Restaurant Ballarat - A Weekend Away

Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to the launch of Restaurant Ballarat. A celebration of local makers coming together with the finest produce from the region in a culinary showcase for bloggers, and foodies alike.  

The weekend was spent with my beautiful (and super talented) friends Mandy Banh and Lilian Dikmans and started when we all jumped in Mandy's car for a road trip north of Melbourne.

Our first stop once we arrived was at our beautiful apartment, Twelve Errard, where we quickly dropped off our things, defrosted in front of the heater (because Ballarat is bloody freezing!) and scooted out the door again.

First up on the itinerary was a Thai cooking class at Catfish Thai with head chef and owner, Damien Jones. Damien trained at Nahm restaurant in Bangkok, which has a Michelin-star and has since been awarded his own chef's hat for his restaurant in Ballarat. Talk about a superstar! He prides himself on making everything from scratch and showed us how to make our own coconut cream using just a blender, coconut and water! We used this making a fresh red curry paste which was quite dry to mould around a piece barramundi that was then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over coconut charcoal. WOW!! It was so magnificent, I can't wait to recreate it!

Once we cooked everything, we sat down and feasted on our handiwork with local Pyrenees wine and chatted away.

Freshly made calamari with nahm jim
Testing if the barramundi is cooked through the banana leaf
Thai red curry barramundi

Then we headed to Stems Flower Market, the local florist in Ballarat, for a tutorial in making a rustic, foraged centrepiece for the table at Restaurant Ballarat. This process meant that we had to cut small sections of branches and berries and stick them into foam logs filled with water in an organised but random way. Florists are so talented, they make 'rustic' and 'hand-crafted' look so easy but there's actually a lot of thought and care taken when placing their flowers and foliage...I know this because it took me forever to get it right haha!

Our table setting we made
Paper daisies
Beautiful kale flowers

A couple of hours later we arrived at Restaurant Ballarat, held at Ballarat's trendiest function space, Housey Housey. We were served with local beers, wines, and sparkling water on arrival and chatted with other guests to the sweet tunes of the band playing. 

Dinner was a spectacular culmination of all the 'greats' in the Ballarat region including Catfish Thai (second time for the day and not a complaint to be heard from me!), Peter Ford Catering and Salt Kitchen Charcuterie . The Harvest Feast last for about five hours and we rolled out into the night to sleep it all off! 

Restaurant Ballarat
Our table setting
Main course at Restaurant Ballarat

The next morning, we got up and headed for a much-needed coffee after such a busy stay at Eclectic Tastes then hit the road with lots of memories and fabulous produce to enjoy all over again home. 

I'd like to extend a big thanks to Broadsheet Melbourne and Visit Ballarat for having me and providing me with such an incredible taste (literally) of Ballarat.