Working in the food industry, you're often bombarded with recommendations of other businesses striving for the highest quality. You also desire to seek them out and recommend them to others. I've spent the first ten days of 2014 in Victoria, visiting my family, and have a list of places I went to under recommendation or sought out. All but one of these locations is food oriented with the exception being a magnificent antique centre.
Proud Mary Coffee, Collingwood
I've been wanting to try this coffee shop and cafe since it first appeared on my radar in the middle of 2013. Its recommendation, by my employers after their visit to Melbourne, was reiterated when their then house blend, Ghost Rider, won the Overall Golden Bean Coffee Roaster Award. I didn't end up trying that blend (and can't remember the name of their new standard blend) but the coffee I received was light, quite nutty and delicious.
My mum and I also took advantage of their enticing menu to have some brunch. Pictured are Ricotta Hotcakes with roasted stone fruit, yoghurt, blood orange ice cream and cookie crumb, and Roasted Mushrooms with chipotle butter, brioche, whipped goats cheese and a poached egg. Both of these dishes exhibited a combination of flavours that worked magic on our pallets. Specifically, the intense flavour in the chipotle butter had me convinced that someone had stuck an Italian sausage onto my fork.
Definitely recommend this place and I doubt you'll find anyone who wouldn't.
Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder; The Cheese Room, Richmond
Cheese is one of my many food related weaknesses (see here and here and here). Forever seeking out new cheeses and gorging on ones already found, my mum knew that this specific cheese shop (conveniently located a few doors down from Gorman Surprise!) was going to excite me. We spent about 15 minutes in here, tried a few cheese and spent an obscene amount of money on very little product; totally worth it. If you have a little bit of extra cash and appreciate a fine morsel of fromage (I only learn foreign language words associated with food) then this Will Studd and Stephanie Alexander approved cheese heaven is for you.
Contrary to some people's opinions, Victoria does not end at the edge of Melbourne and their love of food and culture continues far into the countryside. My parents live in close proximity to the spa town of Daylesford where this next gem also resides. Introduced to me as my mother's favourite coffee in town, Larder does not fail to deliver.
I sampled their house blend as well as a Rwandan in separate trips made here. I was also lucky enough to sample some of their cafe offerings; pleasing to say the least. The service here was impeccable: quality delivered with speed and a smile.
Having already accepted that I was unable to take much shopping home with me, this seemingly endless mine of retro and antique goodies was painful to begin. I then had the revelation that if this is one of two stores in one part of the world and had so much stock then I would come across something this magnificent again. I spent my time photographing the contents which was satisfaction enough until I stumbled across the newest addition to my footwear collection. You will have to wait to see those in a future outfit post. Hint: think country, leather and snakes.
I love this gold mine but am definitely of the opinion that similar places exist across the globe. Go out hunting for your own treasures in your local troves!
This is the one venue I didn't remember to photograph and the last that I visited before jetting home. I had heard Castlemaine had a plethora of fine dining options and was keen to see what the town had to offer. The Public Inn did not fail to deliver and I would rank it as the best of the whole trip. It offered a fine dining a-la-carte menu made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. We shared a tasting plate of Shaved Smoked Pork with Green Chilli Pickle, Smoked Skipton eel with kaiserfleisch and beetroot purèe (the favourite), and Istra prosciutto croquettes with creamed sweet corn. We also indulged in several entrées of equally high quality and pallet sensation.
These places are merely the highlights of my trip and in places that were in my travels. I know for a fact that there are infinite options for quality eating and drinking in Victoria that I haven't even though of visiting yet. If you have any favourites I should seek out in my next visit, let me know!