Blackheath babes and Vesta

A certain girl, who shall go unnamed (let’s face it, everyone goes unnamed in this blog), recently celebrated a birthday of significance. Maybe this blog should be called The Birthday Blog?

The partying did not stop I tell you. Next on the birthday agenda (far more exciting than a political or meeting agenda) was a girly trip for six, away to the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney. The funky wee village of Blackheath to be specific. This mountain town is one of my very favourite to visit. (Go on now, I love them all.)

The adorable Blackheath Getaway Cottage is a homey wooden cottage with quaint touches and a stone fireplace. This would have been my fourth stay here. (Shh, don’t tell anyone. I would hate it to become popular.) Cherry blossoms lined the streets and the well known rhodedendron gardens were coming into bloom. This weekend spoke of open fires, champagne and Cuban sandwiches. Fish river coffee and secondhand shops up the wazoo.

Wide greened streets and cookie cutter cottages that you want to shrink, pop in your pocket and take home. A dog show and waratah’s so red, lush and unreal, you think you could have fallen down a rabbit hole into a psychedelic wonderland.

Serious conversation, happy birthday toasts and the kind of ribbing that only a loved one can get away with.

Mountain appropriate glad rags were put on and we trailed out to a celebatory birthday dinner. Our destination was a restaurant that was once the iconic Vulcans and has now morphed into Vesta. Having never eaten at Vulcans, I had no preconceived notion of what this space should be or feel like. It was once the Blackheath Bakery, built in the nineteenth century and was made famous by Philip Searle and Barry Ross in the 1990’s who produced iconic food in the woodfired scotch oven.

Vesta is an intimate, rustic and charming space. The woodfired oven sits at the back of the open kitchen for all to see. This oven is a magical kingdom within itself; producing plates of seasonal, slow cooked food tinged with the smokiness that only real fire can produce.

A ruby red blood orange and Campari cocktail was enjoyed by two of our number and a cracking bottle of Provenance Pinot Gris from Victoria was ordered and promptly consumed. Woodfired walnut bread was dipped in olive oil and dukkah and we nibbled on smoked paprika almonds and marinated olives.

My standout dish was a silky light and rich, twice cooked Manchego goats cheese soufflé. I would walk to the Blue Mountains on burning hot tar just to get this down my gob again. The experience of mopping up that cheese sauce with bread requires a sonnet to be written in its honour and bards to sing to its glory. I appreciated my next dish, lobster tail with a blood orange and chervil dressing with asparagus. It was light and spoke of spring, the perfect dish after the rich soufflé.

I managed to grab a mouthful of the delicately smoky and unctuous Persian lamb ragout with dill rice and the very good ratatouille with polenta and Bulgarian feta. These dishes were also served in the black cast iron pans they were cooked in. What’s not to love about food served right from the belly of the oven? Even the sides were grand. Broccolini with garlic breadcrumbs and crispy oven roasted kipfler potatoes.

Because this was a birthday celebration, one candle holding, embarrassment causing ice-cream bombe comprising of a strawberry sorbet and honeycomb ice cream was ordered. We stuffed a gorgeous tasting spoonful into our straining stomachs. Just another wafer thin slice? I think not. Thank goodness we had the walk back to the cottage.

As we left, Vesta was heaving with a mixed crowd of the older well heeled set and uber-cool young, bearded hipsters. (Well, the blokes were bearded, I didn’t notice any moustachioed chicks.) The only question left to ask is, whose birthday is it next?

29 thoughts on “Blackheath babes and Vesta

  1. It’s my birthday next, pick me, pick me! I want to go there and eat that machego souffle and I will happily add another year to do so.
    All looks gorgeous. Did we all behave oursleves girls?

    • You are picked! Makes getting older far more bearable hey? Oh my, it was soooooo good. Well, one of us ate and drank a little too much on the Saturday night and had a very sore tummy all night. Wasn’t me..😚

  2. oooh, I love the Mountains. And sorry – have already googled your cottage as am always on the hunt for somewhere special to stay in Blackheath! We celebrated the Hungry Dad’s 40th at Vesta with a group of friends last year and I had that cheese souffle #snap #good Taste #TakeMeBack

  3. Idyllic surroundings, friends, and unbelievable food. I’ve never seen a soufflé that was surrounded by what looks like cheese fondue! How did they do that? Definitely something I’d like to try.

  4. Why, oh why, can’t I at least have smellovision on this damn computer?
    Happy Birthday, Cheergerm! And I intend to hunt the world over in search of honeycomb ice cream. A more decadent and delicious sounding flavor I cannot believe exists. In fact, the entire meal was so memorable, it nearly feels like I was the one to eat it.
    Thanks for sharing, and here’s to another year of inspiring travel, food, family and friends.

    • Thanks Mrs P! I am still working on my smellavision invention, it’s a while off I have to say. Thanks for the lovely birthday wishes, I have to say that it wasn’t my birthday but I will take all the birthday wishes I can get!! (And pass them on to the birthday girl herself….cause that’s how I roll….mostly….) That honeycomb ice cream was magnificent, I had been rabbiting on that I was too full, even to try a single bite, somehow I think I managed to polish off the plate in the end. Hence the sore tummy. Greedy thing I am. 😁

      • I did, truly awe inspiring! I was fortunate to do a 5 day cooking school with Searle in his time between Oasis Seros and Vulcan’s. I have never suffered such brain overload in all my life. He was totally driven by creativity in a way I had never encountered before. He was/is artist, his medium then was food. I treasure my folder of recipes and the millions of annotations I made as he tweaked every step.

      • What a totally cool experience. An artist in the true sense of the word, I can imagine your brain must have started leaking from your ears. What a treasured memory and folder!

    • Thanks Mr Food! They make me hungry too, I keep crapping on about that soufflé….I am obsessed. May have to get off my butski and make one. We are heading North in the next hols but only as far as South West Rocks. Getting there, but not quite. 😁

    • Oh thanks Mrs G! We did go away a bit last year! I am looking forward to catching up on your o/s travel stories. I am behind in my reader feed reading! Crappy phone service here.

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