A couple of weeks ago, we took our very first road trip down south to do some exploring and what we found was pretty spectacular. About three and a half hours south of Perth, you will find the beautiful town of Margaret River, the wine region of the South West and home to a myriad of wineries, vineyards, chocolate factories, boutique restaurants and farms and factories selling their produce on site.
We headed down on a Friday evening. With the idea of getting out of the city for the weekend, we were feeling a little footloose and fancy free! We stopped halfway to have a picnic and admire the vast amount of outback that seemed to disappear into the distance. We arrived post sunset at our chalets and were spellbound by how stunning they were. Hidden back off the main road and set into a backdrop of surrounding forests, it was eerily quiet when we arrived but we soon realised it was a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We soon found our bearings and settled into the evening with dinner at Must Wine Bar with a couple of friends. We truly kicked off the weekend in style. Starting with a bottle of wine for the ladies and some local brew for the boys, we began with a charcuterie plate. The mains were delicately presented and pleased each one of us but the hero of the night was the dessert. If you do manage a trip to Margaret River, I would go to Must for their desserts alone.
The following morning, we headed down to town for a quick breakfast. It would have been quick if we did not have to wait 40 minutes for it but we managed to inhale it and jump on the bus bound for the South West Craft Beer Festival. In case you don’t know already, Craft Beer and the drinking involved in it is a bit of a national sport around these parts and I am certainly one of it’s enthusiastic participants. We spent all day Saturday at the craft beer festival. With at least 20 stalls of local and south western breweries displaying some of their own unique brews, we were kept happy. $2 a taster (200ml) or $6 for a full schooner (450ml) it catered for everyone. We stuck with the tasters to allow us to get a small sampler of everything. After seven solid hours of shenanigans, wind, rain and a little sun. We were back on the party bus and headed to Margaret River. We popped into the Settlers Tavern, where it seemed every inhabitant of the town that weekend was settling for a pint. A few ginger beers and off we toddled back to the chalets for an in-house barbecue and some more local brews.
The following morning, we had to shake off the brain fog fairly lively and get on our merry way to a tour of Margaret River and it’s local crafts. Our first port of call was the Margaret River Cheese Company. We stopped in for some cheese tastings and picked up a few of their handmade cheeses at a nice bargain.
After the cheese company we stopped off at Providore and from the moment I stepped out of the car, I fell in love. As you walk up the gravel driveway to the shop/restaurant side, you can see the surrounding vineyards and Organic Kitchen Garden. As you walk into the shop, the shelves are stocked with all of their own produce, from curds to infused olive oils and vinegars, pasta sauces, smoked fish, wine and lots more. Behind the shop floor lies the restaurant, serving up fresh produce picked right out of their garden. I was given permission to go wild in Providore, mainly because some of their products were just so luxurious, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to have them. Almost every product had tasters laid out in front so we were all indulging in the samples. I was tempted by their fruit curds, I adore lemon curd. Lashings of lemon curd on fresh toast is one of my all time favourite treats. T picked a jar of the passionfruit as it was a bit more tart.
We ventured into Providore’s Organic Kitchen Garden. Plants, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables of all kinds including some odd looking creatures to boot.
One of the chefs was out picking his salad and showed off some of his stash…
He also picked some lunch for the chooks
We had to be dragged away from Providore due to pressing time as we had to get to our booking at Voyager Estate. A recommendation by a friend sparked interest in this winery. She was telling me tales of time spent in Voyager soaking up the vino and the good times. All she could talk about was the food, glorious food! When we arrived at Voyager, it again was surrounded by luscious vineyards flailing wildly in the wind. We were seated and placed our orders. A charcuterie and tasting plate to start
I chose the Margaret River Venison served with a beetroot and taleggio tart. Irrestible. Divine. Glorious.
As we were leaving the Estate, I noticed the Voyager Guest Book….Cheeky!
Our tour of Margaret River brought us to Gabriel Chocolate Factory. Single origin from bean to bar. Walking through the front door of the factory shop floor and you go weak at the knees. Amazing smells of chocolate fill the air.
The chocolatier that was stocking shelves brought us through each of the bars (72%) and the cacao nibs, the inside of the cacao husk crunched up. They were the best part, a bitter and smoky taste. I have been adding them to my cereal since and bouncing off the walls with energy. I picked up some of the chocolate bars too and have since used them in making peanut butter brownies and chocolate avocado mousse. A rich component to cooking and add an increase in the depth of flavour, so smaller portions suffice when using this chocolate.
We left Gabriel Chocolate to our last port of call for the weekend, The Natural Olive Oil Soap Factory
We arrived here at about 4:45 pm just in time to have a gawk before closing. As you walk in the shop, you are greeted by wonderful aromas which make you lust after that steaming hot bath with fresh salts and extracts of lavender. The shop floor looks down onto the factory floor where you can see some of the soap makers hard at work. We sampled some of their produce, as well as olive oil, soaps and salts, they stock condiments of all sorts. We picked up a jar of Macadamia Pesto and Red Onion Jam. Swoon!
We hopped back in our cars and begrudgingly began our journey north towards Perth. Back to the real world, work looming in the morning.
We loved Margaret River so much that we are heading back down there in a few short weeks, this time experiencing a whole other side to Margaret River. Watch this space!!