Today was a perfect day for coffee at one of my favourite cafes, The General Food Store Emerald.
The sun was shining, the breeze was fresh, the scent of Spring was in the air. I knew that a drive through those hills would inspire me.
The General Food Store has had a make over of sorts.
A few things that I love.
Their monthly newsletter on the wall with announcement of local events, seasonal produce etc.
Regularly changing art work in the cafe, featuring local artists. Today I was struck by the beauty of a photo of Emerald Lake Park at night. So stunning.
A reliably great cup of coffee.
Small but excellent menu.
Cafes are our modern-day watering holes. Slurp, slurp, tsk, tsk.
The General Food Store seems to be the go-to place for a lot of Emerald locals and it is always busy.
I ordered eggs on toast $10. The lovely, chewy, crunchy sourdough made me very happy.
There was also a cabinet full of delicious looking cakes and slices. Some were gluten-free, some were low sugar, some were just the way Grandma made them.
The General Food Store menu still offers two different styles of baguette $11.50, French lentil soup $10, house-made granola $11.50 and more. Check out the full menu, which changes with the Seasons, here.
I think that the General Food Store could be one of your favourite cafes too, even if you are not local.
Take a drive through the sweeping Dandenong Ranges, feel your cares slip away as the road climbs higher, let the gorgeous green spaces sing you a lullaby and the majestic trees, whisper their secret.
Keep an eye on the General Food Store Facebook page if you would like to be notified of special events or night time dining options. While you are there, please visit the Eat My Street Facebook page too, and say hello. I’d love to see you stop by and I appreciate your support.
So we have manned the phones, checked the town noticeboard and scanned the Parish Newsletter. The votes are in for our Friday Favourites and top tips for the weekend.
Are you wondering what is on in Berwick and beyond this weekend? Despite the fact that the cold weather has really set in here in Melbourne, there are still heaps of great things to do this weekend in Berwick & beyond.
1. The ever sweet Cockatoo Country Market is on this weekend. Full of locally grown, made or produced items you can also be served Devonshire tea, hot coffee or a freshly made bacon and egg roll. Plus this Saturday Nat Pike and Megan Nelson will be busking. I love a bit of live busking. Be there. 🙂 Check out this article written for the Local paper by none other than Madame eatmystreet herself, for more details.
2. The Grow it, Make it, Bake it Market in Emerald turns 1. They are celebrating and you are invited! There will be balloons, cake and Babaji’s Kitchen will be serving food. Plus craft for the kids, Embellished Cakes and more. Why not stop by, wish them a happy birthday and join in the fun.
3. Burrinja Circus Festival is on all weekend. It includes “Burrinja Circus Presents Lost” on Saturday night. Click here to find out more.
4. Mount Baw Baw has snow! Melbourne’s closest downhill ski resort has snow. It also has 35 hectares of downhill terrain, 10km of cross country ski trails and 7 lifts. Pack your 16 layers of snow gear and go enjoy.
5. Looking for something good to do with the family this weekend? Then why not try a visit to Puffing Billy. Plus, this Saturday night they have a Dinner & Dance Train running. $112 pp for a 3 course meal. Aces! 6. I say this is perfect weather for watching a movie. I’m thinking Cinderella at home in front of the fire, or Minions at Cameo Cinema. Or maybe both! Suggestions for any non kids films are very welcome.
As always, if there is anything I have missed, pop it in the comments either here or on Facebook.
So school holidays are here and what better way to celebrate and spur you onto greatness, than with a list of “the top three family friendly things to do in Emerald and surrounds.” Let’s go.
Now, finding family friendly things to do is harder than you might think. The clue is in the wording. Family and friendly. So the whole family has to enjoy it. I can think of many things that leave me completely cold, but that my kids love doing. Hanging out at a public swimming pool and visiting a busy playground being two of them. I can also easily think of things that give me a thrill, that leave my kids feeling bored and restless. I present; attending art auctions and and lingering in antique shops. Been there, done that, it did not go well.
So I am well pleased with myself when I manage to find things that we can all do together, and all enjoy.
Here is my list of Top Three Family Friendly Activities in Emerald and Surrounds.
1. See Puffing Billy or be seen on Puffing Billy
So a lot of people love to step aboard the elegant old Puffing Billy for a day. They sit in her open window, legs dangling down the side, waving as she swishes along. She will tour you through the Dandenong Ranges and past some of the most gorgeous, luscious scenery as you go. Riding aboard Puffing Billy is great fun and the small ones will be smitten.
You probably won’t want to do climb aboard more than once a year though. But if you have already been on the train this year, this does not mean you need to wave her adieu. Try coming to Emerald, Gembrook or Belgrave for a day trip. Bring a picnic, or visit one of the great Cafe’s on offer. Take your kids to the local playground or explore a walking track. Then when the time is right, visit one of the Historic train stations and watch her swish by.
So my tip is, visit Emerald, park your car somewhere in the town. Grab a coffee & sandwich from The Emerald Bakery, tootle down to the playground with your children and let them have fun while you sip your coffee and get lulled into contemplation or conversation, by the gorgeous scenery. Then when you hear that iconic whistle, head down to the train track and watch the gorgeous Puffing Billy steam by.
From there you could take a walk through sweet Emerald Village, or take one of the sweeping tracks that follows alongside the train.
After you have gone for a brisk walk, you might like to stop by Elevation at Emerald, for a family friendly lunch or dinner, with more amazing views.
Day sorted. 🙂
2. Visit Emerald Lake Park.
Emerald Lake Park is such a beautiful, peaceful spot. I have written before about how it is one of my “happy places.” Luckily for me, my kids really like it too. The Lake sits right in the middle of the park and depending on the season, it will afford you the choice of walking, paddle boating, running, gazing, swimming, listening to jazz, fishing or meandering.
Puffing Billy also has a station here too and you can see her run through the edge of the park. If you are mad keen on trains then you might like to drop into the miniature railway museum. Otherwise there are a couple of different playgrounds to visit including one with outdoor gym equipment.
There are also walking tracks criss crossing their way throughout the park. If you are lucky you might lock eyes with a Kookaburra.
Take your camera, a picnic and a treasure box for collecting, and be there.
3.Now this is a special one for slightly older children. Ever dreamed of being an Astronaut? Well a visit to Mount Burnett Observatory might be the next best thing.
Nestled just outside of Emerald, in picturesque Mount Burnett, is the Southern Hemispheres only community run and owned observational telescope. Originally built in 1974 by Monash University for the use of their Physics department, the telescope was handed over the group of amateur astronomers in early 2011 to be opened to the public in 2012.
Once a month they run the Young Observers Program, but there is something happening at the Observatory every Friday night. Entry is free for members, but visitors are welcome if you book in advance. Visiting the Observatory is such aunique, exciting and educational experience, for young and old alike. Plus the volunteer members are friendly, their enthusiasm is contagious and they are willing to share their chocolate biscuits.
Now I was a little nervous about attending the Observatory for the first time. You could say I was scared that the massive black hole that is my knowledge of Astronomy, might be publicly outed. But, this did not happen. In fact they seemed to not mind that I am a dolt. At the least, they were not surprised. So give it a try, I think it was an amazing and unique experience and I had fun! I think that you will have fun too. Who wouldn’t be excited about the opportunity to take a sneak peek into space?
So I hope you and your whole family are able to find something fun, adventurous and interesting to do in Emerald and Surrounds.
Enjoy your holidays, and let me know how you go on your adventure.
So we have manned the phones, checked the town noticeboard and scanned the Parish Newsletter. The votes are in for our Friday Favourites and top tips for the weekend.
This weekend is looking fantastic with a lot of Winter Solstice festivities going on. It may even be as good as last weekend, which frankly I thought was unbeatable. Here is a little recap of my time at #VoicesofAu last weekend.
1. The Belgrave Lantern Parade is on this weekend and the Hills are alive with the sounds of lantern making. This will be the 9th annual lantern parade, that is held to mark the Winter Solstice. The Parade starts at 5.30pm from Hayes Carpark. People are excited! They are making their own lanterns. The lanterns look amazing. A not to be missed local event say I. Go here for more information.
2. I have the privilege of attending the Yarra Valley Shortest Lunch this weekend. Fifteen of the Yarra Valley’s smaller wineries throw open their doors to celebrate the Winter Solstice weekend. Entry is $15 which is paid at the first winery that you attend and which will also reward you entry to all wineries and a souvenir glass to use at every other winery you visit. Proceeds from these glasses will go toward the local CFA, so good things all around. The Yarra Vally Shortest Lunch is about progressive eating and all day dining (sounds perfect) so you can chose a couple of your favourite wineries and visit them or aim for the stars and visit all 18. There will be music and much smiling. Families are welcome. The Yarra Valley is such a beautiful area and I can’t wait to visit some of the sweet little wineries that dot the sweeping hillside. Bliss. For bookings or more information check here.
3. Markets. The Emerald Market is on again this Sunday. It runs out the front of the Emerald Community House at 356 Belgrave-Gembrook Rd, Emerald. Home to my favourite market stall ever, The Artisan Crust, they also have hot food, organic produce and craft. Not to mention the stunning backdrop of the surrounding countryside, great local cafes and a sweet community feel.
4. Dining. So many options to chose from, although not many with an open fireplace. How I long for a restaurant with a fireplace at this time of year. On my wish list is French restaurant La Voltaire Bistro Francais in Belgrave and Big Spoon Little Spoon in Warragul. Big Spoon, Little Spoon have just won the Hospitality & Accommodation gong at the Baw Baw Excellence Awards 2015. If you have visited either of these I would love to hear what you think…. Still just a dream for me at the moment.
5. Reading. My favourite blog of the moment is from my lovely new friend Tonia over at toniawithaneye.com. This girls is funny and gorgeous and she used to work with Bert Newton! What more could you want. Stop by her blog and say “Hi.” You are sure to leave with a smile on your face.
So, what have I missed? Lots, I am sure. Please feel free to add your ideas into the comments below. I love to hear from my readers. And if you find a restaurant with an open fire, I must know about it. Pretty please?
My first time attending the Pave Funfest today. Good things worth mentioning. I met a robot, he could talk. He was pretty funny. I heard the Melbourne Accordion Orchestra “The Big Squeeze” in action.
Artisan Crust were there and this time they had made macaron’s and baclava. They just keep getting better.
I got to see with my own eyes the old is new wine bar “The Hive.” Set up in the old Emerald Bakery and with many of its historic features still intact the venue was amazing, evocative and moody- and it talked! Only figuratively sorry, different to the robot. Emerald was busy and bustling and there were so many options for food and fun. My own random tinkler at one of the pianos set up around the town. There are still many activities planned for the coming week. Visit http://www.pave.org.au for more information. Maybe I’ll see you there! Dani xx
Everyone should have a “happy place.” A place they can visit that just makes them feel good in that deep sighing, happy on the inside kind of way. I have a few. They nearly all involve beautiful scenery, a stunning view and coffee and cake. The Boathouse, lakeside in Daylesford was top of my list for a long time. Emerald Lake Park has been a more recent favourite. Trees, hills, an actual lake. Peace, space. horizon. All good for the soul in my opinion.
Cake though, that is good for the tummy so often before I visit the Lake I like to stop by the Emerald Village Bakery & Cafe.
This Bakery has everything! Bread, sandwiches, focaccia’s, hot mini pizza’s, savoury pies, cakes, donuts, slices, sweet pies. The Aussie bakery at its best.
Slices,pies, cakes and bread are probably what they really excel at although you can eat lunch here if you really want to.
There is seating inside and seating outside. There is a roaring yellow coffee machine and a juice bar and they do an impressive hot chocolate. They also do a delicious sponge cake with jam and I am a sucker for sponge cake with jam! 🙂
Hmmmm. happy place. So, here is their website. I will let them speak for themselves. http://www.emeraldvillagebakery.com.au/index.html To you I say, get yourself a happy place and if you don’t already have one then you are welcome to borrow mine. Top tip for parents (and big children/ train obsessives/ people who never grew up etc). Puffing Billy drives through town at least 6 times a day. The happiness, oh the happiness, when children see that steam engine chug past. Almost as good as fresh sponge with cream and jam. Almost.
So the Emerald Craft and Produce Market which has always been a favourite of mine,has a new little sister. The pragmatically named Grow It, Make It, Bake It Market Emerald.
I am one of the younger children in a very big family so I know what it is like to be left at home while every one else in the family is attending the ball. So I thought I had better show my support and get along to this new little market in beautiful Emerald. The Grow it, Make it, Bake it Market was launched in mid 2014, and is held on the first Sunday of the month at Emerald Mechanics Institute from 9am- 2pm. I visited on the first day of Autumn and was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying some sweet busking and a sausage in bread whilst wandering around one of the sweetest Art Deco buildings in the area.
The market seems to be supported by the local Lions Club, although I don’t really know what that means….. Hilltop Meats and Fancy Friands were two of my favourite stalls although there was quite a range of craft wares on display also. Craft is not exactly my thing though, often making me break out in a sweat, so I am more naturally drawn to the food stops.
So although the Emerald Craft and Produce Market is still my favourite, little sister “Grow it, Make it, Bake it” is also worth the visit. I am sure there is room in our hearts for both of them. As is with the Kardashian sisters, so is in life. Grow it, Make it, Bake it might not “break the internet” but is still awesome to take a look at.
First Sunday of every month at the Emerald Mechanics Hall. 10am to 3pm.
We return to our favourites, don’t we? Those cafes that you know will be reliably good, hospitable, efficient and enjoyable. Well The General Food Store in Emerald is all of those things. Lately it has been my go-to cafe for catching a little sun and sipping some hot coffee or grabbing a bite to eat. The other day I even made new friends here, caught up with old friends and ran into some recently acquired friends. It was awesome :-).
Well today I ordered from their newish menu so I thought I would share my pics with you.
Pickle my cauliflower it’s a delicious baguette. Yummm.
Pulled Pork anyone? Or eager detectives will note the morsel of lemon tart. It was that good.
You want to see the menu? Well glad I can oblige……
For those of you who missed it (shame on you) the Emerald Craft and Produce Market was on again today.
It has scones, fruit and veg, pizza, baclava, knitted things and art. There are a lot of locals wondering around with their dogs and/or children. But the reason I try and go every single month is the bread.
Ohhh, the bread and pastry by Artisan Crust. I think it is the best in Melbourne. Even my children love it. Recently when I was watching a documentary on food in France (thank you SBS) and they were showing how to make real sourdough I was able to tell my son that no indeed, I could not take him to the underground lair somewhere in the French countryside but I would take him to the market in Emerald because they make bread like that too!
Today I bought my usual fruit loaf and to this I added baguette, pastry and bagel. Heavenly seeded bagel.
The market runs at the Emerald Community house on the third Sunday of each month from 9am to 3pm. 356 Belgrave- Gembrook Rd Emerald.
Do come visit. Buy a scone if you want, or a plant. But definitely do not leave without something from Artisan Crust.
If you are heading out for a brunch or coffee with a friend, I can highly recommend you take yourselves to Emerald. I know, it is a little bit further than some people might like to travel from Berwick, but the journey is worth it. The road sweeps you around the Cardinia foothills and past the Cardinia Resevoir which makes for quite beautiful viewing. If you take the Beaconsfield Emerald Rd you will get to drive past Elephant Rock. I am still not 100% sure that this is a good thing. Yes, it is a large rock formation on the side of the road in the shape of an elephant, but it is regularly “painted” with varying results. Generally “Happy Birthday Timmo” is the kind of thing you will find painted on it. Although for the recent PAVE festival they did have it painted quite nicely and in theme.
There are also goats on a hill, the quirky Upper Beaconsfield village with Sally’s Big Ass Burgers flaunting her humble self right at you, a golf course and a lot of beautiful gardens and Autumn trees. The goats are somewhat reminiscent of angry birds, standing as they are inclined to do on their three tiered timber platform. Someone loves those goats and they seem to have a dream goat life (assuming no one catapults anything at them to knock them off their stand).
My family and I always enjoy this drive. Once you arrive at your destination there is a steam train and a beautiful playground. If you have children this makes for a fantastic day out. Get to it!
So if you have bothered to make your way to Emerald then please visit The General Food Store once you are there. Open since 2011 this small cafe is getting fantastic reviews and was recently awarded three stars in the Age Good Food Guide Cheap Eats Guide. This is the cafe you go to if you want to eat fantastic food with your coffee. Be it a buttery pastry, cake, sour dough toast with local honey or a speciality baguette everything you eat here is excellent. The first time I ate here was thanks to one of those understated local tip offs. “There is a great coffee place near my house, I go there every morning for a cup before I start my day.” This did not give much away but seeing as we knew almost no one in our local area, we take the tips when they come in. When we arrived at The General Food Store we were very glad we listened because it was all nearly perfect.
The fit out of the cafe fits into the modern, comfy, understated groove. Once again, this is a very Melbourne kind of design. My favourite part of the fit out is the big community notice board they have on their wall. It lists some local “happenings” and any events they are running that month. It hints at how entrenched this cafe is in the local community of Emerald. The cafe itself is pretty small, well very small. If you have children or a pram you are probably not going to feel relaxed eating inside here. Although quite a few people try anyway. I guess the lure of the perfect cafe is too strong…..
The coffee is by Coffee Supreme in Abbottsford. They use Jonesy’s milk. It is consistently very (new wave) good. They also seem to try and source some of their other produce from local suppliers where possible.
I have had lunch here and brunch here and coffee and morning tea and afternoon tea. All of it very, very good. You can find out a little bit more about it here.
So go on, visit Emerald and go on, eat at The General Food Store. It really is worth making the gorgeous drive.
Just make sure you stop to say hello to the goats on their hill on the way there. And maybe the elephant rock (and maybe not).