Forbes in New South Wales is on the banks of the River Lachlan and that’s where I spent the rest of January. It’s a real country town and my friend Annie, who moved there a number of years ago, knows just about everybody!
We spent time catching up with old friends, chatting, experimenting in the kitchen with new dishes and bakes, drinking wine and chatting some more. We effortlessly picked up where we’d left off and by the end of January I was relaxed, warm (it was 40 degrees plus most days) and full of ideas and energy because this trip to Forbes was different to my previous ones. This time I had my own Riverbank to return to…
So the learning that started in the kitchen at Kepos Street, Sydney, continued as I made my way inland. Annie herself is a great cook and an avid collector of recipes. In fact she’s even compiled a family cookbook of tried and tested favourites – with recipes admitted by general consensus after successful dinner parties and events.
Outside the kitchen I met Wendy from Girra Girra, a driving force behind Grazing Down the Lachlan, a fundraising initiative that is gradually installing some stunning sculptures on the riverbank near Forbes. We went to visit the first sculpture one afternoon and it truly was amazing!
Then I had some more tuition courtesy of our friend Brian, who has a commercial-sized wood-fired oven in his garden. We made traditional pizza and a peach one for dessert, with peaches we’d picked from the garden.
I spent most of a day with Toni too. Toni used to have a very successful and much missed cafe in Forbes, and she was generous enough to share her most popular recipes, even helping me convert the Australian cup measurements into grams (I’m such a nerd when it comes to baking!).
There was even an afternoon of coffee training with Scotty, our friend Al’s husband who has his own catering business and gave me loads of insights and ideas.
And the cherry on the cake was my first prize in the Damper competition*, run by the CWA (Country Women’s Association) on Australia Day! Under the watchful eye of Annie, I made three types of Damper in the searing heat of the afternoon on January 26, a national holiday over there. It was very worth the effort though, I was thrilled to bits with my certificate and even got a mention in the Forbes Advocate!
* Damper is a yeast-free bread, traditionally baked in campfires by drovers and bushmen and no, Jon Wingfield, my victory didn’t mean that I’d wet myself a little bit more than everyone else…