Ellie Hargreaves goes beyond the vineyards and cellar doors of Western Australia’s Margaret River region to discover the secrets of creating award-winning chocolate.
Home to some of Australia’s most spectacular surf beaches and breathtaking coastline, the Margaret River region has also staked its claim as a food lover’s paradise. There are gourmet providores and rustic farm-to-table eateries galore, all making the most of the area’s exceptional produce. No longer just a destination for long lunches and winery tours, the region has seen several world-class artisans popping up in recent years. Think gourmet cheeses, woodfired bread, cold-pressed olive oil and chocolate – lots of chocolate.
Tucked away in the coastal town of Yallingup, Gabriel Chocolate specialises in transforming the humble raw cacao bean into delicately smooth single-origin chocolate. Owner Gabriel Myburgh opened the Yallingup factory with his wife Ruth in 2011 when they noticed a gap in the market for high quality, locally-made chocolate.
As Western Australia’s first ‘bean to bar’ chocolate makers, Gabriel and Ruth are meticulous when it comes to producing chocolate of the highest quality. “Creating single-origin chocolate allows us to control the whole process and the end result is a piece of chocolate bursting with flavour,” Gabriel says. “Some people are quite shocked at how intense the flavour is – this isn’t anything like chocolate you can buy in the supermarket.”
Cacao beans are sourced from all over the world and shipped to the factory in Yallingup, where they are sorted by hand and carefully roasted. “In sourcing our cacao we look for a variety of flavours from a range of locations to create chocolate that really highlights the diversity,” Gabriel says. Cacao beans from Venezuela have a rich fruity taste, while those from Indonesia have distinct smoky undertones.
Gabriel enjoys taking guests on behind-the-scenes tours of the factory, where they can learn the importance of sourcing good quality beans and see the process of chocolate-making firsthand. “We show people that by using the same process with different cacao beans, the final product varies significantly in terms of flavour,” he says.
From the intensity of Gabriel’s 99% dark to their velvety white chocolate, there is something to suit all tastes, but the award-winning Madagascan 72% dark chocolate is a must-try for connoisseurs. [This dark chocolate has been a gold medal recipient at the Perth Royal Food Awards and the Sydney Royal Easter Show.] The beans that go into this bar are sourced from the Sambirano Valley on the northern tip of Madagascar, giving the chocolate subtle hints of lime and orange zest. Gabriel and Ruth’s passion for all things chocolate shines through in the distinctive flavours of each and every bar they create. Their bean-to-bar philosophy is unique to the region and shows that working with what nature provides is often the key to creating something extraordinary. Taste the difference of this single-origin chocolate for yourself on our 15 Day Wonders of the South West tour.
Swim with dolphins at Monkey Mia, cruise Shark Bay, indulge in sensational wines in Margaret River (and chocolate) and that's just for starters! Western Australia's coastline is incredibly diverse ... and long. Stretching 10,194km from the South West Corner, through the Kimberley and all the way to the Top End, it's no surprise that WA packs in some serious wow-factor.
For the inside word on what to see in WA, join Travelmarvel General Manager Sales Scott Ellis and expert Travelmarvel Driver-Guide Andrew Greig on a wander around Western Australia, here at Travelmarvel Live.