Foodie Pleasures of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges
Up for an escape? Yarra Ranges Tourism invited The World Loves Melbourne to indulge in a two-day food, wine and scenic experience. Only an hour away, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges will satisfy your cravings for simple pleasures and the finer things in life. As you journey through the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges there are delights to enjoy from the region’s stunning producers. Check out our Best Yarra Valley Wineries.
Our journey begins in the Yarra Valley.
Davydd who hails from Florence owns Gelaperia in Healesville. He brings high-level artistry to gelato and sorbetto making. He uses the finest locally sourced ingredients to create gelato that is a pleasure to the palette. He favours seasonal flavours like plums, peaches and persimmons. The staff are warm and engaging, this place is popular with both locals and day trippers alike.
We were lucky enough to attend a master class taught by Davydd. The class was very hands on. We donned an apron and got to work. We selected our fruit of choice and got to work, measuring, mixing and churning to produce perfect gelato. From this lesson I am pretty confident that I will be able to make gelato at home.
We created plum gelato and Fior di Latte and took home our delicious creations.
Want to experience a bit of royalty and refinement? Then visit Coombe Farm Estate the home of opera sensation Dame Nellie Melba. For years this beautiful estate has been hidden behind a large hedge. It has undergone a facelift and has been unveiled in a tasteful and stunning renovation that gives you a window into an iconic period in Victorian and world history.
We took a tour around the grounds the historical homestead was built by Dame Nellie Melba. It features one of Victoria's oldest pools, Charlie Chaplin even swam there. We loved the peacock chairs on the verandah and caught a glimpse of a rooftop entertaining area. Is this Melbourne's original rooftop bar?
Dame Nellie Melba was a bold woman for the age and promoted women's causes such as the suffragettes. She operated an "open house" where friends such as painters Heysen and Streeton would "pop in", you’ll see some of their paintings on display.
A stroll around the stunning 2.8 hectare gardens offered a plethora of highlights. William Guilefoyle, the same talented designer of the Royal Botanic Gardens, designed the Coombe Farm Estate. Some of our favourite garden delights were the the large hedge of 700 metres that envelopes the property and the captivating Japanese wisterias. The beckoning of secret garden spaces, we enjoyed our stroll amongst the croquet lawn and cypress hedges.
We headed inside to admire the collection in the gallery and were impressed by Dame Melba's collection of 14 Louis Vuitton bags. The estate also features a James Halliday 5-star rated Cellar Door. Definitely taste the award winning Blanc de Blanc.
After our tour we dined at Coombe Cottage restaurant. Come here for lunch or their famous high tea (only $55 including the tour is amazing value). The menu is savvy with a foodie touch. We started our taste journey with smoked trout, sorrel, Yarra Valley Bulls Eye cheese, and Desiree potato croquettes. The snapper fillet with heirloom tomatoes, basil and caper berries was also on song, paying homage to the superb fish fillet. We were in awe of the smoked duck breast with confit leg spring roll, rocket, radish, pickled plum, orange jus. It was one of the best duck dishes we'd encountered for some time.
The restaurant was full of character and lies within a restored motor house and historic clock tower. Its huge glass windows overlook the spectacular gardens. This place is dreamy. Inside the restaurant is a world of copper and wood, with large elm trees presiding outside.
The World Loves Melbourne is always on the lookout for impressive artisan wines and Yarra Yeringin Gruyere near Healesville is a winery of distinction. It features some of the best and most iconic wines in Australia.
Dr Carrodus was a visionary who established the winery upon European styles. He was one of the pioneering winemakers who brought the Yarra Valley back to grape in the 1970s. Dr Carrodus was a perfectionist and would pour wines down the drain if they didn't meet his high standards. His wines, like his labels, rarely changed. There was Dry Red No. 1, a blend of classic Bordeaux grape varieties, and Dry Red No. 2, a Cote Rotie style blend of shiraz and viognier.
For a small fee, they will take you through their premium reserve wines and back vintages. Sit at a table by the open fire as you taste and enjoy the fine views under the watchful eyes of the cellar door cat.
Located on the main street of Healesville is The Sweet Olive. It is a delicatessen and wine bar. The displays showcases premium cured meats, specialty cheeses, fine Italian pastas, local wines, lunch specials and even evening tapas delights. The owners are living their foodie dream, inspired by their holidays in Europe.
The Sweet Olive create their own sweets like chocolate mint infusions and sensational fudge. Your foodie gourmet needs are covered here. Fancy some fresh burrata? Buffalo mozzarella? The Sweet Olive creates specials such as spiced squash soup with orange and coriander yoghurt. Or house cured salmon, pink grapefruit and shaved fennel. This is the perfect place to stock your pantries for a dinner party.
Famous for its high quality fare Healesville Hotelis one of the best dining experiences in regional Victoria. It was one of the first "gastropubs" to kick off the gastropub renaissance. Healesville Hotel has been consistently exciting diners for years with its fresh regional and seasonal produce.
The Quince dining room is the place to experience the menu from head chef Zoe Birch. She has a passion for food and makes most things from scratch including sourdough bread, cultured butter and pickled vegetables. The kitchen draws on the inspiration of its own garden. Come here for house made pickles, cauliflower cheese croquettes, smoked fish pie, slow cooked pigs jowl and corn fed maltose duck breast. The butcher selection is very popular such as Sher Wagyu rump (marble score seven) or Kitchen & Butcher grass fed Black Angus eye fillet.
You can order a la carte but we chose the shared table menu, which was great value for 5 courses. The house made bread and accompaniments were superb, as was the shucked oyster, cauliflower cheese croquettes and Yarra Valley salmon roe, cracker and sour cream starters. We complimented our meal with the Pimpernel #2 Pinot Noir.
The Healesville Hotel charcuterie plate of local produce was a triumph with an expansive array of produce. Slow cooked pigs jowl with apple, radicchio and mustard was cooked perfectly, while the grass fed O'Connor's porterhouse, house cut fries, spinach, Zoe's mustard and salsa verde was a compelling dish. The fare portrays fine modern cuisine with rustic touches. Desserts harkened to our childhood with large toasted marshmallow and lemon curd doughnuts.
YV Refreshmentsis a cafe at a railway station it serves legendary coffee, baked goods, soups and they even run hugely popular dumpling nights! Classic nostalgia combines with a touch of Scandinavian means you can get green smoothies or have a killer sausage roll.
A local hang out, Refreshments makes great use of the decommissioned Healesville railway station. The place is so charming, check out the old "Refreshments" sign on the platform, the red caboose and if you are lucky you might notice a tray of tomatoes in the sun.
The food is simple and affordable and includes exceptional toasties, delicious baguettes, frittatas, and super food salads. Dr Marty's crumpets are served with Cunliffe & Waters jam or local honey. The dumpling nights are legendary with hundreds of people queuing for six varieties of dumplings served from an adjacent food truck.
Kitchen & Butcher is a food haven, a one-stop shop in Healesville. This place provides fresh produce in overdrive. Load-up and bring the finest of produce back home. Think charcuterie, gourmet sausages, fine cuts, as well as specialty cheeses and other fresh produce. Kitchen & Butcher also excels when it comes to catering and take home food. Yarra Valley gift hampers are on offer and they run popular workshops.
Cheese expert Sophie, spent 11 years at Richmond Hill & Larder and sources the best local and international cheeses. Come here for slow roasts, pork and fennel sausages, grass fed Black Angus and popular duck burgers.
On our second day, we headed to Seasons restaurant at Cloudehill in Olinda for lunch.
During our visit autumn was on full show with hues of copper, red, yellow and purple tones. Seasons is housed within a 1930s converted weatherboard house. Food at Seasons is smart and honest, with a nod to local and seasonal produce. The slow roasted pork belly served with pan-fried potatoes, and house made apple cider sauce was a superb dish, as was the chicken burger with spinach, beetroot and spiced yoghurt on home made buttermilk bun served with sweet potato chips.
The desserts were delicious we had the baked raspberry cheesecake and lemon curd tart, both served with double cream and strawberries.
We finished the day at Hargreaves Hillin Yarra Glen, a perfect place for craft beer and food lovers - a bold brewery leading the charge on seasonal beers.
On the rise, Hargreaves Hill offers an open window into the craft beer adventure with a smart engaging dining room and bar. Not a flashy large facility, the bar is limited to only a few stools and provides an intimate rewarding experience. Three of the rooms in this converted old bank have a stunning fireplace, where in winter the atmosphere is warm and inviting.
When we arrived at Hargreaves Hill, we sampled the beer tasting board. It showcased the diversity of Hargreaves’ range. The World Loves Melbourne is familiar with the Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale, but we found the stout, the IPA and the pilsener equally seductive.
We had the pleasure of spending time with Beth Williams, one of the co-owners of Hargreaves Hill. She is an interesting character who trained as a professional opera singer. While some craft beer breweries project a full hipster style, Hargreaves Hill has a sense of adventure peppered with a tone of finery and class. Beth spoke about their ever-evolving beer brewing business, which is expanding into interstate markets.
We tip our hat to Hargreaves Hill, the bar features seasonal beers on taps including a Belgian beer. Food here is impressive and beers are readily matched. Hervey Bay Scallops with garlic crumb and white radish remoulade was a dish to rave about. Stunning also was the fish pie with scallops, trevally, prawns, braised leek, fennel and parmesan mash, as well as the 200g Black Angus eye fillet with pea puree, potato and thyme galette, and seeded mustard jus. Sides of rosemary and sea salt smashed chats and green beans with almonds and ricotta were the perfect accompaniments.
We had an extraordinary two days in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges and you can too either on your own adventure or by winning this awesome prize…
WIN THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE
Find yourself in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges with an ultimate weekend getaway for two people.
We’ll be flying you direct by helicopter with Microflite from Melbourne CBD to the Yarra Valley, where you’ll be staying for two nights in private luxury.
Start your first full day with a sunrise balloon flight with Global Ballooning Australia, then explore the spectacular Dandenong Ranges.
You’ll get to explore the wineries, farm gates and breweries on an exclusive tour with Yarra Valley Transfers, lunch at TarraWarra Estate before being flown back to Melbourne by Microflite helicopter.
The competition closes on 31 July 2015 and is open to Australian residents 21 years and over, except residents from ACT and NSW.