Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers Market

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“Grab a bacon and egg roll, team it with a freshly brewed coffee, and listen to local musicians play as you browse the great range of stalls. Chat to our specialist food producers before selecting some great produce to take home. All products sold have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholders themselves.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself…this is how they plug the Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers Market on their website and ain’t it the truth.

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I bit of prior research into what I should get up to on my Easter long weekend holiday at Mudgee led me to Mudgee Farmers Markets. Held on every third Saturday of the month I was right on time too. This post best speaks for itself through pictures so you can really experience the vibe of these markets. I’ll give you a heads up though – this market gets really (enjoyably) busy, wear some comfortably shoes, bring a bag to pack all your goodies in, apply some sunscreen if it’s hot, and don’t be afraid to strike up some conversation with the locals.

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Some of the fabulous products and produce you’ll find at the markets:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Eggs, honey, cheese, olives, nuts
  • Wine and wine tasting, oils, jams, cordial, lemonade, nuts, dips, salad dressings
  • Savoury goods hot off the press – lamb and gravy rolls, sausage rolls, pies, coffee
  • Sweet indulgence – macarons, hot cross buns, biscuits and other sweet treats
  • Arts and crafts, hats, dolls, earrings, cushions
  • Local puppies and dogs getting some fresh air and sunshine! (shown off by their owners. No, not for sale)
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Can’t really remember what this was now…A delicious melt-in-the-mouth vanilla lattice slice from memory! Anyway, my expression tells me it was nice.

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Mixing it with the locals over the jam basket

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Rocky road macaron…and above the nutella…very satisfied!

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Hot cross bun macarons – seasonally fitting and adorable!

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Local tunes

Local tunes

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Brilliant local market direct to you from the producers. A must in Mudgee.

Mudgee Fine Foods Farmers Market

St Mary’s Catholic Church (corner of Church and Market Streets)

Third Saturday of every month: 8.30am-12.30pm

Markets are always on – come rain, hail or shine. Market will be held in the hall if it’s wet.

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Alby & Esthers

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After a thoroughly filling and exhausting morning sampling local delights at the Mudgee Fine Foods Farmer’s Market (I think the entire 10,000-strong population* of Mudgee was there that morning), it was time to scope around town for a bite to eat for lunch. Walking through the main town centre of Mudgee we spotted many cute cafes that could easily round off our delightful morning and continue our Easter long weekend – Butcher Shop Café (a café, not actually a butchery despite the name), Market Street Café (a French café/restaurant) or Di Lusso Estate (a winery/restaurant located in the main wine region of Mudgee). Alby & Esthers popped out to us mainly because of the intriguing exterior décor. The café/wine bar (did I mention it’s also a wine bar?!) is set down a dark, mysterious little alleyway and opens up into an impressive cobblestone courtyard. Serious cuteness.

A bit of research further and the obligatory Facebook search told us that this was a relatively new establishment in Mudgee town (operating since September 2013 according to our trusty friend Facebook) and by its popularity it seems to have had no troubled getting off the ground.

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After entering in and having a little peer into what exactly was at the end of this alleyway we were seated down and waited a bit for the menus to arrive. We chose a two-seated table within their narrower courtyard area. The area is split up between a smaller, darkly lit indoor area (with tables, the kitchen and service counter) and a larger outdoor area with space for large groups or couples. Seating was ample, though I would definitely recommend booking ahead on public holidays/weekends as it was at fairly full capacity by midday when we showed up. Note also that the café closes at 3pm on Saturday, but re-opens at 5pm, so you might have to re-think the late Saturday lunch if you had your hopes on this. Be warned too, it does get a bit chilli with the autumn Mudgee wind blowing through. My knitted jumper and scarf were definitely appreciated. Ample shade is also provided by the gorgeous overhead leaves which took some of the harshness off the bright sun. All that being said, it is a lovely space and we weren’t bothered by any of its outdoorsy-ness.

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The menu was a touch different to the one available online. However, as disclaimed, on their website “This menu is probably outdated by the time you read it, as we are big on taking natures produce dictated by the seasons.” So there you go!

The menu looked very appetizing and I was fairly disappointed that it was my last day in Mudgee. Everything looked very fresh and local with a special Alby & Esthers twist. As a bit of a breakfast fan myself although it was well into lunch time (muesli geek alert), I settled on the $12 farmer joe muesli with stewed local fruit, fresh milk and natural yoghurt (probably a staple item on the menu, but the fruit is definitely seasonal). After tossing up between the reuben sandwich ($18) and the hunza pie ($15), Big Bear settled on the hunza pie as the description was a winner. Fair to say though we had no idea what a hunza pie was! A bit of googling informed us it was a vegetarian pie with a main base of spinach and cheese and a few extra goodies thrown in. This was paired up with a long black and regular full cream latte (to lessen the outdoorsy chill!)

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Farmer joe muesli and stewed local fruit ($12)

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Our coffees and food arrived promptly. The muesli looked delectable – toasted with green pepitas, dried flaked fruit and whole almonds. This was served with sour natural yoghurt in the same bowl, and a very tart but delicious fruit compote – chunky, halved fruit of what I think was peach and apricot. A generous amount of milk was provided on the side (typically better than the occasionally lacking side of milk that can happen at other places, but, having said that, I’m guessing milk alternatives have to be requested). The flavours were balanced well. I didn’t feel like I was eating a heap of sugary muesli and sweet yoghurt for breakfast/brunch/lunch – again, can happen at other places. I am now wondering who this amazing farmer joe is….The long black was perfectly rich and warm.

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Hunza pie ($15)

Big Bear’s slice of hunza pie, as described by the menu, was made of brown rice, spinach and three different types of cheese, served with a side of baby spinach and relish. Overall, the pie was nice with a good combination of elements. The cheese blended well with the rice and the spinach with the tomato-based relish providing a nice tangy and spicy element to the dish. Big Bear was a bit underwhelmed, however, about the portion size which wasn’t remarkably sizeable for $15. The coffee was also quite nice too.

The service, whilst a touch slow to begin with, was very hospitable and pleasant. Forgiveness is given because of the very busy Easter weekend.

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Fig tart

Following up we thought to sample some of the homemade treats. Big Bear popped into the interior area to enquire about what was on the menu, then asked the waitress if she could come out to recite them to me. After hearing about a lovecake, muffins and lemon lime tart amongst other sweet, the fig tart sounded delectable. The tart had all-round balanced flavours with a light almond meal texture and orange zest surprises. The fig could have shown off a little more though.

I’ll be very interested to sample some delights at the wine bar when I’m in town next!!

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Delicious muesli. Quaint. Courtyard and cobblestoned. Yes, this is Mudgee.

Alby & Esthers

61 Market Street, Mudgee, NSW, 2850

(02) 6372 1555

Mon-Thu: 8.00am – 4.00pm

Fri: 8.00am – 4.00pm, 5.00pm – 10.00pm

Sat: 8.00am – 3.00pm, 5.00pm – 10.00pm

bookings@albyandesthers.com.au

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* Source: Wikipedia. Correct me if I’m wrong!

Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins

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Coming to the end of a big work project and the arrival of a friend’s birthday calls for some delicious celebratory orange poppy seed muffins. I seriously love the combination of orange and poppy seed together, or lemon and poppy seed for that matter, and it had definitely been a while. These I picked up from a nifty little book I had sitting on the shelf aptly titled Cupcakes: a fine selection of sweet treats. As often enjoyed, this super simple recipe is virtually a two-step process and baking time required is next to none.

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Ingredients

The batter

  • 40g poppy seeds, plus extra for decoration
  • 125 mL warm milk
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 185g self-raising flour, sifted

The icing

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Essential kitchen items

  • Hand held electric beater
  • Muffin tray/s to hold 15 muffins

Makes 15

Method

The batter

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tray with your favourite muffin liners. Give the milk about 20 seconds in the microwave to warm up. Then combine the poppy seeds and milk together in a bowl, give it a stir, and set aside to gel up.

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Place the softened butter, zest, caster sugar, eggs, flour and poppy seed mixture (after about 15 minutes of rest) in a large bowl. Beat (with a hand held beater) on slow speed until everything is combined, then beat on high for a few minutes until thick, pale and creamy.

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Nearly done! Divide the mixture between your muffin cases and bake for 15 minutes. Test with a skewer or knife after this time to check if they’re ready. When they’re done pop out onto a wire rack to cool.

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Going in…

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…coming out!

The icing

Place the butter, icing sugar and zest into a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy and the graininess of the icing sugar has dissolved. Spread onto the cupcakes once cool and decorate as you please – I used some orange zest, poppy seeds and silver cachous.

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I can’t stress enough how good the citrus is in these muffins. It simply cuts through and will put a lot of other muffins to shame.

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High Valley Wine & Cheese Co.

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First stop on the long drive from the Blue Mountains to Mudgee – High Valley Wine & Cheese Co. According to their website, High Valley has been producing wine for the last 18 years and gourmet cheeses for the last decade. To be honest, the website looked pretty swish and the grazing plates on offer for lunch kind of grabbed me instantly. So naturally, I had to try it on my travels.

Located at the beginning of Mudgee wine country, just beyond the main town centre, the first impressions of High Valley are promising. Pulling up on a short gravel drive, parking is ample, although overflow can happen pretty quickly across the front and back lawns because it’s that popular.

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I came. I saw. I conversed with an emu!

Before we entered the (I’m gonna call it a barn) we were stopped by a yard full of animals. But not real animals, sculptural ones. The animals out the front were part of ‘Mudgee Zoo’, an initiative of Mudgee Underground. Now, someone will need to fill me in with more specific details, but Mudgee Underground seems to be the work of the cool kids of Mudgee showcasing the latest in Mudgee art and performance. I think we will get along very well Mudgee…..

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After taking happy snaps with the animals, we sauntered inside the barn for some food. The space is a food store meets takeaway goodies meets wine/cheese tasting area. So you can stop for lunch or a swig and nibble, or even a private wine and cheese tasting experience. We arrived a bit later in the day, around 2.00pm, and were invited to sit where we liked. Seating is split up between the indoor barn area and a large al fresco area on the back lawns. The al fresco dining area is lovely. A lot of their tables cater for big groups with some scatterings of smaller tables. After the long drive, we chose a table outside in the sunshine under one of their large shaded umbrellas.

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After having a thorough scan of the menu before our arrival, the stand out for me was the local antipasto grazing plate (shared amongst 2) described as including “two of our fabulous cheeses and a grand selection of house specialties.” Mm mm mmmm. The menu itself is very impressive and seems to capture a lot of local Mudgee delicacies. In addition to other cheese plates which showcase their wonderfully handmade cheeses, their menu is a lovely sampling of fresh local specialities including tarts, pies, salads and scones echoing their “philosophy of handmade throughout”. Breakfast, available on weekends and public holidays, is served until 11.00am, and consists of some traditional pickings such as muesli, bacon and eggs, and eggs benedict.

The wine list strictly showcases the High Valley wine range whilst the beer list includes some traditional favourites and local specialties. Their wines cover a good cross-section including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Gewurztraminer, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat, and are available as either a glass or bottle. Coffee and tea are reasonably priced and provided by Toby’s Estate.

Big Bear was after some kinda beer but had to settle on a latte instead as a back-up. Providing a warning up front always manages customer expectations is a good way to lessen the let down when something on the menu might not be available that particular day. More of a white drinker myself, I tried their Chardonnay. The drinks came out promptly. It’s their local, home grown wine, all positives here from me! And Big Bear said the coffee was nice too.

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Along with the drinks and share platter, we were asked by our waitress if we wanted some additional bread, which we agreed to. We were also allowed to select our own cheeses! With a bit of assistance we chose High Valley’s pesto feta (from the selection of pesto, olive, chili or tomato) and had a wedge of their…I think it was brie (from a selection of their award winning Caerphilly (cheddar), brie, rouge, stefan blue or colly blue) – great hospitality and knowledge of the range!

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And what a platter it was! Ok so my tastebuds aren’t skilled enough to tell you exactly what every component was but I’ll give it a crack!

  • Pumpkin and feta dip
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Fresh garden salad
  • Pate with gherkins
  • Terrine wrapped in bacon with beetroot relish

We also ordered extra bread on the side, but to be honest, that extra bread could have been a component of the dish itself because most elements did require some soft, spongy, crunchy bread to pile the deliciousness onto.

Once you’ve finished up dining you can check out the range of local goodies in the food store. Local artwork, canvas bags, clothing, cards, bags, tea towels, crockery, and of course more wine and cheese to take home with you.

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Regional, seasonal, cheesy and winey. What is truly expected in wine country.

High Valley Wine & Cheese Co.

Breakfast and Lunch (breakfast on weekends only)

137 Cassilis Rd, Mudgee, NSW, 2850

(02) 6372 1011

Mon-Fri: 10.00am – 5.00pm

Sat-Sun: 8.30am – 5.00pm (breakfast available 8.30am – 11.00am on weekends and public holidays)

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Pea and Fancy Ham Soup

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A gorgeous green pea and ‘fancy’ ham soup that is perfect for the winter days. This recipe I adapted from Donna Hay’s book Fast, Fresh, Simple. and have doubled in quantity to serve 4. It forms part of the ‘fresh’ component of the book – classic recipes that have been taken, transformed and injected with new life. The result is fresh, light, creamy and easy on the wallet. This dish can be made in under 30 minutes, but as usual, most of the leg work is in the preparation.

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Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (360g) frozen peas
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and grated (I used medium-sized sebago)
  • 2L (8 cups) vegetable or chicken stock (depending on your preference, I used vege stock)
  • ½ cup mint leaves (this is mostly for taste. I’m not a big mint fan so only used a few leaves)
  • 1 cup (250mL) single pouring cream
  • 1 cup defrosted peas (no need to microwave, just leave out to soften whilst cooking the soup)
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • Enough prosciutto for 4 (2 slices per person is perfect, so 8 slices in total)
  • Crusty bread or toast to serve

Serves 4

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Preparation

  1. Heat up a saucepan over medium heat, then add the oil and chopped onion and cook until soft.
  2. Add the frozen peas, potato and stock and bring to the boil, cooking for 6 minutes or until the peas are tender.
  3. Add in the mint, cream and a generous crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Once this is all combined, place the mixture into a blender and whizz until smooth (this might need to be done in a few batches).
  5. Once blitzed, return the soup to the saucepan.
  6. Preheat a grill on high heat and grill the prosciutto for 1 minute or until crispy.
  7. Ladle the soup into 4 bowls. Divide up the defrosted peas and sprinkle into each. I added this element to the recipe as I found it nicer to have some sort of ‘bite’ to the dish against the smooth creaminess.
  8. Break up 4 of the crispy prosciutto into pieces and sprinkle into each bowl leaving the other 4 whole to serve. Serve with bread and enjoy.

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Donna Hay – fast, fresh, simple.

Solitary Restaurant & Cafe

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Solitary Restaurant & Cafe. Our first stop on the long-awaited 4 day trip to the Blue Mountains and Mudgee. I found out about this place through some simple Google searches of must-try restaurants when you’re passing through the Mountains.

“Solitary strives to provide organic produce from the restaurants own extensive garden and the best possible local produce available seasonally.”

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I always love when a menu is available online. It gives me ample time to peruse and (roughly) decide on what I want to order before we arrive to our destination, otherwise I just get too overwhelmed when I can’t take in all the menu on the day. We decided to sample some items from the café menu (didn’t want to blow the budget completely on the first day with the more elaborate but equally spectacular restaurant menu!). And FYI, although the website says the restaurant is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday, this also applies to the café side of things. I found this out through emailing them earlier the week before and received a near instant, personalised email response of confirmation. Has this ever been heard of?! Dramas averted.

Getting to Solitary proved a little more difficult (despite the ‘GPS WARNING!’ on the website). It doesn’t help that I’m a terrible map reader/GPS follower even when I’m the passenger and not driving. Dramas increased. So hint: use Google maps, not Apple maps (according to expert Big Bear).

Their website claims to offer “one of the most fortunate sites in all the Mountains”. Can’t go wrong there… It overlooks Mount Solitary, Kings Tableland and the Jamison Valley. It also provides a gorgeous history of the happenings at Solitary before the Solitary arrived in 2000 – a worthwhile quick read if you’re interested.

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After arriving at the restaurant/café we were greeted and chose a seat outdoors to bask in the picture perfect beautiful weather that Leura put on show for us that day. Once you pull up to the parking lot and walk through the front gate you first walk to the back area where Solitary’s spectacular views greet you. Seating is split up between an outdoor area positioned to look out at the lawns and view and the indoor house/cottage area which is more formal and caters for weddings and functions too. A lovely, and I would say a pleasing-to-everyone, canapé and function menu is available online too with some prices (and bonus floor plan) included. Oh and you might want to check out the wine list while you’re there too. It’s very comprehensive but I’m predicting would also flatten my wallet fairly swiftly.

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We arrived just around midday and it was quiet and peaceful, not a heck of a lot of patrons there that early on a Wednesday. After sitting down we were provided with menus and a glass bottle of filtered water. We couldn’t sit down for long though, the views were too spectacular not to capture immediately. I settled on the vegetarian option of toasted sourdough, roasted eggplant, grilled haloumi, hummus, semi-dried tomato and spinach salad ($15). Big Bear/Mr. Can’t-get-enough-of-salmon chose the salmon croquettes, horseradish aioli, celeriac and red onion salad ($16). We didn’t want to indulge in dessert this time around (saving ourselves for the afternoon’s treats) so Big Bear got a full cream latte and I a lady grey tea with hazelnut and almond biscotti on the side ($6 package).

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Whilst snapping the cameras away feverishly like tourists in our own State, our tea, coffee and biscotti arrived. The lady grey was lovely with great flavouring and a generous scoop of tea leaves in a good size, easy pour teapot. Big Bear said the latte was not too hot, but very smooth and creamy and the coffee beans weren’t over roasted. The biscotti’s had a subtle lemon flavour with some scatterings of hazelnut throughout. They were however crunchy (very crunchy!).

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My ‘this is crunchy’ face

Meals were prompt as well. It’s safe to say my toasted sandwich was delish and elegantly presented. The filling was very juicy with the eggplant and haloumi working well together in their mushy texture. The sourdough was also nice and crunchy without the toasting of the bread going overboard. The hummus/semi-dried tomato spread combination was also really interesting and delightful with hints of turmeric providing a lovely spicy element to the sandwich. The haloumi was also not too salty or overpowering and worked well alongside the other ingredients. The side salad was a simple concoction of baby spinach with red onion and generous olive oil and balsamic dressing. Half way through the sandwich and salad I was pretty full though and had to give a good portion of the second half to Big Bear to gobble down.

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Toasted sourdough, roasted eggplant, grilled haloumi, hummus, semi-dried tomato and spinach salad ($15)

Big Bear said the salmon croquettes were by themselves a bit bland. However, the tanginess of the sauce which was very light with hints of horseradish matched the croquettes well and seemed to ignite the flavours in both. A little extra crunch from the breadcrumb coating would’ve lifted it higher as well. Both meals were very generous but achievable. The staff were also attentive throughout the afternoon.

Salmon croquettes, horseradish aioli, celeriac and red onion salad ($16)

Salmon croquettes, horseradish aioli, celeriac and red onion salad ($16)

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Cottage interior

Cottage interior

Wine bar

Drinks bar

I wish more Wednesdays were like this – a beautiful and picturesque beginning to the holidays.

Solitary Restaurant & Café 

90 Cliff Drive, Leura Falls, Blue Mountains, NSW, 2780

(02) 4782 1164

Lunch: Wednesday-Sunday, 11.00am-4.30pm

Dinner: Friday & Saturday from 6.30pm

Bookings and enquiries can be made online.

Functions can be booked at other times by arrangement.

Different trading hours may apply for public holidays so check the website or enquire beforehand.

Website

May reviews and Sydney Bookstore Crawl

May reviews

Hate is Such a Strong Word – Sarah Ayoub (2013)

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A compelling read about the struggles of high school, family, growing up, belonging and cultural identity (and working at Big W!). The novel centres around the musings of young Sophie Kazzi who attends a Catholic, Lebanese high school in Sydney’s South-West. Sophie finds it difficult to fit in, in every way imaginable, and constantly feels burdened by the pressures of her overly protective Lebanese father, unsupportive school friends, and the nasties of social media. Entering into year 12, Sophie is determined to make this the year she sheds her uncoolness and unpopularity.

The arrival of Shehadie Goldsmith to her school, however, doesn’t make thinks much easier on her. With an Australian father and a Lebanese mother, Shehadie himself feels a bit conflicted and a target within the school. Things are brought back home too when Sophie’s family becomes the centre of a police investigation.

Besides touching on these important themes, the novel also draws on some contemporary Australian race relations issues and brings to the fore the role of women in a society debating questions about women’s role at work and in the home. I was lucky enough to meet the author at a book signing at Dymocks (George Street, Sydney) and she stayed afterwards to talk more about her book and our theme of Friendship at one of our Read3r’z Re-Vu sessions earlier this year. She mentioned that one of her favourite books growing up was Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi, and you can definitely see the inspiration she has drawn from that book. This is a great quick book to read over a couple of days.

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The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

I genuinely enjoyed this book. I walked into Baz Luhrmann’s adapted production of The Great Gatsby last year with very little idea of what it was all about (I think I just saw a movie poster in the lead up to it) and then picked up the book afterwards from my local library. The movie is a good representation of the book, and incorporated some of its great lines, so it was nice to follow the book with the visuals from the movie in mind. I personally liked the movie as well, despite some mixed reviews, but it definitely does show off the ‘Baz’ flair so be prepared for that!

The story centres around the narrative of protagonist Nick Carraway, a young graduate who works as a bond salesman in New York. Despite the story revolving around his travels and insights after he rents a cottage in the village of West Egg on Long Island, we are mainly intrigued by the mysterious and covert millionaire who lives right next door to him and who each weekend throws extravagant parties for the town. Set in 1922, the themes in the book are lavish – excess, grandeur, alcohol, the 20s! Think flapper style – glitter, diamantes and gloves.

Nick gets caught up in the drama of finding out who this mystery man is – his past life, his women, his future plans, and ends up doubting everything he has come to know in his short life. The book deals with a vast range of subjects – relationships, betrayal, death, revenge – a great read!

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Dracula – Bram Stoker (1897)

A real vintage one for you now! This novel basically spawned every subsequent vampire book, movie, comic, you name it. So love it or hate it, this is when the character of the vampire was really thrusted onto modern audiences and again is experiencing another resurgence ala Twilight, The Vampire Academy etc.

My main association with this story is from the film Nosferatu, a 1922 German Expressionist film closely following the 1897 story of Dracula. There are large parallels between both, with some differences between plot and characters. Much of the beginning of the novel is a virtual mirror of the film. The film really brings to life the ethos of the novel – the creepy campness of the Count, the horrific confusion and despair of the characters (all in captions) – and if I was reading Dracula back in the day I would’ve thought it was seriously cool and imaginative.

As a swift summary, the Count currently residing in Transylvania, is seeking to move to England with the help of young solictor Jonathan Harker. Jonathan visits him to go through all the paperwork and is encouraged to stay in the Count’s castle for much longer than hoped and anticipated. He knows something is up and this starts spreading everywhere the Count goes affecting everything. This book is achieveable. I found the beginning most interesting, with the middle beginning to taper.

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (1719)

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Another seriously old novel. This time about a castaway whose thirst for voyaging the seas (and rejecting the world of studying law) leads the protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, to spend the next several decades washed up and confined to an island. The novel explores his triumphs and tragedies of hunting for food and building shelter with the experience of isolation with (almost) no human contact.

Let’s be honest, it’s a fairly dry read and took me a few weeks of struggle to get through. It also wouldn’t hurt if the book included some chapters or even paragraphs to break up the text. But for a 1719 novel we can assume audiences had more patience then. Ok so it’s not all that bad. The description is pretty good and documents a lot of the tasks and activities Crusoe undertook to survive but I would have also liked more inner dialogue from the protagonist: how did he truly feel? Is social contact imperative? Was it all too unbearable sometimes?

I remember studying this novel in high school and using it as a comparative text with the film Cast Away starring Tom Hanks, which translated across well. Again, a fairly enduring 2 hour+ long movie. As a classic novel, it’s pretty much a must read if you want to be methodically going through the old classics. But other than that, read if you’re into desert islands, tales of survival, slavery and don’t mind texty novels.

Sydney CBD ‘mini’ Bookstore Crawl

My first bookstore crawl! A super cool idea invented by my friend and colleague Annie who founded Read3r’z Re-Vu, a Sydney-based network of seriously passionate bookworms who meet up monthly to review books based on a chosen theme, host movie nights, hit up the latest book fairs and events, and hang out with local authors. Everyone is welcome no matter what literature you’re into – comics, manga, romance, young adult, biographies or sci-fi.

The club has held a few crawls over the years, some being full-day events whilst others are more intimate, low-key and less intensive days. For May we hit up the following stores, keeping it fairly close together in the city.

  • Basement Books
  • NTS Books Outlet
  • Elizabeth’s Bookshop
  • Kings Comics
  • Kinokuniya
  • Galaxy Bookshop
  • Abbey’s Bookshop
  • Dymocks Bookstore

First stop on the crawl, Basement Books located just outside Central Station. A treasure trove of serious book bargains (no joke, you can pick up books for 50 cents!). In addition to this, it has an impressive arts and crafts section, stationary, and gift bags and boxes. Because it is a ‘bargain’ store you’re bound to find some weird and whacky titles in there. I picked up a caffeine-happy recipe book Coffee: 100 everyday recipes for $4, which I’ll need to bake a recipe from very soon.

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Basement books

Next up, the NTS Books outlet in Market City. Not a ‘store’ as such but more of a pop-up yet permanent fixture located on Level 1. The collection is far smaller but important within a big shopping centre.

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NTS Books

Whilst we initially planned to hit up the bookstores in Surry Hills, we thought we’d leave it for the next crawl, and instead headed up to Pitt Street. Elizabeth’s Bookshop – a lovely store with second hand goodies and a $2 bargain cave!

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Gorgeous lamp at Elizabeth’s bookshop

Kings Comics – a land where geeks and nerds have died and gone to heaven. Comic books, costumes, figurines, instruments, books, films, collectors’ items, vintage arcade games…the list goes on and on.

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Kinokuniya – if Kino doesn’t have it, no one does. A seriously comprehensive collection of books if I’ve ever seen any and as their motto says ‘Real Bookstores Still Exist.’

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Galaxy Bookshop and Abbey’s Bookshop – second last stop on the crawl. This place offers you two bookshops at the one location – ooh la la!

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Dymocks – a well-loved Aussie favourite. Again if Dymocks doesn’t have it, who does??

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