Rocky Road Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

WARNING: You may be hungry and/or thirsty after reading this post.

On this grand day of November 27th, Lynn has turned the ripe old age of 31. The good news is that she is no longer carded when purchasing alcohol (traveling in countries where the drinking age is 18 may help with that) and she is still in good health. So, a lot to be grateful for!

We are presently very close to the Yarra Valley, a region known for its wine, so that was the sole plan for the day – drive around, see some cows = eat some cheese, admire some vineyards = drink some wine. Huzzah! We set out after a morning of catching up with family celebrating Thanksgiving (while making us jealous with all their food and family time) and huddling for warmth because it is cold here! It feels like fall in New England.

After a brief 30 minute drive, our first stop was to Coldstream Hills a vineyard we had learned about thanks to a TimeOut Melbourne article calling out the 5 best cellar doors in the region. Doug is a fan of oaky chardonnays and this winery was said to have the finest chardonnays in the region, though we learned after tasting that they weren’t too oaky to Doug’s disappointment. Through our tasting we did learn quite a bit with the help of our sommelier and 5 different chardonnays grown at this location and other hills in the region (Don’t worry, we dumped the wine after having 1-2 sips). The wines used the same grapes, same production process, but different soil leading to some having a more mineral taste and others being more airy along with other noticeable differences. Doug found that he preferred the Rising Vineyard Chardonnay so we purchased a bottle to go along with our dinner plans – sliced meats, cheeses, various marinated vegetables, and bread.

We've arrived!
We’ve arrived!
Doug perusing the options.
Doug perusing the options.
You are coming home with us, bottle.
You are coming home with us, bottle.
View from Coldstream Hills
View from Coldstream Hills
What a delightful countryside!
What a delightful countryside!

Driving a quick 10 minutes from there we ended up at Yarra Valley Dairy to check out their cheese selection and boy were we delighted! The cheesemonger gave us a variety of goat and cow cheeses to sample including one goat cheese covered in food-grade ash “for aesthetics and as a conversation starter for your next party” and another cow cheese marinated in oil with saffron, orange peel, and garlic called Saffy. We also got to sample some homemade jams and salsas of which the highlight was a salsa with a bit of an Indian flavor profile paired with some goat cheese. Yum! We couldn’t pass up a chance to eat more of the deliciousness so we purchased some Saffy to take home for dinner.

Cheeeeeseeeeeee
Cheeeeeseeeeeee
Yummy
Yummy
Saffy, you are coming home with us.
Saffy, you are coming home with us.

Before heading to another vineyard we hunkered down in Mickey and ate our picnic lunch. We had intended to eat it at a winery, but as we were starting to learn, wineries in Australia tend to sell their own food and aren’t too fond of you bringing your own. Nor do they sell just a glass of wine to pair with your picnic, but instead greatly encourage you to buy an entire bottle (if not more) to have with their food. Oh well, it’s too cold outside anyway.

Our next winery was the Dominique Portet which TimeOut informed us was known for its rose which Lynn is a fan of and was not disappointed. We also were excited to learn that the owner of Dominique Portet also founded Taltarni Vineyard, the winery we had been at two days previously, after noticing a giant wine bottle with its label on it behind the tasting counter. Our sommelier was so amused by this that we all took a selfie together to send the sommelier back at Taltarni. After tasting a few other wines, we purchased a rose for later but also agreed that the fume blanc at Taltarni was far better than any of the wines we had thus far had.

Grapes!
Grapes!
Dominique Portet
Dominique Portet
IMGP9318
We see you back there, Taltarni.

Onward to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery! Through more vineyards, orchards, cow fields, and even an alpaca farm we found our way to the chocolaterie where we promptly sampled from the large piles of white, milk, and dark chocolate pastilles. Yum! We took a quick jaunt around the store watching the chocolate makers cover honeycomb in white chocolate along the conveyor belt and taking in the window of truffles before ordering some ice cream cones: Mint Chocolate Chip for Lynn and Rocky Road for Doug. We then used the time it took to eat the ice cream to figure out what to choose for Lynn’s birthday. She was a bit sad to learn that Australians don’t have the love for peanut butter that they do back home but was intrigued by the thought of dark chocolate macadamias or dark chocolate chili or dark chocolate freeze dried strawberries (do you see the theme?). She was even intrigued by the brownies and cheesecakes in the pastry case, but ultimately settled on her tried and true favorite from back home: a bar of the darkest chocolate they offer (73%) to be dipped in a jar of peanut butter purchased later than afternoon. She is not ashamed to admit that this is the purest form of joy the world offers :-).

Hello, chocolate
Hello, chocolate
Piles of pastilles
Piles of pastilles
Truttles
Truttles
Mint Chocolate Chip
Mint Chocolate Chip
Get in my belly!
Get in my belly!
View from the chocolaterie
View from the chocolaterie
Lynn may have added some free pastilles to her ice cream cone.
Lynn may have added some free pastilles to her ice cream cone.

We made one more stop to Coldstream Brewery to try the local beer. Unlike the wineries, we enjoyed that they offered a paddle sampler so we didn’t feel guilty about not buying any to take home. The paddler included a pilsner, a porter, and a pear cider along with a few others. They were all pretty good, though not as good as Texas beer (yes, Texas, you win the beer battle).

Doug doing his best cold impression while actually being cold.
Doug doing his best cold impression while actually being cold.
Beer
Beer
Adorable.
Adorable.

Back on the road we headed towards home, but not before picking up the peanut butter! It was early afternoon by this point, so Lynn did was she does best in cold weather (fell asleep reading in bed) while Doug did a run for the both of us (that’s how exercise works, right?).

Our evening was highlighted by enjoying our cheese (gouda, vintage cheddar, smoked, peppercorn cheddar, and Saffy), meat (Spanish salami and Tuscan salami), feta stuffed olives, sundried tomatoes, nectarines, apples, and garlic-rosemary bread. All this was paired with wine we had purchased earlier and finished off with chocolate generously dipped in peanut butter. We enjoyed these goodies all while watching You Again and Best Man Down on Netflix. It was a delightfully filling and relaxing day!

Doug's artfully prepared dinner selection.
Doug’s artfully prepared dinner selection.
Yep, that's a good birthday.
Yep, that’s a good birthday.

Daily Walking Mileage: Doug – 6, Lynn – 1.4

Fun Facts:

  • It’s Lynn’s Birthday!!!!!! “She’s really old now.” – Doug
  • Rocky Road in Australia is stupid. Instead of nuts, they have raspberry swirls and in some cases use vanilla ice cream. This is stupid and Australia should feel bad.
  • Yarra Valley has cool region wineries and the Pyrenees, where we were two days ago, is a warm region winery. This may be the key to why we liked Taltarni wines over Yarra Valley wines.
  • After the initialize joy of all-you-can-taste for free cellar doors, we would like to retract our enthusiasm. We now much prefer paid tastings since you don’t feel guilty when you don’t buy a bottle.
  • Despite being advertised as a comedy, Best Man Down was a very serious movie. Justin Long is not related to Shelley Long.

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