Tuesday 7 September 2010

Port Fairy - a welcome break

We got back from a relaxing few days in Port Fairy yesterday. No blogging, not much tv, lots of reading, and early nights. The rain pelted down, the wind howled, but we were snug in a cottage with a warm fire and lots of good food. I was glad we took a box of food with us but we managed quite a few meals out and E struck up a good relationship with the local fish and chip shop.

Here is our kitchen with Sylvia's high chair tucked out of view. Quite symbolic really, given that she preferred to sit on a regular kitchen chair for meals despite being hardly able to see over the top of the table. Last night we had a guest in our kitchen - the hungriest cat I have ever met. He was even eating chickpeas that fell from Sylvia's plate.

The cottage had a feel of yesteryear with old books and photographs around the room. We lit a wood stove each night to keep us warm. E was quite pleased that Sylvia kept yelling "daddy" and pointing at the picture of the UK's King George VI, Queen Mary and Princess Margaret.

Outside the front door was a tree in blossom. It was shaken about by the rain and wind by the time we left but a lovely reminder that the warm days of spring are on the way.

On our first morning, we went to Rebecca's Cafe for brunch. I had toast, baked beans, avocado, spinach and grilled tomatoes. I loved the food. I loved the old wooden high chair that Sylvia sat in. I loved the service and the ambiance.

I loved Sylvia's compote of rhubarb and berries, even without the yoghurt that it usually comes with. I loved that Sylvia ate quite a few of the strawberries. I loved that the compote wasn't too sweet or overcooked but had fantastic flavour.

I even loved E's wild rice porridge, despite him ordering it without rhubarb and berries that it usually comes with. It was more rice pudding than porridge. Soft, nutty and slightly chewy, it was sweetened with maple syrup and a little spicy. I liked it so much I ordered it on our last morning but was disappointed at how little fruit was served with it and found it too sweet to finish the large serving. It was great in small doses.

After my initial love of Rebecca's we returned twice and neither visit was as fantastic as the first time. It still seemed the best place for brunch and I would return for the vegie breakfast and the fruit compote. E also loved his big brekkie. I tried a cake which had been in the fridge too long but would have loved to try the ice creams.

On Saturday, I had a lovely soft lentil burger with salad, avocado, sweet chilli sauce and satay sauce which was delicious but I wasn't keen on the way it was served in parts. However it was the end of a morning when everything went wrong, Sylvia was ratty and I was so disorganised I forgot my camera. A peaceful afternoon when Sylvia slept for 3 hours and we read our books was just what we needed to overcome the morning.

We also had lunch at the Hub on the corner next door to Rebecca's. Port Fairy caters well for vegetarians and gluten free folk. I even noticed that the local pizza place had GF pizza bases. It is that sort of place. The Hub had a few veg options. I had the pesto arancini (rice balls) with chips and salad. E chose the sweet potato and cashew curry. Sylvia had toasted cheese sandwiches. The food was nice but not outstanding. However, the staff get bonus points for being tolerant of Sylvia's shenanigans with a noisy toy lawn mower!

The one restaurant I would have loved to visit was the Merrijig Inn (reviewed by Cindy and Michael earlier this year). Unfortunately, a small toddler didn't seem to be the right accessory for a fine dining establishment so our dinners were more of the fish and chip variety. I also managed to bake some pasties to eat on a couple of nights and took some tinned soup.

Our fish and chip shop of choice was Wisharts at the Wharf just near our cottage. The potato cakes were a bit low on the batter but the chips were crisp and golden. We didn't plan to go there three nights in a row but it was cheap, close and comforting. And if you went walking along the waterfront in the evening, the smell was very tempting. Sylvia loved the chips and they were easy take away food.

It is the first time I have visited Port Fairy outside of their famous folk festival. During the festival the streets are filled with lively and colourful crowds, but this week it was more subdued, though friendly nevertheless. On our last day we went for a walk to Griffiths Island to see the lighthouse (photo at top of post). True to the weather of our holiday it was sunshine one moment and heavy rain the next. The rocky seaside and fierce waves were a reminder that the town was originally a whaling station and saw many ship wrecks.

We left feeling relaxed and refreshed. There were places we didn't get a chance to visit (The History Centre on Gipps Street and the Clonmara tea rooms on the Princes Highway) but we enjoyed our stay. Above is a photo of some of the goodies we took home. E and I indulged in some nostalgia at an op shop with bargain purchases of the Scotland Yard board game and the Patsy Biscoe Nursery Rhyme record. Sylvia chose a toy lawn mower that makes a noise when she pushes it. We also did a bit of shopping at gourmet food stores and a sample of the food can be seen above too. It is just that sort of place!

Rebecca's Café
70 Sackville Street
03 5568 2555

The Hub @ Port Fairy
15 Bank Street
03 5568 2326

Wisharts at the Wharf
King George Square
29 Gipps St
(03) 5568 1884
UPDATE 2014 - Wisharts has closed (try Charlies on East Beach)

Orchard Cottages
18 Gipps Street
Tel: 03 5568 2487 Mob: 0428 326 012
Email: orchardcottages@port-fairy.com
Web: http://www.port-fairy.com/orchardcottage/

Also read my post about the trip we made to Isabella's Cafe Lighthouse - well worth a drive to Portland


  1. I bet you feel recharged after such a lovely weekend.
    The simplicity of a weekend away is so blissful and I always return home and wonder why we've got so much stuff and spend so much time tidying (or rather moving things around because there's no particular place for them).
    Scrummy food and no washing up is always a bonus of time away :o)

  2. I love the look of the wild rice porridge it looks very healthy.

    Shopping at gourmet food stores is one of my favourite things to do, its looks like you had a fantastic time.

  3. The food, the location, the cottage - it all looks so wonderful :)

  4. Patsy Biscoe! Love it.

    Glad you had a chance to get away. I've not been to Port Fairy, but one day...

  5. Oh oh oh! That wild rice porridge! I'm in love... I adore the nuttiness of wild rice, and simple *must* go out and buy some tonight for dinner. Except, fiddlesticks, I can't because I'm tutoring until 6pm then have to get the bus home and I really can't be bothered getting off early and walking further just to stop my the shops.

    If only I could simpyl come home to potato cakes instead...

  6. Thanks Nic - I know what you mean about such a holiday showing how simple life can (and should) be - I seem to spend life at home finding storage a challenge but our holiday cottage had so little space

    Thanks Jess - I love a browse in a good gourmet store though they are always so expensive and yet so tempting

    Thanks Lisa - it was

    Thanks Lucy - unfortunately the record is scratched but I couldn't resist the nostalgia of the patsy biscoe cover. Hope you get a chance to go down that way some day - it is a lovely town

    Thanks Hannah - I am sure you would love the wild rice porridge but not be too heavy handed with the sweetner. I would suggest you should live opposite a fish and chip shop but it would probably be just too tempting :-)

  7. The cottage looks gorgeous - and LOL at Sylvia associating the former King with Daddy. Patsy Biscoe - now there's a name I haven't heard for years. We have that album gathering dust somewhere at my Mum's house.

  8. Glad to see you had such a lovely time! When we were there last summer we had pleasant (not blogged!) meals at Rebecca's and the fish'n'chip shop too. In fact I'm pretty sure we must have sat at precisely the same table at Rebecca's as you did, I recognise the view. :-D

  9. A weekend away can do wonders. Good to read you had a good time. That little cottage does look rather dainty and window shopping in gourmet/foodie shops is a great treat, evn if you don't always come home with something from there.

    Wild rice porridge, now that is something that I have not even seen in Scotland. I have to admit it looks rather scrummy.

  10. Thanks Cakelaw - the cottage was very cosy with everything we wanted (except maybe an oven) - and now you mention it, my parents might still have the patsy biscoe album at home

    Thanks Mangocheeks - the wild rice porridge was great and I don't usually like porridge - but it just had a bit much sweetner

  11. Thanks Cindy - Rebecca's was the place that we were recommended to go in port fairy by a few people

  12. I noticed the measuring cone in the last photo. It's good to know they are still made - I use mine frequently & I've had it for 30 years now. But be careful when measuring hot liquids - hold the rim or the plastic bottom.

  13. Thanks Pene - well spotted - I bought this measuring cup because I lived with someone who had one and have never seen them since so was very pleased to get one - will bear in mind your wise advice re hot liquids

  14. Sounds like a wonderful trip. :) I used to play Scotland yard with my family but my stepdad is WAY too good at being the criminal so we can never find him and thus stopped playing with him haha.

  15. My bf and I are planning a little getaway to Port Fairy in January 2012 and it's hard to find really good reviews and pictures of the food on offer, thanks for a great post :)


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