Cosy winter break in the Blue Mountains

What kind of fool visits the Blue Mountains in the middle of winter and doesn’t take gloves or a hat? A fool like me! We whisked our daughter away for a mid-VCE break and found ourselves shivering in icy winds. Luckily there were roaring open fires and lots of delicious food to keep us warm.

H (our daughter) is in the middle of year 12 and needed a change of scenery during the school holidays. As I’ve mentioned before, she loves cold weather, so we decided on a trip to the Blue Mountains, via Sydney.

Bodhi in the Park

We flew to Sydney, with just enough time for dinner at Bodhi in the Park.  Of course, being mid-winter it didn’t look too much like the pictures on the website. It was pretty quiet and everyone sat inside, but the food was fantastic and I look forward to going back on a warm night so we can sit outside amongst the bamboo and coloured lights.

It was pretty dark inside and the family whined when I suggested photos, so I restrained myself and took no photos of our dinner. I can assure you though, that the food was pretty spectacular.

We started with edamame and tempura prawns to nibble. For main course I chose the ‘mushroom, asparagus, red capsicum, soft tofu and cashew nuts tossed in a creamy coconut lemongrass sauce in an asian pastry nest’. With all the pale creaminess and pastry, it didn’t look as exciting as the other main courses I saw, but it was one of those dishes where the mix of different textures was the highlight. The creaminess of the soft tofu and the coconut sauce, and the nuttiness of the cashews, worked really well with the crunchiness of the light pastry.

H raved about the ‘brown rice and salted black bean cakes, beetroot coulis, sautéed mushroom and baby spinach’ (minus the mushrooms, by request) and B loved the ‘grilled vegetable medley, soy haloumi, roasted red capsicum coulis’ – which surprised me, because I thought he’d shudder at the idea of soy haloumi.

They were pretty smug about their fancy desserts (‘deconstructed apple crumble with a five spiced custard,
vanilla ice cream and szechuan wine poached apple’ and ‘raw sticky date and cacao mousse fruit tartlet’). I loved my ‘passionfruit and lemongrass cheesecake parfait’ – although I’m not sure why it was called a parfait, it looked like regular cheesecake to me.

Of course we all sampled all of them and agreed that the tartlet was the best of the desserts. There’s something about dates and chocolate together…

I apologise again for the lack of pictures. I blame the family…and will return for pictures (& more food) next time I’m in Sydney!

View from our hotel/townhouse in The Rocks, Sydney

View from our hotel/townhouse in The Rocks, Sydney

Opera at the Opera House

Although B is an opera fan, he’s never been able to drag me along in the 25 years we’ve been together. But I gave in when we realised we’d never actually been to a show at the Opera House and there were tickets available for Rigoletto.

Program for Rigoletto

It was worth going, if only for the view from the Opera House at night. It’s just spectacular looking over the Harbour to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park – but I’m ashamed to say that I dozed off during the show. The others are obviously far more cultured than me, because they loved it…and of course my crappy phone wouldn’t take any good pictures of that view in the dark!

Badde Manors

The following morning H insisted that we take the bus to Glebe to see the original Cruelty Free Shop. I couldn’t see the point, seeing as we have one in Melbourne now, but I was glad we made the trip because we stumbled across Badde Manors.

The original Cruelty Free Shop in Glebe

The original Cruelty Free Shop in Glebe – just like ours, but they had Provamel drinks and custard in stock!

Glebe is one of my favourite places in Sydney…it seems a bit like Melbourne, for some reason, so I probably just feel at home there. Anyway, we were walking along trying to find somewhere to eat lunch, when I noticed Badde Manors  just across the road! I’d heard of it when I was researching vegan food in Sydney, but hadn’t known we’d be anywhere near it.

Some of the reviews I’d read seemed disappointing, but we thought it was great. It’s a gorgeous little café, with lots of timber, funny angles and cosy booths. The food was just what we felt like – delicious and filling.

This time I did take SOME photos:

I had the daily special of (incredibly good) linguine with eggplant, capsicum and celery, with a homemade lemon drink, while H had a vegan lentil burger and chips, with a raspberry and apple frappe.

Burger and linguini at Badde Manors, Glebe

Burger and linguini at Badde Manors, Glebe

We tracked down B, who’d wandered off on his own for a while, and headed back for dessert – vegan chocolate brownies – and we watched him polish off the falafel platter and an iced coffee.

Katoomba

We drove to the Blue Mountains and, at first, couldn’t find our accommodation. We must have driven past it about 3 times before we looked up and realised we were staying in the grand, old place on the hill in the main street!

By the time you’ve scrolled through 20 hotel websites you start ignoring all their marketing claims of ‘timeless elegance’, so I hadn’t realised how beautiful the Carrington Hotel would really be.  Also, I’m not usually all that impressed by ‘fancy’ hotels, but I do love a bit of history, and this place is dripping with history.

Reading by the roaring fire in the Billiard Room at the Carrington Hotel

Reading by the roaring fire in the Billiard Room at the Carrington Hotel

It originally opened in 1883, but closed in 1985 and was derelict until an 8-year restoration, finally reopening in 1998. They’ve done an incredibly good job with the restoration – it’s been updated, but not modernised. It’s now a living, breathing piece of history that is humming and actually used, rather than being roped off just for people to look at but not touch. I only wish the same thing would be done for the Mount Buffalo Chalet in Victoria, where we went for our honeymoon in 1991.

rubyfruit

So what can vegans eat in the Blue Mountains? Luckily, my lovely work friend Sarah directed us to a little café called rubyfruit in nearby Leura. If you’re ever in the Blue Mountains, I recommend it to you too!

It’s tricky to find though, so be warned – it’s upstairs at the back of a small arcade. You’d think it would be quiet, because people probably wouldn’t pass by and decide to drop in. But vegans are a persistent lot, and word must be out, because it is BUSY! At lunchtime, we had to leave our phone number, so we could be alerted when a table was free. It was worth the wait.

Look out for rubyfruit up the stairs at the back of a small arcade.

Look out for rubyfruit up the stairs at the back of a small arcade.

The vegetable and lentil soup, along with a soy and ginger chai, hit the spot for H.

Lentil and vegetable soup (with vegan bread and butter) at rubyfruit

Lentil and vegetable soup (with vegan bread and butter) at rubyfruit

I chose the steaming hot Shepherdess pot pie and a warm cider (warmed apple juice and cinnamon).

Shepherdess pot pie at rubyfruit

Shepherdess pot pie at rubyfruit

B chose the BLAT (‘bacon’, lettuce, avocado, tomato) wrap and a hazelnut milk coffee.

BLAT wrap at rubyfruit

BLAT wrap at rubyfruit

The desserts are incredible – and as vegans usually do when they have a choice of baked goods – we almost got weepy at the range on offer. H and I couldn’t go past the Turkish Delight cheesecake. The base was like a chewy chocolate brownie, the filling tasted faintly of rose water, and the chocolate on top was soft and fudgy – ahhh!

Macaron and Turkish Delight cheesecake (they look tiny in the picture, but they weren't)

Macaron and Turkish Delight cheesecake (they look tiny in the picture, but they weren’t)

B chose the macaroon with ice cream, but I can’t remember much about it, because I was too blissed out by the cheesecake.

We also took away a triple chocolate brownie (chocolate with white and dark chocolate chips), banana split blondie (banana and chocolate) and a white chocolate and almond blondie. Amazingly, one of those blondies made it all the way home for P (our son) who had eagerly passed up a holiday with the family to stay home alone and take care of the dog.

Judging by the number of loyal customers – locals and tourists – who were waiting before the doors opened, and streaming in to leave their phone numbers for a lunch table, this place is deservedly doing very well.

Doing homework

While H was tucked away studying, we did some short walks around the area. Every few hours we retrieved her and dragged her out to see the highlights.

A lovely place to study...if you HAVE TO study

A lovely place to study…if you HAVE TO study

Leura Cascades

The knee-breaking walk down and up (about) 260 steps to the Leura Cascades was worth the effort – and was sheltered from the biting, cold winds blowing at street level.

Leura Cascades

Leura Cascades

I can’t wait to return when I have enough warm clothing to enjoy it properly – and we’ll arrive at rubyfruit before the adoring crowds!

Here’s a short video of the Carrington Hotel. Just like in the video, the rooms were all decorated for Yule in July – but the video still doesn’t really show how beautiful the place really is.

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10 thoughts on “Cosy winter break in the Blue Mountains

  1. Fabulous! All your meals sound delicious and I would have dozed off during the opera too. I like opera in really, really small doses. The Carrington Hotel looks beautiful, I love places like that with loads of history. And that window!!!

  2. What a great place for a holiday – I have a yearning to go to sydney as it has been some time and now I really want to go to the Blue Mountains as well – I love a historic hotel and Rubyfruit sounds like a great place to eat. I also particularly love Glebe and have passed Badde Manors but am not sure if I have eaten them or not – it always looks kooky in a fun way. Hope you have warmed up back home in this chilly weather 🙂

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