Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coombe - The Melba Estate (by invitation), by Obelix

Coombe in the Yarra Valley was once the home of Dame Nellie Melba.  You know, as in the Dame Nellie Melba - she of the operatic fame, patron of the arts and yes, she of the Peach Melba, the renowned dessert created and named after her person.

The amazing hedge - it takes three gardeners to maintain it.

The stag

I was very lucky to be invited to the opening of Dame Nellie Melba's private estate for a garden tour followed by high tea at the adjacent restaurant, Coombe.  The garden tour was a fantastic way to learn about the history of the Yarra Valley and of Dame Nellie's family.  Coombe is one of the largest and oldest family estates in the Yarra Valley and was established in 1870s by Dame Nellie Melba's father.  

Walking through the hedge into another world...

Walking through the grounds was like stepping back in time.  I felt like I had fallen through a rabbit hole and ended up as Alice in Wonderland.

An impressive oak tree well loved by the family

The garden itself was designed by William Guilefoyle who also designed the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  It had a promenade of elm trees and an amazing hedge.  Here are a few photos and a few tidbits of info picked up through the tour.

This is the entrance to the Coombe Cottage.  The Estate hosts a variety of events for the Opera Trust as well as contemporary arts to honor Dame Nellie's patronage in the area.

The entangled wisteria by the pool - in 1913, Dame Nellie Melba built the first pool in Victoria!

After the informative garden tour, it was off to morning tea!

The Coombe restaurant is wonderfully accented in copper and wood.  The view of the elm trees from the dining area was so peaceful.

Chef Tony Milton talked us through the High Tea offerings.

A delicious quartet of sweetness - chocolate truffle; strawberry tartlet; lemon meringue tartlet; friande.

Something more savoury and substantial here with: Coombe Farm pate on Melba toast; asparagus dill cream cheese pinwheel;  smoked salmon ribbon sandwiches; pork and apple sausage rolls; leek and Persian feta quiche.

Fresh baked scones with Peach Melba jam and clotted cream and is Chef Tony's granny's recipe.

We savoured our High Tea with a beautiful pot of Peony tea.  Apparently this was Dame Nellie's favourite brew.  We also had a glass of Dame Nellie Melba Blanc de Blanc 2011 to accompany the High Tea.

Verdict - we loved it!

Coombe is open for dining as well as for events - it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon!  It also has a cellar door and providore attached where you can purchase the yummy produce to take home.  Chef Tony mentioned that most of the fresh produce is either grown on the estate or sourced locally from neighbouring farms.

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