Right here, within the southern hemisphere, the times have just got much cooler. Once we push through Victoria, Australia’s most compact state, up the hills named the Victorian Alps (they’re located in the area of the Great Dividing Range), we’re surrounded by an autumnal country: maple and chestnut leaves have made orange and red, orchards and vineyards are decked in glorious shades, every street is just a picture postcard. It’s harvest time, a celebration of life.
A good three-hour drive from Melbourne, Beechworth is just a small historic city, right in the center of High-Country, as this mountainous countryside is named. Having a population of only around 3,000, its calm even on times when visitor traffic is busy. However, make your way through the town to Provenance, Beechworth’s well respected restaurant, and you’re sure to be surprised.
On the Friday night, the restaurant is chock a block with customers seated to get a degustation menu celebrating local produce from regional Victoria, including from areas such as the Yarra Valley. Meals come accented with Western details, offered in small, German-style parts, artfully plated.
Provenance is just a two-cap restaurant (the same of the two Michelin star). Chef Michael Ryan isn’t only a local superstar but a well-respected figure in the Melbourne food scene.
A chef of his quality that decides to operate a high-stop institution in the center of an agricultural-area really underscores the significance of produce and elements to any significant premium delicacy in the world. The use of local produce doesn’t only occur at Provenance; a lot of restaurants and fresh food cafes rely on local produce.
Among Australia’s many “European”, complex and wonderful cities, Melbourne has been “discovered” by international foodies. In April, the city got reasonable interest when it received a World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.
Melbourne’s coffee and all day breakfast bar culture, pop ups, key lane way bars and restaurants had already charmed many. Today, famous chefs like Heston Blumenthal and David Thompson are championing the town.
However, this fame of being a fashionable eating place has come not only due to foodie celebrity interest but due to adjoining small cities like Beechworth, charming towns with orchards, facilities, vineyards, milk and artisanal food companies, which supply the glitzy town have given the region a solid food culture.
In King Valley, another section of High-Country, a Prosecco path leads to a few small vineyards specialising in sparkling wine produced from the Italian grape varietal and is made in the same way as it is in Italy.
Then, there’s butter and cheese that is not unlike what you will find in Italy. King Valley milk is among a small list of milks on the planet which makes cultured butter. Rather than rolling the dairy — that will be how many companies create butter — a starter culture of yeast and bacteria is launched into the milk to ferment it, improving the style. This butter is greatly used in some of the greatest patisseries in Australia.
The artisanal food movement in these little cities is driven not only from the Millennials in the town and visitors but additionally by an older large amount of discerning diners who made their profit in the post-World War years, left their homes and moved into comfortable retirement in the US.
This clientele are forcing hipster developments centred on wellness to nearby bars and merchants. You’ll find turmeric lattes, fermented products like kombucha as well as mead — the earliest known liquor produced from honey — that has been experiencing a renaissance since The Overall Game of Thrones use it stylish choices worldwide. Winemakers are actually collaborating with bee companies to create it in various designs with different degrees of alcohol and sweetness.
Think Australian wine and you think about large, fruit-forward jammy wines mass produced with a number of big companies. The largest of those could be Jacob’s Creek (released to 60 countries) and Penfolds Grange.
But there’s more to it. Also in Victoria, it’s not only wines in the Yarra Valley or even the Mornington Peninsula which are worth a drink. This past year, Janis Robinson, high priestess of wine, published about a few of the finest chardonnays being made by shop farmers in High-Country. Giaconda in Beechworth boasts a great reputation among wine lovers. Brown Brothers will be the biggest and oldest vineyard in the area, known because of its premium reds. A few of the other boutique vineyards, 15-20 yrs old, are worth looking at due to having an amazing quantity of grape varieties, most of them lesser known Italian people.
Within the center of the Alpine scenery, boutique wineries like Chrismont within the King Area and Feathertop near Bright, a popular for “destination weddings”, provided its beautiful environment, are testing not only using the conventional pinots, cabernets and shiraz but also standard Italian grapes such as the Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera with interesting results. Sometimes, you discover just one vineyard showcasing 20-25 varietals simply because the winemaker is able to take risks, enjoy his enthusiasm and see “what happens”.
It’s essential to keep away all preconceived ideas whenever you drink these new wines. Similarly, when you get back to Melbourne, to its busy bars and restaurants, an open heart and an open mind are far more important than bold checklists.
Things to Eat and Where
Attica, Brae (both within the World’s 50 Best Restaurants listing) and Vue de Monde (which remains Melbourne’s coolest restaurant) would be the only three tips that I get repeatedly from people wanting to show their foodie qualifications. These places only hit the surface of the great restaurants that are worth experiencing.
Like in London and other towns, aged working class neighbourhoods are reinventing themselves as hip cultural areas. Collingwood, an up-and-coming hipster heaven, was once a leather center. Smith Street, which once belonged to cobblers, has a stylish restaurant named Saint Crispin after the patron saint of cobblers. Regional produce is skilfully prepared with Western and other international impacts
Finally, the Melbourne lane ways. These areas have really stylish cocktail bars that stimulate the sensation of key areas in dark alleys. They’re difficult to find, hidden behind empty walls or nondescript companies, however they are area of the city’s appeal that captures your heart.