Retreat to the country for fun, food & fitness

We’re super excited about our first retreat weekend for 2013!

It’s happening again at the exquisite Foragers, Pemberton in the Southern Forests region of WA, from the 10th-12th May (Mother’s Day weekend). You can find all the details on our Retreats page, and if you’d like to join us, get in touch quickly, as places are filling up. We’re especially delighted that several of our guests from last year had such a fabulous time that they’ve re-booked to come again – we think that says it all!

It’s probably timely to share some photos and insights from last year’s Spring Retreat – but don’t just take our word for it – have a peek at the deliciously foodie blog, Carolanne’s Kitchen for a review from one of our guests (she’s also kindly agreed to share some gorgeous pics of the weekend in this space, so thank you to Carolanne – currently cooking up a storm back in Ireland!)

You might be interested to read all about our vision for the retreat and how we decided on the perfect venue here.

The end result certainly lived up to our expectations, and along with our lovely group of guests, we revelled in a weekend of the most beautiful food, wine and countryside, and came away feeling both relaxed and inspired.

It was a nicely diverse group – daughters bringing their mums away for some quality time, friends, foodie bloggers and their partners, workmates enjoying a girls weekend away – all very much at ease and all enjoyed themselves!

Sophie Zalokar – our lovely host at Foragers – grew up in the Barossa Valley and learned her trade from the likes of Maggie Beer, which gives you a pretty good idea of her food pedigree! She is one very talented lady when it comes to creating and cooking mouthwateringly original food with great sensitivity and flair. Her knowledge and championing of the local produce of the region is becoming legendary (and excitingly, a little birdy told us that there is a very special cookbook in the works!)

Sophie’s cooking class with us on the Saturday morning was definitely a highlight for me. The focus was on ‘herbs in spring’, and we were we treated to a variety of health enhancing, versatile kitchen staples such as yoghurt labna, herb infused vinaigrette and golden chicken stock – all of which have been added to my home cooking repertoire. There were many moments where I found myself nodding in agreement (‘low fat yoghurt just doesn’t make sense!’) and it was such a pleasure to share in Sophie’s down-to-earth food philosophy – an approach we wholeheartedly embrace at Équilibre

“Choosing to shop consciously, produce with curiosity, cook with heart, and share with generosity makes a profound difference to our own health and also the collective health of our community and environment.”

The Saturday evening seasonal meal we shared was equally as impressive (menu above right, image from Foragers) and to accompany it in style, we supplied a selection of the truly outstanding local wines from Lilian, sampled the previous evening (above left, image from Équilibre).

You can read more about Sophie’s work in the Field Kitchen at Foragers and what inspires her cooking over here on We Love Perth. I’m particularly envious of her recipe book and spice collections!

Above images from Équilibre: Goldrush Pears in the Field Kitchen (left) and Luxury Eco-Chalet in the gorgeous Foragers grounds (right)

We added our own touch of ‘balance’ to the weekend with some morning exercise sessions in the fresh country air – it was nice to have all ages and fitness levels taking part! A Bio Age health assessment was also included, and made for an enlightening exercise for guests to see how they stacked up in terms of their biological age as opposed to real age – certainly a good tool to use if you want to start taking the right steps toward better health and need to know where to start. (The tests were all quick, easy, painless, and kept private, so only you need know!)

As for our next retreat, we know that autumn is a very special time in the Southern Forests region, when the countryside is at it’s colourful best and the produce is plentiful (think plums, pears, potatoes, quinces and chestnuts). There will even be opportunity to visit a local farm or two and bring back plenty of gorgeous goodies to create the retreat experience back at home. We can’t wait to see what Sophie has in store for us this time and hope you will join us to find out…

Images above:

Top: Cucumber Yoghurt Dip; Making Labna; Labna with Honey, Pear & Amaretti (images Carolanne’s Kitchen)
Centre: Foraged greens salad; Sophie in action; Chicken Soup with Dill & Fresh Ginger (images from Équilibre)
Bottom: Kohlrabi Carpaccio; Poached Grass-fed Beef Fillet; Meringue with Rose Geranium Cream (images Carolanne’s Kitchen)

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