Foragers – Pemberton

When planning our business, we envisaged being able to offer a series of special events including a weekend retreat, and we’re delighted to announce that it’s about to become a reality this spring…

When we say retreat, we’re not talking weight loss camp or gruelling military boot camp, or even spa weekend. What we had in mind was a relaxed gathering of like-minded people learning about and sharing in good food and wine – fresh, seasonal and locally sourced. Exercise would play a part, but mostly in combination with exploring the natural environment (so you don’t actually notice it) and to build a hearty appetite that makes good food taste even better! The idea is for guests to come away feeling energised and inspired to maintain that same feeling at home.

When we found out about Foragers last year, we knew that it was the perfect setting for our Équilibre retreat. Meeting owner Sophie Zalokar only confirmed our initial impression and we knew that we would be in good hands.

Many months later we finally had the opportunity to pack up the little foodies and head down for a (very wintery) weekend in Pemberton to experience for ourselves the hospitality of this exciting region and plan our little retreat. These are a few happy snaps from our trip!

Sophie and her husband Chris (a very skilled craftsman) have worked hard to create a warm and welcoming environment for their guests. Their keen attention to detail is evident in the range of accommodation as well as the field kitchen and communal dining room. It’s a farm setting, but with none of the typical country kitsch you might expect (not a floral bedspread in sight!) Contemporary, understated and stylish, it complements rather than competes with the natural environment. It’s what I would call a breath of fresh country air!

Sophie is a true champion of the region’s local produce and her enthusiasm for good food and quality ingredients is infectious. We were treated to one of her Seasonal Dinners, the menu for which is planned around what produce is available and in season the week before. Pascal was delighted that our beautifully constructed meal included a hearty Oyster Blade, Onion and Stout Pie that was mouthwateringly tender and delicious. Locals and out-of-towners alike come to these dinners which are both modern and regional in style. It does feel as if you have been invited in to the Zalokar’s own dining room -there’s much love and attention that goes into its creation. The origin of all key ingredients are even highlighted on the back of the menu (below right).

For Sophie’s thoughts on culinary tourism and the growing food movement in the Southern Forests, we recommend reading her enlightening interview here.

The natural beauty and diversity of the area is unmistakeable – from rolling green pastoral hills, to vineyards, to forests of the most majestic Karri, Marri and Jarrah trees – there is much to offer visitors. If you routinely visit the Margaret River region, we strongly suggest that you take a trip inland next time (or add it on to your itinerary). We were pleasantly surprised at the ease of the journey from Perth, the roads are good and there are plenty of opportunities to stop on the way (which naturally we needed with 2 small children). It took us a leisurely 4 hours with 3 stops.

So yes, we’re a wee bit excited about our Foragers Retreat on the weekend of the 14th – 16th September, 2012.

It will be a chance to escape the city for a few days and let the fresh country air blow away the musty winter cobwebs. Its focus will be food and fitness, with an emphasis on spring – the ideal time for new beginnings, new directions and new ideas. We’ve even included a Bio-Age Assessment, which is a perfect, eye-opening way to check in with your health and how well you are doing for your age. As there are limited places available it will also be relaxed, friendly and personalised.

To find out more, see our Special Events page for all the delicious details. We’d love you to join us!

(You’ll also get all the inside info on the best places to stop off on your way to and from Foragers – for a bite to eat or to pick up some local produce to take home!)

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