Monday, November 12, 2007
Last week we headed up to The Dandenongs for a relaxing weekend away. The Dandenongs (as distinct from the suburb of Dandenong, where Oktoberfest was held), feature gorgeous mountain scenery, quaint towns, many B&Bs, cafés and beautiful parks. And it’s only an hour away from Melbourne!
Here are some culinary highlights of our trip…
Spaghetti Carbonara (Nigella’s recipe from How to Eat and Feast) is my meal of choice when cooking away from home, for its complete ease of preparation and deliciousness.
Our B&B provided a breakfast hamper in each room – eggs, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, bread, jam, tea and coffee, milk, cereals and so on. Do you know that uncomfortable bloated feeling you get when you eat too much of something just because it's free? I certainly do!
The Verandah View Café
Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd (Directly opposite Mt. Dandenong Lookout Point)
As you can tell from the name, this café features an amazing view, facing Mt. Dandenong lookout point. I had a decent latté and an incredibly decadent pudding made of croissants, raspberries and custard. Divine!
SkyHigh Bistro, Cafe & Restaurant
26 Observatory Rd
This restaurant is part of the Sky High Mt Dandenong observatory-slash-tourist destination. It does pleasant and slightly adventurous food at not-extortionate prices, in a nice atmosphere.
I had a crab and chive stuffed chicken breast (see what I mean by slightly adventurous?), atop a sun-dried tomato risotto and grilled zucchini slices, with a capery salsa verde. The chicken tasted great, as did the sauce. The risotto, however, whilst having a good texture, had a bizarre taste, somewhat like the juice in a tin of baked beans. And there was not a sun-dried tomato in sight. My dining partner had a parma, of which we didn’t get a photo. I’m sure you all know what a parma looks like. (Or at least, all the Aussies will).
The restaurant operates a free limousine service to and from the local B&Bs, which we decided to take advantage of. Amusingly, before going to the restaurant, we discovered that our B&Bwas a mere 2 minute walk away. But we still took it, because it was cold. And I wanted to ride in a limo, dammit!
5 Main Street
Recommended to us by the lovely lady who ran the B&B, Ranges Café has good coffee and a big warm fireplace!
Some people seem to think that chips count as breakfast.
382 Mt. Dandenong-Tourist Road
(Melways Reference: 66F9)
In the heart of Sassafrass lies Miss Marples, an English-style teahouse and tourist institution. I used to go there with my family when I was a child to devour their famous Devonshire Tea, and I was keen to relive the experience. This time, we went there for afternoon tea, after having had breakfast and a light lunch. This, my friends, was a mistake! In addition to their wonderful scones, Miss Marples serves all manner of English sweet and savoury treats. I was looking, with piercing envy, at all the tables around me, wishing I had left room for an open toasted sandwich. Or a pastie. Or a Ploughman’s lunch. You get the picture.
But back to the scones. The surprisingly cheap Devonshire tea includes 2 massive scones with raspberry jam and cream. I am glad to say it was just as good as my childhood memories had led me to believe.
Scones, JC, Tea