It's not only beaches, bikinis and flag-waving Aussies in Sydney's Sutherland Shire. It's also home to the Hazelhurst Gallery at Gymea where you can take in some art and enjoy a gluten-free (GF) lunch.
The regional gallery and arts centre has a lovely terrace cafe/restaurant which overlooks the garden. The day Bruce and I met his shire-residing Mum and Dad for lunch, there were three GF options (marked with asterisks) on the regular menu and one GF special.
My meal of king prawn and grilled peach with pan seared haloumi, asparagus and rocket salad and lemon dressing was absolutely delicious and very fresh. It was a good choice for lunch as it wasn't too heavy and I love the addition of fruits like peaches and nectarines in salads.
The other two gluten-free dishes were seared chicken tenderloin with spiced fig, fetta and hazelnut salad drizzled with shiraz caramel and tea-smoked Atlantic salmon in lemongrass/lime butter with glass noodles (hopefully gluten-free) cucumber, coriander, mint salad, sesame dressing and crispy eschalot.
While I didn't need dessert I couldn't resist trying the rosewater pavlova with double cream coconut ice cream and fresh strawberries. You could really taste the rosewater but it wasn't too overpowering.
At most restaurants there is usually only one GF option on the sweets menu but not at Hazelhurst. I had the choice of three out of five. There was also an individual flourless chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, berry coulis and double cream and a classic creme brulee with poached peaches. My mouth is watering now! Hazelhurst also has a breakfast menu with GF bread served on request.
The day we were there the staff were setting up The Leslie Walton Collection, which opened last weekend. The collection includes works from Australian artists Roland Wakelin, Grace Cossington Smith, Elioth Gruner and John Peter Russell. It runs till 8 May.
Another exhibition which also opened last weekend is 'Made in the Shire'. Thirty years on from the surf book and movie 'Puberty Blues', the exhibition features photographs of some of the Shire's desperate romantics and high school sweethearts by Emma Thomson, taken during her residency at Hazelhurst.
Hazelhurst also runs art classes for adults and children. The gallery is at 728 Kingsway Gymea and is open Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm.