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The greatest weekend in Margaret River

Hello food and wine lovers

What a weekend! About 19,000 of us enjoyed a weekend of amazing food, wine and entertainment in my favourite pocket of the planet, Margaret River in Western Australia’s South West. More than 50 culinary superstars including Alex Atala, Curtis Stone, Jancis Robinson, Rick Stein and Guillaume Brahimi shared insights and experiences at unique events held at wineries, beaches, forests, out to sea and up in the air.

In superb style, Australia’s greatest food and wine festival opened with a function in Perth in the Crystal Room at Crown Towers with sweeping sunset views of the city. The following night was a decadent opening party in Margaret River at Fraser Gallop Estate where we were treated to food by Fervor including BBQ marron, Giniversity Gin cocktails, Fraser Gallop and other iconic wines, Fervor food, chefs chatting, journos everywhere, classy tunes by jazz singer Cassandra Charlick all on a gorgeous Margaret River evening – perfect!

Fraser Gallop Estate ready for the Opening Party – so beautiful

Fervor chef Paul Iskov

There were some new additions to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape event list this year and I was lucky enough to be invited to check a few of them out.

 

Regional Flavours lunch at Amelia Park

I’d heard Amelia Park Winery Restaurant is impressive but holy wow, it’s super impressive. Even if you don’t drink or eat, just go and check out the cellar door and restaurant.

Our Regional Flavours multi-course lunch was prepared by Matt Stone and is his partner, rising young female chef, Jo Barrett (both of Oakridge Wines) along with restaurant owner Blair Allen. Canapes were served on the terrace with Amelia Park wines – the Chardonnay was my pick, it was bang on.  A sit down lunch was MC’d by The Australian food writer John Lethlean and we ate our way through five delicious courses. I even ate lamb sweetbreads – and enjoyed it! This lunch was Zorba’s pick for best event of our weekend.

Matt Stone’s take on fish and chips – yes, they are crisps

What a cracker! It’s made of chicken skin

Rice, blood lime, raspberry, passionfruit and Geraldton wax – light and gorgeous end to lunch

Chef’s Table at the Gourmet Village

Alex Atala of DOM in Sao Paolo is such an inspiration – his passion for food and good produce is infectious. With about 20 other people, we sat around a u-shaped table while he prepared a couple of dishes for us to taste. Pippis in a delicious broth and seaweed cerviche with edible flowers. Simplicity with preparing good produce is something Alex spoke a lot about. The Portuguese speaking chef spoke to me in Italian as he was signing my cookbook and spoke to my friend in French. He also speaks English (as demonstrated) and Spanish – that’s five languages. That’s as impressive as his cooking. It was an intimate experience and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Alex Atala serving me seaweed cerviche

 

Lurpak Cooking School with Tony Howell

Friends went along to the Lurpack Cooking School and raved about it. I chatted to Chef Tone before he got started and he was all set for a busy two days with 30-min classes every 30 minutes.  Of course Lurpack butter was the star and featured in a local whiting dish with a buerre blanc sauce and crepe Suzette. I’m hungry again now.

Friends with chef Tony Howell

 

Closing Party at the White Elephant Beach Cafe

Super duper fun! The cafe deck that overlooks the stunning Gnarabup beach was cleared of table and chairs and transformed into a jumping dance floor. Fremantle band San Cisco were on the decks mixing old and new school tunes. It was so great to see young and old, locals and visitors carving moves and having a blast, me included. The food by Asian chef Dan Hong was incredible – I devoured about four ‘cheese burger spring rolls’, delicious marron sandwiches and salty crisp white bait (or as I like to call them, protein chips). Singaporean cocktail bar owner Vijay Mudaliar made delicious gin cocktails with wild rosemary – I could’ve drunk those all night, but given it was a one-cocktail-per-person rule, I shared a bottle of Dormilina Rose instead, which was perfect on a balmy night. Punters wasted no time enjoying themselves and the music wrapped up at 10pm, but it felt like we’d only been there for half an hour. It was such a fun night – thanks to all new and old mates that made it awesome.

The gorgeous Scarlett from San Cisco. Photo: Russell Ord Photography

Epic sunset at the White Elephant Beach Cafe for the closing party

Next year

Stay tuned for announcements about the future of the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Don’t believe the rumours that it’s going to Mornington. It belongs in Margaret River and I reckon the big wigs in Government will be letting us all know for sure sometime soon.

For more, visit www.gourmetescape.com.au

Disclosure:

I was invited to the opening functions, the Amelia Park Regional Flavours Lunch and the Gourmet Village. I bought tickets for the Closing Party.

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