Sometimes Mr NQN and I like to go on road trips and the Blue Mountains is one of our favourite places to visit. For starters, my god daughter and her sister live there and whilst I don't know if I would make a great mother (I mean the child would just turn out weird and go to school dressed for Hallowe'en), I think I make a great aunt or godmother. Secondly, Leura's outdoor mall with gorgeous boutiques galore is one of my favourite places to shop.
Even Mr NQN who loathes shopping unless he is given a seat in a boutique and an internet connection via phone remarks that the shopping is pretty good. But come 5pm the shops close like clockwork and closed signs adorn the doors and we're left to ponder dinner. We decide to go to Blue Hour in nearby Katoomba for dinner as it is open all day and we had driven past it earlier in the day to see that it was packed. They don't take bookings as it's a small place with an inviting, cosy atmosphere. Service is very friendly and the menu reasonably priced.
Peppers stuffed with couscous, nuts, raisins and goat's cheese $5
Like many places on this strip, you order at the counter. A quick browse of the menu shows that a good range of tapas plates prices at $5, $6 and $8. We choose one from each price range with one pick (the pork toast) not available. The peppers come out quickly and they're warm and stuffed with couscous, nuts, raisins and goat's cheese and are best eaten by being picked up and popped in the mouth. The couscous is slightly sweet and the goat's cheese is a lovely creamy one that isn't too strong.
Crispy pork belly slices with apple and mango chutney $6
Now the crispy pork belly slices look completely unlike what we expected. This resembles pancetta but it isn't smoked and they're dipped into the lovely apple and mango chutney. I don't know if this works, it's a little like dipping crispy bacon into a sweetish fruit puree. I think thicker pork belly slices with a crisp crackling layer on top would be perhaps better.
Caramelised pears wrapped in cured Spanish jamon with blue cheese $8
The caramelised pears (originally supposed to be peaches but they're out of season now) are wrapped in jamon and you can have a choice of goat's cheese or blue cheese. I wish I had picked the goat's cheese as the blue is a little too strong for the dish.
Lamb tagine with figs, raisins, apricots, pine nuts and coriander served with couscous $18
The lamb tagine had a substitution and I always wish that they'd tell you about the substitutions as I had ordered this dish because I love figs. The lamb itself is lovely but I prefer figs to the apple that is given. The sauce is redolent in coriander seed and other spices.
Chicken burger $15
The chicken burger is filled with free range chicken, jamon, grilled zucchini, goat's cheese and home made chilli jam in a floury small bun. It is smaller than your usual burger and I do like the sound of the filling although the home made chilli jam is a bit too generously portioned and it is very sweet and not really spicy at all so it lends a very sweet flavour to the burger. I do like the juiciness and flavour of the chicken and the rest of the ingredients together though.
As we leave, I find the card that my god daughter and her sister had drawn me in my bag and smile. I make plans to come back soon and to shop and eat more.
So tell me Dear Reader, where is your favourite place to shop? And does your partner share your love of shopping?
Shop 1, 177 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW 2780
Tel: +61 (02) 4782 6601