Our good friends DanW and KatieB visited Orange in country NSW many years ago and fell in love with the food culture prevalent in the region and have contemplated leaving the big smoke behind to start up an organic farm there ever since. The same friends were the driving force behind getting us all to Orange the past weekend for their annual F.O.O.D event which spanned from the17th – 26th of April this year.
A four hour long drive from Sydney finds us arriving late and mentally exhausted on a cold, windy and wet Friday night. So we were relieved when we saw our cottage at Borrodell Winery, less so when we realised that there was a blackout. The boys did manage to start a fire in the darkness but we were all so exhausted we took ourselves off to bed. In the morning we were pleasantly surprised to find we were surrounded by an incredibly productive apple orchard with boughs heavy laden with ripe fruit and countless apples strewn on the ground. You don’t know how good apples can taste unless you’ve eaten one fresh off the tree. I had my year’s quota of apples when I went about testing the difference between the Bonza and the Red Delicious apples there. Verdict – both delicious but the Red Delicious ones were sweeter and the Bonza ones prettier with pristine white center – you can easily imagine that poisoned apple that tempted Snow White might have been a beautiful poisoned Bonza.
Keen to engage in the Food week events we called up several events to make a booking. Apparently Orange’s Food Week is really quite popular as all the events we wanted to attend were fully booked out. Organisation FAIL on our part. Mental note: Book ahead if you’re interested in the events. Not to be perturbed, we thoroughly enjoyed our wine tasting at Bloodwood winery and came away with a dozen delicious wines and a wealth of wine knowledge courtesy of Rhonda Doyle. Did you know that the Cabernet Savignon blend is the love-child of Cabernet FrancSauvignon Blanc? I didn’t. and
We attended the main food week event held on Sunday 26th – the Country Energy F.O.O.D Affair (partly because it didn’t require bookings and thus requiring us being organised). The fair showcased some of the best produce in the region from fresh organic farmed goods; to wineries; to restaurants, suppliers and caterers offering samples of their menus. Unfortunately the weather was not co-operating and the freezing cold, wet and windy conditions not compelling enough for me to cower from stall to stall in the driving rain to slowly sample all the region had to offer. That day my comfort won over the need to eat and forage. I however did stay long enough to take a few photos, gobble down a yummy hot dog and three piping hot soups. Perhaps next year Orange…
That’s not to say we didn’t appreciate the food of the region. DanW made the most delicious zesty herbed pork roast with a sauce so delicious it would have made sand palatable. He marinated the pork loins with fennel seeds, garlic, fresh thyme, pepper, salt and stuffed the scored skin with smashed garlic. A bed of chopped celery, fennel, pancetta, leek, garlic, olive oil, chicken stock and of course apples from the orchard made up the contents of the sauce to go with the roast. He then roasted the pork for about 2 hours at 250 degrees on a rack above the vegetables, allowing the pork fat to drip through and flavour the sauce. This was served with roast new potatoes and baby carrots and, at our insistence, brussel sprouts (I have some bizarre fascination with them and I want to develop a taste for them. It’s not working, but it’s worth a try). The pork was perfectly done and the sauce – oh, the sauce. It was incredible. It even made the brussel sprouts delicious. All paired with a bottle of Bloodwood Pinot – a great red for crisp winter nights.
To find more uses for the abundance of apples on our doorstep, the co-pilot made a scrumptious rhubarb and apple crumble for dessert. I made some Glühwein (mulled wine) as it is the perfect thing to drink in front of a fire when it’s freezing outside.
So even though we didn’t attend many of the official Orange F.O.O.D week events we held our own unofficial event in homage to Orange, sampled some of the delicious produce from the region and marvelled at the beautiful country landscape. I’d say it was a pretty successful weekend.