We arrived to a paddock full of cars. People dressed to the nines, topped off with rain coats and gumboots. Upon entry to Ravenscreek Farm we received our plastic glass that was to see us through the night, it was quickly filled with a light and refreshing Brown Magpie Loretta Sparkling Blanc de Noir. We enjoyed music from The Evening Cast before Richard from Eat Local Month officially welcomed us to the event.
The evening was to be filled with 8 courses, ingeniously created by 8 different chefs from the Geelong and the Surf Coast. 8 divine local tastes, paired with 8 local wines. Course number 1 was announced, Portarlington mussels smoked with foraged pine needles and Drysdale Goats Cheese haloumi topped with beetroot pickled onions and julienned sweet peas. Although delicious, this course left me a little confused. I wasn’t sure of the quantities we were allowed, we served ourselves from serving plates onto white square paper serviettes and we were given no direction to move on to the second course. We noticed people stating to amble on from the cafe area into the paddocks of Ravens Creek Farm, and so like little sheep we happily followed. Madly recording video and snapping photos of the stunning vista, the excitement started to well. Walking along the trail we passed lovely helpful volunteers who helped send us in the right direction. Little black plastic bowls covered the trestle table, filled with succulent red poached quince from Basils Farm, whipped goats cheeve from Drysdale Goats Cheese, compressed apple, filo pastry crumb and walnuts. This course, paired with Santa & D’Sas Pinot Gris, was a surprising way to begin, the sweet quince and the gentle goat cheese was pleasing and refreshing. Starting to feel tipsy after only a few small glasses of wine, I was glad for the amble between courses. Leaving course 2 before majority of the crowd, we took our time to enjoy the perfect autumn evening. Sarah from Eat Local Month greeted us with a smile and topped up our glasses with Kiltynane Pn2 Pinot Noir. I was excited to see that this course highlighted Ravenscreek pork belly. The pork, infused with orange and soy was falling apart, tender, and steaming hot. Topped with sustainable scallops and foraged leaves, it was the ultimate in surf and turf. The pigs were eager to see what was happening and followed us as we walked around their pens to get to course 4. At this point I was in awe of the event. The amount of imagination, coordination and organization that would have gone into planning such an unusual degustation experience would have been insurmountable. As we arrived at course 4, we noticed there was no food to be seen, then out of the corner of my eye (from where I was taking photos of the pigs) I noticed the amazing Chef David Veal marching through the paddock with a wooden board covered in sliders. Another mouth watering vegetarian course, Zeally Bay Brioche sliders, sweet potato and black eyed pea mash, kale and micro basil salad with a horseradish cream. I quickly grabbed my slider, received my quota of Bellbrae Estate Chardonnay, and chowed down on this filling course. I always worry when enjoying degustation dinners, that I won’t end up feeling full and satisfied. This course put my mind at ease.
The short meander to the following course, found us greeted by the first queue of the evening. As sun was starting to go down and the air was developing a chill, it became clear why the event was held between 4pm and 8pm, you couldn’t combine alcohol, dark and paddocks. I was lucky to strike up a conversation with Patrick from Local Food Loop and his lovely wife Louise, it was awesome to talk local food with others who were as passionate as we were. Under the marquee, set atop the trestle, resting on wooden boards sat delicate pan roasted Moriac Homestead Dairy’s ‘Étienne’ goat’s cheese turnover, the fine cheese layers were filled with the unusual combination of slippery jack mushroom, red wine vinegar mothers, topped with a walnut, golden delicious apple and nasturtium pesto mousse. Strolling to our final course, completing the loop around the Ravenscreek Farm paddocks. Nestled in the bamboo bowls was a skewer, filled with a piece of medium rare Ravenscreek lamb back strap, half a plump eucalypt grown Otway shiitake mushroom, baby corn, asparagus with yakatori and assam smoked leeks. The skewers were topped with a miso, sake and truffle dressing, snow pea shoots and edamame.Chef Corey Fowler from Aireys Inlet Pub produced what I overheard to be the highlight of the evening. Paired with the Dinny Goonan Shiraz, the perfectly pink lamb back strap, grown exactly where we were dining, was an idyllic end to the stroll through the paddocks eating local, seasonal food. It was the perfect celebration of autumn.Arriving back at the Ravenscreek cafe dessert was to be served. Chef David Veal, with the help of Gordon TAFE culinary students had created two divine sweet tarts with savoury elements. As we waited for the sweets, our glasses were filled once again, this time with Blake’s Estate Pinot Noir.
I picked up the tiny chocolate tart, closed my eyes and took a bite. So sweet, but not over powering, almost a salted caramel taste. Instead, we were told that the chocolate had been paired with black fermented garlic, topped with a parsnip cream and logan berry gel. The second morsel, was creamier, a white chocolate mousse resting on pistachio sponge topped with freeze dried raspberry.We moved outside to enjoy the last light of the evening, music had started once again and the Moriac Farmstead Dairy cheese board was laid out.I’ve enjoyed some degustation meals (here, here, here and here) before but never have I experienced anything quite like this. To celebrate local food and wine, seasonality, and to do all this while walking through farm paddocks, the very paddocks where some of the produce had been grown was emotional.
I applaud Eat Local Month for creating a month long celebration of our abundant Geelong and the Surf Coast area. Check out their website to find events that will be continuing throughout April, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for them next year, as I can only imagine these events getting better and better.
*I was gifted a ticket to attend FEAST, but all words, views and experiences are my own and 100% honest.