How far will you travel for a culinary experience? Does a mouth-watering menu stimulate your tastebuds enough for you to spring into action and organise a trip?
I’ve got pals who made a restaurant booking 12 months out at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, in Spain and planned an entire three-week holiday around this one restaurant booking! If you adore flavoursome food, great wine and cultural experiences like I do, then travelling to different corners of the globe for a little self-indulgence is perfectly palatable.
Closer to home you must admit we are seriously spoilt for choice with endless culinary options available at amazing locations in Australia. Some require air travel, others just need a full tank of petrol and time up your sleeve. While this issue indulges in gourmet adventures I thought I’d add a couple of my own personal favourites…all within driving distance from Sydney.
Having hosted his Food Odyssey tour around Australia some years ago, I know how much Rick Stein (our feature interview this week) loves our succulent seafood.
With his Australian wife Sarah, overseeing the glamourous transformation, Bannisters at Mollymook has become a popular destination for those wanting to explore the south coast from the comfort of Bannisters and Ricks indulgent seafood menu. Book a surf lesson with former world champion Pam Burridge, stroll through the charming town of Milton, then settle back at Bannisters deciding if you should order his Classic Fish pie or Lobster salad with a glass of French Rose while overlooking the sea. Damn satisfying.
The next day you might like to pop over to Milk Haus for a late brekkie or a bite. A 10-minute drive from Milton, Milk Haus is an old cheese factory lovingly transformed in a delightful wholefood café. The passionate team there grow mostly everything they use supplemented by local farmers, fishermen and home gardeners. The menu is outstanding and the coffee is worth the drive!
If you‘re looking for something unique, perhaps as a surprise for a special occasion then consider heading north of Sydney and exploring the Hawksbury River region. Getting there can be half the fun, either by car, boat or seaplane. Enjoying its own maritime microcosm, the Hawkesbury locals have made the most of their stunning locations and created several relaxed foodie options. Berowra Waters Inn forged a name for itself in the 80’s and is still one of the best dining experiences, perched on the river’s edge surrounded by native bush. Cottage Point Inn started life as a boathouse and general store in the 50’s and has grown to offer elegant Australian cuisine in a charming waterfront setting.
My personal favorite is Peats Bite, having thoroughly enjoyed myself on many occasions. A family run business for well over 30 years, they have truly mastered the long-relaxed lunch with the hours slipping by effortlessly. The staff, the service, the sensational food and the position are difficult to beat for a lazy weekend getaway. I also love the fact I can take my dog Billie along for some four-legged company. I’m so enamoured with the delights of the Hawkesbury River I’m considering a boat licence which will allow me to try even more river side settings!
Nothing brings us together more than sharing a great meal and enjoying a laugh with friends and loved ones. Next time you need a circuit breaker, think further afield, the experience may surprise you.
PS. Don’t forget to watch my interview segments with Rick
This article originally appeared in Virgin Voyeur Magazine.