Daylesford is one of the first few places that Mister and I visit when we first got together many moons ago. It is also one of the places that we head back for a visit once every couple of years. We are definitely no strangers to its natural beauty. Daylesford and Hepburn Springs area is also known to the Spa country. It has the most number of mineral springs and spas in Australian and the produce and food in this area is equally fabulous.
The weather forecast for the weekend that we were due up in Daylesford was underwhelming. Overcast and possible rain. My fingers were crossed as Mister and I started our drive up to Daylesford. According to our tomtom, it will take about an hour seventeen minutes. I guess if Melbourne CBD is taken as a central point, then it should take about 90 minutes. Not too far to drive and get away from the rustle and bustle of the city life.
Our first stop in Daylesford was a quick visit to Istra Smallgoods. This is one of the must go places when you hit Daylesfood. They still cure and process meat the tradition way. We bought some hot salami and beautiful fatty pancetta and headed towards our first stop – Wombat Hill House. This six month old cafe is opened by Alla Wolf-Tasker (@wolfinkitchen) and the team and you can be sure that the ingredients and produce used are as local as can be. The Wombat Hill House used to be an old care-taker’s cottage and situated in lovely Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens.
There is a lovely outdoor area with a little space for vegetable and herb garden. There were also rosemary and another herb hanging outside for drying. I am sure it will lovely to sit outdoors when it gets a little warmer. We did have a table outside and was really fortunate that the sun came out to play.
Both Mister and I had a hard time choosing what we should be eating from the menu. The menu is not massive but there was so much good stuff on it. After some deliberation over latte, we opted for the grazing platter, hot chilli crumbed three cheese macaroni bake and ended on a sweet note with the vanilla pannacotta. The grazing platter is also available for take away. The produce is locally sourced. For example, the Mount Zero Olives are only about 15 minutes drive away. One of my favourite on the plate is the trout mousse. Very light and moorish. Another favourite is the country terrine that is delicately packed with porky and pistachio goodness. The food served here is wholesome. We did find the macaroni cheese quite bland but that was forgiven when we had the creamy, rich and bouncy vanilla pannacotta.
After a nice and lazy lunch at the Wombat, we were on our way to our accommodation at Peppers Spring Retreat in the Hepburn Spring. I love the open reception area where we checked in. This whole place has been recently renovated and it’s looking classy with its dark woods interior, high backed chairs both in the reading room and the very comfortable lounge area where high tea can be served and indulged.
Like I said, I was blessed with beautiful autumn weather and blue skies. And love that spring is finally in the air. Mister and I had a nice little stroll through the garden and back to our room.
Our room was tucked away from the main building and spa retreat area. While strolling along the garden, I could see a spa dipping pool that overlooked the garden. I wish I had a little more time to relax in the mineral pool but both Mister and I just wanted lie on the big King Size bed and chill out.
One of the reason why we were so lazy was the sumptuous spread of high tea that we were treated to. Both of us were seated in the garden and served a English high tea with proper bone china tea cup and saucer. We were completely spoilt with freshly baked scones (still so warm) and all the yummy sweet goodies that filled the high tea cake stand. There was lemon tea cakes, macarons, chocolate brandy truffle, strawberry tart, nougat and of course the sandwiches. So much food but so little tummy space. There is a choice of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and even French bubbles. It’s $39 per head and $49 if you opt for the glass of bubbles. My favourite on the cake stand are the soft, chewy nougat, the nicely crusted and well balanced lemon tea cake and the warm scones with delicious strawberry jam. One could easily sat out there all afternoon, just nibbling on sweets, sandwiches and scones. So relaxing.
After so much food, we just wanted to sleep and be lazy. So back to the room for lazing and also to test out the big bath tub in the room. I filled it with water, added some bath bubbles and both Mister and I enjoyed a really nice soak. It has been awhile since both us had a chance to relax together and chat about Sydney, our future and catching up in general. The last few months have been super crazy that we hardly had a chance to just talk. It had been just about the move and what needs to be done. Really stressful. This was such a great opportunity to just do nothing for a little while.
Reluctant but we both drag ourselves out of the bath tub and got ready for dinner. I was really looking forward to Kazuki’s. This is a new and upcoming star in Daylesford. It is opened by husband and wife team, Kazuki and Saori. It is located in a pretty quiet end of Camp Street in Daylesford. Only opened in August and I reckon it has created a fair bit of interest amongst the locals. It serves Modern Australian food using French techniques with elements of Japanese ingredients. I love the story of Kazuki. He started in Japan doing the hard yard of dish washing and kitchen hand. He then moved to Melbourne and worked for Misuzu for 4 years before heading to French Soir where he picked up the French skills and finally picked up more skills and gained knowledge on using local produce and respecting what we eat at the Lake House.
I love the warm bread and it was served with cultured butter. It seems that cultured butter is quite common here. Please forgive my ignorance but I think this is the first time Mister and I had cultured butter. More creamy in texture, a slight tang and more butter flavour. The bread was warm and love the aromatic sesame and nigella seeds combo.
The first course was a duck parfait with grapes and drizzle vinaigrette and a nice dose of olive oil. The sauce was quite sweet and sticky and went well with the buttery but rather light duck parfait. The grapes is used to cut the richness. A nice start. It was served with a Mount Franklin Pinot Gris 2010.
Next up was the scampi wrapped in kafaiti dough and then deep fry. It was served on a bed of butter softened sweet fennel with preserved lemon and drizzle scampi oil. The scampi had a nice delicate and sweet taste. The deep fry was done well and no greasiness after taste.
The third course was a beautifully cooked piece of lamb rack that has been marinated with miso. It was served with spring vegetables like broad beans, white radish and white asparagus. I love the roasted garlic. It gave this dish a sense of comfort.
Mister was shining his iPhone above the dish. It looks like a shining star doesn’t it? And it is. The lamb was perfect. The plating was pretty. And I love the miso glace. Not overpowering and the lamb was still hero.
I really love the dessert. It was a lemon thyme pannacotta with strawberries coulis and a pistachio tuile. My photo does it no justice. We were served a small glass of Umeshu to accompany this dessert. Perfect combination in my opinion. Both came together like a match made in heaven.
The kitchen is small and there are only 2 chefs with no sous chef or kitchen hand. That explains the very small menu that is changes seasonally. It also has a nice list of sake to choose from. I asked why sake with this menu. The answer – “You can drink sake with anything. Just like wine.” True… never thought about it that way.
I got this photo from Saroi What a great couple. It is definitely hard work putting a restaurant together and harder work maintaining and getting people through the doors. I wish them and their little girl all the best If you are in Daylesford, can I suggest popping down to Kazuki’s? It is still a young restaurant and one to look out for.
Day one in Daylesford ended on a high. So much good food and meeting all these lovely people makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy. Exhausted from the night before, food coma and more importantly, a nice big comfy bed, sleep came pretty easy that night.
Mr & Ms Jeroxie were guests of Tourism Victoria, Wombat House Hill, Peppers Spring Retreat and Kazuki’s
Places I visited on Day One of Daylesford Getaway
Wombat Hill House – Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens
Thursday – Monday from 9 – 4
Friday, Saturday & Sunday “Aperitivo” 5 -8
(03) 4373 0099
Peppers Spring Retreat
124 Main Road,Hepburn Springs
Reservations – 1300 737 444
Kazuki’s - 1 Camp Street, Daylesford
Lunch on Fri – Mon
Dinner on Thurs – Tues
(03) 5348 1218