Monday, January 26, 2015

Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant, Wallington

I used to live in Geelong during my university years, so I am no stranger to good wineries and restaurants in the region. My recent visit to Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant with hubby and my family was like a trip down memory lane for me, as we used dine there every now and then for special occasions.

This time we were all pretty hungry from a whole morning of berry picking in the sun at Gentle Annie Berry Gardens, so we all ordered an entrée and a main each, including my parents!

My entrée was an intricate ensemble of cured kingfish, avocado mousse, barbecued octopus and slivers of daikon. There was an abundance of flavours and textures contained in this delicate dish, from the firm yet springy kingfish, fluffy and airy avocado mousse to the chewy octopus pieces. Every mouthful was a delight!

Other entrées on the table were calamari in saffron and lobster cream and smoked chicken confit with a slow-cooked egg.

I must have over-estimated my appetite, because I thought my BBQ seafood risotto was going to be no sweat for me. After all, there's no quantity of seafood that I can't handle, right? Wrong! Generously piled on my plate was a substantial mound of prawns, octopus, clams and fish. The risotto itself was creamy and flavoursome, and I admit, I did eventually feel quite overwhelmed.

Other dishes ordered included thai marinated crispy spatchcock, lamb saddle and a side of roasted chat potatoes.

It was a huge internal struggle deciding whether to order dessert, but of course I gave in to my sugary desires in the end. We ordered a selection of house made ice creams and sorbets, and the flavours served up were salted caramel, mango, crème fraîche and blueberry. Apart from the salted caramel which proved too powerful for my tastebuds, everything was heavenly. I especially loved the crème fraîche ice cream which was acidic and tangy!

My greedy brother (jokes!) had a dessert of his own, which was the yuzu and white chocolate pannacotta with citrus crumbs and strawberry sorbet. 

In conclusion, we were thankful for such a fine lunch on a sunny afternoon. We had a walk around the gardens which was beautiful, as always. (Check out their cellar door, which takes the interesting form of an upside down house!) Do drop by for a fancy lunch when you're having a break from the city, you won't be disappointed with the food and relaxing atmosphere!

Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Prom Country Round-Up

That wraps up our short and sweet trip to Prom Country!

We know we have to return one day. Three days isn't enough to fully explore and appreciate the amazing landscape this region has to offer. I feel like we could easily spend a week in Wilsons Prom itself, and then another week exploring the towns and surroundings. No fear, as there will always be next time!

Here's a breakdown on what we did (click on the links to read a more detailed review):

Accommodation: Waratah Lodge

Day 1:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pipi Picking At Venus Bay

Can you imagine our delight when we woke up and finally saw blue skies on the last day of our road trip? We couldn't let it go to waste, so we checked out early and hit the road to get to Venus Bay.

I had always wanted to try pipi picking, and it turned out to be the perfect weather that day. We purchased our 48-hour recreational fishing licence and a bucket at the general store and made our way to the beach.

We went down to beach No.1, and immediately we were feeling quite self-conscious because no one else looked like they were also there to collect pipis! There was a community event going on, so we double and triple checked the signs to make sure we were actually allowed to go pipi picking.

We didn't really know how to start. After a little bit of Googling, we thought we had to dig about 20cm to 30cm deep in wet sand that had bubbles or mounds close by. After 2 hours of digging, our loot amounted to a grand total of 4 pipis. We were feeling so disheartened.

Luckily enough, an officer from Fisheries drove past to check our licences, and also tipped us to go further up the beach where there were less people. We followed his advice, and while we definitely found more, it was still very much hit and miss. I took a rest and munched on some leftover snacks while hubby persevered with the picking.

Suddenly, as I was still catching my breath, he ran back to me, both fists filled with huge pipis. He'd discovered the trick! As we would soon find out, the easiest way to get them was to stand where the waves hit the shore, the deeper the better. All we had to do was to wait for the waves to recede and stick our hands in the sand. As the waves pulled the sand away, pipis upon pipis were uncovered. A fellow pipi-picker came by and told us we would get even more if we walked further up along the beach. She was right, the further we went, the larger and more plentiful they got. 

Following this rhythm, we filled our 4L quota in no time. At one point, hubby just stood within the waves holding the bucket, telling me, "Oh! I can feel three of them at my feet!"

The only downside to walking so far out was walking all the way back with 4 litres of pipis plus seawater. The scenery was amazing though. The rugged cliffs made me feel like I was in a game of 'Red Alert'. (Don't ask me why.) 

That night, we invited my family over for dinner and we had the pipis two ways, one stir-fried with XO sauce and the other in a simple ginger soup. We were so hungry and it was so delicious we forgot to take photos. We've decided to go back for more in the coming weeks, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Moo's At Meeniyan, Meeniyan

After exerting ourselves during the day, we knew we needed a substantial meal to replenish our energy. We went to Fish Creek Hotel at first, but alas, due to a function the whole place was pretty much booked out. We then decided to drive another 30 minutes to Moo's At Meeniyan.

Once we entered we were greeted and seated by some very friendly staff members. After pondering over the dinner menu which was conveniently all laid out on a giant chalkboard, we both decided on the 2 courses for $40 option.

Hubby's entrée was corn and zucchini fritters with prawns and avocado salsa. I'm not usually a fritters person, so I didn't try any, but the prawns were really fresh!

That night, I went for my personal default option - seafood. My dish was a humongous yet rather muddled combination of grilled scallops, mussels, bacon and potato salad, beetroot with sprinkles of feta and pumpkin seeds. Each component was pleasant but average, and as mentioned, I wasn't too sure how they were all supposed to work together. The quantity and variety were a little overwhelming so I ended up finishing one element before moving on to the next. 

For his main, hubby ordered the duck sausages with potato mash, mushrooms and spinach in a red wine jus. Once again, it looked like quite a heavy dish to me, but hubby seemed to enjoy the sausages, which was a good sign! (He is normally very picky with those.)

My dessert was a lemon zing pudding served with vanilla ice cream. I quite enjoyed it as it was light and fluffy, though I did find it a tad too sweet. 

We didn't think the food stood out too much but we were very impressed with the service we received. The wait staff were genuine and friendly and everything we needed was promptly executed. We left feeling very contented!

Moo's at Meeniyan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sealers Cove, Wilsons Promontory National Park

The weather was dreadful when we arrived in Prom Country on Friday evening, but we told ourselves we were going to walk to Sealers Cove track the next day, rain or shine. When we woke up, hopes of catching a clear glimpse of Waratah Bay from our room window were crushed, but the forecast said we would have a cloudy morning with no rain. We immediately packed our backpack and made our way to the park.

It was the drive there that made me realise that grey, gloomy weather wasn't so bad after all. In fact, it meant that we got to see nature in a completely different light. Clouds hanging below the tip of mountains, trees stripped bare of their leaves against the grey skies... Nature is wonderful no matter what the weather is like.

We first stopped at Tidal River for a toilet break (and to buy more snacks) before heading to Telegraph Saddle carpark. And so the journey began.

We started off at a very relaxed pace, taking in the fresh air and the beautiful sights of trees and rocky formations. We were quite surprised that there were very few people on the track, as we probably walked past four or five other parties throughout the whole journey.

We had barely walked 2km and I could no longer resist the temptation of the bag of Twisties bouncing around in the backpack. After munching on some snacks and taking way too many selfies with the help of our selfie stick, we decided it was high time to power up.

We walked past several points of interest, all of which became checkpoints for rest when we were on our journey back. After walking on the boardwalk for what seemed like forever, we finally heard the sounds of lapping waves. We had arrived at Sealers Cove at last!

It was so beautifully secluded. Apart from another couple setting up camp way across the other side, it was just us. It felt pretty amazing to be at a place that was only accessible by foot (though it is possibly accessible by boat too). We stayed for a good half and hour or so until it started drizzling. We decided to challenge ourselves to complete the return journey in 2 hours.

We couldn't beat the rain, but it didn't matter. The misty environment was a different sort of a charm.

According to the official guide, the track (one way) is 9.5km and takes 3 hours. I used MapMyRun and it logged 12km each way. We took 2.5 hours to get there, stopping aplenty for rest and photos, and 2 hours to get back.

Despite the weather, we really enjoyed the hike. It worked out better for us because that was probably why there were very few people on the track. Both the journey and the destination were so worth the effort! It was too bad we only had time for one track, but that's okay, that just gives us another excuse to return to Wilsons Prom!