Beyond The Farm Gate

This new book is a celebration of the artisans who have unlocked the terroir of our ancient land.

These men and women are, in turn, celebrating their gastronomic adventure by producing food that is expressive of their region and with an astounding variety of influences. I asked these special people to reveal their stories, their secrets and their recipes. Fortunately, they agreed. Some of their recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.  I feel very privileged to be able to share them with you.

Millers Ice Creamery Cowaramup
Miller's Ice Creamery.

Miller’s Ice Creamery, Cowaramup

Dairy farmers, Paul and Trish Miller, were savouring an ice cream whilst sitting in their newly renovated worker’s cottage and pondering their future. The sun was setting over the surrounding paddocks and the milking cows were contentedly grazing away when the idea of opening an ice creamery in a dairy town began to form. The dairy industry had recently been deregulated, the local milk co-operative had hit the wall and the future as a dairy farmer in Cowaramup was looking pretty bleak for this couple. They had always shared a passion for delicious, creamy swirls of rich ice cream. What if they made a business out of it?

Grace Hill Farm, Cowaramup

Cowaramup is a region of contrasting beauty and this unique property is blessed with a spectacular outlook. The rain is falling hard and I look up in wonderment as the sky empties and the dam fills. Quickly, we seek refuge inside the homestead and sit around a charmingly rustic wooden table that overlooks the gently flowing creek. A newly planted north-facing Oldman Saltbush paddock lies in the distance in readiness to capture the sun’s warming rays when the clouds eventually part. Soon, the plants will be ready for the lambs to graze on their salty, pungent leaves. It’s easy to lose all sense of time here.

Cackleberries, Donnybrook

I am thoroughly enjoying my drive through the pristine forests of Donnybrook, so much so that when I eventually arrive at my destination, I wonder if I’ve made a wrong turn. Before me is a small cluster of caravans that look like they belong to a travelling circus. But as I venture further into the property, I hear the magical sound I’ve been waiting for: a cackle, soon followed by a chorus of cackles. This is followed by a flurry of feathers. I stretch my legs and find that Edward Valentine is standing before me with a bucket of food in his hands and I immediately see the reason for the growing crescendo of cackles. It’s dinnertime at Cackleberries biodynamic egg farm and the ladies are hungry.

Farmgate River Valley Sheep Dairy Local Producers
River Valley Sheep Dairy.

River Valley Sheep Dairy, Harvey

Cheesemakers use a range of methods to add a level of complexity to their maturing curds, washing the cheeses with brine, coating them in ash, rubbing them with oil or allowing the growth of natural moulds. As I enjoy a tasting of River Valley’s range, it’s clear that Chris has mastered this art. I am also struck by the strong, bold flavour profiles and earthy aromas of the cheeses. These are true farm cheeses and a great combination of all of the elements I love: creamy, salty, savoury and sweet.

Nannup Brook Farm Local Produce
Nannup Brook Farm.

Nannup Brook Farm, Nannup

I watch as Simon expertly lights the smoker. The heady aroma of pine needles envelops me as he gently pumps the smoker into action and inserts it into the wooden frame. He withdraws the frame from the hive to reveal a web of honeycomb that is literally oozing with dark golden jarrah honey. Simon gives me a spoon and I unearth a divine scoop of pure, raw honeycomb. I devour this oozingly delicious treat in milliseconds and am left craving more. And there down below I spy the queen bee, happily encapsulated in her own special chamber.

Beyond the Farm Gate by Danielle Costley is available through Margaret River Press