It started with a beautiful image of a cake in my instagram feed; cake, an orange, a pomegranate, and the simple text overlay;
Food. Photography. Workshop
I investigated, followed links to the brochure, "Join us for 4 days in regional Victoria to explore food, photography and the rural charms of Daylesford" who could resist? I emailed the link to Mr B, subject heading, birthday gift?, just as a joke really, but 2 days later I was booked in, and 10 days later, on the plane!
This is quite out of character for me; I find spending large amounts of cash on myself uncomfortable, and flying interstate to spend 4 days in a remote farmhouse with 5 people I hadn't met, definitely unnerving, bordering on risky. I blame Wolf Creek...
The drive out to Daylesford was really beautiful, golden grassy hills glowing in the light (and it's ALL about the light :) ). I stayed awake, always a bonus, I'm shocking in a car out of the city, just can't keep my eyes open! The old farmhouse was perfect, the balance of the heritage building with modern comfort, just right. The grounds were gorgeous; enormous old oaks, herb gardens, a tyre swing, a pizza oven... Inside, features abound; marble bench top, vintage meat safes, an open fire, a claw foot bath, and cushions, cushions, cushions; I could have spent 4 days photographing the house :)
Our hosts Ewen and Billy were really welcoming, genuine and warm, the other "attendees" relaxed and friendly; no crazy people here. We settled in with a beautiful lunch, prepared by Billy, that pretty much set the food benchmark for the weekend. There was a lot of food. Billy cooked breakfast each morning, we ate at some excellent restaurants, I struck gold finding fellow late night bakers, I made brownies, recipe below! Billy and Michèle had a "scone off" rosemary vs lemonade that morphed into prosecco; prosecco was definitely the winner for me, check them out over at ironchefshellie.com. We had a midnight bonfire, ate timtams and roasted bacon instead of marshmallows.
And the field trips! The farm tour at Jonai Farm was a highlight. Tammi is so passionate about the farm; the animals so obviously well looked after on acres and acres of land. We wandered about checking out the heritage-breed large black pigs, lowline cattle, chooks, a huge rooster called Marlon Brando, hens called Gertrude. I loved the rambling seasonal garden, the barn with a chandelier, and the refrigerated container where the charcuterie magic happens. We ate bacon and sausages from the farm and they were delicious :)
Trash and treasure at the Daylesford market then over to the Mill Markets, vintage shopping heaven. We didn't even make it Daylesford itself. I was seriously hampered by my hand luggage only ticket.
The photography and processing sessions were excellent, Ewen really knows his stuff and is incredibly patient. He generously loaned his cameras and lenses, introduced the magic a "tilt shift". We took home gorgeous giant prints from the Epsom printer.
I learned loads, not so much that I wouldn't do it again...
I'd baked a whole load of macarons for a function the day before I left so naturally bought some along, they've never looked so pretty. Thanks so much Carly for the raw files :)
180g dark chocolate
275g caster sugar
110g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
180g block white chocolate
220g milk chocolate (or there abouts...)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Quick confession number 1 - the chocolate measurements in this recipe are based on the sizes of my preferred chocolate bars, I generally use nestlé club, milky bar and cadbury diary milk. I'd stick to the 180g dark chocolate, but if your white and milk chocolate weight varies your brownies will be fine :)
Quick confession number 2 - I love the image, but the brownies in the photos above were horribly over cooked; unfamiliar oven, cooked in 2 small tins, excuses, excuses, but they are usually fantastic, I promise, my "go to" brownie recipe
• preheat your oven to 175ºC
• line the base of a 23cm square cake tin with baking paper, lightly grease the sides
• put the butter and dark chocolate in a pan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth, set aside to cool
• sift together the flour and cocoa and set aside
• break the milk and white chocolate into squares and put them in the freezer
• in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and electric hand whisk) whisk together the eggs and sugar until really thick, creamy and pale, then fold through the melted chocolate and butter
• gently fold through the flour and cocoa, then take your chocolate out of the freezer and stir through
• pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake in the centre of your oven for 30 mins if you like your brownies fudgy, 40 mins if you prefer them firmer.
• leave brownies to cool completely, then slice into squares; if you've opted for fudgier brownies I'd refrigerate them for an hour or so before slicing.
• brownies should keep in an airtight container for about a week; if they start to dry out, pop them in the microwave and serve them with ice-cream!
Oh, back to Daylesford, there was also fire writing, Milkyway shots (that's actual shots of the stars, not a drink), lots of instagramming, inappropriate hash tags, much hilarity when the only station available in the car was the BBC World Service, and finally an "oscars selfie". Thanks so much Ewen, Billy, Shellie, Carly and Maureen, there's not a lot better than making new friends :)