Sime and I headed to Perth in May to see our lovely friends Mark and Jess and visit Margaret River. We were there 5 days, spending our first night with Mark and Jess in Perth (who live in a great spot – overlooking the City), then heading down to Margaret River the next day.
Despite our GPS ignoring the much faster motorway option, we finally made it to Bunker Bay for lunch – I’d done my research and was making a beeline for Bunkers Beach Cafe. Tired and hungry, we arrived at beautiful Bunker Bay (credit to Sime for this picture, we have an ongoing competition on who takes the best photos), took in some of the atmosphere then headed to the Cafe.
We parked, headed in and found a sign – the cafe was booked out with a private function! (yes, I know we should’ve booked… now). Bummer – this was our only chance to eat here as we were on a tight schedule.
Our first night in Margaret River we had dinner at Must Restaurant which also has a sister restaurant in Perth. Overall we had a great dinner – wonderful service, great food and a good wine list. One of the highlights for Sime was the baguettes and butter which we were told are imported from France (French baguettes rock!).
The next day we were booked into Margaret River Discovery Tours’ Best of the Best Wine Tour. This is a small tour (max 6 people) that visits only a small number of wineries, allowing guests enough time to experience and taste. Our host, Sean, is extremely passionate about the Margaret River area and knows his wine. Sean started the tour by asking us what type of wine we liked to drink and tailored the day accordingly (however we did have a food matching lunch booked at Cape Mentelle). We visited Edwards winery and did our first tasting, and were taken through the wine list by one of the Owners. We were told a fascinating story about their grandfather successfully flying a Tiger Moth from London to Perth to raise money for Legacy (which is why you see a map on their bottle labels). We ordered 6 wines to be delivered home after our holiday.
After Edwards, we headed to Cape Mentelle where we were taken on a behind the scenes tour and then had a food and wine matching lunch. I can’t believe I’ve never had such well matched food and wine before… I have worked in 5 star hotels with fine dining restaurants and this was a revelation!
We tasted 6 different wines, and then paired a matching food item, followed by a non-matching food item. I can’t recommend this part of the tour highly enough. My highlight – sauvignon blanc (usually one of my least favourite wines) matched with a fruit bread topped with goat’s cheese and thyme. Mmm… So naturally we bought some more wines to be delivered home after our holiday.
After this Sean took us to visit another winery… which I’m not allowed to mention (the first rule of the tour is not to talk about the tour – ha ha!). So to finish up we headed to the Coast, where we enjoyed a spectacular view, and snacked on some local honey on bread including Karri honey. The Karri Tree (one of the world’s oldest hardwoods) only flowers every 10 years so this was quite special and yummy.
Next day we headed off on another Margaret River Discovery Tour, but had some time to kill in the morning. We went to Mammoth Cave and took the audio tour (I still don’t know why, but I love visiting caves when I travel… cave spiders scare the bejeesus out of me!). I wish we had time to visit the other caves in the region, this cave is so big it actually goes under the road. I’m told the granite in the area allowed for the creation of the caves, and results in a terroir that combines with the ocean breezes results in great grape growing territory.
After our cave visit we had time for a snack and popped in at the McHenry’s Farm Shop where they had just finished baking a Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake… I had to try it! (it was still warm) It was so good I’ve since cooked it at home – you can find the recipe here. Sime had a Citrus Tart which was equally as delicious.
We headed off on our canoeing tour with Sean and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of Margaret River at our own pace. Siiigh. Dinner that night was at Settlers Tavern, a recommendation of Sean’s located in the town of Margaret River. He wasn’t kidding about their wine list, it’s the biggest I’ve ever seen! They actually won Best Pub Restaurant Wine List Australia – 2011. Their food was quite good, but my pick for food lovers is definitely Must if you only have one night in Margs.
We headed back to Perth and spent the next (rainy) day in Swan Valley with Mark and Jess. We toured a couple of wineries, the highlight of which for me was Talijancich (I checked and it’s pronounced taliyansich) – they specialise in some fabulous fortified wines.
We had lunch at RiverBank Estate Winery after doing some research on menus on the web before we left for the day. I have to say my duck was a bit overwhelmed with the sauce (as you may be able to see in the pic), despite the intention of the flavours being good. I love duck so I was quite disappointed.
Sime had the fish (which he couldn’t hold off on eating as you can see from the pic) and said he really enjoyed it. Let’s be honest, by this stage we had probably had a few too many tastings… still, lunch wasn’t that flash. After our big day, we headed home and we relaxed (and drank yet more wine!) while I made us Chorizo Burritos with Coriander Salsa. Big thanks to our designated driver (he volunteered, honestly!) for the day, Mark.
In total we had purchased 28 wines to be delivered home (it was like Christmas all over again when they arrived!). About 95% of these wines were fabulous, but I have to say there were a couple I bought where my judgement may have (!) been skewed by too many tastings… The best – my fave was Cape Mentelle Chardonnay, Sime’s was the Talijancich Julian James White Liquer. Side note – who knew I could love Chardonnay again? (conditional on it being from Margaret River…!)
We left early the next morn to head back to the GC, it’s a long flight to get to Perth but if I had the chance I’d go back to Margs (Margaret River) in a flash. Plus I’d love to spend more time in Perth and eat at some of their great restaurants (Greenhouse is one I’m particularly interested in, has anyone been there?).