Hello, hello, hello!
Well! Where to begin! I have been gone for a couple of days up to Berry, NSW – a part of the Shoalhaven area. As are many other places – or so we discovered. This is a rather large area, and a rather beautiful one at that. Now you may be wondering what this Berry place is and why I went there. Well. Originally we were hoping to go and see my brother overseas. But plane tickets at this time of year are nothing short of daylight robbery! So we opted to save money and use the he Christmas shutdown period to go for a little adventure around a rather beautiful part of NSW instead. It wouldn’t be too far from home as to wear us out with driving, and there would be wineries and a beach to explore. Unfortunately due to serious booking complications Dad couldn’t come. But mum and I still had a lovely trip!
We stayed for two nights at a beautiful winery called Silos Estate. The room was quite nice – although lacking in air conditioning and fly screens on all but one of the windows. The bed was comfortable and just the right size for mum and I, and for once there was a bathtub that I could fit into! It was a pretty glorious bathtub, I have to admit, and I enjoyed a very relaxing soak on our first night. A perfect way to unwind. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It was late afternoon when we arrived and while we waited for check in time and to be able to go up to our room we sampled a few of the estate’s wines at their cellar – which also doubles as reception. We tried a few, and after some deliberation decided to purchase a bottle of their sparkling wine. I was also pleased that despite the serious confusion over our booking, they did still manage to accomodate for allergies in our breakfast options as we were promised.
After that we struck out for Berry for the remainder of the afternoon. The website for Berry is a little misleading in terms of layout – although had we been sensible and looked at the map before we got there we would have realised the trouble. What appears to be the main street of Berry is also a heavily crowded road that’s a part of a major highway – the Princes Highway. Attempting to cross it was like asking to be run over as the traffic – at least until about 6:30-7pm, is non-stop. There aren’t any pedestrian crossings in the main area either as far as we could tell, so you really were having to hope that you were dashing faster than the oncoming traffic. Although the locals seemed to glide through the traffic without even bothering to look left or right – which was more than a little disconcerting. But the little shops that lined said street were gorgeous and each one is well worth a visit if you’re out that way.
We went into each shop and looked at this and that. Given the time constraints and everything shutting so early we stuck to the main street, although there are a few outlying shops that look neat. They have some nice cafes, some interesting shops – and although they weren’t running when we were there I am told Berry has some absolutely stunning gastronomy tours available. But for me the real highlight was a homewares store a colleague recommended called Haven and Space, which is slightly off the main road. They in fact have two shops – one across the road from the original shop, and they are ah-ma-zing. All sorts of fantastic goods abound in there and for reasonable prices. Naturally I emptied my wallet on some beautiful little bowls, plates and tea towels. But I was able to get quite a lot for cheap and the quality of their goods seems top notch. I was very, very pleased. And the service was lovely.
We also went to a local sweets and goods store called the Treat Factory. It was gloriously cool when we stepped inside. And as I have a weakness for homemade goods I was delighted at their range. We picked up some mustard pickles and mango chutney for dad, and I bought some pasta sauces. One to give to a friend and one to keep. Unfortunately we had to leave, partially as they were closing soon, and partially so we didn’t spend any more money on their range of goods! We then stopped for a cup of tea at a nice cafe back in Berry, and then dashed madly across the road to a particular restaurant we had seen earlier in the day to get some dinner.
In Berry there is without a doubt the single best Thai-Vietnamese restaurant I have ever eaten at. Leaf – an acronym for Love Eating Asian Food, which oh boy do I – has an amazing range of food. Most of their menu has gluten free options and the prices are good- even more so when you realise how their portion sizes are so decent. On the first night we ate there mum had the Chicken Satay Salad, I had deep fried tofu as an entree and beef pad see ew – mine were all gluten free. It was superb. We ate there again the next night, and this time we both had beef pad see ew. I couldn’t resist getting more deep friend tofu. So crunchy, but with the right amount of chew!
On the second day of our trip we slept in as much as possible, and after a quick breakfast in our room we went out to explore some wineries in the surrounding area! This was what I had been waiting for. It’s not that Canberra doesn’t have wineries, it’s more that I’m very strict about drinking and driving. I do not approve of it at all, and I won’t get behind the wheal of a car unless I believe I can be a safe driver. I don’t often drink, so I think I’m a little more sensitive to it than some people. So I like to be cautious. But in this case mum would be driving, and she was being very mindful of her intake. This is where I can say I am extremely spoilt. My mum is amazing, and she knew I wanted to try the wines and so she drove. You can’t get a better mum than that!
Our first port of call was Two Figs winery – sitting atop a hill with a magnificent view of the nearby river. This was the second winery in which I found they had a dog, a beautiful one called Chloe in this case. It made me wonder, as Silos Estate had two dogs, both handsome old fellows. They just seem so happy in their surroundings, all the fresh air and the people coming and going. Silos Estate had a rescue dog actually, and that really warmed my heart. Two Figs was quite beautiful, and so was their wine. I was extremely delighted with their Frizzante Dulce – which is one of the better sweet wines I’ve had. Mum loved with their Pinot Grigrio and their Sauvignon Blanc but settled on the latter. I also loved their distinct bottles of port, which are designed as if to sit on a Captain’s table on a ship. The girl spun it around for us and rocked it, and no matter what it wouldn’t spill or fall. It was neat!
From there we went on to Mountain Ridge Wines and finally stopped at Coolangatta Estate. Coolangatta Estate was the largest of the three we went to, and even had a huge fire grill set up for lunch. I was starved so we ate there for lunch, and unfortunately it was quite expensive. But it was tasty too. We didn’t end up buying any of their wines, but we did take advantage of the Bigfoot Tours which ran from the estate. This involved a very interesting sort of monster truck/bus ride up Mount Coolangatta while the driver told us the history of the estate and the surrounding area. It was lots of fun and certainly taught me a lot about the various groups of people that were involved in the founding and running of the estate. It also made me realise how little I knew about early Scottish and German settlers in Australia, and their role in colonial Australia history. Unfortunately it’s not something we were ever really taught at my school. So I found that incredibly fascinating. From there we hit the beach at Gerringong and finally after dinner we collapsed back at our room at Silos Estate. We watched the fireworks on TV, and after a little sitting around we went to bed.
On our way home the next day we stopped in Kangaroo Valley and had a bit of a look around. We hadn’t bothered stopping on the way up, as at first we didn’t see much to catch our eye, and when we did it was too late to stop! Well Kangaroo Valley is a lovely little spot, although extremely hot in the summer because there isn’t much breeze. But it certainly defied expectations! The Kangaroo valley fudge house and ice creamery was lovely. They had gluten fee fudge and candy and stocked a brand of gluten and dairy free ice cream I had never heard of before. We looked up and down in the shops before I started to get hungry. Of course. We then stumbled across Bistro One46.
Bistro One46 is a beautiful restaurant with a large veranda and generous shade created by the grape vines overhead. But what’s even better was the fantastic service. We were straight away greeted by a lovely woman who could help us pick out all the gluten free options from their menu. Unbelievably they had gluten free arancini! I could have died. I love arancini but every other restaurant insists on cramming them full of gluten-full bread crumbs. Not Bistro One46!
Well the arancini was absolutely delicious! And the rich tomato sauce definitely made the dish. I only wish I could have bought more! The woman who greeted us turned out to be a food lover as well! We talked about one of the latest in vegan food trends – aquafaba- and also about cookbooks and all sorts! It was really just extremely nice. And in the end she had some gluten free gingerbread she had made and she bought some out for us to nibble! I would definitely recommend giving them a visit.
We finished with a visit to a knick-knackery shop called the Nostalgia Factory. Which was beautiful. And then it was home time!