Slowing down and enjoying the local fare in Bermagui

A scrummy lunch at Eastwood Deli … the key is pan-frying the chicken schnitzel.
A scrummy lunch at Eastwood Deli … the key is pan-frying the chicken schnitzel.

When you have lunch in a NSW South Coast backwater such as Bermagui — well, the place, despite its immense beauty, is a bit off the beaten tourist track — you hardly expect the food to be prepared by someone who has cooked for Bill Gates, worked in the kitchens of renowned British chef Rick Stein and a couple of super-yachts, and been on the team of My Kitchen Rules.

But that’s what you get when you stop at the recently opened Eastwood Deli, which has turned out to be quite a foodie mecca that sells a range of gourmet cheeses, patés, antipasto and cured meats, as well as offering a limited but delicious menu, great coffee and soon-to-come cooking classes.

Kelly Eastwood … has stopped at Bermagui, perhaps to catch her breath, perhaps for good.

Kelly Eastwood … has stopped at Bermagui, perhaps to catch her breath, perhaps for good.

Kelly Eastwood has stopped at Bermagui, perhaps to catch her breath, perhaps for good. She certainly likes the place, and, for the first time in her life, has the time and inclination to adorn her walls with some paintings. Farewell suitcase.

I relax first with a coffee, roasted in Stanmore by Five Senses. It is excellent — packed with flavour but certainly not bitter.

That’s paired with a good, old-fashioned jaffle — in name at least — but filled with exceptional ingredients such as double-smoked ham, béchamel sauce, pickles and cheddar cheese, and lovingly browned into a delightful package of goodness. Well, I like to think it’s as good for me as it tastes.

After a quick drive around Bermagui, I return for a second-course. I have another coffee, this time accompanied by a burger-style offering filled pan-fried, rather than deep-fried, chicken schnitzel, laced with sriracha chilli sauce inspired by the Vietnamese and Japanese mayonnaise, and topped with a mountain of fresh salad.

Eastwood Deli … has quickly become a haunt for local foodies.

Eastwood Deli … has quickly become a haunt for local foodies.

I suppose Kelly’s path to Eastwood Deli was paved by the River Cottage Australia TV cooking class/show which was run by Fox for some 18months, based in the town of Tilba, about half an hour from Bermagui.

Kelly loved her role in that and decided to re-create the classes when Fox pulled the plug. They will commence in the shop in June, using a number of personnel from River Cottage Australia.

The Cenotaph at Bermagui … surely one of Australia’s best located.

The Cenotaph at Bermagui … surely one of Australia’s best located.

Anyway, Bermagui turns out to be a charming seaside town. I don’t really have the time to give at least a couple of hours to the vibrant — even on a Monday — Fishermen’s Wharf, which features a pretty tidy fishing fleet and other boats, some gracious wooden carvings of Italian seafaring pioneers, and a brace of shops and restaurants, including Bermagui Gelati Clinic.

It’s really a shop, but you know that a little bit of something you like does you the power of good.

Francesca Michielin … has been making top-class gelati in Bermagui for about 14 years.

Francesca Michielin … has been making top-class gelati in Bermagui for about 14 years.

Francesca Michielin and Alberto Cementon have been making top-class gelati in Bermagui for about 14 years, using local ingredients, especially excellent local fruit, whenever they can — things such as apples, pears, citrus, etc.

They make all the classic gelati varieties, such as chocolate and lemon, but love to stretch the envelope a bit, too.

Hence roasted-pear-and-rosemary make a regular appearance, and they venture into feijoa, finger lime and dragon fruit, all of which grow surprisingly well in the district.

The Cenotaph at Bermagui … surely one of Australia’s best located.

The Cenotaph at Bermagui … surely one of Australia’s best located.

And the Bermagui shoreline must be home to surely one of the most attractively located cenotaphs in Australia. I’m sure that diggers — old, new, and yet-to-be — and their friends and relatives thoroughly appreciate their fortunate environment whenever they gather to remember the fallen.

IF YOU GO

Eastwoods Deli, 1/26 Bunga Street, Bermagui, phone 0416 937 335, Facebook: www.facebook.com/how2cookwithkelly.

Bermagui Gelati Clinic, Shop 4, 73-79 Lamont Street (Fishermen’s Wharf), Bermagui, phone 0404 813 323, Facebook: www.facebook.com/pg/BermaguiGelatiClinic.

For general information about Bermagui, go to www.visitbermagui.com.au and www.visitnsw.com.

John Rozentals was a guest of Destination NSW.