09.04.2012 - 14.04.2012 0 °C
Orange was nothing like I expected but more than we could have dreamed or imagined. It's labelled 'the colour city' and certainly lives up to it's name. The purpose for coming here was to study at Charles Sturt Univestity where I am doing a distance course in ecological agriculture with residential schools once or twice a year. The uni itself is set on a 550 ha sheep and cattle farm with undulating hills, a well established vineyard boasting some of the top wines of the region and a colourful and charismatic bunch of people working and studying there. The campus restaurant 'Banjo's' has some of the most nutritious and flavoursome dishes Ive ever experienced in a school cafeteria! And at student prices!
Each day we were provided with two healthy, homemade options to choose from such as grilled fish with lemon and pepper, wedges with sour cream, spinach and potato pizza and all including beautiful side salads such as seeded mustard potato salad and a lentil garden salad. On Fridays there is all day brunch including spinach, mushrooms, bacon, scrambled egg with pesto and berry danishes. All this in a uni cafeteria for $10 including juice or soft drink
Dad and Izaak seemed to have fun while I was at uni too, enjoying the surrounding parks, playgrounds and waterways. Orange has top notch playground facilities including a hugh adventure playground. And when I say Orange is cool it certainly is...literally. Anyone would think I had researched the weather prior to coming but I just assumed it was warmer since we were moving north from Victoria. I was highly mistaken. The days ranged from 13 to 17 degrees which is similar to Victoria this time of year, however the first few nights ranged from minus one to zero degrees!!! This was quite a shock to the system, particularly since our accommodation was the camper trailer Dad purchased for the trip being canvas walls!! However the cool crispness added to the atmosphere and made the warmth of bed and homestyle dinners all the more enjoyable. It also forced both Izaak and I to have early nights as it was too cold to stay up, so we were well rested. Dad, however, stayed up later sitting in the ute with a quite beer and the radio for company.
The food in Orange was amazing!! The first night I wanted something more nutritious than takeaway so we settled in at Fare Dinkum Family Restaurant...it was definately a good choice. And reasonable priced. I got rosemary and pepper crumbed lamb cutlets on a rocket salad and Dad got a seafood crepe. Izaak ordered the usual kids nuggets and chips. The flavours made my taste buds happy.
On the last night in Orange we decided to try the Metropolitan Hotel's balcony restaurant. Another great choice! I had a crispy seared chicken breast with asparagus and garlic prawns on roasted root veggies. Dad had a beef n reef. This place didnt have typical kids meals but had a more nutritious version so Izaak got cumbed chicken tenderloins with chips and VEGGIES!! One of the few places Ive been to that serve veggies with the kids meals and for the low price of $10. As you can tell, Orange is the prime choice for eating out.
In addition to the food, the city landscape and architecture almost compared to the beauty of the surrounding farmland and hills. It reminded me of my hometown of Bendigo and nearby Ballarat with its colonial and victorian architecture but was very affluent and metropolitan in its cultural style. I would have loved to have had more time to explore the cityscape, however my time was taken up by uni, although this in itself was a highly enjoyable experience and is not at all regretted.
We concluded our trip on Saturday with a visit to the farmers market. Another colourful array of fruits, vegetables, plants, meat, pastries and homemade drinks and preserves. Instead of my regular coffee I tried a warmed apple juice with lemon, cinnamon and ginger. It was amazing!! I know Ive used that word a lot in this blog but it sums up the experience in Orange, especially the culinary side of it. I left the farmers market with some grass fed and saltbush grazed lamb, pistachio nuts, organic kale, garlic and thyme, free range eggs, choc hazlenut slice and elderflower cordial. And while we were there I enjoyed a hazelnut scroll and Izaak was wrapped to get a giant homemade pretzel for $1.50!! Dad got his usual coffee and egg n bacon roll but was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of bacon on it! But for $6 he got what he paid for
Overall Orange was a colourful, cool, crisp farm gate of culinary delights and aesthetically pleasing architecture which I look forward to exploring more when I am due to attend my next residential school later in the year.