Named after Governor Arthur Phillip, Phillip Island forms a natural breakwater for Western Port Bay's shallow waters. A 640-metre concrete bridge connects the island town of Newhaven with the mainland town of San Remo. Sixty percent of the island is sheep and cattle farmland. Popular with holidaymakers, the population of 7500 swells to more than 40,000 during summer.
Spice Island Retreat is where you are treated to five-star city luxury in a nature-based rural setting. Contemporary studio accommodation, set on a hectare of native trees, has coastal and rural views and offers privacy and peace. They were designed with couples in mind, but are available on a twin-share basis.
The resort took its name with a food theme and the three studio rooms have followed suit with Chilli, Sage and Lime Rooms in appropriate colours.
The owners were previously caterers in Melbourne and escaped to Phillip Island for a sea change. They built the retreat three years ago, but their passion for food led them to opening a cooking school earlier this year.
They showcase local produce, 90 percent of which is organic. Guests and students work in a state-of-the-art kitchen with a hands-on approach at fully-equipped workstations for 12, and the good part is you don't have to clean up!
You don't need to be a guest of Spice Island to partake in the classes, but an attractive package makes it hard to resist. Courtesy pick-up is provided to those staying at other accommodation. Classes are on set days which you can find on their website, but you can arrange a special one with a minimum of eight participants.
There are nine classes, divided into themes such as French provincial, Moroccan, Indian, cooking for kids, cooking for 'blokes', pasta making, "10 Meals in 10 Minutes", "A Taste of Asia" and "Food for Life". There are also professional masterclasses, lifestyle courses and workplace team building, courses with chocolatiers and nutritional specialists.
Guest chefs from impressive restaurants such as Casa Luna in Bali and The Ivy in London add another layer to the classes.
Classes are four hours long and are geared to people of all cooking skill levels.
Just to whet your appetite, here is what to expect at their Spanish class. It includes jugs of sangria, of course, soft-shelled crabs in seasoned coating, chorizo, potato and asparagus frittata, stuffed mushrooms, scotched quail eggs, spiced chickpea puree and sardines. They also make up an authentic paella using local ingredients prawns, mussels, whiting and other seasonal delicacies, finished off with a sticky 'Soccorat' style base.
Phillip Island, a 90-minute drive from Melbourne.
Spice Island Retreat accommodation starts at $195 a night, including breakfast served in your room. Four-hour cooking classes are $125 per person. Stay and play packages including accommodation, cooking class for two, breakfast for two and a bottle of premium wine are $400 a double a night. They operate year-round.
Virgin Blue has flights to Melbourne.
- Adelaide $89
- Sydney $119
- Brisbane $159
- Darwin $169
- Perth $235
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at September 11, 2008 and are subject to change.
Prices correct at September 11, 2008.
For further information
Spice Island Retreat
1A Hill Street
Sunderland Bay 3922
Ph: (03) 5956 7557
Ph: 136 789
The owners of Spice Island Retreat have very kindly given us one of their recipes to pass on to you. Give it a try!
6 mushrooms, Portobello or Swiss brown if available
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic crushed
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon chilli, crushed
50g goat's cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine pine nuts, garlic, thyme, chilli and goats cheese. Season and loosen with olive oil. Stuff mushrooms with mixture and drizzle with olive oil and sherry. Place in pre-heated 220°C for 5 minutes.
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