Take the slow road to Orange for feasts of the wood-fired kind

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

THE Slow Food con­cept has so sub­tly crept into our think­ing about good eat­ing that it doesn’t al­ways get a men­tion. Top restau­rant dishes usu­ally in­volve tra­di­tional meth­ods, and sea­son­al­ity is the key.

But home cooks some­times need to re­think ap­proaches to fam­ily eat­ing. Homemade doesn’t have to be hard.

Which is why Slow Food or­gan­i­sa­tions, and fes­ti­vals such as Slow Food Orange in NSW, are im­por­tant. It’s this mini-fes­ti­val’s sec­ond year and it aims to show­case the good food and wine of the re­gion.

Kim Cur­rie — a chef in an­other life, she says, and now or­gan­iser of Brand Orange for the lo­cal vi­gnerons as­so­ci­a­tion — tells Food De­tec­tive Nash­dale Hall will be the cen­tre of events. The hall is a true com­mu­nity fo­cus, with an $8000 wood-fired oven out the back, which was do­nated to the peo­ple of the dis­trict by Slow Food Orange.

Slip out there at the Slow Sum­mer Sup­per ($30; $15 for un­der 12s) on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 10, the last day of the fes­ti­val, and you will find a clutch of the re­gion’s top chefs gath­ered around the oven. There’ll be Michael Man­ners, ex Selkirks, now of Man­ners & Borg, the Old Con­vent cafe’s Josie Chap­man, Les­ley Rus­sell of Orange Re­gional Cook­ing School, Cur­rie and oth­ers.

Events next Satur­day in­clude a farm gate trail to meet grow­ers and taste their pro­duce (9am-mid­day, $45) and a farm­ers’ mar­ket brunch (10am-mid­day, $30) at Orange Show­ground. There will be work­shops on ■ WHILE in the dis­trict: Michael Man­ners and Josephine Jag­ger-Man­ners at Man­ners & Borg, hid­den away in the Wool­worths car park, are do­ing a busy trade in ready-made meals (up to 26 dishes in­clud­ing tagines, cur­ries, duck legs with honey, dates and al­monds), char­cu­terie such as ril­lettes, and lo­cal butcher Michael Borg’s famed gourmet sausages.

Josephine tells De­tec­tive they’re a work­ing kitchen with a tiny shopfront be­side the Best & Less load­ing dock in the car park, at the rear of 166 Sum­mer St. Per­sis­tence pays: when you find them, in­vest in a cof­fee and homemade cake while you make your choice. Mon­day-Fri­day, 9am-6pm; Satur­day, 9am-2pm. www.man­ner­sand­borg.com. sea­sonal fruits and on bread and pizza mak­ing us­ing that wood-fired oven (hand­son and bring the kids). Fe­bru­ary 8-10, event book­ings es­sen­tial, www.slow­foodor­ange.com; www.tas­te­o­r­ange.com.au. ■ YARRA Val­ley Vic­to­ria’s Grape Graz­ing Fes­ti­val launches its 21st year next Satur­day and con­tin­ues with a packed pro­gram un­til Fe­bru­ary 18.. The tra­di­tional Grape Graz­ing Week­end is on Fe­bru­ary 16-17. A feast of cel­lar-door vis­its, vine­yard lunches and din­ners, classes and live mu­sic will in­clude Kilty­nane Es­tate’s taste of grape-pick­ing and tra­di­tional wine­mak­ing fol­lowed by lunch with chef Ge­orge Calom­baris and som­me­lier Andrew Philpot from Melbourne’s The Press Club. www.kilty­nane.com.au.

There will be Tem­pranillo and Tapas at Suther­land Es­tate and, at Kil­lara Es­tate, gnoc­chi-mak­ing tu­to­ri­als. On Satur­day and Sun­day of the fi­nal week­end, Melbourne’s Tutto Bene chef Si­mon Hum­ble will pre­pare break­fast risotto. An­other Melbourne chef, Scott Pick­ett of The Point, will cook at Aca­cia Ridge, and the opera-singing cob­bler Peter Brock­le­hurst will be­come the singing short-or­der chef as he whips up break­fasts at Five Oaks Vine­yard. www.grape­graz­ing.com.au.

IN plenty of time for a lit­tle dual in­dul­gence on Valen­tine’s Day (Fe­bru­ary 14), Melbourne’s mecca for dis­crim­i­nat­ing choco­late fiends, Koko Black, is mould­ing its best cou­ver­ture into a cou­ple in love ($38.50). Slightly more dis­creet, Koko’s choco­late heart boxes come in three sizes, packed with hand­made Bel­gian choco­lates ($15.50, $38.50, $50).

And visit a Koko Black salon with your sig­nif­i­cant other on Valen­tine’s Day for a treat times two: hot and iced choco­lates, choco­late mousse, ice-cream mar­ti­nis and Bel­gian Spoils ($22-$26.50). www.kokoblack.com

MEAN­WHILE, De­tec­tive is fas­ci­nated to see what con­sti­tutes sex and the kitchen. The flurry of Valen­tine’s Day menus clog­ging up her email ar­ter­ies al­most in­vari­ably in­clude oys­ters, straw­ber­ries and choco­late (of­ten Val­rhona). The next most com­mon ap­pear­ances, mov­ing the menus up a few notches, are lob­ster, duck con­fit, and more Val­rhona.

Meyjitte Boughenout’s tem­ple to deca­dence, Ab­syn­the (makes the heart grow fonder; it’s their joke, not De­tec­tive’s), leads the pack on the Gold Coast, with a menu that in­cludes lob­ster ravi­oli and lamb loin wrapped in basil mousse with truf­fle potato; and there is, of course, choco­late. $185 a per­son or $215 with matched wines. (07) 5504 6466; www.ab­syn­the.com.au.

Calom­baris will pay homage to Aphrodite at The Press Club on the 14th with such Greek del­i­ca­cies as cray­fish and lemon la­dyfin­gers with av­gole­mono (egg and lemon soup) and poached ap­ple egg, or sko­rdalia-crusted half-shell scal­lops, in a four-course menu (there is lamb from the ro­tis­serie), with a wel­come glass of cham­pagne. $165 a head (lim­ited places re­main). www.the­p­ress­club.com.au.

Luke Man­gan’s Glass brasserie in Syd­ney has a $120 a head five-course menu that in­cludes yabby salad and lamb rack (lamb’s an­other favourite), with some sur­pris­ing ac­com­pa­ni­ments. And choco­late. www.glass­brasseries.com.au.

But no one sur­prises like Chris Man­field at Syd­ney’s Uni­ver­sal, even though her cen­tre­piece dish, ‘‘ breasts, legs and pink bits’’, does in­volve duck. Set price for four tastes from the menu, $110, food only; $25 for each ex­tra taste. www.uni­ver­sal­restau­rant.com. ■ LANCE Seeto has moved from his post as ex­ec­u­tive sous-chef for Voy­ages Ayers Rock Re­sort in Cen­tral Aus­tralia to be­come ex­ec­u­tive chef at Far North Queens­land’s Ry­dges Sabaya Re­sort, Port Douglas. Be­fore his stint at Voy­ages, Seeto was sous-chef and re­sort man­ager at Cable Beach Re­sort in Broome, West­ern Aus­tralia.

Seeto, whose fam­ily’s Wing Wah Asian Food Em­po­rium was a pi­o­neer of Asian goods in Melbourne in the 1970s, is ex­cited about the di­ver­sity and unique­ness of the lo­cal pro­duce at Port Douglas and says he is tak­ing his chefs on dis­cov­ery tours to sup­pli­ers and grow­ers in the re­gion. www.ry­dges.com/port­dou­glas. ■ THOSE in­trepid glo­be­trot­ters Robert Car­mack and Mor­ri­son Polk­inghorne have places left on their Glo­be­trot­ting Gourmet Tast­ings tour of Thai­land, March 6-16, with a Burma Tast­ings ex­ten­sion, March 17-22. There are mas­ter­classes, mar­kets and meals ga­lore. www.asian­food­tours.com; www.glo­be­trot­ting­gourmet.com. ■ FIND of the week: Feast­Bazaar by Barry Vera (Mur­doch Books, $39.95), a cook­book full of evoca­tive and some­times sur­pris­ing dishes from In­dia (vanilla lassi with rose­wa­ter), Morocco (duck and peach tagine, ap­ple and fig bastilla) and Syria (oys­ters with pomegranates). Vera is an English-born, French-trained chef and this book fol­lows his television pro­grams Feast In­dia and Feast­Bazaar. The book re­fuses to lie flat while open (which De­tec­tive loathes), but you could an­chor it with a tagine. ■ DE­TEC­TIVE loves: This Sun­day’s episode of Rick­Stein’sMediter­raneanEs­cape, in which the pop­u­lar seafood chef lands on the Greek is­land of Corfu and joins a fam­ily feast. LifeStyle Chan­nel, 7.30pm. ■ DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Restau­rants with kerb­side ta­bles on unswept and un­washed foot­paths. Over­seas trav­ellers will be familiar with the sight of restau­rant staff metic­u­lously main­tain­ing their front of house, whereas De­tec­tive reg­u­larly passes lo­cal restau­rant ta­bles set on pave­ments that would put dis­crim­i­nat­ing din­ers off their meal. You know who you are.

in­dul­gence@theaus­tralian.com.au

Ge­orge Calom­baris

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