Monday, May 4, 2009
Port Macquarie is a picturesque beachside town, almost 400km north of Sydney on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. It’s where we spent most of our family vacations during my childhood and the home of many fond memories. Settled in 1821 as a convict settlement, it has a rich history present in the architecture of many surviving buildings and even the lobby of our hotel was built with hand made ‘convict bricks’ each with unique markings. It had been quite a few years since my last trip up to Port, but I decided to join my family when they came up this year for a few days of rest and relaxation after Easter. Unfortunately the weather was not as nice as usual, in fact I think there was some record amounts of rain in the time we were up there! The beach was admired from afar, and I was more likely to put on a scarf than a swimming costume.
The highlight of the trip though, was going strawberry picking. I have long been wanting to pick my own fruit, and I know there are several places outside of Sydney to pick apples and cherries at different times of the year but I don’t drive, which makes things a bit more difficult. I was excited when I found out that there was a pick-your-own strawberry farm nearby and because the strawberries were grown in large greenhouses, you can pick them all year round. There is also a café and a small market where other fresh vegetables are available, including gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes.
Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries are located about 10 minutes north of Port Macquarie. Entry is free and you only pay for what you pick. When you arrive, you are given a bucket that holds about a kilogram and a pair of scissors, then you’re sent on your way to the greenhouse where you’ll pick as many gorgeous red strawberries as your bucket will hold. It was so satisfying to scan the aisles and aisles of strawberry plants and come across a perfectly ripe strawberry to add to the bucket, and soon it was full. Even the air smelled wonderful.
The strawberries were tiny and sweet. I wanted to do something special with them, perhaps make some jam or to adorn a pavlova, but we ended up eating them either plain or for dessert with some nice vanilla ice cream. The kilo we picked disappeared surprisingly quickly, and we considered going back to pick some more but unfortunately there wasn’t time before we came home. We also bought some lovely tomatoes, which were absolutely perfect on some crusty bread with oil, vinegar and fresh basil for an appetizer. Strawberry picking would be a great activity to do with kids, but we all loved it too, and would definitely do it again!