How a humble little orange cake made me appreciate so much.

Orange Cake, a variation of the "Basic Plain Cake" in the Commonsense Cookery Book.

Orange Cake, a variation of the “Basic Plain Cake” in the Commonsense Cookery Book.

Look. It took a bit of smoke & mirrors on my part, but it’s pretty to look at and it tastes good. Nothing amazing, but good. Enjoyable. For a recipe that was first written, tested and published in 1914, it’s not bad. 1914? That’s a hundred years. Let’s just sit and appreciate that for a moment. A cookbook that goes back a CENTURY. Let’s see Donna Hay surpass that kind of epic cookbook-publishing greatness with something as basic as…. eggs.

The little brown Commonsense Cookery Book probably sat on your mum’s shelf, and probably your grandmother’s shelf too. It’s also a very snappy shade of red these days, with a black spine and has a hardcover that will quickly dispatch any wayward fly in your kitchen. This morning I found myself inspired to cook something old-world. Something that takes me back to a simpler time in Western food history when a cake was just a cake. Unpretentious and homely. Something my Australian grandmother would’ve made for the shearers.

So I leafed through the Commonsense Cookery Book and landed on the “Basic Plain Cake” recipe. I tried one of the variations which accompanies the base recipe. Orange cake. Mainly because I am nine months pregnant and had an insatiable desire for a citrus cake.

We’re so busy putting paddocks on plates and wrapping peaches in proscuitto these days that we kind of forget that cooking in its purest form is for sustenance. Survival. Nutrition. Provision. The poor sod down the road can smell your posh duck roast but he struggles to cook himself some eggs on a Sunday morning. There’s always going to be a market for people who, for whatever reason, didn’t grow up learning how to buy, grow and prepare food. And this book was written for that market.  With every recipe from a cup of tea (I’m not kidding!) to ratatouille, this book is like the “How to Use a Kitchen: For Dummies” guide for people who are scared to ask stupid questions in a snobby food world who collectively sighs witheringly at a person who doesn’t know who Charlie Trotter was. It even has a page with a list of “Basic Kitchen Requisites”, itemising things like:

  • A reliable stove
  • Saucepans of various sizes
  • Double saucepan
  • Boiler and steamer
  • Pressure cooker
  • Baking dish and trivet
  • Frying pan

….and so on.

Adorable. And funny. Let’s face it.

But back in 1971, my mother was a newlywed pregnant lady and suddenly realised that despite growing up on an enormous cattle, sheep and wheat property with her mother cooking daily for over 25 labourers, she hadn’t been watching. She hadn’t learned a thing about cooking. She had a very hungry husband who could cook better than she could. Mum was determined to fulfil her role as domestic goddess and all-knowing matriarch to keep her intrusive know-all Chinese sister-in-law at bay.  And believe me, my Chinese aunty was as nosey and as bossy as they come. She was a walking meme that shrieked, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” every time Mum turned around. Chinese cooks think they know everything. Trust me. I am one.

So Mum learned fast.

She began with the Commonsense Cookery Book, and now she can cook ANYTHING.

This book isn’t just about learning the fundamentals of cookery, either. It’s about austerity during hard times. This book has lasted through too many wars and recessions. It really is about commonsense and feeding your family a variety of delicious, wholesome food at all times of the year and at any point in the pay week.  There will never be a time when it isn’t a good thing for the home cook to use their commonsense and cook for good nutrition and for economy. With the current longterm forecast on global food demand, using the best possible ingredients to make nutritionally AND economically valuable food is more relevant in 2014 than ever. That’s why this book is so timeless, and why I have such respect for it.

There’s so much diversity now in our palate, as cooks and as food lovers. It’s become so globalised and accessible. But there was a time when those before us really had to fight for knowledge on food and produce. It was so much harder to learn to cook. There was less to cook with. There were more cultural and social restrictions on who cooked, where they cooked, why they cooked and what gender they should or shouldn’t be. The world of food is now so much wider. This book is from yesterday, but in so many ways, it matters today.  As I mixed this recipe and saw how very simple it was, I smiled. And as I tasted the first forkful, I smiled again. It’s just so old-fashioned and so basic. Something every cook at every level can enjoy. Long live that humble little cake recipe.

 

Why Are We Eating Crap Food At Work?

 

(Don’t worry, I’ve added two easy recipes down the bottom of this post to help fix your winter lunchbox blues!)

 

So, yesterday, Katie on Twitter asked me for ideas on food to eat at work. Katie’s a twenty-something hardworking media girl who spends absolutely insane hours at work, and those hours span over both breakfast and lunch times. Having taken it upon myself years ago to mother her from afar and care way too much about her health to the point where I send her tweets busting her arse for forgetting to eat, I thought to myself that I should base a blog entry on her question.

I too have been through that ambitious stage in life where your eyes are on several prizes just in the one hour, your days are ruled by work and meetings and Other Peoples’ Problems, and your own nutrition takes a back seat. You go from one task to the next and you only eat out of an exasperated realisation that it’s been 7 hours and your stomach is actually hurting from hunger and you’re light-headed too. “Better rush down to the closest place and get one of their weird foccacia things with too much cheese on it so I can stop feeling weird and just get back to work.”

Katie’s one of many in this crazy society who spends increasing hours each week on the go. She’s not at all unusual, either. There are millions like her in Sydney alone. If they’re all spending the majority of their time out of the home and away from their kitchen, what are they all eating during those hours? Do they even USE their fridges? Are they eating less then they should? More than they should? Enough for short-term sustenance but of poor nutritional value? Where’s the fun in that? And how on earth do we figure that eating a peanut butter sandwich and a plethora of boring, over processed, packaged, salty, sugary snacks 5-6 days a week is going to be sustainable in the longterm?

If we’re to look at our good old food pyramid and the amount of fruit and vegetables we’re supposed to get each day alone, spending those full-time hours thinking of food and nutrition as a boring afterthought is just not going to cut it if we want to live past retirement age and get the chance to enjoy the superannuation we’ve been so obsessively stashing. Ironically.

But if you flip that whole mentality around, you get rather excited and say to yourself, “Wow. I’m actually supposed to be eating this huge variety of beautiful fresh food, and there’s so much more to ‘grain’ than boring white disturbingly-soft squares of what the supermarkets insist on calling ‘bread’. There’s rice. There’s pasta. There’s flatbreads. Quinoa. Couscous. Noodles.”

I mean, geez. Look at this thing. Yum.

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Why on earth are we restricting ourselves to a lunchbox that contains a jam “sandwich”, a packet of something unsatisfying and odd-looking from Woolworths and the exact same piece of fruit every day? Convenience?

 

Really?

You’ll eat crap food for most of your waking hours and most of your life on earth until you are 65 years old, because it’s in a packet and you didn’t have to think about it? And how’s that constipation and diabetes going for you there, buddy? The low blood sugar making you snap at your co-workers and the lag in energy making you get emergency drive-thru McChickens?

Does eating a variety of fresh, healthy and fun food have to be painstaking to assemble each day? And does it have to be expensive?

(Hint: no, and no.)

I asked Twitter what they take to work for lunch, and the answers were as diverse as they were surprising. And apparently nobody on Twitter says “sandwich” anymore.

“Leftovers. I personally hate packed lunches.”
“I’m boring like that. Peanut butter sammiches and Tiny Teddies. Must start going out more for food midweek.”
“It’s dinner for me at work, so I usually make a hot meal at lunch, like risotto, and take leftovers. Or two-minute noodles or a peanut butter sammich. And fruit, if I have any at home. My partner takes a sammich, apple and a nut bar.”
“Food that I can heat up, that is tasty and different every day.”
“I keep grape tomatoes, feta and cucumber in the work fridge. Then I add a tin of tuna, corn kernels and four-bean mix. I snack on a banana, apple or mandarin, plus rice cracker snacks.”

 

(Yes, my friend Treacy is as fit and healthy as she sounds.)

Surely we can make this fun. For the amount of time we invest in chasing money to spend on making ourselves look like we don’t spend all our time chasing money, we could sure be doing a lot for ourselves (and our families) by setting our alarms 10 minutes earlier and taking a little care over what we’re going to eat that day. For one, it’s more fun, and it’s something to actually look forward to eating. Secondly, we will feel better for longer, and we will not end up resorting to the afternoon chocolate muffin.

Well, we’re less likely to. 😉

People on social media are showing off their creative ways of making the old packed lunch funky. Just check out @anidledad from Instagram, and his lunches in jars.

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Pinterest of course has its fair share of offerings:

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And it only takes a flick through your mum’s favourite old recipes to see that they were her favourites for a reason. Easy to reheat, economical and still absolutely delicious the next day. All you need to do is plan ahead. Half the trick to ensuring that your meals happen in a stress-free, enjoyable way is to think ahead for the week while you’re still relaxed. Make a list. Don’t buy inferior produce. Buy fruit and vegetables from actual fruit and vegetable shops, and find out what’s in season. Here’s the thing: seasonal produce tastes better and it’s cheaper. (If you eat an apple out of season, it’s not very nice. You just paid $6 a kilo for a fluffy tasteless apple.)

Get excited about whole foods. Get excited about freshness. Try new vegetables. Try fresh herbs. Try new breads and cheeses. And buy containers that make eating at work a lot easier and more enjoyable. You can get containers of every shape, colour and size nowadays. There are even water bottles that filter your water as you drink it. It really does not have to be boring at all.

Be inspired by the food you see at the markets. What are your favourite fruits? Might you get some seasonal pears and figs, and couple those with a tub of ricotta, honey and some nuts? Be creative. Is there some lovely crusty bread at the bakery? Take a hunk of that with some pumpkin soup in a fun container, like the one I have from Aladdin. You’d be surprised how many fun obento boxes are out there in asian grocers and Japanese shops, as well. Forget limp lettuce and sweaty cling wrap. Let’s have fun with this. Let’s make our breaks something to get excited about. Does your lunch even have to be “Australian”? How about sushi? How about a Vietnamese style chicken salad? An old-fashioned ploughman’s lunch? A terrine that you’ve pre-made and sliced up into portions?

I’ll start you with two really basic bellywarming recipes that are relaxing to swan about the kitchen with on a Sunday afternoon. Lay out a few clean, dry freezer-friendly containers, and seeing as it’s well into autumn, let’s make some warm comforting pumpkin soup and some lamb stew. You can freeze it, and when you reheat it, it’s even MORE delicious than when you first made it.

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Piggy Pumpkin Soup

(level: easy)

Ingredients:

Half to a whole butternut pumpkin (no big deal how much pumpkin there is, really)

1 medium sweet potato

3 rashers of fatty bacon

a stick of celery or two

chicken or vegetable stock

olive oil

salt and pepper

 

Chop all pumpkin and potato into roughly equal sized 4-5cm chunks, and chop celery into 2cm chunks. Set aside.

Remove the rind from the bacon, and use a wooden spoon to fry off the rind whole in some olive oil, salt and pepper in the bottom of a large saucepan on moderate heat until it’s translucent. Don’t let it stick to the bottom. Add the pumpkin, sweet potato and celery and mix it all around a bit before covering the whole lot with chicken stock. Make sure it’s all immersed with a couple of extra centimetres on top to allow for evaporation. Simmer about half an hour gently, or until a fork will slide easily into the chunks of pumpkin.

Use a pair of tongs to take your bacon rind out. Take most of the stock back out, but save it aside in a jug.

Using either a food processor or a bamix, wizz up the vegetables until smooth. Depending on how thick and creamy you like your soup, pour the stock back in gradually as you blend the soup. Be sure to get all your chunks out. It’s definitely a lot easier with a food processor to get a really smooth consistency.

Before serving it into containers, be sure to TASTE and SEASON. You may want to add a fair bit of salt and pepper. Also, if you fry up that remaining bacon (or some nice proscuitto), it makes a DELICIOUS crispy addition to your soup as a garnish to either dip into the soup or crumble on top.

 

Persian Lamb Braise with Dates and Pumpkin 

(level: easy)

(source: a special edition of Vogue Entertaining that I had years ago but then I think my sister took it and then I tried to find their recipe online but it doesn't exist in order for me to credit them. so here it is as it stands in my memory 15 years later...)

Ingredients:

500-700g of diced lamb

(Lamb forequarter chops will also work.)

1 onion, sliced

3-4 threads of saffron

half a butternut pumpkin

1 cup chopped dates

1 lime

 

Put the saffron threads in about 1/3 cup of boiling water and set aside.

Heat a large saucepan and put a good slosh of olive oil in the bottom. Drain off the meat, making sure it doesn’t have lots of blood/liquid in it. Fry it with the onion in the saucepan and make sure it’s all browned off before adding the pumpkin and dates. Stir it all together and then cover the whole lot with water or stock. Tip the saffron water into the pot, and squeeze the lime into it also. Stir through. Simmer on low for a couple of hours, being sure to check on it regularly. When it’s ready, it will be all stewed together and caramelised. If I’m serving it for dinner, I sit it in the oven for a while to let all the flavours settle together. This is a great recipe that gives you maximum “yum” factor for very little effort!

Great with a layer of mash underneath, or some nice fluffy basmati rice, or just served on its own with some crusty bread. 🙂

 

Thanks to my Twitter mates who helped me with their thoughts.

Follow them! They’re all lovely. 🙂

@anidledad, @surrealbutok, @TorSamundsett, @trevwashere,

@_Scarlett_1992, @drnaomi, @StDeano1, @annaspargoryan,

@traceyb65 and last but not least @katie18O 

Short Street Store (Dubbo)

Short Street Store

It’s almost like the owners of the Short Street Store lifted a little city coffee spot, and plonked it in the middle of the country. Except – most embarrassingly for Sydney – they’ve beaten the inner west at their own game. Arty chai tent hippy quirk? They’re doin’ it right.

Give Macquarie Street a miss, jump in the car, and make a 3-minute beeline for Short Street. It’s right at home in the middle of the Dubburbs, surrounded by family homes and removed from the noise of the city centre.  In the same cafe here for brunch are young families, lone bookworms, convertible-driving Double Bay types (clearly tourists), and a rather chirpy mob of lycra-clad cyclists. There are different rooms to choose from – the building is a converted family home – and if you’re there to be alone with your book or newspaper, there’s lots of good little nooks in the sun. There’s also plenty of room for large herds of chatty types.

It’s a lovely multi-subcultural blend. It’s the world getting along, in a little utopian paradise known as Short Street.  If you’re disappointed with the main cafe strip and want something genuine, it is here that you will find what you’re looking for.

Short Street Store – 11 Short Street DUBBO NSW

Ph:  02 6882 3310

Mon-Fri til 5pm / Sat-Sun til 3pm

Breakfast 8am-11am / Lunch 11am – 3pm

Prices: $6-$18.50 for brekky, and $8-$18 for lunch.

Menu samples:

Breakfast: Free range eggs your way, free range eggs benedict, bacon & egg roll, pancakes, toasts and additional sides.

Lunch: Thai salad, veggie burger, beer battered fries, pasta of the day, soup of the day, special of the day, sandwiches, wraps and quiches. 

image_1 image_2 image_3 image_4 image Short Street Store menu

Two Doors Tapas and Wine Bar (Dubbo)

 Sangria garlic ciabatta   image_4 image_5 image_6image_7  Chocolate Trifle

two doors alley

I admit it.

For the Chinese noob (not pointing any fingers…. at… uh… myself….), tapas dining is likely to become known as “Spanish yum cha” in your mind at first. But the difference is that tapas is more likely to be enjoyed at the tail end of the day, and if you’re doing it properly, you’ll be drinking sangria. And like the Chinese, the centuries-old Spanish dining tradition is a fantastic way to spend time with family and friends, and explore flavours together. I see so many parallels between Chinese food culture and some others that it really has to be pointed out. At the end of the day, we really are all the same.

Two Doors Tapas & Wine BarOf all places in Australia, Dubbo is the last you’ll expect to find a really good tapas restaurant. But yet, here we are, standing out the front of 215b Macquarie Street, amused with the contrast of Two Doors’ classy entryway against its rather questionable surrounds. But who cares? I can smell spices.

Two Doors function seatingUpon reading the history of the place, I am enlightened as to why this restaurant has made this building its home. After an inspiring trip overseas, Julie and Gerald Webster opened Two Doors in 2005, having fallen in love with Spanish flavours. They certainly picked a fantastic home for Two Doors. The 1873 building was originally the home of Dubbo’s first doctor; Dr Walter Hugh Tibbits. (If I was a doctor in 1873, I’d want my name to be Dr Walter Hugh Tibbits.) This building is made from local sandstone, brick and timber, and its 1973 renovation was done beautifully and respectfully. She’s an absolute beauty for an old house who is pushing 200 years.

Anyway… down the romantic alleyway we go, and despite rudely arriving 10 minutes before opening time (which I can’t help but still feel really bad about), we are warmly welcomed inside and seated by a lovely young waiter who is only too glad to give a quick crash course on tapas dining for the uninitiated. Most of the dishes are available in full or half serves, which means that diners wanting a table of shared dishes are happy, but so too are those who are less inclined to partake in a communal meal. Why you’d be that lacking in the spirit of adventure in a beautiful tapas restaurant I just don’t know. But I know there definitely are customers who are erked by the idea of sharing a dish with their companions, and the structure of the menu is a really good idea.

We start off with a Greek salad and some breads, which appear to be stonebaked and are served with roasted garlic cloves and goat’s cheese. The hot, damp ciabatta’s interior coupled with the heavenly crunch of the crust is gorgeous. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary to report on the Greek salad, except that it’s fresh, and generous with the feta. I recommend ordering a salad to go with the rest of your tapas meal.

Second round of orders is a lightly-dusted squid with chilli lime salt. I know that one takes risks when ordering seafood this far inland, but my dining companion is rather gung-ho about these things, and seafood is such a large part of the Spanish diet that I’m bound to acquiesce eventually. As it turns out, the squid is lovely and tender, and the light dusting of batter is just as described. I’m not too sure about the chilli lime salt; it seems a bit superfluous. If one actually uses the salt upon the squid, it just turns out to be way too salty in addition to the natural saltiness of the squid. More wet, dippy condiments and a couple more slices of lime would probably do the dish more justice.

Next comes Two Doors’ signature dish; chorizo and fig, whichChorizo and Fig with ciabatta comes with a side of more hot crusty ciabatta for dipping into the rather moreish sauce. This is the best dish of the night; the chorizo initially taking the breath away with a surprising hit of vinegar to the nostrils upon opening the lid. It then immediately soothes with a lovely texture, and the pop of fig seeds adding a certain playfulness, which is then followed by a lovely lingering chilli heat. The more of this dish you eat, the hotter your mouth grows, and the more you want. This could get out of hand, actually. Down with more of their user-friendly, fruity sangria, and another dip of that obscenely good bread into the little pot’s reserves of hot, sticky, figgy sauce. Delicious.

We did have to wait quite a while to order our next course (and also to receive it),  because a function in the next room appeared to distract the waiters and kitchen staff to a detrimental degree. Being an understanding cook and waiter myself, however, I’m inclined to give them a little grace. I’m not sure other diners would be quite so understanding.

Their chicken involuntini makes a nice little half-serve, and is filled with a bit of cranberry and soft cheese which is always a good reliable combo. The only criticism I make of these dishes is that while the cheese being used is of course “nice”, my heart would jump for joy if I could see on their menu (for example) that the goat’s cheese is from one of our amazing local producers. Same goes for the olives, and so on. I can eat Wattle Valley cheese anywhere in Australia. When in Dubbo, I want to taste what the Dubbo region has to offer.

But a great little family restaurant is a great little family restaurant, and Two Doors is certainly one of those. Five stars for effort and presentation from both floor staff and kitchen.

And for solid service and allegiance to local producers? Eh…. there’s a little way to go on that score.

But do still go and enjoy a night at Two Doors, because I certainly enjoyed myself and would go again. Great restaurants that bring international flavours to country New South Wales are precious, and should be supported to allow them to establish themselves, grow as entrepreneurs, and enjoy rewards for what is always initially a very courageous leap of faith in the food they yearn to share.

Two Doors Café and Restaurant

215b Macquarie Street, Dubbo

www.twodoors.com.au

Ph: 02 6885 2333

Open for lunch and dinner

Licensed

Kids menu available

Prices: $7 – $32

Recipe: Maple Parsnip Chips with Lavender Salt

Parsnips are quiet achievers in the kitchen, especially in the cooler months. Under the deceptively plain, woody-looking exterior lies a surprisingly sweet flavor and gorgeous range of textures, depending on how it’s cooked. The parsnip is a cousin to the good old carrot, distant relative to fennel, and is high in fibre.

This rainy, miserable old winter afternoon, I was watching a movie with my beloved, and wished for something comforting but not completely wicked to snack on. I remembered that I had some parsnips in the fridge, so I set about making us something to pick at together on the couch.

Here’s how to re-create my dish.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the parsnips. Chop the tops off. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut them lengthways down the middle, and then once more to create quarters.

1) Drop them into a saucepan of boiling water for about 7-8 minutes, or until they become transclucent.

2) Strain. Pat the boiled pieces dry, then deep fry until golden. Be careful when deep frying; the moisture content of the parsnips may cause the oil to momentarily boil quite high, but it will settle back down after a minute or so.

3) Drain parsnips and stack nicely in a bowl or on a plate. Drizzle with maple syrup (don’t be stingy with the maple!) and sprinkle with lavender salt. You can substitute this with sea salt or regular ground rock salt. I also chucked a pinch of dukkah over it.

 

If you’re interested to know what the heck lavender salt is, here you go. It’s divine. I can’t take credit for finding it myself, either. It was a Christmas present from my dear sister-in-law.

Snuggle up on the couch with a doona, grab your bowl of parsnips and a couple of forks, and share it with someone you love. ❤

 

 

 

 

Leura Gourmet Cafe and Deli

Leura is to the Blue Mountains what Bowral is to the Southern Highlands. It’s where you go to unwind, shop til you drop and eat til you pop. The proliferation of homewares stores, cafes, markets, bookshops and fancy sweet shops is enough to make your credit card shrivel. But best of all for foodlovers is the quiet gem which sits about halfway down the village’s main street; Leura Gourmet.

Popular with locals, tourists and the odd celebrity, the cafe opens rather awkwardly with a pokey entry filled with cheeses, house-made lunches, preserves, coffees, teas and nougat, but then opens up at the back with café seating. If you see a queue, don’t baulk; you’re never left waiting too long before a table is found for you. You won’t mind the wait once your lunch arrives. Unfortunately for all concerned, they don’t take bookings.

An online review tells me that someone has had bad service here, but having lunched there countless times, I can honestly say that they’ve struck a particularly unlucky day or are just really rude customers, because I’ve not once come across a bad waiter at Leura Gourmet. They’re always attentive and always smiling.

I haven’t even begun to describe the food yet. Oops. Well, let’s just say that you really can’t go wrong, whatever you choose from the menu. I love this place. The prices range from $12.90  for the soup of the day to $24.90 for a cheese platter. And it’s ALL lovely and full of contrast and variation of flavours. I’ve had the platter for two, which was generously portioned and presented in a lovely, bounty-of-the-earth kind of way. This isn’t a dinner venue, so everything is geared towards being very pleasantly lunchy, with only ever a small amount of heavier, hearty options such as lamb shanks.

Also on offer today were panfried veal medallions with lemon butter, roasted potato, zucchini and red capsicum. Or, for people who don’t like eating animals, let alone baby cows who have been taken from their mothers, I have to say that my lunch was just awesome. I had the old favourite that I always get:  the creamy, light caramelized onion and goat’s cheese tart, served with beetroot relish and a green salad. I don’t eat it because it’s a vegetarian dish; I’m not a vegetarian. I just eat it because it’s delicious.

Don’t worry – kids don’t miss out, with a decent menu for children that ranges from $8.90 to $11.90. For dessert, consider 2 scoops of Serendipity ice cream (made here at home in Marrickville!) with two different flavours, for $8.90.

   Caramelised onion and goat's cheese tart, served with beetroot relish and green salad.

LEURA GOURMET CAFE AND DELI

Address: 159 Leura Mall, Leura NSW 2780

Phone: (02) 4784 1438
Open 7 days.

The Fruit House (Faulconbridge)

Tony Todarello

It’s a rare entrepreneur in the food business who can boast that they have thrived for nearly thirty years. So you know that whoever manages such a feat must have a fantastic approach.

Meet Tony Todarello, owner of The Fruit House along with his wife Maria. His impressive fruit shop sits on the Great Western Highway just past Springwood, in Faulconbridge. His loyal Blue Mountains clientele have seen the threat of the big bad supermarkets come and go, and all the while, Tony has continued to deliver good old-fashioned service and competitive prices on the freshest fruit, vegetables and plants.

His willingness to diversify into unique Australian-made deli items, plant sales and confectionery have only added to his competitive edge. Aside from one’s pragmatic reasons for visiting the Fruit House, I can see straight away why people are continuing to buy their fresh produce at Tony’s shop; it is presented immaculately and offers an experience to the customer that boring chain supermarkets simply cannot match. They even pack your items for you, and carry them to your car. There’s an element of nostalgia to that. It thrills me to bits. They take such pride in their work.

fruit house shelfherbs

Another lovely thing about the food we buy from Tony’s shop is that it hasn’t done thousands of kilometres on various forms of refrigerated transport to get into our kitchens. I asked Tony about where all his suppliers are, and was delighted to see that it’s all grown so close to home:

“There aren’t many growers up here (Blue Mountains) at the moment, but we normally get our produce from the lowlands, like in Penrith and Castlereagh; also from Orchard Hills. If it’s available and it’s good quality produce, we buy it.”

If you’re on your way across the Blue Mountains, look for the Fruit House and be sure to stop by. There are some really good prices on plants as well as the food. I’ve come home with four kilos of Queensland tomatoes today. That appears to be the furthest any of the fresh produce has travelled, and that’s only because it’s not in season in NSW right now.

Tomato relish day for me tomorrow! 😉

Tony & Maria Todarello’s Fruit House

731 Great Western Highway, Faulconbridge

Est. 28 years

Wholesale and Retail

Trading 7 Days

4751 2357