Would you like beans with that?

If you read my post 5 Things I Love to Hate About Air Travel you’ll know that I greatly dislike plane/airport food. Not only because it is astronomically expensive, but also because it is stodgy and less like food than one cares to admit. It’s also heavy on the waste and packaging which, truth be told, stresses me out. Heck, except for a few items here and there, plane food is often just a jumble of numbers and colours and other strange things that I’d rather not shove down my pie hole. The same goes for highway rest stops.

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But that’s just me. I’m sure some people couldn’t give two hoots.

After returning from Vietnam (where many a flight was taken and many an airport visited) just 3 days later my family and I hit the highway for our annual, coastal holiday.

More transit, more transport, ergo more travel-type food…

This year’s destination was somewhere near Forster, about 4 hours north of Sydney, in a tiny town called Bluey’s Beach. There we stayed on a sleepy little acreage called Charlotte House, aptly renamed “The Wolf Creek House”, mostly because of the lack of sunshine, the dark oily creek that ran through the front yard and the general sense of isolation we experienced while there. It was beautiful, really, just a little cold and dark and wet.

Lucky for you, the point of this post is not to detail the ins and outs of my family holiday, as I may have lead you to believe. What happens on holidays (which is nothing really) stays on holidays. The point of this post is actually to share my excitement and enthusiasm about our highway lunch stop. Stay with me, I promise it’s riveting stuff!  

Gone are the days of uninspiring petrol station pies and limp Macdonald’s fries, say hello to intolerance friendly food and vegetables in abundance. Friends, say hello to Oliver’s Real Food. It’s places like this that are enough to make any whole-foodie’s stomach grumble in appreciation. In fact, I think I said the words “thoroughly impressed” about a hundred times in the short period we were there for lunch. But I really was impressed, and thoroughly so. olivers_real_foodBut why? Well…

  • Oliver’s work with young, organic farmers to grow and use the freshest, local produce possible. “Our goal is to encourage more farmers to convert to growing organically and if they do, we will guarantee to buy everything they produce”.
  • Rather than fries, Oliver’s serve lightly salted steamed green beans. This is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, which I like. I can imagine many of my friends grimacing at this, but they really do taste amazing, which is important.

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  • There are tonnes of gluten free options for all the glutards out there, which makes eating easy and stress-free. I am so grateful for this, as it means I didn’t have to bug anyone with numerous questions and requests. There are also plenty of vegan, vego and other special diet options available.
  • The range of food is extensive: sushi, curries, organic soups, fresh sandwiches, all-day brekkie, muffins and breads, toasts, kids stuff, salads, sides and snacks such as bliss balls, yoghurts, fruit, nut mixes, bircher muesli, chia cups, drinks, tea and cawfee, smoothies and tonnes more.
  • My coffee was good. ‘Nuff said. Bonsoy and almond milk are available too.

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  • Many ingredients/items are organic. I know, I know, the jury is still out on whether organic food really lives up to the hype that surrounds it, but I do like that things like coffee, tea, milk, nuts, fruit, veg and eggs are mostly organic. When it comes to fizzy drinks and other such superfluous items, I don’t think it really makes a difference.
  • The owners actually seem to stand by their message by promoting good health, nutrition and mental wellbeing. There are numerous health and nutrition books available for sale in store, as well as movies and munchable pantry items items like himalayan pink salt, nuts and muesli.

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  • The packaging was biodegradable and compostable for the most part. Win! 
  • As well as the usual suspects like salt and pepper at the condiments table, there was also chilli-infused extra virgin olive oil. I love quality olive oil. Oh, it’s the simple things!

So I guess I owe you some thanks Oliver’s, for making highway stops that little bit more nutritious and tummy-friendly. Wanky as it may sound, over the course of the day I really enjoyed my free-range chicken salad, my gluten-free garlic pita, my soy latte and my Kai-Ora energy ball. And it seems like the crowds of other customers did too.

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Needless to say, I know where to stop for intolerance-friendly, finger-lickin’ goodness on the next family road trip. And yes, I would like beans with that!

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