Last weekend, I had a friend from Canada as a house-guest, and I got the chance to spend a few days playing tour guide in my own city. It was a really fun experience – I find that all to often, life and chores and seeing friends and visiting grandma and tending to your dying pot plant and all those things that are really nice to do but use up all of your time on the weekend happen, and its not often enough that you get to devote a weekend to enjoying everything that your own city has to offer. Getting out to those places like Lesmurdie Falls and spending whole days meandering around the Swan Valley sampling cheese, chocolate and wine to your hearts content definitely needs to happen more often for most Western Australians (or maybe everyone does these things, and I just spend too much time keeping up with netflix). Anyway, with a Canadian in tow on a sunny winter weekend, I took the opportunity to cross a few of those spots in the Swan Valley off the list for another few months.
We started the day off at Mandoon Estate, a winery whose goods are stocked in my local bottle shop and whose old vine shiraz I absolutely ADORE. I had been so keen to get myself over here and try the offerings at the Homestead Brewery since it opened earlier this year so I was pretty happy when everyone agreed it would be the best possible start to our day.
The grounds at Mandoon are so pretty – my initial feelings about having to park in the overflow parking at the top of the driveway soon faded as we made our way down past the rows of vines. As the row of cars spread down the drive indicated, the picnic tables and playground were overrun with families, and some had resorted to parking themselves on the grass to enjoy a bite and a beer. And to think, I thought arriving at 11.30 would let us beat the lunch crowd! I realised shortly after though that the brewery is a separate area, and luckily there were still a few tables free for us to rest our legs after checking out the deli and taking a walk around the on-site Linton and Kay gallery (a hard task indeed!).
Now, everyone knows that when you visit a brewery the number one rule is that you need to try the beer paddle. Poor Ollie was our designated driver for a day so he had to miss out, but I jumped in eagerly for the two of us. It was a lovely vibe, sitting there drinking beer and looking out of the vines, and life only got better and better as I made my way from one end of the board to another. Some warm malt and beer bread with butter was the perfect accompaniment – yeasty goodness all around!
And then the food started seriously flowing in! Ollie and I shared the beef brisket and a lamb, feta and mint yoghurt pizza, along with a small plate of grilled octopus and chorizo. The beef brisket dish was the highlight of the day for me – warm and melt in your mouth, it was only made better sandwiched between two pieces of malt bread and a bucket load of butter – I am almost drooling just thinking about it! The beans were tasting and texturally pleasing, and the plate was finished up well by the juicy corn and zingy coleslaw. I was a little disappointed by the size of the chorizo and octopus starter given it was about $15, but what was in there was pleasing – cooked well and not too chewy. As for the pizza, it was up there as far as pub pizzas go – our only problem was that it was so cold outside we struggled to eat it before it got too cold – definitely our own fault for choosing an outdoor table though!
Despite it not looking so attractive from the angle that I snapped a shot, the burger seemed to be pretty tasty (hard to go wrong, really) and the chips were certainly plentiful. Everyone was pretty happy by the end of lunch, especially after a couple of glasses of the lovely wine Mandoon has on offer. We wandered out past the cellar door, picking up a couple of bottles for later, and continued our journey through the Swan Valley (including Ferals Brewery for one more beer paddle!).