Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published August 10th 2013
The lucky people of Chidlow
The people of Chidlow are very fortunate for a whole range of reasons, the sense of community, the wealth of trees, the relaxed atmosphere, Lake Leschenaultia and not least the newly revitalised village centre of shops, bakery, pharmacy and Tavern.
Steve at The Bay Tree Bakery and Cafe (Photo by Trevor Osgerby)
They are all pretty cool, but here I want to focus on The Bay Tree Bakery. It is the brain child of business partners Cathy the baker and Steve the cafe owner. The bakery was there first as a commercial bakery supplying first class pastry, pasties and pastries to restaurants and markets all over Perth.
The cafe is a very new addition so that the people of Chidlow and surrounds can enjoy Cathy's magnificent goods, in fact, very goods.
The cafe in the winter chill and wet was an oasis of welcome and warmth. The inside is rustic - wooden floors, fine galvanised iron roofing used as paneling and rich Jarrah stools and benches all the way around the available walls.
There are newspapers and magazines to read, a range of jams, jellies and relishes from local craftspeople to browse and, of course, the excellent food to try and the teas and coffees.
The coffee, which was absolutely superb, has an interesting story.
When Steve wanted a distinctive blend from ethical sources, he consulted Perth's leading coffee expert and was told that the best way to do this is to deal directly with the farmers in Columbia and so the coffee we drink in Chidlow comes from the equivalent of a Farmer's Market Stall in rural Columbia. And if you don't think that's remarkable and romantic, you have no soul.
But man does not live by coffee alone, there are also cakes and pies and I had to sample these on your behalf, dear reader.
One of the delicacies I was most eager to try was the mille-feuille (pronounced mill-foy) also known in Oz as the Vanilla Slice.
The version Cathy makes is of the Italian style with a thin layer of sponge cake as well the crème pâtissière between the many thin layers of pastry topped with rich icing.
It tastes exactly as good as it sounds.
I also sampled a breakfast muffin, rich and savoury, with bacon, cheese, mushroom and herbs (basil, I thought, and maybe sage) - delicious.
As you would expect from a bakery there are breads, rolls, croissants, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and pies. Now the pies are a bit special, as they are made on the premises from locally sourced beef and cooked with the local Lion Mill Winery Shiraz.
Rich and wholesome with a robust flavour and filled with chunks of succulent beef.
I bought a loaf of their best seller, an unstructured bread, which I took home to try. Crusty, soft and with an irregular hole ideal for sandwiches or hacked off the still warm loaf and slathered in butter for pure indulgence.
The focus for the Bay Tree Cafe is service and quality. There is something for everyone - vegetarian, the lactose-intolerant, the gluten sensitive and those who cannot tolerate flour.
A Bay Tree breakfast muffin
Steve has some fun plans for when the weather improves in spring - high teas, outdoor tables and hampers for picnics at the Lake.