Saturday, 27 August 2011

Signs that spring has sprung!

Old Cootamundra Hospital surrounded by spring blossom.
One thing that Cootamundra does very well is seasons - there are four very distinct looks which Cootamundra skips between and I am happy to say that it is shaking off its dull winter cloak and stepping out in style at the moment. 

Cootamundra - the wattle town.
Cootamundra is of course famous for wattle. A few weeks ago, I noticed that the little pom pom balls of yellow fluff were starting to appear and then in a matter of days, it was everywhere. In Cootamundra, the wattle is the first real hint that the worst of winter is gone.

Daffodils, Wallendoon Street, Cootamundra
Over the last few days there has been an explosion of fresh new buds, leaves and blossoms across Cootamundra. Petals have been drifting from the trees like little flurries of snow, there is the smell of summer in the air and the constant hum of bees making the most of the flowers.

Blossoms around Cootamundra.
I have also been pleased to see the first hints of a few goodies which I hope to be eating later on in the year - my little blueberry bush is bursting with blossoms, there is the hint of a few strawberries on my plant which I picked up for $2 at the markets a few weeks ago and the fig has a couple of tender new leaves poking their heads up!

Potted strawberry
The fig's first leaf for 2011
I have also noticed the chooks have a spring in their step - they are chasing the new bugs around and gobbling them up and the eggs have been coming a lot faster than they did in the dead of winter.

So cheers to spring (although a couple of days early) and the promise of good things to come!

Spring chicken!
Cootamundra Post Office, spring blooms and the new gingko tree.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra, NSW

The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
The Style: The Pickled Pantry is decorated in candy stripes of bright pink and orange and the store itself, like everything inside, looks good enough to eat. The furniture inside is mixed and mismatched and there are some pieces which remind me of furniture my nanna used to have. The vintage pieces are paired with ultra-modern stainless steel shelving, wicker baskets, bright paintings and dried flower arrangements which all seem to live in harmony. 

The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra

The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
The taste: The Pickled Pantry is much more than a coffee shop - it is also a deli with smallgoods, cheeses, bread, dried fruits and preserves, spices, jams, oils and many other treats. The Pickled Pantry's menu is a small but scrumptious selection utilising the deli goodies. There are some specialty teas as well as coffee on offer and my personal favourite to get through a long cold winter is the belgian hot chocolate which comes with a generous helping of chocolate shavings on top and an oozy layer of melted chocolate in the bottom of the cup. Delicious!

Belgian Hot Chocolate, The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
Delicious Deli - The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
The crowd: There is usually a bustling mix of Coota locals to be found at the Pickled Pantry - if you are visiting the town, an added incentive to pop in is the area dedicated to local produce. 

The Price: Some of the produce at the Pickled Pantry can seem a little expensive but when put into perspective, it isn't so bad - the food is all top quality and much of it is sourced locally. There are also things that a small town the size of Cootamundra just wouldn't have if it wasn't for an innovative shop like this so really, it is well worth paying a tiny bit more rather than driving a few hundred kilometres to get some of the unique things on offer.

Local produce, Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
The Pickled Pantry, Cootamundra
The location: The Pickled Pantry is located within the Cootamundra Arts Precinct. It is located next door to the Arts Centre on the corner of Wallendoon and Sutton Streets, Cootamundra.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

DESTINATION: Cootamundra (Part 2)

Cootamundra Garden Club display, Cootamundra Street Parade
Well, its not every day that a town gets to celebrate its 150th Birthday so Cootamundra decided to make the most out of its Sesquicentenary Celebrations this week. The town loves a bit of wattle and it has been everywhere brightening up the last remnants of winter grey which are still clinging on. Cootamundra's Sesquicentenary all culminated with a parade and street party which went off with a bang...or maybe that was just the balloons being run over by the ride on mowers in the parade. Nonetheless, the whole town came out dressed in their best party gear and really made the most of the occasion.

150 years of Cootamundra, NSW

Cootamundra Street Parade
The parade featured familiar local faces and it was an experience to see so many elements of country life all crammed onto one main street at the same time. There were floats from businesses, clubs and social groups from Cootamundra which really showcased the spirit of the town.

Marching Band, Cootamundra NSW

Cootamundra Fire Fighters

Cootamundra Street Parade

Cootamundra Show Society

The street party saw street stalls selling local produce and crafts, showbags, rides and entertainments. I have seriously never seen Cootamundra this busy and it was great to see so many people all having a good time.

Cootamundra Street Party, 2011

Cootamundra Street Party, 2011
Coota's 150th birthday also inspired me to put my exploring hat on and take a look at some of the town's history first hand. The architecture is where the towns age is most evident with beautiful buildings scattered throughout the area, many dating back to Cootamundra's foundation. The Cootamundra Post Office was recently given a fresh coat of paint and looks all the better for it. Other historic buildings including the Cootamundra Court House and the old Cootamundra Hospital are also worth a look if you are in town.

Cootamundra Post Office

Old Cootamundra District Hospital

Historic Cootamundra Court House

Cootamundra, NSW

Cootamundra can be found on the South West Slopes of New South Wales, a two hour drive from Canberra.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City

Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City
The Style: Shogun Teppanyaki is decked out in all things Japanese - think of all the Japanese cliches you can, scale it back a bit and add a pinch of style - that should paint a picture in your mind of Shogun. The restaurant is actually quite a nice place to be - they seem to have pulled it off and in July while I was there, there was a great view of the outdoor ice skating rink which provided some additional entertainment (so long as you like watching people crash in a heap while you eat!).

Agedashi Tofu, Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City

Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City

Pork in ginger sauce, Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City
The Taste: The food at Shogun Teppanyaki is not going to win a gold medal for the best Japanese food you have ever tasted but it is also far from the worst. The menu has a decent selection of dishes with all the Japanese favourites like sushi, sashimi and teriyaki making the list. I ordered a pork dish which had a nice but mildly bland flavour. The salad was a little odd, basically just lettuce leaves in a sweetish dressing. It didn't do a lot to add a fresh element to the dish because it too was a little bland. The sushi was fresh, tasty and looked fantastic. Overall, the food certainly wouldn't blow your socks off but it was mildly pleasant and nothing to complain about.

Salad, Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City
The crowd: There was a mix of couples and families at Shogun Teppanyaki - the families seemed to be enjoying the fun of catching food thrown by the teppanyaki chef - there were a few groups opting for this and all seemed to be really enjoying the show. 

The price: The meals here are reasonably priced with mains in the $15 - $25 bracket and the portions are generous. I guess Shogun Teppanyaki is a classic case of 'you get what you pay for.' If you want a pleasant but not spectacular meal that wont break the bank, this is the place. If you want a really delicate, fresh Japanese meal, try somewhere else.

The Location: Shogun Teppanyaki is located upstairs in the Garema Centre off Bunda Street (number 70), Canberra. 

Shogun Teppanyaki, Canberra City

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