A local food tour of Creswick
Creswick, just 20km north of Ballarat, is a small town with a fantastic local food scene. A couple of weeks ago on Creswick’s market day, I jumped on the number 3 bus from Ballarat to take a stroll around and see what I could find.
I started at Creswick Country Fresh, one of the most prominent food shops on the street: it has an unmissable stand out the front advertising Inglenook milk (from Dunnstown, just east of Ballarat) and Meredith goats cheese (between Ballarat and Geelong). Inside, they have a range of fresh produce both local and otherwise, and shelves stacked with specialty items, many of them made in the region. Some examples included Mount Warrenheip mineral water, a few different kinds of pickles and preserves, local olive oil, honey, and a cabinet full of free range and pastured locally raised meat.
Across the road, a strip of cafes and small food stores beckoned.
The Red Fox is a comfortable local institution with homemade pies and chutneys as well all the other usual cafe fare; you can can buy a jar of chutney to take home, too.
Le Péché Gourmand is a French patisserie with stunning cakes and pastries made on-site, and baguettes filled with locally goodies like Tuki lamb and Salt Kitchens Charcuterie ham.
Next door to that is Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, one of the highlights of my visit. The cheese itself is produced in Ballarat and sold at farmers markets as well as at this retail store and a couple of others in the Hepburn region. There are several varieties of cheese on offer (all available to taste), as well as a well stocked wall of local specialty products from Grounded Pleasures chocolate (made in Ballarat) to saffron grown at Glenlyon!
Much as I wanted to explore every cafe and shop in the street, I needed to get to the Creswick market. Although it was a wet, chilly day, the precinct around the neighbourhood centre on Victoria Street was bustling. Outdoors there was a good range of stalls selling fresh produce, locally made food products, and ready-to-eat snacks. Some of my favourite stalls, like Zed and Co and Ballarat Mushrooms, were present, and I met some new people as well, like Danny Kinnear, whose chooks from his small farm at Blampied supply the eggs for his Portuguese tarts and other value-added products.
Inside the community hall, a craft market was underway, but being most interested in food, I headed down behind the neighbourhood centre to visit the community garden.
Creswick’s community spirit around food was inspiring. As well as the community garden, which has a regular stall in the main street selling seeds, seedlings, and other items, I also discovered that Transition Town Creswick holds a monthly produce-and-other-stuff swap, and that the Creswick Wholefoods Cooperative is open twice weekly down the back of the Creswick Mart at 54 Albert St, selling everything from local shiitake mushrooms to Australian-grown peppercorns. For a small town, there’s a lot going on!
After all my wanderings, I settled in at the Farmers Arms hotel with some of the folks from the neighbourhood centre. It’s newly renovated and has a fantastic, locally-focused menu, but I just had a glass of wine and headed back to catch the bus home. I’m sorry I didn’t have time to taste more, but I’ll be back!