When I lived in Canada my favourite festival was Thanksgiving. I think I have carried the celebration in to our home and only subliminally into our dining room. I find myself pouring over local farmers markets, contacting growers directly. Dreaming about ‘crisps’ of peaches and blueberries, platters of still warm tomatoes with bright green cloudy oil and on. This year I had the delightful discovery of fresh, local cheesemakers who conjure the most succulent and ‘milky’ ‘buratta’ I have tasted. (With a trip to Italy, slated for 2018 I can put my local ‘buratta’ experience to the test.)
We are planning our trip to Lucca, during September. Both weeks will be full of marvelous meals, site visits to wonderful makers and producers, conversations on culture and architecture, … and the list grows. A tour to elevate the senses, pump our hearts and ease our minds. You are invited to join us and for further details, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Saturday Sessions are a celebration of this thanks giving time of year. Hal and I head out to the local farmers market to write a menu that is guaranteed to be packed full of high season goods to serve a Saturday evening meal prepared by our family, for you. It is a simple affair. (I have never found ‘simple’ that easy.) It is very much as if you were joining us for dinner in our home. But it is not like that is it, really? There is no charge to be a guest in a private home. That said, it is a fantastic representation of what is on the go right now in our wonderful patch. The fruit and vegetables are untouched by refrigeration. The whole offering is one of great value and quite the rarity amongst modern eating options.
I give thanks to the thoughtful and warm hearted producers we work with. It is particularly special getting to know you all over the years; to watch our businesses stretch, grow and flow; to hear of the twists and turns as we all try to navigate the plans of our hopes and needs to the pace of a world that often feels like it is hiding from where we are headed.
I’ve kind of quietly suggested to myself I should update our Blog more regularly in 2018. Here goes…
The whirlwind of moving has passed and the reality of ensuring a viable, sustainable and balanced offering has arrived.
I often don’t include ‘my story’ even though every marketing guide for the last decade insists on it. Yesterday, we had a family meeting about the year, each others needs and business. My children were 10 and 8 when we began our small business trip with Colenso. And now we have a fresh adult and a 15 year old. Capable, confident contributors both.
On opening a business in a new location I expect to be a bit under the microscope. I am grateful for the interest. Our business hours can be perplexing. Perhaps a little unimaginable that we would not be open weekends. I can assure you they are not dreamed up in isolation. Listed business hours are made of a strong consideration for our guests, our trading neighbours and mostly a practice that is sustainable over the long term.
We wanted to serve weekday lunches and dinners of an approachable price point. We are very conscious of what our restaurant colleagues have established. It is not okay to arrive in town and just take up a ‘share’ of a limited market. We have to literally work our way in. And so, Monday to Friday, reliably delicious lunches, drinks and dinners served in a welcoming and detailed way.
Yesterday we sat together as a family and had a catch up about Term 1. We go in to detail. What week is the school load heaviest? Who’ll be home most? We did a weekly menu for the first week back, plus a shopping list and a plan to prep the dishes in advance. Then we talked business. We committed to 10 weeks of Saturday nights, to be worked as a family.
Our Term 1 Saturday nights will focus on fine tuning our connection between our ‘food’ and our ‘drink’. We have always thought offering a fixed menu is a lovely way to eat for many reasons: sample new ingredients, dishes, techniques; eliminate waste and promote a shared time at table like in a family home. Among other reasons you can also have other drivers be the vehicle for choice. For example, I chose last weeks menu completely around two wines, both by Bertrand Bespoke. “L’ecume du Jour’ and their 2017 Syrah. There is often a heirarchy used to plan a menu and we often like to start ‘elsewhere’. More with the weather, the season, the wine and the work.
Keep an eye on our Instagram and our website to see the Saturday menus. They’ll go up on a Monday.
Well, I’d be pulling everyones leg if I tried to suggest it was an ‘ordinary’ year. It has been huge. Moving a restaurant from Woodend to Kyneton has been a wild and curvaceous ride. That said, I think we have now arrived. Of course there is still much to do, (and if I ever reach a point where I thought there wasn’t, it would be time to re-think the plan).
Our staff deserve an enormous thank you. They have shown their trust and support every step of the way. Our family, ditto. The dining room just would not have been ready without their work.
We are about to hand on the Woodend site. We wish the new proprietors nothing but the best. We spent much of the past eight years on deck and we hope the tradition continues. (It was always a clever initiative to place a restaurant space at the back there.) Onward and upward to all.
There are lovely plans and priorities afoot for 2018.
A panel style salon series – ‘DUOS’ – is in the works.
Further detailing and managing the acoustics in the dining room.
Re-furnishing. That’s right. Fresh tables and chairs for a comfortable High Street hideaway.
Peace on Earth. Goodwill to All.