Southern Highlands in the palm of your hands

Banana potatoes from Robertson

Banana potatoes from Robertson

It is easy to lose track of time when we are caught up in our busy lives each day. Happy family reunions mark the passing of time and these occasions seem to come sooner each year as we gather and celebrate life with loved ones.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

I find the falling leaves and beautiful colours of each autumn to be a passing reminder of yet another year gone by.

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

We spent this Easter break in the southern highlands of New South Wales which left us with beautiful images of places which were less than an hour and a half from Sydney. Rustic country charm, friendly locals, fresh local produce and good, honest food were things we encountered each day as we wandered around Bowral, Berrima, Burrawang, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest and Bundanoon.

Eschalot Restaurant, Berrima

We had dinner on our first night in the southern highlands at Eschalot Restaurant in Berrima.

Pumpkin soup

Amuse bouche ~ Pumpkin soup

This restaurant is housed in a 100-year old stone building where individual dining rooms are lit with chandeliers and decorated with art pieces by local artists.  On a cold night, we were delighted to be served a warm pumpkin soup amuse bouche.

I was particularly impressed with our wait person Simone who, despite an obviously very busy Friday night dinner session, found time to talk to us and explained the menu in detail. Friendly, warm and knowledgeable are words we would describe her with.

Kingfish escabeche with watermelon

Kingfish escabeche with watermelon $20.00

MSP ordered the kingfish escabeche with watermelon for entree which came with colourful edible flowers. The sashimi was very fresh although I think slices would have worked better than square cubes for texture. Perhaps it might be the season  but edible flowers and leaves seem to be the theme for each of the dishes that we ordered.

Glass of Bong Bong Shiraz

Glass of Bong Bong Shiraz (BYO $5 per person)

We had a Bong Bong Shiraz, a wine which is part of the Centennial Vineyards’ located in Bowral.

Butter poached lobster with slow-roasted pork belly and quail egg

Butter poached lobster with slow-roasted pork belly and quail egg $42.00

MSP ordered the butter poached lobster with slow-roasted pork belly and quail egg was a beautiful combination main course. The pork belly was tender and succulent with a crispy rind which married well with  the firm lobster meat while the quail’s egg added the extra bit of decadence to an impressive dish.

Seared duck with honey pear dressing

Seared duck with honey pear dressing $38.00

I usually like a steak but opted for the seared duck with honey pear dressing simply because I thought this dish would be hard to replicate at home. The meat was succulent and cooked to medium rare and complemented well with the sweet honey pear dressing.

Peanut butter brittle with chocolate sauce

Peanut butter brittle with chocolate sauce $16.00

Peanut butter brittle with chocolate sauce was a great dessert to finish off the meal.

The great thing about exploring the southern highlands is that the towns of Bowral, Berrima, Burrawang, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest and Bundanoon are all within short driving distances of each other.

Autumn colours, Bowral, Southern Highlands

Autumn colours, Bowral, Southern Highlands

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

One of the things which become immediately obvious as we walked around these quaint little towns is the slower and more relaxed pace of the locals. Shop owners are friendly, helpful and are always happy to have a conversation about anything other than the weather. The drives are pleasant because there is little traffic and we often stopped to either admire the beauty of the countryside, visit eclectic shops selling anything from homeware, scented oils, jams, fresh local produce and local artwork and crafts.

Some of the cool climate wineries in Bowral include Centennial Vineyards which houses the Bong Bong, Woodside and Centennial range of wines.

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

The sprawling grounds of the vineyard is also a perfect setting for outdoor concerts and recent events include performances by Diana Kraal and Lionel Ritchie.

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

The trees and vegetation at Centennial Vineyards reminded us about the beautiful the colours of autumn.

Wine tasting at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Wine tasting at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Wine tasting at Centennial Vineyards’ cellar door is complemented by a large piece of colourful and whimsical artwork.

Dining room at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

Dining room at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral

We were contemplating lunch at the Centennial Vineyards restaurant but a fully booked lunch session made the decision for us.

Strathburn Bed & Breakfast, Bowral

Fruit basket at Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

Fruit basket at Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

Fresh organic fruits were plentiful wherever we went. We had our share of the crunchiest and sweetest apples each morning from a large basket of fruits at the beautiful Strathburn Cottage in Bowral. Located on an acre of garden, this century old cottage is minutes from Bowral town centre.

Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

We were lucky enough to score the biggest room in the cottage despite the busy long weekend holidays and Bonny the cute little dog greeted us at the door of our courtyard accommodation each morning.

Little Bonny at Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

Little Bonny at Strathburn Cottage, Bowral

Breakfast each morning was a choice of hearty bacon, free range eggs, muesli, yoghurt and fresh fruit. We were spoilt for choice at each of the locations which we stayed and breakfast at the Exeter General Store was no exception.

Exeter General Store, Exeter

Exeter General Store

Exeter General Store

Service was attentive and efficient whilst you browse the library of books in the dining room.

Dining room at Exeter General Store

Dining room at Exeter General Store

Located in the heart of Exeter, this place is a store offering gourmet produce, cafe and post office all in one.

Bacon and eggs at Exeter General Store

Bacon and eggs at Exeter General Store $12.90

Thankfully, each of the towns which we stayed in were not short of beautiful bush walks and trails to work off the indulgent breakfasts we had each morning.

Breakfast bruschetta at Exeter General Store

Breakfast bruschetta at Exeter General Store $13.90

A breakfast bruschetta with tomatoes and basil were delightfully fluffy and cooked to perfection. For the few days where we had a huge breakfast, we vowed to skip lunch, do a bushwalk so that we work off all the extra calories and whet our appetite for dinner.

Lemon brulee tart

Lemon brulee tart

Of course, hunger pangs rang loudly at times especially in this cold weather and MSP could not resist the occasional snack from one of the cafes in the heart of Bowral. She particularly enjoyed a simple lemon brulee tart.

Autumn colours, Exeter

Autumn colours, Exeter

Hordern’s Restaurant in Milton Park Country House Hotel, Bowral

Another dinner highlight was at Hordern’s Restaurant located in the the grand and majestic Milton Park Country House Hotel.

Milton Park Country House Hotel

Milton Park Country House Hotel

Set in its own secluded estate, it is located literally in the middle of nowhere. The location of this retreat is a long drive through mature bushland. We were unsure if we were headed the right direction as pitch darkness greeted us on a private road leading to the majestic entrance of this up-market hideaway where the opulent Forest suite costs upwards of $1,600 per night.

Rabbit terrine

Rabbit terrine

The rabbit terrine cold entree was flavoursome and firm whilst the grilled scampi halves were so fresh it hardly needed the fragrant herb butter sauce.

Butter grilled scampi with rocket salad

Butter grilled scampi with rocket salad

The butter grilled scampi with rocket salad was fresh and the scampi meat sweet and was a great starter.

Sirloin steak in red wine reduction with spinach leaves and potato

Sirloin steak in red wine reduction with spinach leaves and potato

The medium rare sirloin steak in red wine reduction with spinach leaves and potato was cooked to a beautiful medium rare.

Saffron risotto with seared scallops

Saffron risotto with seared scallops

A saffron risotto with seared scallops was a generous helping of creamy and al dente rice full of fresh seafood flavours and a decadent dose of creamy butter and cheese.

Eccetera Trattoria, Bowral

A less impressive dinner was at the Ecceterra Trattoria in the heart of Bowral. Decorated with rustic Italian home style decor, the service was somewhat haphazard where different waitresses were continuously asking us the same questions and trying to take our orders when they have already been placed.

Crab meat angel hair pasta

Crab meat angel hair pasta

The crab meat in the crab meat angel hair pasta was nicely seared but the dish was a little dry from what little red sauce that came with it.

Grilled quails and polenta slices

Grilled quails and polenta slices

Grilled quails and polenta slices were soggy as they were drowned in an indifferent tomato, herb and mushroom sauce.

Veal roulade with sage, mushrooms and artichoke

Veal roulade with sage, mushrooms and artichoke

The veal roulade with sage, mushrooms and artichoke lack the depth of flavours and was disappointingly bland. These two mains being slightly more than $30 each were disappointing compared to similar priced main at other restaurants in the area.

Biota Dining, Bowral

On our second night, we dined at Biota Dining and once again, this restaurant proved that regional dining has come a long way with an innovative menu and fresh thinking.

Biota Dining, Bowral

Biota Dining, Bowral

Most restaurants we went to served good food and were well priced.  Chef Shaun Quade was from the Royal Mail Hotel at Dunkeld, Victoria which won Australian Gourmet Traveller’s best regional restaurant.

Men at work, Biota Dining, Bowral

Men at work, Biota Dining, Bowral

The setting of huge dining room is centred on a panoramic view of the busy chefs in the kitchen. The occasional hand clap request by the head chef to the wait staff as mains are dished out of the kitchen adds to the theatrics of the dining experience.

Essence of eucayptus with pomegranate

Essence of eucayptus with pomegranate

We were greeted with an amuse bouche of essence of eucalyptus with pomegranate.

Freshly baked bread and butter

Freshly baked bread and butter

Freshly baked bread and butter was again an instant winner.

Mackerel with shitake vinaigrette and nashi

Mackerel with shitake vinaigrette and nashi

An entree of mackerel with shitake vinaigrette and nashi was succulent with a velvety texture. Exercise caution as the garnish of a small piece of mackerel bone is sharp, dangerous, inedible and served little purpose.

Barbecued squid with tuna ham

Barbecued squid with tuna ham

The entree of barbecued squid with tuna ham worked worked extremely well where the saltiness of the tuna ham complemented the sweetness of the squid.

Seared Wagyu rump with chicken liver pate

Seared Wagyu rump with chicken liver pate

The entree of seared Wagyu rump with chicken liver pate was deliciously flavoursome. I resisted the temptation to add a pinch of salt with each morsel to bring out the flavours further. Instead, a small swipe of the accompanying soft and creamy chicken liver pate complemented the meat beautifully. This was easily the standout entree for me during our trip.

Pig’s jowl with broccolini  and sliced radish

Pig’s jowl with broccolini and sliced radish

Unfortunately, MSP found her order of the pig’s jowl with broccolini  and sliced radish to be dry and tough to the bite.

Sutton Forest

We stayed at Peppers Manor House in Sutton Forest for two nights. This retreat was a beautiful revelation because of its sprawling grounds, century-old buildings and its isolated location.

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

Accommodation were in the form of chalets which were scattered throughout the grounds.

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

We walked around the gardens in the evening and found this place to be a truly great hideaway from hectic city life which was merely an hour away from Sydney.

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest

A gazebo is the site of many a wedding on these grounds.

Wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms and pine cones were scattered all over the grounds of this retreat.

Pine cone

Pine cone

We visited Red Cow Farm which was merely a 5-minute drive from Peppers’ Manor House in Sutton Forest.

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

It is a cool climate garden set on 2.5 hectares of rural countryside land and was the perfect setting to admire autumn colours.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Orange and crimson leaves were beautiful against a clear blue sky, a revelation as the weather has been a little cold and wet since we got here.

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

Manicured hedges and gardens in Red Cow Farm.

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

Red Cow Farm, Sutton Forest

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Southern Highland Wines is located opposite the Peppers’ Manor House and was a convenient wine tasting stop for us.

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

The winery is located on an elevated position which overlooked the vineyards and valleys beyond.

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Grazing cattle dotted the beautiful landscape at Southern Highland Wines.

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Southern Highland Wines, Sutton Forest

Burrawang Easter Markets

We were lucky enough to catch the Burrawang Easter Markets the next day where more than 130 stalls sell items as diverse as lollies, Turkish gozleme, chicken pies, leather belts, home-made jams, meats and embroidered cushions. Maugers Meats Butchery had a stall selling roast beef rolls and was easily one of the crowd favourites.

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

No sooner is one huge leg of beef carved to the bone, it is replaced by another huge leg for the waiting queue.

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

The queue for roast beef rolls where roast beef is being carved from a huge piece of steaming hot leg of beef snaked its way into the crowd of thousands.

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

Roast beef at Burrawang Easter Markets

This stall was by far one of the busiest in the Burrawang Easter Markets.

Burrawang Easter Markets

Burrawang Easter Markets

 

The crowd appeared happy where families, young and old alike were out in droves shopping, eating, drinking and just plain having a good old time.

Chocolate tarts at Burrawang Easter Markets

Chocolate tarts at Burrawang Easter Markets

 

Robertson Cheese Factory, Robertson

Robertson Cheese Factory

Robertson Cheese Factory

The Cheese Room at the Robertson Cheese Factory is a providore of fine local produce that includes a large range of cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables. Sampling the range of cheeses on display is almost a meal in itself.

Cheeses at Robertson Cheese Factory

Cheeses at Robertson Cheese Factory

We especially liked the smokiness of the Dutch smoke cheese and the Jindi Farmhouse Brie.

 Jindi Farmhouse Brie, Robertson Cheese Factory

Jindi Farmhouse Brie, Robertson Cheese Factory

The wide range of potatoes include King Edward, Russet, Bintje, Spunta, Blue Crystal, Nicola, Dutch Cream, Kipfler, Pink Fur Apple, Banana and Pink Eye.

Robertson gourmet potatoes

Robertson gourmet potatoes

 

Each of these types of potatoes have their own unique flavour and texture for all types of cooking and recipes.

Apologies for the generally dark food shots. Most of the restaurants we went to had very dim-lit dining rooms.


View Larger Map

BERRIMA

Eschalot Restaurant
24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima

New South Wales 2577
(02) 4877 1977

Eschalot on Urbanspoon

Magpie Cafe
Hume Highway, Berrima

New South Wales 2577
(02) 4877 2008

Magpie Cafe on Urbanspoon

EXETER

Exeter General Store
Corner of Exeter and Middle roads
Exeter
New South Wales 2579

Exeter General Store on Urbanspoon

ROBERTSON

Robertson Cheese Factory
107 Illawarra Highway, Robertson
New South Wales 2577
(02) 4855 1133

BOWRAL

Strathburn Cottage
85 Bowral Street, Bowral

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4862 3391

Milton Park Country House Hotel
Horderns Road, Bowral

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4861 1522

Hordern's on Urbanspoon

Biota Dining
Kangaloon road, Bowral

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4862 2005

Biota Dining on Urbanspoon

Centennial Vineyards
Centennial Road, Bowral

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4861 8700

Centennial Vineyards Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Eccetera Trattoria
Shop 2, 6 Boolwey street, Bowral

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4862 5988

Eccetera Trattoria on Urbanspoon

BURRAWANG

Burrawang Easter Markets
corner of Hoddle and crown streets,
Burrawang
New South Wales 2577
(02) 4886 4216

Maugers Meats Catering & Butchery
21 Hoddle street, Burrawang

New South Wales 2576
(02) 4886 4327

SUTTON FOREST

Peppers’ Manor House, Southern Highlands
Kater Road, Sutton Forest

New South Wales 2577
(02) 4860 3111

Southern Highland Wines
corner Oldbury road and Illawarra Highway
Sutton Forest
New South Wales 2577
(02) 4868 2300

Red Cow Farm
Illawarra Highway, Sutton Forest

New South Wales 2577
(02) 4868 1842

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27 Responses to Southern Highlands in the palm of your hands

  1. Rosa says:

    What gorgeous food, beautiful landscapes and wonderful restaurants! Yes, time seems to pass faster and faster every year…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. rebecca says:

    wow lovely post I adored NSW when we were in Australia last month so pretty

  3. This post is so charming, love the leaves and mushrooms. We were meant to head up to Bowral on the long weekend too, but we got a bit lazy :) Always, next time though. Heard great things about Eschalot Restaurant, and the peanut brittle looks divine.

  4. Now that does sound like a breath of fresh air getting out of the city & lapping up the country fare. They do ‘do it well’ don’t they the guys ‘n gals from the Sthn Tablelands, haven’t been up there for awhile, so thanks for the lovely share :)

  5. Great pictures and great eating! Bong bong is an interesting name for wine!

  6. I love the Southern Highlands. So many lovely places to visit and explore…and looks like you covered a lot of them!
    It’s beautiful this time of year down there.

  7. What gorgeous pictures and everything looks delicious!

  8. Carolyn Jung says:

    Beautiful sights and eats! Those wild mushrooms look straight out of a fairytale book. too. ;)

  9. mashi says:

    Sounds absolutely divine. I hope to check out the Southern Highlands one day =)

  10. Krista says:

    Wow!! What an incredible visit you had. :-) I love your pictures of the leaves so much, and those red mushrooms are amazing. :-)

  11. Fiona says:

    The dessert of essence of eucalyptus and pomegranate encapsulates your post…gorgeously Australiana with that hint of exotic. :)
    Beautiful photos; a foodie journey mesmerisingly captured.

  12. Amanda says:

    It looks like you had a fabulous time! All of the food looks amazing.

  13. Vivienne says:

    wow!! ive never knew that the south could be this pretty! will make this my next trip within australia! apart from the awesome good food, im mesmerised by the red autumn leaves…soo prettyy!

  14. Manu says:

    Yet another great post! Wish I had read this before I went to Bowral last year!!! :-) Fantastic food and pictures! :-)

  15. What an epic post! I need to explore that area more after reading this!

  16. Sounds like a wonderful destination and all the meals are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Beautiful places you visited and what a wonderful food you ate.

  18. Thats a wonderful post with good food and scenic sites. Pumpkin soup looks like custard. So creamy. I m sure you had a lovely time.

  19. What a great post! I enjoyed reading your stories and watching delicious food as well as scenery. I felt like I was there. I love fall, I mean I used to love fall when I was in Japan. From your picture and words, I enjoyed the beauty of foliage. After living here in California, there are more greens than red, yellow, orange colors in fall. :-( Thank you for sharing!

  20. Great photos! I love exploring the NSW country side, can’t wait to go back!

  21. heidi says:

    I came to see you after your kind comment – and was blown away by the food and photos – mainly the food!
    I am salivating after seeing such great offerings – seriously – I was going to make meatloaf tonight, but now I’m thinking a golden risotto with seared scallops.
    Thanks!

  22. Diana says:

    A lovely place to spend during the long weekend. Look like you enjoyed the edible flower and leave dishes. I grow nasturtium viola for over a year now but have never find the courage yet to eat it flowers and leaves.

  23. Wow the Southern Highlands looks wonderful, look like you had a really amazing Easter break. The peanut butter brittle looks delicious!!

  24. ladybird says:

    Hi there, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I love Bowral and the Southern Highlands! Have you ever tried high tea at Centennial Vineyards – it’s great!!!

  25. guitar says:

    Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed some nice procedures and we are looking to exchange strategies with others, why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.

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