Dining

Lunch at the Collective Espresso, Camberwell

When you go a 2 hour round trip just to go to a cafe, and you do that twice within the last 2 months the place must be pretty special.

The below review is over our last two visits, with the most recent one last Saturday!

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This is exactly how I feel about Collective Espresso in Camberwell!

The Cafe is the perfect size, nice and cosy but with an outdoor area for your pooch. It is opposite Camberwell Train Station so easy to get too, plus it has plenty of street-parking.

The BAM ($7.50) was the perfect way to start the meal, and especially after my morning hike.

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The BAM is a Blueberry, Apple & Mint Slushie – so good! This is going to be so refreshing come summer – the perfect way to cool down.

While Collective Espresso is serving up delicious coffee from Undercover Roasters, the team in the kitchen are creating and making some absolutely amazing dishes.

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Quite possibly the most Instagram worthy food photo around, the Gravity Waffles ($18.50) are extremely popular. You can see why, how cool is this! I wasn’t kidding when I said the team in the kitchen were creative.

The Gravity Waffles  come with vanilla and white chocolate, whipped cream, kiwi fruit, strawberries, salted caramel & popcorn.

The waffles were a great size and I love the fruit component, I would have loved a little more syrup however.

I was feeling like something substantial so ordered the Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters ($19) and added a side of Salmon ($5). I was so happy I did as the whole meal was so tasty and well put together!

The Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters were made with sweetcorn, cumin seed & zucchini. It was served with a poached egg, whipped goats cheese, lemongrass & tomato chutney. The Fritters were quite fluffy, and full of flavour, I was hoping for more whipped goats cheese as it was more a smear to hold the fritter in place – I certainly savoured what I did have though – yum!

I love how softshell crab is finding its way into brunch dishes. What a better pair than crispy soft-shell crab and Mac n Cheese – oh lordy, I was in heaven!

The Crumbed Mac & Cheese with Crispy Crab ($18.50) is one of those dishes you eat slowly, so you can fully appreciate the flavours. The tempura soft-shell crab is beautifully presented on a Mac & cheese croquette with, green cheese sauce & ranch dressing.

It was so satisfying – I’ll be having this again for sure!

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Last but not least, the burger to end all burgers. The Double. Does it even need an introduction – ha! You can maximise the cheesy goodness of The Double ($20) by making it a Beast ($5) which includes double beef, double cheese, double pickles, bacon, lettuce, a Mac & Cheese croquette & fried egg on a brioche bun. It is served with shoestring fries, relish and trufflenaise (go just for this, it is so yum!).

Yup, it’s a beast of a burger!

If you love creative food, and love taking pictures of your food (let’s be honest we all do ha!) then pop Collective Espresso on your must-try list.

A big thank you to Collective Espresso for inviting us both back (@chefjordanbird). We thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Renee
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Business in Focus

Meet the Makers – Greg from Grampians Olive Co.

Something a little exciting is happening tonight! After just over 3 months getting to know some amazing beauty Makers, tonight we are doing something a little different.

I’ve always wanted to celebrate all Makers, even Chefs, Restaurant Owners etc. It’s just I thought beauty was a great place to start. In saying that, tonight, we are chatting with Greg from the Grampians Olive Co. I met Greg roughly the same time that Meet the Makers started, when I visited his family farm and did a wonderful tour of the grove. You can read about our visit here.

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The Grampians Olive Co. is a wonderful family owned business. The day I was there, Greg’s father was working on the machines and I’m pretty certain that Greg’s brother made our coffees.

What I love also, is the grove is certified organic, they rely on rainfall to water the trees and use sheep to not only fertilise the soil but eat the bottom of the trees to keep them in tip-top shape.

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R. Thank you for taking the time to have a chat with us, I imagine you are quite busy with the upcoming birthday celebrations! Tell us, what lead you and your family to this point?

G. My family and I took over nurturing the olive grove which will be marking its 75th year this Spring for a change of pace in life and to get back to nature. When we took over the grove in 2008 it was already a flourishing business that had cultivated a reputation of being Australia’s best producer of premium quality organic olive products and today, we honour its history and through our careful custodianship of the land, we are devoted to its best practice and organic principles.

R. As a family business, where you are all contributing to the growth and day-to-day running, I’d love to know what any given day looks like for you?

G. I can go from packing orders to ship directly to our customers, to opening our farm shop mid-morning, serving up some of our delicious platters for lunch customers to taking a drive around the grove in the afternoon to check on our olive trees and how pruning is coming along – which is after our year’s harvest.

R. I haven’t had dinner yet, and now I am dreaming of that platter with the gorgeous dukkah and the Grampians Olive Co. Extra Virgin Olive Oil – yum! What would you say is the biggest challenge in business?

For us here at Grampians Olive Co, we are always at the mercy of the weather – our location at the foot of the Northern Grampians was chosen specifically for its ideal Mediterranean climate which is required for producing quality organic olive oil – that is hot dry summers and cool wet winters but as you know you can’t always predict what the seasons will do.

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R. You definitely can’t predict what the weather will do, especially in a place like Melbourne! Why is the use of organic/natural ingredients important to your business?

G. Our olive grove has been certified organic by NASAA (Cert. No. #3232P) and organic farming practices have been employed since the beginning when our trees were hand planted in the virgin soil. When it comes to feeding our family and growing food, we wouldn’t have it any other way – and nor should our customers.

R. As time moves forward we are incredibly lucky to be able to access more organic produce for our families, especially as farming practices evolve. 

Everyday brings new challenges, how do you overcome those?

G. I thrive on change and challenge – providing you look at every challenge as an opportunity.  Whilst it can make business a little stressful, challenges can make businesses fun, adaptable and interesting.

R. We mentioned that the business is celebrating its upcoming 75th birthday, anything new or exciting on the horizon?

G. Just recently we released our 2018 Olio Nuovo – each harvest season we bottle Olio Nuovo (new oil) – a special limited release of unfiltered cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil from the first olives harvested each season. Picked, cold pressed, unfiltered and bottled within 24 hours while still cloudy – the flavours are amazingly vibrant and fruity, as fresh as you can get! We still have a few bottles so get your order in so you don’t miss out.

Our 2litre cask, whilst it’s been available for many years, is an exciting way to buy our Grampians Olive Oil – not only is it easier to open than a tin but it preserves the quality and integrity of olive oil, meaning it stays fresher for longer.

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R. I remember trying the extra virgin olive oils treat from the press, the flavour was amazing and incredibly deep. 

If you weren’t running your business, what would you be doing?

G. It’s an easy answer – we’d be travelling the world.

R. Geez that’s the dream isn’t it! Outside of the business, what hobbies do you enjoy?

G. I am passionate about growing organic vegetables and hiking…but between running my own business and my growing family, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies!

R. I speak often about purpose, and have it answered in nearly every interview – have you figured out yours?

G. I am a perfectionist, my purpose is to do the best I can in everything I do every day (for my own satisfaction) – something our customers benefit from.

R. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of running a business, it’s sometimes nice to sit down and reflect on it all. Do you take time to reflect and practice gratitude?

I am incredibly grateful to be doing what I am doing everyday, something both my family and I love. Sharing sample product with our customers and giving to charity are just some of the ways we show how thankful we are to be doing something we truly love.

R. Days can be long in a small business, with a never-ending to-do list! What is your favourite part of the day and where do you draw inspiration from?

Being greeted by kids when I come home – working on the olive grove is a full-time job and I can often be up way before they rise in the morning.

I am inspired by my family, our beautiful grove and of course our customers that love what we do – all the reasons I need to jump out of bed and appreciate what I have got.

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R. With the long days, comes the need to look after yourself and acknowledge what you are putting in. Any self-care tips?

G. Running a business doesn’t stop – so I do need to remind myself regularly to switch off and just enjoy what I have around me.

R. Switching off, one of the hardest things for any small business! Especially in this day and age where you can be contacted easily anywhere in the world.

Finally, where is your favourite place in there world where you can just relax?

G. Hiking in the Grampians – just a hop, skip and jump from home.

R. Amazing! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, I absolutely love what you and your family are doing for organic farming.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming 75th birthday celebrations!

Enjoy the read all, and have a wonderful Saturday night!

Renee
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Dining

Lunch at Sault Daylesford

Daylesford is one of my favourite places in Victoria, I love the town that is always bustling but still maintains the small-town charm.

Two weekend’s ago, we returned to Sault Daylesford after dining there nearly two years ago when Chef Santiago Fernandez was in residence.

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Sault is located on the most beautiful properties with Lavender bushes scattered with a path leading to a stunning chapel overlooking the lake.

The restaurant itself, is a charming cottage and as you enter you are welcomed by a delightful fire and seating before you turn to your left and the big windows overlooking the property catch your eye.

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By coincidence we were seated at exactly the same table we sat at previously, which worked for me as I wanted that brilliant natural light for my photos.

I had emailed several days in advance to request seating by the window however didn’t hear back.

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We decided to have the Winter 2018 7 course tasting menu for $110 per person with the optional cheese course which was an additional $10 per person.

Freshly baked bread was swiftly delivered to the table and was served with the most delicious ricotta butter. I think one of my favourite things about eating in a fine dining restaurant is the butter. I never normally eat this at home so love having it as a little treat when out.

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First – Heirloom beetroot, Holy Goat piccolo cheese, basil, Pedro Ximènez glaze

This was a stand out dish that excited me for what was to come. The cheese had a different texture to it but once you cut through it, the delicious creamy Holy Goat piccolo cheese was utterly dreamy.

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Second – Cured Kingfish, finger lime, wild rice, truffle, lemon

The Cured Kingfish was a standout, I loved the generous serving size and the use of the finger lime as the citrus. Those little bursts of tart were heaven. Unfortunately, I could taste the truffle at all.

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Third – Trout, potato crisps, fennel ketchup, nasturtium berry, leaves

The trout was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. The crispness of the potato matched the dish perfectly. I found the flavours subtle which was perfect as the trout really was able to shine.

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Fourth – Quail breast, pancetta-wrapped quail leg, sprouts, black barley, quail egg, pickled walnut, quince aioli

I found this dish delicious but very common. Most fine dining places do something similar with quail, and while it’s not the easiest to work with I’d love to have seen a little more creativity. The black barley was a good choice to add some texture to the dish.

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Fifth – 48 day house-aged beef sirloin (served medium rare, peak whiskey mustard, baby onions, beef jus

Another great serving size, the beef melted in my mouth. The beef jus it was served with was flavoursome and the peat whisky mustard was perfect. Sometimes the dish can be simple, and in this instance simplicity was all that was needed.

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Optional Cheese Course – Fromage d’Affinois, caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, Waldorf garnish

I’d be lying if told you I didn’t order this because of the reference to bee pollen. One of my favourite dishes I ever had was at Marque in Surry Hills, Sydney. It was so simple with honeycomb and I thought maybe this would be similar – I don’t know why ha!
This was something else though, I loved the caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, savoury yet sweet and went perfectly with the Fromage d’Affinois.

The Waldorf garnish was cute too – I liked how they did that!

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Sixth – Granny Smith apple sorbet, poached rhubarb

Classic flavours that work perfectly together to cleanse the palette and prepare you for what will undoubtedly be a rich chocolate dessert. The sorbet wasn’t too tart which was great and the rhubarb had a great amount of sweetness to it.

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Seventh – Chocolate, white rum ganache, chocolate coffee crumb, poached pear

This was an extremely decadent dish which unfortunately I couldn’t finish – purely because I’m not a big lover of chocolate desserts (however my Husband loves this!). I really enjoyed the chocolate coffee crumb, a great technique was used here and it tasted great. Peat was a great choice to help break through the sweetness of the chocolate and white rum.

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No petit fours were served which was disappointing however it didn’t put a dampener on the meal.

What I love most about Sault is that you never leave hungry. Serving sizes are generous and I find the menu affordable for such great food.

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After lunch we took a stroll around the property to walk off lunch, it is incredibly relaxing to be surrounded by such beauty and fresh air.

You can find more about Sault, including menus here.

If you are in Daylesford, Sault is where you should dine at. I’d happily go back in a heartbeat, I’m serious – put this on your list of must do’s.

Renee
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