“Nature is the manifestation of divinity, for heaven’s sake,” smiles Roger McLean. He sits calm and collected. His white hair quiffed. His water-coloured gaze pulling the room apart - recalibrating something spiritual. Roger McLean is not interested in alcohol for alcohol’s sake. In the Middle Ages, medicinal practices were referred to as natural magic - Herbal Lore distillery evokes that diminished practice.
Terrines, rillettes and pates are the holy trinity to any occasion that celebrates conversation and clinking coupes. For Cameron and Murvet McKenzie, the duo behind local small-goods favourite Max and Delilah, the essence of these rustic dishes is simple—for people to enjoy each other's company. For centuries, food has catered to that bond.
Murvet waltzes in, glowing with enthusiasm. We meet at Wine By The Country, the testing grounds for Max and Delilah. “Cameron was dead set against food names for the company,” smiles Murvet, “Max and Delilah are our two cats. Delilah passed away two years ago but Max is still kicking around.”
Abbie the truffle dog runs excitedly beneath the oak trees. She stops at a small mound of earth under a tree and gives a delicate scratch at the surface of the soil. Her handler Sue Daly looks pleased. “Another truffle,” she says. She takes out a small trowel and carefully digs around the mound with archaeological like delicacy to reveal the subterranean source of the bulge. It’s a truffle. A great big black truffle. A delicacy originally from Europe they are so valuable they are sold by the gram. Two dollars and fifty cents per gram. A decent sized piece to shave over your pasta will cost $25.
The aroma of baking bread fills the backyard. Sweet, dark and nutty it rolls around on the breeze. In the kitchen out the back of a home in the heart of Daylesford, two women perform a much-practised dance as the knead, shape and bake beautiful looking sourdough loaves. The space is not expansive, so they have worked ways to move around each other that are almost balletic. They are Katy Bauer and Alison Wilken, the brains, brawn and passion behind Two Fold Bakehouse.
Ralf Fink is a Fleischmeister. A German master butcher. Born near Dortmund in the north east of Germany he grew up around smallgoods. His father Otto was also a Fleischmeister, and they both graduated from the same academy in Frankfurt. "I was sixteen when I started my apprenticeship," says Ralf. He speaks English with a soft German accent and grammatic perfection. Clean cut and well-presented he maintains high standards.
The grass is almost waist high and you can barely see the sheep. They are Suffolk, a breed of sheep that originated in England about 200 years ago with square bodies and open black faces which means they don’t have fleece on their face.
When Yandoit farmer Paul Righetti went to register the name Real Eggs for his pasture raised eggs the authorities put the kaibosh on all that. He’d been calling his eggs ‘Real Eggs’ for years but had to settle on Honest Egg Company…