Margaret River

General Vineyard

Someone once told me that heaven will be the best of your personal ideals and favourite places. Well then, if I’m good enough Margaret River is where I expect to spend at least some of my celestial retirement.

General Dairy FarmI haven’t seen grass this green since Scotland. The fields are groaning with cattle, sheep, calves and lambs. There are wild roos and every so often you’ll catch the receding pom-pom of a rabbit’s tail.

Knowing it would be cold and wet in August and wanting something with a well-equipped kitchen to make use of all the amazing produce I’d heard Will Bay Gazebo Damabout, I spent hours searching  for the perfect place. Willy Bay Resort on Metricup Road was just that. Surrounded by forest with two dams on the property and adjacent to a vineyard, our chalet had a gourmet (Miele) kitchen, gas fireplace, spa … and a manager with an Irish accent.

The weather was just what we expected … and just what we wanted. Living in Brisbane has its perks, but every now and then it’s nice to have a little season – and wine country in winter is idyllic.

Margaret River is best known for it Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Armed with suggestions from friends and some good direction from my wine guru (Andrew McAllister of Langton’s), we happily worked our way through some of the best wineries in Australia over 6 days. Margaret River produces only about 4 % of Australia’s wine yield, but accounts for up to 25 % of the country’s premium wines.

Beach MeelupOf course we couldn’t spend all day every day wine tasting (really, I hear you ask?). Luckily the area has an abundance of galleries, artisan producers (venison, chocolate, coffee, cheese, silk, etc.) and some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Enchanting caves abound and the forests are magnificent. You can go on wine trails for foodies, sit back in the saddle for a bush trail or have a massage in the comfort of your own accommodation.

I hope you enjoy reading about this magnificent region as much as we enjoyed visiting it. If you are planning a trip and want to know more about anything I’ve mentioned please feel free to send me a question through the “comment” option on this blog.

In the meantime, stay “tuned” – more to come….

The Greenhouse – Perth

The GreenhouseThis is the most inspired dining experience I think I’ve ever had. From the quirky exterior to the retro and of course almost entirely recyclable interior – these guys are pioneering a very funky dining trend. And I’m not just talking about sprigs and sprouts. I would apologise for using the overused food-show ideal “respect for produce” but in this case it’s definitive.

Greenhouse Cured Pork

From Ox-heart sliders to crispy barra wings, creativity fuses with technique and balance for pragmatic perfection.

The rustic house-made bread and butter and the cured pork Greenhouse Barraloin with fermented pears plays very nicely with the Bella Chenin Blanc, as does the barramundi with crispy salt-and-pepper wings and brandade.

The dish not to miss though is the wood-roasted heirloom carrots with wheat, fennel seeds and labne. I would give bags of gold for a notion of the spices in this. Genius – and worth every minute of the six hours I had to fly over Australia to get it.
Greenhouse Carrots