The perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the foodie in your life : Connoisseur Club Promotion

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Thought about a Valentine’s Day gift yet?

Here’s what $99 will get you:

A dozen long stemmed roses, which will last maybe a week.

A gift certificate for a day spa, which will last maybe an hour.

A bottle of vintage Veuve Clicquot, which will last maybe 30 minutes.

OR

You could spend $99 on a (specially discounted) Silver membership to the Connoisseur Club and get 12 months of unlimited discounts and special offers from restaurants and pubs all over Australia, not to mention great discounts on cases of wine, tours and trips, classes and courses, adventure activities from Adrenalin (hot air ballooning or racetrack drive days, anyone?), boutique accommodation, day spas, golf courses, and tourist attractions.

No kidding.

I’ve teamed up with Andrew Stuart (we met and bonded over a really good bottle of wine), who is not only a great bloke but also the Managing Director of the Connoisseur Club, which has been going for 30 years.

The Entertainment book it ain’t – no tacky vouchers and restaurant staff rolling their eyes when you whip that plastic card out on Monday – Thursday, this is a membership that lets you keep going back to the same restaurant time after time, whenever you like, and you keep getting a discount (like 1 main meal for free when one other main is purchased), EVERY SINGLE TIME.

With over 20,000 members, you’ll be in good company. The best kind of company. The kind that saves a shedload of cash whilst supporting their favourite venues, wineries, activities and attractions, and helps people discover new places to eat,drink and visit.

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Coombe Farm Wines Celllar Door (above) is just one of the places that you can visit and use your Connoisseur Club card at.

My Valentine’s day gift to all my food lovers is a 50% discount off the normal rate of $198.

Check out the site here, to get the full list of benefits and offers. You can’t search the venues themselves without being a member, but here’s a sneak peak of some of the participating venues Melbourne , Sydney & Queensland, with a host of new venues being signed up in 2015

Bistrot d’Orsay
Syracuse
Olivigna
Terre – Mornington Peninsula (ex Royal Mail)
Levantine Hill Estate (soon to be home to Ezard)

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NSW – All Hat winners
Ormeggio
Pilu at Freshwater
Bathers Pavilion
Otto
Catalina

QLD
Vanitas – Palazzo Vesace
Salt Grill – Luke Mangan

 

Simply go HERE and enter the promotional code: gastronomel to get your card (specify the name of your recipient on the card but put your address if it’s a gift) and the good folk at the Connoisseur Club will despatch your membership pack within 24 hours.

Cutoff date for orders is Tuesday 10th February so get on it!

Bon appétit, lovers!

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Behind the Hedge – Coombe Farm in the Yarra Valley

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For as long as I can remember, I have been a regular visitor to the Yarra Valley, and recall my father telling me as a young girl that the huge gates on the bend just past Coldstream were the entrance to the estate of Dame Nellie Melba, whom I knew to be a great opera singer.

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If you have, like me, ever wondered what lies ‘behind the hedge’ , the news is good.

Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful and perfectly restored, it is also now open for the public to enjoy, and not just as an historical homage. Coombe Farm is styling itself as an artistic hub, which will play host to thousands of visitors every year, as people stream through the gates to explore the gardens on guided tours, as well as to weddings, corporate events and opera performances as part of the Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust. They will also, like me return for the wine, as Coombe Farm Wine Cellar door is also located here.

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Dame Nellie Melba was in her day one of the most famous women in the world, the first woman to ever grace the cover of Time Magazine, and counted amongst her friends Charlie Chaplin, (who apparently swam in her pool at Coombe Farm) movie idol Douglas Fairbanks, and members of the Royal family. She lived a lavish, flamboyant life of concerts,  travelling the globe with her monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage and custom-made Cartier jewellery, and was celebrated all over the world for her magnificent voice. She was also lauded for her unending support for charity, as well as nurturing the talent of budding artists, including Arthur Streeton who would, with her patronage go on to be one of our most celebrated painters.  Apparently Dame Nellie also had a wicked sense of humour, and had a bit of the Aussie larrikin in her. Quite frankly she sounds like someone I would have loved to share a glass bottle of wine with.  Take a tour of the grounds and gardens and your guide will regale you with all manner of lovely anecdotes and snippets about this national treasure. They’re all in love with the history of her and are full of enthusiasm for sharing her legacy with as many people as possible.

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The beautiful Providore stocks gardening wares, handcrafted pieces from independent artists, and specially-commissioned Melba memorabilia including monogrammed teatowels, crockery etc, as well as  the stunning biography written by Melba’s beloved granddaughter, Pamela, Lady  Vestey which is on my Christmas list this year.

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The gardens were originally designed by Guilfoyle (he of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne fame) and at every turn you are rewarded with stunning views over different parts of the Yarra Valley.

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The oldest (functional) swimming pool in Australia where Charlie Chaplin swam


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The gorgeous morsels served as part of brunch, using local and homegrown ingredients, included the award-winning Coombe Farm Wines’ Dame Nellie Melba Blanc de Blanc, fresh baked scones with Peach Melba jam, truffles, lemon meringue tartlet, Coombe Farm pate with Melba toast, and pork and apple sausage rolls.

 IMG_4019 IMG_4022 IMG_4023 IMG_4024 IMG_4026The restaurant is open, and serving seasonal and largely estate grown produce, for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea 7 days a week. They will also be open for dinner on weekends during peak holiday periods as well as for special events.



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View the current menu here

Bookings for Garden Tours are essential. The cost is $25 and includes morning or afternoon tea and I am looking for volunteers to come with me so I can do it all over again (and again)

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Sincere thanks to Coombe Farm and Two Hands Agency for having me along to discover what’s #behindthehedge

Visit Coombe Farm’s beautiful website here for more information: http://coombeyarravalley.com.au/site/