One event caught my eye this year though - the Urban Food Safari which offered a visit to some of Potts Points urban edible gardens. The event was being organised by Tim Petersen from Cafe Dov in Potts Point and my balcony gardening hero, Indira Naidoo. And even better is that most of the proceeds of our tour went to the Wayside Chapel.
The tour began at Cafe Dov, which seemed fortuitous as I've wanted to go there for brunch since well, since forever! I was a regular at their old location in Darlinghurst but hadn't been for brunch in their new Potts Point Digs.
I meet up with fellow tour goers and twitter friends @foodsasmedicine (Gabi) and @thefrenchwench (Sandra) - and our brunch kicks off with a glass of bubbles (a gal could get used to this at brunch) followed by coffees all round.
My brunch buddy Gabi orders a lovely looking lentil + beetroot salad with apple, goats cheese and walnut praline ($12.50 for a small plate). It looks so fresh and hearty...something I'm keen to try on my next visit. This time I was swayed by the slow braised lamb with beetroot, mint, roasted potatoes ($16.00). This was a rich and warming dish with strong flavour of the lamb offset by the freshness of the zesty beetroot.
The French Wench sticks to her Frenchy roots and orders a big bowl of Kinkawooka mussels in white wine and garlic broth ($18 for a large bowl). We all take advantage of her side plate of crusty bread - which is perfect for sopping up the juices of my lamb dish.
I know I sound a bit fan girl when I talk about Indira, but without her blog + book - I'd still be sitting on my butt looking at a stark, ugly and inedible balcony. She inspired me to take an interest in something that was achievable, attainable, interesting, challenging + fun. I feel like my balcony garden has opened up a whole new world of interest and learning - which is a wonderful way to feel after sitting in an office job for 18 years wondering what it was all about. I finally have a hobby that I LOVE (besides food blogging and eating of course).
The first thing I notice about Indira’s balcony (apart from the KILLER VIEW) is that it’s really pretty small – much smaller than I thought actually. This makes the fact that last she harvested 70kgs of food from the space last year even more impressive. It just goes to show you can grow food anywhere...from a window sill to a small inner-city balcony.
I also noticed that Indira’s balcony was so well PLANNED. Everything seemed to have a home – unlike my garden where I just keep adding stuff. So much stuff in fact that it’s almost impossible to get out to our clothes line. I’ve tended to add things higgledy-piggledy and the pots + plants just keep growing. Indira has managed to fit a HUGE Curryleaf Tree onto her tiny balcony – impressive considering I can hardly fit a bucket on mine these days.
After the tour of Indira's balcony our little group heads over to the Wayside Chapel to check out their AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING rooftop garden. This garden is an inspiration...a truly beautiful urban green space!
Our group is the 2nd to arrive so we have about an hour to explore and chat to the garden workers here. The rooftop is like a garden wonderland - so much to see, touch smell. So much to learn (if only my brain was bigger to retain all this new information). What's been done with what is essentially a boring old city rooftop is really outstanding and aspirational and just goes to show (again) that everyone can create a little bit of edible green in their world.
|Photo on the left from Indira at Saucy Onion|
I've become a bit obsessed with bees lately. Since my zucchini growing escapades I fully understand that we NEED bees to pollinate our plants, I mean I can't be out there with a paintbrush each morning helping the zucchinis have sex! So I was VERY excited to get up close and personal with some of the bees in the Wayside hive. They are fascinating to watch and so important to our food security too. The beekeeper here was VERY knowledgeable and happily answered all our buzzy-bee questions.
The Wayside Chapel also have quite a few worm farms on their rooftop. I'd love have a worm farm on my balcony but a) I don't have any room left and b) it's just a bit hot for them on our north facing balcony. It just seems like such a good way to dispose of kitchen scraps and reduce our landfill at the same time. And the output...worm wee is GREAT for gardens.
After our hour or so on the Wayside Chapel rooftop we collect our bounty of fresh fruit + veggies and head back to the Dov garden for a feast!
The kitchen crew at Dov whip up some pretty impressive treats for our edible garden afternoon tea. My favourite is probably a lovely fluffy white-bread sandwich of edible greens. So simple yet so flavoursome and the greens are just so crunchy and so fresh!! I'm also pretty fond of the lemon cupcakes - the recipe is from Indira's book - that are sprinkled with candied lemons from Indira's balcony.
|Photo in the middle from Indira at Saucy Onion|
And I even (briefly) got to meet Claudia Karvan who is an ambassador for the Wayside Chapel AND the lucky owner of FOUR beehives! Jealous.
|Photos on the right from Indira at Saucy Onion. |
Top right: Claudia Karvan, Tim Petersen (Cafe Dov) and Indira Naidoo.
Bottom right: our big happy tour group on the Wayside rooftop.
Cafe Dove is at 130 Victoria Street, Potts Point. Phone them on 9368 0600.