Kangaroo Valley

A recent weekend away with friends was just what I needed. A chance to inhale, exhale…and return to centre.

A beautiful sunrise.

a misty morning in the valley

and a spot of cat chasing in a winery while parents are wine tasting.

The winery, Yarrawa Estate is nuzzled into some beautiful looking hills. Their view was quite simply…stunning. While wine tasting with 4 little kids isn’t the most relaxing way to spend your afternoon, I can certainly think of worse things to do. It did give just enough time to demolish a cheese platter, sample a few drops, chase two cats, plunder the chicken coop, and tease the family dog with a nut or two. Bottles bought and onwards we went, (Chambourcin and Verdelho some delicious stand outs.)

Kangaroo Valley is a picturesque little valley that sits a 2hour plus drive from Sydney. East of the Southern Highlands and just a little further west than the Sourdough Bakery at Berry. Famous for it’s locally made fudge, and lush fertile land. The areas dairies produce some great local milk, South Coast Dairy. While fudge, wine and milk doesn’t sound like much if eating as a locavore.

It’s certainly not a bad way to start if you are in the area.

****

 

Advertisements

Orange and Cardamom Biscotti


Some times you need something a little civilised. A little treat, a little daintiness perhaps…

This particular day something civilised was making some biscotti and having some dessert wine to dunk them in. Dunking…not so civilised. Dessert wine…very civilised!

Dessert wine is always sweet. I believe its supposed to be served sweeter than whatever your dessert is. You sip it in a civilised fashion, not guzzle…(note to self.)

To be enjoyed in restrained amounts- dunk a few biscotti in there however and I say drink what ever amount needs to be drunk.

The Monkeys helped me out with the cooking of the biscotti. Little Monkey had woken from a nap clingy and grizzly. Not wanting to leave my arms, it was raining heavily outside so that didn’t leave too many options of what to do with the boys. So with an eager Monkey Boy wanting to help and Little Monkey clinging to my hip like someone had super glued him on- cooking biscotti was locked in for the afternoon.

Now this was the that part wasn’t so civilised. With little thumbs stuck in egg shells, more than ample amounts of cardamom being flung in and flour being strewn on the floor- they were done. So easy, they can be done with one adult hand, two Monkey Boys hands, and two flaying Little Monkey hands while still clinging on to a hip.

Best eaten dunked into a little dessert wine or coffee after dinner, when its quiet and…civilised.

Orange and Cardamom Biscotti

3/4 cup raw sugar

2 eggs

2 tps grated orange rind

Beat together, and then add

1 1/3 cups of plain flour

2/3 cup of almond meal

1 tps ground cardamom (or what ever is left in the bottle!)

Mix it altogether to form a dough, and roll out to form a long log. Cook at 180 C for about 35 mins. Cut log on the diagonal and bake at 150C until dry and crisp- turning once in between.

(adapted from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook)

Gift idea– bag full of biscotti and a lovely bottle of dessert wine.

*The dessert wine we had was a Southern Highlands Wine. Located within my locavore area, it’s a stunning winery that has tastings and a gorgeous barrel room that can be hired out for functions- (…as it so happens we had our wedding reception there.)

Very civilised…

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are just west of Sydney, and an easy day trip or weekend away. The area is full of eucalyptus trees which produce droplets of oil, which then combined with water vapour and dust particles transmit a blue tinged light… hence the name Blue Mountains.

It is a World Heritage listed National Park, and full of great walks and look outs. I have lots of happy memories of being very weary after walking all day and tramping through the bush.

My Nana lives just 1 minutes walk from here.

Katoomba is a town within the Blue Mountains, and here are two wonderful reasons to visit it, (other than to visit my Nana and go bush walking of course).

Organic sourdough shop. Open 7 days a week from 6am, I got there about 6.30am, the sun still not yet up, and the cold winter streets deserted. I head towards the bakery, a 200 metre walk from where we are staying, and the smell hits me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread hitting your nostrils first thing on a cold mountain morning. The smell promises warmth, and happiness. How could you not but smile when smelling that?

Handmade chocolate shop. Now I am a big advocate of shopping locally, (also a big advocate of chocolate.) supporting my local businesses, like to consider food miles etc. It doesn’t get much better than this. Food miles= about two metres. Made on premises, and you can watch them through the glassed wall. Oh I had my eye on that tempering machine, yes I did…yes I did.

locavore biodynamic wine

I hadn’t bought a bottle of wine for a very long time, but Friday night I had decided was wine night, (well this Friday night was anyway.) I needed some antioxidants!

Walking in to the local bottle shop, they had a really big array of wines to choose from. Gosh, how to choose? Its been so long since I had a vague clue as to what was good and what wasn’t. That clue had long since flown out the door, and left with my choices being white or red?

G’day, do you have any organic, biodynamic and or local wines here?

The assistant sprang in to action, and explained he didn’t usually work there but he thought there were a few that would fit my description. Flying all around the shop, he could only come up with one locally produced one (within 160kms). He offered to ring the owner who had stepped out for a minute to ask him if there were any others, but I said that was fine and kept perusing. Apparently requests such as mine only come in about every 1:1000, so demand wasn’t high.

The owner came back and straight away directed me to a biodynamic locally produced family run winery. He was very knowlodgable and didn’t even take a second blink when I repeated my request of what I wanted.

I like that… Not feeling like a complete leper all the time with my requests.

Wine bought ‘Wild White’. Produced by Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard– located in the Hunter Valley.

Taste- pretty darn good. I’m no wine expert, but I like it when I like it and don’t when I don’t. I’m complicated like that. I think it would have gone perfectly with a cheese platter or as we did with a light dinner.

I would love to know how much of a market there is out there for these sorts of wines. Organic, biodynamic, or locally produced. Is it something that crosses peoples minds when they are purchasing? Availability? At $18 a bottle it’s not the cheapest of bottles available but certainly not expensive either. And for a person that very rarely buys wines, I am more than happy to support biodynamic farming practices within my locavore area for an infrequent bottle buying.

Capital L for Locavore

Locavore

A relatively new word that was added to the Oxford Dictionary just a few years ago. Refers to some one who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius. Sometimes called the 100 mile club or for us Aussies it’s a 160km club (but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it.)

Encouraging people to either eat from food they have produced themselves, from farmers markets or within the radius. Locally grown food cuts down on food miles, encourages people to eat healthier, and sustains smaller independent growers that could possibly be bought out by bigger corporations. Eating fresher and seasonally are just added bonuses to eating as a locavore.

I was starting to think maybe we should challenge ourselves and see if we can eat solely as locavores for a week. I was all enthusiastic about it, and then I had a reality check. We live in Sydney, far from the wheat belt of NSW, and I’m not so sure I can convince the monkeys that they don’t really need to eat that toast, porridge, weetbix for breakfast. Or be missing out on any pasta and rice for dinner, (I think they are the only kids on the planet that don’t like potatoes.)

To be a true locavore, is it a lifestyle choice that is simply not accessable to everyday people due to budget constraints?

If I was a single person, I could easily eat as a locavore. However incorporating a budget, and two small children’s tastes, I’m not so sure. So what to do?

Try to find some locavore products that would replace our normal everyday groceries without blowing out purse strings. We already eat as seasonally, healthy, making as many things from scratch as possible. Also keeping in mind organic, locally made and fair trade options. Can I find even more alternatives that are within our locavore area?

What am I aiming for?….Locally grown

If I can’t get that….Family farmed.

If thats still tricky…..make it organic,

and if it simply can’t be organic….Make it fair trade.

First up. Lets see where 160km actually gets us.  http://100milediet.org/get-started/map

Milk is a big thing in this household, a lot is consumed each week. I wasn’t sure I would be able to source some milk straight from the supplier, but then remembered I had seen a stall at the South Sydney Markets a while ago and decided to revisit.

Milk- bought from South Sydney Markets, each week on a Sunday. Supplier- Country Valley

At $5.00 for 2 litres, it is more expensive then your average supermarket milk. Taste wise though, milk isn’t just milk so I discovered. It was really creamy and tasted a lot different. It tasted fresher, more flavoursome, and sort of rolled around your mouth more. My husband agreed. The monkeys, they just drank it, as milk is milk after all for some.

This milk hasn’t had to be sent to another processor, so they can bottle and sell the milk from where they are located in Picton. On further reading through their website, I liked what I read and think that it would be good to support them. I also found that there were a lot more stockists about, carrying the milk. Which is great! I like milk options.

Especially locavore milk options.