With a similar terroir to Bordeaux, the South West corner of Western Australia has long been known for its award-winning Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons. But now there is a buzzing food scene to match, with seafood restaurants and artisan cheese, olive oil, and black truffle producers lining the way. Don’t miss:
1. Leeuwin Estate
The Leeuwin Estate was where I started out and it holds a special place in my heart. The estate was one of the founding wineries of the famous Margaret River Wine Region, and it certainly set the bar high. It is easily one of the best in the area and its restaurant serves delicious food – sitting on the deck eating Albany oysters with a Leeuwin Estate Riesling is one of my favourite things to do in the summer. My favourite place to stay is the nearby Cape Lodge, a boutique hotel which produces its own wine and runs cooking schools. It is the perfect base to explore the area.
2. Margaret River Farmers Market
Margaret River regularly hosts its popular Farmers Markets for one and all to grab a fresh, tasty bargain. It has heaps of locally produced food and is the ideal place to have breakfast on a Saturday morning. Stalls are manned by the growers and producers themselves, who are always ready to have a chat while you sample the range of incredible produce. I always swing by David Hohnen’s stall which sells lamb, pork, olive oil, sausages and ham.
3. Salt and Pepper Restaurant, Forest Hill
Salt and Pepper Restaurant was founded in 2010 by Silas, a Fijian-Indian chef with a passion for locally-sourced produce and a love of spices. He is self-taught, creative and uses an incredible Fijian seven spice which is really fragrant. This spot is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
This former whaling town has reinvented itself as a foodie hub. We spent a fair bit of time here while filming Recipes that Rock, eating oysters straight from the ocean, making goats cheese, and visiting a local whisky distillery. Make sure you head down to the markets which have been voted the best in Australia, selling everything from smoked kangaroo and Ringwould cheese to local wines. You can stay at The Rocks, where we filmed a couple of recipes up on their balcony. This hotel used to be the Governor’s summer residence and has great views overlooking Albany’s harbour.
5. Frankland River Region
Stop in for some wine tastings in the Frankland River region, north-west of Albany, on the way back to Perth. Surrounded by rolling hills and forest, this is one of Western Australia’s up and coming wine regions. It's cooler than Margaret River, so make sure you try the local Shiraz and Riesling at Alkoomi, Ferngrove and Frankland Estate.
6. Return to Greenhouse, Perth
You’ll start or finish your trip in Perth, which has seen lots of small bars and restaurants popping up over the last two years. For something a bit unusual, head to Greenhouse, located on St Georges Terrace in the city centre. This is Australia’s first fully-recycled restaurant. The roof-top garden produces fresh ingredients for the kitchen as well as offering an alfresco bar, perfect for soaking up the sunshine (Perth is Australia’s sunniest city). Perch on a crate, sip great local wines and try the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with flat bread and quinoa salad.
Watch Matt Stone and Blur bassist-turned-cheese farmer Alex James discover the best bits of Western Australia in a new TV programme, Recipes that Rock. This gourmet travel series follows Alex and Matt on a roadtrip along stunning coastline and towering forests as they search for the best produce and the freshest recipes. Tune into the Food Network from 8pm on 11 October 2014 (Freeview 41, Sky 248, Freesat 149, Virgin 287)