Wild Sourdough Road Trip

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Starting point: Brasserie Bread Sydney

My alarm wakes me at the ungodly hour of 5.30am on a relatively chilly Sunday morning to get myself to the Brasserie Bread Cafe by 7am. The lack of sleep doesn’t stop me from feeling very excited about this Wild Sourdough Road Trip that we were about to embark on.

The purpose of this trip was to transport the Sourdough Starter from Sydney to our new bakery in South Melbourne. But then we thought we may as well make a fun trip out of it! And that’s how the Starter journey became a celebration of true artisan products. The Starter is a living organism made of flour, water and wild yeast. Our Starter is 16 years old and was going on its first ever road trip to South Melbourne!

A map of our road trip (and even with maps we still got lost!)

At the Cafe we sip on our coffees and munch on sourdough toast before getting into our car and van. In the Brasserie Bread van are Directors Michael and David with the precious Sourdough Starter. Meanwhile, Hans (our Chairman), Jacqui (our amazing filmmaker for this trip) and I are comfortably seated in Jacqui’s car.

…and we’re off!

Alas, we manage to get lost in the first few minutes. Little did we know that getting lost was to become a trend in the next couple of days. Jacqui could probably create a mini-series entirely using the footage of us stopping, turning around, missing entrances, finding detours after stumbling across road blockages and trying to find petrol in the middle of nowhere.

But prior to getting lost countless times, our car is filled with lively chatter about our favourite films, our travelling adventures and our undying love for food… Wait, make that MY love for food – to everybody’s amusement, this trip certainly revealed my effortless ability to eat large amounts of delicious food, especially sourdough pancakes with ice cream. Nom.

First stop: Alto Olives

Robert of Alto Olives is kind enough to invite us into his beautiful home for lunch. But first he gives us a tour of the olive groves. We jump up to the back of the truck and find ourselves nearly falling off as we drive up the rocky hills.

Back at the house, Michael creates a lovely olive bread drizzled in olive oil. We devour it very quickly when it comes fresh out of the oven. And after a lovely lunch of delicious asparagus, fresh pasta and salads, we’re back on the road.

Watch Part 1 of the Wild Sourdough Road Trip on our website!

Michael preparing a Schiacciata with olives & rosemary

Second stop: Castagna vineyard

We arrive at Castagna in Beechworth just before dinner time. Upon stepping out of the van, glasses of wine are placed into our hands. Julian cooks up some amazing sourdough bread & chicken salad, as well as a pear pie with homemade ice cream. The night is spent chatting about biodynamic wine and appreciating the lovely food. At this point, it’s clear to us that the common thread between these producers we’re visiting is their passion. Their passion for food, their passion for their own product and their passion for other artisan craftsmen.

Adam’s Rib

Third stop: Kiewa Valley Primary School

At Kiewa Valley Primary School we organised for two classes to taste and talk about bread. The kids learn about the four main ingredients in bread (flour, water, yeast and salt) and the Sourdough Starter. They taste sourdough and rye bread and are asked about the flavours, whether they’re sweet or sour. In general, the kids like the rye bread better, which isn’t surprising because dark rye bread has a somewhat cakey texture and retains a sweeter flavour.

You can watch Part 2 of the Wild Sourdough Road Trip video here.

Michael teaching the kids at Kiewa Valley Primary

Fourth stop: Gundowring Ice Cream

There’s nothing better than freshly churned ice cream. Seriously! It has the texture of soft-serve ice cream and a sweet creamy goodness that makes you keep going back for more. At Gundowring Fine Foods, we tried their freshly churned French Vanilla and it was truly divine, especially with the delicious little black specks – real vanilla beans. Mmmmh… Gundowring ice cream is out of this world – it has to be said.

Hans’ favourite story about me seems to be about how my eyes light up when I get a whiff of Michael’s sourdough pancakes permeating the air. I gleefully try every flavour with the pancakes. Toasted Honey & Walnut is probably my favourite, followed closely by the wonderfully fruity Raspberry ice cream. The award-winning Licorice ice cream is an intriguing and exotic flavour, and the Orange & Cardamom is a crowd-pleaser at this table. The Sticky Date ice cream goes extremely well with the sourdough pancakes. At this point I’m wishing that I wasn’t full already, so I could start all over again.

Michael’s sourdough pancakes with Gundowring ice cream

Fifth stop: Tooborac Brewery

We drive to Tooborac Hotel & Brewery, where we meet Chris (a newbie to Twitter – you should follow him here). After a quick tour of the brewery, we find a seat in the pub for a bit of a beer tasting. Chris has created a very interesting stout with intense coffee flavour and the texture of molasses.

Learn more about Gundowring ice cream and Tooborac beer in the Wild Sourdough Road Trip (Part 3) video.

Tooborac Brewery

Sixth stop: Yarra Valley Dairy

At Yarra Valley Dairy we learn all about artisan cheese-making. And then we taste their cheeses (hurrah!) with our Pane Croccante no less. One of the highlights for me is the Hot Cow, a cow curd with garlic, chives and chilli. But whether it’s the Persian Fetta, Ashed & Fresh Goats Pyramid, Black Savourine or the Cardi (soft fresh goats’ milk cheese marinated with cardamom pods, shallots, coriander and black pepper), I can’t get enough!

The Yarra Valley Dairy factory is complete with cute cafe and retail store. Be sure to visit if you find youself around Melbourne!

Yarra Valley Dairy platter

Last stop: Brasserie Bread Melbourne!

Watch Part 4 of the Wild Sourdough Road Trip (thank you, Jacqui Hocking for all your hard work – we’re very pleased we’ve turned you into a foodie!) and check the Brasserie Bread Melbourne blog to read more about the amazing launch party!

The starter has arrived!

Here’s more info about true sourdough, in case you’re interested 🙂

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