Wild Cattle Creek Estate – Shed Fest 2011 – Yarra Valley

I’ve never been down the Warburton side of the Yarra Valley but last month a number of wineries down this area hold an annual event called Shed Fest which showcases the south end of the Yarra Valley. The wineries open their cellar doors or in some cases their shed and offer wine tasting, food and entertainment. All you need to do is pay $10.00 for a Shed Fest wine glass and then off you go winery hopping. A good family event to put in your calendars for next year.

Coming from the city end through to Lilydale then Warburton, the first winery you’ll come across on the left is Wild Cattle Creek. Such a beautiful winery which hosts accomodation, functions, a restaurant, cellar door and fantastic screnery.

I was able to speak with Kevin and Heather who run Wild Cattle Creek, who I think are absolutely lovely people and answered all my questions about the place. Make sure you say “Hi!” to them for me. I also got to take a picture with them (see picture below).

Kevin, Heather & Me

During Shed Fest each winery are required to provide a set menu of small dishes which Wild Cattle Creek provided but the food they served is not part of their normal menu but the food was great and well presented. Must come back and try their restaurant.

Having a wonder around the property, I thought to myself as I’m in the process of getting married this would be a really nice place to have a wedding. Unfortunately we require an asian style menu catered for but talking to Kevin they do a large number of weddings every year. So if you’re looking for a winery wedding *hint* *hint*.

Gazebo with Water Fountain in the background

I shall be back to try out the restaurant and possibly stay at their accommodation. There’s always something new to try out in the Yarra Valley. I did enjoy a number of their wines but I’m not an expert so I can’t comment much on that. Sorry guys, I guess you’ll need head down there to find out. Their cellar door should always be open as it’s in the restaurant foyer.

Location: 473 Warburton Hwy, Seville VIC 3139
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Tokar Estate Winery & Restaurant – Yarra Valley

Have you ever been driving down the Maroondah Hwy through Coldstream on the way to Healesville and seen the Spanish style, beautiful orange roof buildings amongst acres and hills of grape vines and trees?

Well, that place is Tokar Estate Winery. Having been to Healsville several times and eaten at Bella Vedere, I wanted to checkout Tokar Estate Winery solely because of its picturesque views of the valley and skyline.

Obviously this shows that harvest is finished, winter has kicked in, the air crisp and cold but the views still take your breath away. Tokar Estate is not all about the wines, they also have a beautiful family owned restaurant with inside and alfresco dining open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant is run by Leon and Rita Tokar who are very lovely hosts and gave their time to talk to myself and my partner and answered all the questions we threw at them.We arrived for lunch took some beautiful pictures outside and made our way into the restaurant. We built ourselves a little bit of an appetite and didn’t waste any time to order. We learnt that the menu changes every 2 weeks or so depending on some of the produce from the local markets and the vegetables and herbs they grow in the garden.

We also learnt from Leon that there’s no beef farmers in the Yarra Valley so it’s obviously sourced elsewhere but there is a game meat supplier in the area which they source venison and rabbit from (yummm!). Unfortunately they weren’t on the menu that day. To wet our taste pallets we ordered a tasting plate of liver parfait, bruchetta, cheese and other nibblies.

The tasting plate definitely got the ball rolling and my favourite was the liver parfait with crackers and a bit of this pickled radish type side. Also tried some mushroom soup which was creamy and delish.For mains we had a Salmon with potato kipflers dressed in honey mustard sauce and a beef steak served with a layered potato slice and vegetables.To complement our dishes our waiter suggested the Chardonnay for our entrees and Tokar’s signature wine the Tempranillo for our mains. Good choice waiter! The Tempranillo went very well with the steak. Next time we serve up some steak for dinner I’m going get the family to try this out.Now to my favourite course, dessert. My partner and I were keen to get one dessert to share but then our wandering and greedy eyes got us ordering the assiette of desserts (served on one large late) which landed us three very nice and super good tasting desserts.Here we have a dark chocolate ganache tart served with homemade vanilla ice-cream. To get the full enjoyment out of it you had to eat each component combined with the vanilla ice-cream.Above we have the chocolate moose served with a berry side. This was my partners favorite and I couldn’t agree more. The moose and tart it was in cased in was beautiful and together with the berry, it was a match made in heaven.The cheesecake looked amazing and instead of a biscuit base there’s macadamia nuts which go really well with the cheesecake and don’t forget to have it with the vanilla consummate.I waited until the restaurant cleared a little so I could take this wonderful picture of the view from inside the restaurant. If you’re seated near the window or sitting out on the alfresco dining area you can enjoy the beautiful food, fresh air and picturesque scenery of the valley. Perfect for a romantic day or night out and make sure to book on the weekends as they can get quite busy.Tokar Estate Winery and Restaurant has been ticked off on my Yarra Valley to do list and can be put onto my to visit again in spring or summer list. The tasting plate and desserts were the highlights for me and I enjoyed the Tempranilla wine which I will be trying again. Good food, good wine and great scenery makes Tokar Estate a must do on the Yarra Valley list.

A big thank you to Yarra Valley Secrets for organising a table for me at Tokar Estate on a very last minute notice and thank you to Leon and Rita Tokar for their very warm hospitality.

Location: 6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream, VIC 3770
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Phone: (03) 5964 9585


Good Food and Wine Show 2011 – Melbourne – Part 2

Melbourne Exhibition Centre hosts the biggest and best shows, exhibitions and entertainment that come to Melbourne and the Good Food and Wine Show is not an exception.

Where to start? I had the opportunity to go on Friday night and again on Saturday. Boy, did I enjoy the not so busy Friday over the overly crowded getting push around crowd on Saturday. Put on your comfy shoes because you’ll be doing a whole lot of walking unless you’re watching a cooking show or eating at the central cafe tasting Marion or Poh’s recipes.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make time to eat at any of them because of the large amounts of tasters and samples I had at almost every stand and I had already made plans for a big dinner on both nights. But most importantly I took advantage of the necklace wine holder which I opted for just in case I get tipsy and leave the glass somewhere (come on, it can happen) Choose from the 5 different colours ($10) or opt for just a wine glass for $3. Either way, you’ll be making the most of the glass (trust me)
Don’t want to go to South Australia and visit the Barossa Valley? Then the GFSW brought them to you.Had a few too many drinks here and everywhere. There was a whole section (very large section) for just wine and beer, it was crazy but surprisingly tamed.

 What I Loved at the Show

The following are the stands, products, food and drinks I loved at the GFWS 2011:

St-Germain is a liqueur infused with elderflower blossoms. If you haven’t tried elderflower before, you’re missing out. The elderflower just calls out to you when you have a sip.

You couldn’t have missed the MiniMelts ice-cream stand. I think I went past 2 or 3 times. I tried the banana split, bubblegum and the cookies & cream (favourite). I only see this ice-cream available at events and festivals. I want more.

I love Japanese sake, hot or cold. Their plum wine was too sweet for me but it was nice, maybe with something savoury. They sell their wine at Dan Murphy’s so definitely going to grab a couple of bottles for my next drink up.

Ingham’s Chicken & Turkey burgers probably had the longest line of people waiting all day but the wait wasn’t as long as I had thought as their samples were cooking non-stop throughout the day. Well done Ingham.

Appletisers!!!! A simple drink but sooo refreshing, right? I probably sampled this 5 times. OK I lie more like 7 or 8 times. A bit overkill with the number of girls stationed around a small table but who cares? I got my drinks and I was happy.

My finance and I are looking to renovate the kitchen so we couldn’t go past the Fisher & Paykel kitchen display, not that we’re looking for those types of kitchens but wouldn’t it be a dream to have one of these installed in your kitchen?That’s right, a draw fridge hidden away. Cool but not necessary. Another cool thing, was one of their quotes.
I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to quick easy DIY things. Creative Gourmet’s Smoothie Cubes, yup the one on the commercial, did it for me. Went straight to Coles after the show, used the 1/2 price voucher and got me a couple of smoothie cubes for home.

And last but not least. Coopers Beer Garden, where everything stops, you get to relax and knock back a nice cold beer.Here’s the literal meaning of Cooper’s Beer Garden.


Celebrity Spotting

There were several spots you were definitely going to find a celebrity chef.

1. Celebrity Theatre – I saw Gary and George’s show – they pulled a few rude jokes (cover your ears kids) but they made me laugh, but the show wasn’t overly exciting. Sorry 🙂

2. GoodFood Magazine stage – Gary, George, Manu and more of them did cooking demos on this stage (get a bigger screen next time, couldn’t see the food)

3. The book signing area – Buy their book and get it signed!

4. Special guest appearances at a number of the stands – Got to take a picture with Poh Ling Yeow which was awesome! Her smile and laugh is infectious! And saw Callum briefly at one of the stands.

What I took home

You can’t go home empty handed from the show but you don’t want to drag the whole show with you while you walk around (unless you brought or bought a trolley), so when you’re ready to go home, track back to your favourite spots and pick up your shopping.
Here’s what I took home:
Rebello’s Cheeky Rascal Ciders – Three flavours of cider. Apple, apple & raspberry and apple & strawberry. I liked all three so I took a set home with me.
Who doesn’t like chocolate? I couldn’t turn down Ritter Sport’s chocolate’s 4 for $10 grabbing the butter biscuit, white chocolate, almond and my favourite cornflakes flavour. Brought it to work to share and it disappeared in a blink of an eye. Everyone enjoyed the cornflakes and butter biscuit chocolate.

Preshafruit is my kind of fruit juice, although as a diabetic it could be a little less sweet. The first time I came across this fruit juice was at Earl Canteen, never seen it before that. We took home the Apple & Raspberry 1L bottle 🙂
This was definitely an impulse buy but I like my peanut butter and jam sandwich’s and my fiance liked the carry container that came with it if we bought 2. Suckers!Last but not least, Gu Chocolate Puds was another surprising favourite where people were flocking to taste and once you tasted it you were automatically lured into buying everything.With a VIP pass to their stand I got to try their chocolate pudding with a generous ration of ganache in the middle. The chocolate was rich and nice but the ganache in the centre was the winner. I also tried their lime cheesecake which I absolutely loved, it had a nice zesty tinge to it and it was so smooth and creamy and the biscuit base complemented it well.So in the end, we ended up getting the Gu pack for $15 which included 2 of the chocolate bites (got Rocky Road & Caramel – Both very good) and a choice of the cheesecakes and pudding but we loved the lime cheesecakes so much we got THREE of them!!!

What I should of tried

Things I should of tried or regret not doing:

  • Baking demo at the Sunbeam section. I need to learn the basics 🙂
  • Poh or Marion’s Receipes. 🙁
  • The hot chilli covered salami. OK, maybe not.

The GFWS was fun, plenty of food to try, celebrities to see and it was absolutely tiring. Word of advice, if you have kids or babies, go on Friday or Sunday. Less people and you’ll have more freedom with your prams. Now I can’t wait to try all the good things I took away from the weekend and all the new favourite food and drinks I want to try from the show.

A very special thank you to Ogilvy for the opportunity to personally meet Poh and James Lang (Director of GFWS) and for the Goodie bag and special VIP tastings from GU chocolate puds and much more.

I also liked the Malaysia Kitchen stand but my post was getting mega long so I did a seperate post on them. You can find that post here.


Bella Vedere – Fresh Produce from the Yarra Valley

Bella Vedere Sign Post
Bella Vedere, I learnt Italian when I was in high school and I definitely know Bella means Beautiful. With “Vedere”, I mistakenly thought it was Verde which is the colour Green in Italian so I had to look the word Vedere up. Google says it means ‘to see’, ‘to look at’, ‘meet’, ‘visit’, etc…

So If I put the two words together, “Bella Vedere”, I would say it means something like Beautiful To See. But I went further and consulted Google Translate and it told me it means Nice To See.

OK, enough Italian for today. Lets talk about Bella Vedere. Gary Cooper is part owner and head chef of Bella Vedere and has maintained a one hat Michelin rating for Bella Vedere three years in a row. I can’t believe I ate there and didn’t realise he was in the kitchen cooking my lunch (If I paid more attention I would of taken a photo with him).As you drive in, you’re greeted with a lovely town house building with some grape plantation on either side. The grapes were covered, most likely to protect the grapes as it was a week before harvest time when I went.The front is welcoming, with a small section on the right dedicated for wine tasting and on the left is the Bella Bakehouse for when you walk into the restaurant you are drawn in by the freshly baked bread.As you walk past the small bakery, you see a wall of local produce. Did I mention, Bella Vedere is known for using local produce that make up their menu and the menu always changes from season to season or available stock.In the back, they have their own garden where a number of their vegetables and fruits are sourced from. You can also see their neighbour from the garden which from memory was Oakridge Vineyard which looked spectacular.On the left hand side of the corridor directly after the jars of local produce you are tempted with freshly baked cakes and dessert. I think the first dessert pictured below is tiramisu. If you duck your head and have a peek inside the kitchen, the chef’s are very welcoming and are happy to say hello. The restaurant is nice and cosy, white clothed tables, dressed with cutlery for a three course meal, freshly baked bread and fresh flowers and produce from the garden. There’s also a bar and an open kitchen for all to see.The waiters were very helpful and polite and offered water and wine as we settled onto our table. There were 7 of us for lunch and we heard great things about this restaurant so we weren’t about to hold back. We started with entree…scampi…Ox Tounge salad…Thickly Cut chips with egg and another one with some special sauceWhile we were waiting for the food, some of us went outside to look at the garden and as everyone walked back in Miss J, casually started a convo with one of the chefs. Who convinced her to order some smoked or grilled eel that he was preparing. Later on we realised she was speaking to Gary Cooper. The eel’s skin was quite rubbery but was warned by Gary to take off the skin. I think the eel was grilled but it had a real smokey flavour to it which I didn’t mind.
Not onto the lunch mains…don’t let the pictures deceive you, these dishes were a treat and I would recommend all of them but then again, when you visit the restaurant, the menu most likely would of changed or there would be a slight variant.
Half a duck, looks small on photo but looked fairly large on the plate.Next we have quail. The entree serves one quail and the main serves two. If you’re not hungry I suggest just the one will satisfy you.A thinly slice minute cooked steak is next on the list which we though was going to be a small dish but it was fairly sized and filled up the two that ordered it. It looks thick on the photo, but it’s actually a thin slice of beef ontop of mash potato or vegetables.My favourite was probably the rabbit dish which I scabbed some off Miss J. The dish looks small on the photo but it was a generous serving of rabbit.Two of us were game enough to try something that sounds pretty disgusting but as foodies, we were up for anything. And that dish was “LAMB BRAINS“!!! I’m not pulling your leg, look at the pictures below. It was pure lamb brains with a nice tangy sauce.Here’s a close up of the lamb brains with the outer layer peeled off. YUMMMMM!!!I have to admit, it did get a bit sickening after the 5th piece. It would of been nice with some rice, in my opinion.

We made sure we made some room for dessert. A bit of tiramisu, strawberry cheesecake & a rich chocolate ganache cake with a biscuit casing.

I came with little expectation and an empty stomach and either way I definitely enjoyed the dishes, the setting, the service, the company and the fresh air of the country side. Make it a day trip, there’s definitely plenty to do in the Yarra Valley area. Make sure to visit some other places around the area such as Domaine Chandon, Little Creatures Brewery, The White Rabbit Brewery, Healsville Sanctuary and so much more.

Location:874 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC 3770
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