Baggage and Gerringong

Everyone needs a little time away. To unwind, read a good book, to perhaps experience something a little different than the everyday. But two ‘three day mini-break weekends’ in a row? Now that seems a little, well, greedy. To quote Gordon Gecko from that 80’s hit movie Wall Street, ‘The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.’

So five friends from Mothers Group, once again threw together our winter woollies and piled our literal and metaphorical baggage into one car. This in itself was a small miracle, can you imagine? (Some of us may have packed more than others.) Our destination this time was the adorable hill perched coastal village of Gerringong on the South Coast of New South Wales. Only two hours (if that) from Sydney. We had the lend of a small holiday house and counted ourselves as very lucky chicks indeed.

Lunch had been missed and a loo visit was called for. So to start this gourmet weekend away, a stop was made at the infamous Maccy D’s just out of Wollongong. Now, I am no fan of this multinational fast food joint, for a number of reasons. However, not being a purist, I must tell you that we did eat the fries. Not sure if it was our hunger, excitement or the fact that we had just emptied our bladders but they tasted damn good. Let’s leave it at that.

Heading deeper south, the sky darkened. By the time we arrived, a full blown storm had settled in. Rooms and space divided, luggage unpacked, wine placed into the fridge and the kettle boiled. Snug as bugs in rugs, we looked at each other and heard not, the sound of children. And it was good.

Dinner that first night was an arduous trek (ok, it took three minutes) up to the main drag of Gerringong. There, we ate at the Werri Thai Restaurant, a hole in the wall and encountered some of the freshest Thai food any of us had eaten in quite the while. The tofu and cashew nuts, with a jammy spicy sauce was the standout. Enough that the restaurant was earmarked to re-visit before we left. That and a glass or two of Arras sparkling wine from Tasmania (for those of our number who partake in the odd alcoholic beverage), was a great start to our long weekend.

The next morning, after a luscious lie-in, the lot of us traversed the full twenty minute drive to the pretty town of Berry. Our destination being the renowned Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery. My last visit was many years ago and we were all keen to give it a whirl. Our sleep-in meant missing out on the full breakfast menu. So a cut down menu it was and sadly, no eggies. My choice was a Croque Monsieur style ham and cheese croissant. Not sure if this is actually done in the land of the French, but oh my. Flaky and buttery with a creamy, porcine interior. The others tried a very good spinach, pumpkin, pepita, sunflower seed and feta muffin. The coffee was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

After drooling over a fine selection of various baked goods, choices were made and boxed up to take back to the cottage. A stellar multigrain sourdough, a chocolate almond croissant, lemon yoghurt tea cake, prune and custard tart and macadamia tart. The intention being to share for afternoon tea, if not that day, the next. (No-one likes to go hungry.)

Back in Gerringong, we walked along the cliffs and drank excellent coffee from the Blue Espresso Bar. This Cheergerm eyed off some gorgeous hand-etched wine glasses at Mas Homewares. A shop brimming with an array of delightful European goodies.

Books were read, blankets snuggled under. Friday night, we had pre-booked (at a local’s suggestion), Zoobs Woodfired Pizza. They prepare their hand rolled pizza dough fresh every day and fire it in a proper woodfired oven. To start, some of the laydeez shared an excellent salt and pepper crusted squid. Then it was the pizza. My margarita with mushrooms was to die for. The base was puffy, light, yeasty with the smoky taste that only a woodfired pizza can give you.

A slap up home cooked brekky then a visit to the Gerringong Saturday markets. Cold but fun. Woolen hats, homemade cakes and jams, alpaca wool and handcrafted pillow cases. Hot chips eaten from the paper, another contender throws it’s hat into the ring for the hotly contested title of ‘the best chips in the world.’

Cups of tea, coffee, herbal libations, glasses of wine, reading, movies and tears over parenting journeys that seem to have become more complex. This gift of time allows us to expand on conversations that usually happen over the space of a cup of coffee. For a brief while, our burdens are unshouldered. It feels like we have unpacked far more this weekend than just our actual physical luggage.

We head out again that evening to Werri Thai to once again chow down upon that delicious tofu and cashew nut dish. This time trying an equally good massaman beef which is creamy and mildy spicy.

Sunday arrives all too quickly. Breakfast was booked at the Seavista Cafe in Gerringong. Light, airy with a gorgeous view of the ocean. The breakfast is decently solid. My poached eggs with hollandaise, avocado and smoked salmon is tasty. Back at the house, our re-packed bags are skillfully arranged (not unlike a jigsaw puzzle), into the car. I cannot speak for everyone but my baggage seemed just that little bit lighter. (Well, apart from those rather fabulous wine glasses I purchased.)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Espresso-Bar-Official/456897421029059

http://berrysourdoughcafe.com.au

http://www.zoobswoodfired.com

https://www.facebook.com/GerringongSeaVistaCafe

http://www.mashomewares.com.au

http://www.gerringongvillagemarkets.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/kiama-area/gerringong

https://cheergerm.com/2014/08/24/shadow-sisters-and-the-apple-bar/

Advertisements

Bonny Bonnay

School holidays had arrived so we decided to hitch the cart to the horse, throw the sproglets in the back and take off to the Hunter Valley. This is a beautiful wine growing region a mere one and a half hours drive north from Sydney. A mini-break that involved wine tasting? You don’t have to ask me twice.

A quick visit to the local Hornsby Growers Market for supplies, then we hit the open road. We knew we were in wine country the minute we hit the vineyards. (A real bunch of Einsteins are we.)

First stop before arriving at the house was a spot of lunch, we spied a rustic looking joint called the Lovedale Store Cafe. A simple cheese toastie for the eight year old and a ‘slap me silly sideways it was so good Asian style pulled pork on a toasted bun with homemade coleslaw’ for Kid 1 and myself. A big pot of Yorkshire tea for the grown ups and a veggie frittata with a tasty potato salad for The Yak. And a chilled out Highland goatie oatie out the back. (Alive of course.)

Our first wine sipping stop is Peterson’s Wines where they make killer sparkling wine. Friendly, funny and attentively served, this Cheergerm solely sipped on stars and maybe even purchased one or two. A chocolate shop stop to keep the smaller people happy, then off to the house we went.

This soothing green house is timeless, stepping inside we feel instantly becalmed. Steady ticking clocks, the heartbeat of this home, remind us both of childhood. Patchwork quilts and vintage china, a well-stocked kitchen and a claw-footed bathtub. We look out onto pastoral landscape and an old school garden with lavender and citrus trees.

An afternoon walk, warm sunshine on a winters day. Kid 2 slipped his little hand in mine and chattered about the shapes of trees, what we will do next and other topics that are dear to this eight year old boys heart.

Sitting on the white bed, the view of the vibrantly orange mandarin tree from our bedroom window distracted me as I wrote. The only sound was the chirrup of birds and the occasional bovine moo.

Night fell and we rugged up to stargaze in the darkened country night. Kid 1 was initially frightened at the overwhelming vista, never has been before. Perhaps it is merely a symptom of his burgeoning awareness that sadly, the world is not the safe place he thought it once was. Our eyes adjusted to the night sky and Kid 2 marvelled at the Milky Way and multitudes of stars. He spoke of a high powered telescope and perhaps, another stargazer has been made.

A Peterson’s sparkling Shiraz Viognier goes very nicely with a black pepper pie and a gluten free veggie roll purchased from the Hornsby Farmers Market. (It’s my bloody holiday too.) A homemade baby kale (adorable or what and so much nicer than the grown up version) and fennel salad dressed with caramelised balsamic and olive oil, offsets the pastry richness.

As I sat in bed reading, the boys and Yak were fast asleep. I listened to the crackle of the open fire and felt lucky and grateful to be there, tucked cosily under the roof of this country home. (I also felt grateful for the sturdy fire guard that ensured we did not burn to death in the middle of the night.)

My master plan of slap up huge lunches and easy dinners worked a treat. Japanese and Thai food at Oishii in the Tempus Two complex is surprisingly good. On the next day, a solidly decent lunch of fish and chips at The Deck Cafe in Lovedale kept us going amongst the very difficult work of a spot of wine tasting. Vineyard highlights included Cappercaille, Brokenwood, Allandale, Tamburlaine Organic Vineyards and the stunningly beautifully located Audrey Wilkinson. Needless to say, we are well stocked in case of a wine apocaplyse.

Our final night found us by the open fire, scoffing Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese triple cream Brie. A delightful floral, chalky and creamy cheese. The lyrical and come hither strains of bohemian French Cafe jazz, (why does everything sound better in French?), kids revelling in toasting marshmallows on the open fire and a Hunter Valley Chardonnay from Allandale.

The Yak wanted to freeze time as he watched his two lads reading in their voluptuous white cloud-like beds. But the morning of leaving arrived as mornings are bound to do. As my mum always says, you have to leave so you can come back. And that we will.

http://www.bonnay.com.au

http://www.stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/hunter/hunter-valley/76903

https://www.facebook.com/lovedalestore

http://www.oishii.com.au

http://www.petersonswines.com.au

http://www.capercailliewine.com.au

http://www.allandalewinery.com.au

http://www.deckcafelovedale.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/hunter/hunter-valley


For you, a gluten free passionfruit cake

This is for you my friend since we were fifteen year old ingénues
We would share our hopes and dreams in sleepovers silly from lack of sleep
The world spread out before us juicy, ripe and full of hope
Kept apart by distance for many years now
This was baked with Kid 1, in the pretence that it would be placed lovingly into a lemon coloured Tupperware container, tucked into the car, then driven over to your house
To make you a cuppa
To cut us a slice of cake
It’s possible it may have sat there untouched for quite a bit
Whilst we talked it out
This cake is for all the times I wasn’t there to hold your hand or for you to hold mine
To dry your tears
To tell you it was would be ok
Even when it really wasn’t
To kick each other’s arses if it was required
Or to not say much of anything at all
This cake is so you know
You are in my heart if no longer in my neighbourhood

Kid 1 and I baked this tropical fruity delight slowly and happily. The day stretched out immeasurably before us. Carefully learning to crack eggs, he wrapped his small hands around the ovoid object as if it were a Faberge antiquity.

This cake has a light soft crumb with soft vanilla undertones and is best eaten on the day it is made. (Or the day after, but it loses something by the third day. Not sure what, just trust me.) The thin passionfruit glaze with its scattering of dark seeds is just the right balance of sweet and tang. In lieu of sharing a slice of this cake with my friend, we had it for afternoon tea.

GLUTEN FREE PASSIONFRUIT CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter, room temperature
2/3 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
200g gluten free self raising flour
50 sorghum flour
30g almond meal
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
4 small passionfruit pulps, (or 2 large.) If you don’t want too many pips in your cake batter, you can sieve the pulp then add some of the pips back into the sieved mixture to add to the cake.

Passionfruit glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp boiling water
passionfruit pulp of 1 small or 1/2 of a large

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixmaster, with hand beaters or by hand. Make sure it’s light and fluffy and almost white in colour. (Add the vanilla essence if you are using it at this step.)
Whilst the butter and sugar is mixing, sift the self-raising flour, sorghum flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder. Place aside.
Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, mix well.
Starting with the flour, add the sifted flour and milk alternately, one third at a time.
Add the passionfruit and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the tin.
Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let cool for ten minutes then take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Once completely cool, drizzle with the glaze. (Recipe below.)

Passionfruit glaze
Sift the icing, add the butter, boiling water and passionfruit pulp to the icing.
Mix well, you want a fairly runny consistency, add a dash more hot water if needed.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the Best Recipes website, link below.

http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/golden-passionfruit-cake-L8274.html


Where did the words go green bean curry

Sometimes adjectives run towards my outstretched hands like small greedy children to a fairground stall laden with fairy floss. Other days, I reach desperately into the hollow of a darkened cave where all the worthy words in the world are wedged into tiny crevices. Begging for them to come forward into the light, they refuse and cling mollusc-like to their safe rocky comfort. Leaving me berefit and wordless.

Ornery little buggers.

That is why I give you a brief description. Aromatic, spicy, zingy, beany. This curry was bloody good and adds a vegetable freshness to an Indian banquet.

GREEN BEAN CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED

1 tbl vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
15 small dried curry leaves or 5 fresh
1 tbl curry powder (use a good quality one, I used a Herbies Spices blend)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
500g green beans, topped and tailed
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used low fat)
2 tbl lime juice

WHAT YOU DO

Heat the oil in a medium size frypan over a medium heat then fry the onions until they start to turn golden brown.
Add the garlic and curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add all the spices and salt and cook for one to two minutes.
Add the green beans, stir to coat in the spices then turn to a low to medium heat and cook until the beans are just al dente. (Meaning they have a bit of resistance when you bite into them.)
Add the coconut milk and cook for five minutes. Check the seasoning.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
Serve as part of an Indian banquet.

A Cheergerm adaptation of the recipe listed below.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/green-bean-curry/