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We have long enjoyed Simon Stewart’s superb cooking since his time at Bespoke in Forrest. So it was with anticipation when we checked out Yield in his new restaurant in Birregurra, just an hour from Sea Zen.

Yield Birregurra

Yield Birregurra

The entrance looks deceptively small and old fashioned, a taste of Birregurra from 100 years ago.  Like Dr Who’s Tardis, the inside opens up to a generous interior space.  It has welcoming Mint green walls and generous rustic tables.  Each table is subtly different and some with a bench seat on one side are softened with a fluffy faux fur backing rug.

Inside portrait900

The menu is fixed, and of local seasonal produce.  There are seven courses, previewed with Spelt sour bread baked a few hours before and accompanied with local Olive oil for dipping.

Entrees

The entrée courses are a series of Tapas style adventures.

Spelt, haloumi, croquets, rillettes

Spelt, haloumi, croquets, rillettes

The Kale and goat’s cheese croquettes are small packages of delight, briefly deep fried and garnished with fine cheese, exploding into complex flavours of cheese and vegetables as you bite into them.

The local Haloumi is beautifully cooked and adorned with little piles of walnut and cheese that balance the firm texture of the cheese.

The pork rillettes is a base of shredded slow cooked pork, with a richness that is offset by the colourful Daikon topping and like all of the dishes, individual pieces of art.

The quantities were just right, small tastes that kept us waiting with anticipation for the main courses.

The mains

Carrots

Local carrots from Simon’s garden were the waitress’s favourite.  I thought, how can simple carrots be her favourite?  Then I tasted them.  Yes carrots, but more, with subtle flavours mixed with buttered popped local sorghum.  Simple, but exquisite.

Lamb shoulder

The main dish, the lamb shoulder had been slow cooked till tender, served with red lentils and cabbage, worth the wait.

Dutch cream potatoes

Even the roasted potatoes were a discovery.  The rich creamy flavour of the Dutch cream potatoes was offset by the subtly different purple variety.

A feature of the experience is the explanation of each ingredient of each course by Simon’s wife Kara.  Some ingredients are from the herb garden out the back, some from Simon’s larger home garden at nearby Colac, the rest from many farms and producers in the area.

Of course everything is seasonal and at its peak which is why the menu changes with the seasons.  So French, so Japanese!

Desert

To finish we had the rhubarb paste on a bed of whipped yoghurt, topped with Meringue and pepitas.  Like all the dishes, it was balanced for the palate and a pleasure for the eye.

Prices

The set menu was $75 per head for lunch, a little more for dinner.  Matched wines  are an extra $40.

The wine list had good variety from local and further afar. Several of us chose the excellent local Geelong Sarge Shiraz.  I was the driver and had  a fruit soda made on the premises, tasty and refreshing.

Menu

Menu

Location

Yield Birregurra is an hour’s picturesque drive from Sea Zen in Separation Creek, 20 minutes from Colac and 40 minutes from Lorne.

Attached to the restaurant is the Provedore shop with a wide selection of local produce for purchase, perfect for xmas hampers.  We bought more than we expected.

Like those precious meals at Bespoke, we will be back to Yield many times.

Contact and Bookings

43 Main St Birregurra

www.yieldbirregurra.com.au     5236 2611.

Fixed menu, $75 per head lunch. Bookings essential

Review – Rex Brown, Sea Zen

 

My friend Mike Brady of Cazaly fame clapped his hands in Sea Zen as he listened intently. “As I thought, no reverberation, the angled walls soften the sound, very Zen.”  Mike had come to check out our Sea Zen accommodation.  He knew about us, but although a neighbour, had never been inside.

As well as a composer and singer, he has learned a lot over the years how sounds behave in small spaces like recording studios.  “Parallel walls give a horrible reverberation, I hate it” he said.

I never realised that the angled walls had a softening impact, but he is right and helps explain why Sea Zen has that calming effect.  As an owner it’s nice to find so many of our guests enjoy the tranquillity of their break away from the hurly burly of the city.  The soft Zen experience is all part of that.

Check out the walls

You can see the 3D plan here, and Mike is right, lots of angles, and even the ceiling and floors are stepped.
Floor plan

New 360 degree view

You can also check out the walls using our new 360 degree view from inside Sea Zen.  It’s almost like being there.  Just click here to get the 360 degree experience, especially handy for our past Treetops guests to get a feel for Sea Zen.

I enjoyed watching Mike sing “Up there Cazaly” at the Grand Final on TV.  It has become an anthem of joy for the occasion.  Mike is also a continuous innovator and 2 weeks ago released a new reflective song on Youtube here.

New cleaning and booking company

We farewelled our past cleaner Lesley, who is off on a caravan tour of Australia after years of excellent service.   Our new partner is Holiday GOR who have taken over the cleaning and are taking many of our bookings, from October 2019.   They are professional managers who have been servicing the area brilliantly for over 20 years.  They are doing a great job for us.

Finally, we have an amazing massage therapist in Wye, who comes to you in Sea Zen

Helen

Helen

Helen Buchanan, who lives in Wye has 25 years of experience in advanced remedial and relaxation massage.  She specialises in hot stones and relaxation massage.
Sibylle had a massage in Sea Zen yesterday and came away almost floating!  One of the best massages of her life, she said.

hot stones

hot stones

A massage with Helen is the perfect addition for that special escape at Sea Zen where you can indulge all the senses.
Treatments with Helen are eligible for private health rebate.  You call her to arrange a time that suits both of you while you are staying, subject to Helen’s availability of course.  Tel  0433 131 147.

More information about Helen

There was great anticipation when we heard that a new MoVida restaurant was opening in Lorne.  The two in Melbourne are well regarded for high end Spanish food and the Lorne experience lives up to expectations.

The new restaurant is at ground level under the Lorne Hotel, just 20 mins from our Sea Zen accommodation at Wye River.  It has a brilliant outlook through the gums to surfers in the bay, and the setting inside is relaxed.

MoVida is refreshing Spanish dining with tempting Tapas, larger meals and a wide range of Spanish wines and sherries.

Our server Jamie helped us navigate the choice of pre meal sherries, from the light and dry to the more deeply nuanced offerings.  He gave us a sample of several, making the choice easy.

There is a set meal with wines for around $60, but we opted for our own selection of Tapas and shared mains.  We started with the Concha Tapas, delicate pastry shells around an explosion of subtle tuna flavours.  We followed with Prawns wrapped in a tasty crust and then barbequed Octopus on skewers.  The sherry was an excellent counterpoint.

Tapas Movida

Tapas Movida

For shared mains we had the slow cooked beef cheek with cauliflower puree, a delight of deep complex flavours, followed by the roast capon, another captivating contrast.  A delightful meal in delightful surroundings.

Do we recommend Movida?  Definitely, 5/5. Around $60 per person.

See the Menu below, for the day we dined in May 2019.

MoVida Lorne menu

MoVida Lorne menu

Apart from the view, one of the things Sea Zen visitors remark on the most is the birdlife.  While the king parrots are favourites, an endless source of fascination is the Superb Fairy Wren.

Fairy Wren

Male Superb Fairy Wren

Male Superb Fairy Wren

The male’s brilliant blue plumage make it stand out when it ventures out from protective scrub.  It is always on the move, usually with a drab brown female not far away.  The call is a high pitched trit trit.  You can often see it in the garden next to the Sea Zen side balcony.

I find it pesky, because the male often visits our house at the back of Sea Zen, and has an ongoing fight with – itself!  It spends hours jumping at its reflection in the back window, and also at its reflection in our car side mirrors.  Within a day, there are white droppings all over the car door.  But it is all worth it to see these loveable little birds parading close.

Some facts: they mainly eat insects.  They have a tiny ball nest in bushes with a side entrance.  The male and female raise a family together, but are both promiscuous, and unpaired males who have mated with the female will help raise the young.

Balmy Autumn

We have enjoyed balmy days with smooth seas, and cooling nights.  A time to light the wood fire inside, as the fire agencies burn off in the forests to prepare for next season.

The coming months are a time to enjoy a crackling wood fire inside, and to see if there are any truffle hunts planned at the nearby  Wongarra Farm.

Paddy’s Path, the pretty path between Sea Zen in Separation Ck and Wye River, is now permanently open (Feb 2019).  It almost sparkles.

Gone are the previous dodgy landslips, replaced by a solid path.  In the middle is a beautifully crafted timber walkway, viewing seats and the memorial plaque to Paddy Harrington.  The unstable slopes below the path have been permanently strengthened by a thousand rock bolts and netting.

You now have dozens of spectacular views over the beaches and the adjacent rocks.  You can even see the rock pools midway between the towns.

Paddys Path

Paddys Path

Pictures of the path

A third of the way to Sep, the gravel path stops and a boardwalk starts.  If you click on the pic, you can see the long rockpools on the right.

1 boardwalk nth with pools900 [click to continue…]

Recording of a foraging Bristlebird at Sea Zen

Foraging

Foraging

Click here to hear the call:

We wake at dawn in our house at Separation Creek to the sound of Rufous Bristlebirds calling.  Wiped out in WA, Qld and endangered elsewhere, they are everywhere here.

Rufus Bristlebird

Rufous Bristlebird

A cross between a road runner and a blackbird, these elusive birds scamper though the bushes on strong legs, often with their tails held up.  Rarely your can see them  scamper across driveways.

Running Rufous

Running Rufous

“You have 3 pairs” a visiting bird expert announced, “a pair owns the territory between each pair of neighbouring houses.”
They may be shy, but wow, they are loud! The call is twit, twit, twit, twit, TATWEET, TATWWEET.  Often repeated twice.  It took a while for me to realise that this was not one call, but two birds perfectly mimicking each other, a few seconds apart.
Listen to the Bristlebird call:

[click to continue…]

We are often reminded that we are just spectators to nature’s life cycles.

Sometimes we see Dolphins cruising past, sometimes we see them in death, like this skeleton on the rocks a few minutes north from Sea Zen. Our dog Tanook didn’t quite know what to do about it, bones too big to chew on, embarrassing really!

Dolphin skeleton

Dolphin skeleton

You may recall that back in July, the sand dropped a metre overnight, last week it came back again. [click to continue…]

In September we returned to Kyoto to search for Japanese objects to share with you – to see and touch and use when you next stay at Sea Zen.

Why Kyoto?
When you stayed at Sea Zen, you experienced a fusion of modern and traditional Japanese design.   Its inspiration was our visit to Kyoto in 2006, the ancient capital that drafted artists from around the world and today still leads a fusion of ancient and modern craftsmanship

The Choju cups

These unique two cups called out to me.  They are hand painted with historic cartoon characters that originated in a remote temple in Kyoto in the 12thcentury.

The rabbits, frogs and monkeys on the cups are taken from 4 Choju scrolls of frolicking animals at the Kozan-ji temple. They are whimsical caricatures making fun of the local monks – a sense of humour way back then.  The designs on the famous Choju Giga scrolls are the first Manga and probably the first cartoons ever!
When you next stay at Sea Zen you can drink from them.  There is a red cup and a blue cup.  You’ll see a rabbit with bow and arrow, a frog and a monkey carrying a box. [click to continue…]