Wednesday, 31 May 2017

How ya going, mate? Part 2: Margaret River

The vacay bragging continues...

Day 3

After a sumptuous breakfast (see previous post), we checked out of Permberlyn House around 10am and started the hour and 45 minute drive towards Margaret River. That translates to being an hour and 45 minute nap for yours truly. We headed towards the house along Hermitage Drive that we had booked via AirBnB. Once we reached, although the exterior of the house was nothing to shout about, we were pleased to see that the interior of the house was very clean and modern, with wonderful lighting, and nice furniture and amenities.

Making himself right at home in the living room

Master bedroom

This isn't such a flattering pic but the place is very cosy

Mezzanine bedroom

The view from the deck

We quickly settled our sleeping arrangements, where the boo and I got the mezzanine floor with the twin single beds and all of us set about doing the most important thing - USING THE WIFI like internet-addicted millennials.

Since massive breakfast had now been maybe 2 hours ago, it was only natural that we immediately set out to eat. So we drove to the town centre which was like 7 minutes away to find lunch! We ate at what looks like a fast food place - Squid Lips, but offered really really really good fish and chips. I had fish and chips three times on this trip and I can honestly say I liked this one the best. Weird fact: they sell their sauces separate from the food itself.

Sadly the weather wasn't great on this day, and it started pouring as we were tucking into our food. We were thus waylaid by the weather and ended up walking around aimlessly in the area, grabbing coffee at a hipster joint and popping into cute shops along the way to see what we could buy. The most useful purchase of the trip were these babies:

9 bucks from Target to keep the toes warm!

Hipster cafe...

Perfect for a hipster couple I know
I've no idea how we managed it but we ended up grocery shopping once more, this time at Coles (if memory serves me correctly) before making our way to Brewhouse. If craft beers are your thing, this is the place for you. It had a very relaxed atmosphere, and felt welcoming to everyone including families with kids. By this time, I was craving chicken so I ordered some chicken wings which I enjoyed but the boo didn't seem impressed by them. The friends are beer drinkers and they seemed pleased with their beers, I had a cider and a hot chocolate too. Yes. Indulgence IS my middle name. At around 5pm, we moved to the outdoor seating deck and listened to a super cool band perform.

After a brief nap session back at the house, we were recharged and ready to have a wild night out. Just kidding. We just wanted to eat. We made a late booking at Morries, it's a tapas restaurant bar with Australian food with Asian influences. The service was fast and friendly and the setting was cosy and intimate, really perfect for the shared tapas experience.

Huge chicken and beef sliders

Raw fish? I dunno but the tomato bits were delicious


Superstar pork belly dish

Chicken karaage

Haloumi cheese on toast

Beef tataki

I think this might have been potato croquette

OMG why did we order this charcuterie platter? So stuffed.
So, to summarise Day 3 of the trip: we ate nonstop. I'm surprised Margaret River has any produce left after we blew through town.

Day 4

I think we were getting sick of eating so we made a simple granola and yogurt breakfast (one of the best things about all our grocery store trips were the yogurt purchases) before heading out to Voyager Estate for a wine tour, tasting and pairing lunch.

Voyager Estate is a beautiful sprawling vineyard with architectural influence drawn from the owner's South African adventures. We were brought on a tour of the estate by a lovely guide called Sally, who gave us a background on how the founder, Michael, moved away from his family's farming towards wine making, growing this family business into the successful empire one sees today. It's currently run by his daughters as he's passed away.

The entrance to the driveway

Toward the main building

Inside the reception area of the main building

No flag as it'll get destroyed by the strong winds

A slave bell rung to signify the start of the day. Yep. Slave bell.

Beautiful rose bushes planted at the head of each line in the vineyard for chioness

Dried up grapes for red wine

Different growing style for white wine grapes

Beautiful garden arches perfect for weddings

Processing centre to turn grape to wine.

Barrels of wine live here

A huge underground cellar, largest in Margaret River to store wine soon to be exported
I'm not really a wine lover, but I can't stress enough how awesome the tour was. I found the process of planting and harvesting grapes to make wine extremely fascinating and the boo said I was a super nerd for asking so many questions but I dunno man, LEARNING!

After the tour, we sat for a while in the reception area for a tasting of 5 different wines from the vineyard. I enjoyed the Rose (how do I put in the accent?) because like I said, not much of a wine lover, so the most subtle one was my favourite.
L-R: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose

L-R: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rose (from the last round)

The menu teaching you how to pretend to know wine. "Hmm I perceive an intense and supple aroma"
 To cap it all off, we followed the tasting with a wine pairing lunch which I enjoyed because FOOD.
In the grand dining room

Menus printed on postcard like paper

Drink drank drunk

Barramundi to pair with a chardonnay

Duck liver to pair with a shiraz

Lamb to pair with a cabernet sauvignon merlot

Suprise! This isn't dessert but a palate cleanser made of pineapple sorbet

Lemon puree and pinenut shavings served on a ginger shortbread with  acaramelised white chocolate crisp

You can't eat a meal like that and simply leave, so we wandered just outside the main building into the rose garden and the plants and herb garden. There's just something super romantic about having rose and herb gardens, no?

So by this time, you should know that if I haven't spent money on shopping, I might explode so after Voyager, we voyaged (hurhurhur) in the Vasse region to an organic chocolate shop, a cafe/coffee bean shop, and an organic olive oil store so I could spend some of my hard-earned moolah. All I can say is that if you want organic goodness, it's gonna cost ya. Oh wait, I've just realised that we visited another winery near Voyager, called Leeuwin Estate. I totally spaced out there from the food coma so no pics but I recall it having a lot of photos of celebrities on the wall and I think this is where some of the guys dropped some serious coin getting wine bottles delivered directly to their homes in Singapore.  So to paraphrase this paragraph: we spent da monies. WOO!

So. Much. Chocolate. *Drool*

Cool beans.
After a day of indulgence, we were pretty much pooped, so we decided to order Dominos pizza delivery and have a quiet night in. Not that quiet though because they played an exciting game of Monopoly Deal, while our resident nature wanderer, Nigel, started a bonfire in the grounds just outside the house (sadly it was extinguished as the rain started soon after he lit it).

Bonfire area in the day

Day 5

Exercise time! We woke up and sprinted out of bed (just kidding, we were pretty slow going) to get ourselves to the Cape to Cape trail, to check out Meekadarabee Falls, and take a scenic walk along the cliffs overlooking the beach. It was quite a cold and overcast morning but thankfully not raining, so it made for quite a pleasant walk. We decided to venture down to the beach at one point and took an off-the-beaten track route, only to have to turn back because the plants were pokey and trying to murder us. However, when we got to the beach, it was lovely - the sand on the beach was pristine and clean, there was a joyful dog running around barking at the flowing waves, and there were some serious surfers riding rather large waves so it made for quite a view. Also, a strapping man with a tattoo, a baby, and the dog, made for some nice eye candy.

Meekadarabee Falls but not really falling

Huge waves dude

In memoriam - Chris Boyd, a surfer who had been fatally attacked by a shark.
After our morning walkabout, we headed for lunch at Wilyabrup, a short drive away. We went to Rustico at Hay Shed Hill, and the paella was SO GOOD, I ate so much even though I'm allergic to shellfish. The service and ambiance was really lovely and the day had brightened so we had our chocolate dipped churros dessert out on the open air porch (I've no photo evidence of the churros but they weren't very nice so whatevs).

These made the 6 diners who ate oysters very happy

Beautiful delicious paella
Near Hay Shed Hill was the Providore, an awesome food store selling beautifully packaged food produce like olive oils, grains in bags, cake mix in jars, and a yummy passionfruit puree that I've bought to eat with yogurt. They provided little plastic spoons and testers for most jams, oils and purees could be tried. They also sold beautiful homeware like ceramic plates and bowls, and wooden cooking utensils. I can't wait to have a home!

Outside of Providore, there was an herb garden, a chicken coop (actually it was a fenced area with chickens in it, is that still counted as a coop?), and cows in a field!

Evil side eye much

Moo muthaf*cka
Checking out the Margaret River Nougat Company after was a very successful venture, I ended up with 6 bars of delicious sweet Nougat to give away as gifts, but also to eat. In fact, I'm eating it as I type. Vvvv sticky. Probably not the smartest idea.

The MR Nougat Company is situated next to this lovely lake

Nougat bars filled with YUM
Decisions decisions
As Margaret River is wine country, we had to visit more than just two vineyards so we drove to Vasse Felix and Cullen Winery. Vasse Felix was super fancy, the grounds were neatly manicured and had artsy looking sculptures placed around. The restaurant on the second level looked so posh I didn't dare to walk in, and even the bathrooms were fancy and they use Aesop soap. I wanted to move in.

Welcome to Vasse Felix

What a beauty

Hey baby, how roo doin'?

Underground cellar - those pillar like structures have historical information printed on them

Cullen seemed to be a little smaller and more like a family owned kind of winery. The place actually closes at 4.30pm and we got there at 4.20pm but the lady was so kind to run through the tasting session without rushing us. There was some outdoor self-guided tour about biodynamics and how they use it in their wine production - it sounded kind of strange in a hippie dippie kind of way. However, the wines must've been good as the guys ended up ordering lots of wine to be sent directly back to Singapore.

Our winery adventures had come to a close literally because they all close by 5pm latest so we headed back to Hermitage house to rest and hang out before heading out to dinner. We'd read nice things about Settlers Tavern so we popped in for bar food style dinner. The serving portions were huge and I don't think any of us finished our meals. We ordered a side order of chicken wings, which were really tasty, but small in portion compared to the other starters like nachos. Dan, the number 1 chingchongcheenapong (I'm in second place) was pleased to see laksa on the menu so I guess if you ever find yourself in Margaret River craving Singapore grub, you can head there.

After our meal, we headed back for the final sleep in Hermitage house before we moved on the following day to Fremantle.

Thanks for reading, the final part of the Australia trip will follow in another post! Don't say I didn't warn you.