Foodie things to do in Margaret River. The Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Today I’m feeling like a slug.

And the reason for that is that I’ve just been lucky enough to attend the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, a three day food and wine extravaganza held in and around Leeuwin Estate Winery in South West Australia.

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It’s an event held in the Margaret River region that celebrates Western Australia’s fresh produce, gourmet delicacies, world-class wines and the laidback lifestyle. It really is one of the top foodie things to do in Margaret River, or Australia for that matter.

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Fabulous fresh produce from South West Australia

Not so many years ago, Margaret River consisted of a small community mostly made up of surfers.

On a walk around Prevelly where we were staying in a wooden cabin at the caravan park, we met an American who arrived about 40 years ago in search of the perfect wave, and because of the waves and the beauty of the place he just stayed.

And that, in the tradition of the locally filmed surfing movie Drift starring Sam Worthington, is what Margaret River was once all about.

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The winding road south of Margaret River leading through Boranup Forest.

Today, the Margaret River region still retains the laidback lifestyle loved by the surfing community and others, and if you pencil the Margaret River Gourmet Escape into your calendar for next year, you’ll get glimpses of a quiet life that’s diametrically opposed to city existence – except with gourmet privileges.

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Majestic re-growth Karri trees in Boranup Forest

For this event is considered to be Australia’s premier culinary food and wine festival.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when one couple told me that they’d flown over from Queensland specially for the event, or when it was obvious that chefs from overseas never shied of the chance to say what a marvelous festival it is.

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Celebrity chef, Rick Stein doing his thing on the main stage at the festival.

Rick Stein, said: “Who wouldn’t want to come here?” and Claude Bosi (Hibiscus, London) said “You’ve got something very special going on in Australia and chefs want to come to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape to see what’s going on. They don’t just come to Western Australia for the sun and flies,” he said swatting another seasonal fly from his face.

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Picnics and music beneath the trees at Leeuwin Estate Winery

The festival is held over three days. Saturday and Sunday sees the Gourmet Village open for general admission in the beautiful grounds of Leeuwin Estate Winery.

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Rochester Ginger, a non-alcoholic drink, Dickensian recipe with the kick of 2 very angry mules!

So many stalls, so many wineries, and breweries and nougat making companies, and bread and cheese makers, and olives and jams and oysters and pickles and cakes and jerky and oh, the list goes on.

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Food demos, gourmet niblets, and chef chats.

We tried wonderful tasters of wine and food from some of the top wineries and restaurants in the area, purchasing small cordon bleu plates of food with our Gems, the currency of the Gourmet Village.

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The Gourmet Village is held in the leafy grounds of Leeuwin Estate winery

But that’s not to say that we weren’t pretty full already having eaten our way around the stalls tasting complimentary niblets of this and that on offer as we went around.

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I first tried Spritz in Venice. I loved these colours!

From Spritz to wine to beer. Below is Sue from Angelicus Winery in the Ferguson Valley – do yourself a favour and try the Angelicus sparkling wine – Panis (It means ‘bread of angels).

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Sue from Angelicus Winery

Top chefs, a veritable who’s who of the culinary world from Australia and overseas, came to give cooking demonstrations and talks.

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MasterChef Judge, chef and restauranter George Calombaris

You might have heard of some of them; Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, Rick Stein, George Calombaris, Guillaume Brahimi and wine expert James Halliday.

Here’s a post you might like on Lifestyle Fifty. Celebrity Chefs : Wholefood, fusion and confusion

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Satellite events were held in 20 different locations around the region. This one at the beachside White Elephant Cafe.

I think one of the best things about the festival this year was the number of satellite events held in 20 different locations throughout the region – there were long table lunches, beach barbecues, feasts in the forest, chef discussions, and dinners at top wineries, all attended by a mix of celebrity chefs.

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Food glorious food and wine! Jacques Reymond agreed to be interviewed for my other blog Lifestyle Fifty and has also supplied a recipe. Pop over for a look-see.

I was lucky to be invited to the “Food for Thought” session in which three well known chefs and a food critic batted and sparred around the idea of ‘cooking without borders.’

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A satellite event held at Voyager Estate.

It was held in a chandelier festooned marquee at the very lovely Voyager Estate, just outside Margaret River township and included cordon bleu treats with Voyager wines.

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November is the best time for the lovely Voyager Estate roses.

Claude Bosi (Hibiscus, London),  George Calombaris (The Press Club, Melbourne and judge on MasterChef Australia), Jacques Reymond (chef and restauranter from France, now living in Melbourne) and UK food critic A A Gill treated us to a funny but incisive discourse about the origins of food, and a discussion about whether  fusion (food) actually represented confusion! Read more Here on Lifestyle Fifty, Celebrity Chefs.

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So we stayed in a log cabin at Prevelly Caravan park.

We returned at night to our little cabin set beside a forest by the sea at Prevelly Caravan Park, and opened a bottle of Snake & Herring Riesling to have with an assortment of eats and treats we’d bought around Margs during the day.

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And this was our own version of gourmet later on at the camp barbie!

If you haven’t been to the Gourmet Escape yet – then just go next year! Or the rest of the world will have discovered it before you do!

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Comments

  1. What a fantastic weekend. It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful place for an event like this. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t go this year, will definitely be on my 2015 Bucket List.

  2. Hi Jo,

    I think I’d like the Margaret River! Although I’m more into visiting farmer’s markets or growers than the big food events. Your barbie looks divine 🙂

  3. I love farmer’s markets too Annabel. Think you’d enjoy the Margaret River Gourmet Escape though – especially the satellite events.

  4. Definitely put it on the list for next year Nina – and do yourself a favour – pick a satellite event to attend too.

  5. I don’t watch too much tv the majority of what I do record is cooking shows. So, this would be right up my alley! I’m envious that you were able to attend. I have heard of or seen Heston Blumenthal and Rick Stein on tv. There is nothing more delicious that having access to fresh produce and having a professional chef cook it for you. I could watch them all day long, Johanna! That food on the barbie made my mouth water literally! I hope all is well with you 🙂

  6. oh dear Jo, it was so on my list of intentions this year, and then life stood in the way again. But next year! promise! For a foodie photographer it seems sacrilegious not to have gone along. It looks like you had a fabulous time. I hope you didn’t eat too much.
    I love those cute curly mosaics you have done today – do tell what program you did them through. Nice!
    Happy travels Jo.

  7. This looks like an absolutely wonderful time. I continue to be so impressed with the work you’re doing to familiarize us with this semi-secret region in Australia. Margaret River looks like it would be a delightful destination. Your photo work is great in this post, too. 🙂

  8. Oh Yum! A gourmet escape to Margaret River? I think I will fly over there next year especially! I recently attended a similar event in Brisbane and relished in all the good food and wine on offer. I also bought home a selection of gourmet fare to share with a glass of wine with friends later on in the day. A really decadent thing to do – but most enjoyable!

  9. What a fabulous weekend you had Jo. The fresh produce from the Margaret River area is exceptional and, in the hands of such renowned chefs, the tastes would have been sublime! I’m definitely planning be there next year!

  10. I can just imagine the wonderful photos you’d take Jenny, you’d be in your element. Here’s to next year 🙂

  11. We met several people who flew over specially for the event Kathy – I think it’s becoming known as the best foodie festival in Australia. I reckon you’d love it … tag on a few days in Margaret River, and what a lovely week you could have – elastic waistbands necessary 😉

  12. Thanks Betsy – I’m glad to be bringing you tasters of our little corner of the world 🙂

  13. Thanks Jill – yes, you would be in heaven – all that food and your camera – book for two days next year! Don’t forget to go to a satellite event too – they have such wonderful offerings beyond the gourmet village at Leeuwin. The curly mosaics are done on a phone app called PicCollage.

  14. Thanks Mike, yes cookery shows can be addictive can’t they, and it’s such a thrill to get to see the celebrity chefs doing their thing in real life. Yes, we have wonderful produce in this corner of the world, and I think the chefs really enjoy coming here.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed your write up and photos Jo, just wish I could have been there! Maybe next year 🙂
    The Gourmet Escape is something I’d really like to go to at least once, despite agreeing with Annabel that low-key farmers markets, fresh produce stalls and cellar doors are probably more to my style most of the time.

  16. Sounds like quite the marathon of eating – in the best way possible. I’d feel like a slug too after three days – unless of course I struggled in between eating sessions learning to surf – and that in itself would burn a lot of calories.

  17. I have very fond memories of the Margaret River area from a wine tour we did there from Perth. We could have used some more food to absorb the alcohol. The Gourmet Escape looks like it would provide access to the proper ratio of food and wine.

  18. What a wonderful festival and place. All the food looks delicious. I love the eucalyptus trees.

  19. My sister and I were in the Margaret River Valley about 4 years ago and didn’t really allow enough to see it properly and made a poor choice of a hotel. However, we did have some lovely regional wine and excellent food at a couple restaurants so would love to go back and get it right! I never heard of this event before but may need to at least pencil it in for next year!

  20. Oh YUM! I love all your photos and I can imagine how sluggish I’d be after a 3 day food, wine and music fest but what fun! I enjoyed your pics of the Karri trees which are new to me-they look so tall. And the Voyager Estate roses are magnificent!

  21. Hi Anita, The Karri trees can grow for up to 400 years I think … and in Pemberton you can climb some of the tallest – the fire look-out trees which are amazing – and soooo tall!

  22. Hello Kay, oh that’s a bit sad – it’s always a bummer when the hotel isn’t up to standard. Yes, you do need a few days to explore the region because it’s treasures are quite spread out – and not all in the town itself. Beaches, vineyards, forests, caves – gotta give them time. Hope that you come back for the festival next year perhaps?

  23. Hi Donna! The trees in the area are beautiful and yes, the food ain’t bad either 😉

  24. Haha Suzanne, I know what you mean … wine tours can be a little, well, ‘Hic!’ A steady stream of sustenance in the way of tasty morsels of food is required – so yes this festival is great for that – you can eat, drink and be merry and catch a shuttle bus back to Margaret River or your accommodation.

  25. Surfing would be a fab way to quickly burn off calories Leigh – and this area has some of the world’s best waves.

  26. Thanks Bonny! Yes, I agree … I enjoy the calm of low-key farmers markets and cellar doors, but the buzz of the M R Gourmet Escape is something else – and the variety is hard to beat.

  27. I was in Australia exactly two years ago and I have been whining about wanting to go back all week long! Our next stop is Western Australia – I am such a foodie and I am so envious of this experience. You did such a wonderful job with the details and photos, I can live vicariously!

  28. Oh thank you Suzanne, and so glad that you are coming back 🙂

  29. Wow, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape sounds like it has everything!–great food and drink, wood cabins, surfing, and beautiful surroundings. Add it to gourmet stops around the world.

  30. It’s fast becoming internationally renown, Carole 🙂

  31. Lovely place…

  32. Catherine says:

    Yet another wonderful post! Thank you, Johanna, for sharing your adventures with us! We’ll definitely be putting this event in our diaries for next year.

  33. Denise Gillies says:

    Sounds like an amazing event, Johanna. Hope to go one day.
    I agree about Angelicus’ Panis. My favourite!

  34. Margaret River was already on my (LONG) list of reasons to go back to WA – but I think this edges it up the list a little! Of course the Adelaide F&W festival might take issue with who is the best, but does it really matter in the end if there’s great Aussie eats & drinks all over the country??!!

    Hope you’re having another great weekend!

  35. I love food festivals and this one looks quite ambitious! (and tasty:-)

  36. Looks like a great weekend, thanks for sharing!

  37. I always look forward to your posts as your photos are wonderful and so interesting. I would love to eat at that White Elephant Cafe with that view. The cabin you stayed in looks so charming and comfortable. Happy Holidays!

  38. Thanks Michelle – glad you enjoyed this post 🙂

  39. Thanks Nat!

  40. It was definitely both ambitious and tasty, Irene!

  41. Ooh isn’t Angelicus’s Panis just divine, Denise! Hope you get to the Gourmet Escape next year.

  42. I agree, Red. That we have this whole new generation food thing going on in Australia, and chefs from around the world interested in what we’re doing here is amazing. Doesn’t matter where it’s biggest or best. Bring it on, I say!

  43. Definitely just go next year Catherine – and book a satellite event too – I think you’ll love it.

  44. It’s just one of the best, Muza-chan!

  45. Love this post! We took the kids to this area of WA in January and adored every moment. Highly recommended

  46. Thanks Leah, and glad you enjoyed Margaret River – come back soon.

  47. This whole experience looks and sounds fabulous. I love the fact that you had loads of interesting and tasty experiences, and then retreated to the simplicity of your wooden cabin in the caravan park. What great contrast, and a super way to appreciate both worlds just a little bit more. Go Jo!

  48. Thanks Wanda! Yes, you can do five star gourmet and self catering – in fact it’s a great combo, I reckon!

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