In autumn, as the leaves on the trees turn golden and fall to the ground, driving around the Daylesford Macedon region can feel like coming across a smorgasbord.
Dotted along the highways and back roads are little farm gate stalls selling delicious farm and backyard-grown produce. The crunchiest heirloom apples picked fresh off the trees, pumpkins of every shape and colour, fragrant tomatoes full of flavour, honey straight from the hive, organic eggs, pretty posies and much more. It’s a good idea to travel with coins for the honesty boxes and a picnic blanket in case you can’t wait and have to pull over and stop under a tree to enjoy your bounty.
When visiting this area during autumn, the peak of harvest time, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the celebrations and festivities. Farmers who have spent all year growing their produce in the fertile volcanic soils often throw open their gates and invite you in for tours, tastings and to pick your own. It’s amazing how much better something tastes when you’ve seen the rolling hills of the farm where it was grown, and chatted to the person who grew it.
In autumn, farmers can be seen marching up and down the main streets into kitchens delivering crates of fruit and vegetables picked fresh from the fields and orchards. Café and restaurant menus are filled to bursting with mouth-watering descriptions of meals that showcase the region’s produce. Vegetables that would usually sit next to the main course, like potatoes and tomatoes, become the heroes, and seasonal tasting plates look like works of art.
In autumn, visitors to the region are treated to some of the best farmers’ markets in Australia. Trestle tables groan under the colourful displays of locally grown fruit, vegetables, meat and flowers. And the farmers who have looked after the produce all year round – planting, weeding and irrigating the crops, protecting them from pests, diseases and the elements – can’t wait to have a chat with you about how to cook their produce.
And no visit to the area in autumn would be complete without a guided mushroom foraging walk through the forest. Picture yourself traipsing under the pine trees, Opinel knife in hand, filling your basket with delicious morsels, and finishing up with a mushroom feast you’ve cooked yourself and enjoyed with a glass of local wine.
Many chefs use this bountiful period to open their kitchens and share their knowledge in master cooking classes. Local chefs teaching you how to use the freshest seasonal ingredients means you’re in for a treat.
Autumn in our area really is a special time to connect with where your food comes from, forge special relationships with producers, and create treasured memories of meals cooked with the freshest, most delicious ingredients.