The Lake House, Denmark, Western Australia
The Taste Great Southern food festival has just kicked off – turning the entire continental corner into a foodie paradise.
By Deborah Dickson-Smith
Published: 27 March, 2017
It’s one of the largest food and wine festivals in the Southern Hemisphere, spanning the bottom corner of Western Australia’s coastline and farming hinterland, with at least 50 events taking place in and around major centres such as Albany and Denmark – and it’s happening right now.
“When you talk about produce from Australia's Great Southern region,” says festival organiser Richard Campbell, “you include words like fresh, natural, seasonal and exceptional.” So, says Campbell, while the festival will include appearances by celebrity chefs, delightful events and some of Australia’s most remarkably beautiful locations, it’s the food that will steal the spotlight. “Expect to taste excellent oysters, seafood, vegetables, dairy products and beef and lamb, as well as locally produced wine varietals such as Shiraz, Riesling and Pinot Noir, which all compete strongly on the world stage.”
Long lunch with a celebrity chef
For the duration of the festival – which runs for 18 days, from 23 March to 9 April – two well-known Sydney chefs, Miguel Maestre and Colin Fassnidge, have relocated to Western Australia.
Maestre – who has worked in some of Australia’s most prestigious kitchens, and co-hosts a prime-time Australian TV show – will appear at a number of events, but his star turn will arguably be at Lunch by the Lake at The Lake House, in Denmark. In this idyllic setting Maestre will prepare a four-course degustation that combines Spanish and Australian ingredients. Guests will enjoy it over a leisurely five hours.
A four-kitchen journey through food
Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge is best known in Australia for his role as a no-nonsense judge on popular cooking show My Kitchen Rules. He’s also the author of the bestselling cookbook, Four Kitchens. Fassnidge will be taking guests on a journey through his four kitchens, hosting a long Sunday lunch at The Garrison in Albany, a restaurant with sweeping views over King George Sound.
He’ll also be on hand to give cooking demonstrations at various venues over the duration of the festival and, like Miguel Maestre, will make an appearance at Denmark waterside venue The Lake House, for the Sundown Soiree by the Lake, a lively meet-and-greet evening served with a Fassnidge-created menu and acclaimed local wine.
Helicopter picnics and garden parties
Among the mouth-watering line-up of events at the 18-day festival there are a few standouts, from cocktail parties and degustation dinners to helicopter flights and blues performances.
Our pick is the Fervor & Skyhook Helicopters Picnic, on which you’ll take a 15 minute scenic flight to Breaksea Island. There you’ll spend a couple of hours exploring the area’s natural beauty with a local beer or wine in hand, nibbling on canapés made with native Australian ingredients such as boab fruit, quandongs, bush bananas and wattleseed. But there are other standouts: at the Liberté Garden Parté acclaimed wine writer Mike Bennie, well-known West Australian chef Amy Hamilton and local restaurateur Russell Blaikie will literally lead guests down a garden path to a long table barbecue feast, where local food and wine will be served, accompanied by relaxed commentary. Seafood aficionados will love In the Raw, presented by local shell fisherman Robert Michael at Albany’s picturesque Emu Point Boat Harbour. Expect a selection of premium West Australian white wines matched with Great Southern shellfish.
And an excellent cup of coffee
Australia’s obsession with great coffee is well documented, so it’s no surprise to find a series of bean-related events at Taste Great Southern. Workshops held by experts from the local Stash coffee roastery will teach you how to brew coffee, roast beans or learn the art of curated cupping (coffee tasting). You’ll leave each workshop with a bag of freshly roasted coffee to take home.
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