Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday Traipsing About: Healesville, Silvan & Olinda

Or this could be known as "In Which I Blame Neil". Certainly Figman would if he knew ... hehehe

Australia tends to shut down between Christmas and New Year. Even then, a lot of manufacturing industries take the entire month of January off and not a lot gets done elsewhere. Unless you are unfortunate to work in a department store, in which case you may be hiding in a change room, waiting for the hordes to GO AWAY.

Now Figman is also on holiday until after the New Year and while I want to lounge around the house and sort out my study (so full of boxes you can hardly squeeze in there - at least all the Christmas presents are out of there now), he wants to do things. Go places. Have little adventures. Eat out a lot. Unfortunately, as many suppliers and restaurants are also on holidays, this isn't the greatest time to do that. Let me just say we had some dire and yet expensive food this week and that was when we could find the places to serve it.

So I thought that a trip to the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges might be sufficient distraction for F and as these are prime tourist areas I figured that most places would be up and running.

We popped into the Healesville Hotel for lunch and as they were fully booked, had to settle for the bar. Might have been better off at their produce store next door, as the food looked tastier and better cooked. We only just scampered to get a table as a busload of coiffed matrons wandered in, looking most put out that they couldn't be seated in the dining room.

After lunch, Figgy wasn't particularly interested in wineries and said those foolish words "I'm happy to go wherever you want to go". "Right" I said "I want to get some cherries and some raspberries and then there's this little shop in Olinda I want to visit on the way home .."

First stop was
Blue Hills Berries and Cherries
. This turned out to be only pick your own berries and we had a Little One to take home and put to bed so I vetoed this plan and decided to check out the place further down the road. It wasn't in the guidebook, but had cunningly placed its sign right near Blue Hills, proclaiming its excellent cherries to just be 1km down the road. And Chappies were really really good. Despite what many growers say about the smaller fruit being better, these huge, firm cherries were so juicy and tasty that F sent me right back into the store for another kilo!

Then around a few back roads, through startlingly green countryside, rich red soil and tranquil reservoirs and ponds, we wound our way to Silvan Estate Raspberries for a selection of the best berries in town. Figman always gets country-life-envy when we visit this farm, so we had to leave, quickly!

The little village of Olinda is about 10 minutes away and I browsed the Olinda Pantry while the Figman and Little One ate ice cream on the chairs outside Metisse next door. The Olinda Pantry has a solid range of products and I came away (amongst other things) with Cunliffe Waters Barbecue Sauce which I haven't seen anywhere else. I'm a big fan of their relishes and savoury sauces (there's almost always a bottle of their Hot Sour Sweet Salty sauce in my cupboard).

And then Metisse. This tiny store has only been open for 10 weeks, before that it was run from the owner's garage. Linens, antique Frenchwares, chandelier pendants, soaps and did I mention copperware??

There is a small range of vintage copper pans but I was immediately drawn to the shiny new frypans. Lined with tin and about a third of what I'd expect to pay elsewhere. I hummed and hawwed and talked extensively with the owner, hesitating only because I'd just been given a lovely Christmas present by the man sitting eating icecream right outside her door. And it's not exactly easy to hide a frypan under your shirt.

But in the end I succumbed and am now the happy owner of my first proper copper pan. So I don't have to be envious of Clothilde browsing in Dehillerin or Bakerina's preserving pan. She did say that it will tarnish immediately which made me want to cry a little. But I am all about using copper for its wonderful-heat-retaining-and-conductivity-purposes, aren't I? Not for it's glorious glossy looks. That would make me shallow. And I am deep, baby.


At 12:10 AM, Blogger Niki said...

Oh my god, you have a copper pan. I am SO envious!!!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger plum said...

Ah don't be Niki! I'd actually like stainless steel lined and not tin, but this will give me a chance to see if copper is as fabulous as they say or if it's highly overrated!

At 1:31 PM, Blogger neil said...

Blame me!!! You should be praising me, I saw a similar frypan to yours in Essential Ingredient for over four hundred dollars. Just be careful with the heat control, tin melts at 231.9 c, which is not very hot.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger plum said...

Thanks for that info Neil, I wasn't aware of that. By the way, I think blame is an entirely appropriate choice of word!!

At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Rumela said...

Blue Hills Orchards also known as Blue Hills Berries and Cherries is nestled in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges near the Silvan Reservoir, which has a beautiful picnic area. Silvan is renowned for its fruit, flowers and rich red soil.Blue Hills Orchards is the farm where u-pick first started in the area. It was on a patch of strawberries. Lorraine sat down the paddock with a pair of scales hanging from a cherry ladder with a few containers and a couple of signs up. thank you for shearing your post.


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