Do you have fond memories of your vacations and reminisce the happy times, good food and good company with loved ones? Do you sit at the office daydreaming about that mouth-watering glass of pinot while tucking into the roasted duck breast with fig sauce you had while touring the south of France?
I am looking forward to the coming Easter break this weekend because we are heading down to the south coast of New South Wales for a food and wine trail. And I am so excited I’m going to show you the photos from our trip in advance. So here it is, our food and wine trail of the south coast.
Well, not quite. These are photos from our trip last year. We loved the trip so much, we are heading there again this weekend. CSP loves variety but I’m a creature of habit. And I can’t agree more with May West who once said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful”.
So bring on the south coast and this time, I promise better and more decent photos. I only had a small Canon automatic camera during our last trip but now that I have discovered this weird and wonderful world of food blogging, I have upgraded the tools of the trade so to speak. Most importantly and I’m sure you will agree, I need to brush up on my photography skills too!
Two Figs Winery at Shoalhaven Coast was one of the first of many wineries that we visited.
It had a beautiful view of the Shoalhaven river from a picnic bench.
The view of the Shoalhaven river atop Two Figs Winery is serene because you can see as far horizon where rolling hills are dotted with grazing cattle and horses. You can hear the occasional bird while sipping wine on the picnic bench.
There is something about winery dogs and I am not surprised there is a book with beautiful pictures written about them. The one at Two Figs Winery is the cutest black poodle you will ever see.
The standout from the medley of tasting wines at Two Figs for me was the clean and crisp rose.
Touring the south coast will never be complete if you don’t visit Berry. It is approximately 140km south of Sydney and the leisure two-hour drive along the Princes Highway will take you into the heart of this little town of about 2,000 residents. Its main street boasts some great restaurants and cafes which proudly use fresh local produce such as gourmet cheeses, jams, local meats to create some great culinary experiences for both locals and visitors alike.
City dwellers are attracted to this location for its laid-back feel and friendly locals.We had lunch at the Berry Sourdough Cafe and were truly impressed with the level of creativity on the menu.
CSP had a mouth-watering beetroot gnocchi with duck confit and spinach where the delicious pasta had soaked up all the wonderful flavours from confit. A scattering of roasted peanuts added some crunchy texture to the soft gnocchi and tender duck pieces.
I have a weakness for the words “slow-cooked” and I think restaurateurs are well aware of their customers’ weaknesses too. This slow-cooked lamb shoulder with kipfler potatoes was tender and had all the flavours of a meat cooked for 4 – 5 hours and the kipfler potatoes did its job in making sure the sauce did not go to waste.
For dessert, we shared the bread and butter pudding with poached pear and double cream.
One of my favourite places in the south coast is Gerringong, a small coastal town approximately 130km south of Sydney. It is merely a two-hour leisurely drive from Sydney. It has a population of 4,000 people. Among the main attractions of this beautiful ocean front suburb is picturesque Werri beach.
Unlike some of the more popular beaches in Sydney, there is hardly 200 people even on a good day and the surf also attracts its fair share of locals. An added bonus of visiting Gerringong is to swing by into the neighbouring suburb of Gerroa. It is only 4km from Gerringong along Fern street and Crooked River road.
Driving along a mountain ridge, visitors can catch a breath-taking glimpse of Seven Mile beach. Visitors and locals can be seen taking long walks along this beach on most days.
Having all this great food means working off the extra calories and there nothing quite like a swim and a run on the beach to burn it all off and Seven Mile Beach just further south of Gerroa had all the elements for a good workout before more great food! The panoramic view of this beach atop Gerroa lookout point was simply breath-taking with miles of uninterrupted coastal line as far as the eye can see.
We stayed at the Bellachara Boutique Hotel in Gerringong as the location was convenient to visit all the local beaches and it was a short drive to Berry. The restaurant and wine lounge at the hotel was average and was hard-press to rival the restaurants in Berry.
We seemed lucky as there was hardly anyone staying at the hotel when we were there.
We decided to try the Bella Restaurant on our first night. I had the beef fillet and cauliflower puree. The fillets were nicely cooked to medium rare and the puree was creamy yet light and silky. Then again, every restaurant nowadays seem to have a dish with cauliflower puree on their menu.
The cold snapper with pesto and cucumber salad simply lacked flavour. Apart from its freshness, I could not taste much flavour from the fish and the pesto did not have the oomph to complement and bring out the flavour in the fish.
On the next night, we decided to venture into Berry for dinner. This time, we were not disappointed. One of more memorable meals of our trip was at the Hungry Duck restaurant in Berry.
The standout dish at this small restaurant was the crab ravioli, seaweed salad and soy vinaigrette that was littered with a few Sichuan peppercorns.This Asian inspired dish was light, the ravioli succulent and the seaweed, vinaigrette and peppercorns all played their part in bringing out a symphony of flavours in the mouth.
True to my weakness, the menu coaxed me into ordering the slow-cooked Wagyu beef brisket, konyaku noodles and Tasmanian shitakes. Again, this dish had the wonderful flavours of a home-made stew and the noodles and mushrooms were there to soaked up the flavoursome broth.
The lamb wrapped with beancurd and clour-ear mushrooms resembled something I saw among the corals during one of my scuba diving trips. As nasty as this dish looked was as good as it tasted.
I was sipping a glass of Josef Chromy Pinot Noir from Tasmania and like most pinot from Tassie, the flavours were subtle yet full and this wine was delightfully versatile in matching all the different flavours from our meal.
For dessert, we had a Kaffir and Tahitian lime tart which came with a dallop of double cream. The tart itself was moist and the limey flavours danced and melted on my palate.
A trip to Berry would not do justice to this little town without a night visit to the Berry Sports Hall, the design of which was the winner at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in 2009. Designed by Allen Jack + Cottier architects in Sydney, it was inspired by the beautiful night sky of Berry.
Two Figs Winery
905 Bolong Road (Entrance Back Forest Road)
Berry, New South Wales 2535
(02) 4448 5003
Berry Sourdough Cafe
23 Price Alfred street
Berry, New South Wales 2535
(02) 4464 1617
85 Queen street
Berry, New South Wales 2535
(02) 4464 2323