Summer is coming, and that means sunset picnics at Yallingup, camping trips with friends, and lazy dinners on the deck.
When the weather warms up, we often find ourselves swimming, snorkelling or stand up paddle boarding in those twilight hours, that in winter would have been spent cooking. Dinner is lighter, fresher and an altogether simpler affair, compared to the winter roasts and slow-cooked suppers.
When we go camping we eat like kings – fresh seafood on the barbie, creamy camembert cooked in the coals and an extravagant chardonnay to wash it all down.
There’s no better way to get that summer holiday feeling than dining al fresco with a delicious platter of cheese, olives and a loaf of fresh bread.
Enthusiastic foodie Lucy Neal from Margaret River Dairy Co shares her tips for packing a truly delicious picnic esky – perfect for sunset drinks or a camping adventure.
Tips for packing the perfect picnic or summer esky
- Keep an ‘emergency picnic pack’ on standby, for quick deployment in those spontaneous picnic situations. Keep wine glasses, a cheese board and knife, tea towel, tablecloth and wetwipes in a box in your car boot or garage, and foldup chairs and table nearby. Just add wine, cheese and crackers and head to the beach.
- Curate delicious things from your travels. The Margaret River region is packed with amazing artisan food and wine producers – and you’ve probably picked up some tasty treats in your travels. Bring it all together for dinner – local ham and salami, cheese, bread, fruit and chocolate – and that bottle of awesome chardonnay.
- Be generous with the food. As Nigella says, “never knowingly under cater”. Nothing worse than going home hungry, so be sure to pack a diverse range of food to graze on, plus something sweet for dessert. When camping, we love to take a Le Creuset pot of slow-cooked beef cheeks or a tasty curry. While picnicking, a loaf of Yallingup Wood Fired fruit bread or treats from the Margaret River Chocolate Company will always be well received.
- Location, location, location. In the south west, we love Yallingup main break or ‘the lookout’ above Rabbits surf break, Surfers Point and Prevelly for sunset drinks. Meelup and Castle Rock are lovely bayside locales too. Check out our list of camping spots
- Crank up the BBQ. Some of these picturesque seaside spots have free BBQs, too. So why not throw a shrimp on the barbie – or melt a Camembert – for the ultimate indulgence.
- Be the friend that brings people together. You know that friend, the organised one who always initiates catch ups? Simply text a few pals with a time and place, and take it from there. Create those memorable moments!
The ultimate summer cheese board or camping esky
Lucy loves food – she beams as she talks about what constitutes an excellent camembert, and all the amazing food on offer at the Margaret River Farmers Market. Her ‘ultimate picnic esky’ reads like a who’s who of local artisan food producers.
- Soft cheese – Brie or Camembert from Margaret River Dairy Co
- Cheddar or a Farmhouse cheese – a semi-soft, flavoured cheese that melts beautifully
- Prosciutto, ham or salami from The Farm House Margaret River
- Fresh figs in summer
- Honeycomb to place atop the camembert
- Olives – we love Olio Bello’s olives and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- Plain crackers – let the flavour of the cheese sing
- Bread from Yallingup Wood Fired Bread or Margaret River Bakery
- Grapes or raspberries – you’ll find locally grown at the Farmers Market in summer
- Onion Jam or Battlers Relish – available exclusively at Margaret River Dairy Co
- Sundried tomatoes
- Vegetable chips – especially sweet potato or parsnip
- Dark chocolate from Margaret River Chocolate Company
Storing and serving your cheese
Lucy says it’s important to bring your cheese to room temperature to really enjoy the flavours. Bring it out of the esky an hour before you’re ready to serve, but leave it wrapped till you’re ready to eat.
Start with a beautiful wooden board. Place the cheeses first, add meats, crackers, relish pots and olives, placing the crackers last. Look to local cheese board artists Hide and Feast for inspiration – they top the camembert with honeycomb, fresh figs or raspberries and it looks (and tastes) sensational.
Margaret River Dairy Company
You’ll find Margaret River Dairy Company on Bussell Highway just north of Cowaramup. Pop in, taste countless cheeses and yoghurts, treat yourself to an icecream or pick-me-up coffee and fill a cooler bag with cheese for your sunset picnic.
It’s a truly local product; they use 100% local milk from the Margaret River region, and their cheese making workshop is just behind the retail tasting space.
The Brie and Camembert is hand crafted right here in Margaret River in a classic French style. The milk is pasteurised, culture is stirred in and hand poured into moulds. They’re brined and matured over 10 days to build the white mould bloom. Each cheese is lovingly hand wrapped, ready for sale.
Always innovating, they try new recipes each month, and Lucy treated me to a tasting of something top secret but totally delicious. She says there’s always new products on the horizon, and they sound exciting to me.
Strawberry Balsamic Baked Brie
This decadent recipe can easily be adjusted to the BBQ or camp fire. Look out for the lidded ceramic dishes for sale at the Margaret River retail space – specially made for this recipe.
- 200g wheel of Margaret River Dairy Company Brie
- 1 punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic glaze
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the strawberries and balsamic glaze and set aside. Place the cheese on a baking tray and into the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and very gently lift it on to a plate. Top with the strawberry mix and serve immediately with crackers or fresh pita bread.
*Images Tim Campbell Photography
Margaret River Dairy Company is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm except Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for cheese and yoghurt tastings, ice cream and coffee.
8063 Bussell Hwy, Metricup. Tel 08 9750 6600.
Look for their cheese and yoghurt at Bunbury Farmers Market and your local supermarket.