Never too many Bilpin mountain apples.
It's nearly the end of the fruit picking season. Most orchards on the Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail are either closed or allow fruit picking by appointment only. So, we are lucky to be welcomed into Shields Orchard (2270 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin) despite a large "No pick your own fruit today" at the door.
Entertain yourselves with unlimited fruit picking here. Our favourites are the two large persimmon trees that are blessed with abundance of fruits. Owner Bill also explains that the persimmons are of the Fuyu variety, which is less sweet than the Fuji one most of us are used to.
There are rows and rows of green and red apples with plenty of fruits left. Makes me wonder why the apple tree in my backyard only has one apple. Well, at least there's one this year, which is an infinite improvement on the year before.
Sassafras Creek Food and Design (83, Old Bells Line of Rd, Kurrajong Village) is no 12 on the Hawkesbury Farm Gate Trail. It's a 3-in-1 - a restaurant, homeware shop and art gallery combined into one. Their menu is Modern Australian, which could be anything and everything nowadays. It's such an overused term, isn't it? What does it mean anyway?
There are eight dishes on the lunch menu, ranging between $19 and $24. Mr foodwink orders the pork fillet char grilled with black pepper and fresh thyme served with kumera mash, saute English spinach and plum and cinnamon ketchup ($24). I quite like the kumera mash. Perhaps that's because there is nothing much to eat on my plate. See proof below.
This is my plate of pan seared scallops on avocado cream with cucumber ribbons, watercress and lemon dressing ($22). It is sub-optimal. The scallops do not meet the International Masterchef Standards of caramelisation. And I'm still quite hungry after having this dish.
We head off to Enniskillen Orchard (753 Gross Vale Rd, Gross Vale) after lunch. There's no pick your own fruit here, only a shop selling a wide range of local produce like jams, fruits and vegetables.
The gorgeous Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens in our last stop of the day. No words can express the beauty of this place, so I'll just leave you with some of my favourite snaps.
beginning and end
centre of attraction
we've been here
right here waiting