|Central Victoria has developed in leaps and bounds over the last five years. The new generation of farmers, who are producing high quality products, are adopting new farming methods with the focus on quality rather than quantity; they are the stars of our menu. Its an exciting time to be a part of Central Victoria, and in particular Bendigo, with the evidence of a growing food & wine trend.||B & B Basil
Our relationship with George & Jan, owners of B & B Basil began 8 years ago when we owned and operated The Bridge, Bendigo. Nick would take the short drive out to ‘The sheds (the hot houses) & have lengthy discussions with George on how he used the herbs & which varieties & sizes worked best for him. The micro herbs were a staple ingredient on our dishes.
Coming back to Bendigo six years later, its’ wonderful to see a thriving, multi-million dollar business with George’s micro herbs showcased on popular TV cooking shows & on top end restaurant menus around Australia & abroad.
BRESS is situated on the old Calder Highway, a short 20 minute drive from Bendigo heading toward Melbourne. Adam Marks, owner of the property invited us out for a tour and some wine tasting – who would refuse?
Custom Coffees is nestled in the historic Mayfair Park Estate in East Bendigo.
They are regional Victoria’s first coffee roaster and have been in operation for more than ten years; providing great coffee for commercial & domestic use.
More than fifty high quality single origin beans are sourced from around the globe to produce the broad range of complex blends, some of which are also Fairtrade organic coffees.
On offer is a range of coffees to suit most tastes and brewing methods.
The moment you step inside their door you are engulfed in the aroma of the coffee. It is well worth the visit to their factory outlet at 165a Strickland Road, East Bendigo.
Mason’s Blend is a collaboration between ourselves and the Master Roaster at Custom Coffees.
The menu also includes the wonderful Holy Goat Cheese made by Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda on a farm situated east of Castlemaine. As the name suggests, and as the quality of the cheese reflects; they have a respect and care for the natural environment as well as the health and well being of their herd. The cheeses are hand made using traditional French techniques to produce 100% certified organic goat’s cheese. Our favourite is the La Luna which has a creamy texture with amazing depth of flavour – nutty and citrusy it marries well with our Masons of Bendigo pinot jelly.
Word of mouth is a power tool, particularly in the country where everyone tends to know someone from somewhere. Sometimes you shudder hearing the latest gossip or who’s doing what and going where, but not so in the case of finding our meat supplier, James and Pat from Inglewood Dry Aged Beef (also Meats on Brooke Street). A chance meeting with an old friend at the local hardware store gave Nick a new lead. Into the car and off to Inglewood to see what the locals were raving about.
From Bendigo, Inglewood is a town on the drive up the A79 to Mildura, taking approximately 40 minutes from Bendigo city centre. James and Pat have transformed the local butcher shop, replacing just about everything, in order to accommodate the process of dry aging whole carcass. Approximately $8,000 worth of meat can be hanging at one time in the temperature controlled cool room & with the butcher shop out front, anyone can pop by and pick up some tasty meat for their next barbeque or evening meal. Its not uncommon for Bendigo folk to make the weekly journey for their meat – that is the strength of quality in their meat.
We are delighted to showcase their beef & lamb on our menu, as well as their sourced duck & quail.
McIvor Farms is a half hour drive from Heathcote, in the town of Tooborac. Jason & Belinda are third generation farmers on this property and have renovated and live in the original homestead. The old butcher shop Jason’s grandfather operated and ran is now their retail store. They have kept some of the original pieces of equipment and records from that time which further enrich the story of the farm.
Only a short walk from Lake Weeroona, and close to the Joss House, PepperGreen Farm is a tucked away community park for horticulture & environmental education as well as preserving the culture of Bendigo past. This was originally the site of the Chinese market garden with a recent discovery of a Chinese kiln dating back to 1859.
The farm is now run by Access Employment, an agency encouraging local people with disabilities into the workforce. After driving past one day & noticing the farm, Nick phoned the agency and arranged a meeting with Ros, the farm’s horticultural co-coordinator. The family was invited out to see what was growing and to meet the team. The kids had the opportunity to pick zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, radish & daikon. Long rows of rhubarb were growing as well as eggplant & we discussed the possibility of them growing and supplying our restaurant with vegetables – all organically grown. As it is a not for profit organization, we offered to donate the seeds for them to plant & nurture until ready for harvest.
A sample of one of the dishes featuring PepperGreen Farms produce may read; ‘PepperGreen Farm grilled zucchini salad, toasted pine nuts, mint, fennel, goat’s cheese & salsa verdi’
For more information http://www.accessemployment.com.au/
Werona Olive Oil is owned and operated by Ken & Liz. When you turn up Heagneys Road and approach Werona Olive Oil Farm, you cant help but notice the rows of olive trees lining the rises in this green countryside. Ken & Liz planted 1,000 olive trees ten years ago and nurtured them through the toughest drought conditions over that period of time. They maintain the orchard themselves & the passion and commitment come through in the quality of their olive oil. With the drought now over, they are able to produce this beautiful olive oil, full of flavour and without the peppery, harshness of some olive oils. It’s an excellent oil to finish dishes and use as an oil to dip your favourite sourdough bread. We are excited to be using this product and also having it available to purchase in a 500ml tin for you to take home and enjoy.
Nick made the hour journey along the Graytown Road to meet and talk chickens with Ian & Mandy from Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chicken. The chickens are left to free roam in fenced off lots and rotated onto fresh grass each day. The farm is chemical free and managed holistically to improve the health of the soil, plants and animals. The result is a bird full of flavour & bigger in size.
For more information check out their website at www.ymg.com.au