Last Bits, Good Bits.

Happy Monday my dear readers! Hope all of you had a really good start to the week. More eating adventures continues in this post, but I promise this will be the last one! So thank you for going through this adventure with me the last few weeks! Just re-capping everything we did is making me want to head back to Daylesford again! I hope it has inspired you all to also make a trip down cause you won’t regret it! (:

Of course, we started our day with the same amazing breakfast. How could we not right? hehe Till this day I’m still thinking about the breakfast we had and wanting more. So after we had our breakfast we chilled in our room for a little bit before setting off to try some more cafes this beautiful town had to offer.

Our first stop was Cliffy’s Emporium which was a store, cafe and wine bar. They have a whole range of local produce and their menu changes regularly and according to the seasonal produce. We were still really full from breakfast so we decided to just have something light, although there were lots of things I would have liked to try. Besides, we needed to save some things to try for our next visit, right? hehe

We ordered a small cheese platter and a pot of peppermint tea to go with. The platting was so pretty! Like art on a plate! We sat under the sun and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s really nice how there still seems to be alot of things to share with the mr although we see each other everyday. The best thing about being with your best friend. (: We could just chat and discuss about everything under the sun (pun intended hehe).

The small platter came with two delicious and creamy cheeses : one of which is goat and the other was a type of cheddar. I do apologise that I don’t know the names of the cheeses, as I wasn’t at the table when it was served. There was also a side of maple syrup which went really well with the cheese! Might be something we will try at home soon I reckon! hehe There’s something about the sweet and salty combination I love! Mmm (:

We then found a brochure I picked up amidst the whole pile that caught my attention : $1 oysters at Darmagi! Something my mr adores! He could finish a dozen on his own, and he did exactly that! (:

I don’t fancy oysters, especially when they are raw. The Mr LOVES them. Although they were $1 each, the quality wasn’t compromised! They were plump and juicy! The dozen were all slurped down within minutes! haha According to him, the best way to have them is just with a splash of lemon juice and nothing else! (:

The happy boy with his plate of oysters (: I think he could have had another dozen, easy. hah But I don’t think it’ll be good for his cholesterol!

What I really liked about Daylesford and Hepburn Springs is that their local cafes and restaurants all support local produce and this includes their drinks! Loving their cute logo as well. We had to try some of their sparkling liquid and I decided on the sparkling blood orange mineral water which was really refreshing. Loved it!

The Mr had the organic brewed ginger beer and it was really yummy without an overpowering taste of ginger and spice. Definitely went well with the oysters he had. hehe I have to say, ginger beer (alcoholic or not) is one of my favourite soft drinks! I’m not a big fan of coke or other carbonated drinks. It’s usually either ginger beer or sparkling apple juice to quench my thirst hehe

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner. The Perfect Drop was one place that was highly recommended by not just the retreat but also from other blogs that I’ve read as I was researching on the places to visit. So without much thought, we made a reservation for dinner and headed there, hungry and full of excitement! Before I share with you what we had, I have to apologise that I’ve only got pictures of the entrees we had that night as it got too dark, and the iphone camera just couldn’t take any good shots when the mains and desserts arrived. So I’m really sorry! But here are the entrees we had that night (:

A Perfect Drop is a wine and food lounge that had a very cosy interior. We were shown to our tables by the window, close to the fire place. It was perfect for taking photos (until it started getting dark that is). Still kicking myself as to why I didn’t bring my camera along. But too late now!

After ordering our food, we were served with warm bread with a side of olive oil and sea salt. Nothing beats warm bread to be honest. The smell of the bread slowly envelops the air around us. Just the best smell in the world!

The first thing we ordered was the white anchovies with a boiled quail egg on toast with micro herbs. This was really delicious! Every single bite just makes me crave for more. The white anchovies just melts in your mouth and had the right amount of saltiness. Everything just went together so well. I had to pull myself back from ordering another haha

Another entree that we wanted to try was the homemade beef chorizo. It was delicious, juicy and just filled with spices and did I mention delicious? I didn’t know what was in the green mojo, but it was like a tapenade which complimented the chorizo very well. I never had a beef version before, usually the ones sold in the delis are made using pork. So this was definitely something different. But a good kind of different of course (:

Besides these 2 entrees that we ordered to share, we ordered 2 individual entrees as well. hehe We couldn’t help ourselves. There were too many things we wanted to try!

I ordered the veal carppacio with manchego, celeriac salt and horseradish mustard. How pretty is that? hehe It’s no wonder why people say we eat with our eyes. Don’t you just wanna dive your fork into this plate? I’ve not had veal carppacio, just beef. But they didn’t taste alot different, just a little gamier. But not overly so. i really enjoyed it! If you haven’t noticed, I usually have either a carppacio or a scallop dish for entree. haha I’m boring like that.

The mr ordered the stuffed duck neck with pork and pistachio sausage and it was just delish! When I saw it on the menu, I knew he would have to order it. The Mr is one person I know that would eat every single part of most animals. Yes, even the offal. It also means he doesn’t waste any part of the animal, just one of the things I love about him. (: The skin was crispy and the sausage stuffing was juicy and flavourful. Just a delight with every bite!

As much as I love to say the service was as good as the food we had that night, it was unfortunately a little inconsistent. We didn’t feel as included or welcomed as compared to the other tables. Perhaps it’s just us being sensitive, but there wasn’t a point when we were asked how our food was, or if we were enjoying the meal. In fact, after the first entree, I told one of the staff that it was amazing and she actually had a shock expression on her face, which I really couldn’t understand. It’s a real pity though, cause the food was really really good. But like I say in my reviews, service does play a huge part of the dining experience. So we left the restaurant with a bitter-sweet taste in our mouths.

So this wraps up our adventures of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs! I do hope you enjoyed everything I’ve shared with you! I can’t wait to head back to Daylesford and try the other restaurants that I missed this time round! (: Have a great week ahead everyone! xx

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Daylesford Adventures

This being our first time at Daylesford, we definitely had to explore and do some touristy things! But before we set off for our adventure, we had the most amazing breakfast at Shizuka Ryokan.

Our package included breakfast every morning and we could choose between the japanese breakfast set or the usual eggs, toasts and bacon. We decided to try the japanese breakfast and boy were we glad we did! It looked more like lunch/dinner to be honest. But it was absolutely delicious and healthy! Definitely a win-win in our books. (:

After our very satisfying breakfast, we set off on our roadtrip! Our first stop was actually the Information Centre in Daylesford to grab all the brochures and maps! Then we sat down and started planning our route. The first place we decided to visit was the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens and Lookout Tower.

There was a driving path for cars to actually drive around the beautiful greenery. On each side of the road were rows of trees which kind of reminded me of my dream drive way. hehe And yes, I did remind the hubs about it. hehe But actually, to think about it. I do have a long driveway now. Just that it’s shared with my neighbour. But baby step, yes? hehe

Sitting on top of the hill was the Wombat Hill House cafe, garden and store. Unfortunately, we were still stuffed from our brekkie so we didn’t get to dine there. Definitely will be on our to-go list the next time we make our trip up! hehe Do note that they are closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays!

Our next stop was the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm. Although it wasn’t the right time to see the blooming lavender flowers, it was still worth our visit there especially since it coincided with the Swiss & Italian Festival! In fact it was the La Primavera, which was the celebration of Spring! They had BBQs and stalls offering a range of delicious food! When we got there, it was so packed and there was just people sitting on their picnic mates, enjoying the sun, food and company!

The Mr and I spotted these beautiful willow trees and the first thing he said to me was, they look like my hair when I was younger! hehe How funny is he? So we decided to snap a shot with it! Please excuse my tired eyes! The weather was absolutely glorious!

It was a pity that it wasn’t the best time to visit the farm. But I could just imagine how beautiful it will be when they are all blooming! It would be a sea of purple, just thinking about it makes me smile! Not forgetting how amazing the whole place would smell!

There was a house on display that showed us a typical house of an italian family. It was really interesting! You could totally tell that the kitchen was the place that brings people together! Definitely my kind of house. hehe

As we walked out of the house, we bumped into a couple of boys doing the mime!

I was told by a few people to try their delicious lavender ice cream and of course I couldn’t leave the place without giving it a try! It was perfect since it was rather warm that afternoon. hehe It seems like everyone was craving for some ice cream cause of the weather.

We order a lavender ice cream waffle cone and a cup of lavender lemonade. The lavender ice cream was really smooth and had a very subtle lavender flavour which we really enjoyed. But the lavender lemonade was nothing special, it tasted like sparkling water with not much of a lavender flavour. Though it did help quench our thirst! I would definitely recommend heading up to the Lavandula Farm especially during their festivals! The next one scheduled is the Lavender Harvest on the 6th of January, so don’t miss it! (:

After spending some time at the Lavandular Swiss Italian Farm, we made our way to Trentham for lunch and to see the beautiful waterfall. On our way there, I just couldn’t not snap a shot of the trees that had blackened trunks, which kinda reminded me of when there was the forest fires a few years back at the Grampians, and the tree trunks look the same. I wonder what the story behind these trees were. Definitely a time for reflection. (:

Our first stop was to feel our tummies! Of course, when you go to Trentham, the place you have to visit is Red Beard Historic Bakery! Sourdough bread! That’s all I could think of, but I was wrong. It was much more than just fresh delicious bread. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and cakes for tea too! Hidden at the back of a small lane, this was definitely a gem we found!

The first thing that greets you when you enter the cafe are two shelves filled with freshly baked sourdough bread that are all baked in their 140 year old scotch oven! All individually and neatly packed and presented on the shelf. They had a whole range : rye, multigrain, sesame seed crusted, fruit loaf and the special of the day was walnut! I wish I could just buy all of them and try every single loaf! All their flours were stone ground and they even had a wheat free loaf that included a mixture of light and dark rye flour. So there is a loaf for everyone!

They sold jams and other condiments too! Just love the rawness of the cafe and thankfully we found seats as it was the peak lunch time! Lucky us! (:

As the Mr had been driving the whole day, he was craving for some hot coffee – latte was his choice that afternoon. I decided to stick to water to hydrate cause of the hot weather having. Not that I would complain! I would prefer hot to cold weather any day!

We had one of the specials that were available that afternoon : frittata with red onions, chorizo and potatoes. It was SO GOOD. It was really light and definitely the fluffiest frittata I’ve had! We both loved it. Each meal came with a side of mixed greens with a mustard vinaigrette. Refreshing with a little spicy kick to it, YUM!

The other thing we had was a chicken and leek pie which was absolutely delicious! The creamy chicken and leek mixture was enveloped in their own freshly made puff pastry which was buttery, crispy and flaky. Every mouthful was a delight! I wanted more after we finished it. hehe The portions were not huge, but we were leaving our tummies for more yummies later in the day, so it was a serving size.

What I love about this place is that they use seasonal produce so their menu would change quite often. Plus, they are doing their part to protect the environment, what could you not love about that? (:

After filling our tummies, we decided to head to Trentham Falls for a short walk. I don’t know about you, but there is just something magical about waterfalls. They make me happy and at that moment, when you’re infront of the falls, nothing else mattered. Just me, the mr and the waters. One day, just one day, I would definitely visit the Niagara falls. I think I would be in awe! *wanderlust*

Calling all Chocoholics! This is one place you don’t wanna miss! Just 7kms away from Daylesford sits a place that would make alot of people happy : The Chocolate Mill. The first person I thought of was of course Miss D. I knew this would be a place she would not miss if she comes to Daylesford. hehe I was really excited about this place! hehe

There were free demos everyday at 11am and 2pm. We were lucky to reach there just in time! We saw how their chocolates were perfectly made each time and it was a really patient process. Would definitely love to give it a try at home. haha We shall see, too many things I would love to try. The cool thing about this place is that we were standing in a building made out of straw bale! 900 straw bales to be exact! Isn’t that amazing? You know what is more amazing?


and this.

and a close up of those perfectly shiny handmade belgian chocolates! YUM! My eyes were drawn instantly to the hazelnut praline, so I of course had to buy a couple for our drive back to Daylesford after. hehe

Love their packaging! I am definitely a proud chocoholic! hehe

We then adjourned to the chocolate cafe for a cup of highly recommended hot chocolate! I was really looking forward to this cup of hot chocolate, cause it was said to be one of the best ones in Melbourne!

I opted for the dark hot chocolate which was so smooth and thick. DELISH! There was a thick layer of melted chocolate at the bottom served with steaming hot milk. We had to stir it well to make sure we weren’t left with a heap of chocolate at the bottom, although that wouldn’t be a bad thing either! hehe

The Mr chose the chilli hot chocolate which had the same smooth and thick consistency but the amazing this was that the more you stir, the spicier it gets! Although it wasn’t the kind of spicy that takes over your taste buds. It was just enough to leave your throat warm and tingly. hehe We definitely left the place with smiles on our faces and bellies very very happy! (:

Not sure if you realise that the mr has loads of Threadless t-shirts which are really cute! hehe He decided to pose the same way as Mr T is on his t-shirt. hehe Love his spontaneity! (:

So what happens when you crave for more hot chocolate after you leave this chocolate filled place? You could always buy a packet of their hot chocolate and all you need to do is add hot milk and viola! (: Cravings satisfied! We bought a couple for the mr’s sister, as she loves her hot chocolate! hehe You have three options : white, milk and dark!

Definitely a whole day of beautiful scenery and yummy food! I don’t think a roadtrip could get any better! Have a great weekend everyone! There will be one more post to come about the last few things we did in Daylesford, so do stay tuned! But for now, TGIF, be kind to one another and remember to always cook and bake with love! (:

Staycation : Little Japan

Happy Friday everyone! (: Sorry for the lack of post as I was away for the long weekend on a staycation with the Mr at Daylesford! I decided to give myself a break from doing anything and just concentrated on spending quality time with the hubs. I have to say, it was awesome! We were so excited as it was our first time going on a staycation and also exploring Daylesford, doing touristy things and trying the different cuisines they had to offer. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Because we had such a great time, I am going to use the next few posts to share with all of you what we did during the 3 days in the beautiful spa heaven, Daylesford. Hope you will enjoy and let the journey begin! (:

For those who don’t know, Dayeslford is just slightly more than an hour drive away from Melbourne. We were so blessed cause the day we drove up, the weather was just beautfiul – cloudless blue skies and the sun was shinning brightly! The long weekend couldn’t come at a better time.

The mr found and booked the most beautiful place for our stay : Shizuka Ryokan. It was like Japan hidden within Hepburn Springs! The moment we arrived, you could tell everything was going to be authentic! The architecture, the stone walkways and the best thing is, many of their staff are people from Japan doing holiday work! They were all really polite and warm, making us feel welcomed the moment we walked through the main door.

To get to our rooms that are behind glass doors for privacy, we had to walk through the lobby and dining area where breakfast would be served every morning. I absolutely adored the round hanging lights that covered the whole ceiling! If our lights weren’t fitted in when we bought it, I would have gotten similar ones. hehe

The rooms surrounds this beautiful zen garden that looked like it’s been worked o everyday just to make sure it stays perfect! Just looking at it makes me feel happy. Don’t really know why but I like it! hehe

Shizuka Ryokan is a spa retreat that customers go to relax, rejuvenate, indulge (in the spa treatments and food) and just be sucked into the tranquility of the environment. Because of that, the rooms are not equipped with television or any other form of distraction. It was great cause the mr and I were allowed to have heart to heart talks. Definitely something every couple should do!

I have to admit, when I first entered the room, I was a little shocked at the size of it. It is definitely smaller than your usual hotel room, but I really loved how cosy it feels! The whole room was covered with soft tatami mats and behind the delicate shoji screens was a small balcony that opens to a really pretty private garden. I couldn’t stop smiling and just kept snapping away on my phone! No doubt my favourite part of the room! (:

Our room came with a spa bath that we could use anytime before 10pm to not disrupt other guests’ rest. It overlooks the garden as well so while you enjoy the jacuzzi, you also get to enjoy the greens. The ultimate tranquility. We were also given lavender salts to use while having a bath. It definitely smelled amazing! Love how calm lavender makes you feel. The hotel also provides sandalwood bar soaps. Definitely super pampered this trip!

Once we settled in, we were served with some hot green tea and some matcha short bread. The short bread was delicious, I wish I had more! haha But that’s because I am a sucker for short bread. I think it’s the butter. Just love how it melts in your mouth, and these leave a delicate matcha flavour on my tongue after! YUM! Did you see a small white box at the corner with ribbons? Our package came with a box of famous truffles from the Chocolate Mill! WHEEEE! (: Will talk more about that in my next post! hehe

So back to the hotel. hehe We were booked in for a massage later that afternoon before dinner, so we had an hour to burn before our 60 minutes of bliss! hehe The mr started reading his book and I continued snapping photos. haha This is the shot I love of the mr #likeaboss! (:

Of course I couldn’t take any shots of when I’m getting my massage, but let me tell you. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. As I wrote on my form that I felt tightness on my shoulders and upper back, she really tried her best to help me feel less tension! Plus although we were booked in for just a normal relaxation massage, they used hot stones to help release the tension too! Amazing! Hot stone massages are my absolute favourite! I also learned an interesting fact, the area just abvoe your first ear piercing is connected to your shoulder and upper back. So when feeling sore, give it a soft squeeze and it would release that tension. Interesting aye? hehe  So I was super happy and felt totally relaxed after and definitely was ready for our 4 course banquet dinner (:

When we returned to our room, our room was transformed and shifted our tables to the side, to set up the traditional japanese futon beds! How comfy does it look? If not for the banquet, I would have just slept through the night hehe

So just in case you’re wondering, how come there is no food picutres, here they come! The package the mr got for us included a japanese feast, not to mention a bottle of champagne and red wine! haha We were given a choice to either have it in our room or in the dining area. But we chose to have it in the privacy of our sleeping quarters. hehe Course by course, the staff would politely knock on our doors, before serving us and explaining each course to us in detail.

Our first course was a selection of sushi and sashimi with a side of soba salad with sesame dressing. It was too pretty to eat if you ask me! And it felt like ages since we had sushi in this form, cause those you get from sushi sushi is a whole roll. These are much more delicate. It was actually my first time having inarizushi (sweet beancurd skin) and I really liked it! It wasn’t just stuffed with plain rice, but seasoned with seaweed and bonito flakes I think! Delish!

The second course is a medley of vegetable and prawn tempura. The batter was thin, light and really crispy. It was accompanied by a side of dipping sauce with grated ginger and daikon. As a kid, I used to only order tempura when I dined at Japanese restaurants. So when there was a course of tempura, I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I couldn’t stop chomming down everything. hehe

The third course was the hotpot course of beef sukiyaki, so I was expecting burners, raw food and cooking it on our own. haha But it was served all cooked and ready to be eaten! All that was needed to be done was to crack the egg in the bowl, beat it and dip the tender beef pieces into the egg before enjoying them. The beef pieces were so good, but I did think the broth was a tad bit too sweet for my liking. But it’s not just the one from here, I think that of all sukiyakis I’ve had. hehe

Our final course is no doubt something sweet to end the night on a high note : a trio dessert plate ! My favourite was the lemon lime cheesecake as it had a kick to it, the citrus flavour really stood out! The red azuki meringue had red azuki paste folded through the meringue so when you cut through it, it was actually pink on the inside! Really pretty. hehe The mr loved the chocolate and ginger ice cream! hehe I think he just loves anything ice cream to be honest, our freezer would be a judge of that. hehe

We were definitely super happy by the end of the first day. (: You could just tell from our smiles! hehe So if you’re deciding on where to go for a short trip, do consider staying here if you want to have a feel of staying in Japan! You won’t be disappointed!

PS : Just wanna thank the mr for planning this staycation. We both really needed it and it was really awesome being able to spend time with you with no distractions! 

Stay tuned for more eating and exploring adventures! Have a great weekend everyone! x

Remember to always cook and bake with love.