The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Huskisson, Jervis Bay, and Dolphin Sands

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 31, 2010

After our enjoyable evening in Gipsy Point and our breakfast basket, we got back in the car and continued our roadtrip east through Victoria toward New South Wales and our second to last night in Australia.  Less than 10 minutes from leaving our hotel, we believe we saw an Emu! (another check off of the Husband’s Australian to do list – see a wild Emu)

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As we drove toward Huskisson, our next destination near Jervis Bay, we tried to plan our trip around the 3-5pm check in time.  Along the way, we found ourselves in Bega which is a town famous for its cheese.  We saw signs for the cheese factory and assuming they would have tastings, we took a slight detour.

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The Husband took a quick pit stop before we headed in for the tastings 🙂IMG_7631

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IMG_7633 Once we found our way into the Tasting Room & Store, we found that it was a serve-yourself tasting area.  A number of cheeses in Australian have the label “tasty” on them and we were glad to finally get a chance to see what this flavor was about without buying a block of cheese.  “Tasty” can best be described as flavorful… similar to a Colby perhaps? I originally assumed it would be more like a Sharp cheese, but there was one called “Strong & Bitey” that better fit that description.

IMG_7635 Although I would have liked to buy some cheese, we didn’t know what our refrigeration situation would be and didn’t want it to spoil.  Too bad Bega wasn’t closer to one of our other stops over the previous nights!

IMG_7636 On our way out, we admired the cafe area which appeared to have lots of history of the town and the cheese.

IMG_7639 And I couldn’t help but get a quick snap of the cow 🙂

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We hopped back in the car toward our destination, driving with no plan in mind except to stop when we got hungry for lunch.  A short while later, we found ourselves in the town of Moruya. It was one of the biggest towns we’d seen in a while and knew it would be a good place to stop.

We found a side street and parked.  As I opened my door, I looked down at the curb and inhaled sharply.  I looked up at the Husband, while I was still in the car and said “Um, I think I see a snake.”  Now, this far into the trip, we’ve heard left and right about how dangerous the snakes are but we hadn’t seen any yet.  What I saw, looked like a snake, with his head poking out of a drain pipe.  I didn’t want to move! The Husband got back in the car and backed up so that we at a safe enough distance away.  We snapped a picture from the middle of the street and then saw a local walk by.

IMG_7644 We caught his attention and asked him if it was a snake.  Relieving us, we learned it was actually a blue tongued lizard and not dangerous at all! Phew!  We left him to hang out in the drain pipe (which they apparently do when it rains), and meandered into town.

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The Husband wanted to find a bakery and asked a local where to find one.  Once there, we asked the staff what they recommended.  I ordered a Cheese & Bacon Meat Pie while the Husband had a Cheese & Bacon roll (essentially a long roll with cheese and bacon baked on top).  It was good 🙂

We headed back toward the car, snapped a few photos of the local church, and continued on trip to Huskisson.

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About 5 hours after our start, we arrived in Huskisson, another small beach town on Jervis Bay.  We were scheduled to check in at the Dolphin Sands Bed & Breakfast between 3 and 5pm and arrived right at 4pm.  We parked the car and followed the sign to Reception.  As we walked up onto the front porch, the Husband was surprised by (and in turn he was surprised by the Husband) Wayne, one of the owners of the B&B who was enjoying the beautiful weather and reading at one of the tables.  We introduced ourselves and completed the check-in process.  Wayne showed us to our room and gave us lots of great suggestions of things to do in the afternoon and where to potentially eat dinner.

IMG_7659 IMG_7663 The grounds of the b&b were lovely.   IMG_2316

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This was the view of the house looking at our room.IMG_2318 And the view of the porch and dining room.

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Using one of Wayne’s suggestions, we decided to head out to Hyams Beach, where we were told they have the whitest sand in the world.

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We parked the car and headed down the steps to the beach. IMG_7665

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At first, the sand didn’t seem particularly white but as we walked further on the beach we found it to be so fine and quite white.  It reminded me almost of powdered sugar.IMG_7670

The Husband played with the camera for a while.  The view of the water was just beautiful so I let him do his thing 🙂    IMG_7675 We were jealous of the beach side homes.IMG_7702

After a good hour or so, we decided to head back toward Huskisson.  On that walk, we noticed fishermen and took a quick photo.  As we did that, a couple asked us to take their photo and we discovered that they were from Atlanta! We stopped to chat with them for a while before they decided to go for a swim and our hunger began to increase. IMG_7792

We headed back to the B&B to get cleaned up and walk into town to find some dinner.  We walked past the handful of restaurants suggested and decided to go to Stonegrill, remembering our enjoyable meal at the Raging Bull in Hervey Bay two weeks ago.  We were especially enticed by a chalkboard noting a 3-course meal for $29!

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After a quick look through the menu, we each decided to go with the 3-course set menu option.  For the appetizer course, we had an option of 5 or so choices.  The Husband went with Turkish Bread with a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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I had Mixed Seafood sauteed over rocket.  Both appetizers were off to a good start! IMG_7798

For our main course, we had an option of steak, chicken, or seafood and an option of salad, vegetables, or pasta salad.  We also had a selection of sauces to choose from.  Just like our awesome meal at the Raging Bull,  the meat was brought out on extremely hot stones for us to cook to our liking.

The Husband’s main course consisted of a mixed salad, steak, and a pepper sauce.  As expected, he loved it!IMG_7800

My main course was the steak as well plus the Diane sauce and a pasta salad (penne, rocket, onion, and olive oil). IMG_7801

For dessert, we got to choose from three or four small cakes (perfect size of dessert in my opinion!).  The Husband had the Caramel Mud Cake and I had a Berry Cheesecake. IMG_7802

As we hoped, this dinner was great! And at only $29 per person, we couldn’t ask for it to be better.  Once dinner was over, we walked the one block back to our B&B, enjoyed some Aussie tv, and slept well 🙂

The next morning, we awoke to possibly our favorite breakfast throughout our entire visit to Australia.  When we checked in the day before, Wayne asked if 8:30 or so would be a good time for breakfast and we planned to be there on the dot.  We walked out of our room, unsure whether breakfast would be on the front porch or in the house.  The weather was amazing that morning and we found our place settings at a quiet corner on the porch.

IMG_2306 Wayne double checked if we both ate meat and headed back into the kitchen to prepare a hot breakfast for us.  We then met Beatrice, his wife, who invited us to check out the buffet and offered us drinks.  The buffet alone was wonderful!  It included fresh, homemade breads, fruits, and cereals.

IMG_2307 I personally tried almost some of every type of fruit! We were promised toast with our hot meal so we didn’t touch the bread on the buffet, but it sure did make our mouth water! Quality bread has certainly been lacking during our vacation… our options have mostly been “white” or “raisin.”  On my fruit plate, I had (clockwise from the top) cantaloupe, pear, a baked yogurt & berry pudding, rhubarb, and dried fruit poached in orange juice.  This breakfast was off to an amazing start!

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For beverages, the Husband went with his usual Long Black while I had English Breakfast tea (which came in a french press that I loved) and an apple juice.

IMG_2310 To make our perfect Australian breakfast complete, Wayne brought us out a fresh ham and cheese omelet, roasted tomatoes, and homemade whole grain toast.  We learned that the eggs were from chickens they raise at their house, the tomatoes are from a neighbor’s garden, and as we already knew bread was homemade.  It was all as good as it looked too!

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As our readers already know, the Husband and I have definitely come to really enjoy Vegemite so we asked for some of that as well 🙂  Of that spoonful, I had a very light layer while the Husband had most of the rest.

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After our incredible breakfast, we packed up our stuff, wished farewell to Wayne and Beatrice who were in the back patio, and headed on our way back to Sydney via the Kangaroo Valley per Wayne’s recommendation.

If you find yourself near Jervis Bay and you’re looking for a good Bed & Breakfast, look no further than Dolphin Sands!

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Wine Tasting in the Hunter Valley

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 12, 2010

After an enjoyable overnight in the Australian Blue Mountains, the Husband and I headed back to Sydney to pick up his brother Jeff.  We had hotel reservations in Hunter Valley, approximately 2 1/2 hours north of Sydney, and once we confirmed that our room would accommodate three (King bed and pull out sleeper sofa), we were on our way!

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Jeff drove, making a bit easier for the Husband who hasn’t completely adjusted to left side driving yet 🙂

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First up, we checked into our hotel at the Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens.  After our stay in the Blue Mountains, we weren’t sure what to expect and we were amazed when we walked into our room.

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It was huge! And beautiful and just perfect for wine country… large comfy bed, good size pull out couch which they specifically made up in anticipation for our arrival.IMG_3653

The entry way was welcoming and we found wine glasses and a mini bar, with room for us to place our own bottles and cheese for later.

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The bathroom was spacious and modern.  The shower had the overhead shower head that feels like rain 🙂

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We had our own private patio…

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Plus a field to look out on that we shared with our neighbors.

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It was all just beautiful.  We quickly got settled and headed out to the wineries as they close at 5pm (which we didn’t know!) and it was just around 4pm.

We decided to stop at Peppers Creek first. Unfortunately, the Cellar Door Tastings and Sale Room was not easily findable, so we headed out quickly to try to get at least one or two in!

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Tyrrell’s Wines was a success! As soon as we pulled up, their easy to follow sign directed us to the tasting room.

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The man providing the tastings was super friendly (as we’re finding all Australians to be) and informative.  He taught us about the differences in the wines we were drinking (I really need to take a class or two!) and tested us to see if we could tell the differences.  I tasted two of their Chardonnays and learned the difference between those in oak barrels and those in stainless steel barrels (I preferred the stainless steel).

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We tried a handful of whites before moving on to reds, the Husband’s favorite. IMG_3689

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Jeff bought a bottle or two, I believe one of which was a Verdehlo, which I’d never had before, and we were on our way.

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Next up, we tried Tempus Two, a very modern looking winery.

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Here, I learned of the Grenache grape, a red grape, which was divine.  A bit sweeter than a lot of reds, but not tart.  We picked up a bottle or two here as well.

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With a little bit of time to spare, we tried to check out one more winery but made it too late.  An employee at the winery we were turned away from, however, suggested that there would be tastings until 6pm at the Hunter Valley Gardens, within walking distance of where we were staying.

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We sampled a few and I bought a bottle of Chocolate Port.  So good! Unfortunately, due to how heavy our luggage is, I’m not sure it’ll be coming home with us, but I’ll be on the lookout back in the states.

With most restaurants not open until 6:30 or 7pm, we decided to open up a bottle or two in our room and enjoy a cheese platter we picked up at a store at the Tempus Two winery.  Our cheese platter included a triple cream brie, a cheddar, a camembert, and more then enough crackers.  Both, the triple cream brie and the cheddar, were amazing!  Very flavorful and the triple cream brie was exactly as described – creamy! IMG_3734 IMG_3743 IMG_3747 IMG_3749 IMG_3755

Both the Verdehlo (picked up at the last place) and the Grenache Shiraz went very well with our cheese platter.

The next morning, the three of us enjoyed an Australian full breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day.  First, we headed over to the Hunter Valley Gardens, adjacent to our resort.  It had a little shopping district with cute stores such as the British Lolly Shop.

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There were gardens to explore, but since they cost a bit of money, we enjoyed the scenery we could find ourselves.  Including lots of large spiders!

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And of course flowers… IMG_3802

We planned to visit one or two wineries before taking a more scenic route through Hunter Valley back to Sydney.  Jeff is a member of a wine club, so we decided to head to that winery first.  After driving in circles for an hour or so 🙂 we finally found (it was only about 5 minutes from the hotel!).  At least we saw a horse and carriage during the roundabout drive. IMG_3813

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Finally, we were there! The Vinden Estate Winery and Vinyard.

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This place was amazing and exactly what we were looking for.  Not having visited wine country before (besides two wineries and vineyards about an hour outside of Charlotte), we’ve always imagined but never experienced was the winery experience could be like.

This winery had a beautiful patio overlooking the vineyards.  The weather was absolutely perfect that day, as well, which made it all that more grand 🙂 IMG_3854

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Jane, the lovely lady who ran things, sat with us at our table and took us through our various tastings.  The wine that was most memorable was their Alicante Buschet (sp?).  It’s apparently a wine made in only a handful of wineries worldwide.  I believe it’s like a Rose, but instead of being a red grape with a white inside, it’s red both inside and out.  It has a very sweet nose, but surprises you with a much drier taste (but not too dry!).  I actually wasn’t impressed with the tasting, but Jeff bought a bottle for us to enjoy on the patio and I came to really enjoy it.

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Jane was an absolute sweetheart and really helped make our experience as wonderful as it was there.  If any of you ever find yourself in Hunter Valley, we highly recommend you visit  the Vinden Estate.IMG_3889

After enjoying a few hours at Vinden Estate, I made the executive decision to not visit any more wineries and be on our way.   About halfway through our drive, Jeff wanted to take us to a small town bar and restaurant for lunch.  It was quite a sight to see!IMG_3911

On one side of the building was the bar where Jeff grabbed us each a beer. IMG_3913

On the other side was where we could order food to be taken out to the patio to be enjoyed with our beers. IMG_3914

This pub is famous for their Jungle Juice, what the Husband and I found to be very, very sweet wine (free tastings!).  So sweet, that we didn’t finish our small tasting. IMG_3915

We found a  spot on the deck and continued to enjoy the beautiful weather.

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Our food was ready not too much longer and we were impressed with how much there was! At the bottom left, I ordered the Spinach and Ricotta Burger.  I imagine many of you assume what I did – that it was a burger with spinach and ricotta on top.  However, it was a spinach and ricotta patty with lettuce, tomato, and beetroot.  Very tasty!  To the bottom right is the Husband’s Cheese and Tomato Toasted Sandwich, known better to us Americans as a grilled cheese and tomato 🙂 Top center are (potato) wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce to the right (quite common and delish we’re finding).  Last but not least, to the top left is the Pluto Pup, which we found to be a corn dog.

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All in all, a very filling meal 🙂 After lunch, we headed back out onto the gravel one lane road through the countryside.  It turned out to be about 4 hours driving back (compared to our 2 1/2 driving up), but it was quite worth it.  The scenery was beautiful – the Husband took tons of photos.  Here are just a few to share with you for now…

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IMG_3982 One more day in Sydney, before we head up north to Brisbane via an overnight train 🙂 See you soon!

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