Friday, 21 August 2015

A Day in the Yarra Valley - Part 1

This month, I was invited by Yarra Valley Regional Food Group to experience some of the highlights of the spectacular Yarra Valley... Brook from Yarra Ranges Tourism and Orson from Yarra Valley Transfers hosted a group of bloggers for a day of indulging in the culinary delights and wines of the Yarra Valley.

Growing up in Croydon and having a chef for a Dad, I have enjoyed many outings to the Yarra Valley to explore its wonderful wineries and produce. However, I learnt so much from this farmers’ market and produce trip and suggest that you should explore some of the secret treasures of the Yarra Valley as well as the more well-known attractions.

We arrived at The Yarra Valley Gateway Estate where we met Brett Spurling who gave us a tour of the hydroponic greenhouse and told us about his family business and superior produce. They operate a 5000 square metre high tech hydroponic greenhouse which produces around 80 tons of capsicums, 35,000 pots of basil and 7 tons of strawberries every year. The capsicums are grown up very tall strings which you can see from their café. Their zero waste closed loop irrigation system uses substantially less water compared to field crops and is perfect for drought affected environments. Gateway Estate also produces many times the yield of field crops using a fraction of the chemicals, sprays, water and fertilizer due to the irrigation system and their Integrated Pest Management techniques.

After the tour, we had breakfast in their café. We ate egg, bacon and cheese toasted sandwiches that tasted scrumptious! This was due to the quality ingredients and the Sweet Capsicum Relish which you can pick up in their shop. To accompany the sandwich, I had a lovely tasting latte made with local Yarra Coffee.

Next to the cafe is the cellar door where we tasted some of their strawberry port, liqueur and crème. It was absolutely delicious!

Also, their Gourmet Farm Gate Store showcases some of Yarra Valley’s best produce including berries, apples, stone fruit and vegetables. You can also purchase gourmet products from the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group. Stop by here on your way to the wineries and take some of this fantastic produce home so you can cook up a storm in your own kitchen.

Address: 667 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream VIC

Phone: 03 9739 0568

Opening Hours: Everyday 9.00am – 5.30pm

Gateway Estate Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Next, we set off for the Yarra Valley Regional Food Group Farmers’ Market. This popular market is held on the third Sunday of each month in and around The Barn at Yering Station. The first market was held in 1998 and is Victoria’s longest running monthly market. I often visit the market to buy quality, local produce and artisan goodies to use in my own cooking. You can really taste the difference and I prefer to know where my ingredients are sourced. At the market, you can meet the producers and sample products before buying.

I daresay you foodies have seen the meringues from Unforgettable Products when you have been out experiencing Melbourne’s culinary scene. They are perfect for when you need to throw a quick dessert together for an impromptu dinner party. Eton mess, anyone? Well, they also have a range of curds including lemon and passionfruit.

Going gluten-free? Nutritionist Georgina Smith has created g. luxe, a tasty and healthy gluten-free muesli and snack bar range.

Vegans are not forgotten either here at the market. The Surprise Vegan offers a range of very tempting baked goods including cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and doughnuts. As some of you may already know, I’m a big supporter of animal welfare so it was heart-warming to learn about her ‘rescued residents’. Read about the gang on her website.

Ricci’s Bikkies are free from preservatives and additives. My favourite flavour is the Garlic, Parmesan and Olive but the Cinnamon Sugar is ideal for those with a sweet tooth.

It’s hard to walk past Lady Paella and not be enraptured by the aroma and vibrancy of her authentic Spanish paella. They are gluten, dairy and egg free. My favourite part of paella is the seafood but vegetarians can try the Paella Vegetal which contains eggplant, currants, herbs and vegies.

Afterwards, it’s divine lounging on the lawn and feasting on your gastronomic finds whilst soaking up the atmosphere in such gorgeous surrounds.

 Don’t forget to visit the market next month on Sunday 20th September...

Address: The Barn at Yering Station
38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen VIC

Time: 9.00am – 2.00pm

Instagram: @yarra_valley
Twitter: @yarra_valley

Our means of transport for the day was taken care of by Orson from Yarra Valley Transfers. Yarra Valley Transfers is an accredited bus and tourism operator which provides transport services in and around the Yarra Valley. Yarra Valley Transfers also offers gourmet wine tours as well as a whole range of other services. Having a driver is a great way to immerse yourself in the Yarra Valley’s wine culture without the worry of being over the alcohol limit, which can be a problem with wine tours! Orson is very knowledgeable about the area so give him a call next time you have a special occasion or group function. 

Phone: 1800 146 706

Thanks again to Brook, Yarra Valley Regional Food Group, Yarra Ranges Tourism and Orson from Yarra Valley Transfers for an amazing day.

‘A Day in the Yarra Valley - Part 2’ coming soon...

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