“Chefs of the Margaret River Region”
The Delectable Gourmet Region of Western Australia
CHEFS OF THE MARGARET RIVER REGION
By Lisa Hanley (Author) & Sue-Lyn Aldrian-Moyle (Photographer and Co-Author)
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Margaret River Press
Category: Leisure & Lifestyle
It’s wonderful to start the New Year with a book review, I am a huge book addict and am always happy to accept books for review, as well as in my Christmas stocking too! I was lucky enough to be sent a rather unusual and very beautiful book just before Christmas, “Chefs of the Margaret River Region”, a book about the delectable gourmet region of Western Australia. It’s also rather liberating to receive books to review that are not in the usual everyday British “canon” of popular published cookbooks; I received another book recently that I count as part of this “alternative” and interesting cookbook genre, From Alsace to Yorkshire – The Making of a Passion by Lionel Strub; “Chefs of the Margaret River Region” is a book that is similar insofar that the cooking is regional (in this instance regional to Western Australia) using local ingredients, but with twists on well-known classics from other regions and other countries.
The Margaret River Gourmet Escape food and wine festival in Western Australia’s picturesque South West was recently held at the end of November 2012. And, Tourism Western Australia uncovered some of the people who call the region home, and who are behind the produce that the region is so well-known for. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate and rich fertile soils, WA’s South West has a reputation for producing world-class food and wine. The area is also known for its pristine beaches, enviable surf breaks, ancient tall timber forests and an abundance of flora and fauna – and, it’s this climate and beautiful landscape that the book is based on, as well as the nineteen local chefs who have contributed their own recipes to the book. Featuring the profiles and a recipe from each of the nineteen acclaimed chefs, the book not only takes you on a culinary journey but shares with you the natural beauty of the region. Most chefs featured in this publication have been the head of their kitchens for quite some time now, and have learned how to bring together the best of local produce, presenting us with food that perfectly enhances the award-winning wines of their own venue or those of neighbouring estates – I have to say that I was entranced with the book.
To give you more of a taste of the area, there are some lovely video vignettes which provide an insight into the gourmet expertise of the region:
Cape Lodge, located in the Margaret River region in Western Australia’s extraordinary South West, is a boutique vineyard hotel and award-winning restaurant, which was voted Top Ten in the World for Food in Conde Naste Traveller’s Gold List. Executive chef Tony Howell’s philosophy is to only use the freshest local produce, and changes his menu daily depending on what’s available. Here, Tony tells us their story.
Bahen & Co
Bahen & Co is a ‘bean to bar’ chocolate maker, located in the Margaret River region in Western Australia’s extraordinary South West. They produce stone ground chocolate with only two ingredients — cacao beans and cane sugar — confident that this process allows the bean to do the talking, and preserves its integrity. This is their story, as told by owner Josh Bahen.
Ringwould Dairy is a family business, located near Albany in Western Australia’s extraordinary South West region. Producing their products without chemicals and where possible by hand, Ringwould Dairy’s philosophy is to give their goats the best, such as giving the goats chamomile tea with rose hip to drink, so they produce the best milk and cheese. Augusta and Toni-Louise Saunders tell us their story.
One of the founding wineries of the Margaret River region, in Western Australia’s extraordinary South West, Leeuwin Estate produced its first commercial vintage in 1979. The family owned business has been created around fine wine, fine food and the arts, and its founding philosophy is to make world-class wine. Simone Furlong tells us their story.
The book is split into several chapters:
- Map of the Region
- Author’s note
- and Recipes and Profiles comprising:
- Entrées and six Chef Profiles
- Mains and ten Chef Profiles
- Desserts and three Chef Profiles
- Stocks and other Recipes
- Local Suppliers
- Pantry Stock
- Venue Addresses
- About Sue-Lyn
- About Lisa
The recipes are innovative, colourful, diverse and are based on the seasons and local produce. Some of the recipes that immediately caught my eye were: Chocolate and Vanilla Bombe with Praline, Rose Jelly, Berries and Fairy Floss; Eaton Mess; Crispy Confit of Duck with Organic Spinach and Beetroot Salad, Persian Feta and Pomegranate Glaze; Butter-Poached Pemberton Marron (A Crayfish local to Western Australia) and Slow-Braised Burnside Beef Cheeks with handmade gnocchi.
The book is filled with stunning images of the local area, as well as beautifully photographed recipes. Each chef’s profile is comprehensive and very personal, which makes you feel like you know them; and, also makes you want to pack a bag and visit the region and the featured eateries straight away. Not only are the more “up-market” restaurants featured, but there are also rather more humble Beach Cafés as well as Vineyards and Bistros in showcased in the book too. I love the fact that the book is split into so many sections/chapters – each one is intrinsic to the book and are very helpful; I particularly liked the Glossary section for a “Limey” like myself, and though that the Local Suppliers and Pantry Stock chapters were hugely useful too.
If you are looking for a different kind of cookbook, but one that embraces local, seasonal and organic produce, as well as a book with wonderfully innovative and quite modern recipes, this is the book for you – it’s also refreshing to read about other regions outside of Europe or North America, and this part of Western Australia looks and sounds truly stunning. You can read more about the MARGARET RIVER area here: MARGARET RIVER – Western Australia Tourism. Unfortunately due to an already packed Christmas and New Year menu plan, I have not attempted to try any of the recipes yet, but I have bought all the ingredients to make the Crispy Confit of Duck with Organic Spinach and Beetroot Salad, Persian Feta and Pomegranate Glaze, and I will share my cooking taste notes in a separate blog post when I have made it, as well as linking back to here.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 for an image rich book with exciting recipes from a selection of local chefs; a cross between a travel book and a cookbook, with interesting and helpful extra chapters about local suppliers, the essential pantry and an invaluable glossary. The size is handy and not too big, so easy to follow the recipes whilst cooking in the kitchen, and the introduction to the recipes are helpful and interesting. The Glossary gives ideas for substitutions, for cooks outside of the very specialised region. Measurements are in metric, which, for European readers is very helpful. If you fancy a change of pace, this is the New Year cookbook for you.
The book is available from Margaret River Press and is priced at $49 Australian dollars + $20 for postage to the UK and Europe, as well as North America. If you live in Australia, the postage is only $6 for standard delivery. You can also buy this beautiful book as an iBook from the iTunes store here: iBook: “Chefs of the Margaret River Region” for $13:99.