Tastes of the North-East

IMGP0404Words: Craig Dixon ■ Photos: Craig Dixon, Julie Neal ■ Organisers: Loz Thomas

Our first run with our home chapter, North-Eastern Victoria, Tastes of the North East, was a tasty morsel of what we were hoping for. Bring on the next course!

Julie and I rolled up to our meeting point, the magnificent Bilson’s Brewery in Beechworth, for our first time out with North-Eastern Chapter. It’s amazing what has been done with this historic property, and it’s an excellent place to meet.
Complimentary tastes of their beverages and cordials by an excellent host, along with great coffee, was a good start to the day.

The weather was supposed to bring some rain, but at the time we left it was roof-off weather. Thirteen cars with 21 intrepid ‘tasters’ started off with a most enjoyable run to the hamlet of
Stanley and our first stop at High Grove Berries. The drive through the magnificent entrance lined with large plane trees was a great introduction. Picking our own berries whilst enjoying the
wonderful views from this property was a delight. This also gave us an excuse to justify eating the rest of the day, being replenishment for our labours. It was good to see all the ‘quality
control testing’ being done during the picking.

Dragging ourselves away from the berries, we took a short drive to Snowline Fruits, when the weather started to turn. As we parked, some put their roof up while the rest of us decided it would be OK to leave them off. Our misplaced optimism lasted about two minutes when there was a quick dash back to the cars. Our boots now laden with apples, walnuts, honey and all other manner of goodies, we set off for Myrtleford, along the very enjoyable Carrols Road.

Now it was time to sample the chocolate coated pumpkin seeds at the Australian Pumpkin Seed Company that we had heard about over coffee. Didn’t sound all that appealing to me I must admit, but a few bags went in our boot! Another great opportunity to taste what is in our backyard and to help support the businesses up here that are doing it hard due to the huge visitor decline caused by the bushfires.

The weather turned good again before we left and the rooves quickly retreated to their rightful place – out of sight. Now for a very pleasant run over to Oxley.

After tasting all this lovely produce, we were then dragged kicking and screaming to our outdoor table under the trees at Sam Miranda Winery. Oh, OK, we did force ourselves to endure excellent platters of food, with wine, in an idyllic location, but only because it would have been rude not to.

This Tastes of the North-East is a tough gig. We next had to choose whether we went to Milawa Mustards or the Milawa Cheese Factory – or both! Such difficult decisions are hard to make on an empty stomach …

Our touring ended; it was time to head for home. For us, that is Mansfield and the Whitfield to Mansfield road, my favourite road in Victoria. Somehow though, we were magically pulled back to
Bilson’s at Beechworth where we did some more sampling and had a good look around. Well worth a visit.

Thanks to Loz for an excellent day out – both the drive and the venues. Put our names down for next year now please. ●

More photos can be found here.