Our camping trip was character building, as they so often are. Don’t get me wrong, it was fab and the kids were delirious with pleasure. It was just character building as well.
I did very much enjoy my camp kitchen. The most successful camping food I made was quesadillas with corn, canned black beans, red capsicum and cheese, with a bonus squeeze of lime juice and red chilli oil on top for the grown ups. The most successful camping meal, however, was the two dozen Tathra oysters and bottle of champy we ate lying about in the heat of the early afternoon on the second day. The oysters are nowhere near their best at this time of year, of course, but still deliciously creamy with that slightly metallic tang. They’re sold from a minuscule shop out the back of a house, but when the owners are not there, you leave your $9/dozen in the honesty box and help yourself from the fridge. Then you listen to your six year old demand oysters from the backseat all the way back to the camping ground.
We had another great meal on the way home, at the heritage listed Royal Hotel in Cooma. The kids had been cooped up in the car, so although the footpath tables looked lovely we asked if we could eat up on the balcony upstairs so we didn’t have to chase them too much. The barman laughed and said we were welcome, but they “hadn’t done anything with it”. I don’t know why you’d want to – a huge wooden floored balcony with cast iron railings and a view of the Rivers outlet store. Digging around afterwards I found that the hotel was built in 1858 and the verandas added in 1900. They are the only ones in Cooma to have survived the demolish and modernise frenzy of the 1950s.
The food was good country pub grub. The menu was soon to change for the warmer weather, but we were in time for a delicious lamb shank with good mash and hand cut fresh veggies, only slightly overcooked, and a proper country hamburger with crispy non-greasy chips. Sage insisted on nuggets’n'chips, and eventually found some use for the nuggets.
The Royal Hotel is on the corner of Sharp and Lambie Streets, a couple of blocks off the main drag. It was honest, solid food in a very pleasant environment. There’s a run of the mill little dining room downstairs, and shady tables outside. Nothing on the menu is over about $16, and our two meals, two large Reschs and food and drink for the kids came to $44. Lambie Street, the first settled street in town, has eleven heritage listed buildings and makes for a very pleasant post prandial stroll.