Writing this post is going to make me terribly homesick, but here goes.
In October, I planned a “Reading Retreat” for me and my husband. I was feeling the strain of having not taken any leave from work since Christmas and I just wanted to escape. A typical holiday with me is a tight schedule packed with every possible thing that can be done in that destination – leaving nothing unvisited – but that’s not what I was looking for this time. I just wanted a retreat where rather than do things, we could just absorb things – all the unread books on my much-neglected Kindle, the clear sky, the clean air, even each other. I wanted to press the pause button on living.
I initially booked a cottage on a remote property in Blackheath, but had to cancel at the last minute due to the fires. So with only a couple of days left before my booked leave, I had to make a quick decision about where to go – somewhere not too far away, somewhere simple, somewhere boring but beautiful.
I chose Berry – a place I’d only ever driven through before. I had no idea how good a decision this was until we actually got there. We arrived late at night, carefully navigating ourselves up a narrow, private road. We went straight to bed to the sound of frogs croaking and woke up to this:
It was exactly what I wanted. Stunning but completely unglamorous, nothing but trees, grassy hills and quiet.
This is Frangipani Cottage where we stayed – a beautiful little cottage with a very small TV and a very big bed so perfect for anyone looking for rest from the distractions of everyday life.
Okay so I hear your cries of “Am I on the wrong blog? Get to the food already!”
This is all part of the story – I had all these romantic plans to just read and read and read but tragedy struck when I pulled my Kindle out of its case and saw that the screen had cracked badly. I almost cried. What else was left to do in a place like this? What is something else that I love to do but rarely get the time for at home?
Hmm… what about cooking? Yes, okay, I’ll cook!
So I cooked. A lot. I cooked three meals in one day which I don’t think has ever happened before. I cooked simple things like spaghetti bolognese and poached eggs on toast. Looking at the photos now, each of them is like a letter to all the food I took for granted in Australia and miss terribly now.
(Dear parmesan cheese, spanish onion, rocket and red wine – I miss you!)
(Dear crusty bread and soft poached eggs… come back to me!)
(Dear crispy lavosh and grape tomatoes – will I ever see you again?)
(Dear EVERYTHING IN THIS PHOTO – I wish you were with me tonight…)
As fun as it was to feast on my own creation, cooking only takes up so many hours of the day. So the second day we went out to the main street to explore, and I was so happily surprised with what we discovered. I knew Berry had some cute cafes and stores, but I didn’t expect pies and providores that would rival those found in Sydney’s best foodie hotspots.
Milkwood Bakery was our first stop – it’s a spin off of the famous Berry Sourdough Cafe and stocks tea cakes, quiches, pastries, fresh bread and pies of all kinds.
The kind of place where you just want to say “One of everything on display please!”
I loved this retro aqua-blue espresso machine – coffee’s gotta taste good when it’s coming out of a gorgeous machine like this right?
And the pie…
Flaky, golden pastry that was impossibly crispy all-round (no soggy bottom!!)
Huge chunks of real beef, whole mushrooms and luscious gravy. This was, dare I say, the best ‘classic’ meat pie I’ve ever eaten. I’m surprised they’re not more famous, given all the “Best Meat Pie” rivalry that happens across the country.
A few small steps down the street from Milkwood Bakery is The Emporium Food Co.
If you know me at all you’d know that nothing excites me more than a chiller full of small goods and cheeses and shelves stacked with oils, sauces and salts. So heaven for me will look something like this:
The Emporium has a really impressive section of gourmet-everything sourced locally and internationally. I had already bought more than enough groceries for the weekend but I couldn’t resist buying a few slices of serrano ham, brie and lavosh sheets.
It’s also a cafe where you can sit down, drink some coffee and just enjoy the company of all the lovely food products.
And so the Reading Retreat turned into an Eating Retreat … to be continued in Part 2!
109 Queen Street
Berry, NSW 2535
The Emporium Food Co
127B Queen Street
Berry NSW 2535