A recent trip to Perth had us spending an overnight stay down at Margaret River. I’m sure this is old hat for some people, but I wasn’t prepared for all that the region had to offer. Perhaps most famous for its wines, there is so much more to explore. There is old history, and new history being made with the likes of the Voyager Estate (a new winery styled in an old look, their iconic building stamped with a 1996 – less than 20 years old). Oh, and the wine there ain’t bad.
A surprising visit was with Steve at Yahava Koffeeworks. We stumbled on this as we were driving about and decided to pop in. Upon entering, I wandered over to sticky-beak at a coffee tasting that was going on, was quickly incorporated into the tasting, and spent 45 minutes learning about different styles and the importance of the crema. At the end I was happily able to admit “My name is Stephanie and I’m a coffee philistine!” Turns out that while I was getting full strength out of my percolator, I was burning my coffee. I’ve been schooled and was happy to do my coffee homework, which I’ve been benefiting from ever since (and yes, there is a distinct difference). And the folks from Yahava were just plain straight-up nice people. What a find!
One thing that was interesting is the reason that I started this post – animal coffees. We were discussing different coffees and the use of social responsibility in coffee harvesting and production (ala Starbucks-style) and kopi lewak came up (the coffee made from the beans that have passed through the digestive system of a civet cat). Steve at Yahava said they don’t support it because (a) it’s not appropriate treatment of the lewak, amd (b) the standard has dropped because of (a). Here’s the reasoning (and I’m paraphrasing):
When the civet cat is allowed to roam around free it goes and picks the best beans from the coffee plant – the ones it wants to eat. Those beans are digested and resulted in lovely coffee. When people realised that money could be made from this coffee, they caged the lewak (civet cat) and fed it any old crap and passed it off as the same coffee worth hundreds per kilo…. Which it isn’t. The caging isn’t good for the lewak, nor is it good for the coffee.
I can’t argue with that! So for those kopi lewak connoisseurs out there… Make sure you get free-range lewak! If you’re gonna pay hundreds for coffee… You want it to be worth it!
Probably the most surprising vineyard cellar door was Brown Hill. Not to be confused with its East Coast neighbours (Brown Brothers), Brown Hill is a small, quality vineyard that produces some lovely wines. Don’t be put off by the big dog, Rosie, who will greet you as you pull up. She’s a sweetie and just wants you to throw a stick for her to chase. Also, don’t be discouraged by the shed – yes, that’s the ‘cellar door.’ Go inside and do a simple tasting. Probably best to do it sooner in the day rather than later, as the server samples the wares, and (when we were there) had a nose to rival Rudolf at 4pm. 🙂
We had a delightful lunch at The Berry Farm, and I recommend their Muscat, as well as the Cottage Cafe for lunch. We ordered a barramundi with dukkha crust, the beef and red wine pie and the bangers and mash. All were done very well, came with salads, and were immensely satisfying. The pie was my favourite with really soul-satisfying flavours, and a fantastic Indian Tomato Relish (which I purchased from the shop next door). The garden has some lovely variety and the farm in general has a really peaceful atmosphere. We loved the shop and they had some lovely sweet wines and muscats. Wonderful! There should be a safety warning on their sambal chilli. My father-in-law can take most sambals, and even he classified it as hot (and enjoyed pranking us all by suggesting we try it). 🙂
There were many things we didn’t do due to the limited time and the inclination of those in our party, but the next time I’m back I want to:
- Go whale watching down at Augusta
- Go caving
- Visit a few of the breweries
- Go horse riding at Jesters Flat
- Head out to Manjimup to visit the Wine and Truffle Co.
- Visit the Stromatolites at Sharks Bay – the oldest life form on the planet
Beautiful Margaret River!