Bucolic, although often used as an adjective, is a noun originally describing a type of pastoral poetry that praises rural life over that of the city. The manner of a bucolic is usually somewhat fantastic, and the poetry tends to contrast the pleasant and pure life of the country with the corrupt and corrosive world of society. The term derives from Virgil, and "Bucolics" is a reference to a collection of poems. One set of bucolics was written by Virgil, while Theocritus and others also wrote collections of rusticated poems. In contemporary poetry, W. H. Auden wrote a sequence known as "Bucolics."
It is a sunny Saturday morning in Mount Macedon, 45minutes out of Melbourne, and the six Custard Crusaders have gathered for breakfast. We are sitting in the wood lined home of Julie and Jim Staddon, which from Thursday to Sunday becomes their Braeside Café and a lounge for B&B guests, relegating them to the confines of the kitchen and bedroom.
Amongst the paraphernalia and photographs of family life we sit at their dining table over looking a magnificent English Garden. To the right is a splendid Chicken Coop and at opposite ends of the garden are two cabins available for rent. A Cockatoo and a Rosella swoop in to eat some birdseed and a hen wanders around her territory, picking at grubs and weed.
We have come for the Big Breakfast as cited by Jamie Wodetzki, The Breakfast Blogger, as earning a near perfect score of nineteen points out of a possible twenty. This meal, consisting of two freshly laid eggs, sautéed mushrooms, roasted tomato, an Istrian sausage, bacon, toast and hollandaise was tackled by the men and the women chose the corn fritters with a single egg, spinach, salmon and eggplant chutney.
Guests are greeted at the door and are asked what they would like to drink as they enter the premises. Aside form the dining table there are several other smaller tables and as this is a mild and sunny day, tables are also set outside. The menu is long, showcasing a list of light to heavy breakfasts, and I want to eat so many of the listed items, but it’s morning and I’m muddle-headed.
The service here is relaxed to the point of being comatose, but we don’t mind, as later that day, we are about to begin our journey reviewing vanilla slices. I notice Julie ducking out to the garden to pick herbs, and swiftly making her way back into the kitchen. The meals arrive staggered, much as you would expect from a home kitchen, and the first thing that hits you is the lurid colour of the Hollandaise Sauce. No pasty, pale and wan looking city style sauce, this golden wonder speaks of fresh eggs laid by hens free to peck around in the garden. The poached eggs are perfectly congealed, a further indication of their freshness.
The bacon and mushrooms are spot on but it is the spicy Istrian sausage that steals the show. A freshly made moist, meaty banger flecked with spices and cooked to absolute perfection. The corn fritters were a little burnt around the edges, but I dare say they’d be the same if I was cooking for twelve people simultaneously at home. The fritters were so thick with corn that the batter struggled to hold them together and the spinach formed a perfect mound atop one of them while a poached egg perched upon another. A generous serve of salmon was offset by a delicious helping of Fruits of The Forest eggplant relish and although was smaller than the Big Brekkie, it was more than enough for me.
To my mind the corn fritters are often better at Mart 130, but the bucolic locale and the hospitality of the home offset any culinary glitches. The quality of the produce was superlative, which was brought home the following day when our B&B provided us with supermarket eggs that were possibly 2months old, Bakers Delight bread and croissant and the largest rashers of commercial grade bacon I’ve ever seen to cook for breakfast. For me as you may know by previous rantings, it’s all about the freshness and integrity of the ingredients, cooked simply.
Julie bolted out of the kitchen for a quick chat and nod of approval. Our waitress also stopped by for a chin-wag about blogging and her own history of living in Woodend. We lingered, discussing the plan of attack on the vanilla slice journey and I took a turn around the garden with the camera. It was a slow start to the day and as I fell into repose sated, I had the desire to do absolutely nothing.
Braeside Café. 47 Taylors Road, Mt Macedon, Victoria.
Ph. 03 5426 1762. Big breakfast $15 Corn Fritters $12