Biota and Eshalot awarded hats in the 2013 Good Good Guide


My taste buds always get excited when The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide comes out. The 2013 list has just been released this week with Biota Dining (Bowral) receiving two hats and Eschalot (Berrima) receiving one hat. Biota also received an award for sustainability.

The Good Food Guide reviewers also dished on their favourite finds, with two mentions for the Southern Highlands.

Longest drive for great French food

To Berrima for Eschalot’s parisienne gnocchi made on choux pastry dough sauced with beurre noisette.

Most surprising (and best regional, for me)

”Lon” John Dory and steamed pandanus leaf with lime-flavoured tapioca jelly at Classical Thai Cravings, Mittagong.

Sadly, Classical Thai Cravings closed its doors suddenly a few months ago, with the owners returning to Thailand for family reasons. It was a regular favourite of mine.


Kids now flocking to Berrima’s new playground


If you haven’t yet visited the new playground in Berrima – you MUST!

A friend mentioned to me that it was great, so I had to check it out and now my kids are hooked. Complete with a great flying fox, bucket swing that will fit four kids comfortably on it, as well as a fabulous fortress with spiral slippery slide, bridges, plenty of things to climb on, fireman’s pole and lots more.

There are a few picnic tables and toilets nearby, with plenty of grass to have a picnic.

Finally our playgrounds are getting a makeover!

Berrima’s Eschalot – sadly didn’t live up to high expectations


After hearing so many wonderful things about Eschalot in Berrima and waiting over two years to eat there, my husband and I finally dined there last Friday night for our 6th wedding anniversary.

Sadly though we were rather disappointed, as we had such high expectations. The food was “nice” but not “wow”. With the built up expectation and the price tag, we were expecting “wow”.

Perhaps it was an off night or the head chef not there, who knows? My parents eat there often and were also disappointed that our experience hadn’t matched theirs as they love it there.

On paper the food lived up to expectations, with lobster, seared scollops, foie gras and the like on the menu to tempt the taste buds. Presentation wise the food looked amazing, but each dish lacked flavour and punch. As I said, it was nice but nothing special. We have eaten at many fine dining restaurants in Sydney and were expecting a similar quality.

The creme brulee was amazing though – yummo! It was certainly the highlight for me and won my heart.

The waiters were lovely and very attentive. Of course you can’t beat the venue in an old sandstone cottage in the heart of historic Berrima.

It is also BYO Wednesday-Friday – always a plus for the cost conscious!

I am glad I can now tick it off my dining list, but unfortunately it won’t be one restaurant we will be rushing back to. Please don’t let it deter you though as it may have just been an off night. It does have all the makings to be a top restaurant, just not the night we visited.

Autumn is in full glory!


For anyone wondering when is a good time to visit the Southern Highlands, the answer is now with autumn in its full glory!

Shades of red, orange and yellow everywhere is simply stunning …… mix it with beautiful warm days and the Highlands is the place to be! OK so the mornings and evenings are getting a tad cooler hinting winter is on its way, but don’t let that stop you!

It just reminds me of why we moved down here – it doesn’t get much better than this. Well there is spring, which is also amazing, but time to focus on autumn!

So what are you waiting for – come and visit!

Berrima hosts another fabulous Australia Day


This Australia Day marks a year (+2 days) since we moved to the Southern Highlands and the second year we have ventured into Berrima to celebrate Australia Day. After spending many Australia Days on and around Sydney Harbour, it was great to see how a real community gathers together to celebrate.

Citizenship and Australia Day honour ceremonies in the Court House kicked off festivities, celebrating the new and outstanding members within our community.

The grand parade transformed the main street through Berrima into a centre stage for the local community to show off its best – marching bands, vintage car clubs, rural fire service among other groups marched proudly. Berrima’s Australia Day celebrations certainly know how to gather patriotic crowds.

Other activities kept the crowds fed and entertained all day, with many food and market stalls, music by the Correction Services band and my son’s favourite – the animal barnyard.

With temperatures rising to the mid-30s, water and shade were in demand!

A great day was had by all, with many heading to the Surveyor General to celebrate with a nice cold beer or three in true Australia Day style.

Happy Australia Day!

Sweet tooth’s must head to Lolly Swagman!


If you have a sweet tooth, then there is only one place for you in the Highlands – The Lolly Swagman in Berrima. With good old fashioned lollies lining the shelves, the hardest decision is what to have.

Lollies range from hard boiled treats to sour coke bottles to snakes. You name it, they have it! The shop also stocks international treats, fudge and chocolate as well. A complete sweet tooth package!

You can either buy in little packages or fill your own.

My addiction lies with the range of bons bons they sell – the lemon and the toffee varieties can’t be missed. My husband got me onto them and I haven’t looked back. Not sure my next trip to the dentist will be favourable though!!

I’ve also discovered you don’t venture into Berrima on a 42 degree day. But if you do, the only place to get a break from the scorching heat is the Lolly Swagman. They have the best air con in Berrima ……… to keep the chocolate from melting of course!! Now that’s something you won’t read in the tourist brochures!

Southern Highlands Friends Tour


With many people coming to visit us in the past six months, we have a little tour trail we like to take first time visitors on to show off the food, wine and sites of the region. Of course, it is adapted based on their interests, but wanted to share our little trail for a day visit.

  1. Lunch at Briars
  2. Visit to historic Berrima – especially to the lolly shop (the lemon and toffee bon bons are to die for …… not together of course!!)
  3. Drop in to Berkelouw’s Book Barn just out of Berrima
  4. Sample some wines at Centennial Vineyard.

That’s just about enough activity for one day!

For people coming for the weekend, depending on what floats their boat, we venture a little further with some great trips:

  1. Drive out along Range Road and Tourist Drive to Illawarra Fly
  2. Visit the famous Robertson Pie Shop while we’re out there!
  3. ….or keep going further to the beach in Kiama
  4. A nice trip to the picturesque Burrawang Village Hotel on a lovely sunny day
  5. Walk up Mt Alexandra to 40 or 60 foot falls
  6. Brunch at Elephant Boy Cafe in Bowral

There are probably plenty of other places in the area we can take them, but we are still learning the area and playing tourists ourselves. Give us another six months!! ;0)

Illawarra Fly