Daylesford Adventure with Honda Food Trail
Daylesford is one of the most compelling regions in Australia and The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed an amazing foodie adventure as part of the Honda Food Trail to Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges. Our adventure included the two hatted, AFR Australian Top 100 (no 30) Lake House, historic Daylesford Hotel, Tuki Trout Farm, cafes in Daylesford's Vincent Street, The Boathouse, Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens and Wombat Hill Cafe, and a short trip to Trentham.
Setting out from Melbourne in the Honda HR-V, a stunning compact SUV, we hit the freeway in fine motoring style. Soon we arrived at Tuki Trout Farm, an outstanding experience built upon three generations of this family business about 1 1/2 hours from Melbourne. Sam was adept with the fishing rod but it was David who caught the almost 1kg trout, then cleaned and gutted and cooked over hot coals, ready to eat within minutes. Fish trout from one of six ponds, and learn how to clean and cook the fish to enjoy for your lunch. You're guaranteed to catch a fish and we loved the experience. Many families have been coming here for years as a fun destination.
Robert and Jan are superb hosts with country hospitality. Sit on the enclosed deck and imbibe your fresh trout while taking in the sweeping views all the way to the Grampians. Tuki Trout Farm are also known for their amazing steak and lamb, and the house made apple pie. Loved the pink flesh and flavour of the trout!
The all new Honda HR-V was highly responsive, fuel efficient, smooth to drive and we enjoyed the seat warming and side and rear cameras. Not to mention ample leg room in the back and the leather trim on this model.
The historic Daylesford Hotel was our base and home in Daylesford. This grand hotel is over 150 years old and has been stunningly renovated in recent times. We stayed in the well-appointed Apartment upstairs, also boasting spectacular views over the region. The hotel is short walking distance to many of the shops and cafes, particularly in Vincent Street. We were made to feel welcome by publican Graham, and we enjoyed our stay. Built in 1856 the historic Daylesford Hotel is an ode to the Victorian era with a modern touch.
Chesterfields and quality decor at historic Daylesford Hotel...
We then strolled down Vincent Street, taking in some of the cafes and shops such as Larder Cafe, Jimmy's Bar and Cafe Koulka at Frangos & Frangos, Himalayan Bakery and Cafe and Bocconcini. We enjoyed afternoon tea at Jimmy's Bar and Cafe (above) where the fit out is upmarket, even spectacular.
Checking back to our room we visited Daylesford Hotel for dinner. The simple menu descriptions belied the quality of the food. The Charcuterie Plate was fabulous, enjoyed with local beer and wine.
What an enchanting town is Daylesford, full of stately iconic buildings...
A signature at Daylesford Hotel is the house made pie with mash and peas. The pastry was fluffy and rewarding, and the pie filling was generous with high quality beef cooked perfectly. We commented on the gravy/jus and were told it takes three days to make. The creamy mash was welcomed.
The World Loves Melbourne loved the country feel of this renovated pub, with stained glass windows and open fireplace.
Daylesford boasts top notch culinary destinations. After checking out of Daylesford Hotel we headed to the The Boathouse for breakfast. This place has a stunning vista of Lake Daylesford all around, so try to get a window seat. With a smart menu and breathtaking views, it's hard to beat. Our waiter was cheerful and eager to please.
The Boathouse has quickly established itself as a mecca for fresh, regional produce and delicious food, only 3 minutes drive from the centre of town. Head Chef Christian Reuther has drawn on his vast experience to craft an interesting menu that reflects the Spa Country's paddock to plate ethos.
Check out the stunning vista from The Boathouse. We went for a relaxing stroll around Lake Daylesford. Open to the public since 1930, Lake Daylesford has become a main attraction for visitors and regularly used by locals. It's a haven for bird life and a great place to relax, enjoy a picnic or take a scenic walk to enjoy the glorious views.
The Boathouse also boasts this mounted rowing boat; it really is a boathouse!
The World Loves Melbourne loved this Farmers Skillet breakfast, with baked egg, istra chorizo, Nicola potatoes, capsicum and Gruyere cheese. This dish was a hearty rustic breakfast in the perfect location.
Sam enjoyed the Granola, a generous serving with quality ingredients.
Our next stop was Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens and Wombat Hill Cafe. This delightful cafe was a perfect spot for a light morning tea.
The Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens is an enchanting place to visit any time of the year. The gardens are built on top of an extinct volcano known as Wombat Hill, which can be seen from most locations in Daylesford.
The culinary highlight was our visit to the Lake House in Daylesford with iconic Alla and Allan Wolf-Tasker, foodie visionaries who operate one of the best restaurants in Australia. What a thrill for The World Loves Melbourne to meet Alla Wolf-Tasker at lunch; her burning passion for food and hospitality after over 30 years is inspiring.
We were greeted by Larissa Wolf-Tasker on arrival , a charming host who showed us some of the new developments on the property including a large wine cellar and the Waterfront Pavilion (perfect place for a wedding reception). Larissa told us about her grandparents coming from Europe to Australia years ago and how the family bought up land in the region. The culture they brought to Australia was a "if you love someone you feed them" philosophy.
Alla Wolf-Tasker did much of her culinary training in France; the romance of the food but also the journeys and adventures in the provinces was unforgettable. The current property was purchased at the end of the 1970's with a vision for a culinary destination. Alla Wolf-Tasker literally changed the culinary scene. It wasn't like people road bikes down the lane with loaves of French bread in their baskets. This was hardcore potato country and Alla Wolf-Tasker brought unprecedented innovation to the scene.
Back in those days Allan Wolf-Tasker was immersed in an alternative art studio in St Kilda and Alla Wolf-Tasker ran a cooking school and catering business in Melbourne. On the weekends they would spend time at their Daylesford property, and opened the doors for the restaurant in 1984. They say they are a 30 year overnight sensation.
Larissa told us the attitude to the development back in 1984 was that "if it doesn't work it will be a nice country house." But look at it all today! Now over 120 staff employed! Accommodation, function rooms and spa facilities, as well as the restaurant - yet there was never a grand master plan. Just an evolvement in sync with the Wolf-Tasker passion. So much heart and soul here, and the stunning result of large dreams. Says Larissa, "Real hospitality people clutch the heart and then wear it on their sleeve." Here you will find what Larissa calls "the united nations of Lake House." People are here from all over the world, specialists in their culinary field. Larissa also speaks of the "united sense of global hospitality" where hospitality people come together from across the world to enhance each other and pitch in where needed.
Come here to the Lake House to be happy. Here you will find that hospitality is about pure joy and theatre.
Extraordinary are the Oxtail and marrow dumplings, winter consomme, truffled butter brioche. This is the perfect winter dish with the hearty and rich oxtail and marrow flavours. Earthy but majestic and delicate. We understand diners can't get enough of these dumplings. The truffled butter brioche was a surprise, the brioche was light enough to mop up some of the compelling broth. We didn't expect so much truffle. The wait staff commented, "when you do truffle you need to do truffle." No holding back.
Stunning was this Carpaccio of kingfish, spanner crab, lime, mint, jalapeno, green gazpacho. This was a silky combination of a cacophony of the best sea flavours. Sam remarked on the generosity of these treasured parcels. Presentation was first class.
A highlight was the Shared plate for 2 of Flinders Island rump of saltgrass lamb, roasted with Moroccan flavours, tagine of winter vegetables, mint labna, parsley, pine nut, currant, coriander salad, harissa. Sam remarked this was the best lamb she'd ever eaten; perfectly cooked with a tinge of pink. There was crunch and sweetness, and we enjoyed the refreshment of the mint labna.
Dessert was exceptional with Shared plate for 2 - Winter harvest - apple tarte tatin, chestnut, sultana, parsnip, Muscat. This was a golden triumph of sweet fruit symphony. An amazing rendition of a French classic.
Lake House enthralls with new The Waterfront Pavilion...
Breathtaking vistas of Lake Daylesford at Lake House.
Our final journey was to Trentham and to Red Beard Bakery, in a shed like structure down a side lane off the main street. Judging by the crowds, this is the place to be.
What an amazing culinary journey! Thanks to Honda for the HR-V and the #HondaFoodTrail.