I remember the first time I went berry picking. I was about 7 years old at the time and some family friends owned a blueberry farm (well, it wasn’t a farm, probably more accurately it was an acre or so of blueberry bushes at the bottom of their land). I was terribly excited to go blueberry picking and remember running out into the bushes, twirling the wicker basket along my arm. Pulling the plump berries from the bushes and shoving them in my mouth was great fun. However, as the morning wore on and the sun rose in the sky, the appeal of berry picking began to wane. I ended up discarding my basket (with precious few picked berries in it) and chasing some of the other kids up and down the bushes, generally creating a nuisance for the others who were actually harvesting the fruit. Eventually it was time to take a break and we went inside to enjoy fresh blueberry pancakes with ice-cream and maple syrup. To me, these pancakes were the highlight of the day.
More recently, we have made it somewhat of a tradition to visit Gentle Annie Berry Gardens whenever we head to Lorne. If we visit on a fine day during December or January we will head out into the gardens and come home with more berries than anyone could rightly need. When it is too hot, too cold or we are simply too lazy we still visit the berry farm, but instead of rushing to the bushes we make a bee-line for the tearooms.
The Gentle Annie tearoom is a study in all things berry related. Of course, they do offer a range of savoury dishes (pies, quiches etc which we have tried once or twice) but the obvious draw are the fresh berry concoctions. After a somewhat successful lunch at the Olive farm, we decided to stop by Gentle Annie for dessert. Here is our selection of berry related goodness:
Rich, milky, berry smoothie with an abundance of seeds and an excellent mauve hue.
A warm berry pie, served with ice-cream. The hot-cold combination in a dessert is always a favourite of mine. Soft, warm, oozing berries, encased in a thin, crispy, homemade pie shell (that I sadly can’t eat as it is wheaty).
A simple pancake with fresh strawberry filling – yum!
And the winner of the day – fresh, warm scones with cream and jam made from the gardens (strawberry and silvanberry respectively):
About to be demolished:
Sated and full of various incarnations of berry, we headed to the farm shop to replenish our stock of jams, preserves and sauces:
They make and sell a variety of jams (including strawberry, strawberry and rhubarb, silvanberry, loganberry and raspberry) as well as dessert sauces and cordials, ice-cream and berry sorbets. The farm shop even sold a berry candy that strongly reminded me of the roll-ups of my childhood (which they claimed were good for you, although even as a child I suspected these were not – turns out I was right).
Heading back to the car, balancing my prizes in my arms, it came close to that feeling of happiness I had after my first day of berry picking.
Gentle Annie – Berry Gardens and Tearooms
520 Pennyroyal Valley Rd
Pennyroyal, Victoria, Australia 3235
(03) 5236 3391
In the tearoom, all things berry from about $7.50 – $12.00
Jams are $6 (although raspberry is $7)