It was one of the hottest days in 2013, I had a Friday off work, and my DD was back from a month long holiday.
It called for a Friday Road Trip.
We roped in Thanh and Shellie, piled into Shellie’s car and headed down the Peninsula. On the drive down there was Spice Girls car singalong (yep, we have no shame), alpaca spotting (llama llama llama!) and a stop at the Vintage Shed for food blogging photo props.
I’m not a big fan of autumn, winter, grey skies, and rain. Every year, I eagerly wait for summer to arrive. But even I must admit that there are some positives to the cold, wet weather – one of them being wild mushrooms.
A couple of weeks ago, the Boys and I headed down to T’Gallant for a mushroom hunt. It had been raining heavily the night before and we showed up to find that almost everyone else had gumboots on. Uh oh! Were we going to be under prepared? Trust me, if we had owned a pair of gumboots, I would have brought them, but we live in Melbourne…. where it rarely rains for more than 30 minutes. So gumboots have always seemed like a stupid thing to buy. But maybe that’s just envy talking because everyone else was so prepared!
After stops at two wineries (T-Gallant and Montalto), our lunch stop was Pier 10. Pier 10 used to be a weekender, and became a vineyard in 1996. It’s a very pleasant spot, with the restaurant looking out over the vines and fields. I seem to remember being told that it’s called Pier 10 because the structure in the front garden used to be part of a pier.
After tasting a few wines in the tasting room (where we came across a bucket of seriously gigantic zucchinis that were looking for homes), we headed to the back deck for food.
For lunch, we had an antipasto platter to share. It was all pretty good – olives, cured meats, some very good crunchy green beans, marinated vegetables and a bit of smooth pate.
And for the mains, the options were: a wild mushroom risotto, fish and chips, roast chicken breast and pan roasted ocean trout.
Alastair, Terry and I, ordered the pan roasted ocean trout, with nicoise salad and basil pesto. We were all pleased with our lunch – the trout was perfectly cooked with crispy skin, and the vegetables and salad were crunchy and fresh. Good boiled egg too!
Annette had the roast chicken breast with mashed potato, green beans, and gravy. This looked great – and it was a massive portion!
It was a very pleasant lunch – nothing fancy, but the food was well cooked and tasty. And as a bonus, we took a zucchini home for later – I told you they were massive!
Isn’t it interesting how the older you get, the faster time goes by? Three years ago in March, Alastair and I were married (AWWW) but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Should I write something embarrassingly gushy about love and all that jazz? No, I’ll spare you! Be thankful!
Since March is always a very busy month, we waited until April to celebrate our anniversary. I booked us a picnic at Montalto, a winery on the Mornington Peninsula. I have been wanting to picnic there ever since I read about it on Vicious Ange’s blog a couple of years ago. For $70 per person, we were allocated a private picnic spot (there are five) on the winery grounds, with food and other assorted picnic stuff set up for our arrival. We checked in at the cellar door, taking the opportunity to taste a couple of wines, and were then given a map so we could walk down to our picnic spot. Our spot was Half Moon, and would have been a 5-10 minute walk from the cellar door, except we got lost a couple of times and at one point I sent us crashing through the bush in what was pretty much the opposite direction. Now normally I have a fantastic sense of direction, and am very good with maps, but this was a hand drawn one with no sense of scale – what kind of map is that?? Bah! Ultimately, Alastair had to take over and lead the way, figuring out how to get to our secluded spot.
A good picnic is, of course, reliant on the weather and we totally lucked out. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a balmy temperature of about 25°C.
Our picnic spot was set in a clearing surrounded by trees. When we arrived, a table and umbrella had been set up for us.
The table was set with white linen, plates and cutlery, and off to one side was a big esky fridge thing (chillybin!) that held the food.
There was also a picnic basket which was loaded with a picnic blanket, insect repellent and sun screen. The insect repellent was definitely very useful as I started to get bug bites almost straight away – thank goodness it had been provided!
The esky fridge thing!
At the cellar door, we had ordered a bottle of wine, and someone must have driven it down while we were navigating the winery grounds, because there was a freshly opened, cold bottle waiting for us.
It didn’t take us long to get stuck into the food. In a covered dish on the table were several chewy bread rolls, and a bowl of nice olive oil.
On our first platter of food were: slices of terrine, a couple of dips (hummus and capsicum), some very good olives, smoked salmon on lentils, and a cherry tomato and basil salad. Good all round, with both of us particularly enjoying the smoked salmon, terrine and olives.
After a rest, we pulled out the mains platter. For mains we had duck, roast beef with chutney, and vegetables. The duck, cooked medium, was flavoursome and not too gamey. I also enjoyed the sweetish chutney with the thick slices of beef. But I would have loved more salady stuff – there was a lot of meat on that plate!
And for dessert, we had two kinds of cheese, crackers, quince paste, a sliced up fig, a couple of seriously fantastic strawberries and raspberries, raisins, a mandarin jelly thing, and a dense and rich chocolate cake.
It was nice to spend the afternoon hanging out under the trees with the sounds of the bush around us: birds chirping, the breeze blowing, cows mooing in the distance…! Yep, we picnicked to the serene sound of the occasional moooooooooooo. Hilarious.
We finished with a complimentary coffee at the Montalto garden café before we had to head back to Melbourne.
We had a very lovely picnic – it’s such a beautiful spot and great for a special occasion. It was very well organised, and I was impressed that small things had been thought of e.g. insect repellent being provided, the table being set, and our cold bottle of wine being driven down. It was just a shame that we couldn’t spend longer hanging out there!
Montalto Vineyard & Olive Grove 33 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, Victoria 3937 Phone +61 3 5989 8412