Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Final Act

Like all good things, even mediocre ones must come to and end.
My beloved Epic V10 Sport has gone to grace Westy's garage, and the boat that started it all, my orange Endorfinn, is awaiting its new owner.
I'm on my way to live in the good 'ole US of A for three years, with Mrs Blue and the Bluelings having entered a new phase of my Gorilla Biscuit career.
Of course it couldn't pass without an anecdote about day I moved. The furniture was being removed into storage, and we had a contractor in the house who after a few minutes of polite conversation exalted me to read a book by David Irving. "David Irving the holocaust denier?" Queried I, thinking that surely he must mean someone else. But alas, he meant the very same. "That guy is a nutcase" said I, explaining how I had visited a concentration camp outside Prague once (Terezin), and that anyone with a skerrick of sanity knew that blokes like the President of Iran were hardly world authorities on unbiased interpretation of history. "It never happened" says the contractor with a straight face. Incredulous, I didn't think he would understand the unnerving irony that he shouldnt be having this conversion with a client when he was a professional oven cleaner.
It's been fun, readers. The last paddle to the bridges on a 10 degree morning saw the most spectacular display by the Swan River dolphins at very close range, almost like they knew it was ending for me. I probably won't be coming back to Perth, and I'll miss the days that you've all shared on this blog.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Bettyblue Bistro, Rockingham

Rockingham Beach to Garden Island - 17km, 2hr 14min

"No problem", said Westy. "12km easy downwind paddle. We'll be eating breakfast by 0930" he said. Naturally, things didn't quite turn out the way we had intended due to and the actual wind direction disagreeing by about 90 degrees. But a plan is nothing more than a basis for change, and in this case, what a great change it was.

Westy knew a friend of a friend who once met a bloke who's Dad had heard of the Navy, so we were able to meet at Rockingham foreshore, push through the drug addicts, side-step a couple of stabbings, drop the boats off and then go and leave the cars at the northern end of Garden Island. Bad James, Westy and I were joined by Dr Evil, who had risen at an uncharacteristically early time to make the paddle.

I was a little apprehensive about crossing Cockburn Sound this morning, so I put on my PFD - just in case. As we set off, the wind was not the 15kt sou-easter that we had anticipated, but was definitely either easterly or fractionally nor-easterly, leading us to hug the coastline northwards before reaching across 9km of Cockburn Sound. And what a paddle it was. If you have never paddled around the grain terminals or the BP refinery, or indeed up around Stirling channel then you are missing some of the best small beaches in Perth. These little appendages of paradise precariously hanging off the edge of desolate industrial wastelands are spectacular. At one point we saw what appeared to be a whitewater river running into the Sound to the north of the BP refinery, and when we investigated, the water temperature 150m offshore was about 40 degrees. There were huge garfish in the area enjoying the bathwater temperatures and wondering what the hell we were doing in their spot.

Being completely shark-paranoid, I was convinced that this was going to be the paddle that saw me looking at what appeared to be a Tarago driving under me as I paddled, but apart from a cool little penguin and a few fish, we luckily saw nothing of the sort.

As we got to Stirling Channel, Bad James and I had separated from Westy and Dr Evil, and realised that our trajectory didn't quite have the waves straight up our collective duck-runs, so we zig-zagged back towards Henderson until we were directly upwind from where we had parked the cars and made our turn. By this stage, Westy and Dr Evil were about 3km south of us, making directly for our exit point. As soon as we turned, our average speed increased dramatically, and we were regularly catching runners at 13.5kmh across the Sound, punctuated only by a few looks to make sure that the others were not sharkbait and a few funny stories that nearly had me in the drink with laughter. As did a minor collision with Bad James when a runner pushed his Mirage sea kayak nose-first into my trusty steed before he or I could do anything about it.

In the end, after 17km, James and I arrived first. Shortly afterwards, Westy and Dr Evil were intercepted by the Naval Police, where a sea-borne interview occurred that went something like this:
Plod (hands on hips and bending knees): "'Ullo, 'Ullo, 'Ullo! What's all this then?"
Westy: "And the Leb...he pulled out this big gun...and he went, like, Chk Chk Boom!"
Dr Evil:"Nothing to see here sir."
Plod: "Move along then!"

Crime in progress! Quick, Robin, to the Batboat!
It was the longest paddle I had done since this time last year, and after 17km in 37 degrees, we had seriously earnt breakfast. Having uploaded my Garmin data, I'm sure Michelle would be pleased with the 1900 calories that I had burnt, and the elusive ton that is very, very close now...

Bettyblue Bistro, Rockingham 

"The Boardwalk" Shop 3 & 4, 1-3 Railway Tce, Palm Beach, Rockingham, WA 6168, Ph: (08) 9528 4228,

 When we walked in to Bettyblue it was 1120 and we were skeptical as to whether or not we would get breakfast. It turned out that our concerns were valid because had we arrived 10 minutes later then it would have been all over, Red Rover. We were seated in the shade, and the waitress snappily delivered the menus. The place was heaving and young families were eagerly knocking back their scrambled eggs and fried porcine products. At this point they didn't realise how close they were to having four hungry chaps assist them by eating over the top of them.

Bettyblue Big Vegetarian Breakfast. With...err..bacon.
The standard Big Breakfast. Yum!
It was a pretty easy choice for both Bad James and I - The Bettyblue Big Vegetarian Breakfast ($19), with a side of bacon of course. The potato cake and home-made beans were the clincher. When they came out, the plates were enormous, with massive slices of doorstop-like toast that was lightly toasted just as I like it. My scrambled eggs were beautifully creamy and Bad James' poached eggs were perfectly cooked. The beans had their own ramikins on the plates and, if anything, the bacon was swamped by the spinach, tomato and the delicious field mushrooms that would have been a meal by themselves. Dr Evil and Westy had the standard Big Breakfast and Westy cunningly added Hollandaise sauce to his. The sausages were big and tasty, and really, who doesn't like a big, tasty sausage (fnarr, fnarr)? Again, at $19, these breakfasts are outstanding value and we all agreed that they were one of the better brekkies that we had had in a while, even if we did have to paddle to Woop Woop and back to earn them.

We were really enjoying these plates of heaven, washed down with some decent coffee. But it was 37 degrees and  the sun had well and truly risen above the yardarm by the time we finished. I could have murdered a six-pack of Little Creatures Bright Ale, but alas, I'm back on the wagon for my annual Dry February, this time joined by Mrs Blue. I'm not sure how well its going for my lovely bride - she declared that she would have eaten the glass of the half-bottle of red on the kitchen counter just to get to the wine inside the other day. I did offer that the screw top was a much more convenient and safe method of accessing the contents, and that she wouldn't require more than a day or so of training to learn how to use it. She is also very creative in her use of the English language on occasions such as these...

But Rockingham being Rockingham, we were just about to leave when a young chap toting a skateboard came past with an awesome mullet that required a picture. The camera just wouldn't come out of my pocket quick enough, and I was almost climbing over tables before I got this outstanding portrait at just the right angle...

In summary, if you are down in Rockingham, Bettyblue is a deadset great spot for brekky - just make sure you are sitting in the shade! Oh, and as a closer, Westy revealed at brekky that a 3m great white was seen near the channel just before we started paddling. Bastard.

Bettyblue Bistro, Rockingham - 7/10 (+1 for the mullet!)

Bettyblue Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, 28 December 2012

Kava Cafe, Bicton

Point Walter to the Bridges -  12km

Same bat time, same bat channel. This time however, having threatened to do so for weeks, Westy's brother Dr Evil sent a shockwave through the collective Grumpy Old Paddlers by actually turning up! This threw us a little - we didn't know whether to start left or right, or whether to just abandon the whole enterprise and go to the pub. At 7.30am. Still, it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were having a beer post-paddle under the Pt Walter pines at 9.21am, so anything was possible.

We decided to head down to the bridges, with a 5-strong group of paddlers including Mean Gene, M4P, Dr Evil, Westy and I. Mean Gene relegated us all into the realms of girly-men by showing up in his sparkling new Triton, and dropping the 'I just bought a ski' bombshell as well. Not to be outdone by Westy and I's stock standard Endorfinns, Mean Gene went for the lightweight version and got it fully optioned with a backrest, paddle, six cup holders and a spoiler. Unfortunately the manufacture of the carbon-fibre/unobtainium spoiler was holding up delivery, so Mean Gene took my poverty-pack Endorfinn GL-model for the paddle. Dr Evil was also bolstering the Finn fan club on his Afinnity, whilst having his first Saturday morning off since the construction of the WoopWoop District Hospital and Abattoir.

I was a bit gun-shy this morning after bending the be-jesus out of my rudder post last weekend on a jumping rock just out from the spit, so pretty much carried my V10 Sport to the Bicton baths before I was brave enough to let the hull hit the water. It was an uneventful paddle to the bridges at Fremantle, but by the time we turned around, the Rottnest parade had begun with bucketloads of boats on the way out. The chop from several caused me to be a little vertically embarrassed and somewhat wet just off East Fremantle yacht club, but unlike my Hawaiian debacle, I was back in and paddling straight away.

Westy and I had put on the pace from the East Fremantle Yacht Club on the outbound leg and had reached the bridges on our own before catching Dr Evil and M4P immediately after my little foray into submarine life. On the way back a more-middle-aged-than-we-are couple had decided to jump off the Bicton cliffs into the water on a beautiful Perth morning. Well, the bloke had. The woman was stuck on the cliff and no amount of sledging...err..encouragement from us would get her to jump.

Mean Gene had been paddling around the Point Walter spit for the morning, and when the remaining four of us arrived back, he was way over the other side which gave us a bit of time to get ourselves sorted before breakfast. The council has 'remodelled' the foreshore at Pt Walter, putting in a few boat-like structures, but alas, nothing actually as useful as a shower on the western side. When Mean Gene got back we were sorted in no time and off to breakfast at a cafe that we'd passed a hundred times before but never stopped at...

Kava Cafe, 39a Bristol Ave, Bicton, WA, 6157, (08) 9319 1669

Kava Cafe, Bicton. Two thumbs up.
OK. I had read some not-very-flattering reviews of the Kava Cafe, and when I posted a photo of the menu on Facebook, one erstwhile punter had commented that with those prices they were on something considerably more hallucinogenic than Kava, and suggested that until they were revised that it be renamed the "Crack Cafe". Running on the 4-1 principle of reviews (i.e. four times as many people will go on line to complain about a bad experience than they will to wax lyrical about a good one), I was more than a little skeptical about the bad write-ups. As we were paddling I had deftly deflected Westy's inquiry  about whether I had read anything about the place online, lest a revolt over the choice of breakfast venue occur at the last minute.

I'm glad I succumbed to my devious side, because what we got was something completely at odds with the bad reviews I had read.

With five ski-laden vehicles, the complete lack of (legal) parking for longer than 10 minutes was an immediate challenge warranting 'innovative' solutions, but it the end it didn't prevent two of the group having to park so far away that they could see the skyline of South Geraldton. At this festive time of year it was asking for trouble to breakfast next door to a bottle shop, but given that we had individually given our home brew a bit of a 'nudge' (obviously not in a Robert Hughes/'Hey Dad!' 'Nudge'-type of manner) a 'long' breakfast was luckily avoided. 

We barely had our bums on the seats outside when a young lass came and got our coffee orders and it was shortly afterwards that the same friendly staffy (as in 'staff-y' - no reference to a Staffordshire bull terrier) came and efficiently took our breakfast orders.

The hash is hiding - or I may have inhaled it before the plate hit the table.
Our coffees arrived in short shrift and breakfast was there very shortly afterwards, which was a big tick-in-the-box after last week's journey through the ages. I had ordered the Spring Onion, Sweet Corn, Potato Hash with Sticky Maple Bacon, Spinach, Roast Tomato and Poached Eggs ($20) having been completely sucked in by the thought of sticky maple bacon. My mug of Flat White had turned up just prior at exactly the right drinking temperature and was just what I needed. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get a Wombat's Arse pattern on my coffee like last week, but it went down well never the less. The breakfast was superb - the eggs were poached beautifully, the hash was delicious and the not-quite-crispy maple bacon was so sweetly salty good that I was almost in need of a bucket of cold water. The only thing that this dish needed was a drizzle of Hollandaise and perhaps a nice slice of turkish toast to complete it.

Westy's Omelette
Westy had gone the Three-Egg Omelette with Semi-Dried Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Bacon (Mushrooms available as a bacon substitute - but why would you?) for $17.50. He also had some Ciabatta toast on the side. His omelette looked nicely formed, and Westy's silence seemed to indicate his satisfaction. M4P had the Brekkie Sandwich (Bacon, Fried Egg, Rocket, Tomato and BBQ sauce on Toasted Ciabatta - $14.50) which looked outstanding and seemed to be a very good post-paddle choice. Because it's Christmas, I'm over 40, and have beer-induced memory like a sieve, I have little firm recollection of what Mean Gene and Dr Evil individually had, but I'm pretty sure there was another Three-Egg Omelette and the Kava Breakfast (Two eggs, Bacon, Roast Tomato, Mushrooms and House-made Baked Beans on Toast -$21) involved.

M4P's Brekkie Sandwich
As we contently inhaled our meals over a second brew, it turned out that three of us had recently had to change mobile phones, and it seemed that the common factor of being over 40 had turned three formerly tech-savvy gents into dribbling Mindas unable to do something as simple as answer a bloody call on a Samsung phone. For the record, when the call is inbound, a big green 'button' appears on the screen and no matter how many times you press the bloody thing - where it says 'Answer'! - you won't be connected unless you press and slide the damned thing. Fair dinkum, Samsung. Give us a break. We're blokes. We're genetically unable to read instructions, and generally unwilling to do so anyway. Make it easy on us.

Back to Kava, though. I'm really glad that I ignored some of the bad reviews, because I quite liked the whole breakfast experience there. The service was very friendly and efficient but unobtrusive, the menu was good, and so was the coffee. I didn't think the prices out of kilter with the area in any way, and probably if anything the menu was slightly cheaper than their competitors. Extra marks for being next to a bottle shop. I would definitely recommend Kava Cafe - we'll certainly be back!

Kava Cafe - 7.5/10.

Kava Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Left Bank, Fremantle

Point Walter to Mosman Bay and Applecross - 12.4km, 1hr 30 min

Westy, Bad James and I rendezvoused at Point Walter on a deadset cracker of a morning for what looked to be our standard Bridges run. As we put in we couldn't help but notice that there was a photo shoot of a skimpy bikini-clad lovely going on just on the other side of the spit from us. It was quite apparent that said bikini wench wasn't exactly Linda Evangelista, but in a comment sure to shock my loyal readership, none of us are Brad Pitt-like specimens either, so we called it even. Helpfully, a few comments were offered regarding brisk, early morning temperatures, puppy-dog noses and the pitfalls of bikinis at that time of day and amongst awkward faux-laughter from both sides we slid the steeds of Neptune into the pancake-flat waters of the Swan, just as Good James sidled up to the bank.

Given that Good James was only allowed to play for twenty nine minutes this morning we paddled with him back towards Mosman Bay where his ski-trolley was parked. Just as I was getting into the paddling groove a formerly-stationary rock came leaping up from the depths to hit my rudder. A quick check told me that it was still operating, so off we continued. Later investigation back at Chez Miles showed the rudder shaft bent 15 degrees to port, and in dire need of a bench vice which my neighbour was kind enough to provide. Luckily, we got Good James back in time before his ski-trolley turned back into a pumpkin and he was able to get home before the explosive collar device that had been affixed to his neck to ensure timing compliance detonated. We think.

The lap of Mosman Bay was serene. Barely a breathe of wind, and by the time we got to the red buoy opposite Pt Walter we had decided to go over to Applecross for a look. There appeared to be a few yachts on the water and by the way they were weaving all over the place it was likely that the yacht club had had it's Christmas Party the night before. Although tempted to play Rule Of the Road Chicken discretion formed the better part of valour, and we gave them a wide berth.

It's been a big week for me at Gorilla Biscuit Pty Ltd. After many head injuries and facial deformities I've finished my time in the face-smashing department, and have moved off the line and into the company headquarters, where I get to smash my face not into dough, but into the formica of a desk. Luckily I'm on leave until March and only have a few months after that until I relocate to one of the firm's international outposts in Rhode Island, USA for a 3 year tenure to teach the North American team how to firmly faceplant on a regular schedule. You beauty!

Anyway, I digress. We pushed on, through the 3cm waves, and reached a special marker buoy just of the Applecross waterfront. It was here that Bad James came up with the idea of The Left Bank for breakfast. In the past I haven't been very impressed by TLB breakfasts, but we thought we'd give it a go so around the buoy we went and thanks to the wake of a massive gin palace going by at a great rate of knots, managed to surf most of the way back to Point Walter.

The Left Bank, 15 Riverside Road,  East Fremantle, WA 6158, (08)93191315,

The view from our table - the best in the beer garden.

 If you haven't been to The Left Bank, chances are you are either 90 years old or have never been to Perth. It's a deadset cracker of a pub famous for it's Sunday sessions. Recently, and long-overdue they've put tap-beer in and despite distinctly un-1973-like prices (or as we said on Saturday, they've gone from over-priced bottled beer to over-priced tap beer) it is still a great place to sit and spend an afternoon. Although if, like me, you are blessed with a blood nut and skin that is the natural enemy of 60W lightbulbs, you'd best sit inside.

Or you could spend the morning here, like the group of Pretty Young Things on the tables next to us who were headed off on 3 boats to sit off Carnac Island for the day. If their condition at 0930 was anything to go by, the fish wouldn't have to wait long for a free feed that day. The champers and beer were flowing and all were in great spirits as they wobbled off down to the jetty, several of the ladies with waists akin to our wrists, and pretty much all tattooed hip-cool-fab-groovily.

Definitely a Wombat's arse.
At TLB you order at the counter, grab a number and breakfast arrives at your table after a seriously long wait. The coffee was luke warm and pretty weak when it arrived after 20 minutes and 20 minutes before the first vestiges of food appeared, and seemed to have an odd Wombat's Arse-like shape poured into the top...

Westy and I had ordered the Left Bank Breakfast  (bacon and poached eggs on Italian loaf with Roma tomatoes, field mushrooms and Hollandaise sauce - $22), whilst Bad James had opted for the Mushroom Bruschetta (sauteed button mushrooms on Italian loaf with a poached egg and rocket - $17) with a side of baked beans that would provide much entertainment for his tin lids later on.

Bad James' breakfast arrived just as he began to gnaw on the limestone blocks. Unfortunately all our coffees were long-gone by then and faced with another interminable wait, we had all blown off the idea of getting another one here lest we be still sitting there at Easter. His breakfast looked pretty good though, and there were several satisfied-like grunts emanating from his direction. The rocket was definitely fresh and the egg looked nicely cooked under a drizzle of Hollandaise. 

Bad James' Mushroom Bruschetta

As Bad James was wiping the last masses of yolk off his forehead, Westy and my Left Bank Breakfasts turned up. Far be it from me to be fussy, but I really like my breakfast to appear whilst it is still hot. Especially when I could have built the Great Pyramid of Giza in the time it took between ordering and receiving the meal. So it was with disappointment that I noticed that the tepid coffee was designed to complement the stone-cold eggs. 

The Left Bank Breakfast - Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The second pang of culinary disappointment came with the Hollandaise which was initially very runny and vinegary, but at least it was freshly made, and I have to admit that later on it firmed a little of became better tasting. The egg was nicely cooked and the bacon was in the sweet spot just before getting crunchy. The Roma tomato and mushrooms were spot on. This was a breakfast which held much promise, but by having weak coffee with weird patterns, letting the food get cold and taking so bloody long to get meals to the customers, The Left Bank snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I'll still go to this iconic pub to have a beer - but I won't be going back for breakfast any time soon.

The Left Bank - 6/10 (another point when the food comes out inside 30 minutes and WITH the coffee, and another when it comes out hot, inside 30 minutes and with better, hot coffee)

The Left Bank Cafe Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Ootong & Lincoln, South Fremantle

Deepwater Point to the Riverton Bridges and back, 14km. 1hr 40min

After a few efforts from Point Walter it was time for a change. Mean Gene and M4P were elsewhere, so Bad James, Westy and I thought we'd give the Canning a bash. We met just north of the dreaded Deepwater Point Cafe (dreaded because of the ordinary food/service at ridiculous prices) at Applecross and set off into a 15kt Sou'easter. Our launch point is a pearler because firstly it's in a well-to-do suburb, and secondly because a riverside walking path in a well-to-do suburb means that there is a bevvy of top sorts pounding the pavement. Apart from us, of course. 

Last night I had been fishing until stupid-o'clock with Boy Wonder - we would have come home earlier but I had caught a couple of tailor and a few stingrays and he was yet to bust the cherry of his new rod (fnarr) so we had to stay until we had used up all the bait or he caught one. He finally did catch a nice tailor which I obviously declared to be the biggest by a country mile, so sated, we went home and hit the hay at 11pm. What the meant to the paddle was that when I rose at 6am after Mrs Blue had been on her morning walk to the Promised Land, I was dead-set rooted. It also meant that my lack of prior preparation saw me reading the owners manual of my Garmin watch at 0610 to avoid a repeat of last weeks debacle where I had no idea how to start the bloody thing. Perhaps, in hindsight I should have read the manual for the Go Pro as well...
I'm not sure if you can see, but somewhere in this photo is a dickhead who can't use his VIDEO camera.
Anyway, we set off, threading our way through the rather large rowing boats of the Hale School. It was a bit different where I went to school in Sydney - the school boat was whatever one somebody stole on the weekend. At least ours (usually) came with a motor - unlike the poor rich kids at Hale, who had to 'man' an oar each whilst being accosted by a screaming Harpy. Then again, the Harpy was the only one facing the right way...

"Skyfall" was an early topic of conversation. Despite Mrs Bad James being as keen as mustard to see it, Bad James kindly gave her more quality time with two very young children and selflessly went to see it on his Pat Malone. The verdict - "Not as good as Quantum of Solace".

The Mirage sea kayak (the Purple Junket Pumper), Westy's Green Hornet Endorfinn and the World's Slowest Epic (something to do with it's powertrain I believe) pushed through the wind fairly well, having narrowly avoided being Hale sea?kill and thundered through the lee of Bull Creek. I'm glad I'm on the Epic, because if I were still on my Endorfinn, Westy and James would be leaving me for dead - I seriously need some paddlefitness. Or even just run of the mill fitness. Before we knew it, we were under the Riverton bridge, watching a chap on a mountain bike towing a home-made trailer with a white Endorfinn on it down to the river bank. What a great rig! It was good to turn around and get the wind behind us, and the splits on the way back proved it. Before we knew it we were back off the Deepwater Point Jetty, festooned in all its glory with signs that said "Dangerous - do not use" - signs that someone obviously walked along the jetty to nail in. As we rested off the shore before coming in, a vision of loveliness (that each of us obviously mistook for our respective wives if they are reading) appeared on the path and someone may possibly have muttered 'Yes (insert wife's name here), of course I love you, but I covet her...' but if they did, the identity of such a person is in 'the vault' and none of us will give up their identity. Staunch as a...err...staunchion.

Mental note to self and punters - when paddling the Canning, pay attention to the  red and green markers and know what they mean. Especially with a surf rudder.

It was absolutely time for fried porcine product. I had been researching this whilst watching the young Bonobos at work at Gorilla Biscuit. Today we were breakfasting (if that is, in fact, a verb) at the oddly named Ootong & Lincoln, South Fremantle.

Ootong & Lincoln, 258 South Terrace, South Fremantle, WA 6162, 08 9335 6109

Tried to get a better picture, but some bloke parked his car in front of the place...

If you were to put every one of your preconceptions of South Freo into one place, this would be it. But it would only be telling half the story. This place is seriously good. It's not just the formica tables that everyone over 35 grew up with, or the chairs last seen at Nanna's place. It's the crowd, the pooches tied up outside, the waitresses, and, above everything else, it's the raw atmosphere in the place. As soon as I sat down I felt a strange sensation that I'd never experienced, and no, it wasn't puberty. I

Let me start with the first experience as I entered. There is a takeaway coffee counter. Takeaway coffees for $3. Drink 'em inside in the takeaway cup - $4. That was enough for me to like the place immediately. From that counter you can also buy muffins and Mexican softdrinks - don't scoff if you haven't had one, because they have a supercharged taste that you won't have had from any other softy. Like our parkwarb effort a few weeks ago, the Mexican Cola did the rounds of our group for a tasting, ensuring that the coldsore did as well...just kidding fellas. Really. But where else in Australia's most expensive city will you find a decent-sized coffee at this price without seeing a cat squat over the cup? Amazing. And I have to say, I enjoyed the double-shot MichelleBridgesSkinnyMilk Flat White more than I have enjoyed any coffee that I have had with any other reviewed brekky. Yes, it's really that good. And it came out quicker than Peter Slipper.

I had checked out Ootong and Lincoln online. Maybe I'm an internet spasmo, but I couldn't find a menu on their website, so I went to the tried and trusted Urbanspoon in a non-cross-promotional sort of way. I knew that I wanted the Smoked Salmon, Avocado, Sweet Potato Rosti, Poached Egg and Creme Fraiche before I even go there. At $19.50, it sounded great, and when it arrived, it was much better than that. It was the breakfast-version of being the only bloke served free beer by a nude Jennifer Hawkins in front of all your mates whilst watching the Beatles at half time during the Grand Final that your team won. In Bergen, Norway. And like that, after I licked my plate clean, I wanted more. The creme fraiche complemented the salmon and sweet potato like they were all products of the same ecosystem. In South Freo-speak. The egg (singular) was a bit lonesome, and could have done with a mate, but bloody hell, it was perfectly cooked so no points lost.The avocado was just a the right stage of ripeness and the sweet potato was unsurprisingly err...sweet, yet deliciously savoury at the same time. Worlds were colliding in my mouth but fair dinkum it was good. In fact, strangely, as I cleaned up every morsel, for about five minutes I was still hungry. And then I wasn't, but I had another coffee anyway, because I could and because the first one I had whilst I waited with James for Westy to get there was as good as I've ever had.
I have nothing to say.
Westy's Breakfast. Tops.

 Westy had the Bacon, Potato Cake, Spinach, Hollandaise, Poached Egg and Mushrooms ($19.50) which also looked sensational, and from Westy's rolling eyes, involuntary spasms and frequent drooling, probably was. Bad James was also pretty happy with his breakfast with the exception that there wasn't much of it, and I was so absorbed that not only did I not ask him what it was, but I didn't take a photo.

I can't finish this review without adding some comment about both the waitresses and the punters. Firstly, the service was top-notch. About a thousand people went to the counter at once, and they were eased through efficiently and happily. There is a wheelchair ramp to the counter with walking lanes (up and down) marked on it - and people used them! The waitresses were friendly, chatty-in-a-good-way, and fast. Having observed one in a short skirt and Blundstones, I was about as impressed as I've ever been until another good sort came over in a "Stop Budgie Smuggling" T-shirt. MD - that applies to you - take the freakin' hint.

"He's right. We're good looking."
 And one last thing. The punters - besides our party of three of course - were generally a breed apart. It's almost like a Boys From Brazil-type scenario where there is some South Freo Eclectically Dressed Beautiful People  Cloning Centre set up off Hampton Road. One after the other trundled in as if on some conveyor belt. Even the dogs tied up out the from were good looking (and well-behaved - good effort pooches and owners!).

I thought about Ootong & Lincoln lots on the drive back to Chez Blue. There wasn't anything that I didn't like. The coffee was the best and most reasonably priced that I've had in Perth and oddly for South Freo did not have to pass through some exotic animal before it made its way to my cup. The portion, which at one stage I thought under-sized by 30%, was in hindsight almost-perfect. Go on, Ootong. Or Lincoln. Or Whoever - put just one more egg in there!
The waitresses (didn't see any waiters) were spot-on. The crowd was beautiful and numerous. And they let dogs sit out the front, which is a personal favorite of mine. It's settled. I'm coming back. Lots.

Ootong and Lincoln - you're my new favorite. 9.5/10. One more egg for a 10...

Ootong & Lincoln on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Billabong Brewing, Myaree

72A Mc Coy St, Myaree WA 6154, (08) 9317 2940
A bunch of scruffy-looking homeless chaps at Pt Walter.
Two weeks ago, post paddle, Bad James lived up to his name and at 9.20 am pulled an Esky out of his car, and five of us sat at Pt Walter, under the shade of a pine tree, drinking beer for breakfast.To be honest, there wasn't any sort of quantity involved, merely a six pack of different beers that we attacked like Oprah does a chocolate cake.
The signs behind do not relate to Bad James.
Last summer we had had the idea of brewing our own beer, and Billabong Brewing in Myaree had been mentioned, but like many of our CORGIs (Chimpanzee/Orangutan Really Good Ideas), quick as a flash, nothing had happened. This summer, it's different. So after a filling breakfast at Cafe 58, Mean Gene, Bad James, Westy and I met Travis the Beetle at Billabong Brewing in Myaree to lay down two brews - a Wheat beer and Nelson Sauvin Ale (N.S.A. - not to be confused with N.S.U.). M4P is also in on this gig but at the last minute he had to return to Adelaide to do some serious smashing of faces into the dough, working himself into a Bad Boy Bubby clingwrap-frenzy in the streets of Port Adelaide ("That be cat! Be still!").

The team at Billabong were very helpful. We knew what we wanted so they pointed us in the right direction and a knowledgeable bloke called Andrew pretty much held our hands (in a manly way of course!) through the process. We separated into two teams, one on each brew and set off on our work. Luckily brewing beer involves a lot of waiting, and what better place to wait than in a brewery. At each interval, we grabbed a six-pack and headed up to the mezzanine level where like lords of the manor we were able to survey our creations brewing.
The thing that immediately struck us was that of all the blokes in the place every single one of us was sporting a big cheesy grin. What wasn't there to be happy about?

Mean Gene can't stop paddling.
It only took about ninety minutes to make about 12 cartons worth of beer, and the total cost was $360. Where can you buy beer for $30 a case these days? Sure we still have to bottle it soon (BYO bottles or buy them for $75 per batch), but we'll be bottling it IN A BREWERY. One for the case, one for me, one for the case, one for me...

Billabong have a shedload of different recipes you can brew. Check out the web site. They also have a 'beer bank' where you can deposit one of your sixpacks and swap it for a different kind. Ingenious!

If they did hot food and had big-screen TVs with sports on, I'd never leave the place. Now all I need are midgets and Shetland ponies.

I'll do an update on this post once we bottle it. Cheers!

Australian Safety Boots.

Cafe 58, Palmyra

Meandering in East Freo - 11km

Another cracker of a morning - winds gusting from the west to 15kts, but in the lee of the Bicton cliffs it was serene. I had mounted my new toy - a GoPro camera - on the front of the boat and was taking it for its maiden voyage. Until I get myself sorted to create and edit the video I'll spare you all the entire paddle on video.  My geriatric brain is obviously showing signs of Alzheimers because I had a complete mental blank on how to start my Garmin GPS watch and like a good Gorilla Biscuit employee pretty much just screached whilst randomly smacking the screen and pushing buttons until it appeared to work. God knows how I'll get it to stop, because I think it tracked my paddle all the way back down Stock Road as well.

I was offloading the boat when I saw an old duck from England who had been driven down to Pt Walter by her mate and was intently making her way to the jetty armed with a fishing rod. Oblivious to the wind, she was as keen as mustard to hook in to a massive WA fish, but was destined for the angler's disappointment present in the large Blowie population that lives around the wharf. Feeling sorry for her that she had flown 17000 miles to catch sweet FA, I directed her into the lee of Bicton, and gave her directions to a small, quiet suburban jetty.

We were only a trio this morning, with M4P flying back to Adelaide after receiving the astonishing news that there were still some uneaten chicken schnitzels at the Coopers Ale House and Bad James spending some quality time at home with his Mum. Westy, Mean Gene and I hit the water at 7.30 and leisurely made our way down river. Mean Gene was a little bit uprightly-challenged from the outset on only his third paddle but sporting a massive set of tackle-busting shoulders, when he gets the hang of things he's going to leave us all for dead. In the meantime however, his frustration was providing much comic relief.

As we cleared the Bicton cliffs, we went past the Anglo Anglette fishing off the small wharf just as she hauled in a decent-sized flathead. As it landed on the wharf it looked like she was flapping around more than the 'lizard' was as she squealed in some cockney dialect that might have approached joy.

I'm not sure what happened this morning - perhaps there was a sudden influx of trackie-wearing, VB-drinking, Commodore-driving people into Peppermint Grove requiring the complete evacuation of the wealthy lest their eyes combust at the sight of so many pairs of double-pluggers - but there was an inordinate number of luxurious Gin Palaces cruising down the Swan River. Multiple "Bastards" comments were required, but the wakes of these floating cities offered a golden opportunity to do a bit of surfing in the river.

A bit of impromptu sprint/interval training occurred up and down Blackwell Reach as I (somewhat unsuccessfully) tried to get into "the zone" right behind several iterations of the Titanic. The V10 Sport was far quicker in a sprint than my Endorfinn, but still being a little unstable on the boat I spent quite a bit of time trying to remain upright. Westy obviously bought a much faster Endorfinn that my old one, because he was powering onto the wakes without too much trouble at all. 

By the time we hauled the boats out, I was feeling it after the sprints and bugger-all paddling in the last few months. What passes for a torso is now bracketed with nothing more than joke-shoulders and my "guns" wouldn't have won a gunfight at the Nerf corral. I was very mindful of this being my last weekend before I was involuntarily enslaved by the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation diet, so by God I was going to enjoy this breakfast and the Blokefest immediately afterwards...

Cafe 58 Espresso Bar, 58 Carrington St, Palmyra, 6157, (08) 9339 7155

I like this place. I like the tables out on the corner. I like the tables inside, the ones on the verandah, and I like the courtyard. I like that there is a stack of convenient parking. Every time I've eaten here the staff have been very friendly without hanging around like Herpes and fishing for compliments every 5 minutes (read Bernard Salt's piece in the Weekend Australian 10 Nov 12 that describes this phenomena very well). The breakfast menu is bloody good and very reasonably priced, with only the Cafe 58 Big Breakfast over $20 ($23). Sweets and savouries appear in equal portions.

This (half-eaten) muffin is clearly bigger than Bad James' head.
Bad James, fresh from jostling with his Mum for freshly-cooked biscuits, was waiting for us for we had a task at hand soon after. As we walked in to the courtyard at 9.45am, the last of the early breakfast crowd was departing, so we had the run of the place. A chap snappily took our coffee orders whilst we perused the menu. The sun was shining as a friendly lass delivered our brews (hold on to that word for the next post) in near-record time. 

Bad James had already had breakfast and settled for a blueberry muffin, which when it emerged from the kitchen with a forklift and handling team was pretty much bigger than his head. The photo  doesn't do it justice - he'd eaten a large chunk of it before I could say "James can you wait for a..." so I asked him to put the top back on (Bad James frequently knocks the top off) for a shot.

Turkish D'Lite
Westy went for the Turkish D'Lite (Turkish bread spread with avocado, rocket, grilled tomato and poached eggs - $17) with a side of bacon ($4) which looked pretty good. Mean Gene was into the Bacon and Eggs on Toast (self-descriptive - $15) which also looked delicious. Both these hungry paddlers looked happy with their choices and the empty plates at the end of the meal and almost complete silence from us all in the interval spoke volumes about Cafe 58's meals.


Obviously keen to transform my body (probably into something resembling Bad James' XXXXXL muffin) in less than 12 weeks, I had Eggs Tuscany (poached eggs and smoked salmon on toast with Hollandaise sauce) ($19) with a unMichelle-sized side of bacon ($4). The eggs looked a bit lonely on the large slices of salmon-covered thickly-sliced toast, and the dish could have done with a little more Hollandaise, but it was certainly tasty, and my just-the-right-strength coffee washed it down well. And the bacon...nice and thick, beautifully cooked, and a pile of it Emma George couldn't pole-vault over. Whilst I'm on the subject of bacon, I had a pint of bacon-brewed beer whilst at the Quarrie Bar at Hammond Park the other day. Couldn't quite taste bacon, but it was a nice brown ale, proving that there is nothing that can't be made better with fried pig. But I digress. I have to say, the breakfast was ample, tasty and outstanding value. The service was attentive without being painful and the staff were all very pleasant, smiley and a credit to the place - the owner should be very happy with them! (Disclaimer - I don't know any staff at Cafe 58!).

We all enjoyed our meal at Cafe 58, but we were on a tight schedule. In an uncharacteristic fit of planning ahead, we were heading to the Billabong Brewery at Myaree to meet Travis the Beetle to lay down the equivalent of 12 cartons of beer for Christmas - a very blokey way to finish the morning.

Cafe 58 - I'll definitely go back, like I've been doing for years. You should too. 7/10

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