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Published October 2nd 2013
A generous serve of charming country style
The best pizza I've ever eaten was a crispy-based little number from a trattoria in Florence, Italy. The second best was in a more unlikely destination, but fortunately much closer to home, at Brookfield General Store.
Nestled amid equestrian showgrounds, old wooden churches, and sprawling semi-rural properties, the Brookfield General Store is one of those rare places that is seemingly all things to all people.
This quaint storefront is the gateway to a gourmet feast. Image courtesy the Brookfield General Store facebook page.
t's a corner store where you can pick up emergency supplies of bread, milk or chocolate; a meeting point for early morning cyclists; a drinking station for dogs and their owners out for a late afternoon walk; a fresh food providore; and, in the nicest possible way, a gossip post.
Fresh produce, locally grown where possible, is for sale inside Brookfield General Store. Image courtesy Brookfield General Store facebook page.
Having opened in 1934, there's a lot of history packed into its heritage-listed walls.
Now the noticeboard out the front reveals the contemporary pulse of the community, with ads for second-hand ride-on mowers, giveaway roosters, yoga classes, miniature goats, horse-riding lessons, seasonal silkworms, farrier services and painting lessons.
A recent change of ownership saw Brookfield General Store broaden its appeal beyond a mere convenience store to a cafe, with the addition of a large indoor country-style table and chairs to provide alternatives to outdoor seating.
The next step in this small shop's transformation came with the tacking-on of an open-air dining space at the back of the building, overlooking the equally historic Brookfield Hall. Once populated with tree stump tables, delightfully mismatched chairs, ceiling fans and a wood-fired pizza oven, 'the shed' was born.
There's nothing like having a shed to escape to. Image courtesy Brookfield General Store facebook page.
I turned up there, kids and their friends in tow, after an lousy day at work in the middle of a heatwave. But from the moment I entered 'the shed', smelt the garlic-laced wood smoke, and collapsed to enjoy a blessedly cold glass of water (the venue isn't licensed, though you can bring your own alcohol), I felt my tension begin to unfurl.
I was so relaxed that I broke my own rule, which is not to eat seafood unless you can see the ocean from your seat. But I'm glad I did, for 'the goldie' pizza, which features scallops, prawns, rocket and delicate hints of lemon and chilli, was nothing short of divine.
My companions enjoyed the 'city cowboy' pizza, topped with kangaroo fillets, oven roasted tomatoes, feta and rocket, and the 'wood choppers' featuring cheese, meatballs, bacon, ham, pepperoni and red onion. It was topped so generously that one of my dining companions described it as 'meatlovers on steroids'.
There are a range of other pizza options, including gluten-free bases and vegetarian toppings, plus two types of wood-fired ribs served with coleslaw and chips.
Wood-fired pizzas are a rustic treat. Image courtesy Brookfield General Store.
If you're not much of a night owl, there's always the 'Brookie Breaky' available daily from 6am. Menu items include house-made gluten-free muesli, lemon-infused avocado on sourdough, bacon and free-range eggs, pancakes and poached eggs with soldiers.
Lunch is also a grand affair, with a menu boasting dozens of options, including grilled chicken Greek salad, chili and garlic fried squid salad, home-made pies, gourmet sandwiches and classic beer battered fish and chips.