Category Archives: Regional VIC

Daylesford Adventures

For my mom’s birthday pressie, my sister and I decided to take her away to Daylesford for the weekend.   Daylesford is a lovely little town with great places to eat!  Two places stand out for me, which are:  Kazuki’s and Cliffy’s Emporium.   Another place of note in the region is Du Fermier in Trentham which rocked my socks.

Let’s start with Cliffy’s.  It’s just a nice little cafe with great brunch.  I wish I took pics, but alas I can only recall that the cheddar potato hash was excellent, the scones were a delightful afternoon snack and the cakes were great!    Most importantly, coffee was solid.  We brunched there twice and got takeaway coffees and cake once.

Kazuki’s was fabulous.  A very solid restaurant with great food and superb service.  Started with a beautiful “house smoked salmon, spanner crab, cucumber, edamame“.  Light and delicate, really beautiful to eat and to look at.IMG_6636.JPG

The second dish I had was the “pork belly, bun, kimchi, apple“.  Mix of different textures, and delicious.

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For main I had the “Sher Wagyu porterhouse, MS 9+, chimmichurri, chargrilled vegetables” which was spectacular.  Loved this dish.

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Dessert was “Tonka bean crème brûlée, lychee sorbet, meringue, raspberry“.   Again, beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat.

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Would you believe, after that 4 course dinner, I went to Du Fermier the next day?  By the end of this holiday, I was well and truly well and over fed.

The concept at Du Fermier is that there is no menu, they serve you whatever it is that’s in season and available.    We started with the best savoury tart I’ve ever had, which were filled with leeks from the chefs garden.   Was amazing.

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The main was a shared plate consisting of wagyu steak with garlic croutons roast vegetables with a veal jus.  It was so so so good.  I honestly can’t describe how good it was.  All I know is that it was perfect and I want to eat it all over again.

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Dessert was lemon curd and meringues.   It was pretty darn good.

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My mom, sister and I had an amazing time in Daylesford enjoying the sights, hot springs and massages.  The food was also amazing and on a whole new level of regional dining.  I seriously can’t wait to get back to Du Fermier.

For more info and reviews:

Kazuki’s (one hat)
Kazuki's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Du Fermier (one hat)
du Fermier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ten Minutes by Tractor

Ten Minutes by Tractor is a gorgeous winery with a modern restaurant facing the hillside in which the vines grow.  Was there in summer for my mom’s birthday dinner, and it was an outstanding meal all around.   Each course was matched with a perfect wine from the winery.  As you can see from the pics, the food was beautifully presented and tasted fantastic!

We started with an amuse bouche of tuna tartare.   A small bite that packed a punch – lovely soft tuna, crunchy zesty apple.   Gotta say, I loved the presentation and the spoon in which the tuna sat in.

Amuse Bouche

For entree, I had the “seared tuna with sesame and bean salad, spring onion yogurt“.  It was tasty and light.

seared tuna with sesame and bean salad, spring onion yogurt

My sister had the “charred mackerel with ratatouille, lemon creme fraiche, tomato vinaigrette” and my mom had the “beetroot cured king fish with beetroot, avocado snow, celery panacotta“.  I had a taste of both and they were superb.

charred mackerel with ratatouille, lemon creme fraiche, tomato vinaigrettebeetroot cured king fish with beetroot, avocado snow, celery panacotta

For main, I had the modestly described “duck & five spice with fig, soubise, duck jus“.   Putting it out there that this may be the best duck dish I’ve ever had.  The duck was juicy and moist, with crispy skin and the accompaniments went perfectly with the duck.

duck & five spice with fig, soubise, duck jus

My mom had the “Flinders Island wallaby with parsnip, slow roasted grapes and walnuts” whilst my sister had the “Cape Grim eye fillet with beetroot, heirloom carrots, parsley emulsion“.  Again, I had a taste of both and they were fantastic.

Flinders Island wallaby with parsnip, slow roasted grapes and walnutsCape Grim eye fillet with beetroot, heirloom carrots, parsley emulsion

Given the meal was quite rich, I opted for a light and fruity dessert.  The “strawberry medley with lime cake, lemon verbena and white chocolate espuma, meringue, strawberry ice cream” was perfect!   Sweet, citrusy, fruity and creamy.

strawberry medley with lime cake, lemon verbena and white chocolate espuma, meringue, strawberry ice cream

My sister chose the “chocolate chiboust with Michel Cluizel chocolate, poached cherries, cherry sorbet, vanilla & kirsch espuma“.   She was happy with her choice (I declined to try any as it might have overwhelmed my dessert) and it looked amazing!

chocolate chiboust with Michel Cluizel chocolate, poached cherries, cherry sorbet, vanilla & kirsch espuma

In summary, the food was amazing.  The restaurant was lovely, good service, great wine and good value ($89 for 3 courses!).   In future if I’m ever in the region, I am booking myself in for a meal at Ten Minutes!

For more info and reviews:

Ten Minutes by Tractor on Urbanspoon

Loam… Amazing!

Got taken to Loam for my birthday!  It was truly spectacular!  Beautiful countryside, great looking restaurant,  great service and sensational food!  Some of the food combos were mind blowing, and they were all well balanced and enhanced the flavour of the key ingredient.

The menu has an interesting format, in that they have a list of ingredients that are in season and that will be featured in the dishes.  All you have to do is specify how many courses you’d like to have.  We all know I’m a glutton, so it was 9 course for me, plus matching wines.

Before commencing, we start with bread and a few munchies.  The butter that went with the bread was so good – it was house churned (hence it was soft and fluffy) and smoked.  I don’t normally eat more than 1 slice of bread but on this occasion I had 3 slices as the butter was so good!  We also had cured mussels, parmesan biscuits and salmon jerky.

First up, we had the “cuttlefish, ink, unripe tomato“.   The cuttlefish was marinated in squid ink and sat in the tomato consume, topped with a cuttlefish cracker.  The unripe tomato consume packs a punch, but the star of this dish was the cracker which contrasted with the silky texture of the marinated cuttlefish.

The “marron, lychee, turnip, macadamia, celery” dish was mind blowing.  The marron and lychee were covered in macadamia shavings which meant that when you took a bite of it, it dried your mouth out a bit before hitting it with the juicy sweetness of lychee and marron.  Phenomenal.

The “snapper, black russian tomato, basil seed, samphire” was a beautiful panfried snapper in a tomato consume with basil seed and packed a lemony punch.  Good looking dish which tasted great too.

The “shiitake, cheese rind, onion, cucumber, tea tree fungus” dish had oven roasted shiitake mixed with onion, onion flower and lebanese cucumber atop a cheese rind custard.  Surprisingly a light dish which smelled amazon.   Mushrooms never tasted so good.

Next up was the “pork jowl, watercress, pear, lettuce hearts, purslane“…  the pork had been cooked for 17 hours and then pan fried to crisp it… delicious!  Best pork I’d ever had.  Amazing.

The final savoury dish was the “wagyu rump, avocado, veal tongue, saltbush, thyme” which consisted of crispy shredded veal tongue and saltbush leaves sitting atop a perfectly cooked piece of meat on avocado purée.  Again, amazing.

The first of the desserts was “mauri taleggio, fermented cabbage, raw honey, pollen“.  The picture below shows the fermented cabbage sitting atop the taleggio.   The taleggio is from Northern Italy and the cabbage is fermented for 10 days in the same bacteria as the cheese (yup, the chef told me himself!).   As a cheese lover, I loved this dish.  The cheese was amplified by the fermented cabbage – stinky and amazing!

Next dessert was “fig leaf, molasses, wild plum, mint, spiced bread“.   The parfait was fig leaf, with a crystallised sliver of molasses on top.  This was topped by the wild plum with spiced breadcrumbs around it.  This dessert came with an elderflower liquor as the acommpanying drink and the combination was fantastic.

Last dish for the night was “berries, rhubarb, pine yoghurt, wild fennel, milk“.  The rhubarb came in the form of sorbet and was surrounded by berries.  Crispy milk skin sat on top and on the bottom was a goats milk yoghurt.  It was a nice light end to the fabulous dinner.

Overall, the dinner was amazing.  I honestly can’t fault anything about the whole experience.  To top it off, as it was my birthday, I got to visit the kitchen at the end of the night and have a chat with the head chef (Aaron).  It was such a great experience!  One last photo, and that was the lovely little lemon tarts that came with our coffee.  One last time… amazing!

For more info and reviews:
Loam on Urbanspoon

Or The Age review!

Food pics from Apollo Bay

This was a really short trip to Apollo Bay and the food scene was somewhat lacking.   I do have some pics, so thought I’d share…

Obviously, I was in a seafood state of mind… so there’s boiled lobster with chips and sauces from the Apollo Bay Hotel, which was delicious and reasonably priced.   On a nice night out in the deck, with a nice cold beer and cold lobster are winners.

Another establishment we went to was La Bimba Restaurant.  The first night we went there it was packed and we had to make a reservation for the following night.  Based on the popularity of the place, I was expecting fantastic food.   We had a seafood paella which contained muscles, scampi, fish and crab, and a Moreton bay bug risotto.   Both were really tasty, but a tad overcooked.

Lastly, we have the interesting junk food….  I did try the Vegemite flavoured ice cream, and my recommendation is, don’t do it!  One taste is fine, but a whole scoop is overwhelming.  Also, the aftertaste was horrendous.   The lamb and mint flavoured chips were awesome!  They need to make this a permanent fixture.

(12 – 13 Mar 2011)

Degustation delight in Port Fairy

Drove 300kms to Port Fairy to dine at the divine Merrijig Inn, and it was totally worth it!

The accommodation was bare basics and sufficient, but the food is really what it’s all about!

Merijigg Inn Room

Naturally, we had to have the Chef’s Tasting Menu consisting of 9 courses with matching wines.

The first thing to grace our table was the delightful potato bread, along with creamy and salty butter. You know you’re in for a good thing when the bread that comes out is sensational.

The surprise amuse bouche was a honey, carrot, and ginger soup, which was a nice tasty mouthful. The other surprise was the beef tartare on toast – spectacular!

And then we start the degustation… some of the comments we had during the dinner…

Course 1: smoked eel and trout, horseradish cream, . Drink 1: Champagne. Comments: “fabulous” “tasty” “good size”.

Course 2: crayfish, roe and sea foam. Drink 2: Riesling. Comments: ” Spectacular” “Plenty of crayfish” ” Interesting textures”

Course 3: baby abalone, smoked bacon. Drink 3: something Spanish. Comments: “Fantastic” “Dishes keeps getting better” “Good garlic cream”

Course 4: Blue eye and calamari done 3 ways (normal, consomme and tapioca). Drink: Chardonnay. Comments: “Awesome” “Keeps getting better” “Perfect amount of lemon zest” “Had seaweed in it” “All just perfect”

Course 5: Squab, baby beetroot, cherries. Drink: Pinot Noir. Comments: “Squabtastic. Too many beets.” – GW (he doesn’t like beets!), “amazing. Loved the thigh meat. Great beets.” – me!

Course 6: Wagyu eye fillet, grains. Drink: something from Italy. Comments: “tasty and delicious” “not the pinacle of the meal, that was the blue eye and calamari”

Surprise pre-dessert desserts: Blue cheese, walnuts, and honey. Goats cheese ice cream with raspberry granita and mixed berries.

Course 8: Flowers nectar petals. Drink: iced reisling. Comments: at this point, I probably had too many drinks…

Course 9: Chocolate, cherries, fig leaf. Drink & comments: I have no idea…


In summary, the journey was well worth it. This was the best degustation I’d had in 2010. The courses was a cohesive journey, that kept reaching new heights. Whist the mains could have stopped at the blue eye, and the desserts should have kept to the flower, nectar and petals, I’d still give this a 9 out of 10.

 (13 Dec 2010)
 

For more info and reviews:
Merrijig Inn on Urbanspoon

Food pilgrimage to Dunkeld

Probably my most hyped up gastro-drive was to the Royal Mail.  I’d heard stories from various friends regarding the excellent food, free flowing wine and excellent service…. but alas, my visit did not live up to the hype.

Our dinner reservation was for 7pm, and we didn’t get out till 1am.  The table next to us arrived at 8pm and got out sooner.  For some reason, the pacing of the meal was out.  We had the full degustation and the time between dish 2 and 3 was 45 minutes!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photo’s of the food for this trip.

The next morning, we tried the cafe opposite (changing owners) for a quick brunch before departing and it was lovely – nice home made food with a decent coffee.

Dunkeld felt really strange to me.  It was like a small town that was built around the restaurant.  The bush walk around the grounds was lovely and we saw native animals, but just didn’t feel quite right.

Warning:  do not stop by Beuford for coffee… it’s terrible!
 (9th – 10th October 2010)
 

More info and reviews on Royal Mail:

Royal Mail Hotel on Urbanspoon

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