Leaving Sydney for Melbourne via the new Tiger Airlines (save yourself, not your money – fly anyone else) we hooked up with chef friends for a weekend of food, wine and MasterChef.
 
On Saturday first stop was Seville estate wines where the Pinot Reserve 07 was the winner and the Reserve Shiraz also made it into our suitcase for the flight home.
 
Big highlight of Seville estate is Betty the ever-bouncing red cattle dog. She made dog of fame by being photographed for the famous book, Winery Dogs. Who would have known there is a wine dog book???
 
Next stop lunch at the Healesville Hotel where the chef uses only local farm ingredients. We tucked into some amazing bone marrow with snails & parsley (pictured), wild mushroom pie, lamb osso bucco, pork belly and, my favourite, fresh sautéd brussel sprouts w/ bacon, butter and onion. A pink Yarra Burn Champagne started the meal and a Ridgeline Shiraz finished it all off. Delicious.
 
Moving down the street next stop was White Rabbit Brewery where one beer is the speciality. White Rabbit beer is made from unusual malts and hops delivering a edgy dark ale which was perfect for this winter afternoon. Housed in the gloss of stainless steel beer vats this brewery has the funk of a trendy bar with a bit of local edge to say “drink here now”.
 
Next stop Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander where they collaborate to create one of the most fashionable cellar doors in the area. This place has big buzz, great restaurant, winery, and gourmet treats abound. We didn’t get past the cheese room where we decided dinner was going to be an assortment of amazing cheeses all knocked back with that Pinot Reserve we bought earlier from Saville Estate. We had the cheese master take us through the tastings before we gave over the credit cards. From an Ironside Cheddar to my favourite La Luna Goats Cheese, all Aussie cheeses, we were in heaven.
 
Sitting around with chefs eating cheese, watching MasterChef – you should hear chefs comments on MasterChef. Priceless!
 
Sunday and still eating so off to the local farmers market at Yering Station Estate where we are still trying to figure out how the meringue lady got them to be so blonde and shiny. Slow beating and slow cooking she said…hmm. Lunch at the winery was well executed with the chicken breast with chicken livers being one of the best dishes. The kangaroo wrapped in bacon w/ a blueberry jus was amazing. To cook roo it must be rare to med rare – no more or it’s tough. This was delicious! All this eaten with local Coombe Chardonnay to make this finale to the weekend just what the doctor ordered.
 
Visit the Yarra Valley you will love it!
 
You can see more photos from this trip in my flickr photostream: www.flickr.com/photos/victorsfood