Over Easter, the Yak, kidlets and myself enjoyed a family sojourn with Dad (Mr Bapgpipes) and his partner, the divine Ms N, in the beautiful countryside of Orange, breathing clean air and looking at big skies.
Orange is located about 3 1/2 hours from Sydney in Western NSW. Fertile soil in this region produces quality fruits, wine, beef and lamb. Orange has become somewhat of a country foodie Mecca for those who enjoy the delights of the table.
We were lucky to stay a few kilometres outside of Orange on about five acres of property. Ms N, was housesitting a gorgeous homestead that also had a little cottage attached. The home was a glorious blend of old and new and spoke of both the past and the present.
Scattered throughout the garden were ancient cold climate trees and shrubbery, lovingly highlighted by artistic touches in places you least expected them. Two fantastic dogs, a miniature pony, bunny rabbit and loads of running space. What else could two small lads (and parents) want?
Friday was a day of relaxation, a lunch of warming lentil soup cooked by Ms N and a slap up lasagna for dinner. Snuggling up under winter weight doonas in the chill, still quiet of the night was a balm for our weary, urbanised souls. Early morning cuddles with little boys who will soon grow out of such nonsense. I stroked their soft faces and clasped their warm little hands, baby fat has melted away into the leaner bodies of small children. If I close my eyes I can still see the chubby legs and starfish hands of their babyhood.
Saturday consisted of morning coffee at the very cool Agrestic Cafe in a renovated old mill. The food looked great but we opted for a coffee only, which took a little while to arrive. One of the sproglets ordered a very delicious, certainly homemade banana bread, served with the most scrumptious handmade pat of butter.
Alongside this hip bustling place was a nifty little grocery selling a variety of local produce. We purchased some pretty little bunches of heirloom carrots and an award winning local feta cheese. As foodie gifts, some local pistachios, chemical free sultanas and spices also fell into the ‘take home basket’. There were local wines, olive oils, olives and vinegars to choose from as well as an abundance of local fresh fruit and veg.
Coffee cravings satiated, we took off for a hoon around Orange and up Mt Canoblas. The views from this extinct volcano were fantastic. Autumn leaves were just beginning to turn and vines were starting to change colour. Much needed recent rain meant the hills were covered in a swathe of emerald green grass. All this fresh air and natural beauty was starting to put the zing back in our zang.
Mr Bagpipes had booked a table for lunch at the Sisters Rock (yes they do) restaurant at Borrodell Vineyard. Plopped on the side of Mt Canoblas, this stunningly idyllic rustic restaurant looks out over vineyards and farmlets. The boys were happy with the children’s menu and us grown ups were more than happy with our choices.
Ms N and I gobbled up pithivier’s (posh for pie) of leeks and mushrooms with a tomato salsa and balsamic reduction. Mr Bagpipes has been on a venison roll lately, oh dear. (Sorry). He heartily enjoyed a loin of venison that was cleverly paired with a Borrodell red wine and plum spiced syrup . The Yak chowed down on a sinful twice cooked cheese soufflé with sides of asparagus and walnut butter as well as hand cut chips with lemongrass mayonnaise. This cheergerm dreamily sipped on a delicious glass of the Borrodel sparkling wine whilst plotting ways of moving out to the country.
Orange town itself comprises of traditionally wide Australian country streets, lined with trees in various autumnal shades. Beautiful heritage houses and buildings abound. Fantastic looking shops (closed due to Easter, ‘thank goodness!’ cried the Yak) and bountiful cafés and restaurants, enough to satisfy the hungriest visitor.
The rest of our time consisted of Easter eggs hunts, devouring chocolate, small boys climbing and playing, reading, cooking and walking. I watched our giggling lads swing from a rope ladder attached to a magnificent oak tree and tucked this memory into my heart. These days really are the best days of our lives and sometimes it’s easy to look past the simple moments of joy.
Sadly, holidays must come to an end. Farewells were said as little boys hugged doggers, horses and people that they had spent special time with.
A big thanks to Ms N for her delightful hospitality and the big box of Fuyu persimmons we took back from the property. These round little fruits are reminiscent of a Renoir still life painting. Having tasted one, the astringency quite knocked my socks off. The next fruit tasted was over ripe and mushy (almost gelatinous, my least favourite food texture). However, the actual flavour was quite nice. Mildly sweet, almost like a soft banana (that isn’t a banana), mayhaps a persimmon cake will eventuate in the near future, once they ripen more.
The heirloom carrots and feta ended up as part of Easter lunch, keep your eyes peeled for the next post.
For now, I leave you with a few images our country sojourn.