I'm SO SO lucky to have such a great relationship with my almost-in-laws Rosie and George. I often hear horror stories about mothers-in-law constantly criticising, and fathers-in-law being crude and awkward and inappropriate, and am so relieved that Stephen's parents are nothing like that when it comes to me. I was especially nervous when Stephen first introduced me to them, thinking that they would probably find me too odd or loud or young (I had just turned 17), but they took all that into their stride and accepted me straight away, and now we have an awesome rapport.
[Mind you, it took a whole lot longer for my parents to accept Stephen, and I'm pretty sure Stephen was way more nervous when my dad rocked up the driveway first time they met, blasting this song at full volume - my dad is evil!]
Stephen's parents took me to Berrima a couple of weeks ago because I've been wanting to go for ages, and Stephen would never get off his arse and take me (I don't drive, k?). It's halfway between Sydney and the black hole that is Canberra, and about an hour and a half from where I live. When we coast into this sleepy little town, we find parking just off the Old Hume Highway, strap on the boots that are made for walking, and start exploring this village.
The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop was our first stop, and when I entered, a very uncouth "Holy S**t!" escaped me, much to the delight of the shop owners.
This place is AMAZING. The decor sort of reminds me of an apothacry, except instead of eye of newt and tongue of dog, there are jars of delicious jams, honeys and chutneys lining the walls.
There were other stores to explore, and we were still trying to get through all the jam that we bought at Bilpin, so I only bought some Tasmanian Prickly Box honey (insert inappropriate joke here), a honey and ginger spread, truffle infused evo oil, and a couple of varieties of Fernleigh Australian Gourmet Coffee that Stephen and I have been searching for since trying it a couple of years ago. Score!
Our next stop was to Mrs. Oldbuck's Pantry, a store that boasts over 100 types of tea and 200 types of preserves (and I'm starting to feel like all people do here is eat jam and scones and drink tea and coffee...).
As I eyed the various teapots with rabid covetousness, Rosie bought a few samples of their chai tea mixes for Stephen, including Dheli, Punjabi and Marsala. Instead of buying more tea, I visited the other section of the shop that sells preserves, honey, and other products that come in jars:
With all the walking we had done so far we were ravenous, so we stopped at The Gumnut Patisserie for some of their famous pies.
The inside of the cafe was a bit dark and gloomy, but then again the weather wasn't too crash hot. We found a table right up the front, but it hadn't been cleared from the previous diners (and wasn't cleared until our orders came later). We looked over the menu board and chose a pie and coffee each, then waited for them to be brought to us.
George had the steak and kidney pie. Although the pie looked a tad burned on the top, the crust was flaky and messy, and there was just the right amount of peppery gravy. The beef was succulent and tender, and the flavour was made bolder and richer with the addition of kidney.
Rosie gave the Roast Vegetable Pie a go, and whilst it looks a bit dry and wilted on the top, the inside was chock-full of tasty roasted pumpkin and potato. The pastry wasn't quite as good as George's, but then it didn't have a lovely pastry top.
My Chicken and Leek pie was a winner, the flaky, crunchy pastry concealing tender, juicy chicken pieces and a creamy sauce flavoured with leek and onion.
The coffees came out after our pies, accompanied by little Easter-themed meringues. The coffee was made quite strong, and gave us the boost we needed to continue our adventure.
[There were no prices listed in the patisserie, and no receipts, but the entire order was $27.50]
Our last stop was what I had been waiting for the entire day, simply because of the name of the establishment - Lolly Swagman.
Here was a veritable treasure trove of any lolly, sweet, or candy you could imagine. They had jars full of musk sticks, lolly pop trees, stacks of home made fudge, and even some sweets from America.
My first instinct was to grab a basket and start filling it, but then my adult side won out with the argument "could you at least wait until you get health cover to start destroying your teeth?". I bought a demure Zombie Chew (who remembers those?!) because I haven't had one since high school, then walked out of the shop, looking back with a longing sigh.
Berrima contains not only these wonderful foodie destinations, but also a fair few stores selling clothes and beautiful antiques. There's a little something for everyone, and the drive is definitely worth it.
The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop
1/9 Old Hume Highway
Phone: (02) 4877 1404
Fax: (02) 4877 1086
Mrs. Oldbuck's Pantry
Shop 4 Oldbucks Corner,
Old Hume Highway,
Phone: 1800 440 144, (02) 4877 1489
Fax: (02) 4877 2630
Post Office Corner
Phone: (02) 4877 2177
Old Hume Highway
Phone: (02) 4877 1137