Archive for March, 2011

March 31, 2011

Goodie Goodie Gum Drops

Man, this one’s a cinch! Why spend ages trying to come up with an interesting title for this post when it has (literally) been handed to me on a plate? Goodie Goodie Gum Drops is the name of the cutest lolly shop I’ve ever seen, and it just happens to be down the road from me at Kurrajong, is that the result of good karma or what? The shop itself is a cool revisiting of those halcyon days when lollies were bought one or two at a time from separate jars – I know I’m showing my age but I can remember when you could get the classics like milk bottles, red frogs, freckles and musk sticks for the princely sum of two for a cent. The poor (usually young) shop assistant would have to patiently dole out lollies from each jar, then, of course, you would change your mind, and he or she would uncomplainingly put them back again!

Of course, there’s more than just lollies in this shop…lets’ see…there’s hand made chocolates you can buy individually…lollipops guaranteed to get you peace for the rest of the day, (although then there’s the sugar high to contend with), imported English chocolate biscuits, boxes of nougat, big, big cookies, and there’s even a little cafe for if, (God forbid), you need something non sugar related!!

And, like all shops in Kurrajong, there’s unusual little things to buy, how sweet would these be for a wedding or housewarming present?

March 25, 2011

Kurrajong: my favourite place for village atmosphere and cuteness!

OK, just for the sake of it, let’s put Bilpin and Kurrajong up against each other in the must-visit stakes. Who would win? Well, even though it would be a really close call, I’d have to go with Kurrajong. Once upon a time it was the area’s undisputed queen of the antique shops, unfortunately most have closed down now, however it still offers two very interesting ones. If that’s not enough to lure you there’s also a cute, eclectic row of shops, (including the most amazing lolly shop), an old sandstone-and-stained-glass church and a gorgeous hybrid called Sassafras Creek that combines a gallery, shop and restaurant and has a back verandah that literally hangs out over the hill!

Kurrajong is a cruisey, pretty drive about 15 minutes from Richmond. Firstly there’s the Hawkesbury river to cross:

Check out some of the local paddocks:

Follow the Bells Line of Road up through North Richmond then Kurmond then hang a left at the lights at the Kurrajong village sign…sweep past the church then come into…the village!

I have no idea why this fence is slap bang in the middle of the village street – I think it might be advertising for the guy who builds them – but it makes for an interesting picture!

Just off the main street there’s a big picnic area with a children’s playground, public loos and some interesting local handiwork:

At the bottom of the hill past the park is the old Kurrajong theatre, now turned into one of the antique shops still residing here, it used to also offer a cafe with old-fashioned grandma-style cooking but that’s closed now. The bathroom doors are still labelled ‘Actors’ and ‘Actresses’.

And finally, because I just can’t resist pretty things, here are a few of the cuties you can see there.

March 14, 2011

A small story of old cars and orchards…

Following on from my first posts about the joys of Bilpin I just had to share these photos I took when we were up there last. I was busy photographing the old post office and hardware shop when I noticed these beautiful old cars parked together. I got talking to the man who owns them, they have all been done up by him, even the leather upholstery was all redone to match the original. He takes them to vintage car rallies and shows but doesn’t hire them out…apparently the brides are too rough with them, (you know how those bridezillas can get)!!

I’m afraid I didn’t get the owners name…thank you for letting me use your beautiful cars!

March 7, 2011

Kravings restaurant – a panna cotta lover’s delight!

Kravings is a cosy, jewel-toned gem of a restaurant set in amongst the lush, paddock strewn hills of Kurmond. Admittedly, there’s not a lot else to do in Kurmond, so you can take your time relaxing and eating without having to feel guilty about not being out there sightseeing or something. Kurmond lies roughly halfway between Kurrajong and Richmond, (hence the name), and is a haven for horsey types and people who like good food and great service with an almost cocoon-like ambience.

Once there the parking is a little countrified, in that you nestle up to the front wall of the property, and it can get a little crowded if there’s a lot of customers, but at least it is a very short walk down the path to the door – especially good if you’ve just spent an hour straightening/curling/messing with your hair!

The restaurant is licensed and not only has a cute little bar at the entrance but an inviting looking sitting area complete with local papers –  just in case you need a news fix whilst waiting for your friends to arrive.

The menu is kinda modern Australian seasoned with some Thai, Italian and French influences, and apart from an extensive list of dishes there are also weekly specials that take into account the changing seasons. They are open for lunch and dinner on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and dinner only on Saturday. Their web site is at: www.kravings.com.au if you would like to check out their full menu.

Personally I find the menu at Kravings a just-right combination of classic flavours with enough of an edge not to be commonplace – and I can understand all the terms on the menu! The staff are well-trained, efficient and helpful and there’s enough of them to ensure the service is still excellent even when the restaurant is full, I appreciate little touches like warming MD’s cognac glass before presenting it to him.

For entree I chose the fried wonton filled with a garlic, fresh herb and cream cheese mousse on a tomato and saffron sauce…mmm, what more could one ask for in an entree…the outside was crispy, not oily at all, and the filling was nice and light whilst still giving that creamy cheesy taste.

MD went for the tempura soft shell crab served with tomato, cucumber salsa and lime ginger mayonnaise. This too was delicious, artfully arranged on the plate, my only disappointment was that there could’ve been more!

For mains I chose the grilled Atlantic salmon fillet on a bed of braised leek and fennel topped with parsley and lemon. Not having had fennel before I was concerned that it tasted of aniseed, (not a favourite), but Shane, (the owner), explained that braised in this fashion it tastes buttery and not at all like aniseed. He was right, and it was delicious, I asked for my salmon to be cooked all the way through and it was done perfectly, still juicy, which I understand is difficult to do.

MD, of course, went for meat, and got a gigantic pork chop served on crushed new potatoes with house made apple sauce and crisp crackling. The pork was so tender it nearly fell off the bone and the crackling was salty, and crisp without being teeth breakingly so! Our main courses were served with a dish of steamed veggies to share, consisting of carrot, broccoli,zucchini and bok choy.

  

 The prices range from $13.50 to $16.50 for the entrees, $20 to $33 for the mains, and $11 for desserts. There are also three pasta dishes that can be ordered as either size if you need to save room for dessert! I’m always game so I ordered the milk chocolate panna cotta with honeycomb ice cream and peanut brittle shard, there was just enough for the sweetness not to be overwhelming, (I was nice and gave MD a little bit to try), and the silky texture of the panna cotta was just lovely.

Like all good restaurants it can get very busy on a Saturday night so if you’re considering dinner I’d make sure to book at least a day in advance. Bon appetite!!

March 1, 2011

Feel like afternoon tea with the interred?

Have I got the place for you – and, no, it’s not as morbid as it sounds! On the banks of the Hawkesbury river, about a fifteen minute drive out of Windsor lies the sleepy little town of Ebenezer, famous for being the home of Australia’s oldest church. I know… I was surprised when I found out too, what about all those old piles in Tasmania? But apparently it’s true, and the street sign says so, so it must be true. There is a slight caveat in that it’s Australia’s oldest Presbyterian church, but that’s a small distinction really when you have a historical landmark practically on your doorstep!!

It has been used as a church continually from 1809, and reminds me somewhat of a doll’s house:

Of course it is free to look at, wander around in and soak up the atmosphere, and the graves surrounding it are really interesting in a sad kind of way. The oldest one is for poor little Sarah Gilkerson who died at 3 weeks old on May 14th 1813. The churchyard has a lovely peaceful vibe and the pretty scenery of the bushland and the river adds to that.

Adjoining the church itself is the old schoolmaster’s house, (even more like a doll’s house than the church), it now houses a miniature museum and a shop with all sorts of interesting bric a brac, locally made goods and souvenirs for sale. They even have those silver teaspoons with a picture of the church on the top, speaking of which, I found some girls up in Byron Bay who make bracelets out of those spoons – they are so cool! Anyway, enough of jewellery, back to the subject – the house is an interesting combination of museum and historical display. Up the steepest set of stairs I have ever come across, (and my sister used to live in a terrace house in Paddington), lies the attic bedrooms all made up as if the poor convict servant girl had just gotten up.

Finally, here comes the bit about afternoon tea, (sorry to make you wait for it), outside the schoolmasters house in a paved courtyard with views down to the river a few tables are set up and Devonshire tea/coffee is available for $5. A lovely volunteer lady sets up a tray with all the fixings and you can relax and have a nice spot of tea… and don’t worry, the graves are all on the other side of the buildings. The church still runs as a Uniting Church and is open for services at 8.30am, whilst the house is open from 10am until 3, (or 4pm in the warmer months), on all days except Christmas and Easter.