A moment in time: lunch in a Hunter Valley olive grove
CHEF ARMANDO PERCUOCO INVITES YOU TO STOP BY FOR AN ALFRESCO LUNCH IN HIS HUNTER VALLEY OLIVE GROVE.
TWENTY YEARS AGO, Italian-born chef Armando Percuoco planted a grove of silvery-leaved olive trees at Valleyfield, his property in the NSW Hunter Valley. Today, the fruit from these trees are used to make fresh, grassy-flavoured olive oil for his Sydney restaurant, Buon Ricordo. There’s also an orchard that produces figs, pears and oranges for marmalade, and Armando grows herbs, chillies and vegetables for his home kitchen, where he cooks simple, seasonal fare like this tubetti con zucca. Buon Ricordo is at 108 Boundary Street, Paddington, NSW. (02) 9360 6729; buonricordo.com.au
PASTA WITH PUMPKIN
Serves 4 500g tubetti (or any small pasta) 2 cups vegetable stock or water ⅓ cup olive oil 2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed 1kg Queensland blue pumpkin, deseeded, peeled, cut into 3cm cubes 1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped ½ bunch sage, leaves picked ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked extra virgin olive oil, to serve finely grated parmesan, to serve purple sage leaves, to garnish (optional) Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water according to packet directions or until al dente. Drain. Place stock in a saucepan and bring to boil over a high heat. Set aside. Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, for 2 minutes or until golden. Add pumpkin and stir to coat in oil mixture. Stir in chilli. Add enough hot stock to just cover pumpkin. Bring to boil. Cook for 8 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of pumpkin to a bowl. Cook remaining pumpkin mixture, topping up cooking liquid if necessary, for 5 minutes or until pumpkin begins to fall part. Add pasta and stir to combine. Dice reserved pumpkin, and finely chop sage and parsley. Add to pasta and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Season to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan. Garnish with purple sage.
Alfresco dining is a year-round affair at Valleyfield, the Hunter Valley property of chef Armando Percuoco and his wife Gemma Cunningham. Under the olive trees, the couple cover an old trestle table with linen cloths for a shared feast that might include a rustic pasta dish, homegrown fifigs, good bread served with their own olive oil for dipping, and plenty of red wine from a favourite local winery.
At his Hunter Valley property, chef Armando Percuoco likes to turn homegrown produce into hearty meals.