Winter in Margaret River: Cabin Fever

I love going to Margaret River in winter; rugging up in woolly jumpers, cosy fires, tucking into hearty winter food, sipping stunning red wine, and even going for beach walks with the wind whipping your face, it makes you feel alive.

Cabin Fever from July 19 to 28 is the perfect excuse to get down south this winter. There are 35 events in the line up this year, which is impressive and I can’t wait to check it out.

Choose from events that embrace all the best food, wine and music of the region, laden with unexpected twists and turns. You’ll find winter feasts, rich wines, magnificent parties, live music and a wilderness that grows from the inside out. Choose from the weird, the decadent and the raucous – a celebration amidst stormy skies and open fires in the epic Margaret River region.

Cabin Fever

Last Minute Tickets

If you haven’t booked yet, check out this post – the Late Bookers Guide to Cabin Fever.

My pick of events are:

Smoke and Fire, Wise Wintery, Friday 26 July, 12pm, $80
Think wood-grilled king prawn, smoked beef brisket or smoked banana pie with honkey nut ice-cream. Yum! I’ve bought tickets to this epic five-course BBQ feast and lucky for us, we’re getting a crash-course in smoking and fire management so we can try smoking at home (meaning, so Zorba can try it at home).

Game On, Yarri, Friday 21 July, Sunday 23 July, $170

Two of the best in the business, old mates Aaron Carr (Yarri, 2 Chef’s Hat) and Matt Stone (Oakridge, 2 Chef’s Hat) are teaming up to bring the rich, earthy flavours of game featuring six courses of six different meats including kangaroo, emu, quail, duck and venison, all prepared on the open fire. They’ll be joined by Snake and Herring’s Tony Davis and Oakridge Estate’s Dave Bicknell (both winemakers) who will be pairing some of their delicious wines.

Arimia x Fervor Pop-Up, Golden Café, multiple dates, $145

This one sounds incredible. Two talented chefs, Evan Hayter (Arimia) and Paul Iskov (Fervor) join forces for a unique pop-up restaurant set in the heart of the Margaret River township at cosy Golden Café. The space will be transformed into an intimate dining experience where you’ll sample some delicious dishes, think locally raised pork and straight-from-the farm organic veggies, along with local marron, kangaroo, whiting, jindong macadamia nut, wattleseed shoyu, sandalwood nuts and bloodroot.  Paired drinks by Arimia, LAS Vino, Heretic, Beer Farm and Rocky Ridge (plus a few surprises). I’m trying to talk Zorba into going to this one on Sunday night…

Free Events

There’s also a swag of free events on, check out the list of free events here.

Visit www.cabinfeverfest.com.au

Photo credit: G Becker

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Every day I’m trufflin’ – Truffle Kerfuffle

One week to go!

If the 2019 Winning Appliances & Asko Truffle Kerfuffle were a music concert, who would be the lead singer, who are the real stars, who are the back up vocalists, the dancers and what’s the VIP experience?

 

1. Lead singer: Truffles

The lead singer, the true star of the show would be the ‘tuber melanosporum’, otherwise known as the black truffle, prized for its rarity and beguiling aroma. Truffle Kerfuffle is a celebration of one of the world’s most luxurious ingredients that fetch prices between $2 and $3 a gram, that’s $2,000 to $3,000 per kilogram, which explains how they came to be known affectionately as ‘black gold’. Truffle season is short, from June to August, and you only need a small amount to transform a dish from ordinary to sublimely extraordinary. Talented chefs will show you how to best use truffle during the free cooking demonstrations on stage at the Festival Village. Plus, there’s no better place to buy freshly unearthed truffles than at the Marketplace in the Festival Village.

Truffle Kerfuffle

Manjimup truffles

2. Back up vocals: Southern Forests Produce

Supporting the lead singer, the black truffle, would be the Southern Forests Produce. The Southern Forests region of Western Australia has clear, crisp air, fertile loamy soils, the purity of the rainfall and 365 growing days a year. From finger limes to potatoes, apples and the prized Bravo apple, pumpkins, persimmons and stone fruit, in fact, the region produces over 50 different types of fruit, vegetable and nuts as well as milk, beef, marron and a host of other food types.  As you savour the produce and you’ll know what the locals have known for generations, that Southern Forests Produce simply looks, smells and tastes better. You’ll be able to try and purchase direct from producers at the Marketplace, which is all undercover at the Festival Village. There is something magical going on in this gorgeous, pristine part of the world.

Truffle Kerfuffle produce

Southern Forests Produce. Photo: Jessica Shaver

3. Dancers: Chefs

Event goers are attracted by the lead singer (truffle), and the back up singers make the lead sound amazing, and that’s what hte Southern Forrest produce does to the truffle. But the dancers make it a show, they entertain, bring glamour, energy, colour, much like the chefs who prepare exquisite dishes with Southern Forests produce starring freshly unearthed truffle.

This year, the impressive line up includes Pete Evans, Poh, Anna Gare, Nicole Bampton (Capriccio Osteria, Sydney), Aaron Carr (Yarri), Russell Blaikie (Must Winebar), Tony Howell (Cape Lodge), Paul Iskov (Fervor), Scott Brannigan (Bread in Common), Chris Eales (Bread in Common), Amy Hamilton (Liberté), Sophie Zalokar (Foragers), Nic Wood (Santini), Melissa Palinkas (Young George), Sophie Budd (Taste Budds), chocolatier Sue Lewis, along with chefs from revered eateries Mary Street Bakery and Tiny’s.

Chef Tony Howell shaving fresh truffle

Chef Tony Howell shaving fresh truffle

4. The band: The Festival Village

Every concert needs a great band. In this analogy, the Festival Village is the band. Set at Fonty’s Pool, it offers amazing truffle experiences and it’s the perfect place to smell, taste, buy and learn about black truffle and Southern Forests wine and produce. There are free tastings, free cooking demonstrations all weekend, truffle dog demos, children’s activities and cooking classes, a chance to chat to producers, farmers and wine makers, live music and much more. The Festival Village is the vibrant hub of Truffle Kerfuffle weekend and offers a unique chance to indulge in black truffles at their freshest, minutes from where they are unearthed. The Festival Village is at Fonty’s Pool open 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Truffle Kerfuffle Marketplace

The Truffle Kerfuffle Marketplace. Photo Jessica Wyld

5. Support acts: Demonstration stage

Like all good headline acts, they choose really great supports acts to get everyone in the mood. There are amazing dining events for truffle lovers to purchase tickets to (see below), but also loads of free activities once inside the Festival Village. All weekend the Winning Appliances & Asko Festival Stage will host non-stop cooking demonstrations featuring great culinary talent including Pete Evans, Poh, Anna Gare, Paul Iskov, Sophie Budd, Nic Wood, Amy Hamilton, Melissa Palinkas, Aaron Car, Nicole Bampton and Sue Lewis. Hosted by popular acclaimed WA chef Tony Howell.

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Stage

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Stage. Photos Jessica Wyld

6. VIPS: Dining Events

For a VIP experience, grab tickets to one of the decadent dining events at Truffle Kerfuffle. Take a seat at a candle-lit long table for a delicious dining experience prepared by renowned chefs. Last remaining tickets are available for Enchanted Southern Forests Feast with Pete Evans, Magical Manjimup Brunch with Aaron Carr and Mary Street Bakery on Saturday, L’Elegante Tartufo (The Elegant Truffle) dinner with Santini’s Nic Wood and Melissa Palinkas from Young George on Saturday night, Wholesome Winter Sunday Brunch with Pete Evans, and Poh’s Lunch Among the Karris.

Truffle Kerfuffle Long Table Dining.

Truffle Kerfuffle Long Table Dining. Photo Jessica Wyld

7. V-VIPs: Chefs Cabin

Amp up your Truffle Kerfuffle experience with a V-VIP experience, getting up close and personal with your favourite culinary super stars in the Chef’s Cabin Series. Popular with foodies and those wanting to be up close to learn more about using such a premium ingredient, chefs will be sharing recipes and knowledge with lots of tips and tricks. Gather around the kitchen bench of the limited Chef’s Cabin Series and run to grab one of the last tickets with Pete Evans, native food expert Paul Iskov from Fervor and revered Liberté restaurant owner and chef Amy Hamilton. Hosted by Gourmet Traveller’s Max Veenhuyzen, the Chef’s Cabin Series are renowned for personal connections, flowing conversations and include fine wine. Most of the Chef’s Cabin sessions are already sold out, so get in quick.

Chef's Cabin Truffle Kerfuffle

Truffle Kerfuffle Chef’s Cabin. Photo Jessica Wyld

8. Back Stage: Truffle Hunts

What’s it like back stage at a concert? Back stage is as alluring as the rare black truffle. Fossicking through forests of hazelnut or oak trees with clever canines hunting for truffles is the quintessential truffle experience. The remaining Truffle Hunts are selling fast with a few places still available. Choose from renowned truffle growers Australian Truffle Traders, Fonty’s Pool Farm, Silverwood Truffles, Timeless Hill and Millgrove Truffles for a truffle hunt. Tickets include shuttle buses from the Festival Village to the truffière.

truffle dog truffle kerfuffle

Truffle Kerfuffle trufle hunt. Photo: Jessica Wyld

9. The party: Masterclasses and Wine Shed

With good food, comes good wine, and leading wine expert Paul Edwards from Full Bottle Wine Education and Events will lead the Wine Shed Sessions presented by Winning Appliances & Vintec. The themed Wine Shed Sessions feature six tastings that will explore the best regional wine including texture, science, art and terroir in an informal long table format.

New this year are five intimate and interactive Beer and Spirit Masterclasses held across the weekend in the Jarrah Jacks Bar that will showcase how to perfectly pair delicious local beers with artisanal cheeses, beer with chocolate or whisky with cured meats, as well as experience the unique and interesting flavours of rum and learn about the art of making award-winning gin.

Truffle Kerfuffle Wine Shed

Wine Shed Session. Photo: Jessica Wyld

10. The After Party: The After Party

Extend your weekend and watch the sun go down on the ninth annual Truffle Kerfuffle. Gather by the fire, catch up with old friends and new, listen to truffle stories and toe-tap to fireside tunes. Tiny’s head chef Josh Gray will spit roast a sensational, simple and hearty rustic dinner that comes with a glass of something local. Rub shoulders with chefs, producers, locals and visitors and take time to unwind and reflect after an amazing weekend. And yes, of course there’ll be truffles.

Fonty's Pool night

Fonty’s Pool at night during Truffle Kerfuffle. Photo Jessica Wyld

Fact File 

Truffle Kerfuffle is held in the most prolific truffle growing region in the Southern Hemisphere and is a true celebration of Manjimup’s prized black truffles, sought-after by chefs across the globe for their consistent high quality, impossible-to-describe taste and heady, earthy aroma

21-23 June 2019

Fonty’s Pool, Manjimup, Western Australia

www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au

Disclosure: I’m managing the PR for Truffle Kerfuffle. Regardless, it’s a great food festival and I think you’ll love it as much as I do. Plus, truffles!

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Cruising for dolphins in Mandurah

The Mandurah Dolphin Island Adventure tour takes you on a 1.5-hour cruise through the Mandurah Canals into the Dawesville Cut and out into the Peel-Harvey Estuary to see Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Dolphin sightings are guaranteed on this cruise, meaning that if dolphins are not seen, you’ll receive a free cruise. However, dolphin sightings are very likely.

We didn’t even have to wait to see our first dolphins, a pair of dolphins next to the boat’s docking space. Once admiring these friendly creatures we headed to Dawesville Cut, a man-made channel between the Peel-Harvey Estuary and the Indian Ocean. There is an entire community of dolphins that live around the Cut, many of them have braved shark attacks or sadly been entangled and injured in fishing line.

We saw about five dolphins swimming about in the water and playing with each other in one section and more in other areas. There was a dolphin with most of his dorsal fin missing named ‘John Edwards’, his fin bitten off by the sharks that plague Dawesville Cut. He is usually seen with his mates, other dolphins called ‘Jack Daniels’ and ‘Jim Beam’.

Here’s a short clip of our day:

Video by Leo Paoliello of @captured_moments42, John Paoliello and Dianne Bortoletto

Upon leaving the Dawesville Cut, we went into the Peel-Harvey Estuary and were told about the important Mandurah wetlands that attracts bird life including the migratory Red-Necked stints, which can be seen from October to March as they fly from North Asia to Mandurah yearly. Whilst travelling, our guide pointed out the artificial osprey nests that tower above the trees. The nests were built to house ospreys, as the trees they were previously nesting in were cleared for residential development.

When cruising through the estuary we encountered ‘Nicky’, one of the oldest of the Mandurah dolphins. She is a grandmother dolphin as her daughter has had a calf.

Our boat then travelled through the rest of the estuary and of the canals at a swift pace, and we were back at the dock. Mandurah Cruises Dolphin Island Adventure tour is a must if you want to experience the vast wildlife of Mandurah.

There is a possibility of seeing whales as the boat travels through the Leeuwin current, a passage that whales travel through as they migrate to and from Antarctica. Even though we didn’t see whales, we saw loads of dolphins in their natural habitat.

Guest blog post by Matt Paoliello (14yo Year 9 student), Travelletto’s nephew 

Did you know….that Mandurah is an island?

dolphin swimming

Fact File

Mandurah Cruises

Book online or call (+61) 08 9581 1242

Mandurah Cruises boat

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Three top cooking shows to binge watch these holidays

If you love food, chances are you like to watch food related and cooking shows on TV. Here are three cooking shows worth watching these holidays.

Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat – Netflix

The official line: Chef and food writer Samin Nosrat travels the world to explore four basic keys to wonderful cooking, serving up feasts and helpful tips along the way.

To say I loved this four-part series is an understatement. It’s hardly a cooking show, it’s a travelogue that documents historic uses of salt, acid, fat and heat with lots of beautiful footage, interactions with local experts from all corners of the world and interesting facts and tips. Presenter Samin Nosrat is just so likeable, I feel like we’re friends even though we’ve never met. Samin’s delight as she discovers new tastes or foods is endearing and her explanations are informative. She cooks dishes using the principles she’s learnt and her down-to-earth approach is relatable. Episode one is based on fat and set in Italy, so my heart was won from the beginning.

Watch it on Netflix (first month free).

 

Jamie and the Nonnas – Ten

Jamie Oliver, like him or hate him, he has nailed this series. Firstly, it’s set in Italy and what’s not to love about all that beautiful scenery? Secondly, the Nonnas are so cute! I love how they tell him off if he’s not doing something correctly (every Italian would relate to this!). Thirdly, the food cooked is accessible and looks delicious. Jamie and his sidekick and mentor, Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo, travel across Italy discovering traditional regional dishes, taking instruction from local Nonnas (grandmothers in Italian) on how to make them.

For years I loved Jamie and I have said it more than once – he’s changing the way the world eats. What I love is how he shows that cooking can be easy, healthy and tasty – it doesn’t need to be complicated. However, in recent times he’s become a bit of a commercial / corporate sell-out which I don’t like so much. That aside, this show is easy watching and entertaining. Watch it for the Nonnas, their beautiful dishes and the stunning Italian scenery. It’s free on Ten and catch up on Ten Play but episodes do expire, so don’t leave this too long!

 

The Final Table – Netflix

Netflix has pimped up the cooking competition and turned it into a star-studded major Hollywood production, the most expensive non-scripted series ever produced rumoured to cost $20 million. Think MasterChef but instead of home cook contestants and crazy challenges, there are 24 highly acclaimed chefs from around the world who compete in pairs.

Over 10-episodes, they cook the national dish from a different country including Italy, India, Mexico UK and USA in one hour and are judged by food critics and celebrities from that country. The teams deemed to have cooked the worst dishes have to cook again in an elimination round that is judged by a heavy-hitting (and often intimidating) chef from that country. In the final, remaining chefs are separated to cook as individuals to win the prize, which isn’t money, it’s glory; a seat at The Final Table.

Australian chefs Mark Best and Shane Osborn are undoubtedly the most awarded and creative amongst the contestant chefs and I’ll declare that I’m totally biased not only because they are Australians, but I worked with Mark at Truffle Kerfuffle and I’ve interviewed both of them for articles I wrote about the show in Fairfax’s Good Food and on Broadsheet. The bromance between the pair makes it great viewing as they play up to the fact that they are the oldest contestants, dropping hilarious dad-jokes at every opportunity. This fun clip on Instagram showcases their mateship on the show perfectly.

The camaraderie between each of the chefs in their teams was engaging and I found myself way more emotionally invested than I expected. I even shed a tear when of the other teams were eliminated.

What I love about this show are the stakes, the chefs have a lot to lose and not a lot to gain by competing. There’s no crazy twists, no bitching between teams, no meltdowns or tantrums, just seriously impressive cooking in under one hour.

One thing I liked less was the celebrity judges. I understand why Netflix went down this route, but I think it would’ve been better just to have proper food critics and chefs do the judging rather than models, comedians, actors, football stars and the like. It was a minor annoyance and one I got over pretty quickly when American comedian-actor Dax Shepard was a judge – he added a lot of fun to the US episode.

Watch The Final Table for Mark and Shane, they do Australia proud. You’ll find yourself really liking some of the other chefs too as their passion, skills and personality are revealed further with each episode. The finale is heart-racing exciting.  On Netflix (first month free).

 

What I’m watching now

I’m behind the times I know (I just got a Netflix account about six weeks ago) but I have just started watching The Chefs Table on Netflix. Episode 1 in the first season is on Italian chef Massimo Bottura – I LOVE him. Besides having the Number One restaurant on the World’s Best 50 List, he is a crazy creative chef who is on a crusade to use food waste and the bits we usually throw out (not shown in this program but that’s one reason I respect him). It’s not a cooking show but it tells the chef’s story – a bit like Australian Story on the ABC. I can’t wait to watch the rest of it.

What food shows do you love to watch? Any recommendations?

“People who love to eat are always the best people” – Julia Child.

 

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Formula 1 Driver (the best 7 mins of my life)

The most fun I’ve ever had in seven minutes was without doubt in the F1 simulator at the Ferrari Museum in Maranello near Modena, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

I slid into the seat and was strapped in with a racing harness buckled up by a Ferrari attendant who looked very much the part of a pit crew in a full uniform, sans helmet. After attaching the steering wheel, he checked I could reach both pedals, a very stiff brake on the left and a smooth moving accelerator on the right. He explained the workings of the paddle gear shifts on either side of the steering wheel as well as how to keep it in automatic transmission. He pointed out the DRS turbo button and explained when to use it. Then he asked which track I wanted race.F1 simulator Maranello

Concaving around the front of my stationary Ferrari F1 car were three giant screens and graphics of six race tracks. Being in Italy and of Italian descent, in the Ferrari Museum, strapped into a Ferrari F1 simulator meant the decision had to be Monza. A good choice I was told, as it’s one of the easiest tracks to negotiate.

Lights out and racing.

Pedal to the metal. I did as instructed and went flat out, too excited to ease up as a bend quickly approached. After oversteering, I got back onto the track and the car seemed to continue on without a glitch, seemingly undamaged after hitting the barrier several times. This was a lot harder than it looked. Within moments, I was on a straight. I saw the green light and hit the DRS, watching the speedometer in the corner of the screen reach 300km/h, 307km/h, 322km/h. I was pushed back into the seat by some imaginary force. With my eye on my impressive speed, I didn’t see the next bend until I was in it, a tight hairpin, I skid off track and into the gravel. I slammed on the brakes, pressing them hard and the harness around my shoulders tightened, the seat vibrated and the centre of gravity shifted. This felt real.

Back on the gas and into another straight, going full tilt with DRS assistance, my racing harness sucked me into the seat and I squealed with delighted listening to the unmistakeable F1 engine roar as I clicked up to eighth gear. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up in pit lane and the car automatically slowed to 60km/h. I put all my weight onto the accelerator, nothing. I just had to endure the restricted speed zone and crawl through as if I’d been given a penalty. I made a mental note to keep left next lap.

After five laps of exhilarating speed, slides, skids and skirmishes with the barriers, my time as an F1 driver came to an end. My adrenalin was peaking and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I immediately wanted to do it again.

Stats:

  • Race Track: Monza
  • Fastest lap: 1:40 minutes
  • Fastest speed: 322km/h
  • Number of crashes: over 20
  • Number of corners successfully manoeuvred: 3 (or 7 if you count keeping two tyres on track)
  • Likelihood of being offered a test in a real F1 car: less than zero

Cost €25 (about AUD$40) for seven minutes.

Ask ten people what their dream car would be and it’s likely that nine of them would answer a Ferrari, and this is precisely why. So much fun!

An edited version of this was first published in Driven Women magazine 

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