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Bruce Brown, Tablelands Honey

FOOD TRAIL

Foxwood Farm pies, Running Stream

Net gains: Archvale Trout Farm WORDS STEPHANIE CLIFFORD-SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY JEREMY SIMONS

Taste drive

Mount Victoria General Store & Newsagency, post office and sushi bar

NEW SOUTH WALES

● Mudgee

The road from the Blue Mountains’ most westerly town, Mount Victoria, to Mudgee in the heart of explorer country, is full of culinary surprises. Trout, sushi, goat’s cheese, herbs, honey and olives all wait to sate travellers in quest of tempting tastes.

● Rylstone

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Lithgow

● Mount Victoria Katoomba ●

Sydney ✪ Kadisha Herb Farm, Capertree

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HINK ABOUT FOOD IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS and what springs to mind? Warming soups. Toasted chestnuts. Devonshire teas. Sushi? Probably not. Burmese-born Ronnie Kong offers sushi handmade daily in Mount Victoria. He learned his technique and a reverence for quality ingredients from Japanese chefs in America, where he ran a small chain of sushi bars. Kong buys his fish from Sydney, carefully freezes his supplies – which have been dry-filleted – and prepares a range of salmon, tuna and vegetarian pieces for sale from a spot in the chilled counter. Kong is keen to explain the correct way of eating sushi and urges customers to mix their wasabi with soy before applying it. His boxes also include a neat pile of sweet pickled ginger.

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MOUNT VICTORIA GENERAL STORE & NEWSAGENCY 109 Great Western Highway, Mount Victoria. (02) 4787 1231. Mon-Fri 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun and public holidays 6am-5pm.

The Olive Nest, Mudgee

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FOOD TRAIL

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You can catch and barbecue your own fish on-site or buy it from the shop smoked, gutted and ready to take home

Archvale Trout Farm (and below)

View from Pearson’s Lookout

Archvale Trout Farm

TROUT

GOAT’S CHEESE

AT ARCHVALE TROUT FARM, about 30km from Mount Victoria along the Great Western Highway, you can catch and barbecue your own fish on site. Nestled under an 1869 sandstone viaduct, the farm features large ponds of trout at various stages of development from fingerlings to one kilo adults. Owner Brian Cutcliffe will set you up with fishing tackle and bait and send you off to catch your lunch. Or, if you don’t fancy fishing, you can simply pop in and see Cutcliffe’s wife, Jill, in the shop and buy the fish, fresh or smoked, gutted and ready to take home. Jill Cutcliffe has plenty of preparation tips for her products – she loves the succulent roe warmed through in butter with lemon pepper and served on top of mashed potato.

THE HERD OF WHITE GOATS in the roadside field at Lidsdale, 6km from the trout farm, is your cue to drop in for cheeses and yoghurts. Cheesemaker Neil Watson and wife Janette have been here 15 years, winning awards and accolades. Largely self-taught, Watson turns out fresh curds, mature cheeses, a selection of white mould types and ricotta from his own herd. Mature varieties made from summer’s abundant milk are ready for sale in winter and, as milk supplies diminish in the colder months, the fresh varieties available year-round gain an added creaminess. Taste whatever is available. Any trip along Mudgee Road must include Pearson’s Lookout with views of the Capertee Valley, the largest enclosed valley in the Southern Hemisphere.

ARCHVALE TROUT FARM Hughes Lane, Marrangaroo via Lithgow. (02) 6352 1341. Wed-Mon 9am-5pm; daily, school holidays.

JANNEI GOAT DAIRY View Street & Mudgee Road, Lidsdale. (02) 6355 1107. Mon 10am-5pm; call first Wed-Sat.

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It started from necessity to make money, but now it’s an obsession and I can’t give it up,” says Laura Katter who owns and runs the Kadisha Herb Farm and has been growing herbs for 33 years

Laura Katter, Kadisha Herb Farm

Foxwood Farm

HERBS

PIES, CAKES & SLICES

YOU’RE LIKELY TO BECOME SO IMMERSED in the culinary and medicinal herbs, salad greens and flowers that you may miss the highland views from this nursery about 9km from Pearson’s Lookout. Laura Katter runs the nursery, part of a much larger property she manages with her farmer husband Mick. Katter has an extraordinary grasp of the medicinal properties of all the herbs that she propagates here and grows in an organic ecosystem – and is happy to share that knowledge. She has one of Australia’s biggest herb selections, including old cottage varieties, 20 types of mint and 14 types of thyme. You might come home with a selection of bitter salad greens that will not only be a fine addition to lunch, but will also sort your liver out.

THIS IS THE ONLY SHOP IN RUNNING STREAM, a tiny place exactly halfway between Lithgow and Mudgee. Stop in at the cafe for lunch or simply pick up homemade breads, cakes, jams, sauces or Foxwood Farm’s signature pies, all made to owner Glenys Lilley’s old family recipes. Pies come in several beef varieties, chicken, duck, venison and rabbit. The fruit range includes 100 per cent apple, or apple with blueberry, blackberry, rhubarb or quince as well as cherry and triple berry. Foxwood Farm also bakes delicious fruit crumbles, teacakes, slices and brownies. FOXWOOD FARM Mudgee Road, Running Stream. (02) 6358 8251. Daily 8am-5pm.

KADISHA HERB FARM Mudgee Road, Capertee. (02) 6359 0183. www.kadishaherbfarm.com. Daily, dawn to dusk.

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Local producers sell the purest amber nectar at way below city prices – Bruce Brown operates from his roadside caravan

Tablelands Honey head office

Mudgee magic

HONEY MUDGEE IS SYNONYMOUS WITH HONEY. Local producers frequently set up flat-top trucks on straight stretches of the Mudgee Road and sell the purest amber nectar at way below city prices. You’ll find kilo jars, two-kilo buckets, small pots of creamed honey and maybe a local jam or two being sold as a favour to a mate. For a total honey experience, the Mudgee Honey Haven offers tastings of local honeys as well as olives, meads and liqueurs. A perspex wall houses a working hive for a safe, close-up view of the industrious bees. The owners hope that by 2007, midweek tours of the factory will be underway. Meanwhile, they offer regular short talks. MUDGEE HONEY HAVEN Gulgong & Hargraves Roads, Mudgee. (02) 6372 4478. www.beepower.info/mhh. Daily 9am-5pm.

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Hives of industry, Mudgee

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The Olive Nest, just one of several producers in the region, grows Italian cultivars for oil and kalamatas for table olives

The Olive Nest , Mudgee (all images)

MORE CHEESE

OLIVES

HIGH VALLEY WINE & CHEESE CO has a delicious range of cheeses including white moulds, mature goat’s milk and marinated fetas. Its caerphilly is good but, with its yellow tone and firm texture, doesn’t resemble its chalky white Welsh namesake. You’ll forgive this when you try the pungent brie, the tangy, gruyere-like Santa Capra and the fresh, creamy chevre au lait. Hygiene regulations prevent factory tours, but you can observe from the courtyard.

THE VINEYARDS OF MUDGEE ARE JUSTLY FAMOUS, but the dry Mediterranean climate is also perfectly suited for olive growing. The Olive Nest, just one of several producers in the region, grows Italian cultivars for oil and kalamatas for table olives. The Nest has a range of olives, tapenades and oils for tasting and purchase and you can tour the factory with the owner. As it’s only open on weekends, the machinery won’t be operating, but the talk about production is interesting.

HIGH VALLEY WINE & CHEESE CO 137 Cassilis Road, Mudgee. (02) 6372 1011. www.highvalley.com.au. Daily 10am-5pm.

THE OLIVE NEST Pipeclay Lane, Mudgee. (02) 6373 3119. olivenest.com.au. Sat 10am-4pm, Sun/public holidays 10am-3pm. 

EVENTS MUDGEE FARMERS’ MARKETS St Mary’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mudgee. Local produce, fresh and ready prepared goods. Third Saturday of every month. MUDGEE WINE CELEBRATION September 8-October 2. www.mudgeewine.com MUDGEE HARVEST WEEKEND March 2007 (dates tbc). www.mudgeefinefoods.com.au 64 QANTAS OCTOBER 2006

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