I've always been a city girl, give me the option to go strolling through the streets of New York or the beaches of Phuket, and I'm all about that city, pounding the pavement and getting lost in the buzz and neon glow of the lights.
But sometimes it does get just a bit too much. Recently I've found myself easily overwhelmed, between work, trying to keep the blog going, making sure the boyfriend doesn't feel too neglected, (attempted) exercise and organising a multitude of other activities, I find myself more frequently feeling burnt out and a bit hollow.
About 4 months ago, Brad's parents moved from Glen Waverely out to Gembrook, where they bought themselves a nice bit of land, and the most gorgeous home, and now have space for his mum's horses and the variety of other animals his mum and sisters would eventually like to purchase (to the dismay of his dad).
I've been a terrible girlfriend and took quite a while to get up there, but once there, the weekend there was absolutely what I needed (and probably need to schedule in quite soon again). Especially when the sky was blue, the sun was out and the cats were being lazy on the deck. It was an incredibly restorative weekend where I didn't wake up at 7 to go to the gym, there was no agenda, and even though Brad and I were both working (okay, I was blogging), it was still much more relaxing to do it next to giant windows that overlooked rolling hills.
The one little problem with being an hour out of town, is that food selection can be slim, but a little bit of googling soon had me directed to the General Food Store in Emerald, just a 15 minute drive away.
Emerald's not a big town, with the majority of the shops on a small little strip, a mix of cute little vintage stores and mostly generic cafes. The General Food Store stands out as being bright and cheery, with a lively buzz as you step through the doors, greeted by a young, upbeat and smiley crew.
The space isn't big, but it's used quite practically, with plenty of seating, a tiny kitchen and an adorable display of mouthwatering sweets. We sit along a bench that looks out to customers entering the store and tuck into lattes and chai's. My chai's a bit milky and anaemic, but as my expectations weren't too high (and I was feeling a bit mellow in the crisp country air), it was good enough. The milk was very creamy and smooth.
My warm winter salad was just perfect, with Jerusalem artichoke, lentils, olives and walnuts. Earthy and just lovely, it felt so clean and refreshing at the same time. I couldn't get over how fresh and crunchy the walnuts were, just divine.
Brad's pulled pork bun also looked awesome, pulled pork sandwiched in a sweet and shiny bun, with an explosion of bright and vivid colours from all the vegetables. Very well seasoned too.
I ended up enjoying the General Food Store so much, that we went back the next morning for breakfast before I made the drive home (although to be honest, it's because the other breakfast options in the area looked a bit sleepy and yawn-worthy...don't mean to be a snob)! I had the granola with sheep milk yoghurt, rhubarb and pistachio. A crunchy, sweet and modest serve, which ticked all the boxes I needed on a Sunday morning.
Brad's Arabesque with poached eggs, generously lopped on haloumi, beetroot relish and hazelnut dukkah did incite some food envy with it's perfectly poached eggs…I don't think I've ever seen a cafe be so generous with the haloumi before!
It looks like the menu at the General Food Store changes quite frequently, focussing on what's in season, so despite other potential breakfast options, I look forward to revisiting the General Food Store again with it's cheery service, simply but beautifully thought through food and very reasonable prices. I have to say I'm really quite pleased to have a reason to return on a regular basis since Brad's parents place isn't too far at all...
377 Belgrave-Gembrook Road