Monday, April 09, 2007

Bellarine Peninsula Trip

On a lovely warm Easter Sunday, Kin, Paul, Jo, Phuong and I took a trip to the Bellarine Peninsula, which is a little bit past Geelong. When we drove past Geelong, nothing was open so we headed straight for the Peninsula.

First stop for the day was the Leura Park Estate in Portarlington. Despite not having any breakfast yet, we were straight into the wine tasting. After trying out quite a few wines, both Kin and myself liked their limited edition 25 d' gris Pinot Gris, so we got a bottle each.

Here is Paul and Jo learning about some wines from the very informative host. She even told us of some other nice places to visit afterwards.

With wine coursing through our veins and making us slightly light headed, it was time for some brunch. We stopped in Portarlington and had brunch at this newly opened cafe called Mel's Cafe. Kin and Paul got the soup of the day, pumpkin, while Jo got the quiche. I got the pancakes to share with Kin and the meat pie, which at $4.40 was a steal. It was home made and had heaps of chunks of beef. Phuong choose natural oysters, which at that time of the day even the thought of made me lose my appetite. She polished off the oysters in quick time and followed it up with a huge glass of iced chocolate even. Amazing what some people can stomach in the morning.

After brunch, the next stops were two olive farms. First one was the Lighthouse Olive Grove, which was a small grove with a small show room. They made mainly olive oils and some beauty products made with olives. The host was an extremely nice lady who explained all about the different types of olive oils to us and gave us lots of samples to try.

Phuong and Jo browsed the wares while I was fascinated by the huge drums where the oils were pressed. The olive oils were a bit expensive for our liking so in the end Jo just walked away with a tub of olives.

The next olive farm was Manzanillo Grove. The grove consisted of a much larger farm with the centre of it containing this huge stately mansion. The aerial view of the estate was even more impressive, with the house surrounded by these beautiful planned out olive trees.

Their show room was also larger and contained a much larger variety of olive oils. After trying quite a few, Paul and Jo bought olive oils, olives and goat's cheese. The host lady here was also very helpful in explaining things, such as why cold pressed olives tend to have a slight tang to their taste right at the end.

With our hands full of produce, Kin and I were ready for more wine tasting. The next stop at Scotchmans Hill in Drysdale was my favourite stop. Here, the very funny lady host explained about all their wines to us and help us sample about 15 of their wines. Her easy nature and willingness to joke and explain things without us asking made for a very relaxed atmosphere. After trying out all the wines, I bought their Scotchmans Hill Cabernet Savignon and the Swan Bay Chardonnay. Kin bought the Swan Bay Pinot Noir.

It was time for lunch, and lunch was at Kilgour Estate, which was part winery, part restaurant. This winery also had the best view of the whole bay area. The area behind the winery had a view of the whole of Melbourne.

From left is Phuong, Jo, Kin, myself and Paul.

This area was also rich in diamonds as well as grapes. We found this pair of earings on the ground, which we gave to the staff at the restaurant.

At the restaurant, most of us were still quite full, so just go desserts to share. The Lavender Pannacotta sounded interesting, but execution was not right. The texture was good, but the lavender smell was way too powerful and as Kin put it, it tasted like "eating soap". There was this powerful taste that lingered in your mouth after you ate the pannacotta. It was sort of like mint but stronger by quite a lot. It was not pleasant and hence the pannacotta was not finished.

The Passat with Shortbread and Strawberries was quite good. I'm not sure what a passat is, but it tasted like a mixture of yoghurt and cream. The slightly sour flavour worked well with the very sweet shortbread and strawberries soaked in sugar syrup.

My favourite dessert was Figs with Marscapone and Home Made Honeycomb. The figs were deliciously sweet soaked in honey and when eaten with the marscapone and honeycomb, provided intense flavours all blending together.

The cheese platter consisted of cheese from the region, including Brie, Goat's Cheese (very nice), Cheddar and Blue Cheese (too strong for me).

Paul was the only one that was hungry and had the Seared Scallops with Black Pudding and something that I think was eggs mixed with milk. I'm not sure what it was exactly. This dish was very good according to Paul and the little bit of black pudding I tried was not too bad, despite my hatred of blood in general.

While we were eating, we got to stare at this breath taking view from the second storey balcony of the restaurant. If you look hard enough, you can see Melbourne on the right hand side of the photo.

After lunch, we did more wine tasting at the restaurant bar. The wines here were all too strong for my liking, but it seemed to be very popular with patrons buying them by the boxful.

Last stop for the day was to Queenscliffe for some relaxful strolls down the wharf, pier, beach and town.

The town contained many interesting shops, from a shop that sold all things related to roses, to a contemporary art gallery, to many food related shops. The smell wafting from the ice cream shop was that of freshly made waffles, but at that stage, everyone was so full we couldn't eat another thing so just had to look and smell.

That was the end of a fun and long day. We headed back to Melbourne with lots of other traffic going back from their Easter holiday. We had planned to go to Lorne and the Great Ocean Road but there just wasn't enough time. That will have to wait for another trip. However, this trip was so much fun and the Bellarine Peninsula is well worth a visit.

1 comment:

  1. No comments on this post?

    What about the gas problem?