As I write this I’m still digesting my trip to Western Australia – quite literally as it seems I’ve put on an impressive 5kg (all muscle, naturally) in 10 days. Amorous quokkas, blasé attitudes to sharks, the way you abbreviate everything to a syllable (I’m never saying sommelier again), the natural beauty and clean air aside; my overwhelming memory of my whirlwind visit is the warmth and hospitality of the people of Perth and Margaret River.

When it comes to the food and drink, the passion for serving and promoting local produce, from the ever-present duck of Wagin (where I’m guessing the fowl outnumber the people?) to the various meaty white fish, the Emperors Spangled and Red, Dhufish and Estuary Cod (aka ‘Greasy Grouper’, my new favourite fish alias), bowled me over. That’s before we get into the more refined pleasures of your morels and black truffles. You have a local larder to be proud of.

Those that know me might describe me as rarely drunk but never sober, a careful drinker that never imbibes on a school night but as your guest with a thirst for knowledge, I felt it would be rude to ever refuse the offer of local liquid refreshment.

I only dipped my toe (or should that be my tongue?) into the craft brewing scene but was I impressed with the variety of local beers (and a few ciders) on offer; and having sunk several local whiskies and a couple of gin and tonics I can report that your distilling scene is in rude health, even if my liver isn’t.    

Meanwhile my brief immersion in WA wine has changed my previously prejudiced mind about what Aussie shiraz can offer and introduced me to the quirky producer of low-intervention wines that is Si. Next time I’ll bring a second suitcase.

It’s great that the guide has put service on equal footing with food for the first time this year. As a former front of house I feel it’s about time that chefs shared the limelight. Restaurants are team sport, I came across a pleasing number of young knowledgeable individuals that were both passionate about what they were doing and considered it a calling, a career and not a stopgap, which bodes well for the future.

Appetite whetted, I’m looking forward to my next visit to WA, to eating my way around your rapidly expanding restaurant scene (I learned of three exciting, big-ticket openings coming your way before the end of the year), exploring further and learning more about your welcoming food and drink culture.

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