chapter too

Shop 3, 110 Canterbury Road
(03) 9720 0544

If you are a coffee head in Heathmont, I am assured this is the place to go for your morning long black or latte.

As a tea drinker, I’m more interested in whether they are a loose-leaf or teabag establishment  than the brand of coffee they pour (loose leaf, since you ask) and whether their teapots leak when you try and pour from them (they don’t).

The thing I like about Chapter Too is that they serve breakfast right up to noon, so I can have a bowl of porridge or eggs on toast for lunch if I want (and I often do). It can feel a wee bit cavernous inside, but nab a seat by the window or outside on the pavement and it’s a more pleasant experience. The calamari salad is delicious for a light lunchtime bite, but I tend to be a bit boring and go for the poached eggs with a couple of breakfast sides.

The only thing is that it’s a bit mums-and-bubs-clubby if you get there late morning, so at times it’s not the respite from the working world I am seeking. Nonetheless, it’s a great local eatery and number one on my list when I have visiting dignitaries in the office.

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the village food store

126 Canterbury Road, Heathmont
03 9720 3499

I work in the boondocks, in a small, faceless light industrial estate miles from anywhere interesting. Happily, in a nearby strip mall there are two respectable places for a woman to have lunch when she needs to escape the office: Chapter Too and The Village Food Store.

The Village Food Store is all blonde wood, white tiles and bi-fold windows, a tiny eatery which earnestly proclaims its local-food, fresh-cooked approach to food on its small menu. It has become a bit of a haunt for me when I need respite from spreadsheets and reports.


The menu is as small as the premises, but everything is indeed freshly made from local ingredients as far as possible. This means you might have a tiny bit of a wait for your tangy Asian chicken salad or your sublime chorizo and bean soup. The Village Food Store has something for every season, and for the most part it’s all healthy choices. Their tea is loose leaf and their teapots large. These days I am greeted with a familiar smile every time I walk in, and I can sit in peace and solitude for forty-five minutes, eat some heavenly healthy food and head back to work feeling like I’ve had a proper lunchtime.


Village Food Store on Urbanspoon

Whale Restaurant, Narooma

The building looks unremarkable really: a standard-looking motel, albeit on a hill overlooking the ocean. But a couple of steps past the reception desk and everything changes. My gaze is immediately taken past the bar to a bright welcoming restaurant with beautiful views across Wagonga Inlet and beyond to the surf-swept beaches of the southern NSW coast. Continue reading

Bodalla Dairy Shed

It was just a flying visit to the Bodalla Dairy Shed, on my way to the airport. We had met owners Robert and Sandra at the Whale Motor Inn on Friday night, and Sandra had been so enthusiastic about their place I had to stop by.

It’s a working dairy and cheese factory as well as being a lovely retro milk bar and cafe. Locals buy a proper glass bottle  of fresh, un-homogenised milk with a $2 deposit on the bottle, which they return and swap for a new bottle as they go.

Continue reading

>Labour Weekend Foodie Style – Monday

>Labour Day Monday saw a convoy driving down to the Yarra Valley for a lazy afternoon. Seven adults, two kids and a baby headed east through cloudy skies, past the end of the freeway and into wine country. As Lilydale ended and the vines began, it appeared most of the grapes have already been picked which is just as well given all the storms and rain we’ve had.

The surrounding hills had little sign of the devastating fires the area experienced last year: the forests have all but filled out with green now, and the destroyed vines have grown back. The memories will take longer to fade.

Past Domaine Chandon, Beaver’s Brook (venue for last year’s legendary Winter Solstice lunch), Rochford (home the previous evening to a Tom Jones concert if he didn’t get rained out) and into Healesville which was buzzing as usual.

Innocent Bystander winery is a great casual place for food, wine, aged cheese, artisan bread, excellent coffee, homemade desserts…. you name it. They take the quality and provenance of the food they serve very seriously, which makes it a lovely place to eat.

Their two wine labels, Innocent Bystander and Giant Steps, are pretty respectable but my clear favourite is Harry’s Monster, a heady mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc. As I hadn’t eaten yet in the day, I essentially had a glass of The Monster for breakfast. Marvellous.

We crammed into a huge booth right beside the winery section of the building: a barricade of barrels were behind a glass wall. The sign told us that vintage had begun: pinot gris, pinot noir and chardonnay on its way.

We ordered fresh pizza, made according to their house rules:
– Genuine, wood fire oven
– Crispy-thin, handmade sourdough base
– Imported San Marzano tomatoes and local oven dried Roma and Cherry tomatoes
– Murray River salt
– Shaw River buffalo mozzarella
– Fresh, local basil and extra virgin olive oil

The spicy pork pizza was served without tomatoes but with an extremely generous serving of garlic. The prosciutto pizza was a little over-garnished with flat-leaf parsley but that’s about all the complaining I could hear.

The girls sipped on an ice-cold pinot rose whilst Lenford had a White Rabbit beer from the micro-brewery next door and Ossie had a cold glass of local Punt Road cider. Orlando went all International on us and had a glass of French bubbly.

A trip to the loo brought me past their impossible-to-resist cheese larder, where Irish Coolea cheese rubbed shoulders with a Victorian “Holy Goat” and a couple of lovely-looking French sheep’s cheeses amongst others. I am not sure how I managed to get out of there without spending up to $100 on a few hundred grams of cheese…. but somehow I did.

Later, back at Lenford’s, our host didn’t quail at an extra ten mouths to feed for supper (yes, we ate a second time that day). He fired up the barbie and enlisted his new army to prepare a feast. Freshly made bruschetta laced with garlic (made by my own fair hand), lumps of pork and beef marinated to perfection, traditional Aussie snags, chicken of course, a bok choi and dry noodle salad, egg fried rice and far too many bottles of wine. We actually drank the man dry.

A veritable feast shared with friends in Lenford’s country house surrounded by trees, people hanging out on the balcony, the daybed and the hot tub, good music and great conversation, home cooked food made with love. What a way to end the perfect friends’ weekend.

(the man himself)