Last weekend was the Labour Day long weekend. E and I went for a day trip to the country. We decided to go to Woodend, about 50 minutes drive from Melbourne, because there was a Lions Art Show in the church hall.
We stopped at a lovely café in a giftshop called Maloa House. It was all airy high ceilings, artwork on colourful walls and wooden counters. I liked it but E thought it too brightly lit (all the better for photographing my meal!). The shop also sold soaps, candles, lamps, beautiful crockery and gourmet groceries.
I had a herb and parmesan risotto cake topped with sweet potato, caramelized onions and stilton. It was presented with panache! The swirl of tomato sauce and herb sauce looked professional. I would have preferred a bit more sauce, but the sweet potato, onion and cheese added an interesting combination of intense flavours. But I was happy that I also ordered the bean salad. Without it the risotto might have been a bit dry. It was this salad that attracted me to the place. It comprised very light dressed cooked green beans, olives, semi dried tomatoes and potato. I’d go back just for the salad. It was deliciously simple.
The art show was nice but quite traditional – E couldn’t believe that one of my favourite paintings was of a beetroot! We also enjoyed a wander around Woodend. It feels like the tree-changers have infiltrated – I imagine quite a few of the residents commute to Melbourne daily. What does this mean? Gift shops of candles, soaps & quaint garden rustic furniture; quirky shops like Uncle Festers that sell witches wands and pentagrams made on the premises; a great second hand bookstore; and gourmet delicacies abound.
I was surprised that not only could I find a vegetarian meal quite easily, but that there was also a good selection of gluten free food. We found excellent friands at Bites Deli and were sad that the Literary Latte was closed so we couldn’t have a drink there – but maybe next time!
I left having purchased dried blueberries at Maloa House and parmesan cheese at the Deli, plus some mulled wine oil burner wax from Habitat. Not a bad haul from a country town. I still think of country towns being like the one I lived in as a child where having a dim sim or a chiko roll with my fish and chips was the height of sophistication! But the times they are a changing.
97 High Street
Woodend VIC 3442
Tel: 03 5427 1608
Fax: 03 5427 3226