I'm fairly certain that everyone who works or has kids or has stuff going on, needs to get away for a while. For whatever reason, escaping our daily routine for somewhere other than where we always are is a welcome change for most. I am no different. I grew up in the country and so while I'm never really that keen to return to my hometown (there isn't much there that interests me, and 99% of my friends have moved) I'm always happy to head south for a break.
There's something about the cold that really appeals to me, so I love a weekend away where the coats, scarves and welly boots come out, which ended up filling out the boot of my car when I headed down to Pemberton for the Èquilibre - Fitness for Foodies weekend retreat at Foragers Field Kitchen in Pemberton.
I came here once before, for the same retreat last year and I fell in love with the place. It's so quiet, green, and the food is fabulous. The drive down is beautiful, driving through cute little towns, fruit orchards and forests. I actually find it really hard to leave every time I come down this way - there is so much about the way of life that I've seen in my short time down there that appeals to me on so many levels. So much local fruit and veg. A farm where you can go and pick your own fruit and nuts like walnuts and chestnuts. Roadside stalls full of fruit and veg, and cafes championing local produce in so many of the tiny towns you breeze through on the way down. Proper fresh cold mornings. Fires. I love it.
The idea behind the weekend is good food, wine, friends, like minded people paired with some morning exercise to start your day off! There is a cooking demo (with lunch included), a seasonal multicourse dinner and some gorgeous local produce for breakfast.
The cooking demonstration was focussed on autumnal ingredients and Sophie Zalokar, the woman behind the food at Foragers, wanted also to put a healthy spin on our meals for the weekend, so grains and pulses were also highlighed.
Farro, lentil, sweet potato and curry soup
Chickpea and silverbeat felafel, with greek yoghurt and sumac
Spelt, date and walnut tart
After some wandering around Pemberton (there isn't much open in town) we decided to head back to our chalet and relax. There was much reading, napping, tea/coffee drinking, staring out the window, stoking the fire and watching the rain. I could have stayed forever. My daydreams were supplemented by the fact I was reading a book about a guy who ran off and a bought a house in rural France. Could I do that too!? I had some leftover homemade bread and apricot jam that came in our breakfast basket (along with Bannister Downs milk, free range eggs, smoked bacon, homemade muesli - amazing, yoghurt and coffee/green/English Breakfast tea) and sat on the couch by the fire and read some more, letting more daydreams take over the reality of my life - job, ambitions, plans, events, to do lists etc. France is looking better and better all the time.
Given it was Mothers Day weekend, I was there with my Mum, cousin and aunty. Mum had bought something special for us all to drink before dinner, so a few glasses later we were ready for the seasonal dinner in the Field Kitchen!
The pasta was the highlight of the night - Sophie had included some local pickled walnuts which was the most interesting addition to the dish, making it a real standout. I have made a version of this pasta myself before, but I will absolutely be including some pickled walnuts next time I make it!
To sum up... You really need to get down here for a weekend. It's pretty much my new fave place in the South. Margaret River is such an obvious choice, and there are more options there - but if you head down to Pemberton you'll be amazed at how good it is. There are wineries, cideries, breweries. Great food to be had. This is now my go to destination down south.