country offerings…

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For the Labour Day long weekend the G.O. and I took a well-earned extra couple of days off and headed up to our house on the Mid North Coast of NSW. The night before we left the G.O. packed the ute with bits and pieces we’d accumulated, clothes, wine and the coffee machine.

We didn’t alter the G.O.’s alarm clock setting so departed at the usual time he’d be going to work on a Friday – 5.30 am, fathoming the error of pre-packing the coffee machine. We were saved a long hour and half later by Oliver’s Real Food on the freeway where we grabbed coffees, and takeaway sandwiches for later. We hadn’t stopped there before. Their philosophy is “Fresh. Natural. Organic.” Their locations are where you’d normally find only fast food: “we know how hard it is to get food when travelling for people with special diets”. The G.O. and I don’t have special dietary requirements but we were hoping to continue the evolutionary food process upon which we’ve recently embarked.

Local food map (Google Maps)
Local food map (Source: Google Maps)

After driving almost 6 hours and visiting briefly the G.O.’s Mum in town, before heading home we needed to do a quick fresh food shop. I wanted to see how we’d fare buying local food so we opted for the co-op supermarket we’d eschewed for the last few years after witnessing certain deli hygiene violations.

Success was better than I anticipated. The produce section was signposted local, Australian or imported, and we scored local: Dorrigo potatoes (including kipfler); Ricardoes Tomatoes from Port Macquarie; apple cucumbers; small sweet brown onions; shallots; bananas. From the dairy section we bought Lismore based Norco nonhomogenized milk, cream, sour cream and butter; and Wauchope’s Hastings Valley Dairy tasty cheese. And Bowraville “Organic Ways” eggs.

Lastly we ventured to Macksville Quality Meats because we’ve often admired but not tried the wares in their shop window. They were happy to discuss the provenance of their meat: local beef from Bowraville; pork and lamb from the Northern Tablelands. We came away with a variety destined for the G.O.’s bbq.

Happy enough with the results of our shopping quest we set off home to tidy and unpack, where I recognised the potential for the pantry to be better utilised (and organised) as I deposited a jar of olives next to three others, and noted similarly for jars of jam, pickles and relish.

Later we dined splendidly on local fare: steaks beautifully barbequed by the G.O. accompanied by baked kipfler potatoes with sour cream and tomato, cucumber & onion salad. A great start.

Local food locations
Local food locations

On Sunday we browsed the Hub n’ Pub markets which happened to be on, all 4 stalls which had eggs and plants predominantly, neither of which we were in need of… After buying a homemade red velvet cake we embarked on our plan for a longer visit with the G.O.’s Mum followed by a trip into Davis Seafoods at Nambucca Heads. The G.O.’s Mum had other plans of the timber venetian installing kind for the G.O, and for the cake which we never did get to taste.

Fortunately a local oyster farmer has opened up a seafood shop across the road, so we made a last-minute dash and came up with Nambucca River oysters and Coffs Harbour king prawns. Doing so created a need for the G.O.’s favourite supermarket white bread from Woolworths, which with butter, lemon, sweet chili mayo and a couple of glasses of wine, was a simple seafood dinner and reward for his efforts.

We occupied several hours of the weekend on maintenance jobs and gardening what at the moment is a very parched yard as the usually verdant area heads into summer having had not much winter rain. Our garden is dry but there were a couple of gems. The yellow iris rewarded the G.O.’s sprinklings of water by offering up all its blooms the morning we left. Our yellow climbing rose flowered for the first time, pale but triumphant. Our elegant champagne standard rose decided glamorous crimson climber suited it better.

But if each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings – then, I thought, there will be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life.
George Cadbury

Postscript to My father’s daughter: Our weekend away also gave us the opportunity to cover off one other item on our agenda, a visit to Dad. We found ourselves ahead of time on the return trip to Sydney, so detoured his way for a cup of tea and chat. Dad, of course, didn’t miss the opportunity before we resumed our homeward journey to encourage the G.O. to forsake work and retreat for a few days there.

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24 thoughts on “country offerings…

    davidprosser said:
    October 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Quite a journey for you both Ella but it sounds well worth it. How’s the plan coming along for yours and the GO’s retirement? Still on course I hope. xxx Massive Hugs xxx

      Ardysez said:
      October 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      So glad to read you had a bit of well deserved time away. Sounds busy but pleasant. Tragic you didn’t get to taste that red velvet cake!

        EllaDee responded:
        October 10, 2013 at 11:22 am

        We’d been looking forward to having a few days change of scenery and were careful not to make it too busy. Oh yes, I’m still thinking about that cake. Welcome back from your trip :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

      We’re used to the trip, and it’s been a few months since we did it. The days are still ticking away, and retirement will come on one of them. Don’t worry, I’ll make an announcement so big and loud, you won’t miss it when it happens ;)

    Anne Lawson said:
    October 9, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    What a good marketing strategy of that real food place to be on the freeway. Many is the time when I have longed for something like that along the road.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 11:26 am

      We’d seen the Olivers but not called in as that one is not far into our journey. If I was more organised I sometimes make sandwiches or similar but with normal life + packing + leaving the apartment in some sort of order, not always. I’m pleased to now have Olivers as an option. The coffee is good :)

    ChgoJohn said:
    October 10, 2013 at 6:45 am

    I so rarely stop for food along the road that I never really think of the available choices. As the previous commenter stated, having access to real food while on the road is a brilliant idea. If the idea hasn’t caught on here — I’m thinking in California, in particular — it won’t be long before it does.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

      I hope we see more Olivers or similar. There is really a need. If I have time, I’ll make sandwiches or croissants and we always carry water, drinks, nuts, chips and dark chocolate because if there’s an issue or the highway is closed/detoured, it’s better to have emergency food. It’s amazing how many people travel without it.

    Vicky said:
    October 10, 2013 at 7:21 am

    That’s some journey you did, how many miles on total?
    The real food on the freeway sounds like a life saver, and far better than the usual eating establishments that are available.
    You certainly fitted plenty into your trip, I always get a good feeling when all the little things I’ve been intending to do get done.
    George Cadbury’s quote is very obvious in Bournville Village, although only a stones throw from Birmingham City centre, it is a very open spaced place.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

      From Sydney to TA is 500 kms each way and we also detoured to Dad’s adding an extra 50 kms. It’s getting in & out of the city that slows us down. Lots of work has been done to the highway which has reduced the travel time. Sometimes we try to fit too much in to the trips but this time deliberately kept it simple. Because we get limited free time out of Sydney we try to make the most of it but also see family, yet there were others we couldn’t fit in.
      I’ve read about and seen photos of the Bourneville Village Housing Project, it’s a lot neater than our version, more like the G.O.’s Mum’s :)

    dadirri7 said:
    October 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I am full of admiration for your success with finding local food, and I did wish I could share a few oysters with white bread and lemon …. memories! Great idea to include the map … and can you tell us what a red velvet cake is?? I think we stopped at Olivers for some real food when we were up that way clearing out my mother’s house or something like that … such a relief to see something approachable on the highway!

      EllaDee responded:
      October 11, 2013 at 6:07 am

      The cake was labeled ‘Red Velvet Cake’ which I’ve never tried, (even still!) which was the reason for my selection, and when I checked the ingredients it was vanilla butter cake with red food coloring added, but I believe some red velvet cakes are made with cocoa or beetroot juice.
      We’d seen Olivers but not stopped there until this time after someone had mentioned their food was different. So much better than the usual, and the coffee was good.

    Marianne said:
    October 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I know we’ve discussed local produce before, EllaDee. Well done for seeking it out. It’s much easier to do here as we don’t have the choice of products available in Australia, the UK or the US. Our produce is much more seasonably and locally available (and often misshapen!)

    It’s a long round-trip for you but I’m sure you recharged your internal batteries, especially with managing to catch up with family along the way :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 11, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Seasonable, local and even misshapen is the way I’d like to see fresh produce revert to :)
      We’re used to the trip, and given Australian distances it’s not so far.
      Family… well…it was lucky we’d left ourselves some room in the time we had :)

    Sorin Suciu said:
    October 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    At the risk of being a copycat, we’re totally gonna do this!

      EllaDee responded:
      October 13, 2013 at 7:49 am

      That’s what I love about blogging, I ‘ve been shopping ad hoc at farmers markets for a few years but followed it further after being influenced by Celi at http://thekitchensgarden.com/, and reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it
      Buying local fresh produce is a little bit more work but it’s fun, a challenge and interesting if you are able to chat to the producers/growers, which doesn’t go astray in everyday domestic life, well, ours anyway, which tends to the mundane :)

    Bill said:
    October 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Here it is nearly impossible to find quick good quality food while travelling. Good for Oliver’s for giving travelers the option of having a decent meal on the road!

      EllaDee responded:
      October 15, 2013 at 6:38 am

      Years ago there were small independent quality family run cafés strung all along the highways running through the towns. Now there are freeways which every so often offshoot to petrol stations and fast food complexes. Even if you exit to a town the cafés are few and far between, if a viable option at all, mostly it’s more fast food outlets. I hope we see more Olivers.

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    October 15, 2013 at 6:03 am

    OK Now I’m hungry. What a nice trip. Really like that last quote by Cadbury. Interesting he used the phrase “better opportunity of a happy family life” – he must know human nature: you get out of life what you put into it? Great post

      EllaDee responded:
      October 15, 2013 at 6:47 am

      Thank you :) We did better local food wise than I expected, and in my research, and chatting, I found out about other sources which we’ll investigate when we have more time over our holidays. It really is a process. That quote makes me consider what we’ve exchanged as a society for all the convenience we’ve been sold.

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    October 27, 2013 at 8:14 am

    You’re inspiring me to try to eat more locally. Thanks EllaDee. Your meals sounds delish and your trip sounds very soul refreshing. :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Unfortunately sometimes in the city we have better access to country grown produce than we do when in the country but it’s fun to track it down :)

        Kourtney Heintz said:
        November 5, 2013 at 4:55 am

        Very true. When I lived in the city I ate much better than I do now. But maybe I’ll invest more time in it this winter. :)

        EllaDee responded:
        November 5, 2013 at 6:35 am

        It’s harder to eat well when life is busy. I know we take more shortcuts then.

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