It began with a sausage. Or should I say, a Newstead Bull Boar, which is superior to the Castlemaine and Maldon varieties.
As my husband and I inspected a house in Newstead, the real estate agent said, “Check out the local butcher. Get yourselves some Newstead Bull Boars. You’ll buy the house.” So we ventured down the street and we bought some Bull Boars. We took them back to Melbourne and we ate them and then we called Castlemaine Property Group and we made an offer on that house.
When you are fond of a snack, like I am, it’s important to know where to get the good stuff. People who live here love to brag about the peace and quiet. I give no fucks for serenity. I grew up under the flight path so I’m partially deaf anyway. What I care about is food. It didn’t take me long to suss out who was making what and where I could get my hands on it. The Goldfields region is full of producers of amazing food.
The problem of course, is that many of these small producers move here for a more relaxed lifestyle. They’ve put in the hard yards in cities all over the world and now they want to do something they love without the stress of long hours and lots of staff. They have families, they have other interests. So the Good Bread is not available Mondays, and if you want to buy it in Newstead you have to order it on a Tuesday to be picked up on a Wednesday. I can’t count the number of times we have been stuck with the Other Bread and my husband has looked at his toast and said, “It’s like we’re poor.”
The Good Pizza is only available Wednesday through to Saturday and it’s best to order before 8pm. The Good French Food? Before Didier and Caroline so inconsiderately retired, they ran a bed and breakfast with three rooms and three tables, so you had to book well in advance and you could only eat there if their guests were not.
I made friends with the butcher, the baker, the croquembouche maker. Actually, the Good Patissier told me that he didn’t make croquembouche, but I wore him down over twelve months. Most brides obsess over hair and makeup, but I knew it was all about the cake.
Those who already live here will know how important it is to have Brett’s mobile number. Brett, of the Good Thai. The Good Thai does not have a business phone. You have to go in to make a booking, or take your chances. Or if you are one of the chosen few you can call Brett. I could get a small fortune for this number on Castlemaine Buy Swap and Sell but he knows I would never risk being black listed by the Good Thai.
Pretentious foodie? Maybe. I blame my grandfather, His idea of school holiday fun was a 600 km round trip in the Cortina to get the ‘good eggs’.
It was during my pursuit of the Good Ice Cream that I was forced to take a long hard look at myself. Ice Cream Social; how you taunt us with your pop ups and your limited hours and your lazy attitude towards life. Before they had a permanent spot at the Old Mill, Ice Cream Social operated out of an old Mr Whippy van. If you wanted to know where it was on any given day, you had to go to their Facebook page, or if you were impatient like my husband, you could message them constantly until they replied.
One Saturday afternoon we found ourselves hanging laps in the carpark of Tonk’s Hardware. Had we misread their Facebook post? Were we too early, too late? Were there two carparks in this god damn hardware centre? I wound down the car window to wave down an employee, “Excuse me, do you know where the artisan ice cream is today?’ I tried to play it cool, like we hadn’t been counting down the hours at home with only the Other Bread to sustain us until we could buy a couple of cones.
There is a special look that born and breds reserve for blow-ins like me. The Tonks employee fixed me with this look and replied, “This is a hardware store.”
I hadn’t moved to the country. I had moved into season two of Portlandia.
I turned to my husband, who was busy posting Where the fuck is the ice cream van? on Castlemania (before he was barred). “We have both beaten anorexia. We don’t need gingerbread ice cream. Let’s go home.”
After this I refused to get excited about Dr. Marty’s crumpets at the Glenlyon general store, Phamily Kitchen on Barker Street or the fact that you can also buy Bull Boars in burger form down the road, but we drove home the long way so we could pick up a loaf of the Good Bread.