Avenue 16 Septembre 1947, Tende, France
Continuing our driving journey through Europe, we found ourselves passing through the lovely Parc National du Mercantour, hugging the Italian border in the south-east corner of France. We stopped at the small village of Tende, deep in the heart of the park, for a few hours to look at the museum, which houses displays of stone age people who lived in the region thousands of years ago, as well as to have a walk around and to get some lunch.
After sightseeing for a while, it was time to eat. Not much was open, but we found a cafe called La Merenda on the main street running through the village. It looked a little run down and not particularly promising in the food stakes, but there wasn’t much choice. They did have some quiches and a tart des legumes, but also in a small sweet pastry section there were lurking a few mille-feuilles, the French version of the humble vanilla slice. Well, this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Continue reading La Merenda, Tende
123 Fern St, Gerringong, New South Wales
Gerringong is a small town nestled on the coast a couple of hours south of Sydney. The town spills down a steep hill to a picturesque beach surrounded by grassy headlands. It’s one of those tidy little towns close enough yet far enough from a major city to turn into a haven for day trippers, and thus end up with a main street full of trendy antique shops and rustic country home goods, but so far this transition seems to be only partly complete.
There are still some typical country town establishments, one of them being the local bakery and cafe, which goes by the original and creative name of the Gerringong Bakery and Cafe. It occupies a recently repainted brick building in the middle of the main strip, which looks very neat and modern from the outside. Inside, it’s clean, with modern fittings, but the building has have obviously been there considerably longer than the most recent paint job. The bakery holds a very typical selection of bread loaves and buns, as well as counter displays of various traditional Aussie treats: Neenish tarts, custard tarts, Anzac biscuits, meringues, apple slices, and also not one, but two lookalike items named after branded trademark names: wagon wheels and (giant sized) iced vovos.
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1003 Pittwater Road, Collaroy, New South Wales
This place is a local institution. It’s been nestled in the same spot in a conspicuous green and yellow building on the side of Pittwater Road, amidst a row of residential houses, for as long as I can remember. On weekends people pull up to park out the front in a continual stream, dash inside to grab a bag of hot pies, and then leave to let the next car grab a spot. Some people linger and eat on the sparse pair of aluminium tables out the front, or sitting on the wooden benches in front of an adjacent house. In the couple of hours around lunch time, there is usually a queue stretching out the door.
The somewhat run down building is decorated with numerous stickers and plaques indicating the numerous pie competitions that the eponymous Sylvia and Fran have won with their recipes. They have a selection of 30-40 different pies, with fillings ranging from the traditional plain minced beef, through chunky steak, to middle of the road combinations such as steak and potato, steak and mushroom, and steak and kidney. Then they stretch into more exotic flavours such as Mexican beef; lamb and rosemary; satay chicken; Thai chicken curry; beef stroganoff; and their multi-award winning chicken, avocado, and brie pie. There are sausage rolls too, in regular and cheese and bacon varieties. Vegetarians are definitely not left wanting either, with a selection including roast vegetable; Thai vegetable curry; Mexican vegetarian; spinach and feta; and potato, pumpkin, and sour cream pies – which are delicious enough to tempt even carnivores.
Continue reading Sylvia & Fran’s The Upper Crust, Collaroy
5/450-476 Miller St, Cammeray, New South Wales
This is one of two stores for the small baking and catering company started by the eponymous Simmone. It’s a trendy upmarket cafe with plenty of mouth-watering goodies, including gourmet salads, savoury pastries, quiches, fancy sandwiches, cakes, tarts, slices, and so on. They also apparently do a dinner service with full cooked meals in the evenings.
But I’m here for the sausage roll and vanilla slice. I order them to eat in on one of the chunky rustic wooden tables that looks like you could butcher a side of beef on it. The sausage rolls (as well as the pies) are not kept hot – they are more designed for people to pick up on the way home and reheat at home. But they are happy to heat one up for eating in. While I wait for my order, I admire the country kitchen decorations, including a large set of bookshelves overflowing with well-thumbed recipe books, and vintage French vegetable and flower seed packets in cutesy frames hanging on the wall. It seems these are for sale.
Continue reading Simmone Logue, Cammeray