A little hello from the Antipodes

We are feeling somewhat mutinous, having deserted our European  family and friends and embarked on a somewhat indulgent, sundrenched,  Antipodean adventure.  If you are reading this on the  Virgin blog, you are  no doubt familiar with Levin Wines  and the lengths to which we will go to take our remarkable  vinous creations to the ends of the world – and rightly so!

From the wilds of Central Victoria, we settled ourselves at The Falls Homestead, Kooroocheang,  (yes that is how it is spelt), centre of the Spa country, home to some of the most amazing produce Australia has to offer.  Our first stop on arrival is to neighbour Robert at Tuki Farms, perched high on a stony outcrop overlooking the London / Campaspe Valley, we can fish for trout and have it cooked and served or  Robert will slowly hot smoke the trout to his secret recipe.  The fabulous Tuki lamb are a highland breed and the lamb has a distinctive aromatic sweet flavour, perfect with the wild rosemary growing at our backdoor and bottle of 2009 Madame L Gamay,  The Tuki chicken scratch around the lake and the free range eggs they produce are something else, we can also collect perfect  chicken for roasting to order!
A new addition to Daylesford’s already exciting café scene is Wombat Hill House Café – Now, Australian’s are very fond of their native creatures, but the wombat is just one animal that has absolutely no redeeming features, fat, hairy,  virtually blind and can weigh up to 40kg, not charming………… nevertheless, the folks at Daylesford have named many of their attractions after the wombat.  Set in an old caretakers cottage at the peak of the Daylesford Botanic Gardens, it is essentially a ‘garden within a garden’, produce is grown or sourced within a very small radius and made into simple and delicious fare………. smoked eel, poached trout, grazing plates, home baked treats and their wild combinations of pizza.

We followed the Gold Fields Trail to Castlemaine and a cultural visit to The Castlemaine Art Gallery & Museum  a very impressive collection in a beautiful art deco style building.  Never moving too far from gastronomy, we stumbled upon The Good Table, run by
Alex Perry, son of the Artisitc Director of the gallery, and previously chef at
the award winning MoVida in Melbourne, Alex has created a foragers table of delight.  We popped in for a latte after our visit to the Gallery, only to discover that this was a serious foodie find, having chatted up the gorgeous Carla from front of house, we invited her to join us on her first Saturday night free this year……………. Never actually convinced that she would be there when we returned at 9pm.  True to her word, there she was, with a glass of 2009 Champalou Vouvray, and  Anna, partner of Tim, the restaurant manager, and duty solicitor at the Bendigo Court!   We actually experienced everything on the menu,  here is  the link to tease your tastebuds. Our clever plan ensured we not only had some  fabulous company, but the best service at the most sort after table in town.  This was
taking the ‘shared table’ experience to the ultimate.  The wine list was eclectic, we started with the  2010 Sorrenberg Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, restrained and mineral laden as you would expect from the Beechworth region, the real surprise  was the 2009 Hochkirch Pinot Noir from Henty, an organic stunner……with an elegance and mystery and layers of subtle, silky and seductive flavours, served by the sommelier and none other than the winemaker himself.  It doesn’t get any better.

Lynne Levin, Goldfield Country, Victoria,
Australia February 2012