EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH BERRY IN NSW, AUSTRALIA PART #1

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At first glance, Berry is one of those gorgeous, sleepy hinterland towns in New South Wales. Surrounded by lush rolling hills abundant with grazing dairy cows, you could be mistaken for thinking you've taken a step back in time. For the first timer, you might only just notice the subtleties of the foodie movement in Berry. Whether its by walking past the Berry Sourdough Café, the Berry Tea Shop or Mezzadellas, it soon becomes apparent that the locals love food. And most noticeably, local produce. The foodie movement is the undercurrent of Berry and the South Coast. In fact, its what keeps the blood pumping amongst those who live in the region. Keen to explore and meet the locals who are passionate about their food, I decided to embark on my very first foodie tour with Foodscape Tours. A family run business, Foodscape Tours recently celebrated it's third birthday so it was the perfect time for me to drive down from Sydney and check out this emerging food and wine destination.

The Berry Tea Shop Showcasing the best local produce, artisan products and local wines the tour starts right in the heart of Berry at The Berry Tea Shop. A fine tea merchant offering a collection of the world’s finest and most distinctive single origin teas and blends, The Berry Tea Shop is a labour of love between husband and wife, Cliff and Paulina. Having left the hectic coffee scene in Woolloomooloo, Sydney where they owned a bustling café, a change of pace in Berry was just what the doctor ordered. Sourcing their teas from producers all around the world, who still use age-old techniques, we were given a private introduction into the art of tea making before the shop opened to the public. Sampling a selection of teas, including a white tea with peony and rose which became a new favourite of mine, we learned that the best way to serve tea from leaves is to pour boiling water into a tea cup, put one teaspoon of tea leaves per person into tea ball infuser and slowly drop the infuser into the tea cup and let it sit for one to two minutes at the most; any longer and the tea will taste bitter. Tea enthusiasts at The Berry Tea Shop can enjoy their teas with a selection of detectible cakes made by Cliff including Lemon Cake, Carrot Cake and Chocolate, Raspberry and Banana Cake. The Englishman sure knows how to bake!

Pompadours Chocolate House  A more recent, and delicious, addition to the Foodscape tour, Pompadour’s Chocolate House offers a delicious array of contemporary premium chocolate creations. With ingredients such as chilli and homemade honeycomb, its no surprise to learn that owner Belinda studied chocolate making at the Savour chocolate school in Melbourne where she discovered her passion. Taking its name from the romantic story of Madame de Pompadour, a favourite mistress of King Louis XV, drinking chocolate was the great passion of the French aristocracy, and Madame de Pompadour is rumoured to have preferred chocolate as a means to keep pace with the desires of her King! So if you love chocolate, you cannot pass through Berry without paying Belinda a visit – she knows everything there is to know about chocolate!

South Coast Providores  I love nothing more than meeting people who are utterly passionate about what they do in their day to day lives. Meet Carole and Ian of South Coast Providores. Sharing a love of food and wine that has spanned many years, it was only 10 years ago that they turned their passion into a range of delicious conserves and preserves which were sold at the cellar door of Coolangatta Estate Winery. My favourite definitely being the Tutti Fruitti conserve. In 2010 South Coast Providores moved into its own ‘home’ in Berry where they make their wares in the traditional French style. They have a ‘local’ philosophy on food and source over 85% of their ingredients from local farmers and growers – which I love. Sourcing local ingredients is so special and I love that Carole’s preserves are seasonal. Sadly we were a few months early for her famous fig jam, but I know I’ll be back in February next year to grab a jar!