Thursday, 21 May 2009

Merricks Beach Gastronome: Merricks General Store


Today's post has a bit of a travelogue feel to it. I spent last weekend away down at Merricks Beach with a few close friends, as I've been fortunate enough to be allowed to borrow A&P's fabulous beach house while they're overseas. I just love love love this part of the world: my family owned a part share in a vineyard in Merricks North for several years (including during the period when I was studying oenology), so I've spent a sizable chunk of my life on the Mornington Peninsula drinking pinot noir and exploring wineries.

Merricks Beach

On the Friday night we played an epic game of Rummy-O (aka Rummikub) that lasted until 2am. Housemate DJ came last in a most spectacular fashion. Ample quantities of red wine and Haribo Gummibärchen were consumed. (And on the Saturday night we played Fictionary Dictionary. Schatzi had never played Fic Dic before - she loved it!)


Sure it's not as flash as, say, the Sorrento/Portsea back beach (there are a lot more rocks and seaweed, and you can't really swim), but I have a real soft spot for Merricks Beach. Especially in winter.

Merricks Beach

Merricks General Store
3458-3460 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks (map)
(03) 5989 8088

Merricks General Store

On Saturday we had a late lunch at the Merricks General Store. When I were a lad, the MGS was charmingly grungy, with dramatically uneven floorboards and a fairground laughing clown sitting in the corner. It has since been substantially poshified and refurbished into a restaurant and cafe. Last year it also became a cellar door for Elgee Park, Baillieu Vineyard and Quealy Wines. I liked it, but I kinda missed the slanty floorboards.

Merricks General StoreRecession Buster

"Mushroom Madness in the month of May... Merricks is going mad for mushrooms" proclaimed the blackboard. We decided to share the Mushroom Madness in May platter ($33), which consisted of semolina gnocchi baked with mushrooms and taleggio, a petite suet pie of braised beef cheek, shallot and porcini mushrooms, and the best herbed mushroom soup I have ever tasted. It was like delicious hot liquid crack.

Mushroom Madness in the month of May... Merricks is going mad for mushrooms

Schatzi wanted more soup (you could only get the mushroom soup as part of the platter, alas!), so she ordered the cream of cauliflower soup with crispy prosciutto and crusty bread ($12). I ordered the crème fraîche and gorgonzola panna cotta with prosciutto and honey cardamom roasted figs ($16).

It was... as insanely rich as it sounds. Crème fraîche AND gorgonzola. I don't know why the hell I ordered it, I could barely eat half of it. Yowza. I mean, it was nice, but.... CRAZY RICH.

Cream of cauliflower soup with crispy prosciuttoCreme fraiche and gorgonzola panna cotta with prosciutto and honey cardamom roasted figs

Best-friend-K ordered a croque enfant ($8), an excellent little ham and cheese toastie with a hint of béchamel. M ordered a ricotta and pistachio slice which was, it must be said, a little on the bland side.

Croque enfantRicotta and pistachio slice

I was very partial to the Earls Ridge pinot noir b-f-K and I drank. The coffees however were frighteningly expensive - $4.50!

Merricks General StoreMerricks General Store

Gorgeous flowering gum outside the store! After lunch we went to Montalto and had a lovely gambol through the vines looking at their sculpture collection.

Flowering gum

Sunday breakfast consisted of toasted fruit bread, apple, pear, exceptional cantaloupe and leftover stewed rhubarb from the delicious baked ricotta and stewed rhubarb pudding Miss O had made for us the night before.


After we left Merricks Beach that morning, b-f-K and I decided to stick around on the peninsula for a few more hours to do some grape grazing and cellar door purchasing. I took her to the place that does the best coffee on the peninsula, the Foodworks supermarket at Red Hill (aka Red Hill Cellars). Who'd've thought you could get good coffee at a supermarket? But this is no ordinary supermarket: it's a foodie's treasure trove of gourmet and local produce.

Coffees at Red Hill

We followed the coffees with a very tasty chicken and chardonnay pie from the Red Hill Bakery, then went grape grazing. If you're interested in heading down to the Mornington Peninsula soon, consider going for the Winter Wine Weekend over the Queen's Birthday weekend. I'm sorely tempted to head back down there for at least some of it!

Chicken and chardonnay pie


Miles said...

Where can I get Gummibaerchen in Melbourne?

That and Rittersport Knusperflakes or Knusperkeks - I can't seem to find them anywhere!

claire said...

I have it on good authority that the bears can be bought at the olde tyme lolly shop on Lygon Street. :)

Matt said...

Aldi...proper haribo, and damn cheap!!

Sarah said...

Looks like a great weekend!

Miles - Aldi or Sweet As or Jasper Coffee...

xox Sarah

Miles said...

Thanks everyone... I had seen them on Lygon St years ago and I think in Crown, but I'm rarely at either. I think I'll have to make time one lunchtime to go up to that end of town and grab some more, it's ridiculous how long I've left it since I got some more... german lollies are the best :)

Miles said...

Oh and I'll definitely have to try Aldi, there's one not too far from me...

Speaking of which, I miss the german takeaway place that there used to be on Chapel St not too far from where Aldi is now. AMAZING german food (I've never had it surpassed in Australia) and the guy there was always good for a chat in my mediocre german (although he picked straight away I'd lived in Bavaria, haha). Shame it only lasted 6 months or so...

temasek said...

I Love Merricks General Store ... I voluntarily sampled 3 different types of terrine there (I have a thing about cold savouries and anything jellied ... I generaly don't like em. I like how they have sample platters ... the last time we were there, I think we exercised a bit more control than you did ... you must have rolled out of there!

claire said...

Thanks for the Haribo tips, guys!

Miles, that's a shame about the German takeaway place. Do you have any idea what the guy running it did next - did he relocate?

Hi temasek, well as for self control we actually weren't too bad: the mushroom platter was shared between four of us, so we only got a mouthful each of each item, then we each ordered either an entree, a soup or a slice.
But that said, I was insane to order the super-rich panna cotta! :)

Miles said...

No idea, just one day he was gone. :(

Again thanks for the Haribo tips - I bought about 8 packets at Aldi on Sunday. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

ummmmmm, the 'flowering gum' in your lovely photo, is actually a Hakea laurina- Pincushion Hakea.
Really enjoy your blog and spend my days and nights dreaming about plants and food!!