I have just returned from a weekend away at Phillip Island with my partner, the in-laws and my adorable nephew. Apart from all the chocolate and hot cross buns we consumed, we also tried a variety of produce and restaurants in the area.
Wing Ho Chinese
I just love these little family run Chinese restaurants you find in small towns. I am talking round tables, plastic or paper tablecloths, gorgeous little oriental plastic plates. And even better, is when they serve good quality, simple Chinese food. Wing Ho in Phillip Island did not disappoint. Clearly catering for families it served reasonably priced, wonderful tasting Chinese basics. The home-made dim sims had a lovely citrus taste to them and the plump sesame prawns were delicious. For mains, the traditional combination birds nest housed a variety of meats with crisp, colorful vegetables- and the birds nest itself was the best bit! The sizzling Mongolian beef consisted of tender beef with just the right amount of kick to it so that even those who don't like 'spicy' went back for seconds. Service was great also.
|Sizzling Mongolian Beef|
|Combination Birds Nest|
Mussel Stew at Isola Di Capri
I love mussels. There is just so much you can do with them, and they are cheap and plentiful. One of my most favourite memories is of Christmas 2010 when my foodie cousin and I discovered some mussel beds on a particular pier on a particular peninsula (I won't say too much just in case we were the cause of a decline in population and therefore in lots of trouble) and spent hours filling up our little cousins sand buckets with them then taking them home and cooking a mussel pasta for all our family. Very illegal, I know but also about as much fun as a 22 year old and 28 year old foodie can have! This mussel dish captured everything I love about mussels- a strong, rich tomato sauce that seems to be soaked up and absorbed by the succulent little morsels. They add their very own saltiness to the tomato sauce and this one in particular also had fennel and saffron for added taste. Soaked up on a cold day with crusty sourdough bread and a glass of pinot grigio, I was in my own little foodie heaven.
Hot Chocolate at Panny's Chocolate Factory
This is such a popular little hotspot on the Cape Woolamai end of the island and it is easy to see why... chocolate, and lots of it. There is something else curious about this chocolate factory- being run by an Indian man 'Panny', it also serves curry. Chicken curry, lentil curry, prawn curry, curry buffets. Such a strange combination- chocolate and curry! But they seem to pull it off very well, and I enjoyed my half serve of a spicy prawn curry (it was Good Friday) and a soy hot chocolate. If you don't have time to stay for a drink or a curry, it is worth popping in just to grab a chocolate truffle, block or bar from their shop. I particularly love their sugar free dark chocolate... it does not taste sugar free at all. Yum! I am also dying to try one of their chocolate dipped frozen banana's, but have never visited there on a hot day... that is one for the wish list anyway.
La Provincia, Corinella
We discovered this little gem by accident on our way home. We had originally planned to have lunch at one of the South Gippsland wineries on the way home, but after being stuck in bumper to bumper holiday maker heading home traffic that meant it took 1.5 hours to move a mere 10kms our tired and hungry stomach's couldn't wait until the turn off for the wineries. So when on the Bass Highway we saw a sign for this Italian eatery, we veered off and were pleasantly surprised. We found a gorgeous little family run providore/cafe/winery/restaurant serving traditional Italian food that includes a range of their own sauces, cheeses, wines, cured meats. They also sell their own fruit and vegetables grown on the property. I love places like this and although the waitstaff were a little grumpy after being slammed all day the food was amazing.
|Sourdough with balsamic figs, pesto, haloumi, rocket and proscuitto|
La Provincia is definitely worth a lunch stop next time you are on the Bass Highway!
So of course it became my mission to chuck together an easy dinner using these simple but amazing ingredients and came up with this- goats cheese, asparagus and hot smoked trout bruschetta. The only thing I added from my fridge was a sprinkle of dill. One of the great things about a loaf of great sourdough bread is that you can literally make it into some kind of bruschetta using whatever you have in your pantry or fridge- tomatoes, mushrooms, pumpkin, smashed peas or even canned beans can all become bruschetta toppings
So all in all, a nice little taste of what Phillip Island has to offer.
I hope everyone had a happy Easter as I did. Spending time with my partner's little nephew and the rest of the family was wonderful. There is something so inspiring and joyful about life through the eyes of a child. It didn't matter what time of the day it was (even 7.30am!) I could not resist dropping everything to immerse myself in the innocence and energy of a two year old. Children really are the greatest joys, especially at times like Easter and Christmas.