Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The disastrous day trip

I've lived half my life in the country and half in the city but I forget how "citified" I've become until a small incident shows that there can still be a gulf between rural and urban life. Let me explain.

For several years, I've hankered to visit Kyneton, a small town in the Macedon Ranges and a comfortable drive from Melbourne. Specifically, I wanted to visit Annie Smithers' Bistro, which kick-started the culinary revolution in Piper St and which this year received its third successive The Age Good Food Guide hat. Since the bistro opened, Piper Street's lovely old bluestone and historic buildings have slowly been revived, with cafes, cake shops, an upmarket pizzeria, a gastropub, homewares stores and a gallery all crammed into a relatively short strip just out of the main centre of an otherwise ordinary Victorian rural town.

Two weeks ago, with some time off work and the children being looked after for the day, Adam and I decided to head to Kyneton for a day trip, with the planned highlight being lunch at Annie Smithers' Bistro. It was only as we drove up to the beautiful old bluestone building that houses the Bistro, which looked suspiciously dark and unoccupied, that it dawned on me that I should have checked the opening hours. Right on cue, Adam asked me "Did you check the opening hours?" And I had to confess that not only had I not checked, but that the thought had not occurred to me. I've become so used to Melbourne's seven-day-a-week culture that I did not stop to think that country towns, especially those that rely on weekend traffic from Melbourne, were likely to have a few days off early in the week. It was a Tuesday and the bistro's opening hours were Wednesday to Sunday.

Not to worry, we consoled ourselves. There were plenty of options in Piper St, as highlighted in the article and photo spread in the September issue of Delicious magazine. But, alas, most of the other options were also closed. Thankfully, Slow Living, at 54 Piper St, was open. It's a lovely, welcoming big open space, with lots of spacious wooden tables and a central counter stocked with a coffee machine and some cakes and biscuits. There's a grassed area to one side that would be perfect on a sunny day, with plenty of space for children to play while the parents relax with food and coffee.

The smallish menu features locally grown and mostly organic food, with several breakfast options and a couple of lunch specials each day. We chose the vegetarian lentil burger, a generously sized pattie bursting with lentils, chickpeas, corn, carrot and some spices. It came on a thick slice of sourdough, with salad and spiced yoghurt to the side. It may be just mind over matter, but there seems to be so much more flavour in organic food. This lentil burger was an excellent meal in its own right and was worth the drive from Melbourne.

To rub salt into our wounds, the cover story in today's Epicure is all about the revival of Piper St and Kyneton, and just reiterated to us how much we want to visit again (probably on a weekend!) and try out some more options. Next time, I will be more organised and will definitely check ahead for opening hours!

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