Peach Picking and Pies at Bilpin

Millions of peaches, peaches for me
Millions of peaches, peaches for free!

Ok, so they’re not exactly free but they were for me! I’ve been wanting to go fruit picking for a long time, so the summer break seemed to be the perfect time to do it since my favourite stonefruit, peaches, were in season. We looked up some fruit picking places on the interwebs and the ones in Bilpin seemed to be the closest to us, so Sir D and I road tripped it out one sunny weekend.

The drive took us about an hour and 15 minutes (via M2 and M7) and by the time we got there, we were feeling peckish. On the way to the orchards, we stopped by this Pie in the Sky roadhouse on Bells Line of Road. I’m not sure if it’s affiliated with Pie in the Sky in Cowan but it was a similar set up. You can park your car pretty much anywhere around the little shed that houses the pie shop and head in to select your pies and drinks from the counter.

Steak and mushroom pie – $5

There’s a selection of savoury pies that are mainly chicken- or beef-based, and they’re all made in-house. We chose a steak and mushroom pie from the warmer which had a delicious flaky, buttery puff pastry on top and a thick gravy with tender beef cubes inside.

Apple pie with ice cream – $4.50
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Jones the Grocer, Sydney

Although it was a sad day when Becasse and Quarter Twenty One closed in Westfield Sydney, I was also excited to see what was going to open up there. One day I walked past and Jones the Grocer had popped up in the space, and it was a bakery, a food store and restaurant all rolled into one.

Angel hair pasta with blue swimmer crab, chilli, rocket, garlic and grana padano – $19

Sir D and I had dinner there one quiet weeknight and we were seated near the windows which looked down onto the Pitt St pedestrian walkway and into the windows of the Virgin Active gym. It almost made me feel a little guilty eating our entrees while people were boxercising vigorously next door, but once we dug into our meals I was pretty sure we had the better deal.

Barbecued free-range quail with spinach and apple salad and bois boudran sauce – $21
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Marukame Udon, Chatswood

Making udon noodles in the window

It’s a new year, so it seemed only fitting to check out a new restaurant to kickstart the blog this year! You can’t miss Marukame Udon on Victoria Street in Chatswood, as at any given time there will be people crowded around the glass storefront, checking out the new restaurant and watching the chefs make the noodles right in front of you.

Menu

You can also ogle at the menu before you go in, and it’s probably best that you do because once you join the line, the ordering station is not too far inside. There’s lots of different udon options as well as rice bowls. Select your noodles, size and hot or cold, and move down the canteen-style line until a friendly staff member takes your order. Within minutes they will be weigh out your portion of noodles, place them in a bowl, ladle over the sauce or soup and your noodles will be on your tray, ready to go.

Inari sushi and other tempura additions

But don’t go rushing off yet, because there’s tasty extras to be had! Marukame offers a selection of tempura, including chicken, fish, prawns, vegetables and pork katsu. There’s also some inari sushi (rice stuffed inside a sweet tofu pocket), and iced green tea. Once you get the end of the line, a staff member will calculate the cost of the items on your tray, before you pay and go off to add even more things to your noodles, like chopped shallots and crunchy tempura bits.

Tsuke udon with wasabi (large) – $6.90 (left); Tempura white fish – $2.40 and Tempura vegetable – $1.90 (right)

The tsuke udon is a cold noodle option which comes with a small bowl of broth on the side for dipping the noodles into. A small dish containing a wasabi paste sits on top of the bowl of broth for some added heat. The tempura white fish is fried well, with a crunchy batter but succulent flesh inside. The tempura vegetables, or kakiage, is a wonderful mess of shredded carrot, onion, corn and other vegies deep fried in a light batter.

Kamaage udon (regular) – $5.90
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