The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Junee is located in the Riverina of New South Wales, about 350km southwest of Sydney. It is a nice looking town with some well-restored old buildings, surrounded by the sorts of landscapes that I grew up thinking were iconically Australian: low hills, brown grass paddocks dotted with sheep and trees, and fields of wheat and other crops.

Situated in a beautifully restored old building which used to be the town’s flour mill, The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory was the drawcard that brought us to town while we were visiting family in Griffith, about 2 hours’ drive further south.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the outdoor area under the shade of Virginia creeper supported by old wooden beams. The menu may not be extensive, but the food was absolutely delicious.

Visitors can stroll through the building and watch the different kinds of chocolates and sweet treats being made through large viewing windows.

The factory’s chocolate shop offers a multitude of organic sweet treats: plain chocolate, regular or raspberry licorices in plain or chocolate coated varieties, rocky road, freckles, chocolate coated pretzels, varieties of chocolate with different fruit or nuts in them, just to name a few. The hardest part is deciding what you want to take home, and how much work you’ll have to do to make up for it later on.

In addition to all the sweet things, there are all sorts of produce on offer: pickles, sauces, balsamic vinegar, jams and chutneys, honey and olive oil – all locally produced.

It honestly doesn’t get much more Aussie than this.

Out of responsibility to the folk who read my blog, we bought some chocolate to taste-test, and we are not sorry.

The chocolate is smooth, creamy and delicious. That freckle I just bit into for the sake of the photo is the perfect blend of crunchy and smooth. The rate at which my husband ate his chocolate covered raspberry licorice bullets was definitely indicative of superior quality and taste. The chocolate-coated pretzels I bought were as good as the ones I had in Amish country in Pennsylvania, and that’s really saying something! Consequently, they did not last long enough to have their photo taken. It was only a small packet, after all.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that the Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory is a ten hour drive from home.

The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
#chocolate #organic #travel

Laura Secord.

Laura Secord was an incredibly gutsy woman. 

When she overheard plans by the Americans to attack the British soldiers defending Canada in the War of 1812, she walked almost 20 miles from her home in Queenston to warn them. She was determined to get the message to the British soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant FitzGibbon, at Beaver Dams, where the Americans planned to attack. 

This was no walk in the park. It was over varied terrain in 19th century ladies’ shoes and clothing which, it may safely be assumed, were not designed  for much other than drinking tea in parlours and visiting a shop or two on the odd occasion. She didn’t go by the main road, because she didn’t want to be stopped by more American soldiers.  Even though she was afraid when she came upon a camp of Iroquois, she asked for directions and was pleased to find that they supported the British. She was even more pleased that a guide accompanied her to Decew House, where FitzGibbon and his men were in a meeting.

The message borne by Laura Secord made a huge difference in the outcome of the Battle of Beaver Dams. The British ambushed and defeated the Americans, and gladly took all the credit in their official reports. Laura Secord didn’t even get a mention. 

Nice. 

It is rather good, though, that her homestead has been preserved, and that there is a lovely monument to Laura Secord and her bravery in Queenston Heights Park. 

I visited her homestead today, and was thrilled to find her monument when I went to see the monument to Isaac Brock, a key figure in the War of 1812 and the Battle of Queenston Heights.

   
   
There is also a wonderful chain of chocolate stores named in her honour. The founder of Laura Secord Chocolates wanted her memory to be preserved and the story of her bravery to be told. 

It’s a big ask, but I am willing to do my part in perpetuating the memory of this Canadian heroine. 

   
 
I’m calling it a patriotic duty. 

Why one should mind one’s own business in the supermarket. 

It had been a long, busy day at work following several days plagued by severe headaches. I headed to the supermarket to get some things for dinner and to stock up on Tim Tams for my family and friends in the U.S. and Canada, as I am heading back over there in a couple of weeks. 

I had ten packs of Tim Tams and a stack of other Aussie treats in my basket. A lady nearby looked into my basket and then looked at me, as though she were trying to shame me for my wilful flirtation with Type 2 Diabetes.  

I could have called her out on being a nosy cow who makes assumptions about strangers way too quickly but, instead, I looked her right in the eye with feigned innocence as I took the last box of Tee Vee Snacks from right in front of her and said, “What? I’m hungry, okay?”

She couldn’t look away fast enough. 

“There!” I said inside my head, “that will teach you to mind your own business.”

When I got to the checkout, the attendant was looking strangely at my stash and at me, but at least she tried to hide it. Once again, I looked at her and said, “Never can stop at just one, you know!” 

She tried to hide her reaction with a smile, but it was awkward.

“Not really,” I continued. “I’m going to America and Canada in a couple of weeks and they can’t get Tim Tams there. I’m performing a mission of mercy.”

That time, she really was horrified. 

“Those poor people!” she said. “Ten packets isn’t enough!”

“I know, right,” I said, “but I don’t want to be arrested for trafficking a drug of dependence.”

“Can they do that?”

“Yeah, twelve packs and I’d be a goner. They’d confiscate them all at the airport and arrest me. ”

Her eyes were wide and her mouth was open. 

Never mind how tired I had been just twenty minutes earlier. I walked out of that store feeling like an absolute legend. 

Roadtripping #6

As we crossed the border of Vermont, I channeled some Barry Gibb and sang 
‘Massachusetts’ for my companions. They were enthralled, of course. 
Mind you, I had been channeling Karen Carpenter all morning, as that’s what my brainPod was playing, so it was a refreshing change – for me, at least. 

We saw a sign to Shelburne Falls and decided to take a detour and look around.

Shelburne Falls is a really pretty town nestled below a hydro-electric plant on the Deerfield River in the hills of Massachusetts. There is a river with a causeway, from which water spills very prettily.  There are also some glacial potholes quite close to town: pools and channels carved out by water movement underneath a glacier, which makes these geological formations really old and really interesting. 

The shops in the street are really well presented, with personality reminiscent of the quirkiness and sense of fun that we saw last night in Montpelier. 

After crossing the bridge and taking a couple of snapshots, we visit the market store. It’s obviously run by hippies, but it is kind of cool. They have some really groovy knitted animals, and my friend distracts the store attendant while I take photos of them, just in case that is frowned upon by the aforementioned hippies. 

Then we visit Mo’s Candy Store. Even before we get in the door, we are greeted by cheerful violets in a half-barrel, and some brightly coloured chairs with cute sayings painted on them, like “When I feel blue, I eat pink ice-cream”. The presentation is really cute and inviting. It’s just what the entrance to a country town candy shop should be.

As we walk in the door, we are met with the most divine aroma. Not just sugar or the mixed fragrances of commercial candy. There are three confectioners making different types of candy at the back of the store. That’s what smells so amazing. 
This place has everything.  Chocolates, fudge, truffles, cookies, hard candy, taffy, and jars full of all kinds of sweets. 
I make my selection:  a PB cup in milk chocolate and one in dark chocolate, and the same choices in maple cups. Maple cups are new to me, but I love maple foods, so I know they will be a winner.  I also choose a peanut butter pothole cookie sandwich which looks mouth-wateringly divine: chocolate cookies filled with peanut butter cream. 

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Some of the treats at Mo's Candy Store.

I can feel my jeans getting a little tighter just thinking about that cookie, but it’s going to be totally worth it.