Hooray! I’ve been looking forward to this event for ages. Ladies and Gents last month I headed down to the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape.
Imagine the best food and wine festival you’ve ever been to and times it by a zillion.
It’s a three day culinary celebration with top chefs and wine buffs from all over the globe. They’re sharing their top foodie tips and secrets, cooking gourmet dinners, hosting master-classes and holding intimate Q&A’s.
But the main hub of excitement is the Gourmet Escape Village where local producers, wineries, breweries and restaurants from the region showcase their wares, and invited chefs (like Heston Blummenthal and Rick Stein) dazzle and delight hundreds, nay THOUSANDS of enthralled gormandizers from a huge outdoor ampitheatre.
All this set against the beautiful rolling green woodland and pristine beaches of Australia’s South West. It’s the Foodie Event of the Year!
*For a bit of context, Margaret River is a small town in the South West corner of Western Australia (about 4 hours drive from Perth) and the surrounding area is the Margaret River wine region, known for its premium vineyards and wineries, great beaches and world-class surfing breaks.
The Gourmet Village is a great place to hang out, make friends, learn all about the produce from the region and most importantly of all, EAT. I had a great time wandering between stalls and bumping into loads of people and different producers that I’ve met on my travels so far.
But the Gourmet Escape isn’t JUST the Village, ohh no no no!! Over the course of the weekend, brunches, lunches and dinners are held in spectacular locations around the region, with top chefs cooking and guest speakers providing food for thought. I felt like I was on a bit of a Magical Mystery Tour sometimes, as I was directed onto a minibus and driven through beautiful countryside to a hidden location for lunch, or dropped off at one of the area’s 150 boutique wineries for dinner.
My favourite dinner was probably “Forager”, where NO-ONE on the coach I was on knew where we were going, just a time and a place to get picked up from. After a 30-minute coach ride and a short walk along a secret pathway into the forest, we arrived at a kind of makeshift looking rustic lodge in a clearing amongst the trees.
We were greeted with a glass of champagne and the best didgeridoo playing I’ve ever heard. With guest speaker Miles Irving (a professional forager from the UK), the aim of the lunch was to educate people about living from the land. About listening to nature. About not taking too much. About trying different things. About eating seasonally (when they say ‘seasonally’ they’re talking about the natural calendar, not the dictated one. Seasons are shifting).
All the things the Indigenous folk of this country have been doing for the past 50,000 years.
The menu reflected the foraging theme with fried quandong leaves, Geraldton wax and sea celery, but Miles said if he had to sum up the taste of Australia it’d be wattle seed damper flavoured with eucalypt.
The Margaret River Gourmet Escape is by far the best food and wine event I’ve ever been to, and I also heard a lot of the chefs said it’s the best event THEY’VE ever been to as well. If you’re lucky enough to be in this beautiful part of the world next year, do yourself and your tastebuds a favour and get a few tickets. Next year’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape will be held between 21 -23 November 2014.
Tips and Tricks
Getting to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape
- Self-drive is the best way to journey the Margaret River Wine Region and gives you flexibility to travel between the events. Bus transfers are also available to the Gourmet Village from Bunbury, Busselton, Broadwater, Dunsborough, Yallingup and Margaret River.
- If you have limited time, Virgin Australia operate flights from Perth to Busselton.
Where I stayed
My Insider tips
- Immerse yourself in the culinary experiences of this amazing region by mixing your time between the Gourmet Village and the fringe events.