The F.O.O.D Week that was


Orange F.O.O.D Week is the annual 10-day festival we host here to promote the region's food and wine. The 2014 'edition' wrapped up last weekend so I thought I'd post my own wrap up of the F.O.O.D Week that was....

Tim and I kicked off our own F.O.O.D Week program with The Moveable Feast, a staggered lunch we held in collaboration with our friends over at The Agrestic Grocer. Our guests started with canapes at The Agrestic Grocer then came out for a tour with Tim then entree and main course at the Farm Kitchen finished up with dessert at The Farm Gate's Nashdale apple orchard. We loved all working together and feedback was fantastic so this is set to become a regular event - watch this space!

The below salad was our entree and one of my favourite venison dishes of the year. So I thought I'd share the recipe here! Roast quinces....a revelation...

Char-grilled venison with roast quince and an Autumnal salad

Roast quince is my new favourite thing. It goes beautifully with venison and makes the below salad extra special. Thanks to my hero Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for this idea; my recipe is slightly adapted from the one he published in the excellent book ‘River Cottage Fruit’.

Serve this for lunch or dinner with a warm baguette, some nice cultured butter and a chunk of crumbly cheddar. What a meal. Serves 6.

For the venison

1 x Mandagery Creek Venison backstrap or 2 x tenderloins (all up you want about 1kg of fillet)

To cook the venison; rub first with olive oil and season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Let it come to room temperature before cooking. Heat the barbecue or a grill plate to high and sear for 4 minutes on each side then let rest under a tent of foil for at least five minutes.

For the roast quince
about 1 kg quinces

A handful of thyme sprigs
2 large rosemary sprigs
4 fresh bay leaves

150mls apple juice

20g butter

2 tbsp verjus

2 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Wash then quarter and core the quinces and arrange in a roasting tray. Scatter over the herbs, then add apple juice, dot with the butter and finish with a sprinkle of verjus and the sugar. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 45 minutes. Remove foil, give everything a good toss around then finish off with a further 30 minutes. Serve warm.

For the salad

2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and finely chopped

1/2 red cabbage, finely shredded

1/2 cup tarragon leaves
2 cups baby spinach leaves

Seeds from one pomegranate
1/2 cup hazlenuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Dressing - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp honey, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad simply by combining all ingredients on a large platter (but reserve a little pomegranate and hazlenut to sprinkle over the salad just before serving). Mix together the dressing in a large jar and shake to combine.

To assemble:

While the meat is resting, dress the salad, mixing everything together with your fingertips. Slice meat across the grain then arrange on top of your salad. Add the warm quinces and finish with a final sprinkle of reserved pomegranate seeds and chopped hazlenuts.

Main course was venison osso buco with creamy mash. The recipe for this simple but delicious meal is in my book! And here too...

So after wrapping up The Moveable Feast, we cleaned the farm kitchen and ourselves before heading in to the Ross Hill Winery for a very special dinner celebrating 20 years of Ross Hill Wines. Chefs Martin Boetz and Alex Herbet came together under their Bird Cow Tree umbrella to create a menu of seasonal produce (with a main of our venison!) and it really was a wonderful event.

Contratulations to the Robson family of Ross Hill Wines for reaching this milestone - your wines are incredible and we are proud to know and count you all as friends.

Look at those beautiful Mandagery Creek Venison racks! Just out of the oven, they were doused in a sage butter before being rested then plated up with red cabbage and a spread of seasonal salads.

The following week we participated in the annual Country Style Producers' lunch hosted by the Orange Regional Farmers Market. I was there with my book (thank you so much to everyone who came along and picked up a copy!) and Tim was behind the barbecue cooking venison for the main meal. It was, as always, a really great day celebrating the food of our region and people behind it.

That same day we moved on to dinner at The Agrestic Grocer and one of my favourite nights in a long time - an event celebrating my book's release at The Agrestic Grocer. That's me with the AG's wonderful/clever/hard-working Katie Baddock. With her husband Beau and partners Lucas and Danielle Martin, these guys run a unique business that is supporting us local producers like nobody else I know and doing it with great style too. Thank you guys for all you do, and for putting on such a wonderful night!

Our last event of F.O.O.D Week 2014 was the epic, incredible Forage walk. This year just over 1000 people walked through vineyards and orchards across the Nashdale valley and stopped along the way to eat and drink the best that we as a region could offer. Mandagery Creek Venison with Printhie and Zinga wines was station 1 and we had a ball serving up 1000 little canapes of our brand new venison prosciutto, poached quince and hazlenut dukkah. And the best thing about being the first station? Once we'd fed everyone, we could weave our way through the vines down to the main course set up and join in the fun.

So with F.O.O.D Week now over for another year, we can all take a moment to breathe, relax and reflect on how lucky we all are to be a part of this incredible event. So much hard work goes into bringing it together and we are very grateful to the volunteers that make it happen. Particularly this year's F.O.O.D Week president James Sweetapple of Cargo Road Wines. James you are an inspiration!

To join us at next year's F.O.O.D Week, keep an eye on this website and better yet, join as a social member so you don't miss out on tickets for any event!


  1. Wow Sophie...all of this looks incredibly tasty and fun! Beautiful photos x

  2. Sophie, it was a real pleasure to meet you, albeit briefly (I realise you were so busy). Loved the venison! Thank you for smiling for my camera. Orange is a beautiful place. We really really liked it!

  3. Your blog is fantastic and your thought of advice is very good.


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