Monday, 26 September 2011

Graze@the Factory, Junee, NSW

Graze@the Factory, Junee
The Style: I'm not sure if it was the surprisingly pleasant unseasonable warm weather casting a romantic spell but Graze@the Factory felt like a little bit of Provence dropped into the middle of Junee. The interior is roughly whitewashed brick walls, chunky wood furniture and wine barrels set off by some quirky prices of furniture and art. Outside, a rich red stone wall hugs the dining area which is filled with olive trees, citrus, lavender and a vegetable and herb garden as well as a wood-fire pizza oven which is put to use on the last Friday of each month. The area was a lovely place to let your mind wander to far away places while sipping a glass of red...

Woodfire pizza oven, Graze@the Factory, Junee
The taste: The food at Graze@the Factory is similar to modern pub menus with burgers, steaks and the like sitting alongside, soup, risotto and pizza. The quality was quite good with the food being very tasty and the salad crunchy and fresh. The lamb burger and the prawn risotto were both a cut above and at around $15, the price was right as well.

Lamb Burger, Graze@the Factory, Junee

Prawn, onion and capsicum risotto, Graze@the Factory, Junee

Open steak sandwich, Graze@the Factory, Junee
BBQ chicken wrap, Graze@the Factory, Junee
The service: If I had to criticise anything about Graze@the Factory, it was the service. It was by no means bad but the little touches were missing - admittedly, it was very busy but our table was left with dirty plates on it for about 15 minutes. They were taken but unfortunately, the smears of food they left behind weren't spotted until our meals were delivered. That said, the staff were apologetic and dealt with it. I think a few extra pairs of hands would have made all the difference because they were run off their feet.
Part of the restaurant vege patch, Graze@the Factory, Junee
The price: On the lunch menu, starters ranged from $6.50 - $11.50, light meals from $8.00 - $9.50 and mains from $13.50 - $23.50.

The location: Graze@the Factory is located within the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, Lord Street, Junee, NSW. 

Graze@the Factory, Junee

Graze @ the factory on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
There are some days where everything comes together to create perfect memories. The day I visited Junee Licorice Factory happened to be one of those days. It was the first truly warm day of spring and the drive along the highway from Coota to Junee was stunning with a blue sky sent a little bit hazy by the heat and paddocks of ultra bright canola whizzing past the windows. 
The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is something I have always thought about doing but never quite gotten around to so I had plenty of time to conjure up ideas of what it would be like - somewhere to spend a pleasant half hour and pick up a couple of bags of licorice to remember it by. Well I am pleased to report that this was one of those experiences where the reality was firstly nothing like what I had imagined and secondly so much better!
Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
I don't know why but I had envisioned a small poky shed staffed by maybe one or two people. Instead, I was greeted by a massive 4-ish storey building which looked like something from a fairy tale surrounded by gardens and a car park which was jam packed with people who were already in on this not-so-well kept secret. 

I wandered inside and there was a girl singing live music (very well), a coffee shop and a gift shop full of not only licorice but also chocolate coated fruit and nuts, tea, rocky road and many other delights. I booked onto the tour (run on the hour at a cost of $4).I also booked in to make my very own giant chocolate freckle which allows you to get a bit hands-on with the chocolate and have a little snoop behind the scenes. 

Copper bowls, Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

The tour itself was basically a video about how licorice is made, some taste testing of raw ingredients and the finished product, watching some of the licorice making process (on this day, no licorice was being made so we saw it getting coated in chocolate) and then a game of vertical licorice bowling which gave everyone a giggle. The tour was OK and the host was enthusiastic but a bit more behind the scenes action would have been nice. 
Gift Shop, Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
Coffee Shop, Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
By that time I was feeling a bit peckish so I decided to try our the restaurant, Graze@the factory. Wow! But that is a story for another day so watch this space!

Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is located on Lord Street, Junee. Junee is located on the Olympic Highway almost midway between Sydney and Melbourne (5 hours southwest of Sydney and 6 hours from Melbourne) with the nearest major centre being Wagga Wagga. Junee is 228km northwest of Canberrra. 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Canola fields and stormy skies, Cootamundra, NSW

Canola field and looming storm, Harden, NSW

I have been in Cootamundra for three years now but am still not sick of seeing the hills shrug on their yellow capes of canola flower every spring. The yellow gets so bright that it seems to be glowing and is really a sight to behold. I thought I would share a few different views of the canola I have collected over my time exploring around Cootamundra.
Canola Field, Junee
Canola Field, Junee
Canola field, Ganmain, NSW
Canola under a beating sun, Galong, NSW
Canola and church, Wallendbeen, NSW

Canola, Ganmain, NSW

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Olympic Hotel, Cootamundra

UPDATE: Wattle-we-eat is no longer trading.

Prawn linguini, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Olympic Hotel, Cootamundra
The Style: In many ways, the Wattle-We-Eat Bistro is a classic pub bistro but there are some nice touches which make for a warm and inviting atmosphere. There is a vivid red wall at one end of the room which houses the specials board and some lovely copper kitchen nik-naks. There are also paintings on the walls which are by Australian artists - these can be purchased via a gallery in nearby Gundagai, NSW.
Salt and Pepper Squid, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Cootamundra

Pork skewers, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Olympic Hotel, Cootamundra
The Taste: The menu at Wattle-we-eat has all of the pub classics like steak and schnitzel but also has a changing selection of other meals which currently includes lambs fry, salt and pepper squid, pippie and prawn linguini and the absolute BEST deserts in Cootamundra! The meals are very generous in size and they are always top-quality - no oozing fat or soggy salad in sight (unfortunately some pubs in Cootamundra don't seem to take a whole lot of care with their food but at Wattle-we-eat, they certainly do!).
Angus scotch fillet, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Olympic Hotel, Cootamundra

Chicken Schnitzel with mushroom sauce, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Cootamundra
The Service: This is what truly puts this place a cut above any other pub I have ever eaten at. Everyone who eats at the Wattle-We-Eat is made to feel welcome and this place has country hospitality and fun in spades - something which many other country pubs are trying to shake off in favour of a sterile, bland and 'trying-too-hard-to-be-Sydney' feel. The beauty of the Wattle-we-eat Bistro is that the food is Sydney-quality but and the experience is leaps ahead of anything you get in the city.

The price: The menu at Wattle-We-Eat does vary but generally, entrees come in around the $10 mark and mains under $20. 
Chocolate brownie, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Cootamundra
Strawberries and parfait, Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Cootamundra
The location: The Wattle-we-eat Bistro is located within the Olympic Hotel on Parker Street, Cootamundra 
Wattle-We-Eat Bistro, Cootamundra

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Murrumburrah Harden Spring Show

Horse float and sheds, Murrumburrah Harden Show
The Murrumburrah Harden Show turned 163 this year and showcased everything you would expect to see at a country Ag show. From prize-winning rams to beaut utes, it gives a real taste of the NSW country all dished up on one weekend. 
Prize winning fleece, Murrumburrah Harden Show

Grains and pumpkins, Murrumburrah Harden Show
The Murrumburrah Harden Show has all the elements of a quaint country show with scarecrow building, bake-offs and craft competitions and wandering through the pavillion was like taking a step back to a time when the simple things were what made people happy - the time, skill and effort which had gone into the works on display was great to see. From the prize winning fleece to the hens eggs, farmers and hobbyists alike had taken the time and pride to show off the fruits of their labour and I was whisked into a cloud of nostalgia for times passed..and then I stepped out of the pavillion and saw the rides spinning and whirring, heard the joyful screams and music, saw the lights and the toothy grins flash and realised that just appreciating the moment, whatever that holds, is the recipe for happiness.
Chicken, Murrumburrah Harden Show

Prize winning ram, Murrumburrah Harden Show
Sideshow alley was garishly bright with shouts of enticement being yelled at all who dared to walk through. There was enough sugar and deep fried meat to feed the crowds who were tackling it with gusto in the way which always seems like a good idea under the bright awnings and lights of show day.
Showtime treats, Murrumburrah Harden Show

Clowns, Murrumburrah Harden Show

Sideshow alley, Murrumburrah Harden Show
If you want to taste a real country show, the Murrumburrah Harden Spring Show is a good place to start considering they have 163 years of putting on a good show! The Murrumburrah Harden Spring Show is held annually in early September at the Murrumburrah Showground.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Young & Region Farmers Market, Young, NSW

Coolong Gourmet sauces, Young And Region Farmers Market

The Young and Region Farmers Market is held year-round on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The Young Farmers Market can be found just outside the Young Visitor Centre in Anderson Park, Young (off Lovell Street). 
Honey, Young and Region Farmers Market 
Handmade preserves, Young and Region Farmers Market
Throughout the winter months, the market is smaller with limited fresh produce (citrus, pumpkins, rhubarb, nuts and eggs were the winter favourites) but there are plenty of fantastic baked foods, preserves, sauces, handmade pasta, plants and even locally made goats milk soap. Additionally, there is a hot food stand (BBQ) to tide you over while you browse. 
Lockwood Vineyard fresh produce, Young and Region Farmers Market

Lavender, Young and Region Farmers Market
Herbs and seedlings, Young and Region Farmers Market
As the weather warms and the stone-fruit season begins, there are more stalls to visit but at any time of the year this market is a great way to support local farmers and pick up some well priced locally grown and made treats. 
Dunkell Dairy Goats soap, Young and Region Farmers Market

Dunkell Dairy Goats soap - Young and Region Farmers Market

Useful links:

Visit Young

Australian Farmers Market Association

Coolong Gourmet

Get it all done in Young - Lockwood Vineyard

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Blu Ginger Indian Cuisine, Canberra City

Blu Ginger, Canberra
The Style: When you walk into Blu Ginger, it is hard to miss the huge patterned wall which is pretty spectacular. The restaurant has super-high ceilings held up by concrete pillars. The more plain wall is also pretty spectacular with a huge orange lotus design. The night I visited, there were also beautiful flowers on the front counter - the whole place screamed modern, fresh and fun.
Lamb Rogan Josh, Blu Ginger, Canberra
Vegetable Korma, Blu Ginger, Canberra
The taste: The menu at Blu Ginger is relatively small compared to some Indian restaurants I have been to but I think that is a good thing - better to have less dishes done beautifully than many which fail. The menu has all of the classics - butter chicken, vindaloo, rogan josh and korma. There is also a decent vegetarian selection, some seafood and if you are feeling just a little bit adventurous, a goat curry. 

Every single thing I ate here was absolutely delicious. Just thinking about the tender, tasty lamb is making my mouth water right now!

Garlic Naan, Blu GInger, Canberra

Rice, Blu Ginger, Canberra
The service: The wait-staff at Blu Ginger had that strange quality of being almost invisible. They managed to take our order quickly and politely and get the food out in good time but they did it in such an unobtrusive way that I barely noticed them. (I think that is a compliment?)
Blu Ginger, Canberra
The crowd: Even on the chilly mid-week night when I visited, Blu Ginger was still pumping. There were a few parties as well as a really diverse mix of people packing the tables - people finishing work, couples and families were all there and all looking pretty pleased with their meals.

The price: Entrees at Blu Ginger range from $6.90 - $24.90(this end of the price scale includes platters). Mains range from $12.90 - 21.90 and side dishes are from $3-$4.

The Location: Blu Ginger Indian Cuisine is located at 5 Genge Street, Canberra City.

Useful links:
Blu Ginger

Blu Ginger on Urbanspoon