It's Springtime in Daylesford, Victoria. From lovely Lavandula - the Swiss Italian Lavender Farm at Shepherds Flat, 5 minutes from Daylesford.
The Old Macaroni Factory, Australia's first macaroni factory and oldest Italian building and Villa Parma, Peppers Hepburn Springs
Red Beard Bakery - unbeatable organic sourdough bread & goodies in the town of Trentham.
Alla Wolf Tasker's enchanting Lake House in Daylesford is a true labour of love for over 26 years. Lake House is regarded as one of Australia's very best restaurants.
Images courtesy of Lisa Murray. Lise, I hope you'll always be 'official photographer' on our foodie trips. Thanks for your talent and sweet company.
The local growers, vignerons, provedores, chefs and restaurateurs of Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges are an inspiring group. There's good reason why we've been reading all about this region in many gourmet food and travel magazines lately.
Those of you who live in a sub-tropical climate (like us here in South East Queensland) no doubt jump at the opportunity to travel south and really appreciate the four seasons in all their glory - especially Spring. This time last year I headed to springtime Bowral. Perhaps you'll remember my specculaas recipe, droolings and ravings of tulips and Southern Highland towns in NSW.
This Spring I’ve landed even further south in Victoria's Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, just over 1 hour north of Melbourne. If you haven't already, I hope you'll soon have the opportunity to explore delicious Daylesford, its lake and superb surrounds.
A visit to Lavandula Farm at Shepherds Flat (pictured above) inspires a more frequent use of culinary lavender in our everyday cooking. For example the tips of freshly picked lavender added to a batch of scone mixture make a delightful difference. Of course in Southern France, lavender plays an important role far beyond the reaches of potplants and window boxes. It was suggested to us at Lavandula that we should consider lavender in more of our favourite dishes, as a culinary substitute for rosemary.
I’ve visited many lavender farms around the world and often felt sad to find lavender fields without flowers out of season. No such feelings here at Lavandula, for you'll be mesmerised by flowering rosemary, 19th century stone buildings, a barnyard with extensive retail therapy, lush picnic spots, a huge pizza oven and good coffee with homemade cakes.
There's also the unique history of the place - back to the mid 1800’s, when 2500 Italian men immigrated to this region from the Swiss Italian areas of Lake Como, Locarno & Lugano. They settled in the Daylesford region, unknowingly panning for gold despite the best of the gold rush years already behind them. Some still struck it lucky with smaller nuggets and parcels of fertile land. It's another little gem in our lucky country I hope you'll enjoy as much as we did.
Please don't miss a meal at The Lakehouse, where violet and licorice ice-cream competes with lemon curd mouse, shavings of meringue and caviar. Alla Wolf Tasker really is the queen of Australian country kitchen, her kitchen gardens bursting with farm fresh flavour, dainty micro herbs & edible flowers.
Another must-eat is sourdough from Red Beard Bakery. A bakery has operated continously in this Trentham location from at least 1892 until 1987. The towns bread was baked in its enormous Scotch oven, one of only a handful of Scotch ovens now remaining in Australia. A once common type of commercial oven with a huge, domed brick structure found throughout the British Empire. Word has it that by the 1960’s most had been destroyed by the large flour millers to eliminate competition for their new supermarkets breads. Argh!!!
This bustling bakery was restored in 2004, its historic oven still in surprisingly good condition. In 2005 the Reid Brothers stumbled across the renovated bakery and have been producing high quality, organic sourdough bread and other goodies using time-honoured techniques ever since. Bakery Workshops and tours are available. We hadn’t booked one but the friendly owners were more than happy to share their passion and knowledge with us. Handshaped loaves are leavened with a traditional wild yeast culture and later loaded into the woodfired Scotch oven, just as was done over a century ago. If only I could bottle that aroma of freshly baked sourdough... along with fragrant rhododendrons, daffodils, hyacinths and crab apple blossoms. Enjoy every Springtime day MFK friends. More recipes soon...