Tag Archives: Olive Oil

Return to the Grampians – The Harvest

10 Jul

So for the second time this year, we were lucky to be invited to the Grampians, this time for an olive picking weekend and Christmas in July dinner at Laharum Grove, our friends’ grove at the foot of Mount Difficult in the Grampians.  The crop this year was abundant to say the least.  Given their manpower and available tank space, only something like 25% of the entire grove was picked.  Picking had finished for the season, and the day we picked was the last one, the press at Toscana was stopping on that day at 2pm!

It was quite anxiety inducing to be walking through the grove and see so many trees so laden with olives that from tomorrow, will be rotting on the ground. We were their last hope.

We were blessed with a beautiful day, and so we began.  First step is to lay out nets under the trees. They are very big and heavy and hard to drag around.

Olive picking, laying out the nets

Then everyone gets a very big stick and starts whacking the trees. It is reeeeeally hard.  But quite amazing how many olives rain down on your head whilst you are doing it. Even the kids could do it.

Big sticks! Knocking olives off the trees

When we walked further out into the grove it was spectacularly beautiful with the Grampians right there.

Grampians backdrop, whacking olives

Then gather all the nets up and start piffing out all the sticky/leafy stuff

Gathering up the olives - removing leaf stuff

Then you end up with a lovely big heap of juicy olives. How good do these look? When you squeeze them, they squirt oil, heaps of it. And they stain!

A pile of olives just picked

We picked about 15 bins of about 20kg each, so between 4 adults, we shared 300kg of olives. We only did a few hours picking, as the kids were getting involved which slowed us down, but apparently we could have easily picked a tonne, and some of their best workers can do that solo in a day!

The press at Toscana

We then took them to the neighbouring Toscana Grove where they have a substantial press. Our 300kg yielded a 20litre drum of oil each.  Liquid Gold.

At the Olive Press, the finished product

After all that picking, the Christmas in July dinner was looking great. 30 adults seated, about 5 courses and Santa! Awesome. I made tomato soup which went down a treat, topped with some Main Ridge Dairy chevre. And a few cases of Christmas Ale went down a treat.

Another special visit, shared with fantastic people to this amazing place.

“urbanspoon rocks”

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The Really Long Lunch

20 Jun

I have been thinking about writing a blog for some time, recently we had the most amazing experience that inspired me to write it now, it’s taking me a while to get the first one down, but off & running now. A long weekend away with friends, at  Laharum Grove organic olive grove with the Grampians as the stage for the weekend, where the food, wine, beer, conversation & even dancing rolled on for days

Pizza night in the Grampians

On arrival it was pizza night. Our hosts have an awesome pizza oven so it was DIY pizzas, perfectly thin dough, a range of homegrown toppings, and a constant stream of woodfired pizzas.  We sat around a beautiful firepit (which we loved so much we had to get one for our backyard!).  A large mob of kids sat around the pit toasting marshmellows for awhile, thankfully they were lost in the grove most of the time and we hardly noticed they were there!

On Saturday morning we walked through the property.  Set in 300 acres at the base of the dramatic and historic Mt Difficult, the grove was planted by Italian workers around the 1940’s.  It has a remarkable 9 metre grid planting.  Across such a large property, it is incredible to think that every single tree has been so perfectly spaced.  Kangaroos were flitting through olive-laden trees and the backdrop of Mt Difficult made for the most stunning outlook.

Laden olive trees in the grove, Grampians as the backdrop

We arrived at the house which is a relocated Uniting Church. And as such, has nearly no benches or cupboards.  An eclectic collection of kitchen dressers, tables, meat safes provided workspace & storage for a highly covetable collection of  kitchen pots, pans & gadgets.  At 11am lunch prep was in full swing.

I was begging to help out! Eventually I was entrusted to peel the incredibly beautiful & delicate home grown quail eggs.  In the meantime, labne was being rolled and baby beets were roasting that had to be peeled & pureed, so the quail eggs could be dyed pink, so when they were cut open they would look very pretty! The pressure! I didn’t do too badly but smaller fingers would have been good.

Peeling the still warm from the quail eggs

Meantime, the table was being set…

The very long table

All this for the gorgeous appetiser of cured salmon, on a small herbed potato salad with beet stained quail eggs. Pics did not do it justice.

Cured salmon, herbed potatoes & beet stained quail eggs

One of the guests was a cray fisherman from Apollo Bay, so another appetiser was fresh crayfish, seved in lettuce cups, thai flavous.

Things started to really heat up in the kitchen then. Plating up 18 dishes required clearing a lot of space! It was a military operation.  Main course was couscous, with bbq’d lamb & roast vegetables cooked in their spicy Marmelatta,served with labne.  Somewhere inbetween peeling & staining quail eggs, eating, drinking, talking & laughing. I also made my first italian style meringue. I had been drizzling syrup into a cake for hours every time I passed, then whisked up the meringue and just fell in love with the texture of it when the hot sugar syrup was added.

The Kitchen, Plate Up!

At about 9pm at night, dessert was served and the dancing began!

Such a beautiful day in stunning surrounds and a group of people who were fun, passionate about food, and incredibly generous.

The following day it was back for yet another superb, albeit more casual, lunch (which thankfully ended by about 7pm) with the sunset over the Grampians

Another beautiful lunch into the sunset

Finally, all our little kids decided to set up their own restaurant to serve us dinner. Two little boys were pot washers, we had a couple of lovely waitresses, a bar person whipping up icy cocktails, and the tables were beautifully presented with menus!

The Kids Cafe, Table Presentation Excellent!

They were just too gorgeous.

What a weekend, I hope you enjoyed reading this and that I was able to capture some of the magic of that weekend.