my toothbrush feels heavier (don’t worry, I can assure you I somehow do find the will to brush my teeth!). I’m a pitiful sight to behold really.
I knew that the Leederville Carnival was coming up on Saturday but knew that I’d be in my catatonic, PJs-or-scrubs-all-day mode, so I’d pretty much written off going. I woke up in the afternoon around 3pm and proceeded to do my usual energy-conserving shuffle around the house, coffee in hand, when Jinn burst into the house so full of verve and zest for life that it almost hurt my bleary eyes, and demanded that I must take photos of him while planting some daisies (I tell you, this blog has made us even weirder than we were before). After much sighing, grimacing, and declaring that every part of my body was sore in a cephalocaudal order (read head to toe) I dragged my sorry pyjama-clad butt outside and very begrudgingly started taking photos of said daisies.
Bit by bit the warm afternoon sun, the quiet cheery calm of our garden, and the sight of Schnooks lolling about the grass showing off his contorting abilities started to work on me. Heck, even Jinn’s initially annoying enthusiasm started to rub off on me. And then (despite my greatest efforts to cling to my inner Grinch) – I was smiling. The Red Sea parted. Berlin Wall fell. We found life on another planet.
So with that we took ourselves off to the inaugural Leederville Carnival which was held along Oxford St, one of my favourite parts of the world, having spent many an afternoon or evening here enjoying a snag, checking out the new cafe (Foam!), or shopping at my favourite stores (Harry & Gretel, Urban Depot AND Atlas Divine – wallet beware!). Aside from the usual shops, there were stalls run by Bluebird Vintage, Miss Brown Vintage, and foodies plying Mexican food, doughnuts, and Japanese dumplings just to name a few! Go here for a closer look at the festival. I only intended to stay a couple of hours but the stalls upon stalls of vintage goodies and locally made craft wouldn’t let me leave and so we remained until the close of the festival around 8pm. But that’s when it got better…
There’d been a party bus parked in the middle of the carnival, DJ perched atop, that had been pumping out funk/reggae/soul tunes to the happy crowd all day. We were wandering past it when a mob of high-vis clad (read fluoro yellow vests) men started clearing people and pushing around bins to collect rubbish, signalling that the festival was over. Then suddenly, in a massive haha-fooled-you move, brass instruments and drums appeared in their hands from their bins, and even a sexy bass-playing girl spectacularly materialised out of a giant wheelie bin! Spontaneous crazy dancing from the crowd ensued, Santa paid a quick visit and caused the kids to go into a lolly-catching frenzy, and a soul-mama sang some fine tunes closing out a fantastic fun-filled day in the perfect fashion!
And then I went to work. But with a smile rather than a scowl, a swag containing my newly acquired vintage tooled leather handbag, and a belly full of burritos, popcorn and good coffee. 🙂 This girl was aMAzing – her dad is an artist who focuses on abstract art and you can see she definitely inherited the talent! She was drawing and colouring with such confidence and what looked like practised ease, I felt I was in the presence of an established artist.
Posted on November 30, 2012
1. We had a great time catching up with friends on Saturday at a barbeque at South Perth foreshore. Not only was the company excellent, but the view of Perth from over the river is spectacular. (Happy birthday Manal!)
2. Our nephew Nathanael gave Jinn some of his highly treasured Kung Fu Panda sticky plasters as a present for his birthday. And Jinn needed them – heartfelt and practical!
3. Some behind-the-scenes pics from the photoshoot with Steven.
4. Schnooks was intrigued.
5. We had a one month ‘birthday’ party for our new niece Gabrielle. Proud Grandmumsy + bub.
6. Jinn and Nathanael up to the usual guff. They’re roughly the same mental age.
7. The beautiful one month old Gabrielle!
8. Happy Weekend! We have a huge wedding bonanza of a weekend coming up with Jinn’s sister getting hitched. There are almost 30 people descending upon the Teh family home from Malaysia – lots of celebrations, ceremonies, shenanigans and bad dancing in store for us. (Did I just hear you say “Oppa Gangnam style!”?)
Posted on November 21, 2012
Perth City has undergone somewhat of an overhaul over the past two years, and in no place is it more evident than William Street, Northbridge. It once used to be a road lined with strip joints and bad restaurants, and I would certainly never have wandered down it alone after 8pm or so (and even if accompanied, at a very brisk pace!). Now the gorgeous old buildings have been restored to reveal their gorgeous late 1800s faces and are attracting more and more lovely new occupants! Tiny shops filled with racks of pretty vintage clothing, hole-in-the-wall coffee bars, and hip new restaurants are now filling up the spaces.
A more than welcome newcomer, Ruck Rover, has moved from its old home in Mount Lawley to join the now trendy crowd along this street. They stock a cute collection of clothing for guys, girls and children, as well as a wide range of gifts that would have nearly everyone on your Christmas list covered. Funky and brightly coloured beaded necklaces for your sister or BFF (I caved and bought one for myself!), polaroid cameras and film for any hipster in your life, sweet diaries that would impress any obsessive compulsive mum, and even homewares for the newly moved out.
I personally left with the aforementioned necklace, some earrings, a bunch of gorgeous greeting cards and the 50th issue of Frankie (yay for Frankie!). The place is dangerous I tells ya. Wandering further north up William Street we somehow also managed to acquire a new print from Outre Gallery by Matte Stephens, and an old Nina Simone record (an original pressing!) from Noise Pollution.
We may have travelled onwards but I hadn’t worn sensible shoes (now there’s a money-saving tactic!) so we stopped by Little Willy’s to enjoy their fine coffee and homemade pink lemonade. Now there’s a perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.
***What I’m wearing – ivory scallop lace top by Madewell, fuchsia petal skirt by Leifsdottir, black and tan wedges by Country Road (similar here and here), earrings by Kate Spade (similar), lip tint by Tarte in Spirited
***What he’s wearing – chambray shirt with dog embroidery by Pigeonhole (they don’t have the dog one anymore but they do have the duck one – here!
Posted on November 19, 2012
Wall art by Robert Jenkins
Hope some of you made it to the Beaufort Street Festival! It was a fun day with plenty of different sorts of activities – food, wine, music, art, fashion – seriously you’d have to be some kind of grouch not to have had a good time. Here’s a pick of a few things we did.
It was initially a rather sweltering 34 degrees but it was not long before a sweet breeze picked up and made the heat more tolerable. We ducked into the area hosted by the Ellington Jazz Club to hear Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics play a feisty set – mama’s got one hell of a voice! They just looked like they were having way too much fun on that stage, even with the boys dressed in full suits in the heat!
After thirstily downing a delicious and heat-defying raspberry and apple icy pole (Jinn had lime and mint – jealous…), we wandered further down the street, resisting the temptation of the stalls full of multicultural treats – paella, tacos, goslemme, murtabak, okonomiyaki – yes, we had to be very strong! Someone was blaring Justin Timberlake’s Senorita song…no wait, someone totally aMAzing was singing JT, and completely blowing our minds! He sounded just like him (if not a bit better, i.e. less whiny) and he had a sweet band backing him consisting of a keyboardist and drummer. And they’re all music teachers…whaaat? Yeah, they were advertising a teaching company – sign me up boys! If anyone can make me sound/play like that, I’m in. You can find them here.
Sadly I couldn’t stay any longer as I had a hen’s party to go to, but that didn’t stop me having fun! These festivals/street parties are becoming more common here in Perth in the warmer months and I for one am all for it!
Photo art by Keith Clements
***What I’m wearing – navy blue playsuit by Gorman, tan embroidered belt also by Gorman, tiny yellow flower earrings by someone that escapes my memory (similar), brown leather sandals by Jeffrey Campbell via Urban Outfitters (similar), tortoiseshell sunglasses by Robert Marc