Thursday 26 May 2011

Kinglake Farmers Market and Aus 57 Pizza and Pasta Bar

We had a drive out of town on the weekend to visit Kinglake Farmers Market, followed by lunch at Aus 57 Pizza and Pasta Bar.  The drive there was not too long - around an hour - but did involve some very curvy roads, albeit with wonderful scenic views, through the Kinglake National Park.

We chose the destination after hearing it mentioned on the radio.  Until then Kinglake was better known to us as one of the towns badly affected by the Black Saturday bushfires.  Even two years later, its impact on the trees was still clear to see with many of them sporting blackened trunks and a peach fuzz of new growth. 

The market was not huge but had many interesting stalls and friendly folk.  The first stall that caught my eye was the above one.  I was quite excited by all the cupcakes, even when I found out they were soap sculptures.  E thought they looked quite awkward to use and I had to explain that some people are quite happy to display pretty soaps in their bathrooms.

We enjoyed quite a bit of tasting.  I loved this olive oil stall which had one of the best tastings of olive oil that I have seen.  Usually olive oil is in little dipping bowls with chunks of bread.  This display had a colourful platter of ciabatta bread, olive oil, garlic, rocket and parmesan.  I felt like sitting down to a plateful of it.

Sylvia loves to ask "are we going to the park?"  Or some days when we are off to the shops, she tells me "park first".  So it was nice that there was a small kids playground in the midst of the stalls.  Unfortunately, it was not quite the weather for it.  Sylvia had barely got on the swing when the rain come on.  It was a day of sunshine one moment and rain the next.

I had thought we might also have lunch at the market but it didn't really cater to vegetarians in that way.  There was a bbq and a stall selling dim sims and dumplings to eat.  Neither had veg alternatives, though there were vegetarian dumplings to take home to cook.  Sweet food was another matter.  E queued up for poffertjes (little dutch pancakes) and I bought a hot jam doughnut.  The doughnut stall cooked them fresh and they were pretty good (though not quite up to Vic Market standard) and had lots of delicious tarts and cakes.  I also noticed a stall doing gluhwein which was tempting, given the cold wet weather that sent rain trickling down between the covers.

After a sweet snack, we got down to the business of spending our money.  I was disappointed that the rustic loaves of bread that looked so good on the way in had sold out by the time I returned.  There was plenty else to take my fancy.  I had meant to take a picture of our goods when we got home but life is too chaotic.  We left the market with caramel and dragonfruit soap, chilli rocky road, silverbeet, beetroot, parsnips, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, chilli jam and a bag of fudge.

It was John and Carol Walker's fudge that was one of my favourites.  Sylvia and I tasted it while waiting for E to take bags back to the car.  I was immediately smitten and asked what was in it.  As I suspected it had condensed milk.  I had a lovely chat to them about how good it was without the grittiness that sugar usually leave in fudge.

After all that driving and strolling through the market, we were ready for lunch.  We walked across the road to Aus 57 Pizza and Pasta Bar, with low expectations.  From the outside it looked like just the sort of country cafe that has not even heard of vegetarians.  But appearances can be deceptive.  Inside it was warm and welcoming with an open fire and honey coloured pine furniture.

I swithered over a vegetarian lasagna but ordered margherita pizza with sides of chips and vegetables.  Simple food that I hoped Sylvia might share with me.  E had an egg and bacon sandwich with an English Breakfast tea.  We were delighted with the food.  The pizza was made with fresh tomato, onion ring and whole basil leaves.  A bit too chunky for Sylvia but I loved it.  The base could have been a little crispier but the toppings were so good that it didn't matter.

The chips were lovely but the vegetable side dish was stunning (see top photo).  Potatoes in a mustard sauce, zucchini, capsicum and tomato cooked almost as a ratatouille, green beans cooked perfectly and corn on the cob.  What proved how good the vegies were, was that E preferred them over the chips.  Sylvia turned up her nose and concentrated on the chips.

We really enjoyed our visit to Kinglake, though I was disappointed on the way out to see we missed the House of Bottles which has a tearoom.  Next time that will be added to the itinerary.  Meanwhile, all Sylvia needed were a few puddles.  She had on her ladybird gumboots and was hard to get into the car once she discovered how much fun she could have stomping in all the puddles.  I, on the other hand, have a fridge full of vegetables so expect to see a few appear on the blog soon.

Kinglake Farmers Market
District Services Centre, Main Rd, Kinglake.
4th Sunday of the Month
Open 9am - 2pm

Aus 57 Pizza and Pasta Bar
57 Kinglake-Glenburn Rd
Kinglake Central VIC 3757
Tel: 03 5786 1957


  1. That looks like an awesome farmer's market! I can't wait to see what you make with all that produce!

  2. Looks like a great market. I loved the cupcake soap photo--my first thought was, "wow, those are REALLY BIG cupcakes!"--and no wonder! Your pizza and veggies also sounded really good. And so many fresh veggies to be had--so funny to see a sign near the chard that says, "Silverbeet". ;)

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Sorry to hear that there wasn't much vegetarian food but the donut does look tasty and my next question was how they compared to the Queen Vic markets ones but then you answered it! :D

  4. I must take Mum to that market next time I am in Melbourne!!!

  5. Those soap cupcakes look wonderful. It would be a shame to use them, they look so pretty.
    ...and hooray for puddles. Hours of entertainment there :-)

  6. Thanks Joanne - have been enjoying using it - feel like I have a never ending bunch of silverbeet

    Thanks Ricki - now you can see I haven't just made up the word silverbeet :-) and you made me notice that there is a sign for beetroot beside it - very australian! amazing soaps - though sylvia wasn't keen on the taste

    Thanks Lorraine - always compare donuts to the queen vic market - to be pretty good compared to them is high praise! and yes a shame there wasn't veg food but it was more than made up for by lunch

    Thanks Lisa - it's a great drive and I would love to do some walking in the national park

    Thanks cityhippyfarmgirl - puddles are great for entertainment but I am finding that where there are puddles I don't get anywhere fast :-)

  7. Looks like a fun day out was had by all! The soaps are pretty.

  8. That looked like a great farmers market.

    You must tell E I laughed out loud at the thought of him being puzzled by the thought of washing with cupcake soaps. So funny! Men are so clueless sometime :)

  9. Gorgeous photos. Looks like a great farmer's market. I love the cupcake soap photo and added it to a Pinterest board of pretty soap and craft displays.


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