A Perfect Day around the Bay

The best part of our job is to discover and trial the best travel experience for our guests. Recently we tried a new route visiting both the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsula on the same day. The suggested itinerary below includes our handpicked sites, restaurants, menu suggestions and even wine pairing. We did this not once, but twice to ensure our recommendations can consistently deliver.

The Sorrento-Queenscliff Ferry provides a great way to cross the Port Phillip Bay. Instead of doing the long drive through the congested Melbourne freeways, treat yourselves to amusing wildlife and beautiful landscape.

Viewing deck on the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry
The front deck on the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry.

Here is our suggested itinerary to spoil yourself and enjoy the best from both sides of the bay.

1. Wake up at our gorgeous cottages

Family and pet friendly, our cottages are just a short 15 minutes drive to the Sorrento Ferry Terminal.

private courtyard fully fenced
The Beach Club Cottage – 15 mins from the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry Terminal.

2. Breakfast at the Vanilla Slice Cafe

Enjoy great coffee and the famous Sorrento Vanilla Slice before you cross the bay. If time allows, browse through the art galleries and historical sites around the Sorrento township. The ferry departs on the hour and you are advised to arrive at least 15 mins before. You can also book online, otherwise just queue up and pay at the drive through.

3. Hop aboard the ferry

Boarding the Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry in a car.

You can drive onto the ferry, or leave your car behind. There is parking available at the terminal. The journey takes only 45 minutes while you enjoy the view on the deck or stay warm in their comfy lounge. There is a full service bar in the lounge if you have room after the vanilla slice.

Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry
The Sorrento Queenscliff Ferry connects the Mornington Peninsula and the Bellarine Peninsula.

4. Visit historic Queenscliff

Tour the Fort Queenscliff, lighthouse, and glimpse the old days on The Queenscliff Heritage Walk.

5. Late lunch with a 270 degree view

The Bellarine Peninsula is famous for their mussels, freshly harvested daily. There is no better place to enjoy them than the Jack Rabbit Winery, just 30mins drive from Queenscliff. It offers both indoor and outdoor dining area with the same 270 degree sea view. We have been there multiple times in the last 6 years, and were never disappointed with their food, wine and hospitality. Their mussel recipe changes regularly, we had it in a red wine sauce, creamy parsley sauce, and a Thai fusion sauce with coconut cream before.

Tip: match the mussels with their pinot noir, chardonnay or sauvignon blanc depending on the mussel receipt of the day.

Photo by the Jack Rabbit Winery (actual view at the winery). They are serving sunset dinner until the end of daylight savings on Fridays and Saturdays (ends on the 4-April-2020).

6. Bring home some mussels

Available at good seafood stores around the Bellarine Peninsula, also on the Mornington Peninsula. We like them both and have a great recipe to prepare them.

Peninsula Fresh Organics

We aren’t running out of ideas for this subject line nor this is an ad. We aren’t paid to write this. But the name Peninsula Fresh Organics really sums it up, we do believe it is an accurate reflection of their produce and this post.

Staff loads the produce which are always harvested the night before
Staff loading the produce which are always harvested the night before

Fresh? If you aren’t aware until now, the vegetables sold at our regular grocery shops aren’t picked when they are ripe. In facts they are often harvested early to increase their shelf life. They ripen in the trucks and insides their boxes. Many of the favours and nutritions aren’t there. It’s very apparent when you are having them as salad, or making soup or sauces. At Peninsula Fresh Organics they pick the evening before.

Organic? Detox and fasting have been popular habits lately. People become more cautious of what they put into their stomach. I’m very supportive of food science and technologies. They allow food to be grown faster and bigger, solving many crisis. But the unnatural substance introduced do accumulate in our bodies. Instead of detoxing we can simply put less harm in. The higher price of organic produce can be preventive, I admit I cannot afford it every day. However let’s support our farmers occasionally, our bodies will say thank you. The Peninsula Fresh Organics website says that their produce are certified, I ain’t lab technicians but I believe in them.

Delicious? Please try it and we’ll leave the verdict to our readers. The Cottage Chef certainly think so, see her recipe here.

A good place to visit in the Peninsula? Definitely. They have been farming at their Baxter location for more than 40 years and into their 5th generation now. Through the entrance visitors will enter the rustic property with many antique tools on display, greeted by their friendly staff, and seeing freshly harvested produce being loaded onto shelves.

Our favourite are their round zucchini and heirloom root vegetables. Don’t miss it while you’re heading down to the peninsula. It makes a great first stop on the way from the city; load up with fresh fruits and vegetables for your stay, or enjoy them back at your home.


Zucchini Carpaccio with Wine Aged in Terracotta

The Cottage Chef takes on a new recipe and wine pairing challenge, with emphasis on retaining the original favours of freshly harvested organic zucchini. She came across these delicious vegetables after a visit to the Peninsula Fresh Organics in Baxter.

Pairing Zucchini Carpaccio with the Trofeo Estate Amphora Chardonnay

A “less is more” approach is therefore taken. The Cottage Chef will use a recipe which adds little seasoning, to ensure diners are actually enjoying the zucchini, a “light taste” vegetable itself. The same is required from the wine, best if it is nothing but grape juice; well fermented grape juices. Luckily the Mornington Peninsula offers a good variety of wine making styles and methods.

At Trofeo Estate they make wine which is aged in terracotta. According to Trofeo, “Terracotta does not impart any flavour, so the wines produced in the Amphora display all of the delicate fruit aromatics and flavours, pre-existing in the grapes. Terracotta is an inorganic medium, and as such does not harbor spoilage micro-organisms, thus reducing the levels of Sulphur required to safeguard the wine.” The Cottage Chef found their Amphora Chardonnay to be a good match. The Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. The wine is aged in Terracotta Amphorae for 10 months accompanied with periodic stirring of the lees. Besides the natural favour of the fruits, there is mouthfeel texture and complexity, adding a good natural contrast to the zucchini.

Zucchini Carpaccio
Zucchini Carpaccio

Zucchini Carpaccio


Extra virgin olive oil, rocket salad, lemon juice, rind, sea salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.


  1. Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice diagonally into wafer-thin rounds. Place in a bowl.
  2. Combine the oil, lemon juice and rind, and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over zucchini and leave for 5 minutes. Pile the rocket onto serving plates, then top with the zucchini and finish with the parmesan. Serve as a first course or as an accompaniment to simply grilled meat and fish.

This is such an easy dish to be prepared and enjoyed at our cottages. Getting the wine and vegetables at the Trofeo Estate Winery and Peninsula Fresh Organics are great attractions themselves. We recently had guests asking for a bigger fridge to keep the food they brought in. To our dear guests, why are you bringing your own?! Let’s just enjoy all the Mornington Peninsula can offer.


Fresh Mussels and Ocean 8 Pinot Gris 2017

If you have been following blogs from The Cottage Chef, you must be aware that she like simple recipes using the freshest ingredients. This is true for both at home and at her cottages. She also like to promote local produces from the Mornington Peninsula.

Ocean 8 Pinot Gris 2017 pairs with mussels, freshly harvested by The Peninsula Fresh Seafood.

Lately The Cottage Chef visited the seafood truck again, and this time she got some mussels that were just harvested. With mussels literally just pulled out from the sea, they should be enjoyed in the simplest way possible.

Some readers may think of just boiling them, not bad actually. Although The Cottage Chef doesn’t believe boiling = boring, but a small dose of magic to enhance its favour won’t hurt. It happened that the nearby Ocean 8 winery had recently released their 2017 Pinot Gris, which will make an interesting pairing. The Cottage Chef has been a long time fan of Ocean 8. We will write another post on Ocean 8 later, it is one of the smaller wineries of Mornington Peninsula making great Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot. Ocean 8 should never be missed by wine lovers.

Back to the dish, The Cottage Chef bought 1.5kg of mussels, cleaned. In a large sauce pan, put in a few garlic cloves chopped, 2 tablespoon of butter, put in the mussels and stir a few times. Pour in a cup of Ocean 8 Pinot Gris, cover and bring it to boil. Turn down the heat after it boils, put in a small grab of parsley finely chopped, stir and cover again, let it  simmer for 3 minutes.

Last but not least, enjoy the rest of Pinot Gris with the mussels.

P.S: A touch of chilli will be fantastic, the Ocean 8 Pinot Gris loves it actually.


The Making of MP Cottages Part #1

If you’ve been following our blogs, you’d know that we are trying to bring our Humble Beach Shack back to glory. We had researched in depth before we came up with our design and a plan for its execution. In this blog post we tell the stories behind our decor.

When we were property hunting in the peninsula for this holiday accommodation project, we saw many run down houses. Many of them were vacated by their retiree occupants before they headed to the nursery homes. Entering these houses is like stepping back in time. For many of the retirees, their children had left home for years. They lived in the same house with their partners until they were the last one to go. We saw rooms that hadn’t changed a bit since their children departed in the 80s, or even 70s. The beds are always neatly made, sometimes a bit dusty, frozen in time. The pictures on the walls tell their family stories.

These experiences added to our determinations to maintain the neighbourhood characteristics, and their stories. It is unfortunate that the property we have doesn’t come with its original decor nor furnitures. We therefore had to source them piece by piece. Ebay, Gumtree are often good sources; and of course the local antique shop. Sadly we cannot afford most antiques in the shop. We also don’t like the cheap remakes from Asia neither. Luckily we found some good offerings online, with lots of driving to many corners in Melbourne, we got a few good pieces. They were as humble as our old beach shack, all needing our tender love and care.

Here are a few pictures of us cleaning, polishing and preparing these items for display in our cottages. Enjoy.