As a child, I would regularly travel with my family to Victoria's beautiful spa country - Daylesford, Hepburn Springs and surrounds. This was long, long before these towns were gentrified - a time when a white bread "sanga" with ham and salad was the height of gourmet for this small regional area. But, how times have changed!! Spa country now has a reputation as Victoria's gourmet capital and boasts a number of wonderful restaurants including the very special Lake House (my personal favourite restaurant in Victoria), Sault and the very trendy Frangos and Frangos.
Given my love for the region, it's not surprising that I drag my beloved along for a visit around around half a dozen times annually. Yesterday was one such day.
Following a visit to the Daylesford market (well worth the trip for locally made organic honey and peanut butter, plump cherries, crusty wood-fired breads and hand made soaps), we drove onwards into Hepburn Springs and settled on a takeaway pizza for lunch from Rubens.
Why a takeaway, you ask? Well, our trip *always* necessitates a visit to our favourite picnic area in Victoria - Mt Franklin - an extinct volcano, with picnic/camping areas in the lush crater and great views along the rim. (Note to self: Why is it that every time I think about volcanoes I *need* to put my Dr Evil voice on and say "Liquid hot magma"?).
Here is our pre-pizza anticipation (note the local spring water accompanying our meal for which the region is renowned).
And the post pizza glory - half Greek lamb with tzatziki, half artichoke.
We have purchased pizzas from Rubens (en route to Mt Franklin) for some time and are yet to be disappointed. The artichoke pizza was cooked perfectly, with meaty chunks of artichokes, plump tomatoes and generous doses of roquette. Sadly, the Greek lamb component of the pizza did not meet the lofty standards set by the artichoke half. The feta was a tad chewy and the synergy of flavours was not quite spot on. Nonetheless, a great way to spend an afternoon - lolling with an old school pizza and my better half in a volcano crater - bliss!
No trip to the region is complete without a visit to the Chocolate Mill (need I even explain with a name like that?!?) to stock up on their intensely rich dark chocolate and to enjoy dessert. For only $3, one can enjoy incredibly creamy ice-cream topped with locally made chocolate (a choice of dark, milk, white or chilli), topped with lashings of cream. Bargain!
As per usual, we thoroughly enjoyed the detour and gobbled up our shared dessert in record time!
An excellent day for the stomach and the soul, don't you think?
Where: Rubens@Hepburn (70 Main Rd, Hepburn, VIC, 3461)
What: Pizza to go
Rating: 15/20 (solid performer with flavours that really hit the spot!)
Where: Chocolate Mill (5451 Midland Hwy, Mt Franklin, VIC, 3461)
What: Chocolate stock up and dessert
Rating: 15/20 (excellent chocolate and a relaxing atmosphere)