Archive for the 'Out of town' Category

Fresh Espresso – Leura Cafe, Blue Mountains

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

We went up to the Blue Mountains for the KCC Engage 2010 conference, and after a solid three days of a jam packed program, my car decided to linger around in Leura to avoid the exodus of 1000 people from the conference :)  We walked up the main street, called Leura Mall, and were tempted by a beautiful stationery shop, chocolate shops, funky homeware stores as well as the gourmet deli.  It actually surprises me that food in the country is more expensive than the city, because to me, the city has hats and star ratings.  I guess what I fail to realise is that the country usually faces more overheads as food and groceries may not be as accessible.  Anyway, we stumbled upon a cafe called Fresh, which is right on the bottom of the busy part of the street, tucked behind RM Williams and a real estate agent.   We peered in and immediately saw the cake counter calling out for us.. mm…

This funky little cafe even sells coffee making wares.  It shows that they are serious about their beans! Because they even blend and grind their own!

Despite the tempting cakes and coffee machine shopping, we were here for a feed.  There is a good chalkboard menu of specials, as well as an all day breakfast menu and some toasted turkish bread specials.  The BLT arrived and I immediately had food envy.  It was stuffed with layers of crispy bacon, not dry at all, gourmet mesclun, and tomatoes – it certainly puts soggy white iceberg lettuce filled tiny BLTs to shame!  It’s served with a leaf salad that has a yummy balsamic vinegrette.

I selected something from the specials menu.  I have thing for corn fritters, and as they had the on the menu, along with garlic fried mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and grilled capsiscums, I didn’t even think twice.   It was definitely dressed up to city style standards, but what I was disappointed about was that the fritters were more like pikelets studded with some corn kernels.  Bills’ corn fritters have made me accustomed to more like corn cakes, which are chunky and barely held together with flour.  So almost 100% corn if you will.


Pick your own fruit

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

It’s summer! And summer means amazing fruit. I don’t know how I survive the other 9 months of the year without mangoes, cherries, lychees and grapes. Thankfully the US imports help us out a bit, but it’s not the same freshness or price. What better way to enjoy Aussie grown fruit than to go to an orchard and pick your own. A couple of weeks ago, I went to pick my own cherries in Wombat and Young in NSW. We thought it would be a 4 hr drive as their websites said, but I’m thinking that this excludes traffic in Sydney and also no stops. In the end, we left at 9am and were picking at 2:30 after a fly ridden picnic there. There are several orchards you pick your own fruit including Ballinaclash, Allambie and Wombat Heights. Prices range from $5.50 to $8 per kg. Hurry because cherry season is nearly over, and probably all the good ones are gone! A word of advice wear insect repellant. I still have marks on my legs :( And wear a hat and heaps of sunscreen too.
If you can’t make it this weekend, never fear, peaches are here. You can pick your own at Pine Crest Orchard in Bilpin. Followed suite are the apples starting from February. See my previous blog entry. Good luck and happy picking. It’s a great way to get food from its source and give our farmers a fair go, as well as showing your kids what real produce tastes like!

Mudgee Wine Region

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Mudgee is a wine region 3.5 hrs drive from Sydney that is increasingly rivalling the well established Hunter region as a place to go for a good drop.  September was its annual Food and Wine Festival, and that was the reason for our 3 day trip.  With over 35 cellar doors, we managed to get through around 11 in 3 days.  Highlights were:

1. Blue Wren wines – the friendliest service from the winemakers, without a doubt. They had an amazing white port, which is served to you on ice, with a squeeze of lime.  Quite the pep up after breakfast, it was sweet without being sickly, and sooo refreshing.  Also makes a delicious verjuice for the non-drinkers in your party.


2. Logan Wines - we stopped here for a coffee and lounged around reading the paper in the overhanging glass room looking over the winery.

3. Farmer’s Daughter Wines – also lovely service from the Farmer’s daughter and had a delicious pink moscato – really sweet and goes down really well as dessert on its own. 

4. Oatley Wines – great combination of food tastings and wine, and attentive service also.

5. Elliot Rocke (right)- trendiest place, try the ice wine – dessert wine made with frozen grapes. But the staff informed me they are not frozen on the vine like some NZ varieties.


 6. Burrundulla Vineyards – delicious whites and has an art gallery too.

7. High Valley Wine and Cheese Co – apparently has a great breakfast, but sadly, we missed it :(

Other places worth checking out: Mudgee Honey Haven to try Mead – which is a honey alcohol, from which the term honeymoon is coined.  They also sell a honey ale and honey ginger ale and there are over 15 varieties of honey to taste from creamed honey with chocolate and strawberry through it, to my first taste of honeycomb! (more…)

Solitary Kiosk, Leura NSW

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Solitary1.jpg It certainly is a demonstration of a chef’s humility when they open a lower priced offshoot and make their top cuisine affordable for all. Think Becasse and Plan B (with its $10 Wagyu burger and $2 lemon tarts); Fifteen Restaurant and Canteen, and in Leura: Solitary Restaurant and Kiosk.  Whilst the restaurant offers 5 courses for $95, a mere $10 will get you a hearty gourment brunch or lunch in its kiosk located on the same premises, same sweeping views over the blue mountains.   A charming weatherboard hut perched atop a ledge midway between Katoomba and Leura, set in a garden filled with blooms.  I started off with a tangy, tart and perfectly sweet home made lemonade ($3.50). 

Solitary2.jpgThe lemon zest added even greater depth of flavour; and the sourness of the lemon was balanced with the sweetness of the sugar syrup.   Equally delicious was the coke spider (my first taste can you believe it!).  Our group was pretty evenly split between the steak sandwich, caponata salad and chicken sandwich. So you would have thought that the kitch would find it easy to fill the order for 8.  Sadly I think they weren’t accustomed to the influx of Sydney siders for APEC long weekend holiday, so the food took forever to come – I felt sorry for the couple that came after us! But lucky there is the view, and well when you go to the country you’re not in much of a rush anyway!  The open steak sandwich ($15.50) was a good sized minute steak cooked medium well, served between two delicious thick slices of wood fired bread – the crumb dense enough to hold in the home made tomato relish, sweet delicious caramelised onion, lettuce, and grilled tomato.  The caponata salad ($15.50) captivated us when we saw another patron (we assumed regular) order it.  A warm salad piled on top of the same bread (which I am so glad is not sourdough) – comprising diced zucchini, eggplant, tomato, onion, celery, pinenuts and olive oil – hearty vegetarian feast that created added interest through the listing of dark chocolate on the menu!

Solitary41.jpg  Solitary3.jpg

The humble chicken sandwich was given a gourmet style makeover and still priced only marginally above a Sydney CBD cousin at $9.90!  Thick slicse of poached chicken breast mixed with home made mayonnaise and herbs.  I was told that the bread had a lemony twist – not sourdough I was told by two sources.  The cress was on the side rather than in the sandwich – meaty enough to last well into your hike!  As we left filled with full stomachs and even better, full wallets, we passed the sweet offerings of the day – basket of fresh baked scones, dense sinful looking brownies and huge florentines. Solitary5.jpg Solitary6.jpg

Does bushwalking get any better than this? haha.

90 Cliff Drive, Leura Falls