margaret river

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Somewhere near Prevelly Park.

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Gabriel Chocolate.

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Poached salmon with peas and horseradish cream at Aravina Estate.

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Excellent starter of Thai prawns and coconut rice.

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Ocean trout with yuzu dressing at Miki’s Open Kitchen. The beginning of a fabulous meal.

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Tempura course at Miki’s – zucchini, scallop and out of focus, nori wrapped Fremantle sardines.

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Margaret River mouth.

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Morries Anytime.

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Worth the drive and then some, 34 Degrees South olive oil.

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Left: Inside the 34 Degrees tent. Right: Millers ice cream at the farmstead.

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Golden hour approaching.

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Heading down on a Saturday morning and coming back up on Sunday arvo, it was a whirlwind trip to Margaret River. It’s not quite enough time to do this diverse region justice, but for a weekend of fun, sun, wining and dining it’s unbeatable. Our base, Prevelly Park, is small but adorable. With endless beaches of fine, white sand (that gets into everything and everywhere) it still has that old school surfie town vibe. Early mornings see a kombi van putt its way down to the river mouth to caffeinate those dreadlocked, middle aged and/or brave searching for the perfect wave. From our studio we went for long walks by the beach, watched the sun rise over lush dunes and explored the spookily quiet, closed mouth of the Margaret River.

A few minutes drive away is Miki’s Open Kitchen, offering food of utterly unexpected calibre for a country town (and state for that matter). A U shaped dining room surrounding an open kitchen, Miki’s is a drama of hot oil, clockwork cooking and food envy. We went for the ‘trust’ menu (basically an omakase – chef’s choice) which started with tempura duck liver pate encased in gritty black sesame seeds. Served seconds after being pulled out from the oil, the pate was melt in the mouth. Watching the chef produce multiple tempura main courses between two copper vats of oil was both nerve wracking and intriguing, with each piece of zucchini, panko’d scallop and Freo sardine not a second over cooked. Local seafood is the star here, with the menu frequently changing mid service depending on supply. Be sure to book a table.

Perched above undulating vineyards and reaching down to a rippling lake is Aravina Estate. This estate does it all – a shop, cellar door, weddings, even a sports car gallery (!) and of course, a restaurant. At first reading, the menu does seem a bit pedestrian but the food that comes out is nothing short of excellent. The slow cooked ocean trout surrounded by thirst quenching radish, squeaky peas and sharp horseradish foam was gorgeous on the plate and to eat. But what surprised were the Thai dishes…Prawns with peppy sprigs of coriander on top of creamy, coconut rice was sharp, sweet, pungent and salty. Even better was the pork belly with yellow noodles. Bathed in an intense oxtail soup it was silky, balanced and meaty. It’s an odd juxtaposition to be raving about Thai food in the middle of a vineyard, but it’s so good it works.

Apart from eating and drinking, food shopping was on the agenda. Vasse Virgin is a heaven for samples and anything olive related (they make excellent pesto and marinated olives). At Gabriel Chocolate, vats warming single origin drinking chocolates were irresistible. Ice cream at the Millers’ original family farmhouse (as opposed to the kiosk in the township), was worth the short drive away from civilization. Beneath swaying gum trees, just metres from the Millers’ cows, we enjoyed scoops of freshly churned ice cream. So good.

Talking about civilization, just outside Rosa Brook (a town that looks so lonely, the movie Hills Have Eyes came to mind – but its actually a very lovely area) is 34 Degrees South, an olive oil producer that’s not to be missed, if only for the safari tent that looks oddly elegant. Inside, we taste extra virgin oils and olives produced from the 7000 strong orchard just metres away. The organic olive oils which range from distinctly buttery and bright to robust and fruity, are a testament to the onsite crushing and production. At the farm gate, each bottle of freshly poured oil is $10 (plus $1 for a recycled wine bottle) which is crazy good value.

We say good bye to the resident alpaca and pull out onto one of the most idyllic routes of the road trip. As we speed back to the city, the vista changes from cow studded paddocks protected by gnarly windbreaks to more olive groves, then forests, then finally, hills flecked with rolling vineyards.

 

Margaret River Beach Studios | 17 Wooredah Crescent, Prevelly Park
Close to the beach, private and affordable with a little kitchenette and barbeque to boot! Highly recommended.

Gabriel Chocolate | 3220 Caves Rd, Yallingup
Stop by for mugs of single origin chocolat chaud. A must do for the chocolate purist, or gifts for the chocolate lover.

Aravina Estate | 61 Thornton Road Yallingup
Nice for lunch and having a sneak peek at a big estate. Be sure to call ahead for a table.

Morries Anytime | 2/149 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Brekkie (did someone say avocado on toast?), good coffee, lunch and dinner, this place does it all.

Woodlands Winery | 3948 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup
Secluded, very local organic winery. Lovely reds.

Miki’s Open Kitchen | 131 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
As close to an authentic tempura restaurant as you can get (even in Perth), minus the airfare to Tokyo. Run, don’t walk.

Wulura Farm | 1071 Wildwood Road, Yallingup
Locally produced olive oils and wine tastings over looking a forest lined lake.

Vasse Virgin | 2 Rosa Brook Road, Margaret River
Sample mustards, marinated olives, oils and pesto! Plus olive oil based soaps and skincare.

Millers Ice Cream | 314 Wirring Road, Cowaramup
With a multitude of flavours, a playground and cows mooing in the distance, having a scoop in the original farmhouse is not be missed. Whole milk (with that delectable layer of cream) is also available here.

34 Degrees South | Crozier Road, Rosa Brook
Gorgeous organic olive oils at unbelievably good farm gate prices.

Vasse Felix | Cnr Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road, Margaret River
Make time for this juggernaut estate. The gallery is a must-see, the wines are must-drinks (there’s a pun in there somewhere) and the inventive food is a must-eat. Book, book, book! And ask for a table overlooking the vineyard.

 

 
 

margaret river farmers’ market

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Margaret River Bakery’s morning bun. The love child of a croissant and cinnamon bun.

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The very popular Combi Coffee combi van. You can also catch these guys at the Prevelly River mouth on Sunday mornings…

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Native blooms at Cape Flora Estate’s stall. (These photos do no justice to the sheer abundance of colour.)

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One of the best buys at the market: Yallingup Woodfired Bread. Also the place to nab a gugelhopf or two.

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Margaret River Free Range Eggs. A bargain at $5 a dozen!!!

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Left: Fresh herbs and salad leaves at Oasis Hydroponics. Right: Margaret River Bakery.

We went down south about four weeks ago and every time we arrive, I wonder why we don’t head down more often. In just two and a half hours of speedy morning driving (ahem, not me driving but K) we were just south of the township, in the midst of the farmers’ market. It’s a quiet, laidback market where everyone knows everybody. In fact, there were very few tourists around. 

This is a great spot to nab brekkie supplies, as well as have breakfast. Don’t miss Yallingup Bakery’s wood fired sourdough loaves. Some of the best in the state, the loaves have a fantastically chewy crust and pillowy, substantial insides (they’re the same pedigree as Freo’s Bread in Common). Their gugelhupf can also be bought here without driving to Yallingup. A yeast risen cake studded with walnuts and bacon, it’s kind of a savoury panettone if you can imagine that. To go with all that bread, I suggest getting into The Farm House’s ham. Cured from the legs of well reared, free range porkers, its deep pink flesh is cloaked with a thick layer of buttery fat. This stall does a roaring trade in snags, so if you want to throw some on that self contained unit’s barbeque, get in early. Oh, and eggs – beautiful eggs – are a must buy from Margaret River Free Range Eggs. Here, they’re $5 a dozen (bargain!) with slightly imperfect eggs being sold by the slab and precious double yolkers available too.

For brekkie right now, I have two words: morning bun. Go straight to the Margaret River Bakery stall – it’s the one with the most people. And rightly so, because their morning bun, a cross between the buttery flakiness of a croissant and sugar dusted cinnamon bun is to die for. The croissants are equally as heavenly, warm with lacquered layers shattering off with each bite. Chase the pastries down with a coffee from the yellow combi or the juice stall plying $1 lemonades. Yup, we’re definitely in the country now. Lovely.

 

 

Margaret River Farmers’ Market
Margaret River Education Campus, Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
Every Saturday 8am – 12pm

 

 
 

perth

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Oh my, how time flies. Can you believe it’s already September? Well I can’t, and I can’t believe I’ve left the blog unattended for this long. There’s so much to tell you. I’ve been eating out heaps, but I have to say, eating without having the blog in mind, not having to remember everything and not taking photos has been quite liberating.  I’ve been loving Sri Devi’s chicken 65 (pieces of chook marinated in tandoori masala then deep fried!), gorging on bread (what else?) at Bread in Common and just last weekend we found a tiny Japanese place that was pretty awesome.

Anyway first things first – I have an article out in the current issue (October) of SBS Feast, about a place dear to my heart. Actually dear to most of our hearts I think – it’s Perth! Or more accurately, eats around Perth CBD and Northbridge.

 

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When I was asked to write the story, I found it daunting. Actually daunting would be an understatement. How to condense this vibrant, changing city within a thousand words? But eventually what gripped me were the good old favourites, along with the newcomers on their way to being institutions. I tried to pack in as many as I could: Noodle Forum, European Foods, Kakulas Brothers, Twilight Hawker Markets (namely Marcelita’s Empanadas and Bangkok Jump Street), Co-Op Dining, City Farm and Hong Kong BBQ. If you’re curious to read more pick up a copy of the mag, it’ll be on the shelves for a couple more weeks.

Lastly, I was on the radio last Tuesday! Crazy, right? I harped on about farmers markets with Simon and Anth for the RTRFM 92.1 Tuesday evening Food Alternative segment. It was both a great and unnerving experience but thankfully my blabbermouth took over in the end. (Big thanks to segment producers Ai-Ling and Laura for the invite!) If you’d like to listen, the stream is here.

 

 
 

melbourne

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Lunch at Chin Chin. One of the best lunches. Ever.

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Weekend breakfast means pastries. And a jam donut. And caneles. And French butter.

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Spring Street Grocer’s cheese cellar. My version of heaven.

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On the way up to Captains of Industry.

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Solo coffee at Captains of Industry. Totally loving that guy’s jumper.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

 

 
 

pear & chai spice muffins

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Winter has well and truly set in. While the mornings are absolutely freezing at the moment, I’m relishing the opportunity to stay in and read. There’s nothing better than smushing myself into the recliner and flicking through Kinfolk, or  my current favourite, Anthology (both can be found at Studio Bomba or online at Magnation). If these magazines indicate anything is that there’s a growing longing for the simpler things in life: staying in, entertaining and enjoying the quiet moments in life. Anyway, here’s my contribution to that. A muffin recipe perfect for Mondays when you can barely make it back into the cubicle: we call them Muffin Mondays.

 

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~

Pear & Chai Spice Muffins

The chai spice I use is a blend from Gewurzhaus called Raj’s Majestic Chai Masala. It has a warm, comforting cinnamon scent that’s not too strong on the nose. However in lieu, steeping a regular chai tea bag will do.

Makes 6 Texas/jumbo muffins or 12 regular muffins

150ml of milk
50 ml of sour cream
1 black tea bag
1 tsp chai spice
2 pears, peeled
310 gm self raising flour
150 gm caster sugar
pinch of salt
100 gm butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tin with cases.

In a jug, mix together the sour cream and milk. Warm in the microwave. Add the teabag and stir in the chai spice. Leave to steep for ten minutes while you peel the pears.

Slice the pears and discard the cores, reserving six nice slices for decoration.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the pears to the flour and toss them around to coat. (This stops the fruit from sinking.)

Discard the tea bag and add the tea milk mixture, butter and eggs to large bowl of flour. Mix the mixture from the outside in, stirring until no streaks of dry flour are visible. Scoop into the muffin tray and top each muffin with a pear slice. Slide into the oven and rotate at the 15 minute mark.

Check the muffins at 25 minutes – they should be firm and spring back when pressed. Remove from the muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

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