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Published March 16th 2017
Pumped for Plums
I didn't really know what to expect, so it was with some trepidation that I packed my family into the car and ventured forth to La Fattoria Café and something else interesting I had heard of, titled Fruit Loops – we were intrigued. Word had it that reasonably priced locally grown or sourced fruit and goodies were available fresh from the farm door. It was also said that the restaurant situated on site was a hidden treasure. The Location of this boutique restaurant and farm gate fruit shop is211 Merrivale Road in Pickering Brook.
The journey to La Fattoria was enjoyable, however, I must offer this helpful hint: unless you are the owner of a 4WD or a keen off-road enthusiast I would recommend avoiding the scenic route, via Mundaring, as suggested by Google Maps - the unsealed and rather bumpy road is a tad unsettling.
Fruit Loops Here We Come
Once at the destination, the stunning surrounds restored my calm and we all headed to the packing shed to fill our coffers with freshly picked plums, apples and pears. On the day, we attended we were able to choose from a wide variety of luscious plums, including Fortune, Kelsey, Amber Jewel, Satsuma and Ebony Sun, as well as succulent yellow nectarines, Clapps pears, Royal Gala apples, tree-ripened Granny Smith apples, trays of figs and farm fresh eggs – wowsers! Of course, we chose a little (or in some cases quite a lot) of everything.
The Packing Shed
Now one of the great things about Fruit Loops (what a great name for La Fattoria's farm gate shop) is the variety. I have not often walked into my local supermarket and seen 5 varieties of plums (in fac,t my kids were so impressed with the green Kelsey plums – "Look mum: green plums!" – that they were eagerly devoured that very day). Another fabulous feature is the price – more than competitive with other establishments – but what I really love is the payment honour system: you weigh your fruit on the high-tech scales provided and then you take yourself through to the café to pay (one fixed price for all fruit).
Now that just gives me warm fuzzies and there is something about being trusted that makes me want to be extra super honest. On a logistical note, ensure you bring in sufficient bags or boxes to carry home your wares (always better to be safe than sorry) and no need to worry about cash as cards are now accepted.
After selecting our fruit (all 6 kilos) and ready to pay we traipsed through some big barn doors and discovered La Fattoria's café, or to be more precise the Trattoria. "So, what is a trattoria?" I hear you ask (I wondered the same thing). Well, a trattoria is a family run establishment where instead of an a la carte menu there are a series of set dishes shared at the table (think a typical Italian family meal). La Fattoria offers 'Nonna's Family Table', rustic dishes inspired by past and present family recipes and where possible featuring home grown and/or locally sourced seasonal produce.
Outside Seating on the Deck
As well as the set menu, guests can also select the 'Pick Your Own Platter' for a less formal experience. The Pick a Platter at La Fattoria is so unique because you can create your own antipasto platter from the blackboard menu – thus eliminating that annoying part of every platter experience – the unwanted and oft-ignored dish you suspect has been placed on the platter to creatively offload unpopular produce from the kitchen. For the sweet toothed among us, there are also a scrumdiddlyumptious selection of homemade cakes like Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Sicilian Almond and Ricotta Cake, Fig Jam Cake, Tiramisu Cupcakes and the decadent Cappuccino and Walnut Cake. Of course there is coffee, tea, La Fattoria's own juice and did I mention they make their own wine and cider.
The restaurant is beautiful - small, welcoming and rustic, the staff are so friendly and helpful and the setting is sublime. You can eat in the restaurant, on the deck or why not take a picnic blanket so you can sit on the grassed area and absorb the vista while enjoying the delicacies.
Ahh ... The Vista
Now for the deets (FYI: that's how all the cool kids say details these days):
La Fattoria is open Thursday to Sunday from 12pm-3pm and is a fully licenced venue. 'Nonna's Family Table' is by BOOKING ONLY - guests arrive between12 and 1 pm (tables are never double booked so you can sit back and relax with your family and friends and there is no need to rush your meal). All guests booked for 'Nonna's Family Table' also receive complimentary wine/cider tasting prior to their meal. The 'Pick Your Own Platter' option is a less formal experience and walk-ins are acceptable. Just to be on the safe side I would always phone ahead to book as this place is small and popular.
The Nonna's family table' prices are as follows:
• Thursday - Friday $45/person
• Saturday - Sunday $55/person
• Bambini Menu - $25/child
Menus are seasonal so check the website for details.