Maggie Beer is a massive celebrity for viewers of Masterchef Australia here in India. We hang on to this chef extraordinaire’s every word, smile like lovestruck puppies when she says or does something sweet, and read her recipes like a bible. As soon as Charles and I decided to drive the Great Ocean Road in Australia, I thought, “Wait a minute. Maggie Beer’s Farm, Barossa Valley, Australia!” and started jumping up and down screaming
(Charles just read this and said, that’s about 1/100th of what my reaction really was) He hid the excitement (like he always does) but I know he was just as thrilled at the prospect of going to this magical place we had seen so often on television. So here we were, after just having visited the Barossa Valley Farmer’s Market, on a quick detour to Maggie Beer’s Farm. My heart began beating like crazy as soon as I saw the first signpost on the way in, and our friends (who were locals) pointed out, ” Isn’t that Colin, fixing the roof?” My eyes darted quickly to the direction they were pointing at and sure enough.
Everyone laughed, but my heart had only begun beating faster as our car pulled to a halt in the parking lot and I jumped out even before the engine was turned off. I looked around, and saw peacocks roaming the area, looking completely at home on the farm. I stepped through the doors, beaming like an absolute mental, pausing only for Charles to capture this moment forever.
We passed through the farm shop to have a look at her kitchen, THE kitchen where Maggie Beer cooks, holds demonstrations, Masterclasses and more! It looked much larger than life than it did on television and I was far too intimidated to even step behind the counter for a photo although our friends did try to egg me on. There were chairs all set up, waiting for her next class to begin, her daughter Saskia walking around. We stepped out onto the deck, overlooking a beautiful teal lake, rightfully shaped like the continent of Australia. (I can vouch for this, I saw it from the air on a helicopter ride over the area the next day).
We then got back into the shop that we’d passed on the way in. I felt like Alice in a Gastronomical Wonderland. I walked around like a headless chicken, looking at everything, yet not seeing anything. Charles and our friends were really taking this piss out of this, sneaking paparazzi shots of me going berserk with all the produce and pantry staples that surrounded me in pretty little stacks. Beautiful slender bottles of vinegars, oils and Maggie’s famous Verjuice, jars of pickled fruits and sauces, tubs of patés (that I had to be satisfied with only tasting since they’d never survive the trip back to India). There was so much to devour. With a heavy heart, I loaded my arms with as much as I could get away with, Charles’ stern warnings of flight baggage allowances ringing in my head. Some Ginger Chilli sauce, Tomato and Chilli Sugo, Fig and Fennel Paste, Teas and couple of other little jars and bottles. I was still walking around for what seemed like the 100th last round I was doing just to double check if there was anything I’d missed. Our friend came up to me and said she’d just heard the lady at the counter say Maggie was on her way in. Goaded on by my friend, I bought a recipe book just so I could get it signed by Maggie. We paid for my purchases and went to wait outside. 20 minutes of should we leave, should we stay later, there she was. Maggie Beer. Driving into the parking lot. I froze.
Her car turned the corner towards the events building where they seemed to be setting up a lunch of some sort, and we walked around towards the main entrance hoping to catch her emerging from there. Unfortunately she never did. She just sort of disappeared into the building, and we had to leave. My friends felt extremely sorry for me, knowing I’d come so close, but what they didn’t know was that this experience had thrilled me enough for a long long time. I’d actually stepped foot into her farm, seen her pheasants, her kitchen, her husband and her. And I was carrying a few pieces of Maggie Beer’s farm back with me in my little Maggie Beer tote. I was quite happy with that.
Do you have a food hero? Have you ever had a FanBoy/Girl moment on a trip anywhere?
Maggie Beer’s Farm, Barossa Valley, Australia also serves a delightful picnic fare should you want to eat it at the farm or carry it away into a Barossa Vineyard.