Western Australia: Fact Sheet
Taste Takes Off
Located beyond thousands of miles of Australian outback is Perth; the world's most isolated city, yet as we discovered it's worth the trek. Perth has all the essential ingredients; fabulous beaches, bustling markets, a vibrant nightlife and it's the launch pad to two of Australia's top wine and food destinations. Our first stop is just 30 minutes up the Swan River to the fertile Swan Valley. This compact little area is Western Australia's first grape growing centre with over 150 growers producing grapes for table wine and the table.
The Grape Place
Originally from Croatia The Katich family has been growing grapes in The Swan Valley for over 50 years. They grow around a dozen varieties which you can sample and buy at their farmgate from January through to May.
Contact: Katiches the Grape Place
Contact: Matt Katich
M. Katich& Sons
899 West Swan Road
Tel: 0061 412 242 696
Four hours south, flanked by a roaring surf coast is the picturesque Margaret River region. Margaret River was once a quiet farming community but that all changed in the 60's when the land was deemed suitable for grapes. Attracted by the scenery and the surf, winemakers flocked to the area. Quick on their heals came dedicated food producers. Today the region is synonymous with exceptional Australian wines and gourmet delights. We meet a fortunate few living the good life among the vines in Margaret River.
It was love at first sight for Ian Parmenter when he first visited Margaret River. The TV chef, producer, writer and food festival organiser moved to the region fifteen years ago after being posted there for an assignment with the ABC television network. At first, he and his wife Ann resisted the idea of planting vines on their property but eventually common sense prevailed. Ian and Ann now run the smallest commercial vineyard in Australia producing award winning chardonnay.
Contact: Ian Parmenter
PO Box 489
Tel: +61 8 9757 8131
Vasse Felix is the oldest commercial winery in Margaret River; founder Dr Tom Cullity planted his first vines in 1967. Since then Margaret River wines have gained an international reputation for their consistent high quality and Vasse Felix is no exception with Chardonnays, Semillons and Cabernet blends among their award winning exports. Vasse Felix is also renowned for their underground tasting room and art gallery which is housed in the converted original winery. The vineyard restaurant too has gained a reputation as one of the best in region. The menu is Mod Oz, created by their talented chef Aaron Carr.
Contact: Vasse Felix Winery
Cnr Caves Road and Harmans Road South
Tel: +61 8 9756 5000
Fax: + 61 8 9755 5425
HOT AND SOUR BLUE-MANNA CRAB SALAD WITH COCONUT AND MINT
Four blue-manna crabs (cooked flesh removed and claws cracked)
For the Salad
1 bunch of bok choy (washed and cut into julienne)
6 stems of spring onion (cut into julienne)
Handful of coriander
1/2 cup Vietnamese Mint
1/2 cup garden mint
1/4 fresh coconut (shaved)
1 long chilli (seeds removed cut into julienne)
100gms bean shoots.
In a large stainless steel bowl mix all the salad ingredients together. Add the crab flesh to the salad and toss lightly. Place a mound of salad in the centre of each plate with a claw in between, pour over a little of the dressing and sprinkle with crispy shallots.
For the Dressing
2 cloves garlic
2 coriander root
Red chilli (to taste)
1 tbsp palm sugar
20mls fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
Place the garlic, coriander roots and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and grind until smooth. Add chilli a little at a time and crush them lightly. Mix in the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice, taste and correct the seasoning as required.
The Berry Farm
Like many before them Eion and Andrea Lindsay were drawn to Margaret River by the surf and the scenery. They started an orchard but business was slow so they moved into value added products such as jams and later fruit wines and vinegars, and they've never looked back Today The Berry Farm is an impressive visitor attraction with a restaurant, gardens and a cellar door for their 100 plus assortment of gourmet products including their excellent wines and vinegars. Ian produces nine vinegars using several traditional processes, the range includes raspberry, honey, boysenberry and the most popular of all, pear.
A Tasteful Dish for Classy Vinegar
Spoon some creamy blue cheese into a ripe fig, wrap in vine leaves and bake. Plate with venison prosciutto, a drizzle of red wine vinegar dressing and eat with pleasure.
Bushtucker Tours is an award winning operation offering tours of the Margaret River by canoe. As part of each tour visitors are treated to a smorgasbord of traditional bushtucker fare including delicacies such as witchetty grub pate, smoked kangaroo, marinated emu and range of native fruits and berries. The food is prepared fresh each day and the ingredients used are often harvested from the previous day's tour. Bushtucker's founder Helen Lee is a botanist who spent years teaching people the values of native foods before starting Bushtucker Tours.
Western Australia is blessed with an abundance of delicious seafood but the most prized of all is the dhufish. The flesh is firm with a subtle sweet flavour so Peta cooks it simply, by baking the fish with a sauce of local olive oil and vinegar.
MARGARET RIVER WOOD ROASTED DHUFISH
3 tbsp capers
3 cloves garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
ý cup chopped mint
ý cup chopped flat leafed parsley
1/3 cup pear wine vinegar or verjuice
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1kg filleted dhufish or another tender white fish like snapper or blue cod
1 kg small tomatoes on the vine
Extra virgin olive oil
1 kg asparagus
Fire up the wood oven or turn the kitchen oven to 200oC. Squish the capers with a fork. Smash garlic with salt. Combine first 8 ingredients to make the marinade. Spread half of the marinade generously over both sides of fish and leave to sit for 15 mins. Place tomatoes on an oven tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast fish in its marinade and tomatoes at the same time in the oven. It will take about 20 minutes - the fish should be just cooked and the tomatoes starting to blacken and pop. Remove tomatoes from the oven and keep warm. Remove fish and immediately pour the rest of the marinade over it. Steam asparagus until al dente. Serve everything together on large platters.