HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 12 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Shannon Bennett, chef-restaurateur and perennial entrepreneur, is developing heritage-listed Burnham Beeches into a a biodynamic farm and self-sufficient village in Sherbrooke in the Dandenongs.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 11 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Phase 1 of the 22 hectare site is the Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, the commercial bakery which supplies all of the bread and pastries for Bennett’s many restaurants, including Cafe Vue at Heide, Bistro Vue and Vue de Monde.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 14 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Unfortunately we chose a very wet day to visit Burnham Beeches which meant that indoor tables were in scarce supply. Luckily we snagged one of the remaining available wooden/marbled ended benches at 9:30am (it opens at 9am). Yes it’s that busy even on a wet Sunday morning!

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 9 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

We found the former pigsty and barn quite cold and its high ceilings and polished concrete surfaces meant that it got really loud once the tables filled.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 15 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

The breakfast menu mixes between cafe standards and some of the Vietnamese influences found at Jardin Tan. There’s a lot of pork on the agenda, an apt choice for a place named the Piggery Cafe.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 7 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 18 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

We tried the house made banana bread with whipped honey butter ($7) which was really just glorified cake, the bircher muesli with bircher muesli, poached fruit and Schulz yoghurt ($12) and the BBB – a brioche bun slathered in sweet tomato relish with bacon, a slab of slow-cooked pork and a fried egg with a sunny, runny yolk ($16). All of the food was delicious but I did think the servings were on the measly side.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 16 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

Luckily it meant more room for dessert and it would be remiss to drive all this way without trying one of the amazing cakes (even though it’s only 10am).

DSC05464 540x408 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

The lemon tart ($9) was my favourite, with a rippled short pastry crust housing a soft but not runny lemon curd filling and perfectly burnished squiggle of meringue tinted with flavours of honey. The meringue perhaps was a little bit too soft but it was probably due to the damp conditions.

The caramel slice ($8.50) was not too sickly sweet (the reason I tend to avoid caramel tarts) and was adorned by a cute little quenelle of chocolate mousse.

We also particularly enjoyed the springy canele ($3), which contained surprising Green Goblin hued centre of pistachio encased by a sugar-coated crust.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 13 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

The kids loved their shortbread piggy biscuits ($2) dipped in chocolate ‘mud’ and babycinos with a chocolate on the side ($2). There’s plenty of room to park prams and several high chairs available.

From the bakery we took home a loaf of golden, buttery brioche. Note that it’s $6.50 at Burnham Bakery, $7 at Jardin Tan and $8 at Cafe Vue at Heide (yes we buy it everywhere we go!).

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery Burnham Beeches 1 Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke 17 HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

If it gets too busy or the sun is shining you can get sandwiches and sweet things to go and laze around the lawns instead. I’m told the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens next door are particularly spectacular but it was freezing and wet on our visit so we had to miss them.

Burnham Beeches is lovely short trip from Melbourne and the Piggery Cafe is a foodie destination if you’re not only after cream teas and crochet. The 2 and 3 course lunch menu looks particularly appetising and seems more adventurous than the breakfast fare.

Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke 03 9021 2100

Mon-Fri 10am-5pm

Sat-Sun 9am-5pm

minilink HOT: Piggery Cafe and Burnham Bakery, Burnham Beeches, 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

HOT: Olivigna, 54-56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 3 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Love the idea of sunning yourself in Tuscany but can’t afford the airfare? Believe it or not, a little bit of Italy can be found at Olivigna at Warrandyte South, just 30 minutes from Melbourne.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 6 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Drive up to Olivigna, surrounded by tall cypress trees, and it’s like driving up towards the Tuscan hills. The 20 acre property contains olive groves, a vineyard, orchard and garden, with a rustic stone restaurant, La Sala, at its centre.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 1 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 5 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

The restaurant is large and bright and provides stunning views over the rolling hills of Warrandyte/Tuscany. I particularly loved the enormous gothic chandeliers presiding over the massive fireplace and the dining hum full of families and celebration.

The site is a dream and work in progress for the owners, Black Salt Catering’s Anna Gallo and developer John Di Pietro. Their love of the place is evident from all the small touches in the restaurant, such as the wooden shoe lasts picked up from France to use as coat racks.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 19 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

As part of Olivigna mission to be an Italianate food and wine destination, they hold regularly Italian cooking classes on site. I was invited to a pasta making class at Olivigna which took place on one side of La Sala with Piera Benini, the restaurant’s pasta chef and a native of Bologna (a city known for its food and has the nickname ‘Fat Bologna’). I’ve previously sampled Piera’s pasta magic at Ladro Greville so she knows her stuff.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 18 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 14 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 8 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Over 2 hours Piera showed us how to make pasta from start to finish, from combining the dough to rolling it to cutting it.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 17 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 7 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

After our morning’s instruction the kitchen, headed by chef chef Colin Swalwell (ex Yering Station), made our lunch while we were ushered to enjoy our handiwork in the private dining room, a space inspired by a traditional wine cellar/cave.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 21 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

To start we enjoyed some freshly sliced prosciutto and house grown olives and fresh bread from the enormous wood oven accompanied by housemade olive oil (bottled just 3 days before).

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 16 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

 

Our feast continued with three different types of pasta – the tortellini we made, pappardelle with traditional napoli sauce and a surprise third dish, the restaurant’s signature Scaliatelli alle Vongole with clams, sweet zucchini and a touch of chilli. Our meal was served with a glass of Olivigna‘s own wine.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 4 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

If you enjoyed your meal you can even take some of it home from the Olivigna food store. There you will find award-winning olive oils, caramelised onion jam and preserves that are all made on site plus the estate’s wines.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 2 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

After your meal have a stroll around the gardens, sit by the open fire pit with a hot toddy or try your hand at the bocce court.

Olivigna 54 56 Brumbys Road Warrandyte South 12 HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

Olivigna is such an unexpected find in Melbourne and it truly does bring a sense of Italy to  our city. Get away from the city on a sunny weekend and bask in stunning scenery straight out of Under the Tuscan Sun while dining on fresh, local and home-grown produce from the estate. If you want to get hands-on with your Italian cooking, sign up to one of their masterclasses – a perfect Father’s Day outing or gift perhaps?

Olivigna, 54-56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South (03) 9844 4676

Upcoming master classes on desserts, pasta, salami, gourmet sausages. $120-$130 including lunch and a glass of Sangiovese

La Sala Restaurant

Wednesday to Sunday 11:30am – 3:30pm (4:30pm on Sunday)

Wednesday – Saturday 5.30pm – 9.00pm

 
minilink HOT: Olivigna, 54 56 Brumbys Road, Warrandyte South

HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 8 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

This recent icy cold weather is the perfect excuse to indulge in cups of hot chocolate!

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 9 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

Throughout August the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is hosting a Hot Chocolate Festival with 31 limited edition flavours of hot chocolates being served. Every week there will be 8 flavours on rotation and I was invited to try their week 1 menu consisting of a mix of traditional to unexpected flavours.

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 10 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

The hot chocolate tastings cost $8 a head, only 50c more than a standard hot chocolate from the cafe, so it’s a good way to taste different flavours. All the hot chocolates are whisked with callettes of the finest Belgian couverture chocolate and the ingredients and garnishes are made on site, paired with the chocolate considered most suitable for the flavour.

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 2 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

Most of the 8 tasters are made with milk chocolate and I’m not sure whether any substitutions are permitted if you’re more of a dark or white chocolate fan.

My favourite flavours were the nutella (last year’s bestseller), salted caramel and roasted macadamia, while the flavours like Turkish delight and bubblegum were too sweet for me. I’ve voted for my favourite flavour and am now crossing my fingers to win my body weight in couverture chocolate from the Chocolaterie!

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 11 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

To finish off the tastings you can choose a giant handcrafted marshmallow – a wonderfully soft mouthful of vanilla, chocolate or berry and violet.

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 4 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 3 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

After trying out the hot chocolates, doing some free chocolate tastings and chocolate shopping, make sure you stay for morning or afternoon tea in their Café. The chefs are all European trained patisserie chefs (who specialise in chocolate) and we tried the chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse gateau and white chocolate and berry parfait.

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 7 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 6 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

The brownie was particularly spectacular – a crunchy outer housing an oozy centre. It comes served with ice cream that’s churned from cream and is made fresh on premises. When RM asked T about the best part of his day he said ‘the chocolate brownie!’.

Hot Chocolate Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery 35 Old Healesville Rd Yarra Glen 1 HOT: Hot Chocolate Festival, Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd, Yarra Glen

As if you haven’t had enough chocolate the desserts all come with a shot of milk, dark and white chocolate from the chocolate wheels by the counter, so remember to specify what chocolate shot you’d like!

Giveaway! Thanks to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery I have 1 x hot chocolate tasting for 4 people to give away. To win, just follow the instructions below and the winner will be randomly drawn Friday 8 August 2pm. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Hway) Yarra Glen

Hot Chocolate Festival 1 – 31 August 10am and 2pm $8 per person

Open every day, 9-5pm

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1724552/restaurant/Melbourne/Yarra-Valley-Chocolaterie-Ice-Creamery-Yarra-Glen”><img alt=”Yarra Valley Chocolaterie &amp; Ice Creamery on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1724552/minilink.gif” /></a>

HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 6 1024x581 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream
The Yarra Valley is one of the favourite destinations for Melburnians in search of a country drive and I always like to combine a day trip there with a delicious long lunch.

On my most recent excursion to Coldstream I visited Isabella’s at stunning Rochfords Wines with an invitation to try their new autumn menu by head chef Ciaran Butler.

The restaurant is enormous but is divided into a bar, cafe and restaurant. All the windows are floor to ceiling and offer panaromic views of the vineyards and the surrounding countryside. Ask for a window view if you can!

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 5 1024x703 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

At lunch time Isabella’s offer a la carte as well as a two course ($55) or three course ($63) lunch where you can choose your dishes. We opted for the two course option – it was an easy decision as none of the five entrees particularly appealed to me but many of the desserts did! So we started off with oven baked fillet of salmon with Port Phillip Bay mussels and local Mallard confit duck leg with smoked duck breast.

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 3 1024x768 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

On first glance both portions were very large and artistically presented. My fish was cooked right to the point of doneness, so it was still juicy and not dry and flaky. The delicate Rochford Chardonnay Marinières sauce was frothy and lightly fragrant and balanced well with the delicacy of the fish. I also enjoyed the detail of the potato ‘stones’ – potatoes boiled or steamed and coated with fine grey ash. My only very minor quibble was that the skin of the ocean trout was not crispy and I think it was intended to be, but all the other elements were excellent and outweighed this detail.

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 2 1024x768 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

Both cuts of the duck was also cooked perfectly to retain the moisture of the rich meat with no hint of stringy dryness. The confit leg in particular forked off the bone with little effort. The accompanying pickled red cabbage was unexpectedly sweet due to the addition of blackberries and its rich burgundy hue gave the dish a luxurious look.

My highlight was the dessert. RM’s ‘Death by chocolate’ was described as chocolate sponge, Belgium chocolate ganache, griottine cherries, hazelnut praline powder. What appeared was a moderately small slice of rich chocolate delice scattered with berries. A delicious but fairly run of the mill ‘fine-dining’ chocolate dessert.

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 8 1006x1024 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

In contrast, my tiramisu could have easily been a dessert for two or three people and the presentation of it in a flower pot was cleverly whimsical. The contents of the terracotta pot were just as delightful – marsala soaked sponge, lashings of mascarpone and a top layer of chocolate ‘soil’ to lend textural interest to the mix. I think the tiramisu in a pot is, or will become, a signature dish!

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 4 1024x848 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

Our experience at Isabella’s at Rochford Wines was excellent, from the food to the service to the ambience. To work off your lunch you have a ramble in the vines or do some shopping in the cellar door and produce store of local goods.

Isabella’s at Rochfords Wines 878 880 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream 7 1024x765 HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

It’s a great stopping point for a day out in the Yarra Valley which affords scenic skylines, fresh air and great wines just an hour from Melbourne.

Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878-880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream 03 5962 2119

Open 7 days
Cellar Door: 9am – 5pm
Isabella’s: 9am – 5pm every day
9am – 10pm Saturday

minilink HOT: Isabella’s at Rochford Wines, 878 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 4 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

Are you heading out of town for the Australia Day long weekend?

If you haven’t made plans to escape the city yet then I highly recommend taking a day trip or overnight stay in Bendigo. It’s the last week of Bendigo Art Gallery‘s amazing fashion exhibition, Modern Love , which closes on Sunday 2 February.

In this exhibition Bendigo Art Gallery has curated approximately 60 items of fashion from the collection of the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. The items come from the world’s most influential designers from the past 40 years, including Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Dior and Versace.

Some of my highlights included:

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 5 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

The neoprene dress by Melburnian Toni Maticevski‘s from his SS13/14 collection.  The skilful tailoring and draping of rubber-like material that would be required to form this dress  is extraordinary.

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 6 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

The architectural back detail is particularly stunning and for me evokes the outlines of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Musuem. Also take the time to drool over his beautiful pieces in the video presentation of one of his recent catwalk shows. Maticevski is the only Australian designer represented in Modern Love and the first Asutralian to be included in the collection of the FIDM Museum.

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 1 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

This fantasy evening gown by Alexander McQueen. I am a fan of the New Look silhouette and this dress was made especially for FIDM. Notice the delicate peacock motif recalling a ‘Britannia’ influence and the layers upon layers of tea-dyed cream tulle with frayed edges blurring one tier into another to create the 50s bell shape.

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 2 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

Issey Miyake‘s bold sculptural coat and dress from his famous ‘Pleats Please’ range. The fabric has been heat-set into minuscule pleats, with the wearer’s body lending shape to the garment as they move.

There’s a large proportion of Vivienne Westwood garments in the display, with my favourite being this mini-crini and amazing ‘rocking-horse’ platform soled shoes. Who knows how you’re supposed to wear them but they look fabulous!

Modern Love Bendigo Art Gallery 42 View St Bendigo 3 HOT: Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo

The exhibition consists of only two rooms but if you read every plaque, listen to the audio intro and watch both video screens in their entirety then a trip to Modern Love will probably take 1.5 – 2 hours. Which leaves you plenty of time to explore other parts of historic goldrush Bendigo.

If you’re looking for tips on other things to do, places to eat and where to stay read my Bendigo guide (Part 1 and Part 2).

Modern Love, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View St, Bendigo until Sunday 2 February 2014.

HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth-Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 10 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

While I’m generally not much of a pub-going person I do like visiting country pubs that specialise in serving up great meals.

The Plough Inn in Tarrawingee (20 minutes out of Beechworth) debuted in the 2013 Age Good Food Guide with a 14/20 score and it’s the kind of place that you would happily drive especially to visit (particularly if you have kids).

We were invited to try lunch at The Plough Inn thanks to Tourism North East. Ales have been served at the historic wayside inn since 1864 but the menu now is very much Modern Australia with a focus on showcasing local produce. It’s a gastropub in the middle of nowhere with a surprisingly sophisticated kitchen – though if you’re after a parma or burger the bar menu caters to those tastes too.

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 6 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

To start, we shared the Chef’s tasting plate for two ($30). My favourite was the the beetroot cured Atlantic salmon, particularly the interesting colour and textural elements in the form of the pickled baby beetroot and orange jelly.

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 4 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

For mains RM tried the roast rump of Rutherglen lamb with spring vegetables and orange onion jam ($29). The lamb was a little overcooked for his liking but otherwise beautifully presented with an unusual combination of flavours as citrus isn’t often served with red meat.

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 3 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

I ordered the free range duck leg cooked two ways with braised leeks, confit potato and black eyed bean salsa ($29). Again the duck leg was a little overcooked and dry but the parcel of minced duck meat was juicy. The dish was again generously proportioned and I particularly liked the sweetness of the leeks.

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 1 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

Our dessert was the Stanley apple crumble tart with poached rhubarb and vanilla ice cream ($15). The pie had a crumbly and short pie crust and inside was nestled big chunks of braised apple. The rhubarb encircled the tart, alternating poached slices with dots of rhubarb jelly. It was an imaginative rendition of a classic dessert.

The Plough Inn 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd Tarrawingee 8 HOT: The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee

The Plough Inn served families particularly well when the weather’s good because they have built a cubbyhouse and play area out the back – the kids can run riot while you sit under the shaded terrace and enjoy your lunch. They are large buckets of toys and books to rifle through even if the weather’s inclement.

Our only complaint was that the food was rather slow in coming, which became stressful after a while because the kids were getting fractious.

I would definitely recommend a visit to The Plough Inn with or without kids – but if you are on a timeframe you should let the friendly staff know from the outset and it won’t lead to any stressful exits or indigestion!

The Plough Inn, 2322 Beechworth-Wangaratta Rd, Tarrawingee 03 5725 1609

 

HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 2 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 5 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Coral Lee is a cute 50s cafe serving food and coffee in the surrounds of retro collectibles gathered by the owner Sam. The name of the cafe is inspired by the coral colour in the floral wallpaper which lines the back wall as well as the coral coloured paint on the fireplace’s chimney. The ‘Lee’ bit is anyone’s guess!

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 3 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Almost all the decor in the cafe is vintage (except things like cutlery and some glassware) and the tunes were provided by an old vinyl player. I don’t think I’ll be able to hear Van Morrison’s ‘And It Stoned Me’ without thinking back to eating breakfast at Coral Lee.

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 6 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 4 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

The cafe is pretty small – there’s a front room with a few small tables, some street side seating and for warmer days a welcoming back courtyard with plants and flowers dotted around.

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 1 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

The decor may be vintage but the food is modern and wholesome. Amazingly, everything is made on premises using a small pizza oven!

We tried two breakfast dishes. First off, a light, summery plate of poached eggs with asparagus, juicy oven-roasted tomatoes, rocket, haloumi and onion jam. The dish was a pleasant combination of sweet, tart and savoury though texturally I would have preferred my asparagus less limp and my cheese more fried and stretchy rather than crumbly and firm ($16).

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 9 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

I preferred the more robust flavours of the spiced lamb generously speckled with pine nuts ($16). With each mouthful of toast I could choose to pile the mince with cooling labne or a pop of sweet roasted cherry tomato or some baked egg. Amazingly filling and full of peppery heat.

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 7 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Coral Lee‘s most popular dish is pesto toast with grated beetroot and poached eggs and when you see it come steaming out of the kitchen with all that vibrant colour it’s easy to understand why. Apparently Sam removed it from the menu for about two days just to gauge customer reaction and due to the outcry she returned it to the menu where it has remained ever since :–)

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 8 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

The standout part of the meal for me was the amazingly light, fresh-out-the-oven apple and coconut muffin ($4). The secret to the almost absurd fluffiness is buttermilk – they use buttermilk in their hotcakes and the savoury muffins as well and can’t get enough of it.

Coral Lee 8 Barnard St Bright 101 HOT: Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright

Finally, the service at Coral Lee is super-friendly. Sam greeted every customer with a smile, often by name, and gave a cheery account of her weekend with every coffee order (coffee comes from Atomica).

Dropping into Coral Lee is like being served at your fun, well-dressed bakeanista best-friend’s house and we’ll definitely return on our next trip to Bright.

Coral Lee, 8 Barnard St, Bright 03 5755 5113

Mon – Sat: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sun: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

When in Beechworth, drink beer.

Bridge Road Brewers is one of Australia’s most popular craft beer producers and is one of the foodie destinations to visit in Beechworth thanks to their brewery operations in a 150 year old coach house, the kitchen’s famous pizzas and a convivial beer garden which is particularly family-friendly.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 9 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

I was invited to visit Bridge Road Brewers by Tourism North East and we rolled into Beechworth just after lunch opening on a weekday. Being unseasonably warm already the beer garden was starting to fill up so if you’re coming with a large group or want to be assured of a spot during a busy period then book ahead.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 7 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

For colder climes the beer hall is spacious and filled with beer-making paraphernalia, decor and furniture as well as a cosy wood fire.

The Bridge Road Brewers kitchen makes pretzels and pizzas influenced by brewery co-owner Maria Frischmann, who grew up in the Tyrolean Alps. The kitchen bakes pretzels daily and they come plain ($3) or with a choice of cheese sauce or chocolate sauce ($4.50).

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 11 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

These crusty, salt-speckled twists are the perfect beer snack – thirst-inducing and easy to hold. Perhaps only a busty girl and a stein are missing for the true Tyrolean experience (and the brewery does host Oktoberfest celebrations in mid-October every year).

The kitchen is most famous for its extensive range of pizzas though you can order other beer-friendly plates such as nachos, ribs and pie or a lighter soup or salad.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 5 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Bridge Road Brewer’s pizza bases are made in house using their Bavarian Wheat Ale and it creates a crispy, bubbly base for a range of toppings. We tried the classic margherita punctuated with big dollops of Shaw River Buffalo Mozzarella and fragrant basil leaves ($17.50) and for contrast, a non-traditional “Morrison Street Butchers” Sausage Pizza with bocconcini, caramelised onions, tomato, sausage and mustard sauce ($19).

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 3 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Both pizzas were bursting with hearty flavours and very filling – I think one large pizza between two would be sufficient. My only criticism is that I thought there could have been less topping so as to retain the crispiness of the base and to prevent ingredients frequently slipping off into a messy puddle (onto my lap, invariably). But in general Australian pizza eaters tend to prefer more toppings, not less, so I can understand the slightly overladen approach.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 6 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

To match your food you can try a pint of any of their craft beers or go with a beer flight of up to ten tastings that arrives on its own special board.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 8 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 12 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

You can also conduct your own tasting by taking home a mixed six-pack ($19.50) and for his taste RM’s pick of the beers was the Beechworth Pale Ale. He was particularly impressed that each bottle showed the ‘malt profile’ and ‘hops profile’ so you can judge the flavours for yourself.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 1 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Finally, if you’re exploring Beechworth Bridge Road Brewers is a convenient starting point because they have free town bikes for hire. The “Town Bike” is a collaboration between Bridge Road Brewers, Larder Fromagerie and Provisions and Pennyweight winery and Beechworth’s wide quiet bike-friendly streets and access to Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail give visitors another way to explore the town and its surrounds. The town is currently holding events as part of North East Victoria’s inaugural Cycle Salute cycling festival (18 October – 5 November 2013).

And if you’re going further afield, Bridge Road Brewers is one of the stops along the High Country Brewery Trail where you can cycle parts of the scenic 100km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail and visit craft breweries in Glenrowan, Beechworth, Bright and Mount Beauty for a recovery drink.

Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth +61 3 5728 2703

Kitchen opens lunch 7 Days a week, 12 – 3pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6pm. 

minilink HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

P1110826 540x344 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

So our bout of 30+ degree days is continuing over the weekend. What better excuse to go for a day trip out to the Yarra Valley and indulge in some chocolate and ice cream!

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icrecreamery is a new foodie destination in the heart of Yarra Glen. The property’s main attraction is a stylish, shaded building housing a chocolate factory, shop and cafe. The cafe spans indoor (air conditioned) and outdoor areas with views overlooking the rolling environs of the valley.

P1110804 372x540 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

The first thing you notice as you walk through the glass door is the sign for ‘Free Tastings’. Yes that’s right – a free-for-all of white, milk and dark chocolate to scoop as you wish!

P1010691 540x370 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

Take your time to peruse the large showroom of chocolate, ice cream and dessert goodies, including  a tempting glass cabinet of handmade chocolates by French and Belgian chocolatiers.

P1110762 540x337 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

It was difficult choosing which products to take home but in the end I settled on a giant version of the classic freckle and couldn’t resist carting home a metre long block of dark chocolate just for novelty value.

P1110764 540x390 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

P1110809 540x348 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

I recommend taking the time to sit down at the cafe so that you can enjoy some of the chocolate and ice cream products on site. There are also savoury options if you’re there around lunch time.

P1110770 400x540 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

We ordered a mix-your-own hot chocolate ($5.50) which you froth with a miniature whisk, an ice cream sundae of wildberry, peach & mango and creamy vanilla ice cream, topped with berry coulis and summer berries (a bargain at $12 in my view) and a triple layered chocolate mousse ($8.50).

P1110793 540x441 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

All of the desserts were decadently rich on their own but the the giant sundae was the highlight. The berry ice cream was made with fresh fruit and the vanilla ice cream was heavily creamy and fragranced with speckles of vanilla beans, providing a rich counterpoint to the berry tartness. I had to fight my daughter to share it and she literally licked the bowl clean!

P1010700 524x540 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

P1010704 483x540 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

Other than eating chocolate and ice cream you can spend some time peeking through the glass windows to watch the factory at work or loll around the lawn enjoying the views.

P1110759 540x357 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

P1110816 540x350 HOT: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Rd (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen

If you’re looking for a child-friendly destination in the Yarra Valley you won’t be able to beat the temptations on offer at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icrecreamery. Plus as part of the upcoming Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icrecreamery will be offering hands-on Junior Chocolatier Classes on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 March. During the 30 minute class kids will learn how to make their very own chocolate animal and enjoy free tastings. Classes cost $15 and bookings essential as class places are limited to 10 children per session.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Icrecreamery, 35 Old Healesville Road (cnr Melba Highway), Yarra Glen +61 3 9730 2777

Open every day 9am-5pm (except Christmas Day)

Opera in the Vineyards at Domaine Chandon Giveaway!

Greenpoint Brasserie Copy 540x540 Opera in the Vineyards at Domaine Chandon Giveaway!

I don’t know about you but I feel like this winter has really draagggged on. So yay for warmer weather and the beginning of Spring and the coming months of outdoor fun and entertainment!

The season starts with the stunning Yarra Valley winery Domaine Chandon hosting the Good Weekend Opera in the Vineyards on Friday 5 October and Saturday 6 October. This year’s season celebrates Giacomo Puccini and what better way to experience his passionate and romantic music than in the atmospheric Riddling Hall of Domaine Chandon, lined with lined with 40,000 bottles of aging sparkling wines – think of the acoustics with all that glass!

Chandon Riddling Hall 540x360 Opera in the Vineyards at Domaine Chandon Giveaway!

Date: Friday 5 October and Saturday 6 October 2012

Time: Pre-concert drinks from 6:30pm; concert starts at 8pm

Where: Riddling Hall at Domaine Chandon, 727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream VIC

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au

Giveaway! Thanks to Good Weekend Opera in the Vineyards I have 1 x A reserve double pass to the Puccini gala valued at $300 for Friday 5 October. To win all you have to do is leave a comment below and the winner will be drawn on Friday 21 September. Good luck!

And the winner is Robynne. I’ll be in touch soon!

Fullscreen capture 24092012 80208 PM.bmp Opera in the Vineyards at Domaine Chandon Giveaway!