Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The great gourmet weekend

Well Andrea and I had a great couple of days away. Mum and Dad were kind enough to look after the boys and we headed south to Bundanoon.

Now, can I first say it was very odd seeing everybody walking the streets with large overcoats, jackets, gloves and beanies on. C'mon people. Anybody would think that it was winter. Oh OK, so it is winter. But the weather over the weekend was absoluteley wonderful (alot warmer than the -5 it was last night down there).

The weekend was initially intended to be a wealth of activity exploring the southern highlands. We had to rethink things a little seeing as Andrea was still recovering from her Pneumonia. (Thank the Lord that she is still getting better each day!) So we thought that a little R & R would do her the world of good.

That was until I got the brilliant idea that going on a gourmet food trail would be just the right thing. As it turned out, it was. Being driven around the Kangaroo Valley (the only true valley in the southern hemisphere) was a relaxing, stress free, fun, foodie day. More on this later.

As part of the package we were able to organise a gourmet cooking class on the Saturday morning. We learned to cook Moroccan! Can I just say that Moroccan food is to die for. Full of flavour but not too spicy and hot (well not what we cooked anyway). There were 5 of us in the cooking class and we were smack bang in the middle of the bush with gorgeous views over the Kangaroo Valley. Our teacher was Toni Moran who was ably assisted by her husband Robert. They run Flavours of the Valley which is a small business based in the Kangaroo Valley. You can find out more about what they do at their website. We each were given a part of the meal to prepare and got to eat it all after cooking it. Here is what we cooked:
  • Baby figs with blue cheese and proscuitto
  • Stuffed baked tomatoes
  • Baba Ghanouj (a dish Andrea and I prepared)
  • Beetroot dip
  • Spicy Moroccan dippers
  • Chicken, olive and preserved lemon tagine (the main dish Andrea and I worked on)
  • Moroccan lamb pizza (cooked in a wood fire - we all made our own)
  • Couscous
  • M'Hanncha
Each of these were yum. But my favourite would have to be the tagine. It took a bit to prepare (especially the chermoula marinade that Andrea worked on) but was the easiest to actually cook once you have it in the tagine.

I would certainly recommend checking out this cooking course. It was fun, we learned so much and ate very well. We will be keeping our eyes open for when the Italian course comes up!

After this we headed into the Kangaroo Valley village for a stroll through the shops and galleries. This was very relaxing and helped aid the digestion of all that wonderful food we made in the morning. We then headed back up to Bundanoon for the night.

The next morning we headed back into the Kangaroo Valley for our gourmet food trail. This was also run by Flavours of the Valley . Driving down the escarpment and seeing the mist down in the bottom of the valley was a wonderful sight. We had high expectations of what the day had in store and we weren't disappointed. Some of the places we went to were an olive grove, a winery, an aquaponics farm, a fudge "factory" and an organic garden. Needless to say, we did not go wanting for food and amongst the delights we tasted green olives (Andrea is now a convert), olive oil, cheeses, wine, anti pasti, more wine, jams, pesto and fudge. There were other foods but these were my favourites.

It was truly a relaxing, tasty, fun filled weekend. One which we won't forget for some time.

View over the Kangaroo Valley
Gourmet organic garden

The olive grove - Banksia Park