Posts Tagged ‘Sassafras’

Our Oz experiences have come in many packages but all of them have been memorable.  Recently, we were fortunate enough to participate in a Dinner at Pirianda, and that experience can only be described as magical.

Pirianda is a beautiful 28-acre garden in Olinda and the owners of Cream at Sassafras*, Mark and Leenah Johnston, host regular dinner-parties (and other customized events) from the gardens.  A few weeks ago, we attended one of their special seven-course degustation dinners. 

There were so many wonderful things to recount about the evening but I’ll highlight our top 5.

5.  Amazing surrounding scenery – the Pirianda Gardens are lovely and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

4. Beautiful dining setting – There is an adorable little house where the dinner takes place, including a wonderful fireplace and a lovely deck from which to view the gardens.

3. Fun and interesting way to dine – The tables are set up so everyone dines together.  It’s a great way to meet people and for us, was a great way to learn more about Australia.  It felt like such an intimate dining experience.

2. Wine, wine, and more wine – Each of the courses is paired with at least one wine.  We loved tasting the fine wines, many from the Mornington and Yarra Valley vineyards right here in Victoria.  That night our cup over-floweth and in more ways that one.

1.  Seven “heavenly” courses – The seven dishes were delectable and a perfect balance of flavors.  Ryan’s favorite from the evening was the first main course which included baked Tasmanian salmon with a tamarind crust served with Mesclun salad tossed with an Asian dressing.  He boldly stated that it was “the best salmon he’s ever had”. 

If you’re interest is officially piqued,  you can attend one of the upcoming dinners.  We had a lovely time and it was such a unique experience that I deem it a “Melbourne-Must”. 

*Disclosure: I do a bit of Social Media Marketing work with this company. 

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It’s hard to pick the best thing about Cream, our favorite ‘lil gourmet store.

Could it be that it’s set in the lovely little town, Sassafras, tucked away in the beautiful Dandenong mountains?

Or is it because of the famously fun owner, Mark Johnston, who greets every customer like a friend? Or is the fact that you can taste every product in the store…literally…you can try everything!

Or could it be the fact that all the products are fresh and/or natural and/or local?

Or is it the cute and contemporary décor that feels worldly and small-town at the same time?

Well, it’s all of those things that make it wonderful but it’s the AH-MAY-ZING-curl-your-toes-Meg-Ryan-pie-eating Cunliffe & Waters Summerberry Jam that keeps us coming back.   Exhibit A: On our last visit, I nearly wiped out the entire stock.

You may note that, in this case, gourmet = expensive.  But if there’s one thing we’ve learned as we’ve grown in our cooking and taken a serious interest in our food, you can’t put a price on good ingredients.  And that’s saying nothing about the great, personalized customer service.  It’s truly top-notch.

Places like this are rare gems and we’ll always do what we can to support them; because there is no substitute for the quality, because it feels good to support local businesses…and because I go through severe withdrawal without the Summerberry jam.

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