Richard Cornish beat me to it!
I did not mind, I always like what he writes and I too appreciated some of the produce from Castlemaine.
I visited The Mill in Castlemaine on November 15 and found two of the stars of Castlemaine’s culinary scene (as Richard describes them) – Long Paddock Cheese, where French emigre Ivan Larcher and his wife Julie make sensational European-style cow’s milk cheeses….
…..and Oakwood Smallgoods,Oakwood Smallgoods, where German master butcher Ralf Finke uses ingredients such as free-range pork and wagyu beef to make more than 40 different smallgoods and charcuterie.
I was able to buy from Ralf Finke some of the smallgoods I used to buy in the Adelaide Market and in the Barossa Valley. Good memories, good times, good eating.
This time in Castlemaine we did not visit Austrian couple Edmund Schaerf and Elna Schaerf-Trauner at Das Kaffeehaus, coffee house and eatery as we had done years before when it was located at the old hospital in Castlemaine, but we were aware that they have now moved into a rear corner of The Mill in 2015. They were closed. I sought them out several years ago; having lived in Trieste I am very appreciative of Austrian food.
With the easing of restrictions and our first opportunity to venture into the Victorian countryside Castlemaine and Bendigo in the Goldfields region were favoured, especially because the very brilliant chef Thi Le (from Anchovy in Richmond) was cooking at Sutton Grange Winery.
We stayed at an Airbnb , visited the Bendigo Gallery, had lunch at the Dispensary Bar & Diner, always a treat.
That weekend, as expected, my partner and I had amazing food, wine and service at Sutton Grange Winery including a wine tasting conducted by Melanie Chester( Mel) the Sutton Grange’s winemaker, and Adam Cash (we were happy to catch up with him and remembered him from Union Dining) with passionate chats of the history of the vines, wines and winemaking methods behind every wine we tried.
Thi’s excellent food was served on the veranda of the winery homestead cellar door and one of the table service staff was Thi’s partner, Jia-Yen (JY); all in the family – their dog was there too wandering around and enjoying the countryside.
It was rewarding to see other guests seeking out the chef, to thank her for her exquisite food.
Although Thi’s lunches at Sutton Grange Winery on Saturdays and Sundays were supposed to be only until November 29, lunches have been extended on Sundays in December 6, 13 & 20. Very worth doing.
There were a number of small courses, all exceptionally delicious.
We came home from that weekend with excellent bottles of wine, cheese, smallgoods and sausages. We unpacked the Airbnb clothes, packed the camping gear into the car and drove back to that area two days later. We set up camp by the Loddon River, near Castlemaine and stayed there till last Sunday.
I planned to write a post about the awesome produce I had purchased from the fromagerie and charcuterie at The Mill when I returned from my camping trip, but Richard beat me to it – Off The Beaten Track was published in the November 17 issue of The Age.
When we camp, we eat in style – I cooked some of the bratwurst with a warm salad of cabbage, spring onion and apple (and caraway seeds of course). Cabbage keeps well when camping.
All the ingredients are placed in the pan at the same time and slowly softened in extra virgin olive oil , salt, pepper, caraway seeds. Finish off with a dash of white wine vinegar.
I pan fried the leberkaese and accompanied it with braised mushrooms.
The green you can see are sage leaves; most are underneath the meat ..crisp fried. When I camp, I always bring herbs from home.I wrap them in a damp towel. we do have a small fridge we take camping.
Mushrooms keep well in paper bags when camping, they may lose some moisture but that means more intense flavour. You can see fresh garlic, parsley, i had a bit of rosemary and a few sprigs of thyme. Once again, all in together and sweated in extra virgin olive oil.
We ate the cheese, small goods and smoked trout unadulterated (en plein aire) or (au naturel) … picnic style, with a few additions brought from home…. black olive tapenade went well with the cheese, egg mayonnaise went well with the trout, with the smallgoods, good shop bought mustard.
On our return to melbourne we called into the Spaghetti Bar in Keynton. Silly us, no booking, no room.