Category: Produces

PYO fruit and vegetable farms

I’ve been planning to visit some PYO fruit & vegetable farms for a while so we finally made the time to go for an exciting day in the Farm Gate Trail of the Hawkesbury region.

PYO (pick your own) fruits and veggies is a great idea to get in touch with nature, pluck your produce straight from the trees and spend some relaxing time talking to some passionate and laid-back farmers in the countryside of NSW.
It is also a fun an educational experience for children, who can see where their food comes from.

So off we went to Hawkesbury, approximately one and a half hours north-west of Sydney. We checked the harvest calendar and knew what was in season and which farms to go to.

I was particularly interested in finding feijoa – a fruit that is originally from the South of Brazil and It is usually very hard to find in Australia.

It was a typical Autumn day: very sunny but cold and the colour of the vegetation had a stunning mixture of green, orange, brown, yellow and red. There was this amazing smell of cinnamon and apple in the air. So it is definitely not too hard to find a good apple pie in the region!

I really enjoyed our PYO stop at Bilpin Springs Orchard:we were guided by a young bloke that gave us a basket and pointed us to the middle of the orchard, where a farmer met us and assisted everyone very patiently on picking the best fruits without damaging the trees.

We were the only two interested on feijoas so we had a guided feijoa tasting with the farmer while filling up our basket.

We were charged $3.50 per kilo of any fruits. Apples, persimmons and feijoa are all in season so we got a bit carried away by the experience and ended up bringing home more food than what we actually needed.

Among numerous rustic roadside sheds selling fresh produces, we had homemade apple pies from The Local Harvest, from where we also stocked up some free-rage eggs and potatoes.

We finished our day trip at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden in the Blue Mountains where we had a late lunch in the terrace, overlooking the cool climate gardens and the endless vista of the foggy and blueish Mountains.

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Honestly, it takes some time to learn to appreciate little things in life.

Like me, lots of South American really believe that everyone in the world has (or know someone that has) some fruit trees in their backyard.

Mangoes, limes, oranges, Brazilian cherries, star fruits, bananas, plums just grow everywhere and fresh markets happen every day on a different suburb.

In the way to school kids can climb some black berries trees and indulge themselves, as long as they keep the berries away from their uniforms.

Fresh lemonade are the usual refreshment after dinner and salads are always dressed with fresh limes too.

The reality is that few places in the world have the weather and soil conditions to naturally produce such a variety of fruits as South America does.

It can sound a bit obvious however once I started missing some of the fruits that I could easily have and once I came to realise that a dollar coin can’t really buy fruits (in the plural), I’m now really grateful for all the ones that I can find in Australia: some seasonal ones, others imported, some beautiful but tasteless, some really good ones and what excites me more these days, some that I’ve never tried before!

Last summer was the first time I tried Achacha (or achachaira). This little tropical fruit is originally from the Amazon Basin of Bolivia and lucky me, it is now grown in Queensland, Australia.

Its flavour and texture are quite unique and to give you an idea of how amazing it is, its appearance is similar to mangosteen and lychee, with a skin as hard as passionfruit, big seeds, soft white flesh, beautiful orange colour when ripped and the flavour just makes me think of a combination of guava and the bitterness of Brazilian cherries. It is just sensational!

If you haven’t seen or heard of Achacha before, you are missing out so go and make sure you try them out before they go out of season. Just appreciate how lucky you are for not having to go to a fancy restaurant to go through some new gastronomy experience. Just enjoy being special and appreciate nature’s generosity with you.

Funny enough, achar in portuguese means “to find” so Achacha is by far my best “achado” in Australia!

Find out more about Achacha here

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Are you allergic to anything rare or expensive?

A truffle hog allergic to black truffles

Have you ever heard of any woman that is allergic to diamonds? Well, I haven’t.
I once saw a homeless in America asking for money and he would swear to God he was allergic to coins.That was hard to believe.

But my question is specifically about food allergies.

Do you know anyone that is allergic to something like Almas caviar? These are roe (or eggs) of the beluga sturgeon, a fish that is found primarily in the Caspian Sea. The eggs from a 100+ year old beluga can cost around AUD $13,750 per kilogram.

So what about Kopi Luwak coffee, are you allergic to it? This is most expensive coffee in the world, prepared using coffee cherries that have been eaten by a little catlike animal called Asian Palm Civet, partially digested, and harvested from its feces.
The beans are then rinsed, sun dried, roasted and brewed and eventually ready to be made into a cup of coffee.
People will eventually pay around $440 per kilogram for this cat’s poop coffee from Indonesia.

What about saffron? White truffle? Black truffle?

The truth is that I’ve grown up playing barefoot in the grass, I’ve always shared my food (yep, and the germs too) with other kids and maybe for all of that I’ve grown up healthy and allergies free.
I can actually eat anything and I’ve never had a single sensitive reaction to products or food.

Until recently when I tried black truffles.

Black truffles are highly prized edible mushrooms that grow underground on the roots of trees.
Looking for truffles in open ground is almost always carried out with truffle hogs (specially trained pigs) or more recently, dogs.
Production is almost exclusive to Europe with Tasmania as the big player outside of Europe.
They are rare and very time consuming to find so that is what makes its price quite special too: AUD $ 3.00 per gram. (what a bargain!!! )

Since moved to Australia, I’ve eaten black truffles four times and in all those occasions, I felt extremely sick afterwards. Think of my tummy as one of those poor kids’ club where the richest kid of the neighbourhood (the little truffle) is not welcome and he is expelled as soon he comes in.
Honestly, this is the weirdest reaction that my body had to any sort of food!

A doctor told me once that our t-cells are like us: they learn to become good fighters by fighting. I really believe on that theory so I think the issue is that my body is just not used to it. So in this case I should either blame mum for never have used black truffle to cook for our family of 6 or maybe one of the friends from my childhood public school who never had a black truffle sandwich to share!

So maybe one day my breakies will be all about black truffles on scrambled eggs, Almas caviar on toast sprinkled with saffron, matching of course a cup of Kopi Luwak.

But while it doesn’t happen, I will continue avoiding black truffle just because I’m too allergic to it.

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