April 24, 2011

Time out

Our short get-away this weekend was everything we could have wished for. A simple road trip to the country-side where we could see the beautiful autumn colours, visit the local farms and pick some in-season fruit and nuts. We were lucky with the weather on Good Friday as it was a picture perfect autumn day - warm and sunny with the slightest breeze reminding us from the cooler season to come.

Buying fresh produce straight from a farm is a such a privilege for a city-dweller like myself. In the city I love visiting farmers markets whenever I can and buy produce from the local farmers. Visiting an actual farm, however, is a wonderful experience itself and I wish I could do it more often. I also love the warm-hearted community feeling in the small country towns. They are welcoming and friendly and supporting the small businesses makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing.

The apple season is at its peak so majority of the farms were selling mostly just apples. We did come across an old-fashioned unattended fruit stall where you could just pick a bucket-full of persimmons and leave the money in the tin. I adore this kind of honesty and trust - it is such a novelty nowadays.

The following morning dawned misty and rainy, but it was an atmospheric drive on the bendy roads through the native Australian bushland. We were up early and headed to a farm where we could pick our own chestnuts and, if lucky, find a few late-season walnuts as well.

At the farm we had a chance to chat with the farmer himself. He told us a bit about the farm and guided us to a tree that had the freshest chestnuts. I felt like I was back in my element, foraging, as I used to do so often back in Finland. We saw some gorgeous pine mushrooms, even nettles and dandelion that unfortunately were not suitable to eat at this time of the year. Chestnuts were plentiful and despite being slightly ill-equipped, we were able to fill our bucket in no time. 

As we were walking back to the gates, the farmer approached us with his big hands full of walnuts. He had gone out to pick them himself for us and I thought it was such a kind gesture. I have never tasted walnuts as delicious as these. The nuts were so fresh and clean, with not a hint of the rancidity many shop-bought walnuts may have. What a perfect way to end our trip!

With a freshened spirit I'll soon be back in my kitchen, cooking and bearing in mind where my food comes from and how it is grown.The little extra effort it might take to eat organic, locally grown food just makes it feel more special and more enjoyable.

I will use the chestnuts we picked to make these cakes, perhaps a soup and another savoury dish. I also cannot wait to try the recipes the farmer recommended.

I hope you are all enjoying your time out and doing things you don't normally find time for - spending time with your loved ones, trying new recipes or just relaxing. Enjoy!