Thursday, 13 March 2008

Down the Coast

I'm told that simply nobody, darling, stays in town for the Canberra day long weekend. So like a proper Canberran, I did my duty and went to the coast. It was a great weekend - cool on Friday, but sunny and warm for the rest. Belinda has a share in a little house at Guerrilla Bay, a tiny little beach a bit south of Bateman's Bay. You can sit on the couch and look out the window at the water sparkling in between the trees. The bay is quite calm and protected, great for rock hopping and investigating the tide pools, or snorkelling about looking at all the fish and sea urchins. And of course there is interesting food to be had.

Bungendore Food Lovers Market

Bungendore has a lot of cafes and restaurants, and this one is really more of a deli, with a cafe on the side. They serve good coffee and light meals, and sell an assortment of gourmet products and local produce. Beth and I had lunch there on Friday, and I was so impressed with the ham on my ploughman's lunch that I had to buy some. It turns out that it is a house specialty - cured without preservatives (except salt, of course), it's tender, moist and very tasty. I must try to remember that Bungendore is really close. It's only half an hour's drive from my place, and that ham is worth it! The garlic sausage was pretty good, too.

Suzanne's Bakery at Mogo

Suzanne does organic sourdough, and it is seriously good stuff. The fruit loaf is a solid and heavy beast, stuffed with fruit and spices and set on a base of nuts. It keeps well, too, and makes the best toast. The shop includes an assortment of good quality organic drygoods - dried fruits, nuts, flours, lentils, etc.

The River at Moruya

Fantastic! This restaurant has a wide deck overlooking the river. We were a bit back from there, but the space is so open that the tranquil view easily extends to us unbooked peons up the back. The service was terrific - we rocked in without a reservation, in our T-shirts and shorts, ordered coffee to start, went for the cheapie lunch special menu, made trouble by trying to swap things off the special menu, and we were still treated with perfect charm and courtesy.

The food was superb. I had a silky duck liver pate, followed by a perfectly cooked chunk of salmon, set on spinach, with a tomato butter sauce and olive potatoes. We had a side salad of plain baby cos lettuce vinaigrette, which was perfectly crisp and fresh. Such simplicity has got to be just right to work, and it was. We didn't need dessert, but I had to try the dark chocolate tart with white chocolate icecream. Purely for research purposes, of course... It was beautiful - a very smooth and rich dark chocolate filling, like a heavy cream custard in texture. Even with three of us sampling, we had to leave some behind, and we didn't eat much dinner that night. My friends had the velvety spinach, walnut and roquefort soup for entree, and Belinda had the rather Christmassy chicken ballotine with fig vinaigrette. Although there was no vegetarian option on the special menu, the chef whipped up a delightful strongly flavoured tomato risotto for Beth.

The lunch special was $28 for two courses, or $33 for three, including a glass of the house wine. This was a French Georges du Bouef sauvignon blanc. The selection is very limited compared to the main menu, but the value is unbeatable. We hope to go back for a birthday dinner for Beth on the ANZAC weekend. The dinner menu is rather pricier, closer to the usual Canberra standards - entrees and desserts in the $15-20 range, mains about $30. But we expect it will be worth it.

1 comment:

infoaddict said...

The Food Lover's Market has a LOT of little treats, and the range is increasing daily (including, on occasion, my very own warrigal greens :) :) :) ).

Not only the local ham, but proper double-smoked bacon (I keep a slab in the fridge all the time now because the smokey salty flavour can't be beaten for making risottos and pasta sauces _amazing_) - and Monterey Jack cheese.

Monterey Jack cheese is an American cheese. It's one that doesn't separate out into oily bits when placed over Mexican food and as such, is essential fridgefare for anyone who makes Mexican-inspired dishes even once a month.

I've been trying to find the stuff ever since I discovered its existence in 1992. And I have never, ever been successful. The closest I came was to find out that the Braidwood Deli stocked it but by the time I got there, it had changed hands and the Monterey Jack had gone.

I'll give you two guesses who recommended to the Food Lover's Deli that they try this Jack cheese (hint: previous owner of Braidwood Deli). I leapt on it with cries of astonished joy, gave the boggled staff a short history of the cheese, and bought rather too much.

It's _excellent_ on pasta sauce, too :)

Cath, I can easily pick up stuff from Bungendore for you (such as the other locally-cured hams from the Bungendore Butcher, or their mind-blowingly good snags) and drop it off. Both the butcher and deli are open till 6pm in the evening (which goes beyond civilised into just plain courteous) and we do drive past your general area twice every single day :)

And if you're _very_ nice, you could get a dozen fresh (that is, no more than 3-4 days old) eggs every now and again too :)