One place you are guaranteed to find someone whinging about the food is at a sports stadium. I disagree with this in principle because it simply adds to the atmosphere, and is often a hot mess that you are so happy to get that it makes standing in line worth it. I have had wonderful experiences eating hot dogs at Fenway Park where the Red Sox won in a blinder, chowed down on hot dogs at Madison Square Garden where the Knicks played their hearts out, and stuffed myself on hot dogs while the Eagles almost made it to the Superbowl. Come to think of it, I can only remember eating hot dogs, including as the main part of a three-course dinner at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Dreamtime round – the entrée was a serving of chips and for desert it was a Snickers. That is living.

I love Aussie Rules and I married into a Richmond family in 2017, perhaps the wisest decision I have ever made, given that this was when they won their first premiership in thirty years. My father-in-law is a horse trainer and he had a winner the evening before our wedding. Judging by the number of whiskey and cokes he put down on the big day itself, I think it made his top five days of that year – coming just behind all the finals the Tigers played in. The football is one of the reasons to go to Melbourne, along with the pizza at Kaprica, the shelves at Books for Cooks, and the borek at the Vic Markets.

Melbourne, after all, is a great town to eat in. The quality is high across the board with an emphasis on fresh ingredients. You get the variation of a big city like New York, but the attention to detail that comes from being close to farms like Redgate. It has wonderful markets and produce, a discerning and agreeable palate, great service with hospitable people, and there is a lack of pretence, charlatans and rip-offs. You can eat almost anything, anywhere and have it be an enjoyable experience. But, what makes Melbourne unique is how this sits side by side with culture and sport. And that might be why it is the magnet for Australians, drawing people from country towns and smaller capitals to come and live there for a while. Whereas Sydney with its flashy beaches, its spectacular harbour, its sunny days, projects the image of what Australia is to the overseas market and expatriates, Melbourne is a not a place so obviously for tourists. This is the difference between Bill Granger and Andrew McConnell. Its charms are more embedded, take a little while to get used to, harder to find, like those gems of restaurants down back allies, like rooftop bars that have no signage, like suburban pubs that are a cut above, like all the cafes where intellectuals spend time hanging out, like the malls that have fantastic food courts.

This is to say nothing of hidden pleasures, such as Tamil Feasts, which happens at a local environment centre. Tamil Feasts is run by asylum seekers who have been released into the community after many years in detention. They are there to share their culture and their cuisine, and I think, they do the best South Asian curries in the whole cityFor several months, I volunteered there every Monday, dutifully cutting onions for hours on end to make hundreds of bhaji for supportive people who were doing something good with their dining dollars. It makes you feel good and it suits the city in which it takes place. Melbourne cares.

But, to me, Melbourne is equally blessed because it is the home of Aussie Rules; this fact alone makes it a mecca for Australians from all over. The Grand Final is part of that appeal, just like souvlaki, sourdough and Szechuan. But, what do I want to eat when I am watching the footy?

It has to be a meat pie. And it has to be beef. It cannot be lamb or chicken or kangaroo, though those have all had a look in. It has to be beef for the Grand Final. I love a good pie, or even a bad one – coming home drunk walking past a servo I am lured in by Mrs Macs, despite the morning regret and the burning my mouth will get. I will have a go at any pie – scallop in Tasmania, muttonbird if they had it; emu on the drive between Redgate and Perth; blueberry, pecan, pumpkin in American diners. I only have one rule – no curry pie. Give me bacon and egg, give me cheese, give me custard, but no curry, please. But, for the footy it has to be beef.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the best way to eat beef is as a steak. And surely that has its merits – a proper steak done medium rare is surely a thing of beauty and delight, juicy and with a crust, pure, unadorned. Then you might like to highlight all the ways that mince makes a entry – meatballs with spaghetti, a hamburger a little bit pink in the middle, dan dan noodles with a sprinkling of scallions, a mountain of nachos with chilli con carne, or even just a rissole served with horseradish and bush tomatoes. Then you could be drawn into thinking about other cuts and dishes that appeal – beef wellington, casserole, brisket.

I have eaten a side of fresh beef sitting by the Fitzroy River, with traditional owners having shot a killah (steer) just for the occasion. They reasoned, as any reasonable person would, that this was their land so why not eat what was on it? But I learnt one very important piece of information – that when you are rustling cattle you only take only half of the beast, so that when you lie it back on the ground, it looks like it has simply died rather than being hunted down on purpose. From the air, or driving past, the cow will look like it has simply fallen over and died, and while this is a waste, if that is your traditional country then you can do it anyway you like. Pay the rent, I say.

That night, I was just thankful to join people and learn some stories. We also ate a crocodile that we gutted before stuffing it with hot rocks, several barramundi including a little one I was a bit too proud to have caught, and handfuls of cherubin (freshwater prawns) that I loved charred over the coals. There was damper too and a cup of tea with powdered milk. And, I, for some reason, had a big tin of peaches in the back of my car and simply needed to put them on the table. That was one of the best meals I had on my drive around Australia, and certainly one of the most memorable times I have eaten beef.

My father has a story of something similar when he was visiting my uncle on his station on the Gibb River Road. From a hundred yards away, my uncle shot a cow before racing over and ripping out its liver, biting into it as steam rose in the morning mist. All his mates had a go as well. My uncle used to spends months out bush at a time living side by side with people who knew the country well. And though it was mainly bush tucker, every now and then they would get a killah too.

Beef up north tastes different, just like it does in America or France or Argentina. I have enjoyed beef in Havana, eating ropa vieja while the band played all your favourite Buena Vista Social Club songs, only to follow this with a hand rolled cigar and mango juice. I have loved carne asada in Veracruz, watching families tuck into tacos and speak of the day at school. And, every now and then, I crave a steak tartare like I had in Montpellier with a side of salad watching the summer rain pour down like I experienced with my younger sister.

But the beef you get in the cities of Australia will do just as well. I love a steak, I love bolognese, I love rendang. This is not to say that I eat a lot of meat, but it is part of my community as much as the vegan, raw and vegetarian meals that I have with friends and old housemates. But a good pie is what you need come Grand Final day.

To make a pie, you have to start the day before. That might sound hyperbolic, but it makes the experience relaxing rather than rushed and you can taste that feeling when you come round eating. Start by sweating equal parts onion, celery, carrot in a mix of butter and olive oil. While that is browning cube some beef – marbled is best but any thick cut will do. Remove your mirepoix. Toss your beef lightly in flour or potato starch, and place some duck fat in your pan. Fry a little pancetta, bacon or lardons before adding in your beef. Brown it, add your mirepoix, and now comes the crucial decision – what liquid do you stew your beef in? Wine? Red, white or rose? Dry or sweet? Stout? You can use any of the above, but it will determine the taste.

In any case, add it to the pot until half the meat is covered. Boil this quickly for a few minutes to release the aromas and get a start on cooking off the alcohol. Stir occasionally, then add in the same amount of chicken stock. Put on last year’s Grand Final replay or listen to your favourite opera (Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni) or play a boardgame. And wait. A good pie filling takes time.

Cook this down until you get the right consistency – the meat should be stringy, tender, melt-in-you-mouthy, and the mirepoix incorporated into it. If the gravy is thin, simmer it off even if that means the meat falls apart more.

That is the basic recipe, but you can customise it any way you wish – add in potatoes or peas at the end after cooking them separately, a bay leaf in with the stock or some whole pink peppercorns or a cup of mushrooms or a single anchovy, a spoon of tomato paste or BBQ sauce or miso, some native peppercorns, or, once it has all cooled, a big handful of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, lemon verbena roughly chopped). You should not need to add salt because of the chicken stock. When it is room temperature put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, you have a new challenge – pastry. Pastry is a precise art and as you may have guessed from these essayistic recipes, precision is not my strong suit. Often K will take care of this, or I will follow a strict recipe as though my life depended on it. But I always go puff – filo is great for spinach and feta, shortcrust for a quiche, and variations on butter for the rest of it. But puff is the best for the kind of beef pie I like – it has the right loft, the right crunch, the right chew too. I bake the bottom layer blind for a few minutes, never more than five, and then I add the pie filling in cold. Put on the pastry lid, wash it with egg and cook it until it is crispy, golden brown.  Remove from the oven.

You are almost done, but you need to choose what kind of sauce to go with it. Some like tomato chutney with sultanas and spices; some like BBQ; others prefer ketchup. And, all of them are valid. It is no use being doctrinaire about people adding little variations at the end. Put them all out, but if anyone reaches for the mayonnaise take their plate away.

I have dreams of strawberries and cream with champagne at Wimbledon, or a whole suckling pig at the final of the World Cup, and maybe gravlax at the opening of the Winter Olympics. But all that pales in comparison to a beer and a pie in an MCC Box when the Fremantle Dockiers win their first premiership. Until then, I will happily make do with baking my own at home and watch the game when the time comes.


It was K and my first wedding anniversary on the weekend. This time last year, we tied the knot and had a special lunch with close family and friends in Melbourne. Now, we were down south (or out west depending on your co-ordinates) and had been gifted a dinner out on the town. We made our way to the other end of the Cape, driving from Redgate to Dunsborough for a meal at Yarri.

Yarri is the latest venture from acclaimed local chef Aaron Carr. I was very fond of his tenure at Vasse Felix, which for reasons of nostalgia, proximity and quality remains a favourite place for a winery lunch. I was interested to see what he was up to here behind a suburban shopping car park. Would it live up to his reputation? Was it doing something new or was the engagement with Indigenous provenance simply a marketing tactic that did not extend beyond a name on the menu? Was it yummy?

Without a booking, we got there early and the friendly staff were kind enough to accommodate us at the bar. The interior is modern Australia from a coastal orientation – there are industrial accents in the lights and the leather banquettes, but the light rammed earth lets one know that one is saltwater country (in case you forgot to look at the peppermints just out of view or taste the breeze as you walk in). The subtle shades of green add to the ambience and the relaxed atmosphere is punctuated by funky tunes (Parliament, James Brown, Tina Turner). If they wanted to be consistent, it might have worked with Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi on the radio. Needless to say, the mash up is pleasant enough rather than strictly formal.

We order a rose from Snake and Herring, relax into our seats and order some bar snacks. There are no time limits given we are at the bar. We are celebrating, let’s take some time to settle in – the corn and red capsicum croquettes are delightful even if they do not set the world on fire; and the snack mix is decent. Things really get going, when we get our second carafe and order from the main menu – scallops with Jerusalem artichoke; local marron with saltbush; barramundi with heirloom tomatoes; burnt cabbage with miso. It is all quite delicious – the balance and depth of flavour are good, the combination of textures works well, the servings are generous. But is it worth writing home about?

I think I have answered this question in the very beginning of this piece. As a second effort after Vasse Felix, I can see where it comes from even though I miss Carr’s cooking from that place. Since then, it seems a little less precise or refined despite the similar price. As an expression of this place, it attempts to embrace Indigenous gastronomic traditions, which is popular here from Wildflower to Fervor, and nationally with Attica and Quay, and finds its correlate in Noma and DOM. But, here it seems like an affect, simply a gloss that cashes in on the moment rather than deep knowledge, long engagement and genuine commitment. To my mind, the best chef for that is still Iskov. That matters not only for the politics of food, but also for taste itself. Nowhere else can I highlight this then in their respective marron dishes with the Fervor one being far superior in terms of portion, deliciousness and technique. That is where we come to the last consideration. As a dinner that is yummy, Yarri is great. It is tasty without being mind-blowing and it will be entered fondly into memory because of the occasion.

The true test is whether I would come back again, and to answer that question, I am not so sure. I would return to sit at the bar for a glass of wine and to share a dessert, perhaps after dinner at the Dunsborough Chinese Restaurant just around the corner. The dessert K and I shared was the best dish we had – dulce, passionfruit ice cream, Geraldton wax, pastry. It was sweet and citrusy, creamy and cleansing. It was a high note to end the evening on. Without the gift, we would never have experienced Yarri and I am glad that it is what it is. We will return when the occasion merits it knowing we are in for good service, yummy food and an earnest engagement with its place in the world.


I love chicken curry, crayfish, dialectical gastronomy, avocado on toast, and my home suburb. It is not false nostalgia that makes me proud to be from Wembley. The experiences I had there were warm and welcoming and are even better in reflection. Nowhere was this clearer than in the food I shared with friends growing up.

I went to a truly multicultural school - Ethiopians, Filipinos, Anglos, Noongars, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysians, Lebanese, Zambians. It was majority white to be sure, but for the most part people got along and I always enjoyed my sport, my pop culture and my eating as a way to bring people together. You were just as likely to get a lamb chop for dinner at a friend’s place as you were to chow down on nasi goreng.

Some days, a group of us would ride bikes around Lake Herdsman watching the flocks of migrating birds and keeping a lookout for snakes on the path; other days we would head to the video game parlour to play Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Mario Cart. Between those two poles was where we truly felt at home, that was what it was to grow up in the suburbs, to be in between. We were not lost in the middle or angry or disappointed with our lot. To grow up there was a true pleasure. We could build bridges to the cities anywhere in the world and to the country on our doorstep. That, surely, is the hope of being a suburban person, to make a home of both while always embracing where you live now.

Since I was a child, Wembley has changed – the quarter acre blocks that were normal have been replaced by townhouses and duplexes, there are less tress, the low income housing down the end of my street has soared in value and priced people out, the light industrial area nearby has been demolished to become a new estate. This is a mixed blessing, but it is what it is. Wembley has changed from being middle class to resolutely blue chip, but it still is suburban by any definition.

The suburbs are a lifestyle. This is not only about class or race or gender alone, but a way of thinking about the world that brings those things together. Many of my sister’s friends have bought houses in Wembley and when I ask them why they like it, they say they moved there ‘for the lifestyle’. In particular, they like its closeness to the beach, the spaciousness of the houses, the possibility of doing renovations themselves. In short, they like it because it accommodates their aspirations and their dreams. Lifestyle is something we need to think about and care for, something that helps us consider consumption, the home, education, work, leisure, in short all the things that life has to offer. Part of that is food, what we buy and cook, what we grow ourselves, where we eat out for date night. In Wembley, you can buy great fresh produce and all kinds of ingredients, you can have a good veggie patch, and there are so many places to dine.

On one stretch there is an Indian restaurant, a vegan pantry, a patisserie, a small bar, an Australian burger place, a gourmet home meal take away, an old Italian cafe. Further up, there is a 24 hour supermarket, a cheese toastie stand, an American burger place, a Japanese café, a bakery chain, a pizza chain, a speciality biscuit shop, a woodfired pizza place, a traditional Chinese restaurant, a very good local pub. Around the corner, there is a small Vietnamese joint, a hipster pizza place, a fish and chip shop. In other words, it is close to being an average Australian suburb. Out of these options, I have enjoyed many an evening at Roy’Als Burgers pigging out on popcorn chicken and just as many knocking back house red at Monsterella Pizza. And they are important recent additions to the neighbourhood and keep the new arrivals happy. But neither of them are the culinary king of Wembley. That title belongs to the Wembley International Food Court. It stands head and shoulders above whatever else has been there from the time I was a kid.

The food court is an excellent concept. My reference points for it are the hawker centres of Singapore. When we were kids we would visit most years and it was always a trip that centred on food, with family a close second, not that you can ever separate the two. My aunt has written a food memoir, and even now, when we visit, the first question she asks is what do you want to eat just like the sister who lives in the next-door building. Singapore is as food obsessed as anywhere else I have been. And, it is blessed with fantastic eating from the joys of tropical fruits like mangosteen, rambutan, jackfruit, mango, papaya to noodle dishes that can be listed until your ears fall off including my favourites mee sium, char kway teow and curry laksa. Then there are chilli crabs, fish head curries, roti canai, chendol, ice kachang, fresh bean curd, nasi padang, yum cha, high tea, and, it turns out, I have found a very good chicken pot pie at a bakery in Upper Thompson.

One of my enduring memories of Singapore was the annual treat we were allowed as kids – we could pick a place to go for high tea and usually it was at one of the city’s leading hotels. I will always recall the view from the Stamford Rose, where you could see across to Indonesia from the 24th floor. But, my favourite, like all good colonial boys, was the Raffles. We went there one New Year’s Day and it was a buffet. I could eat as much as I wanted, which to me was the greatest gift one could receive. I gorged on little sandwiches, curry puffs, spring rolls, jelly, trifle, chocolate cake. You name it, I ate it, and all washed down with a cup of the finest English Breakfast tea. So, this is what grown-ups did after they dropped us off at school everyday.

Singapore is still the gold standard for a wide selection of food, be that high tea buffet or shopping mall or the hawker centre. My aunts there both live on Shunfu Road and they have excellent hawkers at the bottom of their apartment block. I always put an advance order in for popiah (a kind of fresh spring roll) when I am coming through town. But it is not only the food that matters at the hawkers near them. At any given hour, on any given day, you will find residents spending time there, speaking with each other, reading the newspaper, creating community by simply being together. The hawker centre is a meeting place that brings people out from their apartments, and given the advancing age of many residents, it is a necessary space that helps people’s health and wellbeing. And this, I think, is what the Wembley Food Court aspires to be.

I will not pretend that the suburbs can be alienating, lonely and difficult places. Like the city and the country, they face their own challenges and for many people, especially elderly residents, they can be isolating. That is why public space matters more than ever, from the parks where you can walk your dog and chat to your neighbours to the community libraries that have book clubs to be part of to the food court in my childhood suburb. You see the importance of the food court on a Friday night. From five till ten it is packed to the gills, a crowd of newborns, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults, parents, grandparents eating food and talking about life, love, and the universe. This might seem unremarkable, but we have family friends who have been doing this for twenty years. To see that for what it is, which is about home, belonging, meaning allows us to understand what makes the food court the best place to be in Wembley.

It is also a great barometer for the food that is popular in middle Australia. At Wembley, every stall is Asian with one exception, a place called Paris Café that does a brisk trade in lamb shanks and crepes. There is Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Yum Cha, Malaysian, Indian. The man who runs the beverage stand is from Singapore. I do not want to take this as a sample, but it shows that we have changed since the mid-1980s when John Howard was speaking with fear and hatred about being swamped by Asians. If this is anything to go by, people are happy they can get a decent feed.

My favourite place at the food court is the Malaysian Hawker. I love it because they have seriously good noodles and with a plate of their prawn crackers I am in heaven. Each of their noodle dishes is a study in harmony and balance – heat, sourness, salt, umami, sweetness, spice. There are ingredients that stand out – the lap cheong in the kway teow, the fried bean curd puffs in the mee goreng, the fish balls in the laksa. It makes the mouth water simply thinking about it. The servings are generous and you only need two dishes to feed three people even as one of the great pleasures is having leftover noodles to reheat, or eat cold, sometime later.

When we go in a larger party, we will often splurge on yum cha. I have places I prefer in Chinatowns all around Australia, in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, but the Wembley food court is good enough. I love yum cha for the same reason I love hawker centres – they are perfect ways to bring people together, to create community through food, through passing one plate of dumplings to someone else, through dividing a char sui pao in half when there is only one left on the table. And then, of course, there is the food itself, which is sublime and broad enough to be inclusive for as many tastes as possible. I love the fat noodles, the steamed greens, the custard tarts. The way Australia has embraced yum cha gives me hope in the future. It says to me, that we like spending time with our friends and family, that we know how to build bigger tables so that we can share and enjoy it all together. It reflects to me that we are a tolerant and vibrant place that has good taste.

I have taken many friends to the food court and many of them are impressed and wish they had something similar growing up. It is always where I prefer to eat when I visit my parents, especially because you can bring your own drinks. We have taken gin and tonic in with us at five o’clock, had a bottle of red wine on a Tuesday, and shared a carton of beer with no threat of sanction when it suited us. You do not need a drink to enjoy a casual meal, but what I like about the Wembley food court is that it allows people to drink responsibly. You might get a little tipsy, and you see grandmas having a glass of sherry, but because the structure is familial and welcoming people know how to behave. I recall an elderly group of four sitting down with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with crystal champagne coupes they had brought from home. They each had a $10 plate of noodles to themselves. That is, truly, a great lifestyle.


What is Australia’s gift to the food world? I have been thinking about the answer to that question since I returned home from New York. It is obviously multiple, but I do not mean what dishes can handle being placed on the international stage next to the high-end greats from Ferran Adria’s liquid olives to Heston Blumenthal meat fruit, but what do ‘the people’ eat? What is our contribution to popular taste? This is a question about identity like when we debate the relative merit of Ken Done, Brett Whitely and Papunya Tula; or ACDC, Nana Mouskouri and Yothu Yindi; or Tatiana Grigorieva, Michael Diamond and Cathy Freeman. When I ask what is our gift to the world I want to know what is an everyday food that has travelled all over and resonates in a great many places.

The most curious candidate for this might belong to the television series Masterchef. When I lived in India in 2009, people were obsessed with it there, something my sister corroborated when she put on an art show at the embassy in New Delhi in 2013. At that event, intellectuals, diplomats and everyone else mobbed the judges Matt Preston, Geogre Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. They pushed aside artists, politicians, musicians, just to have a photo with these stars. This love for the show still holds up as of 2017, when friends of ours were able to offer careful analysis on why Ben Ungermann deserved to win. People there know and love the show, and when we asked why they preferred it to other nations, there were two main reasons. This was because of the food people cooked, which was a higher calibre than anywhere else and covered a wider variety of cuisines, and the fact that people were genuinely fond of each other. It was a good competition with the right values and a desire to make delicious food. Masterchef is our soft power.

To my mind however, the peak of volk cuisine in Australia is to be found in cafes. We do brunch the best of anyone, anywhere, and our coffee culture has made its way to every corner of the globe. Think of the humble flat white, which came out of Sydney in 1985 at Moors Espresso Bar. And, if we ever needed to question whether it was really Australian, we have people in New Zealand claiming it as their own just like pavlova, Manuka honey and Russell Crowe. Shared provenance is one of the things that makes it Australian in the first place just like Kiwis like to remind us that they are the real home of Chinese gooseberries, the kakapo and rugby. The competition helps us and in arguing for the flat white as ours, we know that the dish is truly from the antipodes even as you get it now in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Thinking about Australian taste, about Australian dishes for the everyday diner, does not mean thinking about ingredients that only come from here. In France, I have eaten wonderful kangaroo. In Singapore, I have drunk gin with pepper-berries. In Canada, I have had a red hot go at dried quandongs. All these matter when we are talking about ingredients, but to my mind, the dish that represents Australia is avocado on toast. My reason for this is not only because of the furore kicked off by Bernard Salt in regards to home ownership. It is because of what the dish is and represents, and how that matters for the imagined community of our nation in the global consciousness.

Avocado on toast is young, sunny, vibrant, yummy, accessible, democratic, and its proliferation speaks back to how people love a coastal lifestyle that reminds them of summer. It comes without the ocker jingoism of Fosters or the depression era taste of Vegemite. It can be made at home easy as you like or elevated to the height of cultural expression. It really is the taste of a new generation, and, in any brekkie competition, avocado on toast will surely win the votes.

Where does avocado on toast come from? Speaking historically, that is debatable, but there is good reason to think that it is from Mexico. When I was travelling there in 2003 for an extended period, I ate it everyday for breakfast and the ingredients were as good as I have had them anywhere. In between hiking in the Lancandjon Jungle and lounging by the coast at Puerto Escondido, I ate many an avocado on toast. This is to say nothing of a good torta, the likes of which you can find everywhere in Latin America – frijoles, feta, avocado in a bread roll together. This was before the bourgeois hipsters got their hands on simple ingredients and claimed it as their own.

In this latter setting, there is good argument to be made that Sydney’s Bill Granger was the point of origin. Avocado on toast first appeared on the menu at his café in 1993. With a vegetarian mother, a butcher father, he studied art before being drawn to food. His cooking is unpretentious, upbeat, optimistic, open, generous. All qualities that should be lauded, and the accolades have come his way across an ever expanding restaurant empire. After all, the United Kingdom’s Jamie Oliver is sometimes called the Bill Granger of Britain.

Since then, avocado on toast blew up in the Instagram era with Americans getting on board with Chloe Osbourne at Manhattan’s Café Gitane helping to promote our humble dish before Gwenyth Paltrow took it into the heartland in her 2013 book, It’s All Good. Middle America was on board, preferring that avocado on toast came via Sydney, New York and celebrity tastemakers rather than looking south of the border. Now, it is the only thing they eat in California and as we know from Frederick Jackson Turner, the West is what defines American national character. You find it everywhere, including at former footballer Jobe Watson’s Hole in the Wall café in Manhattan (it is not bad) and at diners all through the suburbs. Avocado on toast makes sense here and there, and is, surely, part of surf culture given its origins and points of co-ordination. What could be more Australian?

But, if that is the case for avocado on toast, how do I like to make mine? Of course, I am capable of making it at home though I must admit I do not always bake my own bread. My father has some recipes of his father, who was a country baker, but these are for 100 loaves, 200 hot cross buns, 300 jam donuts. I never have that many guests and it would not fit in my oven to begin with. For the most part, I buy my bread. At Redgate, it is woodfired sourdough from Yallingup Woodfired Bread. They have two branches – one at the other end of the cape in Yallingup (you guessed it) and the other just up the way on Boodjidup Road, round the corner from our place. They bake during the day, which means the bread comes out warm around 3pm, or just when you have picked the kids up from school or are heading out for an afternoon surf.

I get my avocadoes at the farmer’s market, but there is an orchard across the road that sometimes sells them also. The avocado is key here too and you have to take advantage of when they are perfect, otherwise you pay too much and it is not worth it. Sometimes, I slice, sometimes I mash, sometimes I will just plonk a whole half down.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this was all there is to avocado on toast, but the variations are multiple – do I butter the bread, do I spread a layer of white miso or hummus or mayonnaise (Japanese preferably), do I squeeze a bit of lemon, do I top it with feta and basil, do I go all out and poach an egg. You can do it so many ways, but the bread and avocado are what matter, which means you need unsurpassed ingredients.

When I go to sit down at a café I never get avocado on toast. It seems like a wasted order to me when I can get something I cannot make at home. I stick to the same rules when it comes to spaghetti carbonara, though sometimes I am persuaded by fresh pasta and imported guanciale. For breakfast, brunch or lunch though, I will always reach for the farmer’s omelette, the ricotta hotcakes, the multigrain waffles with berries, maple syrup and mascarpone; never the avocado on toast even though I love it so.

The other reason for this, the reason over and above the fact that my own one at home does the job, is that I have found the best avocado on toast that there is, in the world, hands down, no questions asked. To know that it is the best in the world, I did what every good millennial would do, and spent my accumulated savings on avocado on toast. I did this rather than buy a house because I knew, deep in my heart that I would prefer to know what is the best in the world rather than have a roof over my head.  And now, luckily for you, that taste test is about to payoff. Drum roll, please.

The best avocado on toast is at Chu Bakery in Perth. You cannot sit there, you cannot tweak your order, you must take what you are given, but this is no soup Nazi kind of place. They are welcoming and warm, they smile a lot and their coffee is unrivalled from filter to flat white to soy matcha mocha turmeric cocoa almond skim latte (which they might actually make given how they are so accommodating). They are a twenty-first century bakery on the edge of a park and so you can get your food and sit on the grass. Everything is delicious and they are inventive, combining the best of the Swiss patisserie with a palate that is South East Asian – think kaya croissant; passionfruit and chilli donut; banana and coconut on bread. They are a higher synthesis of tradition, a hybrid that is the second, or third, generation of fusion cooking.

And so, as you might expect, they know how to make avocado on toast. You can choose your bread there, but I get the seeded loaf. They cut it thick before spreading a roughly mashed avocado on it then crumbling some feta and squeezing some lemon. So far, so good, maybe even what you are used to and have come to love. What happens next is where they make it the best – a drizzle of sriracha and a handful of toasted nuts and seeds. The texture, the flavour, the combination. The size is perfect at a single slice and priced at $8, no one can deny that it is a good deal that allows you to save for a little home of your own in the outer suburbs.

If you choose to make the Chu version at home, you will have to solve some problems for yourself if you have not had the original. I would recommend buying your bread unsliced so you can get the perfect thickness – about an inch is my guess. Be generous with the avocado – use almost a whole one with only a spoonful that your eat before to whet your appetites. I think the key is the feta, sriracha, seeds combination – I would be tempted to go with feta that is creamy not crumbly, smooth and less goaty; the sriracha I like is the rooster brand you might know from your trips to Vietnamese restaurants; the seeds here must be toasted with sesame and pumpkin featuring. You do not need to get ‘funky’ with this –no gomasio, no eggs, no pesto, no pumpkin, no vegemite because we want to be taken seriously when we leave this place. If you wanted to push it, you could try a little green tree ant instead of the lemon. In any case, in today’s Australia you can get the very best of it without having to jump on a plane.  And that is what I love about making breakfast this way. It is the perfect start to the day.