Day 106 – Chocolate, Beer and Wine Make Margaret River Fine

20130827_RCH_1735 20130827_RCH_1736Woken by giant raindrops dripping onto the car from the canopy of the trees above. We arrived late last night, so we didn’t get a chance to look around outside, so it was a nice surprise when we saw a few pretty white lilies. As we started driving towards Busselton we saw even more, so much so that in places it almost looked like a white carpet underneath the tall mossy trees. Very beautiful.

WeatherThe weather was horrible – heavy rain, dark skies and a cold wind. It only got worse when we got to Busselton. We drove around the town for a little bit, but didn’t see anything that excited us (plus, it was warm and mostly dry inside the car). At least today’s planned activities were mostly indoor, so bad weather wasn’t going to totally ruin the day.

20130827_RCH_1737 20130827_RCH_1739 20130827_RCH_1741 20130827_RCH_1742Margaret River is famous for surf and wine. Sadly, we’re neither surfers nor wine drinkers! (though, I wish I could surf and enjoy wine). Something we do enjoy though is chocolate. We stopped at Gabriel Chocolate, who make chocolate from personally sourced cacao beans. I don’t know how unique this practise is, but they were very proud/excited to be doing it. The tasting started with the roasted/dried beans, which by themselves were quite a nice snack and you could definitely taste dark chocolate. We started on the darkest chocolates they had and worked our way down to the milk chocolates. Each of the chocolates came from different regions, from Ghana, Indonesia and South America etc, and they all had different subtleties. They were all tasty, but not something I would eat. I think subtle food is wasted on my tastebuds… We did enjoy the café though – an amazing dark chocolate hot chocolate and a nice dark chocolate and almond mud cake. The hot chocolate was incredible – rich, smooth, creamy and pure luxury indulgence – and, at $4, not that expensive.

20130827_RCH_1743The region is meant to have stunning beaches, but with the rain and grey skies, it failed to impress.

20130827_RCH_1745 20130827_RCH_1748 20130827_RCH_1750 20130827_RCH_1754We don’t really drink much beer, but I really enjoy the taste, so I approve of beer sampling. There were quite a few boutique breweries in the area, but we decided to stop at Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery simply because it made cider (and it didn’t require a detour). Right from the start Risa was happy because this place had a fireplace for her to sit beside. We were fortunate to sample the two ciders (Dry Apple and Sweet Pear) for free, simply because a man asked to sample them while we were waiting to order a sample platter. Sure, these free samples were less than a mouthful, but it was enough to tell us that we didn’t dig their ciders. The apple was very dry, and even the sweet pear cider was too dry for Risa. We bought the $12.50 5x90mL sampler paddle, with: a mid-strength red ale, kiwi pilsner, classic pale ale, Belgian IPA and Belgian dark strong ale (with cacao nibs). They were all very aromatic and very hoppy, and I think in the end my favourite was the Belgian IPA, Hagenbeck.

20130827_RCH_1761 20130827_RCH_1771While we were inside enjoying a little bit of luxury (fireplace and beer), the sun broke through and made for some very dramatic clouds on the horizon. We also noticed plum blossom in a few of the wineries. It felt like we were back in Japan.

We went to a nougat factory, but neither of us were fans of the nougat. Risa loved the liquor though…

20130827_RCH_1773 20130827_RCH_1779 20130827_RCH_1781Long-winded story alert. In 2010-2011 I worked in a small winter sports magazine called Powderlife in the Japanese ski resort town of Niseko in Hokkaido. At the end of that season, our boss/publisher threw a party for our small team. I know, it’s going in a strange tangent. At this party I had what I still consider to be the finest red wine (and therefore finest wine full stop) I’ve ever had. I was far too ‘happy’ to remember what that wine was, but fortunately the publisher, Bevan, was all too familiar with it – Howard Park Single Vineyard Series Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, which he found during a winery tour in Margaret River. I’ve half-heartedly looked for it in the past, but since I knew it was expensive (I could see how hard it was for Bevan to share more than two bottles of this treasure with us) so I didn’t try that hard to find it. I knew it was from Margaret River, which brings the story full circle – I was going to visit that winery today, and I was going to taste their wares. Sadly, now that it is late 2013, the oldest Leston wines that had for sampling were from 2011… and they were a little early for drinking at the moment… I was a little crushed. But, I did find a wine that reminded me of that one I had all those years ago. The smell was rich and intoxicating, and it was smooth and easy to drink – Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. I’ll save this one for when we catch up with my dad later in the year. Risa sampled their desert wines, finding a moscato that was suitably sweet – Mad Fish Moscato 2012.

20130827_RCH_1782The sun was still out so we gave the beaches another attempt. It was nicer than earlier this morning, but still not as nice as the ones we saw on Rottnest or further north.

20130827_RCH_1786 20130827_RCH_1790Most of the drive down Caves Road has been through beautiful hilly, tree-lined roads, but we got to this one section about 40km north of Augusta where we were dwarfed by these amazing and enormous trees. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from photos, but these trees would have been 30+ metres tall. We sat and just took the scale of these trees in for a while.

The area is also famous for caves, with over 200 recorded caves. I’d heard that Jewel Cave was the largest, but Lake Cave sounded too cool to resist, so we pulled in to have a look. Sadly, it isn’t an attraction that you can view on your own, and even sadder, it’s not something you can view for free. Sadder still, it’s not something you can view at all after 3:30PM… and since it was now nearly 4PM, we were out of luck. Risa is a mega cave fan, so we’ll come back in the morning (to Jewel Cave) to join one of the tours.

20130827_RCH_1804 20130827_RCH_1827We drove around for a while looking for a free camp. I thought Hamelin Bay sounded ideal, except it turned out that there was a caravan park there already… So, we watched the sun set (prettier than I expected) and found a small clearing on the side of the road to park in.

106日目 8月28日 (火) マーガレットリバー  チョコ、ビール、ワイン♡

今日は、世界でも有名なワイナリーがたくさんあるマーガレットリバーというエリアの探検をしてきました!

この辺りは、西海岸でも有数の美しい海岸線とビーチもあるらしいのですが、今日は、朝からあいにくの雨模様。。

しかし緑がとっても豊かで、昨晩キャンプした場所にもあった白い百合のようなキレイなお花がたくさんさいています。そして背がとても高い木の森が広がっていて、なんだか白雪姫の森みたい。

ワイナリーの前に、まずはチョコレート工房へ行ってきました!

Gabriel チョコレート工場という場所で、なんとこの工房で、カカオ豆からチョコレートを作っているそう。(大抵の工場は、すでにカカオパウダー、砂糖、ミルクがミックスされているものを溶かし加工している)

工房内は、コーヒーのような香ばしい香りが広がっていました。

ヒゲと長髪のヒッピーのような出で立ちのお兄さん(でもチョコレート職人)が、この工房の説明をしてくれました。

チョコの試食の前に、カカオの実に入っている、カカオ豆をガリッと食べさせてもらいました。

かなり苦いのかと思いきや、このままでもイケほどうまい!  今もあるか分からないけど、ガリガリとしたものが入っていたにがーいダークチョコレートのあのガリガリしたものでした!

苦いけど、ちょっと酸味があって、ほんのり甘い様な。独特な歯ごたえもあって不思議なものです。

彼らは、このカカオ豆を世界の各地から直接買い取り、この場所で1からチョコレートを作っているそう。 それぞれの原産地のカカオは、ワインのように全く違う味わいをしており、試食させてもらうと本当に1つ、1つ全く違う味でした!

これには、なんだか完全に圧倒というか、チョコレートに対する意識がすっかり変わってしまいました。 うまく説明できないけど、チョコレートの世界が変わった!

試食を繰り返して、結局ガーナ産のカカオ豆65%でできたダークチョコレートを購入しました。  この場所は、チョコに本気でこだわり、このような産地とパーセンテージのみの板チョコのみを販売しています。

店内にはカフェがあり、ホットチョコレートとチョコレートケーキを食べちゃいました♡

ホットチョコレートは、超濃厚でプリンのようでした。これも産地とパーセンテージを選べるのですが、お姉さんがおすすめしてくれたのより、ホットチョコレートとしてならもう少し甘くて、ミルキーなのにすれば良かったとちょっと後悔。でもおいしかったーー。  もちろんケーキもとってもしっとりで美味しかった!

お次ぎは、Cheeky Monkeyというビール&サイダー工房へ。

店内は、ヨーロッパのスキーリゾート地のようにレンガ作りで、暖炉があるステキな空間でした。

まずは、バーにいたおじさんが、サイダーを試飲させてもらってたので、便乗してサイダーを試飲。 期待していたサイダーはかなり辛口で残念。

私たちは、5種類のビールがテイスティングできるセットを注文。ビール通ではあまり説明できないのですが、今まで飲みくらべたどのビール工房のものよりもフルーティーなものが多くかなり美味しくエンジョイ

できました!    一つ一つのビールのレーベルもグラフィティ アートのようでおしゃれ。

そしてなによりも、この暖炉のある空間がいい! 小さな試飲セットだけど、ロスは、ほんの1口のみなので、終盤わたしは、ほろ酔い。。

お天気も回復し、青空が所々見え始めました。

次は、ヌガー工房へ。 ヌガーからできたリキュールを試飲。 これは、ヌガーらしくもったりと甘く、超クリーミーでした。  でもヌガー自体は、あまり好みではなかったので、そそくさと退散。

その後は、ロス氏が数年前にニセコで友達と一緒に飲んだ忘れられない極上の赤ワインを生産しているワイナリーへ。

とってもモダンでオシャレな工房前には、なんと桜が咲いていました。

店内は、とってもオープンで良い音楽が流れていて、最高の空間。

ロスくんは、お目当てのワインを尋ねるも2006年製のもので、すでに売り切れてしまっていました。 残念。

しかしそれに似たワインをいくつか試飲させてもらいました。 私は赤ワインは一切飲めないので、甘くておいしいマスカットとシャルドネを試飲させてもらいました。

このマスカットが、甘いながらもクリスピーで、すっきりとしてとっても美味しかった!  ロスくんもお目当てのワインはもうなかったけど、それにかなり近いとっても美味しいワインを見つけ、お父さんのお家にお土産として購入。 わたしも美味しいマスカットを買ってもらいました♡
いつ誰と飲もうかな〜

ワイン好きになれたらもっと色んなワイナリーを楽しめるのになぁとは思いながらも、チョコレート工房、ビール工房、ヌガー工房、そしてワイン工房。 それぞれ1件ずつでしたが充実したツアーとなりました。

この辺りには、複数の洞窟もあるそうですが、これは時間がもう遅く最後のウォーキング ツアーが終わってしまっていたので、それは明日のお楽しみに。

キレイな夕日を目の前に夕食をいただきました。

今日も良い一日でした☆☆

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