When you live in the country, you get used to compromise.
You might have to drive forty minutes to get a nice platter of sashimi, but if you just want a couple of sushi rolls, the bakery in the next town over does those.
The place might be packed full of tourists every Summer and Easter holiday, but on the other hand, there are a LOT of great cafés that you can enjoy when the tourists are gone. And three pizza shops, for some reason. (We’ve only been to two so far. And one of those is in a shop that used to be an amazing tea shop, so I have conflicted feelings about their pizzas.)
And when it’s time for something sweet, we might be miles away from the best vanilla slices in the world, but we’ve found something that’s almost as good.
Some of you may be asking what on earth canelés are; others might just be wondering why we have such a ready supply of them. Let me explain.
Until recently, the town next door to us had four shops, and three of them were empty. (Except for a short-lived pizza shop. Perhaps they were undone by the excessive amount of them in the other town…)
Then things started to change and before we knew it, we had a bakery that makes pies and pasties with the most delicious short pastry.
Next, the Mill Grove Diary popped up, which was great news for us. We’d been happily driving twenty minutes to buy their cheese at a local winery; now we could even more happily drive five minutes to buy all the cheese.
And now, the third shop is home to an artisan sourdough bakery. It’s the perfect trio of deliciousness.
Believe me when I say we’ve thoroughly sampled all the offerings from these shops and keep coming back to check that our first impressions were correct.
It always pays to be thorough with these things.
Since the sourdough bakery is new, we’re still working our way through the types of loaf on offer but I already have a favourite. It’s not bread, though. Because there’s more temptation than sourdough on offer at Yarra Valley Artisan Baker.
When you step through the door of the sourdough bakery, you’ll see loaves of bread on racks (still warm, if you’re early enough!), the baker lugging flour to his bench… and a selection of treats under glass domes on the counter. The first time we came, they had canelés on offer, with a helpful sign to tempt you to purchase them:
A French pastry made from custard flavoured with rum and vanilla.
Well that covers all the food groups.
Obviously, I bought two and foolishly shared one with my husband. I should have kept them both for myself. They are every bit as delicious as they sound. The outside is beautifully caramelised and the vanilla and rum go together like old friends.
And from now on, I’m going to have to resist them when we get our bread because I’ve decided to get serious about avoiding sugar again. I am currently in negotiations with myself regarding a short exemption list with canelés right at the top. Perhaps if I only had one every other week…
At least I can still buy one of everything at the cheese shop next door, right?
Those are the consolations of country life: for every time you can’t park in the main street because of the tourists, there’s a delicious, rum-flavoured pastry to compensate for it. Provided you can beat the tourists there, of course.