It’s our second day in Australia and we’re making our way on the food and wine trial across Victoria, well known for its vineyards, farmsteads and rural towns. We kicked off with a wine tasting (at 10am, no less!) in Avenel, before hopping into the car for our next destination: the outback town of Ruffy in Strathbogie Shire, 175km from Melbourne. As our car drove through segments of hills, bush and fields peppered with sheep and cattle, we took in the sights of occasional creeks and ponds against a vast expanse of blue sky. The scenery was gorgeous.
Finding Ruffy was a difficult task (coverage is tricky out here), as road signs are small and can easily be missed. We often found ourselves on roads like these that were completely empty. Trees on both sides formed a shady arch over the road, shielding us from the sun. Nice to drive through in the day, but I’d hate to be stuck here with no street lamps in the night, with kangaroos or wild dingos about.
When we finally pulled into town, we weren’t sure if it was the right place – there seemed to be nothing other than a couple of buildings. But that’s Ruffy for you – with a population of 300+, it’s a small place where the communal spirit is strong, and everyone knows every one else.
Public hall, where town meetings and events are held.
Former school turned community centre.
One of the main ‘attractions’ in town, so to speak, is the Ruffy Produce Store – which was what we drove all the way out here for. Popular among locals for its home-cooked meals and fresh produce, the rustic establishment had a comfy, laid back vibe to it; the kind where families go to share a hearty Saturday brunch with dogs at their feet. The outdoor area, surrounded by shady oak trees, felt like a dining space in a country home’s back yard, with umbrellas and mismatched tables and chairs.
We checked out the store, which looked just like someone’s living/dining room if not for the counter stacked with baked goodies and items for sale. The back area even had a dry kitchen where they run events/classes.
I wouldn’t mind living here 😛
Warm, cosy interior.
Freshly baked cakes and pastries lure visitors with an enticingly sweet call.
Since it was a beautiful day, we opted to sit outside. The menu has a limited number of items, but hey, it’s better to have a few that hit the mark rather than many that don’t, right? Our guide, T, opted for the humongous Posh Burger, made from succulent grilled beef patty, crisp bacon strips, caramelised onion, aioli, tomato, mustard sauce, cucumber pickles and lettuce on a soft brioche bun, served with lightly salted potato wedges. I’m not a big fan of ‘tower’ burgers because I believe that you should be able to eat everything in one bite, but the flavours were great and came together well, especially the juicy meat patty.
I went for some carbs in the form of their home made Ravioli. Simple but tasty, the dumpling retained its al dente texture and had just the right amount of sauce clinging to each parcel. T is Italian and even he gave it the thumbs up. It just tasted like good ol’ fashioned food, no frills, nothing fancy.
Desserts were next. The orange cardamom had lovely flavours, but the cake’s texture was a little too wet for my liking.
Lemon tart on the other hand was excellent; zesty, tangy with the right balance of sweet and zing, flaky and crumbly pastry crust, topped with delightfully fresh cream.
We left with our tummies well filled and satisfied from the hearty meal. For travelers venturing into the region, the store is a gem seemingly in the middle of nowhere and a side trip worth taking.
RUFFY PRODUCE STORE
26 Nolans Road, Ruffy, Victoria
Operating hours: Friday: 11am/6pm, Saturday – Sun (8am – 4pm)
Phone: +61 3 5790 4387