You can walk past a local shop almost every day and never get to know what's inside. That could be said of me in that I had passed the little butcher shop known as Free Range Meats at The Basin (1319 Mountain Highway, The Basin, Melways Map 65 G8) a number of times, but had resisted the temptation to go indoors.
I wish now that I had ventured inside months ago, because the other day I took the plunge and found myself in a veritable Aladdin's cave of delights. Honestly! In a butcher shop I hear you ask?
Just as well I had my camera with me, otherwise my friends wouldn't have believed me when I told them about only some of the things I found at Free Range Meats. Their motto is Free Range/Farm Friendly. Russell, the proprietor, has recognised the discerning meat buyer's need and preferences, and provides gluten free ham and bacon, gluten free sausages and a host of other pleasures. Most of his products are from local as well as from Victorian sources.
Russell and his side-kick Warren greet you with a sincere smile and you immediately know that you're going to have great fun in choosing from the many varieties and cuts of meat in their display cabinet. Free range chicken, lamb, grass fed beef, and pork together with specialised meats such as Portuguese chicken, dried aged chorizo and that's only for starters.
Their meat loaf is beef, and chicken duets consists of broccoli and cheese wrapped in a real chicken breast. A selection of salamis and other sausages including children's vegetable sausage, chilli & fennel, French merguez, bush tomato mountain pepper leaf sausage, await to be complimented by incredible cheeses including goat cheese, aged reggiano, French brie or camembert, organic vintage or aged cheddars, as well as freshly made duck & orange paté or port and cracked pepper paté. Russell also stocks bread sticks, and superior olives.
As far as gift ideas - and yes, don't bother looking any further for special gifts for family and friends because they're available at Free Range Meat. You're in for a lot of surprises. Russell has a great range of olive oils from Kyneton; special blends of green teas, chutneys and relishes, a range of local mustards, honey, jams (not your ordinary jams either, but things like hot jam and lamb jam), plus pasta sauces as well as smoky barbecue sauce, special bread sticks, and Bum Hummers picked onions.
If that hasn't whet your appetite for piling everyone into the family car for a pleasant drive to the foothills of the Dandenongs, then you will never know what you're missing. Put in your large Esky (even two) because you'll be tempted to buy up big. What value do you give to the opportunity to stun your friends that they'll be falling over each other persuading you to tell them where you bought such tender and taste-filled meat. There's nothing like making your friends envious!
You've probably heard the old saying that you often don't know what's on your doorstep, and it's true you know, but Free Range Meats has so much to offer that you would be wise to make a special trip to The Basin to take in all the treats on offer. Once you've experienced the pleasure, then you'll be a regular visitor to the Basin Village.
While you're at The Basin, call into The Chocolate Dragfonfly for a snack or Devonshire Tea ( the best in the South East); and wander down the street to enjoy the Basin Bakery and its delights as well as the Basin Fruit Shop which provides lovely and fresh produce and which you certainly can't miss because of the wonderful selection of flowers they have on display outside. Then browse through Rainy Day Books. If you're still in the mind to find some special gifts for family members and friends, don't go past the Basin Post Office - another treasure trove.
Spoil the kids too by popping into the Basin Fish & Chip Shop and choosing something to have for lunch. Cross over the road and sit on one of the many benches in the lovely kid-and-family friendly playground for a restful hour or so.
Spend a whole day taking in the pleasures of the small but mighty Basin Village Shopping Centre.
Feree Range Meats of The Basin, 1319 Mountain Highway, The Basin, Melways Map 65 G8.
There is a Free Spit Hire with the purchase of meat orders.