We’d been looking forward to this for a long time…an evening being waited on at Heirloom restaurant in Perth, where Pete Evans is executive chef, and the Head Chef is Jonathan Peacham.
Feasting on five course plus canapés, celebrating seafood from the Eyre Peninsula, Australia’s seafood frontier.
We arrived at about 5.30pm and joined friends at the bar and Mel had a decaf coffee with coconut cream without additives and without hassle (so refreshing) and I had a sparkling water.
At about 6.30pm the restaurant was opened by Pete and we were first in.
When you first meet Pete in the flesh you are struck by how tall he is. He has a natural command of the situation but makes you feel as if he is welcoming you into his own home. He’s definitely more rock star than chef but he’s never forgotten where he came from.
He comes across as completely normal and unaffected by his fame and would never surprise me if he lived next door he wouldn’t think twice about popping round to borrow an egg (free range and organic, of course).
Pete has a boundless energy. He had flown into Perth from Sydney that morning and had a lunch and book signing engagement and then onto Heirloom to prepare for the Heirloom dinner. He gives so freely of his time, with autographs and photographs, he must’ve been exhausted before he even started the evening event.
He served us a selection of mouthwatering canapés; macadamia crumbed abalone with squid in preserved lemon aioli, octopus and chorizo skewers with romesco, Southern Bluefin tuna sashimi and Southern Bluefin tuna crispy nori avocado, all accompanied with a mango lime bellini to drink.
I had never tasted abalone before but it was exquisite.
Everyone mingled and there was kind of free for all when it was announced that it was time to take a seat. This was great because it caused people to sit with others they had never met and started some great conversations.
On the table was some seed bread and beef tallow in lieu of butter together with a beetroot sauerkraut. Bread and dripping. Fantastic. My granddad would have loved that. The balance of tastes was magic.
I was not a particularly big fish or seafood fan so I was looking forward to being introduced to a world of new flavours and textures. We came to this event with an open mind and a blank palette.
Pete introduced each course and explained where the ingredients to each dish had come from and talked about sustainability.
At one point, without any forewarning, he pulled Bendy out of the audience and got him to relate his ‘Paleo story’ to the packed restaurant.
First course was Kingfish sashimi with yuzu, caviar, uni, avocadand shiso. So light and delicate. Such subtle flavours and the fish melted in the mouth.
The second course was smoked sardines with kohlrabi, apple remoulade, candied walnuts and roast capsicum. Absolutely delicious. How can something so simple be so good?
Pete explained in depth about these being the most sustainable fish and much less of a threat to the marine ecology if we eat these rather than fish like tuna. He explained it that tuna should be seen as an occasional treat and sardines could be more of an everyday food. That way the planet benefits too.
Third course was king prawns with zucchini noodles, pesto and bottarga.
Bottarga is the Italian name for a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, typically of the grey mullet frequently found near coastlines throughout the world, that often is featured in Mediterranean cuisine and consumed in many other regions of the world.
It was light yet very filling and a really substantial dish. So many flavours were toying with our tastebuds!
The fourth course was all new to us. Ocean jacket cheek (Ocean Jacket is a large fish that is found largely in South Australian waters and grow up to a metre in length) laksa with vongole (clams) and kelp noodles!
The great thing about events like this is it takes you out of your comfort zone.
We were well out of ours and being quite adventurous and absolutely loved the experience. We tasted things we would never have normally ordered and had our eyes opened wide.
The fifth course was dessert. Now since we’ve adopted this lifestyle we don’t usually do desserts any more.
This was special though and special it was.
A very light and delicate coconut pannacotta with a selection of fresh summer fruits. Superb.
After the meal Pete visited every single table and was so generous with his time.
He sat with us for about 40 minutes and left himself only ten minutes to get changed and leave for the airport to fly back to Sydney.
He was gracious but blokey and matey at the same time and his enthusiasm for life is infectious.
He’d made this arrangement to fly home on the same day as one of his gorgeous daughters had a dental appointment and he wanted to take her.
So, all up, this event was 100% success.
If you want me to be honest, I feel as if I’ve cheated them a bit. The tickets were only $120 per person. Considering the quality of the ingredients, the way things were cooked and presented and the overall ambience of the event, and the accompanying drinks if you wanted them, it was extremely good value for money. It was a bit like the Ikea advert – you know the one, where the young lady shouts, “Get the car!” This event was a ‘Get the car’ event. Definitely left feeling it was inexpensive and a totally brilliant experience.
Pete has another event planned in a similar vein on Tuesday March 15th. This time the menu will revolve around local WA organic pork. Are we going? You can bet your bottom dollar we are! Hope to see you there!
Unfortunately it has sold out, but you can catch the menu and pics for our second review of an evening at Heirloom with Pete Evans Round two.
Bon appétit from Paleonutter!