Margaret River – Part Two

As mentioned in my last post on our little getaway to Margaret River, a visit is just not complete if you don’t actually go anywhere else BUT wineries. You don’t spend any more than an hour at the wineries’ cellar doors unless you’re there for lunch / dinner, so here’s a snapshot of what else A and I did in the 3 days 2 nights we were down south 🙂

ACCOMODATION

Burnside Bungalows
287 Burnside Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 2139
info@burnsideorganicfarm.com.au

We arrived at Margaret River when it was already pretty dark so it took us a little while and a quick call to Burnside Bungalows before we managed to locate this quaint farm. I sure wasn’t disappointed – just look at the pictures! 😀 The bungalows are immaculately clean (by my standards) and are equipped with everything you could possibly need for a short 2 night stay or even for a family vacation of 5 nights or more. I mean, you’ll need the stove tops to fry up those fresh eggs courtesy of Burnside’s chooks! 🙂

I love too that you’re encouraged to just wander around the farm, armed with the handy little map that is provided upon check-in. In any case, the walking paths are very well delineated so you’re good to go, map or no map! This is a great location if you have little ones in tow or are just in the market for out-of-the-ordinary accommodation.

You know we’re city slickers because we were BEYOND fascinated with the farm animals running free, especially those Angus cowwws……. Well, I was fascinated fo’sho. Or maybe I was just hungry 😛

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Candy Cow
Shop 3, Botterill Street (off Bussell Highway)
Cowaramup WA 6284
+61 (0)8 9755 9155
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

Anything PINK rates in my books! But really, Candy Cow is a sweet-tooth’s haven and a good pit-stop en route to Margaret River. Stretch your legs and stock up on candy of all flavours – you’d probably need a little sugar hit after all that driving anyways 🙂 We bought lots of fudge that we haven’t yet finished… methinks I might have to throw them out already hahaha

Cape Lavender
Carter Road (off Metricup Road)
Wilyabrup
WA 6280
+61 (0)8 9755 7552
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

Getting to Cape Lavender is quite the dry/sandy/dusty adventure since you’re travelling for the most part on dirt road. With that in mind, it would quite be lovely to be greeted at the end of this journey by the brilliant sight of purple lavender in full bloom and their sweet scent, yes? Alas, it was not to be for me on both occasions as it was faar from lavender season. They’re more spring flowers and my visits were in early autumn / late winter. Anyhow, I consoled myself with their homemade lavender honey and bottles of lavender body wash 😀

The grounds are very well-maintained and I can just imagine, when the flowers really are in bloom, how wonderfully pretty a backdrop it would be for a wedding..

Lake Cave
Caves Rd
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 7411
Daily tours – 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm

Lake Cave is one of three caves at Margaret River and is not the largest. That honour belongs to Jewel Cave. Anyhow, we decided that Lake Cave would be the most “manageable” and boy, did we get a good workout climbing those 350+ steps up AND down the cave. It’s interesting enough and is a good distraction from all the winery visiting. There’s a little tea room/cafe located right next to Lake Cave’s visitors’ centre which served up some awesome hot chips and nachos! It was right about lunch time for us and the food sure hit the spot 😀

Margaret River Chocolate Factory
Cnr Harman’s Mill Road and Tom Cullity Dr
Metricup
WA 6280
+61 (0)8 9755 6555
Opens daily, 9am – 5pm

I love my desserts but have never been much of a chocolate person. Still, being at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory was almost intoxicating! I spent so much time examining each chocolate bar/melt/chip/button/syrup/you-name-it-they-got-it, we just HAD to sit down for some hot chocolate… Well, that’s my excuse anyway. The hot chocolate was DELISH and that is exactly how I do my hot chocolate now – hot milk poured over chocolate buttons placed at the bottom of the mug. Stir.. and enjoy 😀 Thankfully there’s an outlet over at Swan River and although not the closest in terms of proximity, the drive there isn’t too crazy so if we need to stock up on choc chips, we don’t have to wait until we next head into Margaret River.

Simmo’s Ice Creamery
161 Commonage Road
Dunsborough
WA
+61 (0)8 9755 3745
Opens daily, 10.30am – 5pm

An ice-cream bar is every child – and my – favourite place ever, so I wasn’t about to pass up popping into Simmo’s on the way back into the city. It was a lovely, sweet and creamy way to round off the weekend 🙂 There’s a Simmo’s located in the Margaret River town centre but again, this would be the perfect pit-stop en route to Perth. Simmo’s in Dunsborough also has a fun park – let the kids loose, expend some of that energy, pop them back into the car and listen to the beautiful sound of silence as they sleep the whole ride home…

The Berry Farm
43 Bessell Rd
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 5054
Opens daily, 10am – 4.30pm

Pop by the Berry Farm to load up on jams, preserves and port but don’t be expecting a stroll amongst bushels of berries or whatnot 😛 While you’re there, reward yourself with a cake and coffee at their Cottage Cafe but beware of the flies – the location is THAT rustic.

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And that, my friends, concludes my two-part series on Margaret River. I’ll keep in mind to check out new places the next time I’m there but, like many others who have been to Margaret River, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up returning to my favourite spots 😀 tried and tested and a creature of habit – what more can I say xx

Margaret River – Part One

In this one year alone, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Margaret River TWICE! And I’ve loved both times equally, first with A and then with my parents when they popped by Perth in June.. I suppose it’s the city slicker in me but being anywhere CLOSE to nature is awesome – the clean air, lush greenery, tranquility – simply au naturel “chicken soup” for the soul, if you know what I mean 😛

Anyhow, my boyfriend – like me – has a Type A personality but his is very much prevalent in ALL aspects of his life and very much so even when he travels.. Me? I’m a super laid-back traveller – you’d love going on a group holiday with me because I’m quite happy to just do whatever it is the majority / minority wants to do. That being said, if I have to step up, I will, of course, especially if it’s somewhere I’m familiar with.

SO. Being meticulous meant that my dear bf planned our little weekend getaway to Margaret River to an absolute ‘T’ and it was a fab 2 nights 3 days in celebration of both our birthdays back then in March 😀 We wined, we dined and we “caved” – an “all-rounded” way to take in Margaret River which I wholly recommend! Because seriously, how many wineries can you visit before you start yawning, one, at the sight of yet another buncha grapes or two, from consuming too much wine, whichever hits home first… It helps too that Margaret River is really easy to navigate – the road signs are pretty much everywhere – so people, EXPLORE! We had so much fun driving around, making a few wrong turns here and there – oh the joys of road trips!

Ah… Reminiscing is bittersweet – I’m now itching for another road trip! I’ll just have to be contented with the memories for now 😛 Read on for my recs on wineries and eateries! Here’s Part Two on where we stayed and other Margaret River sights and sounds.

Friends, if you’re ever in WA to visit A and I, you know where you’re headed! 🙂 xx

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WINE

Cape Mentelle
331 Wallcliffe Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 0812
Opens daily, 10am – 4:30pm

Cape Mentelle holds a special SPECIAL place in my heart, considering how I’d worked with and/or for them much of my working life. We didn’t manage to experience the Degustation Tour and Tasting unfortunately as it was fully booked out but I’d highly recommend it nonetheless! PS – Do something different at each winery, if you can. It’ll make the visit much more interesting really. In any case, the sommeliers at Cape Mentelle’s cellar door are very knowledgeable so that in itself may be enough for you. It was for us 🙂

Leeuwin Estate
Stevens Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9759 0000
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

You have not visited a more well-manicured winery until you’ve been to Leeuwin Estate! So sooo pretty I got extremely trigger-happy while my stepfather was taking his time wine-tasting. The sommelier was extremely patient with us even though it was a little past the cellar door closing time so kudos to them for not turning us away 🙂 Yet another estate with a restaurant that I would DEFINITELY want to visit the next time around.

Vasse Felix
Cnr Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road
Cowaramup
WA 6284
+61 (0)8 9756 5000
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

Vasse Felix is a SPRAWLING winery – sooo impressive, it’s no wonder the estate is an extremely popular venue for outdoor weddings. The food at the restaurant is amazing too, so pop by for lunch on your way back to Perth city. The foodie in me just HAD TO go once again when I was with my parents 🙂 I mean, Vasse Felix isn’t just around the corner y’know? There’s a little art gallery at the winery too – perfect for killing a little time while waiting for your table at the restaurant. Remember to call ahead to make reservations!

Voyager Estate
Stevens Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 6354
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

Rows and rows of rose bushes line the driveway leading in to Voyager Estate and I can just imagine how pretty it must all be when in season! I didn’t get to experience the roses in its full glory either time but the winery still ranks high on my list of beautiful wineries 😀 Have a nice leisurely stroll and just amble around on the premises – you won’t regret it, I promise.

Xanadu
Boodjidup Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9758 9500
Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

“Xanaduuuuuu…. Xanadauuuu…. Xanaduu-uu-uuu….” is what rings through my head EVERY TIME I just think of the word. It’s almost as if I can’t say the word without singing it. Gah. Anyhow, I especially loved the use of empty oak barrels in the winery’s cellar door. There’s a restaurant at Xanadu too but it was closed for a private function, so next time maybe!

DINE

Goodfellas Cafe
97 Bussell Highway
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 3184
Opens daily, 6pm – 9.30pm

A great little pizza cafe that the bf and I happened to find on our first night in Margaret River. Wood-fired, thin crust pizzas… Perfection! Pop by for a casual dining experience but take note not to arrive too close to closing time – my parents, I and TWO other groups of customers were turned away almost ONE HOUR to closing time because the cafe didn’t think they were going to have anyone walking in just then. Well, that’s what you get in a sleepy little town like Margaret River.

Vasse Felix
Cnr Tom Cullity Drive & Caves Road
Cowaramup
WA 6284
+61 (0)8 9756 5050
Opens daily, 10am – 3pm

Helmed by Executive Chef Aaron Carr, the Vasse Felix restaurant is only opened for lunch. The food is fresh and ingredients seasonal – you know you’re in epicurean heaven. Nothing beats that amazing view of the estate you get too, so dine outdoors if the weather permits.

Voyager Estate
Stevens Road
Margaret River
WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9757 6354
Opens daily

Make reservations ahead of time like I did with my parents or you’d just have to look into the restaurant longingly and wistfully… 😛 The menu changes seasonally and each dish on the menu is accompanied by a wine recommendation. My stepfather and my mum opted instead for a flight of red wines each. I was designated driver so I was more than content with my feast of seared scallops mmm-yum-YUM!

Winos
85 Bussell Highway
Margaret River WA 6285
+61 (0)8 9758 7155
Opens daily, 3pm – late

Go communal and indulge in an extensive menu of tapas at Wino’s! The food is amaaazing and the service fab. I’m still dreaming of their pork crackling served with apple sauce… Soooo bad for you but SO SOOOOOO goooood… Staff will quickly run through with you Wino’s tapas dining style when you’re seated and the world is your oyster thereafter! Knock yourselves out ordering individual dishes that you fancy or do what the bf and I did and order the “Chef’s Feast” that comes complete with a menu of items which are served in a specific order for MAXIMUM gastronomical pleasure 🙂 If only Wino’s is just a hop, skip and jump away from our apartment…..

Coffee Chiffon Cake

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you might have come across one very excited tweet in which I exclaimed that I had FINALLY baked a beautifully TALL and moist chiffon cake! *pumps fist in air* SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS! Success, my friends, was truly sweet, both literally and figuratively. After repeated attempts at baking chiffon cakes and having the end result either sink on me or just be much too dense in texture, I was quite ready to throw in the towel 😦 But “Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat”, or “Fortune Favours the Brave” and so I persevered, sniffing out the best recipe and researching on techniques.

Before I started going all bake-crazy, I thought those baking fanatics a little kooky, especially when I read that some of them had had sleepless nights just thinking about their unsuccessful cakes/cookies/muffins etc… But y’know what? I became – or have become – one of those kooks. And man, am I proud of it 😛 It was on one of those arvos when I just COULD NOT STOP obsessing about that last sunken almost-inedible orange chiffon cake that I decided to run with the latest recipe I’d found and put into practice some new-found techniques. I am SO HAPPY that I made that decision – and that the cake turned out wonderfully, of course – because my ego is now a little less bruised and I don’t feel like such a complete failure.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to be hawking my baked goods any time soon but it would be nice to see someone other than my boyfriend eating and enjoying my cakes etc.. In any case, I still have a loonng way to go and lots more to learn! 😀

Anyhow, I digress. In the course of my “research”, I chanced upon the following video by Pastry Friends and it was a lifesaver!

It really is VERY IMPORTANT to cream the eggs and sugar until they become light and fluffy. I didn’t cream until the mixture was all pale in colour but I definitely spent a little more time on the eggs and sugar than on all the other attempts.

Also, instead of using the same number of egg yolks as egg whites, I used only 5 yolks and 6 whites. Once again, it worked for me this time around, so methinks I’ll be sticking to this method/recipe.. Why fix something if it’s not broken right? 😛 The recipe and instructions have come from several different sources (namely Poh, The Cookbook Chronicles and Little Corner of Mine) and the result, like I said, is what worked for me, so here goes!

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cup all-purpose / plain flour (sifted)
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable / canola oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar / white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.

1. Brew the coffee and allow it to cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup castor sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the vegetable oil, brewed coffee, flour, baking powder, vanilla essence and salt and whisk until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, begin whisking the egg whites with an electric beater (or stand-mixer), until stiff peaks.

4. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until combined. Repeat process until egg whites are completely incorporated into egg yolk mixture. BE GENTLE and take care not to over-mix.

5. Pour batter into a baba cake tin / an ungreased angel food cake pan and bake for 45 minutes at 160 degrees celsius. Turn up the temperature up to 180 degrees celsius and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.

6. Invert the cake until cool. (I balanced my inverted cake tin on top of a mug so as to prevent the cake from being too close to the counter-top which could keep “cooking” the cake.)

Inverted and balanced on a mug so the cake doesn't keep "cooking" by being too close to any solid surface.

7. When cooled after an hour or so, slowly remove from the cake tin. Cut with a serated knife and ENJOY!

SUCCESS!! Sitting pretty, just waiting to be sliced and served 😀
What a beaut, if I may say so myself! 😛

l’apartement

… and that, my friends, is as much French as I can possibly muster! So much for having studied the language all. my. life.

Anyhow, I know I’ve been terribly errant and once again, I attribute my absence to our big move into the city. We’ve now officially settled into our little nook for one full month 😀 It’s not a big place – just a little one bedroom but it’s cosy enough for us both. Plus, I revel in the fact that I only have THISMUCH to vacuum and clean. And mind you, I can be quite the fiend when it comes to keeping the place clean, even if I didn’t, in the past, strike you as much of a – ahem – homemaker 😛 I believe that every little bit helps. If cleaning as I go along isn’t a part of the routine, I could very well end up on “How Clean Is Your House”! Not that I wouldn’t love for a team of people to come spring clean our apartment…

The apartment has all the basics we could possibly need for now – the white goods, a bed, WiFi, a TV and even a PS2! As boys will be, my bubby also indulged pre-move and hooked us up with a spiffy Samsung home entertainment system, complete with a Blu-Ray player 🙂 We haven’t actually watched any Blu-Ray DVDs yet but the player – and my trusty external hard-drive – has served us very well indeed. Why this might be relevant to you escapes me but suffice to say, we could be watching 3D movies at home if we so decided to, one fine day 😛

What pleases ME most is my cute little kitchen in which I have a fully-functioning oven that has, of course, been necessary in my production of home-made baked goods… Muffins, cakes, cookies – I’ve been baking the lot of ’em! I’ve also been whipping up dinner EVERY NIGHT and neither A nor I have been sent to the ER yet. HEH. Other than a few hiccups – like cooking dinner much too early and serving up cold food 😦 – I’ve pretty much got the hang of preparing these evening meals. It’s been fun looking up recipes and trying them out on A 😀 He’s very vocal when it comes to his food which is good and that also means he WILL let me know if he likes the food or not. It’s been positive thus far – we haven’t had to chuck anything out and call for takeaway! I’ve even gotten a “This is nicer than my mum’s!” which is a HUGE compliment, yes?!

Other than cleaning, washing, cooking and GROCERY shopping, I haven’t gotten out very much. Will need to get back on that daily walks bandwagon and start exploring the apartment’s surrounds! Until then, keep well friends! Stay tuned for recipes and regular updates from me! I promise! xx