Western Australia's Margaret River is known for its wine and fantastic food. Its Mediterranean climate has long, sunny days in summer, crisp spring weather and snug winter days perfect for drinking red wine by the fire.
Natalie Gruzlewski thinks she just may have found the place to enjoy it all: Cape Lodge in Yallingup.
Cape Lodge is on a secluded vineyard in the heart of wine country. Surrounded by forest, lake and parkland, it's minutes from the Indian Ocean coastline and beautiful beaches. It has 22 luxury rooms and suites and a five-bedroom private residence. There's a tennis court and free-form pool.
The lodge is a real award-winner. In 2009 it won Luxury Travel magazine's award for best boutique hotel in Australia and listed as one of the world's best 100 hotels in 2010. On top of that, it's twice been named in the top 10 hotel restaurants in the world for excellence in food.
Apart from being a wonderful place to stay, you can join one of their cooking classes to launch or improve your culinary skills. They've been running them for five years or so, but with programs such as MasterChef capturing the imaginations of young and old, there's been a surge in interest. Students learn the secrets and tips and how to prepare and present restaurant quality dishes in their own homes.
Head chef Tony Howell has been at Cape Lodge for 10 years, and changes his menus every single day. Natalie's class made ravioli with sage and burnt butter sauce and a filling of local fish, prawns and scallops, cream and egg whites. Tony is an enthusiastic master and sharing his recipes is his way of showing his students preparing great food can be simple and fun.
If you just want to relax and enjoy Cape Lodge's award-winning food, Margaret River Restaurant is the way to go. It sits over the main lake and features wide, over-water decking, guest lounge and private dining room.
Related videos: Maeve O'Meara's Margaret River gourmet safari, and Catriona's cooking
Yallingup, four hours south of Perth.
Cape Lodge's two-hour Fresh is Best cooking class costs $95 per person. Cooking class and five-course chef's tasting menu costs $230 per person. Classes are held between 3.30pm and 5.30pm. Cooking class packages include two nights' accommodation, 2.5-hour cooking class, chef's tasting menu and gourmet breakfast.
The per person cost is $645 in a Garden View room, $795 in a Superior Spa Suite and $845 in a Forest Spa Suite. Please check their website for class schedules.
Prices correct at September 30, 2010.
For further information
3341 Caves Road
Ph: (08) 9755 6311
Fax: (08) 9755 6322