Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW

Sometimes, the simple satisfaction of a pub bistro lunch is quite unbeatable, especially when paired with one or two rounds of your favourite bevvies (Coopers, thanks!). Since its recent bistro reno about 6 months ago (and beer garden reno a few years back), one local pub/hotel that we’ve grown to love more and more, has proven to maintain its iconic status as both a reliable watering hole and also a popular destination for locals and passersby to feast on hearty, classic and modern meals that are not only great value but also tastefully tuned and praiseworthy too. I’m talking about the beautiful Golden Barley Hotel, proudly standing on the corner of Edgeware Road and Llewellyn Street in Enmore, NSW.

Sydneysiders are spoilt for choice when it comes to catching up with family and friends, and the local pub/hotel is often many people’s first recommendation. Not only is it an ideal place to catch up for drinks, listen to live music, play pool, or join in the merriment of a trivia or raffle night, etc – most pubs are also a great place to sit down and enjoy a lovely meal. Wherever you’re living in Sydney (or any city or town in Australia for that matter), your local pub/hotel – often the hub for social activity/bonding, is usually not too far away.

The Golden Barley Hotel, aka The Barley first opened as it now stands in August 1939. It lies on the land of the Cadigal people, at the head of what was once the Gumbramorra Swamp. It is a gorgeous example of Art Deco architecture and many original features still exists throughout the hotel.1

The dear lady, now in her 70s – still stands strong and proud, and has never looked better, as she maintains her original beauty and charm with some slight yet beneficial internal reno.

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #1

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #2

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #3

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #4
The Barley bistro interior – warm/welcoming and family friendly.

Along with the mainbar at the front (where most/all of the local favourite beers are on tap), and a lush green beer garden secluded at the back, The Barley is also home to a modern/hip looking bistro with an equally appealing menu to match. In its previous incarnation, the bistro was a lifesaving Asian/Australian eatery that served satisfying quick and affordable meals, including amazing curry laksas and other classic pub favourites.

Now, after its recent reno (and what a wonderful makeover it is), the place has transformed into an cool bistro/dining room dressed with a collection of tables/communal benches, arty finishings/details and moody lighting/atmosphere. The bistro menu includes a selection of chic and classic pub/bistro/cafe style dishes, as well as daily lunch/dinner specials – which is what we ordered on our last week’s visit to The Barley, and found out is hard to beat.

For our around noon lunch, we ordered the lamb and vegetable stew, spaghetti marinara and creamy pesto penne – all from the $10 weekly lunch special. Also, seeing that we were in a pub, albeit earlier than necessary, we thought it was befitting to complement our meal with a customary schooner of Coopers Pale Ale and glass of the house Shiraz (which quickly/easily turned to two), which paired with our meal just perfectly!

Overall, we were very impressed with our lunch – the quality, taste and serve size of all of the dishes that we had ordered exceeded our expectations, especially considering the great price! All of the dishes looked and tasted freshly prepared and the flavours were all spot on, with neither overpowering elements nor weaknesses – and not because of the drinks, mind you. We chose a table by the window which granted us the most wonderful speckled/shadowed natural early afternoon lighting effect on the food photos taken.

We’ll be back to The Barley bistro for sure - to try other dishes on the lunch special, and other dishes from the blackboard menu too, including the Kingfish ceviche on crostini toast, and wild rice salad, which also had caught my eye. By the way, we were informed by the lovely waitstaff that the bistro also has daily dinner specials too, including their famous roasts nights.

So there you go – don’t underestimate the value of your local pub/hotel. Not only are they a great place to catch up with family and friends for drinks, a game of pool or to win a meat tray, they’re also the perfect place to dine on some very good grub, as The Barley exemplifies.

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #5
Lamb and vegetable stew

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #6
Spaghetti marinara

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #7
Creamy pesto penne

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #8
Creamy pesto penne
The same plate/bowl of penne as above. I included this extra photo to further illustrate the beautiful shadow/light effect from the vines/plants outside through the window. I’ve discovered that natural light is the best for food photos, and now, especially with some shadows.

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #9
Coopers Pale Ale

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #10
Just sipped house Shiraz

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #11
The welcoming and relaxing beer garden.

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #12
Beer garden flower – Hibiscus sp.

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Golden Barley Hotel – Enmore, NSW #13
Beer garden flower – Strelitzia sp.

Pros

  • Affordable delicious varied pub/bistro meals
  • Daily lunch and dinner specials
  • Beer garden
  • Pub drinks and atmosphere
  • Recently renovated interior – cool/comfy furniture/decor in the bistro
  • Super friendly and efficient staff

Cons

  • Can’t think of one yet

Conclusion

Affordable, delicious meals, relaxed/friendly pub atmosphere, daily lunch/dinner specials, beer garden.

Did you know?

  1. There’s a total of about 6,033 hotels, pubs & bars in Australia, 2,052 in NSW, and 164 in Sydney.2

Golden Barley Hotel
165-169 Edgeware Road, Enmore NSW 2042
(Cnr Edgeware Road & Llewellyn Street)
Phone: (02) 9565 1166
Website: http://www.goldenbarleyhotel.com.au
Email: goldenbarley@swiftdsl.com.au

Bistro Open Hours
Monday: 5pm – 9:30pm
Tuesday-Friday: Midday – 3pm/5pm – 9:30pm
Saturday: Midday – 3pm/4pm – 9:30pm
Sunday & Pubic Holidays: Midday – 3pm/4pm – 9pm

Golden Barley Hotel on Urbanspoon

  1. Reference: http://www.goldenbarleyhotel.com.au/history.html. []
  2. Reference: http://publocation.com.au/facts. []

What is Lao food? Part 2

Continued from What is Lao food? Part 1

Lao food today

Lao food is still considered an exotic/rare cuisine by many people, although its popularity and availability is on the rise, especially in the capital cities. Lao dishes such as “ping lin” (grilled ox tongue), raw “larb”, or “tum mark hoong” (spicy green papaya salad) with preserved crab – once considered too spicy or “a little unusual”, are now sort after by many adventurous/seasoned foodies.

For the more experienced/veteran foodies, there are other unsung Lao dishes that may also whet your appetite, including “gaeng nor mai” (bamboo stew), “jeow het” (spicy mushroom relish), “khao piak sen” (Lao noodle soup), etc. This food trend is evident with other world cuisines too – a result of a multicultural/interconnected world community, and for the better, I say.1

Globalization, multiculturalism, media and social media have all played a big influence on the popularity of Lao food. As the Lao diaspora across the world continue to perpetuate their identities in their communities – Lao food has naturally become a topic of interest. When Lao people integrate – they also share with their communities, a part of Lao culture including Lao food.

Gatherings such as weddings, bbqs, karaoke parties, etc. are all great moments to experience and share both Lao culture and Lao food. Across the globe, Lao restaurants/eateries have opened up, albeit sporadically – further unveiling Lao cuisine. Lao food has secured a spot on the culinary stage/limelight – as a niche cuisine/a break from the mass, and rightfully so because Lao food is absolutely delicious! Lao people and Lao food are standing lao’d and proud – more so than ever.

Laos - Luang Prabang, Alms Offerings to Monks, Khouangsi Waterfall, March 2013

“Laos – Luang Prabang, Alms Offerings to Monks, Khouangsi Waterfall, March 2013 – making sticky rice.” Photo by The Real Chrisparkle.

Lao food in Laos

There’s astonishing change happening within Laos atm. The once closed/private country has inevitably opened up and more tourists/travellers are entering and exploring the country, discovering its unique culture and cuisine. Lao food – once a mystery is now the new darling for travelling foodies.

Exotic food discoveries and experiences in Laos have been photographed, written about and shared on and offline – helping spread the love of Lao food and enticing more foodies to seek out and experience it. The mysterious cuisine of Laos is steadily building a following of fans – although, some dishes/ingredients might still be too foreign/novel for some people, but when in Laos…?

There’s a variety of Lao restaurants/eateries in Laos to cater for most tastebuds/preferences, along with other cuisines too. Besides sharing a traditional meal with a Lao family, some of the best places to eat real Lao food is at street eateries/pop up food stands, etc – where you’ll be spoilt for choice with affordable/tasty/authentic Lao meals/flavours. Be sure to consider some of these food stands when you’re in Laos – following the crowd or simply your nose is a good guide to finding some of the choice places to go to.

Alternatively, if you want to eat in a restaurant – among others, some notable restaurants in Laos to consider include, The Boat LandingMakphet, Tamarind, 3 Nagas, Vang Vieng Organic Farm, etc. If you’re really serious and want to experience/learn more about Lao food, consider participating in a Lao cooking class like the ones offered at Tamarind in Luang Prabang. Not only will you cook/learn about some Lao ingredients and prep methods, you’ll also eat/enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Khao Piak from a stand near the Fresh Market in Luang Prabang

“Khao Piak from a stand near the Fresh Market in Luang Prabang”. Khao piak sen is one of my personal favourite Lao dishes, and I know an awesome recipe. It’s delicious, especially on cold/wet days, and with extra chili oil and congealed blood cubes – yum! I’ll post the recipe soon – I promise. Photo by Kirk K.

Lao food outside of Laos

Outside of Laos, Lao food continues to nourish Lao families and friends far and wide. The Lao diaspora is scattered across the world – from Australia, to the US, France, England, Ireland, etc. (a shout out to all the Lao peeps out there!). Naturally, Lao families maintain their culture and traditions, including preparing/cooking Lao food, and passing it on to their children and sharing it with their friends.

As the public interest on Lao food increases, once rare Lao restaurants are becoming more accessible (although still few and far between compared to other cuisines). This interest in Lao food and culture benefits the Lao community as it’s a symbol of acceptance and praise, which in turn builds and gels the wider community together.

Lao restaurants/eateries across the globe vary from food trucks (Sang On Wheels, Green Papaya Food Truck), to traditional (Lao-Thai Luammit), fusion (Lao Thai Soul Food Kitchen), modern (Baan Latsamy, Holy Basil, Bangkok GoldenKhe-Yo), to specialties (Lao Food In Cork, The Papaya Lady), etc.

Lao Laan Xang Is Open

Lao restaurants are still as rare as hen’s teeth, although gems like Lao Laan-Xang in Madison, Wisconsin can be found. Photo by Alan C..

Food for thought

A Lao food movement as described by Chef Seng is happening before our eyes. The presence of Lao food is clearly evident online, including on the highly popular Lao Food Facebook page, YouTube (Cooking with Nana) and  websites/blogs (Nye Noona, Sao Darly, Lao Cook, Devonium), etc.2

Besides the recipes that you can find online, especially from Nana’s YouTube videos, there are also a selection of Lao cookbooks that you may be interested in reading, including Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing, Food From Northern Laos: The Boat Landing Cookbook, etc. There are more Lao cookbooks out there – please do a google search.

I have observed and it’s interesting to note that as Lao food enters the mainstream, it has become subject to change/modifications. Traditional Lao dishes that originally use certain ingredients/prep methods/flavours have become altered to suit modern/special palates/needs. This has made me think about what is happening to the nature of traditional Lao cuisine.

It is a natural/inevitable process for food/dishes/recipes to evolve and be altered to suit certain dietary requirements, eg: allergies/vegetarian diets etc, and also change as reflection of modern trends, but what effects will this have on the definition of Lao food? Will it dilute the true essence of Lao food? Is it still Lao food if it does not taste/look like traditional Lao food? What are your thoughts on this?

Laab. Beer Lao. Sticky Rice. Typical Lao dinner

“Laab. Beer Lao. Sticky Rice. Typical Lao dinner.” Photo by Basil Strahm.

Conclusion

As a Lao-Australian artist and home cook – I am fascinated with new ideas and inventions/explorations/experiences. I am all about exploring new flavours/methods/ingredients, and adapting/redefining recipes – although, at the same time, I also love and respect humble, earthy, original/true, simple flavours/dishes, which is what makes Lao food so special in the first place. I think that while it’s inventive and pioneering to experiment and explore new flavours/recipes, it’s also important to uphold old traditional customs/dishes and protect them too. I find it completely natural to appreciate and enjoy both of these views, and endorse it too.

Among others, I am inspired by the works of Vienne aka Lao Cook, Chef Seng, and Chef Soulayphet Schwader at Khe-Yo. In Australia, and among many others, I am inspired by the works of Kylie Kwong (Chinese-Australian chef), who’s mastery of traditional/modern Australian/Chinese cooking methods/flavours in combination with local/native produce is admirable.

I think food plays a massive part in defining and building culture and identity. It reflects our past and offers guidance for the future. It’s also the vehicle that connects/brings us together. One of my goals with food is to help contribute to the definition of Lao food/cuisine by incorporating and balancing/respecting both traditional and modern recipes/methods/ingredients/ideas to create something that is delicious and good. Big dreams, I know.

I am currently working on some new Lao recipes (new to me at least) – one of which is a modern larb inspired recipe/dish. As an artist, some of my ideas look great in my mind, but don’t necessarily work out in reality – lol. Only time will tell and I’ll keep you posted on how these recipes are developing.

Lao food like all food is good food and delicious, however you’re enjoying it. Like all food, it tastes best when it’s shared with family and friends – “kin khao sap num gun der”.3

  1. To me, SBS Food has been one of the key promoters/supporters of world/multicultural cuisines in Australia, including Lao food and I am very thankful for this. Multicultural food is the best! []
  2. Here are other (non-exhaustive) Lao food related blogs/websites: House on the Mekong, Food From Northern Laos, So Many Miles. If you know of other Lao food websites that you would like to share, please feel free to let me know by emailing me or leaving a comment below. []
  3. This Lao phrase translates to “may you enjoy your meal together”. []

The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW

Tathra is without a doubt, one of the most picturesque seaside towns that we’ve visited. I don’t say that lightly because we’ve been to some beautiful seaside towns, and Australia is blessed with a breathtaking endless coastline scattered with charming towns. Nestled on the edge of the Sapphire Coast (south eastern nook of NSW), Tathra has it all – a long pristine beach as its centerpiece, a meandering river that crosses the beach and joins the ocean, surrounding national parks (Mimosa Rocks National Park to the north, and Bournda National Park to the south), and captivating ocean views that include awe-inspiring sunrise horizons. Sighs.

With a population of 1,526 (2011),1 Tathra is a small tranquil town – mostly undisturbed and unchanged, especially when compared to the big smokes. If you live in Tathra or closeby, you’re very lucky, but if you’re a non-local like us and looking for a magical place to escape to and unwind, Tathra is a perfect choice that will not disappoint you with its many gems.2

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #1
Before opening hour (8:00 am) with the sun rising behing the cliffs behind us.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #2
Incredible ocean views and the air is so cool, clean and crisp – the gulls love it too.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #3
Unassuming entrance but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you enter.

Every time we visit Tathra, we seem to always discover something new and this time was no different. We had spent the night in town and this morning, we woke up in the wee hours and drove to the lookout at the end of Bega Street (please view map below). The air was cool, clean, crisp and fresh, and the sun was just starting to show its face in the horizon. I’d suggested we drive down a side street (Wharf Road), where we serendipitously discovered at the dead end road, both another beautiful perspective of the sunrise/horizon and a large old orange building – aka the historic Old Tathra Wharf – aka The Wharf Locavore.3

It was still too early for most places to be opened, and after closer inspection of the board on the building, we learnt that the business opens at 8:00 am which was only 15 mins away – awesome! We decided to wait/stay to check it out and have breakfast/coffee. We continued to wonder around – enjoying the morning air and views, snapping away like tourists do. We had a chat with a lone but happy fisherman (who was also an out of towner), who had just pulled up a baby ocean trout/salmon, after fishing for only 10 mins - wow, what a spot! He too had fallen in love with the allure of Tathra. The doors finally opened, the signs put outside and tables/seats/displays, etc put into place, and vroom we entered the building as first customers.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #4

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #5
That keylime pie looks amazing! I’ve got my eye on you – next visit.

From the moment we stepped in, I was immediately surprised/impressed with the place – its beautiful open plan, large open doors/windows, old wooden timbers/beams, and the sound/smell of fresh coffee being made were all more than I had expected. Everywhere we looked, there was something wonderful – from the colourful display of delicious foods to the cool art/objects placed all around the room. I soon realised that this coffee bar was also an art gallery/store (even though it said so on the front board – but you can understand what my early morning brain can be like?) and was so excited/pleased that we had decided to come in. I continued to snap away at almost everything – trying to not look too odd/conspicuous. I felt obliged to tell the waitstaff that I have a food blog to justify my overzealous photo snapping.

We talked and ordered over the food display cabinets, and as you can see in the photos, they have an impressive selection of pre-made rolls, cakes/sweets and other delicious goodies (check out how good that keylime pie looks – hola!). For a moment, it felt like we were in some hip/cool Melbourne cafe4, and not in sleepy Tathra (not saying that Tathra isn’t cool – it’s just that we’ve not seen this arty side of Tathra before), and it sealed our love for Tathra. As our sleepy brains were sparking up, we stumbly ordered a croissant with ham and cheese, and a Turkish bread with tomato and brie, oh and two coffees – a cappuccino and a chocolate affogato.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #6
Open plan, beautiful old timber, the smell of coffee and food, and art everywhere.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #7

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #8
A soft sculpture figurehead?

After placing our orders and deciding where to sit (at the table by one of the opened wharf doors), we continued to walk/wonder around and I was in complete/total awe of all the beautiful things on display, including an indoor custom made succulent garden table, a mini carved canoe, various beautiful objects by local artists, including tin box clocks, shibori clothing, ceramics (some by one of the owners – Poppy Benton), soft and hard sculptures, and local produce too, including honey, fruits, etc, etc. I was in artland/locavore/gourmet heaven! Everything about the place – the people and the products were so cool. I was amazed, inspired and rapt.

After taking copious photos, we finally decided to sit down at our table (and continued to snap away – lol). Before too long, our beautifully presented food and coffees arrived. We continued to chat with Poppy – who is one half of the owners (the other half being her sister – Em). Em soon arrived and joined us in a lovely conversation about Tathra, the business, etc. They explained that the arts, crafts and produce that they supply/stock are locally made/grown – hence their name5, and that upstairs is a separate museum. Apart from running the cafe (and possibly other things), Poppy is a ceramics artist and Em works with the local council.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #9
Chocolate ice cream affogato – sweet coffee yum.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #10
Cappuccino with latte art – one of the prettiest cups of coffee I’ve seen.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #11
Croissant with ham and cheese (and seeded mustard) + tasty mini salad too.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #12
Turkish bread with tomato and brie (and seeded mustard) – just perfect to start the day with.

The food was fab. The affogato was a good wake up call – sweet, strong with tasty chocolate and coffee flavours – yum. Likewise, the cappuccino that NL had ordered was a hit with no complaints. The croissant with ham and cheese was what I had hoped for – warm/melting/tasty/nourishing and beautifully presented with a mini salad of lettuce, tiny cherry tomato, orange slices, parsley etc – so pretty. Even their food look like artworks. The Turkish bread with tomato and brie was also delicious – tasty melting brie with chunky slices of tomato – freshly made and just what the dr ordered to wake us up and get us ready for the day – to drive back home. I particularly liked their casual/practical way of serving their drinks and food in takeaway cups and boxes, which is perfectly suitable for takeaway and/or if you want to enjoy your orders outside under the sun/while fishing – pretty awesome, huh?

Meanwhile, as we sat at our table – munching our breakfast by the opened door, enjoying the amazing views – a number of fisherpeople had arrived at the wharf. One fisherman walks towards us/the building and drops a fish on the ground, outside, just before us. I looked out at the fish and knew it was another photo opportunity. I asked him what it was and if my memory serves me correctly, I think he said it was an ocean trout/salmon? Was this the same fish that the first fisherman that we talked to early had caught and left behind? Perhaps – it did look very similar. After our meal, we rested for a moment – just soaking up the atmosphere before we had to leave. As we paid, we thanked the ladies for such a delicious breakfast and great time/experience. We said we’d return soon, and that I’m pretty certain of.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #13
A fisherman placed this fish on the ground just outside, in front of our table – just caught ocean trout or salmon? – possibly caught with a rubber lure. While we were there, fisherpeople were pulling fish up regularly.

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The Wharf Locavore – Tathra, NSW #14
An arty scenic reflection photo/view from our table – untitled.

Conclusion

The Wharf Locavore in Tathra is one of the most beautiful coffee bar/gallery that we’ve been to. Excellent coffee and food, and incredible location and views. Fast, efficient, and friendly service, and amazing local artworks and produce to also enjoy/consider. Next time you’re in Tathra, make sure you check them out – it’s a hidden unexpected gem and I’m pretty sure you’ll be glad you made the effort.

Pros

  • Location – without a doubt
  • Too cool for school interior and decor/furniture
  • Great coffee and food, friendly service
  • Local produce and artworks
  • Beautifully/practically presented food (for takeaway/outdoor eating)

Cons

  • A good drive from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, etc. (but well worth it)

The Wharf Locavore (Coffee Bar & Gallery)
Address: Wharf Road, Tathra, NSW, 2550
Phone: 0427 941 747
Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed Wednesday)
Note: Stitch & Bitch – 2:00 pm Sundays

The Wharf Locavore on Urbanspoon

  1. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathra,_New_South_Wales. []
  2. Tathra is said to mean “beautiful country” or “place of wild cats” in a local aboriginal dialect. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathra,_New_South_Wales. []
  3. Tathra Wharf was constructed between 1860-1862, and in use between 1862 and 1952. It was restored by the National Trust, Department of Planning and local residents. It is a favourite fishing spot for locals and tourists because of the deep waters and incredible views. It is the only remaining coastal steamer wharf in NSW. Reference: http://www.visit.heritage.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5045461. []
  4. Why does Melbourne always to come to mind first when I think of cool cafes – I don’t even live in Melbourne and Sydney has its fair share? []
  5. “A locavore is a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. One often cited, but not universal, definition of “local” food is food grown within 100 miles [160.9 kms] of its point of purchase or consumption”. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locavore. []