Perth: your new one-hop stop

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

If there’s one dish that the peo­ple of Perth are talk­ing about right now, it’s a chicken larp. Since David Thomp­son opened his first Aus­tralian ven­ture, , Long Chim (longchim­perth. rth. com), last year, this chilli-infused salad – so spicy it has to be wrappedd in cab­bage leaves to get past your r lips – has come with a side of brag­ging rights. “How much did you man­age to eat?”

It’s not just the Thai cook­ing g at Long Chim that has cap­tured the lo­cals, but what it rep­re­sents. The fact that a fa­mous Aus­tralian chef chose Perth for his grand re­turn, rn, rather than, say, Syd­ney, is proofoof that their city is fi­nally step­ping up p to the in­ter­na­tional stage. “We al­waysys felt like the lit­tle sib­ling, the one ev­ery­on­ev­ery­one over­looks,” one Perthian tells me. “When­ever some­thing cool started up, peo­ple would say ‘it’s so Mel­bourne’.” West­ern Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal has long suf­fered from its iso­la­tion. It is more than 1,200 miles from the next near­est city, Ade­laide – and the sense, from Aussies and tourists alike, that it’s just not worth the air­fare. For Bri­tish trav­ellers, a fly­ing time of 20 hours or more from Lon­don plus a stop-off in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sin­ga­pore made Perth even less ac­ces­si­ble. All that will change in March next year, when Qan­tas launches the first ever non­stop ser­vice from Lon­don, cut­ting the fly­ing time to 17 hours. The route will make Perth the gate­way to Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and the rest of Aus­tralia, as well as a new and ex­cit­ing des­ti­na­tion in its own right. This high-oc­tane city of gourmet restau­rants, ar­ti­san food shops and hip­ster ho­tels will be but a sin­gle hop away.

Fore­most among Perth’s at­trac­tions is its food scene, con­spic­u­ous in the State Build­ings which once housed in­sti­tu­tions from the Post Of­fice to the city jail. Thanks to a £65mil­lion ren­o­va­tion, this com­bi­na­tion of grand Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture and mod­ern in­te­ri­ors is one of the city’s most el­e­gant places to shop and eat. Long Chim oc­cu­pies the base­ment floor, but at its heart is COMO The Trea­sury

The cap­i­tal of West­ern Aus­tralia is rein­vent­ing it­self as a stylish gourmet des­ti­na­tion – and soon new di­rect flights will bring it closer to the UK. Emma John can’t wait

(co­mo­ho­­sury), re­cently voted the sec­ond-best ho­tel in the world (af­ter Bal­lyfin in County Laois, Ire­land). Each of its rooms feels like a pied-à-terre and there’s a li­brary, a lux­u­ri­ous spa and a pool that looks over the city from the fifth floor.

The show-stop­per, how­ever, is Wild­flower (wild­flow­er­, the rooftop res­tau­rant presided over by Jed Ger­rard and Steven Black. Both chefs are com­mit­ted to work­ing with ingredients with a West­ern Aus­tralian prove­nance, which is why their kir royale comes not with cas­sis but with rye berries, so flavour­some that a mere hand­ful, un­crushed, does the same job. “You don’t even have to go out of the city to source some of our ingredients,” says Black. The res­tau­rant har­vests its own honey from hives on the roof, and Kings Park – the 1,000-acre site that bor­ders the busi­ness district to cre­ate one of the largest in­ner city parks in the world – con­tains plenty of for­ag­ing ma­te­rial.

The chal­lenge has been to cre­ate dishes that can har­ness unique and un­usual flavours. A dry-aged duck breast is paired with sweet quan­dongs (a desert peach); the sig­na­ture choco­late mousse is del­i­cately com­bined with Ger­ald­ton wax, a colour­ful WA flower. The re­sult is a menu that is fresh and fra­grant, proof that mod­ern Aus­tralian cui­sine has left its ma­cho bar­be­cue roots in the dis­tant past. Be­neath the ho­tel, in her choco­late shop (suelewischoco­latier., Sue Lewis works with sim­i­lar re­source­ful­ness and spon­tane­ity. This week she’s been given a box of rice crack­ers, “and I wanted to do some­thing with plums now that

Perth’s sky­line, above, has been trans­formed in re­cent years

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