Rottnest Cruise and Wild Seafood Feast

When the email pinged in my inbox inviting me on a Wild Seafood Experience and cruise on Rottnest Island (20km off the coast of Perth), I signed up straight away. The new tour is an ocean-to-plate boat cruise called Wild Seafood Experience by Rottnest Cruises, blending two of Western Australia’s great icons − Rottnest Island and the Western Rock Lobster (crayfish).

The 2.5-hour cruise is the first-ever interactive seafood tour – and by interactive I mean passengers catch lunch – on Rottnest Island. It was a stunning summer’s day and the cruise on Rottnest Cruises’ multi-level charter vessel around to Parakeet Bay, with an ice cold beer in hand, was sheer bliss.  Here’s a short video about our day:

On the way we stopped to catch lunch, taking it in turns to haul up the cray pots, cheering as each one of the six pots was raised on board with several crayfish inside. Pots were rebaited  with fish heads, and the crays removed. Each lobster was measured to ensure it met compliance, quick photo for insta, then in the crate to be prepared for lunch. It was fun and interesting – I’d never caught a lobster before.

Before lunch, we jumped in crystal clear Indian Ocean for a swim, while crewman Kent was busy shucking oysters for us, then in a first for me, passed me one as I was swimming. Eating freshly shucked oysters while in the ocean, heaven! We devoured an elaborate banquet of sea-fresh delicacies that included Mandurah blue swimmer crabs, king prawns, fresh fish tacos, marinated Fremantle octopus, loads of salads and of course just-caught crayfish, cooked live in an open, on-board kitchen. All this, while taking in Rottnest’s Insta-perfect views and enjoying unlimited beer, wine and bubbles. Now, that’s living.

I was invited, but I wouldn’t rave about anything to you unless I thought it was exceptional, and Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience is exceptional. For a short time, it’s just $175 per adult, totally worth it. The boat caters for 30 guests and a new slightly bigger boat will be in operation soon.

Rottnest lighthouse from boat

 

Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience operates from Rottnest Island daily from 11am to 1.30pm. Introductory cruise cost (valid until February 28, 2019) is $175 per adult or $125 per child (not ideal for children under 5) and is fully inclusive of three courses (canapes, seafood buffet lunch and dessert), with unlimited beverages.

For bookings, phone +61 8 9586 1136 or visit rottnestcruises.com

Did you know…?

The western rock lobster is one of the family of ‘spiny’ lobsters, colourful and protected by a strong carapace. They are sometimes called ‘crayfish’ or ‘crays’. They canlive for more than 20 years and grow to weigh 5 kg. But due to fishing rules, fishers rarely catch animals heavier than 3 kg. When temperatures are cooler they mature at six to seven years old, when their carapace reaches a length of about 90 mm. In warmer water they mature at smaller sizes, usually at about 70 mm.

 

To read more, head to the Department of Fisheries website here.

 

 

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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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Why you shouldn’t miss the Gourmet Escape this year

The countdown is on for greatest food and wine festival in the county, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape this year held from 16 to 18 November 2018, and in the event’s six-year history, this is not one to miss.

Why go this year?

In my opinion, the biggest reason to go this year isn’t Nigella Lawson or Rick Stein. Next year, the Gourmet Escape will evolve to align with the State Government’s strategy to drive more tourists to Perth (to fill all the new hotel beds), so a new element will be added in a different location, namely, in the Swan Valley. The Gourmet Escape will also take place next year in Margaret River and they say it’ll be similar … but one can never be too sure. That said, this year’s line up is as epic as ever with so many amazing dinners, lunches, talks, cooking demos, book signings, masterclasses and more – you’d be crazy to miss it. Besides, FOMO! We all know that feeling of seeing everyone else post about an epic event.

I’ve posted in the past some simple steps to follow to make the most of your Gourmet Escape weekend – read it here.

The major festival component, the Gourmet Village, returns to Leeuwin Estate Winery on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November from 11am to 6pm, where visitors can sample the best food, wine, beer, cider and produce the Margaret River region and WA has to offer.

Festival goers can meet some of the world’s most-loved and respected culinary talent including Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, Skye Gyngell, Ashley Palmer-Watts and more as they appear at attractions within the Gourmet Village throughout the weekend.

A party vibe is assured with live music across the weekend, provided by some of WA’s most exciting artists, including DJ Rio De Niro who will be resident DJ on the Chef’s Amphitheatre on both days.

This year will see the return of some of the Village’s most popular attractions and installations along with new experiences for both the budget-conscious and the high flyers.

Margaret River Gourmet Escape Village

Margaret River Gourmet Escape Village

What’s new at the Village this year:

  • Kids 16 and under gain free entry and there’s plenty to keep them entertained.
    (I’m not sure how I feel about this. I like that most people don’t bring their kids to the Gourmet Village – it means the parents can relax for once and enjoy themselves, and for the non-parents out there, there’s no need to tolerate other people’s little darlings running around or whining that they are bored / hungry / tired / hot / sick, or worse, wandering off causing panic, etc. I say, parents, have a day off and leave the little ones if you can.Just imagine all those uninterrupted conversations you can have. p.s. I love my friends’ kids, it’s fun when they are free of them.)
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  • The Little Kitchen Garden will prove the Village isn’t just for grown-ups. Children, and the whole family, can learn the importance of food and community. Each half-hour class will introduce children and their parents to the pleasures of growing and cooking their own food. Note keywords: “and their parents” – this isn’t a babysitting service or a kids club.
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  • Consuming Conversations – an intimate gathering with some of the world’s most influential foodies, hosted by food writer Max Brearley.
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  • The Wine Hub – a series of informal and engaging wine tastings hosted by acclaimed wine critic Nick Stock.
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  • The West Winds Gin Masterclasses – Over 50% of the botanicals used in The West Winds Gins are indigenous to Australia. Visitors can learn more about their blends, the distilling process and enjoy a range of tastings in these informative and interactive masterclasses.
  • Regional Flavours – cooking demonstrations hosted by Rebecca Sullivan (from Warndu) with local chefs showcasing local producers from around Margaret River and beyond.
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  • MasterChef 2018 finalist and local Samira Damirova will be keeping her MasterChef mates Reece and Brendan busy as they serve her delicious menu at her pop-up restaurant – Lavash by Sam’s Foodie Goods.
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  • Black Brewing Co farmhouse ale & food matching – guests can sample limited release farmhouse ales by Black Brewing Co, paired with food matchings from their Caves Road Collective kitchen and learn about this lesser known seasonal beer style that’s rapidly growing in popularity.
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  • Wine & Sign – the most fun anyone is likely to have at a book signing. Limited tickets still available for Rick Stein’s session – includes a copy of his new Road to Mexico book and a glass of wine.
Margaret River Gourmet Escape Village good times

Good times at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape Village

Popular returning attractions and experiences:

  • Chef’s Amphitheatre – hosted by multi-talented comedian, actor and TV and radio presenter Matt Okine. Guests can enjoy on-stage demos, talks and taste-offs by some of the world’s best food talent – this year appearing in pairs for even more entertainment. Includes Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, Monica Galetti, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Skye Gyngell, Laetitia Rouabah and more.
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  • The Butchers Block presented by Australian Good Meat – Past My Kitchen Rules winners Will and Steve will host meat mastery cooking demos and meat and wine pairings with canapés and more.
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  • Meet the Makers – festivalgoers are invited to talk and taste wine with some of the sharpest palates in the game including Emma Farrelly (State Buildings)  and Chris Morrison (award winning sommelier, wine communicator and educator)
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  • Bar Felix – a fusion of food and wine innovation and a sophisticated refuge featuring Vasse Felix wines, a wine school with the makers and delicious meals from their chefs.
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  • Leeuwin Estate Wine Theatre – an immersive food and wine pairing experience featuring five iconic Leeuwin Estate Art Series Wines perfectly matched with seasonal canapés.
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  • Devil’s Lair Winery and Masterclass – guests can meet the winemakers and take a masterclass with matched cheeses.
Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson

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Ten things you need to know about Truffle Kerfuffle

Truffle Kerfuffle from 22 to 24 June celebrates one of the world’s most luxurious ingredients, fresh black truffles and will be held just minutes from where they are unearthed in Manjimup. Here are ten things you need to know about the festival and the prized nuggets of “black gold”.

1. The real stars of Truffle Kerfuffle – truffles from the Southern Forests 

At the epicentre of Truffle Kerfuffle is the true star of the show, the Tuber melanosporum, otherwise known as the black Périgord truffle, which is prized for its rarity and beguiling aroma. Truffles are affectionately known as “black gold”, a reference to their value, fetching prices between $2 and $3 a gram. Their season is short from June to August, and you only need a small amount to transform a dish from ordinary to sublimely extraordinary. Truffle Kerfuffle chefs will show you how in the free demonstrations in the Festival Village. There’s no better place to buy freshly unearthed truffles than at the marketplace at the Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village.

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village. Photo: Jessica Wyld
2. The heart of the action – the Festival Village

The beautiful setting at Fonty’s Pool offers an amazing truffle experience and is the perfect place to smell, taste, buy and learn about black truffle and Southern Forests wine and produce. There’s free tastings, free cooking demonstrations, truffle dog demos, children’s activities, a chance to chat to producers, farmers and wine makers, live music and much more. There’s even a chance to win fresh truffle by playing Truffle Bocce and Tombola. 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. Tickets are $35 and include all weekend access, a free tote bag and tasting glass – more info here.

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village. Photo: Jessica Wyld
3. Take your experience to the next level 

Indulge a little and have world-renowned chefs prepare decadent truffle dishes at one of the many events on during Truffle Kerfuffle. There are a few extra tickets just released for the Hunter’s Breakfast with Scott Brannigan, a new Fervor lunch and masterclass on Friday (BYO), Dark Delights Dinner with George Cooper on Saturday night, Foragers Seasonal Truffle Dinner with Sophie Zalokar also on Saturday night, and an extra truffle hunt added to Sunday. At the Festival Village there are a few spots available at The Shed wine sessions and a couple of seats around the table at The Chef’s Cabin series with Mark Best, Bruno Loubet and Marianne Lumb.

Photo: Jessica Shaver
4. Manjimup produces more truffles than the rest of Australia combined

Almost 90% of black truffles produced in Australia come from Manjimup. As the largest producer in the southern hemisphere the region has secured its place on the global culinary map. You see, Truffle Kerfuffle really is in the heart of Australian truffle country.

Photo: Jessica Wyld
5. Truffle hunts

Fossicking through forests of hazelnut or oak tress with clever canines hunting for truffles is a quintessential truffle experience. The Truffle Kerfuffle hunts are selling fast but there are a few places still available. Choose from renowned truffle growers Oak Valley Truffles, Australian Truffle Traders or with chef and truffle grower David Coomer at his truffière. Most tickets include shuttle buses from the Festival Village to the truffle orchard and self-drive options are available on the Friday.

Photo: Richard Jefferson
6. The best fresh produce

The Southern Forests is a food producer’s dream and in the Festival Village you’ll have the chance to taste your way through the region. The pristine environment, rich loamy soils and crisp mornings produce the best quality fruit and veg including avocados, finger limes, 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. And let’s not forget the reason we’re here, the revered black truffle.

Photo: Jessica Wyld
7. Free kids cooking classes and activities Saturday and Sunday 

There’s heaps to keep children entertained at Truffle Kerfuffle on both Saturday and Sunday. At the Truffle Experience kids will be able to look at a truffle through a microscope and learn about the science behind great truffles, there’s a drawing station with worksheets, Kids Cooking School with Sophie Budd powered by Winning Appliances which is free with festival entry, just put your name down for the time slot on arrival. Times are 11am Southern Forests Sliders (12-16years); 12.30 Karri Country Gnocchi (6-12 years); 2pm Bravo Apple Fritters (6-12years); 3.30pm Potato Play Dough (little ones).  This is a hands-on class and a parent is required to attend.

Lots of free activities for the kids at the Festival Village. Photo: Jessica Wyld
8. Truffle Donut 

Yes, you read that right. The clever folk from The Heritage Wine Bar have created a delectable donut with truffle infused crème patisserie, Southern Forests honey and Pottinger truffle. Enough said, get in my belly now. Only available at the Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village.

Truffle Donut
9. Truffle Negroni  

Don’t miss the experiencing possibly the best cocktail ever invented, a Walnut and Truffle Negroni at the Campari Bar at the Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village.  They’ll also be serving up classic Italian cocktails including the Classic Negroni, a decadent drink in its own right with bitterness from Campari mixed with the sweetness from vermouth giving it a rich flavour profile. Our tip is to indulge a little and pimp your drink with walnut infused gin, dark chocolate bitters and finish with a garnish of fresh truffle shaving. Walnut and Truffle Negroni, keeping you warm this winter and only at the Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Village.

Truffle Negroni
10. Truffle Kerfuffle attracts big names

Jack Stein, Paul West, James Viles, Anna Gare, Matthew Evans and Guy Grossi have appeared at Truffle Kerfuffle in the past and this year the line up is more impressive than ever before. Guy Grossi returns this year and joins Australian legend Mark Best, Sam Aisbett (Whitegrass, Singapore / Australia), Marianne Lumb (Marianne’s, London UK), Bruno Loubet (UK/Australia), Scott Brannigan (Bread in Common, Perth), Tony Howell (Cape Lodge, South West), Paul Iskov, Fervor (South West), Aaron Carr (Yarri, South West), George Cooper (Food by The Chef, South West), David Coomer (Southern Forests / Perth), Sophie Zalokar, (Foragers, South West), Sue Hutchins (Shadow Wine Bar, Perth) as well as wine expert Rachael Niall (Budburst Bar, Perth), chocolatier Sue Lewis (Perth) and food journalists Max Veenhuyzen (Broadsheet, Qantas, Gourmet Traveller) and John Lethlean (The Australian).

Bonus: Know the lingo

Truffière – the French name for a place where truffles are grown. It is pronounced TRUE-fee-air. If you can’t find the grave è in Word, it is ok to write it ‘truffiere’ or call it a truffle orchard or truffle patch. But there’s no such word as ‘truffery’ or ‘trufferie’ in any dictionary.

Truffier – the person who grows truffles is, in French, a truffier without an accented e, pronounced TRUE-fee-er but they call themselves truffle growers.

Essential Info

Date:  22-24 June 2018
Location: Fonty’s Pool, Manjimup, Western Australia
Tickets: trufflekerfuffle.com.au

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Best winery lunches in Margaret River

As they say, where’s there’s good wine, there is good food, and Margaret River being a premium winery region is a point fact.  Spend time in Margaret River in Western Australia’s south west and you’ll too soon discover that you’re spoilt for choice of great places to eat.

Did you know that Margaret River produces just three per cent of wine in Australia but 25 per cent of Australia’s premium export wine? In short it means the wine here is really good.

With any trip to Margaret River, be sure to pick up the latest map of the region found at various tourist attractions and of course the Margaret River Visitors Centre. It’s essential as there’s plenty of mobile blackspots ‘down south’ so Google maps can’t always be relied upon.

Here’s a list of my favourite winery lunches in Margaret River. Enjoy!

Eat_Margaret River12

Vasse Felix winery has a fantastic restaurant that shouldn’t be missed

Winery restaurants for lunch

In alphabetical order:

Amelia Park

From the outside, the separate Cellar Door and Restaurant buildings are fairly non-descript, but that soon changes as soon as the ‘Get Smart’ sliding doors open up to reveal a dimly lit barrel room and that unmistakable heady aroma of oak, then another set of heavy sliding doors open to reveal the tasting area, flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and commanding views of undulating hills covered in vines. Wow. It’s worth a stop at Amelia Park for the architecture alone. After a wine tasting – their Chardonnay was my pick – venture to the next building, to the restaurant for lunch run by husband and wife team Blair and Renee Allen. They make everything from scratch and use local produce including that from their kitchen garden. It’s fantastic and worthy of a visit.

Amelia Park Restaurant, 3857 Caves Road, Wilyabrup WA 6280. 08 9755 6747

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Arimia Estate

Tucked away down a dirt road, Arimia Estate’s cellar door is beautiful and it has a lovely outdoor area, space for kids to run around, really good wine and pretty good food.  The shady outdoor area sees people sitting under trees on rugs, whiling away the afternoon. Arimia Estate is underrated in my book – it flies under the radar, perhaps because it’s not so obvious and not on a main road? Definitely go for a wine tasting.

Arimia Estate, 242 Quininup Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280. 08 9755 2528

Arimia lunch

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Aravina Estate

It’s been a couple of years since I last ate at Aravina, but I keep hearing good things about it – lots of compliments for head chef Ben Day, who worked under esteemed chef Aaron Carr at Vasse Felix for three years. Families love it and not just for the fantastic playground for kids, but for the beautiful cellar door and Hamptons-style homeware shop, and a very cool if somewhat out of place car museum with Ferraris and muscle cars (my favourite, the Torana SLR 5000 – brings back so many high school memories). It also has a kitchen garden with its bounty often featuring on the menu. A favourite for weddings which is easy to understand given the opulent fit out of the function room, pretty garden and immaculately manicured lawn.

Aravina Estate, 61 Thornton Rd, Yallingup WA 6282. (08) 9750 1111

Eat_Margaret River15

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Cullen Winery

Biodynamic and organic principals guide not only the wine making but the kitchen too. A rustic cellar door leads through to the restaurant with a deck overlooking the vines. The food is delicious, simple, mostly organic and sourced from the kitchen garden on site. Highly regarded prized wines and good service make any lunch at Cullen a fab experience. A wander through the spiral kitchen garden is a must.

Cullen Wines, 4323 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280. 08 9755 5277

Eat_Margaret River04

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Fishbone Wines

Fishbone Wines specialises in sushi and Japanese food. The seafood, all sourced from 34 Degrees Blue, is designed to be light, fresh, and complement their wines. The modern cellar door and indoor seating area includes a huge fish tank. Outside on the terrace, there are views of green pastures. Located conveniently opposite the Margaret River Chocolate Factory – pop across the road for sweet treats and ice cream after.

Fishbone Wines, 422 Harmans Mill Rd, Wilyabrup WA. 08 9755 6726

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Knee Deep

For a more formal lunch – we’re talking crisp table linen, smartly dressed wait staff, and cutlery choices to send ‘Pretty Woman’ into a spin, this place is where local chefs go to eat on a special occasion. The food is sensational.  Try the 3-course ‘trust the chef’ menu. Great wines too and almost impossible to leave without a purchase.

Knee Deep, 160 Johnson Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280. 08 9755 6776

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MargaretRiver_vines2

Leeuwin Estate

One of the best regarded wineries not only in Margaret River, but in Australia with a reputation that reaches far beyond our shores. The drive into Leeuwin Estate is as impressive as their award-winning wines, a meandering road flanked by tall timber Eucalypts with glimpses of vines in between. The restaurant’s bi-fold doors seamlessly carry the outside in as does the glass-covered roof added during the restaurant’s recent refurbishment. Step out onto the sweeping veranda with its impressive views over the manicured gardens, expansive lawn and the permanent stage that hosts some of the region’s most prestigious events. The setting, service, amazing wines, and fabulous food are a reason why so many love Leeuwin Estate. There is an impressive art gallery downstairs and owner Dennis Horgan has an order of Australia for his services to tourism in Western Australia. Definitely worth a visit, and once you’re settled on the upper deck, you may never want to leave.

Leeuwin Estate, Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285. 08 9759 0000

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Olio Bello

Ok, technically an olive grove not a winery but worthy of a mention because it’s a great place for lunch. At Olio Bello, they make fantastic fresh pasta, as good as I’ve had anywhere and I love the country style alfresco setting. The wine list is sensible with some cracking wines is reasonable prices. If available when you visit, have a piece of the lemon olive oil cake – it is divine – and don’t leave without some of Australia’s finest olive oils that are made with quality in mind, not quantity.

Olio Bello, Armstrong Road, Cowaramup WA 6284. 08 9755 9771

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Rustico at Hayshed Hill

If you like tapas, then you’ll love Rustico. If you love great food, then you’ll love Rustico. If you love a casual but cool vibe, then you’ll love Rustico. I can’t really fault this place. The food, the service, the menu choice and the wine are all on point. It’s a pretty setting too. Be sure to book, it’s a popular place and for good reason. And do yourself a favour and try the K&B Riesling in the cellar door – one of my favs.

Rustico at Hayshed Hill, 511 Harmans Mill Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280. 08 9755 6046

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Swings in Roundabouts

Awesome authentic, wood-fired crisp Italian pizza is as good as it gets at Swings in Roundabouts. I can never go past the margarita, it’s pizza perfection.  The baked camembert is rich and gooey and worth every calorie. A casual winery lunch at its best. Grab a picnic table or a provided rug and stretch out on the lawn. Family and dog friendly too.

Swings in Roundabouts, 2807 Caves Road, Yallingup, WA. 08 9756 6640

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Vasse Felix

The oldest winery in Margaret River, Vasse Felix’s restaurant is gorgeous and the food exceptional. The restaurant places great importance on sourcing the best local produce. Everything is made from scratch, including kangaroo pastrami. The Australian food critic John Lethlean wrote that Vasse Felix ‘set the benchmark for winery restaurants’ in his stellar review. Beautiful wines too with the Heytsbury and Tom Cullity recently rated 98 and 97 points by James Halliday, so don’t skip a tasting at the cellar door. Downstairs you’ll find an art gallery and cellar room. The view of the stunning grounds from the upstairs restaurant make this a lunch you won’t forget.

Vasse Felix, Caves Rd & Tom Cullity Dr, Margaret River WA 6284. 08 9756 5000

Eat_Margaret River05

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Voyager

This year saw a new head chef at Voyager, Santiago (Santi) Fernandez who has continued with Voyager’s signature seven-course Discovery Menu with each course inspired by one of their wines. The setting reminds me of a French luxury Chateau with the rich drapes, chesterfield sofas, and ornate light fittings – sitting inside you could forget you were at a winery. It’s would be awesome in winter. It does have the prettiest rose garden in the region and the biggest Australian flag in the country, after the one at Parliament House in Canberra. The white stucco Dutch inspired building stands proud in the beautifully manicured garden. Their wines are sublime and the restaurant service absolutely first class. A good choice for a fine dining experience or if out to impress.

Voyager Estate, 41 Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285. 08 9757 6354

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Wills Domain

Now get ready to have your foodie socks blown off. Will Domain has a friendly yet premium atmosphere which isn’t at all stuffy. You’d be forgiven for daydreaming while taking in the stunning scenery – views of rolling hills and straight vines lead to a Manor House perched atop a distant hill. But as soon as the food hits the table, daydreams stop and delicious reality kicks in. Sophisticated and beautifully presented dishes that have been perfectly executed dishes will wow you. Chef Seth James (ex Cutler & Co, Melbourne) uses native ingredients in his dishes that surprise and delight the taste buds. The price point is at the upper end of the spectrum but totally worth the indulgence. Don’t miss an experience eating at Wills Domain, this place would be in my top three.

Wills Domain, Cnr Abbey Farm Rd &, Brash Rd, Yallingup WA 6282. 08 9755 2327

Will Domain - 3

Gravlax trout, bread and butter pickles, buckwheat snacks at Wills Domain

New in 2018

Yarri – this is a new venture due to open at the end of January 2018 in Dunsborough by acclaimed chef Aaron Carr who has teamed up with Snake & Herring wines. According to the website, Yarri’s cuisine will honour nature, seasonality and the South-West – its people, produce and place. While not technically a winery, this restaurant is tipped to be the hottest place to eat at in 2018. If you get there, let me know what you think.

 

Other wineries with restaurants

These are wineries that I’ve not eaten at so can’t recommend. Let me know if you get to any of them and what you think.

  • 3 Oceans Wine Company
  • The Berry Farm
  • Brookland Valley Estate
  • Clairault Steicker Wines
  • Hamelin Bay Wines
  • Howling Wolves Wines
  • Laurance of Margaret River
  • Palmer Wines
  • Watershed Premium Wines
  • Woody Nook Wines
  • Xanadu Wines

 

What do you think?

What are your favourite wineries in Margaret River to eat? Is there anywhere you think I should try?

Best Breweries for lunch

Check out my post on the best breweries in Margaret River for lunch. Read it here

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