‘What’s all this about calling yourself a foodie?’ says my down-to-earth brother, ‘I mean, it’s not like eating is hard.’
Eating used to be so easy during family holidays when we were kids. After a day on the beach we’d drop into Somers General Store for an icy pole. We’d collect a pack of white sliced bread and a bottle of Rosella tomato sauce to splash on our BBQ chops and sausages.
Now the Mornington Peninsula has gone foodie. The paddocks have been replaced by boutique wineries with trendy tasting rooms. Local shops have become epicurean delis stocking ‘gourmet’ everything. The bakeries sell olive/mustard seed/wholegrain/honey/ciabatta/sourdough at yeast-inflated prices.
The Peninsula, an hour or so outside Melbourne, is now liberally sprinkled with some of Australia’s best restaurants. And younger, more knowledgeable members of our family drag their oldies to a fine dining experience.
It’s pointless to mutter that we could enjoy a week of decent meals for the kind of money they’ll be charging. We’re going to eat at Ten Minutes by Tractor and that’s that.
We have only ourselves to blame. We spent years telling our kids that there were other foods in the world than pizza and pasta.
The message eventually stuck. Our daughter did time running a commercial kitchen and has become a great home chef. Our son turned wine buff. His partner is a committed cook, food photographer and culinary blogger. Ten Minutes by Tractor – Winery and Restaurant is their recommendation.
Ten Minutes by Tractor has not only been clever in inventing a memorable restaurant name, but it also rates two hats in the Good Food Guide, two stars from Gourmet Traveller and is listed as one of the top 10 regional restaurants in the country.
We know we’re in for something special when waitpersons pull out chairs and spread the napkins over our knees. They know the menu and wine list off by heart, pour wine holding the bottom of the bottle with one hand behind the back, and do an excellent job of mopping up a spilt water glass. ‘No problem, Sir, happens all the time.’ Classy.
We choose the Degustation Menu with matching wines, which means I can show off my French pronunciation of ‘degustation’ and ‘menu‘. After that we’re happy to let a real foodie do the serious choosing and just concentrate on the easy bit – the eating. It turns out to be a three-hour, eight course event.
To quote from the website:
Chef Stuart Bell’s innovative menu is driven by fresh regional produce and his classic French training, with harmonious influences from Asian and European cuisines.
Maître d’ and sommelier Clayton Hiskins has set high standards of service, defined by The Age Good Food Guide as polished, but in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The ‘relaxed and friendly atmosphere’ is a great thing about eating in Australia, especially in a country setting. There are no snooty waiters who make you feel inferior. Wearing a clean shirt is appreciated, but apart from that no dressing up is required. That suits me fine.
My problem with upmarket dining is that expectations are raised so high I’m almost certain to be disappointed. The cheapskate in me delights in finding a suburban Thai or Indian establishment that rises above the pack.
Ten Minutes by Tractor was hard to fault, however. It was certainly not food we could cook at home, impeccably presented and served.
Not cheap, but very impressive. A memorable experience.
Thanks for having us along, kids. We’ll do the barby tomorrow night.