Dear Reader, what are your thoughts on taxidermy? Me, I'm quite fascinated by it but it was with trepidation that the owners of Cabin & Co in Blackheath put up their first two taxidermied specimens. They're no unsubtle pieces, two enormous heads protruding out of a wall but it was soon after that they gained a reputation and people started looking to them for collectible pieces.
Mr NQN and I had just visited my high school friend Lulu, her husband Andrew and their two girls Audrey and Evie (my god daughter) over the Christmas break. Taking the 45 minute drive further up into the mountains, we took a detour having being given a tip from an in the know Blue Mountains resident Michelle. She's a reader of NQN and perhaps she knows of my predilection for taxidermy.
Apart from mountain chic-the next wave of design after the omnipresent French style, Cabin & Co also has a small cafe in the sun dappled, cozy back section of the shop. Formerly their office, it was converted to serve cakes, coffee and tea and it is secret little spot away from the busy footpath.
Home made lemonade $5
The home made lemonade is similar to how I make it at home with freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with cold, fizzy lemonade. Given that we're visiting on a day with 37C/98.6F temperatures, we're thankful for the seat in the path of the cool breeze and the cool drink.
Iced Coffee $6
Usually Mr NQN has a long black but given the temperatures, we were all panting for something iced. The iced coffee is without the whipped cream topping but is sweet, milky and strong.
Local Apple juice $5
I couldn't resist the local apple juice which is by Logan Brae, an apple orchard in the mountains. Although it tastes slightly different from when we first tried it years ago, it's still has their freshly pressed taste to it and a clean flavour.
Lumberjack cake $5
All of the cakes are made for them by a local baker and there are plans to start offering cheese plates with local cheese and wine. The Lumberjack cake is beautifully moist and replete with shredded coconut.
Chocolate truffle cake $5
The chocolate truffle cake is like a chocolate sponge rather than a dense chocolate truffle cake but there's a thick lick of icing and half a truffle sunken into the centre of the cake as well as half on top.
But back to the taxidermy. Sharyn, who is one of the owners, tells us that they sell at least one of the enormous pieces a month. They're usually collectibles sold on consignment by private sellers. An Iranian Red Sheep sold for $4,500 and prices vary according to size and age and the quality of taxidermy but they start at around $1,500.
The shop itself is a delight and there are unique pieces everywhere from these jars with battery operated butterflies or fireflies-a little movement and they flutter and jump around the jar. There is beautiful furniture from Joe Vinks made from foraged antlers and pieces of wood. Real Navajo rugs sit in another corner ready to hang on walls while a stuffed North American skunk stands poised with almost a smile on its face.
Hand carved series of animal hooks
Cooled down and full of cake, I spend time walking around the store picking up this and that and settle on just two small purchases-gift tags with small glassine bags of seeds to adorn presents for gardening loving friends.
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think of taxidermy? Glorious or gruesome?
Hand carved Easter chicks
Cabin & Co
8 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, New South Wales 2785
Tel: +61 (02) 4787 7110