Category Archives: Australia

Lazy weekend in Perth

Whilst traveling to Perth is by airplane, and therefore does not add to my quest for more kilometers, I thought I’d do a quick blog about this as we had such a delightful time there.

We stayed at the Sheraton, which lived up to the normal Starwood standards.  The room was spacious and well furnished, with the highlight of the room being the bed!  Those heavenly beds rock my world!  Pillowy softness made for a fantastic nights sleep.  The other highlight of the hotel was the hash browns that were served for breakfast.  We stayed for 3 nights and every morning, there they were.  Golden crispy outside,  soft potato goodness on the inside.  Delicious!

Our dining experience in Perth is well worth mentioning.   The 7 course degustation at Star Anise with matching wine was delicious and was a good “progression”.   The winning dish for me was the “marron, hiramasa kingfish, ‘tom yum’” – delicate seafood sitting with a tom yum reduced jelly.   Winning dish for my partner was the “lightly smoked ocean trout, crackling, seaweed, enoki, edamame, winter melon, brown rice tea broth” – good tasty broth again with delicate seafood.  Well worth the trip out the Shenton Park (which is about 10 mins out of the city by cab).

Whilst roaming around Perth city, starved for a good coffee, we stumbled upon a strange looking extension to an office building in the heart of the city.  The extension had walls made of potted plants, with doors that had handles of spades and tables and chairs made from what looks like recycled crates.  Lo and behold, it was Greenhouse.   This was around the time that Matt Stone was awarded the Gourmet Traveller best new chef award so it was totally hyped up for me.  And it lived up to it!   I enjoyed a delicious blade steak with caramelized brussel sprouts and a cauliflower tartin.  It  was spectacular.

Had a fantastic weekend away, can’t wait to return to try more restaurants and return to Greenhouse!

(10th – 13th September 2010)

For more info on Greenhouse:

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

For more info on Star Anise:
Star Anise on Urbanspoon

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Short weekend in Castlemaine

The star of this trip was the little restaurant Star Anise, which we stopped by in Kyneton on the way to Castlemaine.   We decided to stop for lunch and armed with my trusty Good Food Guide 2010 made the decision to go to Star Anise.  The other options available were Annie Smithers’ Bistrot and Royal George Hotel.  Annie Smither’s was not open and the Royal George Hotel was too unreasonable for a simple Saturday lunch.  Note about Kyneton, there are two main streets – one for the locals, and one for the tourists.   Head to the tourist street – antique shops, second hand shops, cute boutiques, organic food shops and cafes/restaurants.

Star Anise delighted me – charming, with a husband and wife team who was front of house and chef respectively.  We started with a delicious crab “money bag”, followed by scallops in burnt butter and main was a roast duck (with star anise of course!) served with beetroot.  The chocolate dessert was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had – it consisted of warm chocolate pudding, creme brulee, caramel ice cream and chocolate truffle.

We got into Castlemaine late afternoon and most of the shops were closed.   We decided to head to the pub for a drink!  Found a great place called Public Inn right on the main street and stayed for dinner!   Nice atmosphere and good food.

Now, the main reason for heading to Castlemaine – the Empyre Hotel.  We had the Maquire Suite.  It was a beautiful room, however, there was nothing else that was exceptional.   Perhaps if we stayed for dinner…

Again, we stopped at Trentham on the way home.   Lunched the Cosmopolitan Hotel again.   Word of advice, do not dine outdoors in winter!  It’s cold!  Brr!

Also stopped at Dalesford and Hepburn Springs…  Lovely, however, we did not stop for long.

Doubt I’ll be heading back to Castlemaine but I’ll definitely be back to Kyneton for Star Anise!

Total kms:  270

 (7th – 8th August 2010)

For more information on Star Anise:

Star Anise Bistro on Urbanspoon
For more information on the Cosmopolitan Hotel:

Cosmopolitan Hotel on Urbanspoon

Winter weekend in Bright

My overall impression of Bright is lovely.  It was a great drive there, we left early afternoon and arrived in the evening.  Given the time of year, it was dark by the time we arrived and it was a bit daunting getting to the house on dark country roads.

The house we stayed at was aptly named “Evening Star” as the deck faced the mountainside and stars (which were aplenty).  The house was as gorgeous (as was described), with lots of space to relax, a bathtub with views of the mountains and a fully decked out kitchen (which we enjoyed cooking breakfast and dinner a few times).

One of the primary reason’s for visiting Bright was to dine at Simone’s (which at the time had 2 hats in the GFG, alas it now only has one).  It was charming and rustic, and the food was delicious.  Outstanding items include homemade gnocchi with mushrooms and truffle,  calamari lightly battered with rocket and the roast pork done 3 ways.

We stayed in Bright for a few days.  To amuse ourselves, we drove along the Great Alpine Road which is a great drive with very pretty scenery.  Another highlight of the trip was the Wandiligong Pub, with great locals and character (look out for a tree out the back with about 30 pairs of bra’s hanging from it!).  If you have a few hours, check out the Wandiligong maze – it was a quite a challenge and probably the best maze I’ve ever seen.

On the way back to Melbourne we stopped by a few spots.  One of which was Milawa, where there was a local Sunday market.  There was nothing terribly exciting at the market but the shops were interesting with cheese and mustard aplenty!  Another pit stop on the way home was Glenrowan where the giant Ned Kelly resides.   It was like a cowboy town with a row of shops (every single one with reference to Ned) running through it and a giant statue.

Overall, the trip was great and I can’t wait to return to that region!  Next time I’ll be hitting up Beechworth.

Total kms: 1000kms

(16th – 18th July 2010)
 

More info on Simones:

Simones on Urbanspoon

Easter Weekend at Mt Macedon

First trip out of the city was to Mt Macedon, located 80kms out of Melbourne.  Tagged along to my boyfriends annual trip with his mates.   Drove straight there without stopping anywhere on the way, so I can’t comment on the coffee or toilet facilities of any of the towns nearby.

We were lucky to be staying at the fabulous  Sky House which was exactly as beautiful and idyllic as described in the website.  It’s up on Mt Macedon and has a beautiful view of the valley below and Hanging Rock.  The only tricky thing – finding the house up the mountain!  Google maps does not work for this place!

The weekend was leisurely and we spent a day or two exploring the nearby attractions (Hanging Rock) and towns (Woodend & Trentham).   Hanging Rock was as expected with nice grounds to explore, walking tracks, and a quaint cafe to have tea and cake.  I wasn’t terribly amused by Hanging Rock but none the less, it was nice to be there on a sunny day.

Woodend was like the Toorak of the northwest!  Saw luxury cars driving around (a Maserati and a Porsche).   The main street has nice little shops for trinkets and antiques, and a few cafes.  The big highlight of Woodend for me was the Holgate Brewery which had fantastic beer with a nice small town feel to it.

Trentham is a relatively small town, with a few shops and the delightful Cosmopolitan Hotel.   The pub burnt down (a year ago?) and since then, they’ve been having a makeshift pub out in the garden and stables.  The food is good, but it’s the atmosphere that makes it.  Sunshine, live band, good food – awesome!

We also stopped by Kyneton, but later discovered that we were not in the main street.  Instead we were where the locals hung out.  It was unspectacular, but we did stumble upon a few antique stores which were full of old furniture (if you like that kind of thing).

I’d love to go back to the house and Woodend, definitely would recommend it!

Total kms = 200kms (14,800 to go!)

(2nd – 5th April 2010)
 

More on the Cosmopolitan Hotel:

Cosmopolitan Hotel on Urbanspoon

More on Holgate Brewhouse:

Holgate Brewhouse on Urbanspoon