Embark on a weekend foodie adventure. 

A thriving arts and foodie community, Orange is fast becoming one of Australia's premier destinations for gourmands with a healthy appetite for fine food and wine. Located a 3.5-hour drive west of Sydney, this town of just over 39,000 people is famous for its restaurants and wineries in addition to farms that grow fruits such as apples, pears and peaches. Despite its name, however, oranges are not grown in this region due to its temperate climate.

On the flip side, Orange's year-round cool and dry weather – and fertile soil – makes it perfect for wine production. There are many wineries in the region that produce cool-weather wines such as sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Don’t know where to start? Head to Ferment the Orange Wine Centre where you can sample a medley of wines from all over central New South Wales.

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Mount Canobolas (just 13km southwest of Orange city) is worth exploring. At 1395 metres above sea level, this extinct volcano is the highest peak between the Indian Ocean and Blue Mountains; its magnificent snow gum forests and rugged rock faces makes it a popular trek for day hikers. Not only that, Mount Canobolas boasts breathtaking 360-degree views of Orange city and the surrounding rolling countryside, with the peaks of the Blue Mountains in the distance.

All that hiking and imbibing is sure to get you hungry, so why not take to one of Orange’s many eateries for a well-deserved feed. Emma’s Table offers traditional European-style dining with dishes made for sharing, while those wanting to tuck into classic dishes with modern twists may take to Zest Restaurant and Beer Garden. A selection of gourmet sandwiches, burgers, cakes and slices await at Bissys Café while Highland Heritage Estate, a restaurant, winery and function centre in one, is the ideal spot for leisurely lunches and weddings. If you also happen to be in Orange on the second Saturday of the month, be sure to check out the Orange Regional Farmers Market to sample the region’s fresh local produce.

Looking to stay a night or two? Orange boasts a large range of accommodation options such as the tranquil Lakeview Luxury Cabins, a beautiful self-contained getaway overlooking the waters of Lake Canobolas. 

For those wanting to experience everything Orange has to offer in one concise festival, you’re in luck as Orange FOOD Week is on April 10 -19 and will showcase over 80 events across 10 days. From FOOD week night markets to a 100 mile dinner, Forage and the Sunday Producer Brunch & Market, you’ll be spoilt for foodie choices. See their website for more information:

By Libby Margo. 

A Great Wine for a Roast Lamb Dinner

By David Ellis from vintnews.   

With the family around for the Easter long weekend, enjoy a roast lamb with rosemary, baked vegies and a mint-infused gravy paired with a Forester Estate’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from WA’s Margaret River. 


From a great growing season that the company says was “extremely kind” with good winter rain leading to a slightly warmer than normal summer, this is an interesting drop  blending 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. 


The season resulted in rewarding cedary oak, cassis, tobacco and currants on the palate, combined with red berry, violets and delicate floral characters, and with a firm and long finish. 


While certainly a great companion now with that roast lamb and trimmings, give it another year in-bottle and it’ll only get better year-on-year through to around 2024. It’s a recommended $38. 


One to note: for those who like to watch their alcohol intake, and the calories, New Zealand’s Matua has released a lighter than normal Sauvignon Blanc from the famed Marlborough region that makes for a great match with all kinds of seafoods – perhaps pair it with your BBQ fish this Good Friday. 


With 9% alcohol,  25% less below the usual, this one still retains lovely crisp tropical passionfruit and gooseberry flavours, and interestingly is from the company that planted New Zealand’s first Sauvignon Blanc back in 1969, and certainly shaking-up the industry in doing so. 


In fact today more Sauvignon Blanc – both locally grown and huge amounts from New Zealand – is now sold in Australia than any other white variety, having knocked Chardonnay off its perch back in 2012.  


Pay $22 for this current 2013 Matua Lighter Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.


Our Top 5 Easter Cocktails

To celebrate Easter weekend, we’ve selected five of the best egg-tastic cocktails (mini chocolate eggs to complement are optional). 


1. For those who prefer something light and fruity: Berry Bunny Colada.

2. For something sweet and chocolate-y: Easter Bunny Cocktail.

3. For those who have a sweet spot for white chocolate: White Chocolate Easter-tini.

4. For a really, really decadent Easter: Chocolate Caramel Easter Egg Cocktail. 

5. For an Easter cocktail with an Italian twist: Tiramisu Easter Egg.

Earth Hour

March 28

A worldwide movement established in 2007 by the WWF, Earth Hour encourages households, communities and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour as a gesture for their commitment to a better planet. Earth Hour typically occurs from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on the last Saturday in March.

Starting off as a lights-off event in Syndey, Earth Hour has since grown to involve more than 7000 cities and towns all over the world. Although the one-hour black-out remains the key driver of Earth Hour, other activities are also held on the day to raise awareness – these include candlelight walks and runs as well as Earth Hour movie nights featuring environmentally-themed movie marathons all over Australia.

You too can get involved; simply visit: 

Byron Bay Bluesfest

Thursday 2 April to Monday 6 April, Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm.

Jump on the groove train this Easter weekend for Bluesfest, one of Australia’s most iconic music festivals. Featuring a vibrant mix of blues, roots, folk, soul and world artists, Bluesfest is set to be an electrifying treat for all senses.

The 120-hectare Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, located just 11km north of Byron Bay, will be transformed into a live site encompassing seven performance stages and five licensed bars in addition to more than forty mouth-watering food stalls and over fifty market stalls.

Those rocking up on opening night are in for a spectacular time with US rockers Counting Crows and talented Sydney duo Angus and Julia Stone taking centre stage. Over the next few nights, international acts such as The Black Keys, Paolo Nutini, Gypsy Kings, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminal will work their magic as will local acts like Augie March, Diesel and Xavier Rudd.

Camping options at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm are available for those with trailers and tents. Alternatively, there’s a wide range of accommodation options in Byron Bay to suit all budgets and needs from the resort-style Oasis Apartments & Treetop Houses to the laidback beachside Mariner Bay Apartments.

For those feeling hungry, why not check out some of Byron Bay’s restaurants? Perhaps indulge in a medley of Mediterranean-style tapas and cocktails at Sante or enjoy a selection of innovative dishes made with fresh organic produce at the award-winning Harvest

For more information about Bluesfest, visit:  

By Libby Margo.

Neil McGuigan Bottles a Philosophy

Neil McGuigan has a philosophy: if a winemaker and the team supporting him aspire to make a super-premium wine that people will readily pay $150 a bottle for, then the culture they develop in creating that wine will see them lift the bar in everything else they do in the winery. 

“So in our case it’s also resulted in a McGuigan $10 wine now feeling to consumers like a $12 wine because of the extra effort that’s gone into it, a $20 like a $25 and so on,” says Neil, who has gone further than just having a philosophy, he’s created a label he calls The Philosophy, which has devotees happy to pay its $150 price. 

Neil says he’s put ten years of effort into the label, with his whole team throwing themselves into its success with the same “vision, passion, strength and drive” as his own. “Not only did we develop a super-premium, exceptional red, along the way we’ve created new tiers of wines within the McGuigan portfolio, and raised some existing labels to a point of over-delivering at their price level.” 

The 2010 McGuigan The Philosophy Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is made from small parcels of fruit from the Eden Valley and Clare District of South Australia. With intense flavours of raspberries, mulberries and plum, and with a lovely softness on the palate, it makes an exceptional partner for special-occasion dining paired with  rare-roasted aged fillet of beef or a good oven-baked leg of lamb.

One to note: Katnook Estate enjoyed excellent-condition fruit from an early 2014 harvest in Coonawarra that was dry and mild, and in the case of the company’s Sauvignon Blanc resulted in especially vibrant varietal fruit character.  

While labelled Sauvignon Blanc this one’s got a 7% Semillon component in it that gives a palate of delicately balanced tropical lychee fruit flavour, and herbaceous, mineral and flinty tones and a rewardingly zesty finish. Pay $25 and enjoy this as a dinner starter with natural oysters squeezed with fresh lemon, and followed we’d suggest, with a Spanish seafood paella.

International Pizza Expo

March 23-26

Pizza industry professionals from around the world will converge at the Las Vegas Convention Centre for the annual International Pizza Expo. Now in its 31st year, the largest trade show for the pizza industry connects restaurant owners with food suppliers and oven manufacturers in addition to sales and delivery technology solutions providers.

The exhibition floor will feature seminars and demos throughout the event and of course, mountains of crusty dough topped with rich tomato, melting cheese and all sorts of mouth-watering toppings to keep delegates well-fed. Highlights include the International Pizza Challenge where the world’s best will compete for the crown as well as pizza games such as the pizza triathlon and freestyle acrobatic dough tossing.

Sadly, the International Pizza Expo is only open to those working in the industry – but if you are now craving a slice of cheesy doughy goodness closer to home, check out our list of pizza restaurants near you.

If you want to try your hand at making a pizza, we suggest Annette Sym's Pizza Supreme easy and low calorie recipe, for more options see our Pizza Recipe Section

Masterclass: Dolmades

As we recognise Greek Independence Day on March 25, AGFG couldn't go past the opportunity to cook up some Dolmades. Here we will give you a step by step guide on how to make "the food of the Gods." If you know someone with Greek heritage, you can appreciate their love for food, along with their belief that Dolmades were once served to the Gods atop Mount Olympus, along with ambrosia and nectar. The "dolma" is also made throughout the Middle East and is served as a meze or main dish depending on what each region uses as stuffing.

Rice and Pine Nut stuffed Dolmades made by AGFG Resident Chef Shawn Sheather: 



You will need: 

1/2 onion, finely diced

250g long grain rice

1/4 cup of pine nuts 

1 teaspoon of Lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 bunch dill

1/4 bunch parsley

1.25 L Vegetable stock

2 Table spoon lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

100 mL olive oil

35-40 vine leaves 



A Step by Step: 

Heat a medium saucepan, add a little olive oil, allow to heat then sauté onion until opaque. Add the pine nuts, cinnamon and sauté for a minute or two. 

~Hint: if you need to add a little more oil its ok, also control the heat as to not brown the onion or burn the pine nuts.

Add the rice, followed by 1 L of vegetable stock.  

Reduce the heat, and stir slowly to make sure the rice doesn't stick.

Cook until rice has been absorbed. 

Add the cut parsley and finely cut dill, add salt and pepper, then fold through.

Set aside to cool.

Separate the vine leaves. On a single vine leaf, add about 45g of filling mixture. Fold in each side of the leaf, then roll the leaf from the bottom upwards.

~Hint: roll upwards, you don't need to roll the parcel too tight, as the rice will grow as it finishes cooking in the next step.


Once rolled, place the roll parcel in a oven safe large frypan, pack them in tight, this will prevent them possibly splitting. Cover with foil. 

Pour lemon juice, remaining vegetable stock and olive oil over the parcels. On a slow heat, bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

~Hint: if space is tight on your oven top, place the frypan in a pre heated oven on 85C for 1 hour.

Once the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice is cooked inside the parcels, remove them and place them on a tray and chill. 

The Dolmades will stabilise as they cool.

~ Note from Chef: Dolmades are traditionally served cool with tzatziki, and drizzled with a great olive oil. They are also really good, fresh and warm from the fry pan, but they are just a little unstable when eating. 

As you can see, in this recipe we have gone with a meatless version of Dolmades, but if you wish to add piece of minced lamb or beef you recipe can be adapted. We suggest you do as the Grecians do and enjoy these Dolmades with a glass of Ouzo. 

Hopping into Easter

With soft autumn breezes floating through the air and chocolate eggs infiltrating every corner of the local supermarket, you know that Easter is upon us.

Easter has both Christian and pagan roots. The most important festival in the Christian calendar, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, three days after he was executed. This day also coincides with the vernal equinox, a day in the pagan calendar when the sun passes from the north of the equator to the south – always on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 5 with Good Friday preceding it on April 3.

So what do fluffy rabbits and foil-wrapped chocolate eggs have to do with Easter? The vernal equinox traditionally marks the first day of the Northern Hemisphere spring, a time of new life and rebirth. The bunny is a symbol of fertility (you know what they say about rabbits…) while the egg represents new life and rebirth as well as the empty tomb of Jesus. In the past, Christians would decorate chicken eggs with intricate patterns using dye but these days, chocolate eggs are more commonplace thanks to a nineteenth-century German invention.

Although we may cheer on the arrival of Easter in autumn, the celebration of life and new beginnings still thrives as we continue to embrace these springtime traditions year by year.

There are many ways to make Easter this year a memorable one, including sharing a delicious home-cooked meal with your family. Traditional Easter foods vary between regions – for example, Eastern Europeans enjoy a brioche-like yeast cake called a babka while Neapolitans may indulge in pastiera, a sweet ricotta cake. For us southerners, Easter is the perfect time to take advantage of fresh seasonal autumn flavours such as sweetcorn, mushrooms and eggplant – visit our recipe section for inspiration.

If you prefer to enjoy Easter with family and friends without stepping into the kitchen, check out our What’s On section for the latest specials and events for Easter in your area.

By Libby Margo.

Rare Beauty That's Well Worth Trying

When you’re the only winemaker in Australia turning out a rare variety that’s even disappeared in its homeland France, it could be anticipated you’d slap on a hearty price-tag to reflect its uniqueness – and the more-so when that wine’s a ripper drop. 

However, Calabria Family Wines at Griffith in the NSW Riverina ask just $14.95 for their Oak Aged Saint Macaire, that’s both a great conversation starter and a wonderfully unique match with game dishes and oven-baked lamb with plenty of thyme, sage and rosemary, equally-herbed lamb chops off the barbecue, or vintage cheddar. 

Saint Macaire originated in a region 40km south of Bordeaux and was named after a local village, but Phylloxera wiped out all the vineyards there in the late 1800s; the variety was introduced into Australia in the 1970s/80s with the intent of using it in making port, but when port sales crashed soon after vines were pulled out en masse. 

It was only Bill Calabria at Calabria Family Wines (formerly Westend Estate) who kept small commercial quantities of vines, while Ian Hollick at Hollick Wines in Coonawarra held 20 vines he’s been observing for all those years in the event they  could give him a kick-start, should seasonal and market changes create a demand. 

Calabria Saint Macaire has unique violet, rose petals and spice on the nose, and rewarding spicy blackberry and plums on the palate. A rare beauty well worth trying. 

One to note: A 2014 Semillon from Margan Family Winegrowers’ forty year old vines at Broke in the Hunter Valley is drinking superbly right now – but for those with the patience, it’ll do so even more rewardingly if you let it age to classic Hunter Semillon complexity over the next five years or so.  

Margan’s Fordwich Sill Vineyards are renowned for fruit that gives richer and softer style wines with intense citrus flavours, and this one is no different with a palate that’s crisp and zesty with a refreshingly long finish from its great balance of fruit and acid. At $18 perfect with shellfish, crustaceans, whiting, John Dory or snapper fillets.

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