Just how does one tackle a beast like Margaret River Gourmet Escape? Running November 16 to 18 and hosting more than 45 culinary heavyweights, including Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein, and Guillaume Brahimi, the four-day festival demands decisions be made.
To spend a day in one of the region’s great vineyards (hello Cullen, hello Cape Mentelle) or frolic by unspoiled coastline (hello Castle Rock Beach, hello Gourmet Beach BBQ)? Or do you spend your evening drinking wine (hello everyone from Amelia Park to Vasse Felix to Xanadu) or beer (hola Caves Road Cantina)? And that’s just day one.
With more than 25 locations hosting an array of chefs, producers and tastemakers, there’s something to suit (literally) all tastes. From a pop-up Mexican cantina and vineyard wine tastings, to a bustling Chinese banquet and intimate traditional Japanese dining experience – experiences both local and international abound. To help you make the most of your long weekend in Australia’s beautiful south-west, we’ve selected six highlights from this year’s line-up. Dive in.
Feast in the Forest
Hidden inside Leeuwin Estate is the Safari Club, a wooden barn surrounded by soaring jarrah and karri trees. This is the lush setting for Feast in the Forest, which will see a host of international chefs conduct communal barbeque feasts using the whole beast.
Jerry Mai (Annam, Melbourne) will prepare a taste of whole Vietnamese hog; Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi, London) is putting his West African-inspired flavours on display with a West African barbeque; and Australian Jake Kellie (Burnt Ends, Singapore) is bringing his Singaporean barbeque experience to the table. Each feast will be expertly matched with Leeuwin Estate wines.
From the Earth: Oakridge Comes to Arimia
Arimia is proof restaurants can – and should – think green. From raising its own pigs to converting its vineyards to biodynamic operations, the local team at Arimia is committed to working with rather than against nature.
It’s a concept in simpatico with that of Oakridge, a green-minded winery restaurant in the Yarra Valley. Expect big things when chefs Evan Hayter (Arimia) and Jo Barrett (Oakridge) come together to celebrate sustainability, provenance and earthy, honest flavours.
Smith & Daughters ’90s Trattoria Dinner
Lentils. Veggie stacks. Tofu for days. Once upon a time, these were the hallmarks of vegan dining. Then along comes goth-rocker chef Shannon Martinez to blow those stereotypes out of the water. Her Fitzroy outposts Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli hum with energy and prove eating vegan can be fun and delicious. Martinez brings the good times to Margaret River with an evening of plant-based eating inspired by Italian family dining.
The Gourmet Village
Good thing the Gourmet Village runs over both Saturday and Sunday at picturesque Leeuwin Estate during the festival: two days might just be enough time to explore everything on offer at the festival hub. From cooking demonstrations with culinary legends and tastings to intimate panel discussions, the village has something for all festivalgoers. Splash out on a platinum lounge pass and enjoy a VIP area and chances to meet this year’s stars.
Sunset Beats and Bites
What’s better than a Margaret River sunset? A Margaret River sunset at White Elephant Beach Cafe with food from some of the state’s most promising chefs, matched with wines produced by equally new-wave winemakers. Amy Hamilton of recently-crowned Australian Gourmet Traveller bar of the year Liberte will be joining forces with Melissa Palinkas of Young George and Alia Glorie (ex-Billie H), while wine critic Nick Stock is in charge of the drinks and local DJs spin tuness as the sun sets. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.
This content was originally published here.