Yarra Valley – scenery, chocolate and ice-cream
Nestled into the scenic rural area just outside Yarra Glen lies the Yarra Valley chocolaterie and ice creamery. Located on Old Healesville Road, this is a destination for anyone who has a sweet tooth, chocoholics and ice-cream aficionados. In addition, those who have a love of food in general or interested in admiring scenic views from a verandah whilst drinking a cup of tea in the onsite cafe, are also well catered for.
This has been a favourite spot of mine to visit ever since I discovered it about five years ago on a winery tour of the Yarra Valley. During that visit, I indulged in a chocolate tasting session that focused on the use of native Australian ingredients in chocolate. And finished off the visit with ice-cream – something that involved the flavour combinations of honeyberry rocky road and apple pie rocky road. These were delicious and I loved the inventiveness of the flavours. It stood out as the highlight of a day exploring foodie destinations in the Yarra Valley.
Fast forward a few years, and I discovered that where there is a will, there is a way to reach places that aren’t particularly easy to reach when relying on public transport. Trains and buses will only get you so far…but then there is uber and foot. A combination of all four saw me catch an early morning train from Melbourne’s CBD to attend a tasting session during the annual ice-cream festival that is held every year in February. A taste-testing ticket offers the opportunity to sample 12 different flavours of ice-cream within an hour. This was intense, but it was also very educational. The opportunity provided an insight into the types of flavours that work together as well as those that don’t, gained through the comments of other ice-cream aficionados attending the same tasting session. My favourite flavour of the day was the unusual avocado and basil combination which had a very nutty taste.
My most recent visit was for the rocky road festival in 2018. Like the ice-cream festival, this is also an annual event that extends for an entire month. When I attended the event, it was held during May. The theme brings in all different types of rocky road as well as hot chocolate and ice-cream flavours created specifically for the festival. I was overwhelmed by the number of rocky road flavours with too many selections to settle for just one, so wound up looking at the varieties of ice-cream instead.
The festival specific creations using rocky road concoctions were what I ended up zeroing in on though. At the time, there were approximately six flavours featured to tie-in with the rocky road festival. Two flavours were oriented towards children – cookie monster rocky road and unicorn rocky road. Of course, I tried both. The former was bright blue with a banana flavour and the latter was pale pink with a bubble-gum flavour. Other choices were dark chocolate sorbet, wildberry sorbet, strawberry, vanilla bean and melting moment milk chocolate. I ended up opting for a cup containing two scoops. The first flavour selected was unicorn rocky road. The unicorn food craze was very popular at the time and it’s the only opportunity that I have had to experience it. The second flavour selected was the more conventional honeycomb – one of my all-time favourites.
The 2020 ice-cream festival is being held at the Yarra Valley chocolaterie and ice-creamery between 12 February and 23 February. Now that there is a hop-on-hop-off bus that frequents the area, I will likely make the trek back to the area again this year to take my fill of both ice-cream and chocolate. Or lunch followed by dessert.
There are now two other franchises of this ice-creamery. The first of these is located at Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula. Another store has opened on the Great Ocean Road at Bellbrae. More information, including an online store, can be found at https://www.yvci.com.au.Information on the hop-on-hop-off bus service can be found here: https://www.hopit.com.au/