This is partly a recipe.

But it’s really more of a postcard.

It’s a postcard from ten days of an elongated Easter. It’s a postcard from some of the prettiest places I know- the south coast of NSW, just two hours out of Sydney.

Will and I retreated to my mother’s house in Berry again for a spell. There were important things to be done.

There were coffees to be sipped at Berry Sourdough.

There was a range of sun salutes to be done at what is arguably, one of the most serene yoga studios around. The Berry Yoga Shala is a  space of timber floors and soaring ceilings, which look out over rolling green pastures and a scattering of docile cows. Anna’s Tuesday morning class is stonkingly good value and well worth extending a long weekend for.

There were vegetables to pluck from my step father’s plot. We roasted one hefty pumpkin and blitzed it with white beans for a Sunday night soup with sage and parmesan. The swiss chard is in full flight, finding its way as raw ribbons into salads with grated beets and braised with lamb and fennel.

There were cheeky lunches to be had up at the Two Figs Winery, perched on a crest of green, with a boundless view down onto the Shoalhaven river. Add a tasting plate of camembert, some cheddar, marinated figs and local olives, plus a glass of chambourcin and it’s civility itself.

There were morning constitutionals down the lane, to say hello to the neighbouring alpacas (somebody now likes the view better from up high).

There was even a sneaky dinner out, sans infant, at Berry’s South on Albany. Silken carrot puree and pink-as-flushed-toddler-cheek lamb loin, with kale and diced green beans providing crunch was a definite highlight.  Nb, like many of the good restaurants in Berry, it pays to book ahead, particularly if you’re visiting on a weekend, or over public holidays.

And there was that sublime day trip, driving the winding, wombat-flanked roads up through Kangaroo Valley to the towns of Bowral and Berrima. In Berrima we took a chance on lunch at the Berkelouw Book Barn at the Bendooley Estate winery. I’m so glad we did. If heaven to you is also made up of the smell of a roaring wood burning fire, vineyards, shelves and shelves of old and new books for sale,  fine stemware and food that manages to be both rustic and refined, then I highly recommend you make your way there.

We should have booked ahead for lunch at Berkelouw, but luckily some cherubic smiles from one in our party helped secure the last available table at lunch. The Hungry One was particularly pleased with his choice of the beef burger and glass of shiraz.

Lastly, it was  time for some pottering in the kitchen.  This galette is what I made for dessert on our last night in Berry- a small way of saying thank you to my mother and stepfather for being such generous hosts.

Along with the greens there are persimmons currently flourishing in their garden. Initially a mystery to us, these sunset-hued soft fruits are the non astringent type. They resemble wee pumpkins or squat tomatoes, kissed by cheap fake tan. When ripe they have a pulpy interior and a fragrance that is honeysuckle sweet. (Nb, some other persimmons are much more acrid tasting when not ripe)

My stepfather has been peeling and lightly stewing them, to be jarred and accompany weekday morning muesli and yoghurt. Yet thinly sliced with the skin still on, while they are still firm to the touch, these bake like pears or apples. So that’s what we did here. Instinct led me to combine their musky flavour with a hazelnut frangipane. It was a hunch that paid off.

As for the rest, a galette is just a cheat’s tart. There’s no fiddly pressing into plates, or stress of unmoulding. Its charm lies in its free-form ways. The pleated comfort of its border is like a lightly rumpled bed. Just roll your pastry to a circle, leave a few centimetres clear and place your filling to the centre. Most fruits will require some sort of padding to help absorb any juices that leach during baking. A frangipane is perfect, though in a pinch just some ground nuts would suffice.

It’s the sort of thing you can quickly pull together while a lamb shoulder roasts, and the rest of you discuss whether there’s time for an amble before the sun sets, who’s going to put the rugs on the horses, or what red wine you should drink with dinner.  It’s a short cut to the good life, just in pastry format.

Persimmon Hazelnut Galette

Serves 6

Nb, you could easily substitute slices of apple, pear or any thinly sliced, just ripe stone fruit for the persimmons.


300 g of shortcrust pastry (either good quality, defrosted, or made yourself)
85 g butter at room temperature
85 g icing/powdered sugar
1 egg
145 g ground hazelnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 just ripe medium Jiro, or non astringic persimmons, seeds discarded and cut into 2 mm slivers

Egg wash for glazing.

Ice cream or creme fraiche to serve

Here’s how we roll

1) Roll out your pastry to a circle approx 35-40 cm in diameter and 3 mm thick.

2) To make the frangipane, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined, then fold in the hazelnut meal and cinnamon.

3) Cut the persimmons (or other fruit) into slivers, discarding the tops and the seeds.

4) Transfer the pastry onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Spread the frangipane across the centre, leaving a 5 cm border. Lay the persimmon slices over the top of the frangipane, starting in the centre, overlapping each piece like the petals of a flower. Tuck them in snugly, as the pastry and the frangipane will expand a little while baking. If you have some left over, just place them in a bowl and serve them with the dessert on the side.

5) Pleat and fold the remaining pastry up and over to form a crust. It can be quite rustic.  Brush with egg wash to help seal the crust and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to firm up.

6) Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Bake for 45 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and brown. Serve slices hot, or warm with ice cream or creme fraiche.