Autumn in the country – images from our retreat

What a treat it was to once again escape to Foragers in Pemberton for our Autumn 2013 weekend retreat (especially as my parents were kind enough to look after our kids!)

Here’s a little taste of what was on offer…

Sophie and Chris Zalokar welcomed us with the wood-fired oven lit for our arrival late on Friday afternoon. To accompany our wine tasting, we were treated to spelt crust flat-bread style pizzas with delicious vege toppings like Maris Piper potato, broccoli and kale, plus an assortment of tasty condiments.

John Brocksopp from Lillian Wines entertained us with his vast knowledge of the wine industry and took us through a comparison of different vintages of his Marsanne Roussanne, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties. John primarily grows Rhone varietals from the south of France on his small Pemberton property – quite different to usual Australian wines styles – but a real revelation with their restraint, subtlety and finesse. After starting his career with Seppelts and spending 25 years at Leeuwin Estate, John is now quite happy to make the wines he loves and knows his family will enjoy. It was again a real pleasure to have John as a part of our weekend and to have the opportunity to taste his very special boutique wines.

Later we retreated to our chalets for an evening meal provided by Taste of Balingup – a Blackwood Valley Organic Beef Braise with seasonal veges. Thanks Katrina and Co!

Morning exercise led by Pascal was a great way to start the day and with countryside as beautiful as this, it wasn’t a hard task (once you were out of bed, that is!) There was also the opportunity to take part in a Bio-Age test which is a great barometer of your current health (or a wake-up call about the changes you need to make to improve it!)

A well earned breakfast awaited us at our chalets, including Sophie’s wonderful sourdough bread plus plenty of supplies for a cook up or something lighter. Our coffee machine didn’t go astray either!

The Eco-Chalets and Studio at Foragers are a real delight – so comfy, modern and well appointed. Sophie’s husband Chris has been gradually renovating the older existing chalets with his craftsman’s keen sense of detail, and the results are stunning. By the coming Spring, there should be an additional studio available – we certainly enjoyed staying in ours!

Our Saturday lunchtime cooking class with Sophie (pictured above) was entitled ‘Good to the grain and pulse’ and was designed to inspire us to explore different types of grains (other than just wheat) and to include pulses like chickpeas and lentils as a versatile, nutritious and tasty addition to our cooking repertoire. It was a lovely complement to our Équilibre way of looking at food and everyone was charmed by Sophie’s gentle and knowledgeable approach. We are all looking forward to your book next year!

On the lunch menu:

  • Silverbeet & Chickpea Falafels with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce
  • Farro, Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup
  • Spelt & Buttermilk Cake with fresh dates and roasted walnuts (pictured above)

After exploring the region for more foodie finds during the afternoon (or just having a nap for those who were less inclined!) we joined together in the evening for one of Foragers’ special Seasonal Dinners. There was a predominant Italian flavour to the menu this time, with a little health and good balance for our benefit!

It’s so nice to see this style of set menu dining experience where everything is so thoughtfully sourced and put together, and where diners have the opportunity to try something they may not ordinarily choose from an a la carte menu. It’s also wonderful to see that the locals have embraced the experience too!

Many of our guests (including us) ended up driving home with a carload of fresh and regional produce to keep the retreat experience alive at home. Favourite spots to stop were Newy’s Vege Patch in Kirup (pictured below, top row) the aforementioned Taste of Balingup (pictured below, centre) and plenty of little roadside stalls, including the little beauty pictured below (bottom row) with what looked like an old fashioned vending machine as an honour box!

Some of our guests were lucky enough to make it to Fontanini’s Fruit & Nut Farm in Manjimup, which is only open to the public during autumn. Visitors can pick there own apples, pears and chestnuts and then learn how to roast them!  They also grow the very rare Comice Pear which was the star of our seasonal dinner dessert.

Autumn at Foragers in Pemberton was a special experience and we sincerely thank Sophie and Chris at Foragers and all our guests for their enthusiasm and for truly embracing the spirit of the weekend.

We’d also like to thank local business and friend of both Équilibre and Foragers, Mr Sparrow in Subiaco for donating a gift voucher as a prize for one of our guests. The lucky recipient was one of our mums, Rachel, who (like me) enjoyed a mother’s day weekend escape away from her kids! I just know that she will find all sorts of delightful goodies to spend her voucher on at super sweet gift shop Mr Sparrow!

And for those who are wondering… YES, we will be back! Stay tuned for our Spring Retreat at Foragers in September!

All images above from Équilibre

Comments are closed.