Friday, May 19, 2017

Chocolate Lollies Cider Bread

Following on from our trip to Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, we arrived in the town of Leura in the late afternoon. With only a short time before the shops closed for the day’s trading, we went for a wander down The Mall. Leura has always catered for the well-to-do daytripper and weekend visitor with charming shops and chic eateries that run the length of the main strip. The surrounding streets are filled with attractive mountain homes, from quaint cottages to luxurious mansions, all with established gardens of deciduous trees, hydrangeas and roses.

Running down the middle of The Mall are cherry trees, which in springtime are bursting with pink buds. But right now, it’s the start of winter and the trees are like skeletons as the mercury hits 10C at 4pm. First stop is Josephans, a dedicated handmade chocolate emporium that not only sells row upon row of chocolates made from Fairtrade couverture chocolate, but also conducts chocolate making and appreciation workshops.  This is a slick operation with every chocoholics need taken care of, from drinking chocolate to large slabs of your preferred flavour. I walk out with a gift box (for myself) containing Mayan Chilli, Lime & Basil, Orange & Mint, Walnut Halves, Hazelnut Praline and Honey & Hazelnut. Oh, and a side order of Chai Tigers (amazing chocolate balls covered in a chai spice sugar dust) and one each of the white, milk & dark chocolate fish shaped treats. I would have included photos, but they didn’t last the weekend…

The next stop is The Candy Store (because we obviously needed more treats). The children suddenly stop whining. They are in a state of Willy Wonka fixation. There are hundreds of jars wall-to-wall with every sweet imaginable. All those you remember from your childhood plus the ones you’ve seen in the movies that have been imported from the USA and beyond. With Pez dispenser refills and a bag of Cobbers, Flying Saucers, Red Frogs and Sour Peach Feet in hand, we head to Leura Cellars to collect an adult pre-dinner drink. They have a huge range of beer and cider by the bottle and being inspired by our apple picking adventures we settle on a bottle of Small Acres Cyder, whose operation is located relatively nearby in Orange on the other side of the Mountains. The staff here are very knowledgeable and fun and always helpful when you have trouble settling on a bottle.

Heading back to the hotel, I notice the newly opened Leura Garage, which looks very inviting from the outside with potted flowers, fruit trees and lap rugs for those brave enough to sit outside. We’ve booked elsewhere for dinner and I’m disappointed to learn it’s not open until 10am the next morning, which rules it out for breakfast. At dinner, my friend tells me they were there the night before and the pizza was excellent. Also, that they have a surprisingly good selection of wine and tapas style eats. Apparently the locals are very chuffed to have it open.

If we weren’t awake the next morning at 6am when the kids decided to use our bed as a trampoline, we were when jolted by the 5C temperatures as we wandered The Mall an hour later looking for somewhere, anywhere open for breakfast. It seems all the sensible people are still under their doonas as we jump in the car and head to Katoomba, but not before we spot the CWA ladies setting up their market in the Hall on Megalong St. Too tempted by the display, we get out of the car again and hurry inside to meet Peter who bakes his own walnut & ginger bread and a warming cinnamon scented honey & fruit bread. A small operator, his business card notes he’s only at this small market each Friday and every second Saturday and at Lawson Market on the 3rd Sunday of each month. It’s enough for him given he goes without sleep the whole night before a market day to bake his batches. At least he’d be warm near the ovens.

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