Week One: Chocolate, Wine and Maritime

Beat JetLag… simple.

After safely (barely) making it up to Avoca Beach (approximately 90km north of Sydney) I settled in and took a day to relax and adjust. I’d read the key to avoiding jetlag is not napping upon arrival and staying awake until local “bed time”. So I did just that and luckily had no issues with jetlag and adjusting to the time difference.

Saturday shops and Chocolate eatery

auschocomeSaturday morning we made our way to the local shopping plaza which is made up of indoor and outdoor shops and eateries. A normal shopping plaza by more regards but I mention it because of San Churros… an eatery that uses Spanish chocolate in every menu item they have. In other words: THE MOST AMAZING EATERY EVER! Of course being the sugar-addict I am, this place was heaven! The menu consists of everything from churros, to fondue, to shakes to banana parfaits.

Hunter Valley, NSW Wine Country 

Sunday we drove the 75 or so minutes north to the Hunter Valley region.

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Pepper Tree Wines

One of my goals of being in Australia is to get more wine knowledge and sample some of the best wines in the world. I’ve been warned as far as Australian wine goes, Hunter valley is good for whites, especially Semillon- a varietal I had only learned of once getting to Australia.
I don’t have heaps of wine knowledge, it’s mainly limited to a collection of “tasting note” knowledge from the wines I have worked with and from living in “Washington Wine Country” for six months in 2011.

Our first stop was to Pepper Tree Wines (pictured). The grounds are absolutely beautiful and they have a little bed-n-breakfast that is housed in an old convent… just lovely. Pepper Tree is where I found my one wine gem of the day: their Late Harvest Semillon. As a new wine drinker and a sugar addict, I knew late harvest, Rieslings and dessert wines would be an easy transition.

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Brokenwood

Pepper Tree had a few wines I enjoyed (their brandy blend was caramelly and smooth) but the LH Semillon took the cake for the day.
Next we made our way to Enzo for lunch. They didn’t have a ton of options for food, but the ciabatta and dips was a nice treat between sampling stops.

We then made our way to  Brokenwood where the staff greeted us with such warmth you felt like you were in a friend’s place. She offered us several samples and we shared stories.

Just down the road from Brokenwood is Hunter Valley Cheese Co. They do gourmet cheeses on site as well as pressed meats and canned items. I walked away with a beautiful natural white that was smooth like havarti but had the texture of a soft cheddar. Delicious with multigrain crackers.

To top of the Hunter Valley tour we  drove the windy road to Hunter Valley Chocolate Company. I could smell the chocolate as soon as we pulled up. Wine, shmine, now we were in my element! As the cacao intoxication sat in I just stared with amazement at the offerings; from truffles to gold flake chocolate to chocolate ‘roos. This is what I had waited all day for. The fudge was smooth and creamy, the perfect consistency. And the Bailey’s truffles melted in your  mouth as soon as you took the first bite. I’ve managed to stash away a few treasures to sample the last week and a half.

Maritime Museum

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HMB Endeavour

The Australian Maritime Museum sits on the Pyrmont side of Darling Harbour in Sydney. I have some unexplained fascination with old ships and maritime memorabilia so I knew this was a spot I wanted to check out.

Tip: Be sure and purchase a “big ticket” which allows you entrance into the exhibits plus you get to walk on the ships in the marina- The HMB Endeavour: the ship Captain Cook used to first sail to Australia. The general admission ticket is $7 and the “big ticket” is $25. I plan on going back and purchasing the big ticket since I wasn’t able to board the ships and see the full exhibits on the general admission ticket.

You don’t have to be Australian to enjoy the exhibits here. They have several artifacts from WWII refuges from several countries, prisoner records and even a, “Australia-America: History shared by sea” display that goes back to the first Americans in Australia, who were part of Captain Cook’s original voyage.

Week Two will be posted shortly.

See more photos on my Flickr page!

Happy traveling!

-S

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One thought on “Week One: Chocolate, Wine and Maritime

  1. […] and activities I wanted to do; this is a working-HOLIDAY after all. As last week’s blog detailed, I was greeted with open arms and heaps of plans, both of which were a welcomed relief. […]

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