Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An easter break in the Central West - Part 2

Easter Saturday. Today we had planned to pick up some sausages from the butcher in Rylstone for a bbq at Dunn's Swamp tomorrow. Their sausages are a bit of a legend. We had not planned for them to be closed the whole weekend so that throws a major spanner into the works. Never mind we'll head back on up to Mudgee where we want to do some gourmet sampling in any case.
Breakfast at Bizzy Birds in Rylstone is delicious. Most opt for various melts and similar which we all sample. They are a superior version and all enjoy them. Hubby goes for a big breakfast - which includes some very nice sausages, so at least we don't miss the Rylstone sausages altogether... I go for buttermilk pikelets with real maple syrup and fresh fruit and yoghurt which was very light and fresh and delicious. No wonder Bizzy Birds has such a good reputation. They are also beginning a collection of celebrity signatures posted up on the walls. Which makes a bit of (brief) entertaining reading.
The only frustration this morning is knowing that today is the only day over the weekend that the wood fired bakery will be open so opting for Bizzy Birds brekky means we'll miss the yummy pasties at the bakery. They are well above average for a pastie in our opinion with mashed potato providing a much tastier base for the filling than the typical cubes of potatoe.... unfortunately I forget to pick up some bread instead which I later regret....
Delightfully sated we continue the browsing we commenced before breakfast. Daughter and I at the well above average Anglicare shop. I pick up a few cheap books a volume of Somerset Maugham's short stories $1 , a James Dobson child discipline title 20 cents (worth collecting... you need to ignore some of his evangelical christian comments at times but overall he's a very lucid teacher on child discipline issues...) and a Ngaio Marsh 20 cents ... and later a Tim Winton $4.. I'm curious to find out whether I just don't like Tim Winton's writing or if it is just the bleakness of Cloudstreet that leaves me completely cold.... after brekky Waratah has opened and I pick up A Far Country by Neville Shute an author I've had on my "must read one day" list for some time. I am strong and resist the nice pearlescent wine glasses for $35... Finally we fill up the car at Price's petrol station and retrace our steps of the previous day... elder son at the wheel for the last few required learner hours....
Mudgee this morning is absolute bedlam. Reeaally croweded. Traffic very heavy. We're pretty late again today and the farmer's market is starting to look a bit thin. We head straight for Honey Haven for mead tasting and putt putt golf. All enjoy the mead, but it's a bit wasted on me with my cold I can't really taste the flavour very well. Same with the honey. Strange as I noticed no problem at breakfast.. we spend up on some mead, liqueur and the pollen infused bee power product... then fork over the dollars to hire clubs and balls for putt putt golf. The course is pretty rough and infested with autumn leaves on the greens but that hardly matters with putt putt and a great time is had by all with much merriment and victory leaps of varying height as the round progresses. We even have son-in-law achieve a hole in one!! No easy feat on these holes that's for sure.
The putt putt has consumed quite a time and we opt rather than stop immediately for lunch we will proceed to the Cassilis road for some cheese tasting. First stop is High Valley Wine and Cheese Company. The car park is overflowing. Plenty of people out and about today that's for sure. We manage to find parking spots, being in two cars today, and wander in. We're not really interested in the wine or the cafe, we go straight for the cheese tasting counter, seems we are not alone in that this counter is pretty busy. They have a range of fetta's in various flavoured oils, tomato, pesto and the like. Some caerphilly, some Jannei Goats cheese, ashed and not.. and we set about tasting. The service was woeful. Rude and impatient. ..and they were actually giving tastings of unripened brie!!! Unripened!! what is the point of that I ask you? No respect for the quality of their own product is the only conclusion you can draw. With the fettas the girl was making a point of mushing the cheese up with the oils before scooping it up on the tasting stick, so what you got was a fairly horrid mush with no real ability to taste the cheese itself which we thought was pretty poor. I was still having some issues with my cold so after tasting a couple of things, I left daughters with instructions to get me some caerphilly and to make their own final selections..and to make room for others at the counter.. the serving girl seemed to interpret that amiss and actually said to my daughter "do you actually want to buy anything?" Really we should have told her where to stick it and just left right there, but both daughters love ashed goats cheese and they liked the one on sale.. of course they were highly amused to find that it was not a High Valley product but one from a well reputed goat dairy in the Blue Mountains.... and I was conscious of the need for food for a ploughmans lunch next day and have little experience with caerphilly so we just paid the money and got out of there.... and I'm getting my revenge here aren't I.. I will also send the company an email or something with some feedback. .. of course I've no real idea whether their caerphilly was really any good. It was ok, but nothing to travel miles for in our opinion. We won't be going back. That's something I tend to find in the big wine areas. Maybe it's because the clientelle arrive with an attitude to buy something and the service can be very arrogant. ..
Next stop Leaning Oak sheeps and goat cheese dairy up the road a bit. We muck around missing the entrance a couple of times which causes amusement and an interesting drive down a back road which was pleasant. We are the only people here on arrival. They seem to be quite new and just getting really established. The large tasting room has a big deck overlooking what will be a very pleasant large farm dam with reeds bordering the edges. The service here is the opposite to the harried rudeness at High Valley. Friendly and welcoming. There are a few Leaning Oak wines for tasting, but no offense is taken when we explain we really only like sickeningly sweet dessert wines.. but we make a bee line for the cheese and enjoy tasting the other products they carry. A bit disappointing they don't have any sheep's milk products on today. But we enjoy the goats milk fetta in pesto oil and grab one of those. No hint of goatiness about it which I understand indicates they've used ultra fresh milk. They also have native flavoured oils and balsamic and dukkah. We buy some lemon myrtle macadamia oil, and lemon myrtle infused balsamic and one of the dukkahs - lemon myrtle macadamia dukkah which was absolutely delicious. Hard to go past oils, good dukkah and bread with a ploughman's lunch.
There's an interesting gourmet butchery advertised in the tourist material, but we find it's location only to discover it is closed. But Coles is open until 10 pm so we have a back up option if we get desperate. Next stop we head for the gourmet outlet at the old railway station. This sounds great in the tourist rag, but we found it a bit disappointing and the service just terrible. Elder daughter was quite outraged at the pitiful neglect of an obvious opportunity to sell us stacks of stuff. I mean it was quite plain we'd come with the intention of buying. Younger daughter wanted to try a pesto tapenade but found it was mouldy on top. She brought it to the attention of the staff person who just took it from her and did nothing. It was obvious daughter really wanted to try it, but staff couldn't have cared less. Never said a word to us really. The mustards seemed a bit old and unpalatable. The range of hazlenuts didn't seem too fresh either. We bought some sandwich cucumbers and some roast capsicum and coriander tapenade. They have nothing that requires refrigeration, so no meats or local cheeses or other things available which surprised me given the way they promote themselves. Very disappointing and a wasted opportunity for cross promotion for a range of outlets in the district it seemed to me. On leaving daughter was pretty annoyed with the service here, if it had been one of her staff and she became aware of such an attitude they would have got a formal warning... very bad for business.. so, ultimately we're back to Coles and the bakery opposite to get the balance of our requirements for our ploughman's lunch. Salami, fruit and so on. We make a few off the cuff (and optomistic) enquiries for dinner as it's about 5:30 - 6pm but everywhere is fully booked. No worries, we head on back to Rylstone pretty disenchanted with Mudgee overall given our bad service experiences.. but we have our dinner at the Shed in Rylstone which as usual is very good and we all enjoy our meals. Especially the malted milkshakes which are truly superior. The meals at the shed are very large and represent very good value. Elder daughter is new to Rylstone and she's amazed at how excellent her prawn cutlet dinner is. .... we head back to our rooms for an evening of playing cards. Hubby and I are taught a game called "shitkicker" by the kids and a great time is had by all.
..incidentally we're still eating one of the loaves of bread we picked up at the (vietnamese?) hot bread shop in Mudgee.. that's four days later and it is still soft and delicious.... I'm impressed!! Also we opted to get some KFC for extra food for tomorrow, we have at least two picnic meals and options are in short supply. We found Mudgee KFC to be as good as the one in Lithgow, which we have always found outstanding. Mudgee KFC even has excellent chips - an aspect that most KFC outlets just don't do properly. The chicken itself was beautifully cooked... well above average!

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