Just before Xmas I took in the Moss Vale Farmers’ and Flea Market in the spacious surrounds of Moss Vale Showground in the Southern Highlands. It’s a not-for-profit market, with a focus on producers and growers from the local district. My favourite stall had to be Beefalicious who raise Ausline and Lowline cattle in neighbouring Suttons Forest. Their beef is grass-fed, tender, fine-grained and juicy; and they make a mean snag-on-a-stick too – the wild mushroom and garlic were a particular favourite. You’ll also find Pepe Saya’s excellent butter and a range of local truffle products at their stall. Other market must-haves include Lady Bucket’s brilliant duck pate and the local baker’s fluffy pumpkin damper rolls. As they’re having a break in January, plan your trip to arrive between 8am-1pm for the fourth Saturday of February.
Robertson Road, Moss Vale (02) 4868 1869
An even more picturesque Southern Highlands stop is the Exeter Village Market, which takes place on the village green and in community hall at Exeter. At this market I was most enamoured with Pecora Dairy who hand-make a range of East Friesian ewe’s milk cheeses in Robertson. The standout is their Jamberoo Mountain Blue, which also took home a Gold Medal at this year’s Sydney Royal. If you head down on the first Saturday of the month between 9am-3pm you also might find a range of brightly coloured plums, Park Hill garlic, fresh locally grown vegetables and a great range of things in jars, including pickled wild mushrooms. Best part of this market is that they also have a cute little café serving up iced coffees, homemade cakes and high tea.
Exeter Road, Exeter (02) 4883 6462 www.exetervillagemarket.com
On Australia Day weekend the Southern Highlands is throwing in a few extra incentives to encourage you to make your own hour and a half trip. On Saturday 26th January you could head to Hot Canary Gourmet Meats in Bowral between 12pm-2pm to taste their award-winning sausages. While on Sunday 27th you could book in for a tour of that intriguing Li-Sun Exotic Mushroom Tunnel, before heading to ‘Music in the Vines’ at Joadja Vineyards in Berrima (which also offers wood-fired pizza).
Another place you can taste a range of locally produced wines is at Biota Dining. This two-hatted restaurant sits just off Bowral’s main street, and offers up a spacious dining room as well as a lounge setting for tapas and drinks that looks out to their kitchen garden, pond and (reasonably friendly) geese. A mere $58 will buy you three courses of Chef James Viles’ decidedly modern cuisine. Despite all the powders, purees and fancy tweezers, you should expect to see a strong link to local produce and nature. If you end up sampling wines too liberally, the restaurant sits on motel grounds…