Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ezard at Levantine Hill, Coldstream

"Bring the chopper 'round, Jeeves - I want to go to out for lunch!"
My pilot landed out the back of my house in the 'burbs, and whisked me off to a fabulous lunch in the Yarra Valley.
Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream
Not really, but some folks possibly do arrive that way.
However you get there, the architecture of the buildings and the views of the surrounding hills are still the same.
I loved the light filled restaurant. All that glass and timber...
Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream...but it's the food that blew my mind. Fantastic!

Ezard at Levantine Hill,  ColdstreamTruffled mac `n cheese croquettes, spiced mayonnaise.  A nice, tasty starter. Who doesn't love mac'n'cheese, right?

Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream
Prawn linguine, tomato, parsley, capers, lemon. Amazing light pasta dish, with perfectly plump and juicy prawns.

Ezard at Levantine Hill,  ColdstreamSlow cooked spring lamb neck, smoked Paris mash. The dish that did most of the mind-blowing. That lamb - omg. I just touched it with the fork and it fell into a pile of soft, tender, deliciousness that melted in my mouth. The Paris Mash was light and fluffy - like a potato mousse. The perfect accompaniment to the lamb. I am pretty sure I will order that dish each time I visit.

We wandered around the grounds after lunch, admiring the Kitchen Garden beds, full of vegies, herbs and flowers...

Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream

...and strawberry fields forever.
Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream 
Native plants... 
Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream

...and beautiful sculptures.
Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream

After such a busy day, starting with gin tasting before lunch and now a very full belly of Teage Ezard's incredible dishes and Levantine Hill Estate's sauvignon blanc semillon, I felt a little like this lady. No time for a nanna nap, so we headed on home.

Ezard at Levantine Hill,  Coldstream
Where: 882 Maroondah Highway (Entrance via Hill Road) Coldstream
When: 11am to 6pm Monday, Wednesday to Friday, 11am to 6pm Saturday & Sunday       
Why: wining and dining
How much: Prices vary (Entertainment Book discount) 

Nearby: Four Pillars Gin Distillery, Healesville

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Four Pillars Gin, Healesville

I don't usually drink before midday, but we popped in for a quick look at Four Pillars Gin Distillery one morning, and before I knew it - there was 4 bottles lined up in front of me and I was sampling the wonderful flavours of the gin varieties produced on site. 
At 11:00am.
Four Pillars Gin, HealesvilleMade in the huge copper stills named after the owners Mums - Wilma, Jude and Eileen - these spirits contain a range of botanicals to scintillate your senses.
Located in a former timber yard, the distillery is a visual delight of copper, steel, timber and glass, with splashes of vibrant colours from the native plants and flowers dotted around the place. Four Pillars Gin, Healesville
I started the tasting session with the Navy Strength, and it almost sank my battleship there and then. Wow - it packs some punch.
Next was the Spiced Negroni, a tasty mix of spices.
Then my favourite - the Rare Dry Gin. A refreshing and aromatic blend of  whole organic oranges, cinnamon, star anise, pepperberry and lemon myrtle.
The final gin was the limited edition Christmas Gin - an interesting mix of flavours creating a very Christmas-sy beverage.

Four Pillars Gin, Healesville

Four Pillars Gin, Healesville

The session lasted for about 45 minutes and the $10 cost was refunded upon my purchase of a bottle of gin to spend the Summer with.
Suitably refreshed, we set off to enjoy a fabulous lunch at Ezard at Levantine Hill.
Four Pillars Gin, Healesville
Where: 2a Lilydale Road, Healesville
When: Daily from 10:30am
Why: gin. What more do you need...
How much: $10 tasting

Nearby: Ezard at Levantine Hill


Monday, January 9, 2017

Rainforest Gallery, Warburton

When the summer heat gets too much, and the thought of crowded beaches and hot sand doesn't seem very appealing, it's time to head for the hills.
Halfway up Mt Donna Buang, the Rainforest Gallery is a cool climate escape from the scorching sunshine, allowing you to be sheltered by the towering Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech and their ferny forest friends.
The walkway took us along an elevated lookout, where you can get up close and personal with 300 year old giants.
Mt Donna Buang

A little further along the carpark, a mesh walkway meandered down closer to the forest floor, but still kept a safe distance from the undergrowth for both plants and visitors. A series of paths and steps takes you on  a return to the start.
Mt Donna Buang
The tree ferns unfurled their delicate new leaves into the filtered sunlight...

Mt Donna Buang ...and the babbling brook sounds of Cement Creek competed with the calls of the forest birds.

Mt Donna Buang
The 350m circuit could take as little as 5 minutes, or as long as you like. It depends on how many times you stop to take a photograph.
It took me about 45 minutes. Oops.
 Mt Donna Buang

Where: Acheron Way, Warburton
When: Daily         
Why: rainforest
How much: FREE

Nearby: Redwood Forest, East Warburton

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cherry Hill Orchards, Wandin East

Driving along Warburton Hwy, the lure of the many farmgate signs proved too strong to ignore, so we turned off at Wandin and headed for Cherry Hill.
It was around 2pm and the carpark was still packed when we arrived. We paid our entrance fee and was given a cherry red bucket in return.
The orchard alongside the entrance had already been picked over since the season began in November. We boarded a bus which took us up to the far fields at the top of the property and began the cherry hunt.
Cherry Hill Orchards
Our search of the first couple of rows proved fruit-less (see what I did there), but soon we could see the sparkling crimson cherries a little further over. Somewhere in the middle, we found trees dripping with fruit and looking like Christmas trees covered with red, shiny baubles.
Cherry Hill Orchards
Cherry Hill Orchards
Cherry Hill Orchards

The next 45 minutes went a little like this - 
One for me,
One for the bucket.
One for me,
One for the bucket.
Cherry Hill Orchards After eating so many cherries under the blazing hot sun, I feared I would turn into a shiny red ball myself, so we jumped back on the bus  and headed for the kiosk to eat a refreshing cherry icecream in the picnic area.

Cherry Hill Orchards
Cherry Hill Orchards

Our bucket load was weighed at $12kg and we went home satisfied with our afternoon of hunting and gathering.
And eating. 
Cherry Hill Orchards

Where: 480 Queens Road, Wandin East
When: Daily 9-5pm Nov - Jan, until harvest complete                            
Why: pick your own
How much: $12 per kg, plus entrance fees.