Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I'm sure that parents statewide are breathing a sigh of relief now that school has resumed! Don't get me wrong, I love the school holidays, and really enjoy the short break from our usual schedule to allow for free-range days of play and adventure. However, there is an additional expectation, and escalated excitement about what to do which by default includes WHAT TO EAT! Now as a MO2, I always leave the house with a full complement of vegemite and honey sandwiches and assorted snacks. In the holidays this just doesn't cut it I'm afraid. They are totally fine for a play date at the park, but when cruising along the beachside promenade on a blade scooter, with saltwater whipping our faces, only fish and chips will do. You see my point? So, I found that it is very important to have a vague idea of what is available foodwise in the area you are heading or your best laid plans can go very awry VERY quickly. (Case in point...Fort Denison. Yes, there is a very swanky eatery on the island which I would have LOVED to have tried, but my pockets aren't bottomless, and frankly, a more simple meal option would have helped me that day). We were "stranded" on the island for longer than anticipated as we had to wait for the 1pm cannon to be fired. In the meantime, we bought an overpriced icecream which ended up having to be thrown away in haste to allow us to take the walking tour of the fort! No food or drink allowed inside! With tears and tantrums, we made the tour, but with my point blank refusal to replace the overpriced ice-cream when we got out, it didn't add to the joy of the day. We travelled quite widely on our day trips, and only the more successful quick-bites are included here. THE ROCKS. I know that as a tourist destination, the focus is on opportunity and dollars, rather than good food and good value. However, on a Friday trip to Susannah Place museum (note: it has an olde worlde corner shop which has great lollies, english treacle and very stylish and cute "pie birds") we happily stumbled on the Rocks Food Markets. How fortunate for us that it is the time of year to re-ignite this Friday tradition. Food stalls of organic produce, sauces, spices and some local eateries supplying simple menus. We excitedly lined up at the Pony stall, and were rewarded with a sumptuously tender and juicy combo of bbq lamb, in a pita roll with baby spinach, hommous, yoghurt and lemon. Simple and delicious. It was under $10 too! From there we popped our heads into the La Rennaissance Patisserie to peek at the little mouse cakes, and the tri-colour macaroons but the line up was too much for the first born, so we slipped across to the Argyle Centre and found Sticky, a sweet shop with hand made rock in more flavours than you could poke a stick at. We took our time tasting and looking at the many varieties and finally settled on a bag of rainbow rock (very pretty), and lavender rock. That was exquisite! I love lavender and violet flavoured lollies. I have beautiful memories of some violet pastilles I used to get in my frequent trips to Paris (pre-children), so before we LEFT the store I had popped a lavender pillow into my mouth. What flavour!! It was too much for the firstborn, she got stuck into the rainbows while I happily sucked away enjoying my newfound favourite. The sales assistant very smartly pack our selections in one of those orange stringy bags used for fruit. I thought it was just a quirky, cute looking way to present the product, but realised that it was a fantastic option for keeping those busted cello bags in check. How many times have you opened a big bag of lollies, had one, popped it in your handbag, only to fish out handfuls of beautifully sticky lollies covered in detritus formerly languishing in the dark hole that is a ladies handbag and had to throw them out? At $6.00 a bag, they aren't cheap, but do last longer than I expected (well..the way I was putting those lavender lollies away..I wasn't sure the bag would make it home!). THE AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM. Well, at a place like this food is not the drawcard, and thats the way it should be. How can you possibly compete with dinosaur bones in the eyes of a 4 year old? In my view, the cafes should only really provide re-fuelling options for tired and hungry families, needing sustinence. The cafe at the Australian Museum does just this. There is two options, the one we tried is just in the main foyer, in full view of the majestic whale bones dangling from the ceiling. The area is airy, light and open, painted white with bright red accessories. It is nicely presented, well ordered and the staff are helpful and quick. You can see from the menu board (and isn't it cute?) that they actually do serve vegemite sandwiches here, so even though we travelled with same, basic simple options are available for the less organised. We stopped for shakes, lattes and carrot cake this time, but they do have more on offer in way of cakes and wraps. This is a pleasant sit down point before tackling the special exhibitions. But beware, the prices will add to the already pricey adventure of visiting the museum and that is BEFORE you get to the gift shop. CENTRAL COAST. We often travel to the central coast for days by the beach and visiting relatives. Today we visited the holiday fair at the Entrance. We popped in to see our favourite uncle, and spent some time scootering around the promenade lakeside. Now, as our previous trip to Patonga has proved, seaside location plus captive audience does not always equal good eating. We were very disappointed with the fish and chips on offer at Patonga Seafoods and won't be blogging it anytime soon. Today we tried Darrons Seafoods at Wamberal which was a great success! Not only were the staff, chirpy and helpful, they gave us suggestions from the vast menu to fulfil our needs. With two children in tow, it is easy to over buy, based on their state of mind and lack of patience at the time. So, we decided on the fishburgers (huge bun, lots of fresh salad and a good sized battered fish fillet with mayo inside), and two of the smaller fish and chip packs at $6.50 each. These were great value and just the right amount for us. We have found ourselves many-a-time with all fish gobbled up, and a mountain of soggy chips left over that get fed to the seagulls. Not today. A beautifully golden battered fish fillet (forgot to note what the fish of the day was sorry), with a neat amount of crunchie golden chippies to match. Darrons is also a fish market, so you can buy supplies for dinner, and they also sell sauces and other accompaniments for the seafood. Darrons can be found on what is now called the Central Coast Highway (or as the locals know it "the main road" formerly the Entrance Road) at Wamberal. We took ours back to uncles house, but if you just slip down the road heading towards Terrigal, there is some nice spots right by the Wamberal lagoon to enjoy your feast outdoors. I highly recommend Darrons for your next central coast trip. GALSTON. From the sea to the countryside we go. Today was horseriding at Dural, and after a tiring few hours, we stopped at the local and very unassuming bakery for our quick fix. Goodies Bakery and Cake shop is tucked away at the back of the Galston Village Shops. It is not fancy, and I can't say the cakes set the world on fire either (mock cream to-boot), but the pies are faultless. We enjoyed a chicken and veg, beef and mushroom, and a thai chicken pie which I have to say was totally fabulous. They are reasonably priced, and the coriander and thai flavouring of my pie was really superb, and a nice surprise (especially after the bee-sting/fake cream debacle). If you are heading out Galston way, make sure you look up Goodies. Finally, what is a school holiday without some home cooking? My two kids love to cook, and enjoy helping me in the kitchen. We have recently planted broccoli, strawberries and herbs for our edible garden, and I am sure I have at least one budding foodie in the pair. After an hour in the cubbyhouse, I was very pleased to be presented with my first mud/dirt pies of the holidays. Beautifully plated up on plastic, for my eating pleasure! We all had a laugh pretending to eat them, and pretending to be the masterchef judges giving scores. My kids are only 4 and 7, but both avidly followed the contestants on the show and really took note of what was on offer (thus their enjoyment of my Goat curry). Long live the school holiday fun and long live quick and tasty food! Happi eating.