Susan Bruce worked in the financial sector before creating a country smokehouse on her grazing property on the outskirts of Canberra, the now famous Poachers Pantry. As well as at the farm shop and restaurant, the high quality smoked meats have appeared on Qantas menus and at top restaurants. Celebrating 25 years in business, Poachers Pantry just unveiled its new Poachers Pantry Smokehouse Restaurant and Wily Trout Cellar Door. See poacherspantry.com.au
It's on the verandah of the Long Track Pantry at Jugiong, in a lovely old converted country store with the rolling hills on one side and the Murrumbidgee River on the other. The menu is simple and uses lots of fresh produce from the farmers of the district and is served with a warm country smile. It's perfect for a country escape. See longtrackpantry.com.au
LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY
Fly fishing on the Eucumbene River in the high country. I was amazed to find that the trout wait at the edge of the dam for the first winter rain before they make their trip up stream to spawn. Just a hint of rain and these river monsters make their way up the rivers and creeks. Strict bag limits, but at that size, one feeds the whole family.
BEST KEPT FOOD SECRET
A plate of local olives and freshly shucked oysters enjoyed with a crisp Canberra riesling, and, if you don't want to do it yourself, try the Yazz Bar in Yass. The Canberra region goes all the way to the south coast and Wapengo produces the finest oysters of any regional inlet. La Barre and Homeleigh Grove are great regional olive producers. See yazzbar.com.au
MUST TRY DISH
June to early August is the truffle season in our region and local restaurants love to use them. Grazing in Gundaroo and Clementine in Yass are good places to seek exciting dishes using these little miracles. See grazing.com.au and clementinerestaurant.com.au
Aah, the amazing day spa, Geranium House, overlooking the Yass valley from Mount Spring. The treatments always have me floating home with a wonderful warm glow and a fragrant mist of the lotions following me. See geraniumhouse.com.au
BIG NIGHT OUT
A night in Canberra would probably start with a drink at Parlour Wine Room, a cool wine bar-restaurant. Its wine list from regional vineyards is always exciting and bound to introduce me to a new vintage or winemaker. Follow this by a dinner at Sage, where the food is exciting and the service perfect. See parlour.net.au and sagerestaurant.net.au
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Canberra does winter well, better than any other state capital. The cool clear days, with a crisp blue sky, frost on the ground – and truffles underneath it. Everyone has more time for the visitor, vineyards tend to release their new vintages then and the bare trees create an air of mystery and expectancy.