Australian Cheese

Down by the River – a Cheesy Tour of Western Australia

Here’s the thing about Australia – it’s bloody big. So big that many Australians are more likely to have seen Bali than say, Perth. Although that may have more to do with the strong Aussie dollar.I am almost ashamed to admit I have seen more of Eastern Europe than my homeland.

On my recent yearly trip home to Australia, my occasional travel partner suggested a trip to Western Australia to ample the vineyards. After a couple of days eating my way around Melbourne (Qatar Airways main gateway into Australia, I duly booked a ticket westward ho and in July we were soon tooling around the vineyards of the Margaret River, one of the country’s most scenic and fertile areas.

As a group of four, we decided to enlist the help of some local experts – my friend Cynthia who lives in WA and Harvest Tours

We met up with Cynthia at The Old Swan Brewery in Perth before our adventure for a drink, a bit of a snack and some local knowledge.

Rachel and Cynthia waterside

Rachel and Cynthia waterside

Scallops on the seafood tasting plate at Old Swan Brewery

Scallops on the seafood tasting plate at Old Swan Brewery

No cheese here, just great food, fab company and an amazing view.

Margaret River is around a three hour drive from Perth. Not the most scenic of routes, but worth the drive. En route we stopped off at Vasse Felix, picking up a lovely wine for pre dinner cheese and drinks.

The cheese was also procured locally, a blue style cheese which we devoured with some locally made honey.

Vasse Felix Winery Tasting

Settling in...

Settling in…

Sweet and blue

Sweet and blue

Our experience really started the next day, when we were picked up by Jamie from Harvest Tours. Our foodie adventure included a selection of wineries and providores.

Are you going my whey?

Are you going my whey?

On the tasting trail

On the tasting trail

The day included lunch at the renowned Cullen Wines where I indulged in the charcuterie platter which included venison chorizo and…a lovely locally made harvarti cheese.

A great lunch at Cullen Wines

Can never resist a plate of pork

Can never resist a plate of pork

Back to the wines – the highlight of the trip was a visit to Windows Estate whose tasting included a cheese pairing.

Wine, cheese and a little information

This tasting included cheese from Margaret River Dairy Company and Margaret River Organic Creamery including a divine smoked cheddar that had me scurrying for the fridge to clean out their supplies.

Just show me the cheese!

Just show me the cheese!

Blue cheese

Blue cheese

I am still learning so much about cheese, but this tasting was so informative. We learned you should match the weight of the wine with the strength of the cheese. This is why a creamy goat cheese goes so well with bubbles. Also, sweetness in wine counter balances the acidity and saltiness in cheeses.

Pairing wine with cheese - an art

Pairing wine with cheese – an art

Brie style cheese at Windows

Brie style cheese at Windows

Hands off this cheddar with figs is mine

Hands off this cheddar with figs is mine

We left with arms laden with wines and of course cheese!

The tour, which was tailored to our needs, also included some stops at local gourmet food stores including Gabriel Chocolate where we sampled hot chocolate made wth beans from Indonesia.

Chocolate fix

Chocolate fix

I’m from Sydney and we are about chauvinistic about our city’s great bounty of fabulousness. I had always written off WA as a place of billionaires and shark attacks.

How wrong I was! I can now add “foodie heaven” to that assessment.

For more information about Harvest Tours go to http://www.harvesttours.com.au

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