Offering small children their first cuddle with a live chicken and sharing their discovery of a straw-bound nest with a clutch of fresh brown eggs is one of life’s true delights.
Such was the case on a recent weekend, spent down south – as we Perth-based citizens refer to trips into wine and surf country in and around Margaret River and Yallingup.
It was Yallingup this time – staying in a massive tastefully appointed Airbnb, perched high on a few hectares and facing east over a surfer’s oceanic paradise… such a joy to watch a sunrise for a change.
Aside from a few kangaroos – otherwise known as ‘hop hops’ by little two-year-old Finya, she of the chicken-coop fame – there were also squabbling parrots, busy honeyeaters and raucous ravens entertaining us as we sipped, and perhaps occasionally slurped, on luscious Margaret River cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays.
With the surprising discovery of a chicken coop tucked away in the bush only 20 or so steps from our weekender, and food scraps ready to be shared with the chickens or optionally with worms in the composter, it was simple family fun sharing the experience with a two-year-old.
Though momentarily put off when an inquisitive Isa Brown quickly moved in on the bread crust she held in her little fingers, she soon settled as the friendly inquisitive chickens circled while seeking scraps.
With ‘Old Macdonald Had a Farm’ the top of her song pops and ‘chook chooks’ and ‘neigh neighs’ – her code for horses – her favourite lyrics, being among the big brown birds was an almost overwhelming treat.
For the elders also in the coop, it was an opportunity to sneak a few freshly laid eggs to complement the two cartons of Fremantle Egg Company 840gm mega jumbos I’d bought from Ian Wilson on the way down the day before.
As with all weekends away, scrambled, fried or poached eggs with the obligatory bacon somehow seems essential.
And so it was for us, including a healthily hungry 93-year-old great grandmother.
On the Saturday, I was treated to another poultry delight – this time at a friend’s fiftieth celebrated at the renowned Wills Domain winery, about 30 minutes from our hideaway and overlooking the impressive Gunyulgup Valley.
The on-site restaurant at Wills Domain has been awarded the 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019 WA Good Food Guide Regional Restaurant of the Year, two hats and 15 out of 20 in the Australian Good Food Guide and a place in The Australian Hot 50 restaurants and its Hall of Fame.
It has a refined industrial feel, with a focus on sustainable wild-harvested produce.
The estate’s onsite gardens grow much of the produce, highlighting the lengths the kitchen takes to showcase its unique, stylish and innovative approach.
The birthday girl Rizza is quite a foodie, so she would have delighted in co-creating a delicious four-course menu and curating a select wine offering for her 30 or so friends.
After lapping up the first two courses of scallops, wasabi, dill and daikon followed by potato, black garlic, truffle and chives, it was time for the poultry party.
And what a party it was.