When friends from California told us they were planning to visit after attending a wedding in the Philippines I went into overdrive, especially when their first point of call was my new home town. This happens to be an hour and half from Melbourne and they are keen foodies!
Chance would have it they booked an Airbnb centrally and it actually belonged to a good friend of mine having turned down offers of accommodation with me or my friend.
I met Stacy and Perry on a food tour in Sri Lanka a few years ago. A year or so later we went on another food trip in North India. I managed to spend a day with them in San Francisco after a trip to Mexico and Cuba.
As they had flown in from Manila to Melbourne I knew they might be exhausted (having to get up for their flight at 3 am) so I offered to prepare a platter of local goodies to share when they arrived at their Airbnb. I wanted to showcase local products too – bread from Sprout bakery, prosciutto, terrine and rillets from Oakwood smallgoods, Holy Goat cheese – a prize winning local goats cheese and some homemade chicken liver pate, home grown cherry tomatoes, pickled cucumber and red peppers. Some quince paste and a mushroom paste completed the platter. And in case they were still hungry a chocolate and red wine bundt cake and some homemade fudge.
With the stiffling hot weather I had made use of the Airbnb’s frig and added a six pack of Aussie beer and a bottle of local processio. This meant they could have share some food and wine whilst relaxing and go to sleep when tiredness took over.
One of the things Stacy requested was a visit to the local Botanical Gardens where I am a regular visitor with my retired and rescued greyhound on her daily walk. But before that we had to showcase some essential Aussie items and introduce our friends to some dinky die pastries in the form of a meat pie! That only meant Johnny Baker which is a local institution renowned for its quality sweet and savoury products and a short walk.
We caught up with our other travelling friend and took a town tour to the local Vistor Center housed in a former market building which is a beautiful restored establishment. Then onto the old goal, railway station and other historical buildings which are in demand for film crews to shoot movies and historical events.
Onto a little hole in the wall which serves the best Vietnamese noodles, ban mi and my favourite boas around. These are authentic and I am totally addicted to their fresh products with their locally grown organic herbs and friendly service. I would like to keep it a secret but it is called Superhero! Right next door is another of the towns charming venues where we sampled Ice Cresm Social’s homemade and exciting icecream. Here the hardest choice was which flavour! apricot and earl gray, strawberry and basil or my choice of sticky date and walnut. And the second best part is you could have a tiny cone so you didn’t feel you were being greedy. These were delicious and already I felt I had gained a few kilos…but hey all that walking was beneficial!
Perry is a keen home beer brewer so I knew that on their last night in town we had to take him to the local craft beer venue which fortunately was just around the corner from their Airbnb. As I am not a beer drinker I had to leave it up to him to choose his tasting plate…. a selection of locally brewed beers with everything from lime and coconut, to hemp flavoured, to raspberry and even coffee. A paddle of beers gives you a tasting of four different beers. Local wine and cidar were on offer too and we were fortunate to have a local guitarist provide some entertainment. Pizza was on offer too…excellent crisp base with a choice of meat, vegetarian, and vegan toppings. Friendly staff…almost like your local pub with a difference. I hoped they enjoyed it as much as I do.
How fortunate we are to have these great food options providing quality products sourced locally whenever possible. But we may to keep quiet about it! Our own secret. We don’t want to taken over by city folks!