Introducing: The Roosevelt Readers Club

The Roosevelt Readers Club was created as a component of The 1001 Project, and is therefore the junction between loving reading and the outdoors, just as Teddy Roosevelt himself was a fan of both. We meet once a month to discuss a book from the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and we pick a new location in Perth to do so and eat food.

This month, just as a rookie would do, the book I chose was The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and we visited Aliment in West Leederville.


childrensbook

The Novel: The Children’s Book, by AS Byatt

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centres around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum—a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical tales—she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

x Goodreads

At a substantial 617 pages, The Children’s Book was a mistake to choose for a book club. After initially planning to meet three weeks ago, our meetup date was changed twice to accommodate the length and difficulty of the novel. Even then only one attendee had read the entire book, and I still had 60 pages to go. It’s not the easiest novel to digest either – with large blocks of historical context and almost as many characters as Game of Thrones, it’s not an ideal choice if you’re interested in light reading and many of the book club members were feeling the struggle by the opening scenes.

That said, in my opinion (because I run this blog and the book club), the novel is wonderful. It’s clearly a novel about artists, by an artist. With heady descriptions, thoroughly researched background and literary allusions, it’s a very difficult but rewarding read that unlike many novels succeeds in absorbing you completely in the story. It’s not fluffy, and many of the themes are confronting – sexual coercion, incest, suicide and mental illness to name a few – which is unsettling, but the story is immersive and kept me constantly interested and invested.

Don’t take my word for it though: while several members of the group agreed it was difficult to continue after Part I, those who continued reading expressed the same sentiments about characters and descriptive text, and most agreed to needing to know how the story ended.


aliment pancakes

The Cafe: Aliment Cafe, West Leederville

Aliment Cafe on Instagram
Cafe
Location: 170 Railway Parade, West Leederville
Cuisine: Cafe; Breakfast Bar; Locally Produced Beverages
Price Range: $18 – $30

Having extra people with you to try a cafe is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you can steal Clinton’s brownie stuffed pancakes to photograph (see above), but on the other hand Clinton has brownie stuffed pancakes when you chose the mushroom hash because yesterday you sugar crashed after an Iced Chocolate, but now you have food envy.

Aliment is a small but cosy restaurant along the main street in West Leederville, that was made pleasantly quite by roadworks along Railway Parade. With a wide range of foods and local artisan beverages, the only things missing were options for vegans, which was a condition for my choice when consulting The Urban List, and was therefore a little disappointing.

Option I Chose: Mushroom Hash with Eggs Benedict and Spinach – a hearty and tasty vegetarian option.
Notable Alternative: The Brownie Filled Pancakes special! Pictured above, this sweet treat breakfast was coveted by the whole table.


The Club: A Success

“One of the better outcomes of The 1001 Project” is quite a statement as this project has brought me nothing but joy and positive experiences, but this first meeting of the Roosevelt Readers Group was better than most. What was going to be a discussion of the book, devolved into a few hours spent discussing reading, literature and life in general with a really great bunch of people, and something I’m really looking forward to continuing in future.

However, we continue to welcome new members! If you’d like to be part of a group that loves reading, meeting new people and trying new food places in Perth, send us a message on Facebook or email the1001project@gmail.com!

x Casey

Burgers of Perth: Hood Burger

Burgers of Perth is an ongoing series for exactly what it sounds like. To see other blog entries on the topic, click HERE.

Hood Burger on Facebook
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Location: Friday 5:00pm – 8:30pm – Bayswater Bowling and Recreation Club
Cuisine: Burger Bar
Price Range: $12-$18

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to comfort food, I have the worst habits. If it’s not cheesecake or a burger, it’s a waste of time, and I could SAY that the inclination to exercise is strong enough to counteract this predisposition, but really what I’m doing is heading to exercise locations where there will be food for me to eat afterwards…

Enter Hood Burger.

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Photo credit: Hood Burger Facebook page.

Partnering with the Bayswater Bowling and Recreation Club to monopolise on the hungry Friday night Street Roller Hockey League crowd was a smart move on the part of Hood Burger, and everyone benefits. With simple, straightforward flavours (a choice between single or double cheeseburgers made with high quality ingredients) plus a range of extras to mix it up a little – spicy Jalapeño sauce or Hotline [onion] Rings, Hood Burgers satisfy those basest of cravings, perfect for a Friday night treat.

Option I Chose: I always go with the single burger with cheese as it’s exactly the right amount. I always think about asking for no onion, but am often too caught up to remember.
Notable Alternative: Add chips on the side if you want a little extra, particularly if you like your fries a little crunchy.

While “burger lovers who want to spend their night watching roller hockey” might be a niche market, the Venn diagram of that niche market and “burger lovers who want to spend their night watching roller hockey and who agree that Hood Burger is the way to go about it” is a circle. I may be biased, based on how I spend my Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays too, but Fridays at the hockey with a Hood Burger are becoming a tradition. And hey, they’re also perfect for a first date if you like to know your other half doesn’t mind getting down and messy.

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Don’t just take my word for it: The Urban List also considers them in their “Top 25 Fat Feeds of Perth” list.

x Casey

Mr Munchies Sushi, Mt Lawley

Mr Munchies on Zomato
Cafe
Location: Arcade 669, off Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Cuisine: Japanese; Sushi-Bar
Price Range: $8 -$20

astrosnip

Secreted away at the back of an arcade on Beaufort St, behind the culinary distractions that are Grill’d and Gelare, is Mr Munchies Sushi, a tiny sushi shop with anime wallpaper and Japanese pop music, where you can choose to create your own sushi combinations, or from a list of the store’s original, inventive specialties.

A chain store with one other Perth location – Victoria Park – Mr Munchies is the imaginative solution to all your sushi cravings, with few options you’d recognise, and new spins on the old favourites. It’s not just sushi either, if you like your Japanese in a Bento Box, or you’d rather swing for sashimi, there are plenty of options and they even have Japanese-style potato salad, which I hadn’t ever considered to be a thing before.

Option I Chose: Surf n Turf Roll – grilled steak rolled with steamed prawn and snow-pea sprout, topped with garlic chips and chili flakes, served with sweet onion sauce.
Notable Runner Up: Cheesy Potato Roll – potato salad, sliced carrot and kanpyo with melted cheese, mayo and teriyaki sauce with furikake.

munchies

While the price was a little more than I’d normally spring for sushi, don’t be dissuaded by that finer detail. With generous serving sizes and the option to go for a large or small roll (pictured above), Mr Munchies is a great option for something different on a relative budget. If you’ll permit me one piece of advice however, I’d consider saving this date night for after you’ve learnt to use chopsticks, the large pieces are awkward and I was quite relieved to be eating there alone.

x Casey

Don’t just take my word for it!
Great About Perth, Urban Walkabout and the ever faithful Urban List Perth also have positive things to say about this hidden gem.

 

Mondays are what you make of them

If you’re ever in a position in your life, financially and professionally where you can take four day work weeks, I can’t recommend them highly enough. It’s currently Monday pre-lunch, and instead of sitting at my work desk wishing the time would show 12:30, I’m listening to Rocketeer, looking at wall art of Astro Boy defeating Godzilla and helping myself to free soy-sauce in a cute, empty sushi-bar tucked away off Beaufort St and eating surf’n’turf sushi. I say alone thankfully, because my chopstick skills are non-existent.

munchiesFor someone who has become accustomed to packing every minute of life over the past two months with work, extra curricular volunteering, running and roller hockey, having Mondays to myself the past three weeks has proved to be a creative blessing. Writing has been an interest of mine for a long time, but something I never had the energy or time to focus on long enough for the word vomit to form something marketable. I’ve created a lot in the past, I’m no stranger to blogging, or video production and I can finally say I’ve contributed and even led groups to professional publications, but writing and performing has always been a backdoor ambition, something that took a back seat to filling every moment with preparation for the real world, to give myself the best chance of success possible. Without any regrets however, I can say that I’ve set myself up as well as I possibly can for my future and will always continue to do so, because there can be no sushi without perseverance, but time has finally opened up enough to have a stronger work/life balance, even factoring in four games of hockey and two runs a week.

For the most recent examples of my writing, see the Bayswater Barracudas SRHC Facebook page, where graphic designs are Zac Jury, and text is (most often, Casey Causley).

While there is the handicap of living on a lower wage, there are other benefits of the constant three-day weekend. Having the time to prep meals which saves not only money, but time and health springs to mind as a huge advantage. Sleeping in an extra day when parkrun takes over a Saturday morning, spending a day with the dog so she doesn’t think I completely abandon her, using the time to clean the house and most of all to watch Pretty Little Liars in my pyjamas. But most of all, it gives me the extra time I need to get out and do the things I always said I wanted to do, but never had the time for. Not necessarily on Monday, but when I get to live an active life on the other six days of the week, I can save the recharge time for Monday and begin the work week refreshed.

Unfortunately, having a four day work week is not something that everyone can do, or
afford or even wants to do. But life is all about thinking best case[y] scenario now, and therefore all about focusing less on what it means going without, and more on making the most of what there is.

As for the finer points of Mondays, I think trying new places for lunch is going to become a thing, and I’ll be posting a little more about Mr Munchies and their sushi later tonight, but for now I’ve lurked online for too long today and productivity is calling. Welcome to bestcascenario though.

x Casey