Category Archives: Travel and Lifestyle

Dandenong Market – A Slice of History in your Shopping Bag + a Giveaway ($200 Market Voucher)

 

Established in 1866, Dandenong Market is the second oldest and largest market of Melbourne. Often referred to as the Cook’s Market, it has always played a central role in the community – farmers, small business owners and public alike.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

My association with Dandenong Market began in 2013, the year I migrated with my family to Melbourne. Living a stone’s throw away, the market soon became my shopping haven. The vibrant and bustling scenes, fresh produce, spices, friendly vendors calling out their wares were all a reminder of my home in India. And those initial days of newness in a foreign land seemed to diminish away, instead replaced with a sense of belonging.

It’s my weekly trips to the market that has provided a lot of inspiration for the blog in those early days. Even today, a trip to Dandenong Market is enough for me to come back home feeling inspired and bursting with ideas. And that’s largely because of the amazing variety of produce that can be encountered here.

The bustling multicultural community lends a unique charm to the market making it a utopia for food lovers!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The market also conducts free Food Discovery Tours, a perfect way to go behind-the-scenes and get an exclusive glimpse into the everyday workings of a busy market. It also provides a deeper understanding of the produce, sustainability and interesting stories of the traders who runs these businesses.

With over 200 traders, the market is a bustling expanse and private tours like these can be of great help especially when you want to buy the best on offer. There are also different kinds of tours of offer and booking is essential even though the tours operate free of cost. Learn all about the tours and make a booking here.

I was lucky to be taken on a tour by Chef Tim Hollands, who is extremely passionate about Australian produce. In fact Chef Hollands is a well known food consultant and owner of Tim’s Foods and Tim Hollands Catering who is on a mission to introduce fresh Australian produce to the outside world. Food provenance and sustainability are very important to Chef Hollands and I could not have asked for a better tour guide.

Now as I mentioned, the Dandenong Market is huge and bustling with more than 200 traders and it would be impossible to write about each of them. So here is a photographic tribute to some of my favourite traders, shops and cafes to share with you.

(I have provided information regarding each place beneath the photograph, but you can also find more information about the traders here.)

Details of the giveaway for a $200 market voucher at the end of this post.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start the tour with a cup of coffee, shall we? Café Valentina by Melba Coffee is a great place to stop by for a cuppa of your choice. I especially loved the cold drip coffee and you may also like to take home some of their award winning roasted beans.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Hart’s Honey is another favourite of mine and I often stop by to replenish and stock up the honey section of my pantry. Owned by Joza Hart, the stall is very famous for the different varieties of honey like Iron Bark, Mixed Blossom, Red Gum, Leatherwood (from Tasmania) and Manuka (from New Zealand). Hart also stocks creamed honey and honey comb but my favourite is the Orange blossom honey for its citrusy undertones. Do stop by for a chat; Hart is great company and loves to talk about his products.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s a given that you will be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Do wander around the different stalls like Luppino Fresh (the oldest trader in the market), S&G Fresh, Alexander Produce etc… to see what’s in season and score a bargain. Markets are all about exploring so refrain from buying all the produce from just one place and rushing out unless you are in a hurry. For me, these braided shallots were the highlight of the day!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam’s Spice and Grocery….the most inspiring space for me in the market. I can easily spend hours here pondering over rows and rows of spices from all around the globe. In fact, most of my spice education happens here. A trip to Dandenong Market is worth it just to visit this store.

All of you know how crazy I am about seafood and Dandenong Market is one of my absolute favourite places to buy fresh seafood. Recommending two shops;

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The first is Hellenic Seafood, owned and operated by the Ganotis family. This is the place for sustainably sourced seafood, extremely high quality produce and my go to store for salmon, red snapper, oysters, mussels, clams etc….

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The second is Schwarze Seafoods, my next favourite because of the sheer variety of seafood available. Especially the place to visit if you are sourcing seafood for traditional dishes from other cuisines like Indian, Asian etc… And to all those who have asked me so many times, I get fresh sardines and mackerel from here most of the time.

There is a great selection of bakeries inside the market and my top two picks would be Baker Boys and Melina’s Bakery & Larder.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Baker Boys is managed by Jawad Zada who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban rule and arrived as a refugee here in 2001. Since he was a baker there, he continued in the same profession here, taking courses and doing apprenticeships to establish himself as a baker here. While you will find all sorts of baked goods in his shop, my absolute favourite are the Afghan style flatbreads with herbs and chilli flakes……a stunning combination with a delicious lamb curry.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Melina’s is my go to shop for sourdough and rye bread. There are so many different styles available especially for those who are interested in artisan breads and European styles. My favourite would be the plain sourdough which makes an excellent base for a rustic and delicious Bruschetta.

Apart from all the fresh produce, deli, meat and seafood traders, Dandenong Market is also home to other shops, a space often referred to as The Bazaar. This place can indeed be a treasure house if you are willing to spend a little time and walk through the rows of clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toys etc…..

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

One such store is Linda’s Workshop which specializes in fine pearl jewellery. Rows and rows of beautiful pearl jewellery that won’t break your bank!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The Afghan bazaar is actually located in the meat and deli hall because they also stock a huge variety of Middle Eastern groceries but I would recommend looking at the ornate traditional homewares , tea sets and other kitchenware for such bargain prices.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are a book lover, then you must pay a visit to Volkan Books. Owned by Mustafa, this is a very popular space not just to buy books but also to swap and sell books. And if you bump into me there, do come and say hello.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though I have not personally used their services, I was drawn to the beautiful ambience at Christalignment. The staff is trained in supernatural healing, presence therapy, dream interpretations etc…..

If all that shopping and walking around has left you tired, then it’s time to indulge your tastebuds at the Market Square.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start with Saccha for a refreshing glass of cold sugarcane juice. Lez is a veteran of the hospitality industry and he definitely knows to mix his drinks. Opt for the plain freshly squeezed juice or try one of his signature drinks. Highly recommended!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Food from all around the globe is on offer here and some of my favourites include The Grill (for delicious burgers and kransky sausages), Sansan’s Dumpling House (for handmade traditional dumplings, golden pies and soft Chinese buns), Andy’s Mauritian Hut (for dhal puri, curries and vadai/chilli cakes) and Fat Kebabs (for kebabs, Middle Eastern pizzas and the best lahmacun I have ever had).

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you like spicy, rich and bold flavours, then it is PiqNiq Hut that you must head to for delicious Srilankan food. All the traditional favourites like Kothu roti, devilled chicken, goat curry etc…. are available.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Finish off your meal with delicious freshly made doughnuts from the much loved Dandee Donuts, perhaps the most famous of all eateries at the market.

I also had some very interesting conversations, all thanks to the DSLR around my neck.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Like this gentleman from Cairns who is visiting Melbourne and loves the Dandenong Market.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And these two gentlemen who came here 30 years ago from Iran and now call themselves proud Melbournians. It was a joy to see the pride they had in their eyes while speaking of what a welcoming nation Australia is. Let’s keep it that way folks!

I can write forever about Dandenong Market but all good things must come to an end. And we have the giveaway to talk about too;

The folks at Dandenong Market would love to have you and so they are giving away a $200 market voucher to one lucky subscriber.

To enter;

  • Subscribe to my blog using your email id (the subscription box can be found at the top right hand corner on the home page)
  • Sign up to Dandenong Market newsletter here.
  • Leave a comment below stating you have done both.

The competition will run from 15th to 28th March, 2017 and the winner will be drawn on 29th.  Open only to residents of Victoria; the winner will be announced on my social media channels so make sure you are following me.

Good luck folks!

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria)

Did you check out my travel post to Phillip Island? If not you must, since this is what we were upto the second day of our travels.

Whenever I travel within Australia, I try and visit a local winery or restaurant in the region – a part of the holiday I incorporate to broaden my understanding of food and wines here. Though a lot of names came up while researching for wineries both in Phillip Island and along the Gippsland Highway, Djinta Djinta captured my interest as they had a restaurant on the property.

After leaving the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op, we took a picturesque drive towards Kardella South to visit Djinta Djinta Winery and also to lunch at deVine Restaurant (on the property itself).

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

What a unique name, isn’t it? Djinta Djinta (gin-tah gin-tah) is actually a distinctive sound that is made by the indigenous Willy Wagtails. This winery is a 10.5 acre picturesque property located within the Strzelecki Ranges and lies between Korumburra and Leongatha, just off the South Gippsland Highway.

The view is spectacular and we were blessed with a bright sunny day to walk around and enjoy the property. A stunning location for events especially weddings; I even told the husband that maybe we should renew our vows here.

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Unfortunately the cellar door, ‘Wines of Armour Room’ was closed due to an event so we couldn’t do any tastings. Please do call up ahead and confirm about availability if you are interested in tastings. That was a miss for us as we were looking forward to this eagerly.

But the experience at deVine more than made up for this.

The restaurant is situated at the upper level of the main house and a beautiful barrel shaped door greets you at its entrance. The ambience at deVine is traditional and infused with a lot of warmth and comfort. All the wood paneling, rich colours and a well laid out space gives you a homely and welcoming feeling.

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

After a warm greeting by Eleonor who is part owner at Djinta Djinta, we were seated at a table overlooking the vineyard, a sight so spectacular that you could gaze at it for hours. A seasonal a-la-carte menu is available and there is also a special children’s menu, vegetarian and vegan menu.

Since we couldn’t enjoy the tastings, we got two bottles of wine based on recommendations Eleanor gave us after understanding our taste preferences and also our meal order.

The first was a bottle of 2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir which had a strong, velvety and lengthy flavourful palate with hints of cherry, plum and cassis.

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir - thespiceadventuress.com

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir - thespiceadventuress.com

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir

And the second was a bottle of 2013 Sweet Melody; a sweet, aromatic and refreshing white with floral and musk flavours. Hands down, the wine of the day and especially recommended for those who are fond of sweeter whites than the crisp dry ones. Loved it so much that we bought home an extra bottle for the festive season.

2013 Sweet Melody - thespiceadventuress.com

2013 Sweet Melody

The luncheon menu had options for 2 and 3 course and with four of us, there were quite a few dishes we sampled.

The first entrée was Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce.  Delicious was the verdict especially with the quality of the sausages really shining through. A great entrée which is not only flavourful but showcased the quality of ingredients.

Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce – deVine Restaurant – thespiceadventuress.com

The next entrée was Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps. I ordered this salad because it was a unique combination of flavours, one that I had never tried before. A stunning option for those who want to start off with something light and highly recommended if you are a vegetarian too.

Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps

The third entrée was Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad. Yet another delicious vegetarian option, the fritters were so full of flavour with the chilli dressing complimenting the sweetness from the pumpkin.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad.

Time for the mains; we ordered two of the Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde. Cooked to perfection, moist and succulent salmon paired deliciously with the roast vegetables and tangy herby dressing. While it was perfect, I would have liked more of the salsa verde on the plate.

Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde

The next main dish to arrive was the Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables. The duck was cooked perfectly and I loved that sweet spicy jus which went really well with the duck.

Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables

The vegetarian mains ordered was a Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice. While it might not be an authentic Thai curry, it was definitely full of flavour especially that coconut broth; refreshing and delicious.

Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice

My little fellow chose the Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives. So happy to see that the children’s menu gets the same attention as the adults. He was extremely happy and so were we; I even managed to sneak in a slice.

Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives

For desserts, the first one ordered was a French Fudge Chocolate Mousse in a White Chocolate Cup, Chocolate Shavings and Almond Tuille.

French Fudge Chocolate Mousse in a White Chocolate Cup, Chocolate Shavings and Almond Tuille - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

The second choice was the Nashi Pear and Blueberry Cobbler served with Vanilla Icecream.

Nashi Pear and Blueberry Cobbler served with Vanilla Icecream - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

And the third was a Cacao Pudding served with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Strawberries.

Cacao Pudding served with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Strawberries - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

There was utter silence at the table after the desserts arrived; in fact everyone was impatient for me to finish my photography so that they could tuck in. Unanimously, the dessert course was acknowledged as the best course of the day (not by me, I am a savoury girl). And every single plate went back polished off. It would be hard to pick a favourite as all of them were delicious but I thoroughly enjoyed the Nashi pear crumble which was so warm, fresh, not too sweet and dancing on your tastebuds with that cold icecream. Highly recommend all three.

So happily fed, we thanked Eleonor for a wonderful time and then strolled around the winery a bit. While everyone else settled in the shade for a bit of rest, I decided to explore where the vines grew and spotted these baby grape bunches. My first ever experience!

Djinta Djinta Winery - thespiceadventuress.com

I strongly encourage all of you to visit Djinta Djinta; it could be a day’s journey in itself or as part of the South Gippsland wine trail or perhaps clubbed with your Phillip Island trip. Djinta Djinta also hosts different types of food events at the restaurant like the Friday Tapas nights.

Djinta Djinta Winery & deVine Restaurant

10 Stevens Rd
Kardella South VIC 395

Phone no: (03) 5658 1163

Website: http://www.djintadjinta.com.au/

Email: info@djintadjinta.com.au

Djinta Djinta Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our Helicopter Ride + a Recipe for Grilled Scallops with Garlic Butter and Chillies

Hello beautiful peeps, how have all of you been?

It was a busy last week with my little champ turning 7. How time flies…..it seems just yesterday, this tiny bundle of joy was placed in my arms and now he’s already 7. And I know soon that’s going to be 17 and the very thought makes me tear up. Of course, I want him to grow up and experience all the beautiful things life has to offer but I want it slow, real slow.

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Life just seems to be passing by too quickly, which also makes me realize the importance of being more present in each passing second. The importance of being with my son, my family and being really present so that I truly savour the beauty of the moment. The world seems to be gushing by and if we don’t consciously slow down, our lives would just turn robotic.

And so we decided to do things a little differently this year for Adi’s birthday. Instead of the traditional cake/party routine, we decided to splurge on a helicopter ride around our beautiful city, Melbourne. Ticking one off our bucket list…..

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It was not a spur of the moment decision; it was a planned one for which we saved up for over a year. Adi was given the task of saving up all the coins that came into the house in his piggy banks (yup, we have more than one). A small, everyday task that we believe, will teach him the value of saving up money and working towards a dream or a goal.

We chose Heli Experiences for our ride and the package deal for three which included half an hour ride over the Melbourne city. There are plenty of packages across Australia so if you are interested to know more, check out their website (nope, not sponsored).

Though we have flown in plenty of airplanes over the years, the thrill and exhilaration of a helicopter ride compares to none other. After a small briefing on safety precautions, we were belted and tucked in to be flown for a once in a lifetime experience over the most liveable city on earth – Melbourne. And what a beautiful and panoramic view she offers!

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We giggled and laughed through the ride, hardly able to conceal our excitement. An experience that will stay in our memories for a lifetime and beyond.

How do you usually celebrate birthdays in your family? I would love to hear your experiences…..

Ok…so now that we have come back to earth, I have a duty to perform and that’s share a brilliant recipe with you guys. And today, it is going to be ‘Grilled Scallops with Garlic Butter and Chillies’

Empowered by the oyster experience, I decided to try my hand at scallops this time.

Grilled Scallops with Garlic Butter and Chillies - a simple and gorgeous looking party canape - thespiceadventuress.com

Scallops are a delicacy, one that has to be cooked with the right sort of flavours to enhance and not overpower its taste. Grilling scallops in its shell lends a smoky flavour which when combined with the garlicky butteriness and that hint of heat from the chillies creates magic on your tastebuds.

This dish is just perfect for Easter; adds that special touch to a lunch or celebration if you are planning one. It is really simple to prepare; the garlic butter can be made ahead and then it’s only a matter of assembling and grilling on the day. And if you have a barbecue or charcoal grill, get the boys to do the job for you.

Scallops - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled Scallops with Garlic Butter and Chillies - a simple and gorgeous looking party canape - thespiceadventuress.com

Make sure you remember to buy scallops with the shells; it’s just not for the taste alone but also for the presentation. Quite a glamorous entrée at any party!

So get your hands on some fresh scallops and indulge in some ‘foodporn’!

(Inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe)

Ingredients:

  1. 8 scallops; cleaned (with one shell each intact)
  2. 1 large red chilli; sliced thinly (large ones have less heat)

Read the full recipe here.

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Grilled Scallops with Garlic Butter and Chillies - a simple and gorgeous looking party canape - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Roasted Spicy Golden Trout with Arabian Rice

Well, this was originally meant to be the first post of 2016 but I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and write it. But finally it’s here – my special Roasted Golden Trout with Arabian Rice.

It is special because of a wonderful experience we had late 2015. Many of you would have seen this picture of me with a huge golden trout on my fishing line. Early December, we went out on a fishing picnic to the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm, located in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

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Diverting off topic here…..one of my goals for 2016 is to have more enriching experiences. I am not a ‘New Year resolutions’ like of person but I do constantly make small but achievable goals and this happens through the year and not just at the start. I want to consciously incorporate small experiences like this fishing one with family and friends. I want to travel more but more locally than internationally. The beauty of this is the amount of meaningful time you spend with family and loved ones because that is the only constant in this ever changing world.

Getting back to the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm, it is a place you must visit if you live in Victoria. There are many similar farms across the state where a species or two are farmed in a sustainable manner. The farm has a small picnic area with barbeques where you can prepare your fish after you have caught it. Rainbow trout, golden trout and salmon were the ones farmed here and we caught all three. The good part is that, since it is a farm, you will definitely catch a fish which is great to avoid disappointment especially for novices like me.

While everyone else was busy fishing for rainbow trout and salmon, I wanted to bring home a golden trout because I have never tasted or cooked with it before. And I did catch a really huge one as you can see in the picture; I almost fell into the water trying to keep it on the line. A really huge and slippery fellow!

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I had been experimenting with a new marinade and so took it along for our picnic lunch. The whole rainbow trouts we caught were marinated using this and barbequed; turned out amazing so I decided to use the same for this golden trout.

What makes this marinade slightly different to most traditional Indian ones is the addition of tomatoes to the spices and aromatics. A richer and deeper flavour profile is the result which works brilliantly with any kind of seafood. I am sure it would work great with chicken, tofu, Indian cottage cheese, mushrooms and potatoes too.

It is also a freezer-friendly marinade, so make a large batch and freeze in small portions for quick weekday dinners.

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I served this roasted spicy golden trout on a bed of Arabian rice resplendent with saffron and nuts; add a minty yoghurt raita and you have a delicious meal.

Roasted Spicy Golden Trout with Arabian Rice - perfectly roasted golden trout with a delicious signature spice marinade - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

  1. 5 kg golden trout
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Juice of 1 lemon
  4. 1 lime, sliced
  5. 4 tbsp spicy marinade
  6. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish

Spicy marinade:

(Makes approximately 1 cup marinade)

  1. 6 large garlic cloves
  2. 2 inch ginger
  3. 1 large red chilli
  4. 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  5. 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. ½ tsp cumin powder
  8. ½ tsp fennel powder
  9. ½ tsp black peppercorns
  10. ½ tsp coriander powder
  11. 2 sprigs coriander leaves
  12. 3 mint leaves
  13. 1 medium ripe tomato; chopped
  14. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method:

To prepare the spicy marinade:

  • Blend all the ingredients into a smooth paste. (Water is not necessary if the tomatoes are ripe enough, but add a few drops if you need to).

To prepare the fish:

  • Clean the insides of the fish and also de-scale. (I got this done at the Trout farm itself; not an easy feat cleaning this big fella in an apartment kitchen).
  • Score the fish on both sides; season with salt and rub with lemon juice.
  • Liberally apply the spicy marinade on both sides and also the insides of the fish. Allow to sit for at least 4-6 hours, overnight is preferable.
  • Bring to room temperature before roasting in the oven.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan forced); line an oven proof tray with baking paper. Line the fish with lime slices and place in the baking tray.
  • Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or till done.
  • Serve on top of the rice and with a side of pickled onions, lemon wedges and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

Note – The amount of marinade to be used and cooking times will vary according to the type and weight of the fish used.

Roasted Spicy Golden Trout with Arabian Rice - perfectly roasted golden trout with a delicious signature spice marinade - thespiceadventuress.com

Roasted Spicy Golden Trout with Arabian Rice - perfectly roasted golden trout with a delicious signature spice marinade - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

An Indian Food and Wine Experience in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

The first time I heard of Tulsi Indian Restaurant was in 2014. Tulsi had just won the distinguished Victorian Award of Excellence 2014 by Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTplus Awards for Excellence and I had the opportunity to write a feature about the restaurant and the team behind it for Indian Link.

During the course of research and writing the feature, I got to know more about Chef Devendra and his wife Shashi Singh, their love for food and also their passion for representing India’s rich culinary heritage through Tulsi.

But the surprise factor for me was Shashi Singh, who also happens to be a winemaker; one of the few Indian-origin winemakers in Australia. She owns and operates Avani (The Earth) Syrah, located at Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula.

I got an opportunity to meet Shashi again early this year at the ‘Spice and Wine’ Masterclass held as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Along with Chef Adam D’Sylva of Coda and Tonka, she took us on a learning process of how to match Indian spices and flavours with wine. The first thing that struck me about Shashi was her friendliness and down-to-earth approach. She was so welcoming when I requested that I would love to have a personal tour of her winery.

And that wish of mine was finally fulfilled a couple of weeks ago when I visited both Avani and Tulsi as part of my Mornington Peninsula holiday.

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Shashi’s home is situated on the vineyard itself; infact, you look out of her living room and you see the vineyard stretching out like a green panorama as far as eyes can see. Totally addictive!

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We had a small wine tasting session, a very personal one as Shashi believes in small, intimate groups rather than large, commercial ones. I totally agree with her viewpoint especially after visiting a lot of wineries in Australia where sometimes the tasting session becomes so stuffy and formal. Shashi is happy to answer all your questions and she puts you instantly at ease that you would open up and ask the most basic things you want to know about wine and pairing with food.

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Apart from the Avani Syrah, we also had a taste of the 2015 Pinot Grigio which is yet to be bottled. She was so enthusiastic about this one and wanted us to have a taste. And I am so happy she did. For the first time, I understood what ‘spicy tones in a wine’ means. She later told me that she is planning on calling it ‘Amrit’ (the names of her wines are all Sanskrit and so brilliantly apt).

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After spending some time at the vineyard, we decided to visit Tulsi for dinner and more of the Indian food and wine pairing experience.

Situated in Somerville, Tulsi might come across as a regular suburban Indian restaurant. But the minute you step in, you realize that this is not your average, pedestrian Indian curry house. The décor is classic contemporary with definite Indian touches in the form of wooden artwork and photographs.

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The service is extremely professional yet friendly. A relaxed ambience with a view into the open kitchen where you find calm and composed chefs going about their business of sending out delicious food.

There is a good wine list which includes ones from their vineyard; you can also request for matching wines for each course. The dinner menu is a short and limited one unlike many of the Indian restos where you can usually find pages after pages of dishes; a matter of quality over quantity.

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One among the many awards won by Tulsi!

One among the many awards won by Tulsi!

We started off on hot, piping samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing. Now, I have had plenty of samosas in my lifetime but what made this one stand apart is its buttery, flaky shortcrust pastry which is really hard to find in Melbourne.

Samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing

Samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing

Next, we had the Kesari Murgh Tikka; melt-in-your-mouth chicken morsels with subtle yet flavourful marinade of spices and saffron. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this is the best chicken tikka I have had for a really long time especially in Australia. No artificial colours and absolutely juicy chicken bites. Highly recommended.

We also had a tasting of Tandoori Champ or marinated racks of lamb. Delicious with the cooking of the lamb spot on.

Kesari Murgh Tikka and Tandoori Champ

Kesari Murgh Tikka and Tandoori Champ

For the mains, we had steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices). I hardly ever talk about the naan I eat at the Indian restaurants here but at Tulsi, you will want to. And that’s probably because of the slight twist, the bread is finished off in an oven instead of a tandoor which makes it soft and pillowy, the perfect carrier for scooping the curries.

I am usually not a big fan of saag but this one was delicious primarily because of the quality of the cottage cheese. Anyone who is familiar with paneer or Indian cottage cheese would be able to say that this one is prepared in house as it is soft and crumbly. The dish was mild just as it is prepared in Northern part of India. Definitely recommended for paneer lovers.

And I will not be able to stop talking about the prawn curry. Perfectly cooked king prawns in a luxuriously creamy coconut gravy with just the right hint of spices. Again, totally recommended!

Steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices).

Steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices).

Finished the meal with gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with a side of mango ice-cream. The jamuns were warm and fresh but could have been a tad bit softer but paired beautifully with the mango ice cream.

Gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with mango ice-cream

Gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with mango ice-cream

Now I know the post is getting longer but the experience at Tulsi cannot be complete if I do not talk about another dining opportunity I had at the restaurant. Three days after I visited, Tulsi was hosting a special Diwali dinner series specially curated and prepared by Chef Balaji who specializes in South Indian cuisine.

It was a three course meal with matching wines from Avani. The restaurant was beautifully decked with traditional earthen lamps (diyas) and rose petals.

The first course consisted of Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam. The accompanying wines were two different types of Pinot; the first one a 2015 Pinot (Amrit) – with spicy notes which matched perfectly with the South Indian spices. The second was a limited edition 2015 Pinot fermented with the skins on which gave the wine a nice rosy hue and a refreshing lightness.

I loved the salmon; crispy skin and perfectly flaky flesh with a subtle hint of spices. Loved the calamari too which was served on a bed of lettuce and sautéed onions. The vadai was delicious but I would have preferred it warm and slightly crispier but then, that’s the South Indian in me talking. All finished off with a shot of rasam, high on flavour and packed a punch.

Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam

Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam

Limited edition 2015 Amrit (Pinot) fermented with the skins

Limited edition 2015 Amrit (Pinot) fermented with the skins

2015 Amrit (Pinot)

2015 Amrit (Pinot)

The second course was Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal. Paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah which matched beautifully with the spices in the chicken. The meat was tender and served with a flavourful savoury tomato sauce with the pilaf subtle but delicious.

Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah

Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah

And the final course was dessert which was the most delicious rice and saffron kheer and jalebi which I have ever had. I am usually not the person to rave about desserts but this one was outstanding. The kheer was light, not very sweet to match the sticky, syrupy sweetness of the jalebis. Absolutely brilliant.

Rice and saffron kheer and jalebi

Rice and saffron kheer and jalebi

Tulsi was a delicious experience and a clear stand out among the mediocre Indian restaurants out here in Melbourne. Each dish is carefully prepared with the best quality ingredients and a true understanding of the cuisine which translates into a delicious and memorable experience for the diner.

The Team.....

The Team…..

Making a reservation ahead is advised especially for weekends. Also sign up to the Tulsi newsletter for special dinners, wine matching events and degustations.

Rating – 8.5/10

Tulsi Indian Restaurant

74 Station Street
Somerville
Victoria 3192

Phone no: 0359776733

Website: http://www.tulsi.com.au/

Timings:

Monday – 5.30 pm onwards
Tuesday – closed
Wednesday – 5.30 pm onwards
Thursday – 5.30 pm onwards
Friday – 5.30 pm onwards
Saturday – 5.30 pm onwards
Sunday – 5.30 pm onwards

Tulsi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – We were guests at Tulsi on both occasions but all the views and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

Yarra Valley – Unique Food and Wine Experiences

With the sun shining bright, it’s time to revisit Yarra Valley and talk about the unique food and wine experiences this beautiful region has to offer.

Most of you have read about my previous article on Yarra Valley and the amazing experience I had meeting several farmers and food producers of the region. If you haven’t, then I would strongly recommend reading that post as today’s article is a continuation of that.

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After we visited the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group Farmers’ Market, it was time to experience the glorious wines at Yering Station, Yarra Valley’s first vineyard. Established in 1838 by the Ryrie brothers who retained the aboriginal name of ‘Yering’ for their station; today, the property is owned by the Rathbone family who took over in 1996.

Yering Station is one of the breathtaking jewels of the Yarra Valley. A panoramic landscape that spreads over hectares, the property sits harmoniously amidst beautiful vineyards as far as eyes can see, a magnificent winery and restaurant complex which attracts locals, tourists and wine enthusiasts equally.

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Just strolling through the open expansive spaces of the station can be a beautiful experience. There are plenty of sculptures and art works installed; especially loved the stone works.

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The restaurant complex is another beautiful space where you can lunch with the most breathtaking view of the Yarra ranges. Though we couldn’t have lunch there, I would strongly recommend enjoying an idyllic but exquisite lunch matched with Yering’s award winning wines here.

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The Cellar Door is where all the wine tasting action happens. The original winery building has been beautifully restored showcasing the Yering wines in all its glory. Private tastings are available and the team at Yering is extremely knowledgeable and proud of their collection. Visitors can also make wine purchases; the adjoining produce store also stocks an array of handmade artisanal products like chocolates, preserves etc….

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Totally recommend a private wine tasting session which is a great way to sample the best Yering wines. Our wine expert for the day was the effervescent and very handsome Ewen Jarvis, who amused us with little anecdotes, all of which gave us a deeper understanding of wines. I love wines, but still a very beginner level so this tasting session helped me volumes to not only expand my knowledge but also to choose the perfect bottle of wine to bring back home.

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collage

If all that wine tasting works up your appetite, then head upstairs to Matt’s Bar, an informal dining space where you can experience the best of the seasonal produce in the form of shared plates, tapas and sweet treats.

Yering Station:

38 Melba Hwy Yarra Glen 3775
Victoria, Australia

Phone no: +61 3 9730 0100

Monday-Friday
10:00am-5:00pm
Weekends & Public Holidays
10:00am-6:00pm

Website: http://www.yering.com

Restaurant & Bar:

Open 7 days from 12.00noon for a la carte lunches
Open all public holidays
Closed Christmas Day

Cellar Door

Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10.00am to 6.00pm
Phone no: +61 (0) 3 9730 0100

Matt’s Bar

Open Saturday and Sunday from 10am
Menu changes daily
Bookings not available
Available for lunch functions

Now, there is a reason why we didn’t dine at the Yering Station. We were off to indulge in some hands-on cooking at Locavore Studio, courtesy Yarra Valley Transfers.

Locavore Studio is the brain child of Chef Jessie Rae Crossley, who after years of travelling and cooking on Super Yachts of the rich and famous in Melbourne, London and France has finally set up her own space in Lilydale.

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Locavore Studio is one of the best cooking schools I have seen in a long time. A beautifully set up space with individual work stations, it has an extremely professional yet inviting feel to it. Jessie’s love, passion and knowledge about food comes through immediately and her enthusiasm is really infectious.

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Jessie welcomed us with champagne and after a lot of admiring of her space, we all settled down to the class where she demonstrated 4 simple, easy to make dishes using the freshest produce Yarra has to offer. Here is what we learnt;

Yarra Valley Chilli Linguini with ashed goats cheese, Buxton Trout and capers. The beauty of Yarra Valley produce shines through in this dish; delicious swirls of linguine with just a hint of chilli generously flavoured with the smoky creaminess from the goat's cheese, flaky smoked trout rounded off by the saltiness from the capers.

Yarra Valley Chilli Linguini with ashed goats cheese, Buxton Trout and capers. The beauty of Yarra Valley produce shines through in this dish; delicious swirls of linguine with just a hint of chilli generously flavoured with the smoky creaminess from the goat’s cheese, flaky smoked trout rounded off by the saltiness from the capers.

Dry Aged Steak with Chimichurri Salsa. The dry aged steak from Gateway Estate is just melt-in-your-mouth and pairs brilliantly with the herby and refreshing flavours of the chimichurri salsa.

Dry Aged Steak with Chimichurri Salsa. The dry aged steak from Gateway Estate is just melt-in-your-mouth and pairs brilliantly with the herby and refreshing flavours of the chimichurri salsa.

A simple micro herb salad

A simple micro herb salad

Oregano and Garlic Foccacia

Oregano and Garlic Foccacia

Strawberry and stroopwafels trifle. Delicious stroopwafels from the regional farmer's market  with fresh Yarra valley strawberries and cream....the colour in that glass says it all.

Strawberry and stroopwafels trifle. Delicious stroopwafels from the regional farmer’s market with fresh Yarra valley strawberries and cream….the colour in that glass says it all.

The most distinctive feature of Locavore Studio is that after Jessie demonstrates how to make each dish, we also get a chance to cook the dish ourselves at a cooking station. For someone who loves to cook and learn new styles of cooking, I found this extremely appealing. And the highlight for me was learning to cook the steak perfectly.

Since there were four dishes, we were divided into groups and I paired with ‘The World Loves Melbourne’ to prepare the dry aged steak with chimichurri salsa. It was a whole lot of fun and laughter…..

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After all of us prepared the dishes, it was time to sit down at this beautifully arranged rustic wooden table and enjoy all the dishes that we had made amidst a lot of fun and talk.

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Jessie teaches a wide range of cooking classes; being a professional chef, she can easily customize a class to your specific needs or you can choose one from her most popular ones like Mexican street food or Spanish tapas. Apart from this, Locavore Studio also specializes in catering for all kinds of events and also takeaway meals. Indeed a beautiful way for anyone to experience the fresh and vibrant produce of the Yarra.

At the Locavore Studio, we also got an opportunity to meet Martin Cheney from the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group and discuss the importance of regional markets and the necessity to utilize and purchase locally grown food for a healthier society.

Locavore Studio

12 William Street East
Lilydale, Victoria

Phone no: 0400284949

Website: https://www.locavore-studio.com/

For more information to plan your trip, visit http://www.visityarravalley.com.au/ and http://www.yarravalleyfood.com.au/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yarravalleyregionalfoodgroup and https://www.facebook.com/YarraValleyandTheDandenongs

Instagram: https://instagram.com/yarra_valley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/yarravalley

La Cucina Di Sandra – a bespoke Italian cooking experience!

When I landed up outside Sandra’s warehouse converted apartment nestled unassumingly on a side street in Richmond, little did I imagine that I am about to experience a real taste of Italy, right in Melbourne!

La Cucina di Sandra is an Italian cooking school run by the very charming Sandra del Greco. I was invited to attend one of her cooking classes to understand and learn real Italian cooking and also experience a taste of the same through a delicious 4 course meal which included finger food and a glass of wine.

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Sandra’s home is warm, inviting and beautifully decorated. Her love for her home country and Italian cooking is obvious from the numerous cookbooks and travel books lined and stacked all over the house. A beautifully laid out table adjoining the kitchen is where all the delicious action happens. Decorated tastefully with colourful linen and cookware, Sandra’s kitchen is a prop lover’s paradise.

La Cucina di Sandra was born out of Sandra’s love for cooking, both traditional and modern Italian cooking. She has great respect for tradition and has always enjoyed cooking and entertaining for her friends and family. So in late 2014, she decided to leave her accounting profession and make her lifelong dream of a cooking school come true.

Sandra wants her guests to experience Italian cooking and hospitality at its truest, which is why she decided to hold the cooking classes in her home itself. Walking into La Cucina di Sandra is like being a guest in any normal Italian household. It is a whole package; great food in an equally great ambience with exceptional hosts.

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There are a variety of classes on offer at La Cucina di Sandra. There are both regional Italian cooking classes and customized bespoke private classes. The classes run for about 4 hours are either focused around specific ingredients like the pasta masterclass or around regions of Italy like Sicily, Sardinia, Abruzzo etc….

And if you are not interested in learning to cook, Sandra is more than happy to just feed you. A great alternative to going out to a restaurant….

All the cooking action happens at the kitchen bench. I loved the way Sandra explained each and every detail, also allowing plenty of time for me to clear even the silliest doubts so that I could replicate every dish back in my kitchen. After every course is prepared, it is bought out to the dining table to be enjoyed.

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Our evening began over a glass of wine and a plate of Biscotti al Parmigiano (Parmesan biscuits). While we snacked over these delicious and simple to make biscuits, Sandra briefly explained about her native Abruzzo, how the cuisine varies across different regions of Italy which I believe is the foundation to a real understanding of the cuisine.

Biscotti al Parmigiano (Parmesan biscuits)

Biscotti al Parmigiano (Parmesan biscuits)

For the first course, we learnt to make Gazpacho Siciliano or the Sicilian style gazpacho. Spanish gazpacho is a constant in my kitchen so imagine my surprise at learning the Sicilian style. Though the base is same, the flavours are so different especially with the addition of a ‘secret ingredient’ and crushed almonds. I don’t think I will be going back to the Spanish version anytime soon.

Gazpacho Siciliano

Gazpacho Siciliano

The second course we learnt to cook was Tortino di sarde alla Trapanese (sardine flan). This dish was a revelation for me and perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening. I am a huge sardine lover but a sardine flan was something that I have never read about or experienced before. A real gem of regional Italian cooking, I was so happy to learn this one. And loved every bit of it!

Tortino di sarde alla Trapanese (sardine flan)

Tortino di sarde alla Trapanese (sardine flan)

For most of us, an Italian meal cannot be complete without a pasta dish. Sandra seemed to have read my mind as the third course for the evening was Gragnano al pesto Siciliano (Pasta with Sicilian pesto). Before demonstrating the dish, Sandra gave us an intro into the vast world of pastas…..the varieties, difference between handmade and store bought, brands to buy etc….. And once again, the Sicilian pesto was a surprising one; I have never made or eaten a tomato based pesto so this was a great recipe to learn. Sandra also taught us the right way to cook pasta and mix it with the sauce, which most of us seem to get wrong at home. Learnt some great tips….

On request, Sandra agreed to share this recipe with all my readers. So scroll to the bottom for the recipe of Pasta with Sicilian pesto.

Pasta with Sicilian pesto

Pasta with Sicilian pesto

And the night ended on a very sweet note with this impeccably delicious Cassata Siciliana In singoli bicchieri (Sicilian cassata in individual glasses). Indulgent…that’s the only word for this beauty. Layers of sponge soaked generously in Grand Marnier with interludes of creamy dark chocolate ricotta and candied fruit finally topped off with homemade apricot marmalade. The layers….the flavours….the aftertaste. Sigh!

Cassata Siciliana In singoli bicchieri (Sicilian cassata in individual glasses)

Cassata Siciliana In singoli bicchieri (Sicilian cassata in individual glasses)

Address:

La Cucina di Sandra

62 Lyndhurst Street
Richmond
Victoria 3121

Phone no: 03 9421 1883/0419 503 805

Email: lacucina.disandra@ozemail.com.au

Website: http://www.lacucinadisandra.com.au/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lacucinadisandraau

Sandra also shares several recipes on her blog, so make sure to check it out too.

Pasta with Sicilian Pesto

Ingredients:

1. 280 to 320 gm pasta (large shape)
2. 500 gm Pomodorini/cherry tomatoes; very ripe
3. 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
4. 1 garlic clove
5. 100 gms Italian Pecorino cheese; finely grated
6. Freshly milled black pepper
7. Salt, to season
8. 50 gms blanched, dry toasted and chopped almonds
9. Half a bunch of basil; chopped roughly
10. 150 gm fresh ricotta

Method:

1. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water; peel skin and deseed.
2. In a food processor or stick blender bowl, add the tomatoes, basil, chopped almonds, garlic, Pecorino and ricotta.
3. Pour half of the extra virgin olive oil and mix at low speed. Add more oil if necessary to get a creamy mixture. Increase speed if you need more smoothness. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Boil the pasta in salted boiling water and according to packet instructions. Cook the pasta just one minute short of the mentioned cooking time.
5. Just as the pasta finishes cooking, ladle a spoonful of pasta water into a mixing bowl, transfer the pesto into this.
6. Then drain the pasta and add directly to the pesto. Mix well to combine.
7. Serve hot with grated pecorino and a few basil leaves.

Note – If the tomatoes are not ripe enough or lack intensity in flavour, add 1-2 tbsp of good quality tomato passata.
You can use pine nuts instead of almonds or both.
Pecorino can be substituted with Parmesan.

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La Cucina di Sandra Cooking School Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yarra Valley – Meet the Farmers and Food Producers

Most of you would have seen the tons of pictures that I posted on my social media channels from my recent trip to the Yarra Valley. So be prepared for a long picture heavy post today.

I was incredibly lucky to be invited by Yarra Ranges Tourism to be part of their Regional food group tour and explore the Farmer’s market and local produce grown in the region. Since there was plenty we did that day, I am going to write about this over two segments. In today’s post, I will introduce you to the many food producers and farmers of the region and what to expect at the regional farmer’s market and in the next post, I will take you on a trip to the Yering Station private wine tastings and a beautiful cooking experience at the Locavore Studio.

Our day began with a quick coffee and personal introductions at a quaint little café in Lilydale. Our travel host for the trip was the very enthusiastic Orson Koch, from Yarra Valley Transfers. Apart from offering luxury coaches and bus charter services, the company also offers food and wine tours, events assistance, wedding transfers etc….. I totally recommend using a service like this when visiting the Yarra Valley especially if you are a newbie to the region or would like to enjoy a unique, customized travel experience of the region.

Photograph Courtesy - Yarra Valley Transfers

Photograph Courtesy – Yarra Valley Transfers

Orson was a delightful companion who knew almost everyone personally in and around the region so we were privy to loads of insider information and unique experiences which might be otherwise missed if we were to travel just on our own. And what more, he even had an esky ready in the boot for all the ‘fresh produce’ shopping….

Our first visit was to the Gateway Estate Farms. Located at 667 Maroondah Hwy, the Gateway Estate is one of the best places in the Yarra to experience and sample regional produce. We visited the high tech hydroponic green house (about 5000 square metres) where strawberries, capsicums and basil are grown in tons. The sight was breaktaking and the session informative.

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We met Brett Spurling, who took us on a tour of the greenhouse explaining about the benefits of the zero waste closed loop irrigation system and how it can enable large scale farming using a fraction of the water and fertilizers than required in an open field farming system.

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A unique wire system to grow capsicums

A unique wire system to grow capsicums

Pots and pots of basil....

Pots and pots of basil….

The farm produces about 7 tons of ripe, red strawberries annually and one of the highlights is you can visit the farm during the berry picking season and indulge in this fun activity with your little ones. (I have already begun to plan a small holiday with my son to the farm to get our hands on some juicy, red strawberries straight from the ground). Get more details here, if you would like to plan the same.

Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants

A teeny weeny one just came out to pose for me!

A teeny weeny one just came out to pose for me!

At the Gateway Estate, you can also shop for the freshest produce, all grown in the local farms in and around the Yarra region. The season’s best is always on offer so make sure you have plenty of boot space to bring home an array of fresh vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs.

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The in store farm gate is also stocked with a range of dried herbs, spices and blends, chutneys, dips, relishes and homemade jams. Totally recommend the capsicum relish made from those grown in the green house, it was absolutely delicious.

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The Gateway is also home to a small Angus cattle herd which means that you can also source some great quality free-range dry aged beef. Apart from all the regular cuts, you can also pick up home made sausages, pies and lasagne, all prepared using the in house beef and fresh local produce.

It’s not just fresh produce that you can buy at The Gateway but also wines and liquers. There are a few Estate produced Pinot Noirs and Shiraz but what really caught my fancy is the strawberry liqueur, port and cream. Ask for tastings and especially ask for the ‘strawberry shot cake.’ I came home with a bottle of strawberry port which I have been saving to use in a dish.

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The Strawberry Shot Cake

The Strawberry Shot Cake

And if all the strawberry picking and shopping has tired you out, make sure to stretch your legs in the quaint little café inside the Estate. I had a really good cappuccino made from locally roasted beans and the best egg, cheese, bacon toast with capsicum relish. And I really mean the ‘best’ part!

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Our next visit was to the Regional Food Group Farmer’s Market at Yering Station. Iconic and one of the oldest farmer’s market in Victoria, this one has grown leaps and bounds since its inception in 1999. The Regional food group farmer’s market is held on the third Sunday every month inside a rustic farmhouse style barn on the scenic Yering Station grounds and is the best way for visitors to sample and purchase the best produce that Yarra has to offer.

Yering Station

Yering Station

There cannot be a better way to interact with the farmers and regional food producers; a brilliant system that allows one to sample and purchase the finest food and wine this region has to offer.

Here is a pictorial guide of just ‘some’ of the sights from the Farmer’s market;

Big pots of vibrant and delicious paella on offer from Lady Paella. Apart from the seafood version, there is a vegetarian option (the first time I am seeing one!) with a whole lot of veggies, herbs, eggplants and currants. Moreover, these were also gluten, dairy and egg free.

paella

How beautiful does this plaited garlic look? Make sure to pick up a bunch from the goregous Norma of Sure Things Garlic.

garlic

Or maybe you would like to stock a couple of bottles of Giverny Estate Kiwi Fruit Sparling Cider; would be perfect for the summer.

kiwi fruit cider

How about some delicious jams from Jam Lady Jam? I especially liked the spiced Syrian fig jam……

jam

Perhaps some ginger cordial……and the lovely lady behind it tells me that it is an award winning one!

ginger cordial

These guys do such wonderful stuff with meringues; no wonder their company is called Unforgettable Products. I came home with a pack of meringue bites and a meringue lollipop for my son….

meringues

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And how will The Spice Adventuress come home without any spice blends in her shopping basket. Look what I found….curry flavoured smoked sea salt from Smoke and Roast.

smoke and roast

For more information on visiting Yarra Valley, to plan a tour or to stay informed of current and future events; visit http://www.visityarravalley.com.au and http://www.yarravalleyfood.com.au

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yarravalleyregionalfoodgroup https://www.facebook.com/YarraValleyandTheDandenongs

Twitter: @yarra_valley

IG: @yarra_valley

Disclaimer – As mentioned, I was invited to an all expense paid trip to the Yarra Valley but all the photographs and opinions are solely mine.

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