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Sydney Morning Herald July 17 2009

Sydney Morning Herald July 17 2009

A Fork in the Road by Helen Greenwood

What is it about carbohydrates and carburettors? Seems the minute your feet hit the accelerator, your stomach and palate hit the food button in your brain. If you're like me, you simultaneously trace your route and your eating destinations as you touch the screen on your GPS or unfold an old-fashioned map.

We all have our favourite pit stops. For Sydneysiders, a trip north was never complete without pulling in to The Oak Factory at Hexham and sampling the milk bar. Stories of school trips always mention this monument to dairy goodness.

Heading up the Pacific Highway also swings you into pie territory. This one-handed meal keeps the sprint in the driver with its combined rush of carbs and protein. Fredo Pies and Heatherbrae Pies always crop up as places to get the lidded pastry beauties that will fill you up (see breakout).

South of Sydney, the tummy starts to get rumbly around Berry and, like a Homer Simpson flash from doughnut heaven, thar she blows, the magnificent Berry Donut Van, with its famous cinnamon doughnut and infamous coffee. Mmmmm.

While you're dunking your doughnut, you won't be able to miss the Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery, with its veranda stuffed full of motorists munching on pastries, breads and quiche or tucking a loaf under their arms and heading back to their cars.

For those who regard a road trip as a gastronomic pilgrimage rather than a fast-food race, a well-set table is worth the detour, as the Michelin Guide used to say.

Gourmet touring needn't be a marathon event, however. You can eat well on the road, whether it's a quick stop or a long lunch, a relaxing glass of pre-prandial wine or a family-friendly dinner at the end of the day.

Here are some hidden gems, old favourites and must-stops when you're on the road.

Bent on Food, Wingham

A mid-19th-century town with National Trust-listed buildings and a reputation as a foodie destination. At its heart is Bent on Food, a cafe and larder where specialty food, local goodies and kitchenware grace the shelves. The menu mixes up Rudi's German bacon, Hastings Valley honey, smoked meats from Mentges Master Meats, Manning Valley cheeses and Ricardoe's area tomatoes.