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2008 Best on the Best: Alla Wolf-Tasker, chef/owner, Lake House, Daylesford

My favourite food shop? I’m really spoilt for choice here in Daylesford. It’s a bit of a food bowl. When I’m in Melbourne, I go to the markets – Prahran (163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra, Vic, 03 8290 8220) and the Queen Victoria (cnr Elizabeth & Victoria sts, Vic, 03 9320 5822). For kitchenware, I love Essential Ingredient (Prahran Market, South Yarra, Vic, 03 9827 9047) and Scullerymade (1400 High St, Malvern, Vic, 03 9509 4003). Browsing is my idea of fun – kitchen tragic that I am. Among the cafés, I like Spoonful (543 High St, Prahran, Vic, 03 9521 5212) for Melly Beilby’s wonderful food and ability to create a generous, hospitable environment. On my home turf, novelist and journalist Andrew Masterton is now pulling great coffees at the Old Glenlyon General Store (63 Barkly Street, Glenlyon, Vic, 03 5348 7519). My favourite Australian food product is Sher Wagyu. Having beaten the Japanese at their own game, it’s terrific to see this wonderful product available for local tables.

Bottle shop
Not somewhere I frequent much – we have a wine buff’s dream of a cellar holding up to 10,000 bottles at any one time, and a lavish well-supplied bar replete with a terrific barman. Pimms on the veranda looking over the lake beats any trek to a bottle shop, I think.

Winery Curly Flat pinot and chardonnay are now being spoken of with considerable reverence. Their winery is on a gorgeous piece of land in nearby Lancefield. Closer still is Ellender Estate in Glenlyon where local dentist-turned-winemaker Graham Ellender fires up his huge wood oven each weekend. Sitting looking over their rolling vines with a slice of tallegio and wild mushroom pizza and a good chardonnay in hand is hard to beat.

Drinking hole City Wine Shop (159 Spring St, Melbourne, Vic, 03 9654 6657). No visit to the city is complete for me without popping in for a drink and a snack. A great range of wines by the glass and lovely food. In autumn with leaves on the pavement and soft afternoon light on the Treasury building, you’d swear you were in Paris.

Cheese I have to go local once again, Meredith fetta in extra-virgin olive oil – sublime in all its oily glory with chopped summer tomatoes or meaty autumn mushrooms on toasted sourdough. And the extraordinary La Luna and Black Silk from Holy Goat (03 5474 8289) organic cheeses  - with a bit of ripe pear or figs. Carla and Anne Marie, the cheese makers, have the most indulged herd of goats I’ve ever seen.

Restaurant In Melbourne, The Stokehouse (30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda, Vic, 03 9525 5555)  provides a quintessential Australian experience for my overseas guests. That view, the sun, the bay, Anthony Musarra’s intelligent delicious food (not a sphere in sight), and informed but unstuffy service.

Where you’re eating next I’m cooking in Normandy in July and August and will be visiting  Michel Bras and Thierry Marx’s Château Cordeillan-Bages – I’ve eaten at Bras’ place before, but the visit to Marx will be a first time. One of my young cooks recently won a six week stage there and was most impressed.

Lake House, King St, Daylesford, Vic, (03) 5348 3329,

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