Close your eyes and imagine for a moment, that all your favourite artists, food artisans and wineries got together. They forgot that they were supposed to be each other’s competition and instead formed a collective, supporting each others businesses and pooling their resources to drive really effective marketing campaigns, such as exclusive events where invited locals could meet them all in one spot, taste their delights, discuss their journeys with them and tell all their friends about the unique experiences each venue offers. How perfect would that be? How very sensible for small businesses?!? Well that little departure from reality is not actually a departure at all. That wonderful group exists in The Poacher’s Way.
The Poacher’s Way is a handpicked collection of businesses, (who) showcase an exciting and innovative range of experiences – some a little bit off the beaten track.
Our 101human discovery night into all that Poachers Way has to offer, began through a magical entrance…
We were greeted by the very friendly faces of the owners of the different businesses who have become a part of The Poacher’s Way collective. We were free to wander, chatting to the different businesses, sampling their produce and hearing their stories. It was great to catch up with some of the people who were instrumental in our little family having a smooth transition to the area – and a large reason why we chose to live in this area in the first place. All of these lovely people are just so welcoming and friendly.
I was thrilled to see Evelyn from Country Guesthouse Schonegg (schonegg being Swiss-German for ‘pretty corner’). When my husband and I were looking for somewhere to rent while we build, we stayed a few times at their guesthouse. So I can vouch firsthand about how great their guesthouse is. I remember the first time we stayed, I was so nervous our Little Man would scream all night and upset their guests that I told Evelyn over the phone so she could refer us to somewhere else if she thought it would be a problem. She assured me other guests wouldn’t hear. When we arrived, quite late in the evening, she guessed we probably hadn’t had time to eat let alone sample any of the region’s famous delights, so she brought a cheese platter and some wine to our room. Her thoughtfulness continued throughout our stay. If you have time, make sure you stay for breakfast and have a lazy time doing so. They have a beautiful aspect looking over their dam. As they are off the beaten track (but not so far a normal car wouldn’t make it), it is so peaceful and quiet.
Next to see was the beautiful woodwork of the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery. My family and I have been there many times. I love looking at their wonderful pieces of art – even the practical pieces, such as their platters (on which our delicious food was served) should be considered works of art. Especially helpful when you have children, is the cafe attached to the gallery. It is always jam packed, probably due to their friendly service and great menu. Unfortunately my photography skills did not do any of the products they had on display any justice, so you will just have to visit them and see for yourself!
After this I couldn’t help myself but sample some of the food on offer. There was so much to choose from! Delectable dessert gardens, handmade chocolates from Robin Rowe Chocolates, lamb tarts from Flint in the Vines – where to begin! Then something entirely simple caught my eye. Some bread and cheese. Coincidentally, earlier that day my family and I had tried to have lunch at Silo Bakery, but it was too busy and we couldn’t get a table. So how fortunate for me that Silo Bakery was at our event. Tonight they graced us not only with their superb tasting bread, but one of their scrumptious cakes as well! I was hesitant to try the chocolate and chestnut cake because I don’t like chestnuts, but it was sublime. Next time we are in Canberra I will definitely be making the trip to Silo so I can share their cakes with my husband.
But you couldn’t go past one of my favourite pubs – Gundaroo’s Colonial Inn. Our family eats there regularly as it is close to the property we’ve bought. In fact, everyone who has visited us has been taken there for lunch! They have a great selection of beer and wine, stocking many of the wines we tasted at the event, such as Lerida Estate (who also deliver). However, the real treat at Gundaroo’s Colonial Inn is their smoked food. They have a smokehouse and everything they smoke turns out delicious. Always keep an eye out for their specials, especially if they include their smoked goods, as they are guaranteed to please. I personally prefer their smoked lamb dishes and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had it. In fact, it was in this pub that my husband and I made the decision to purchase our property. We were sitting there, with all our real estate potentials laid out on the table, watching how the staff of the pub interacted with the locals, everyone happily enjoying their meals, chatting with each other and the staff – and we thought, if this the town is anything like the local pub (friendly, lots of families, welcoming atmosphere) then we’d be crazy not to live here.
And off course, the night would not be complete without sampling some of what the host had to offer. This wonderful night was held in Poacher’s Pantry. For twenty-one years they have been using traditional methods to cure and smoke different meats and poultry. Their staff were fantastic, patiently letting us take photos of them and the delectable food that just kept on coming out of their kitchen. The best part about Poacher’s Pantry is that you can visit any time and pick up some of their gourmet products or eat in their cafe. If you’re really spoilt, you could even have your birthday or wedding there, as their cafe is available for private functions (hint, hint hubby – birthday coming up in a few months!!) My mum is coming down to visit next week and I can promise you, a stop at Poacher’s Pantry will be first on our ‘to do’ list!
We were incredibly spoilt. I love good food and over the years have been to the far majority of Sydney’s Good Food Week events and cooking classes, as well at the Good Living Cheese awards, and many of the coffee, beer and food festivals held throughout the country… But tonight was definitely the best. I couldn’t fault any of the produce we tried. When The Poacher’s Way select the members for their collective, they must be truly picky because it didn’t matter what you ate or drank, everything was a little piece of heaven!