12/12/2006 - 22:00

A truly organic experience

12/12/2006 - 22:00
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The creators of the Margaret River Chocolate Company are behind a new $1 million cafe and retail outlet that will undoubtedly make the to-do list for hundreds of foodies taking their annual pilgrimage to the South West this festive season.

The creators of the Margaret River Chocolate Company are behind a new $1 million cafe and retail outlet that will undoubtedly make the to-do list for hundreds of foodies taking their annual pilgrimage to the South West this festive season.

Called Margaret River Providore, the gourmet food shop, cafe and tasting room comes complete with an organic olive grove and organic vegetable gardens, which provide the cafe’s chefs with an abundance of fresh produce to use each day.

Martin Black and Patrick Coward, who established the Margaret River Chocolate Company in 1999, have spent the better part of the past three years researching their idea and developing the facility, located on the 44 hectares of land that houses the chocolate factory.

As well as its cafe menu, boasting organic produce straight from the garden out the back, Margaret River Providore sells a collection of gourmet take-home foods and ingredients, from herbs and spices, teas and dried goods to fresh pasta sauces, olives, and even freshly baked baguettes.

Opened two months ago, Margaret River Providore is a more casual affair than the nearby Moondance Lodge restaurant, Harvest Moon, which also boasts a menu using produce grown on-site.

Harvest Moon, once the exclusive grazing ground for its guests, opened to the public earlier this month.

Messrs Coward and Black had originally planned to develop a cellar door on the site as a means to sell their new wine label, Coward & Black.

But Mr Coward says the project evolved into providing a food and wine tasting experience that stretched all the way to the garden bed.

“When developing Margaret River Providore we focused extensively on creating an experience for visitors, so that they could not only sample our products, but they could follow the entire food chain process and learn along the way,” Mr Coward says.

An organic gardener tends to more than 50 vegetable gardens on site.

Mr Black says the gardens are currently only big enough to service the cafe’s menu, but will be expanded over time in order to grow enough ingredients for the Providore’s jams and preserves.

“We have just harvested our first beetroot and that will go into one of the providore lines, which is a beetroot and orange chutney,” Mr Black says.

There are also plans for a chicken farm to provide free-range eggs for the chefs and customers.

The Providore’s 8ha of vines and the organic olive grove are surrounded by an eight metre high rammed earth wall, while the sprawling organic gardens, which are signposted with information about the history and best uses for various herbs and vegetables, are located out the back of the venue.

Mr Black says there are plans to plant a further 1.6ha of vines to add to the existing 6.5ha already planted. However, he maintained that the label would remain boutique and would only be available for sale at Margaret River Providore and selected, high-profile restaurants.

The team at Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurants in London and Melbourne are currently reviewing some wine samples, while the label will soon appear on Lamont’s East Perth wine list.

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