winter in #OrangeNSW = fireside cellar doors

The sky has turned a silvery-grey, there’s frost on the ground. There’s nothing more for it, it’s time to search out the best local cellar doors with roaring fires(and great wine!).

My first vineyard stop in Orange is always Mayfield Vineyard – summer, spring, autumn or winter, it’s just beautiful. The 100-hectare estate and Georgian homestead are placed on the Icely Road, just outside of Orange and not far from the original Ophir goldfields where gold was first discovered in Australia in the 1850s. The cellar door is in the property’s original schoolhouse, and when it gets a little chilly they start blazing the open fire. It’s the perfect accompaniment to their highly thought of wines.

 From the Icely Road, it’s only a hop and a skip over to Millthorpe, one of the most charming of the surrounding villages in the Orange region. Being a heritage village, it’s awash with original buildings starring open fireplaces. Start with a coffee and a pastry at The Old Mill Café and then work your way over to the nearby Angullong cellar door. Originally the stables for the next door hotel, this bluestone cellar door not only has one of the coziest fireplaces but we think it also some of the best wines in the region. The marvellous thing about buying wine direct from cellar doors is that you get to taste the entire range before making a choice, it really beats grabbing an unknown bottle from a bottleshop and you get to chat with the producers as well.

Speaking of the next door hotel, after you’ve experienced the Angullong hospitality it’s a great idea to drop into Gerry’s Commercial Hotel. Best village pub ever! A stellar local wine list, Guinness on tap served up by the Irish publican and award-winning pub food (Gerry’s scored the 2014 ‘Best Lamb Burger’ and 2013 ‘Best Steak’ awards from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Pub Food Guide) – and all by the crackling fireside.

If you manage to drag yourself away from the pub, on the other side of Orange you can take a little tour through the rolling hills of Borenore and stop off at Small Acres Cyder for a cheeky cider tasting by the cheerful potbelly stove.

Not too far away, Cargo Road Wines also boasts a merry cornerside potbelly stove warming up the cellar door. Go straight for the Zinfandel to keep you even toastier inside, the wines here are amazing and have become a firm favourite. Slow-cooked goat curry and venison pies are served up in the picturesque café overlooking the vineyard, and the cellar door also doubles up as an art gallery.

When you’re finally ready to make your way back into town, head straight to the Union Bank Wine Bar for a final sample of local wines and a welcoming fire. Owned by local winemaker Tom Ward, this is also the location of his Swinging Bridge handcrafted wines cellar door. With live courtyard music and a glass of award-winning Pinot Noir in your hands, you won’t want to leave.

Enjoy! Kelly

A version of this article first appeared in The Localist online travel and culture magazine in May 2014

boutique exploring

I took a spin around #OrangeNSW last week, and was surprised at the amount of boutiques and gourmet providores I uncovered along my happy trail. Seems like here are some real hidden gems here, just waiting to be discovered.

I started at the original and the best – Hawkes General Store in Sale Street. This is fabulously located right next door to Lolli Redini (a 1 Chef Hat restaurant) and the Union Bank Wine Bar, and Red Chilli Deli is just across the carpark.

A short walk away up Byng Street takes you to Iglou – very generation next fashion stakes – and The White Place, which has rooms and rooms of delectable homewares.

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Spinning around the block back onto Summer Street brought me to the serious cook’s companion, The Essential Ingredient. And then turning right into Anson Street there’s a treasure trove awaiting almost every step – including homewares and interiors store Jumbled and regional providore A Slice of Orange.

essential ingredient jumbledonline a slice of Orange

By this time, I was due a coffee and pastry break and luckily for me right across the road in the Woolworths carpark, tucked away in a  corner, is the best bakery in town – Racine Bakery. These guys also run the 1 Chef Hat Racine Restaurant, so you can imagine how good their sourdough is. and pizzas, and pastries and and and…

One of my favourite places to browse is The Complete Garden in Lords Place, so that’s where I headed to next. Then crossed the road to Kite Street to head to Cinnabar – which handily doubles as the Word of Mouth Wines cellar door. Shopping and wine tasting. This, my friends, is what I love about #OrangeNSW.

 

racine bakery completegarden wordofmouth

 

From here, for me it’s a hop skip and a jump over the railway pedestrian bridge to Endsleigh Avenue on my way home. My last and favourite stop is my local cafe, The Endsleigh – which is right next door to a vintage designer clothing shop A Frockwork Orange. Ladies, it is possible to book private Friday evening shopping sprees at the store for you and a group of friends, accompanied by champagne and cheese. I rest my case.

 

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A Frockwork Orange + The Endsleigh

 

to market, to market

On a university budget with champagne tastes, to get into the swing of things for the kick-off of Orange F.O.O.D Week (running this year from 4-13 April) I spent the first weekend going to back-to-back artisan markets. And it was total joy.

Starting with the Borenore Public School Big Brunch Country Fair was kind of like peaking before the party. This was an almost unbelievable gourmet school fete – there was an Alpaca sausage sizzle for crying out loud, and they were spinning a chocolate wheel to win bottles of world-class local wine (not chocolate), and it was bunting ahoy.

It was love at first sight. Then I found homemade quince paste, and on the way home through Borenore I found a fig orchard. The winding lanes of Borenore are a feast for the senses, and the trip home also involved stopping off for some fine apple and pear cider tasting at Small Acres Cyder. Just around the corner was Dindima Wines, and it would have been rude not to have joined the FOOD week crowds for a tasting at their very friendly cellar door. I came home with a bottle of the 2009 Stella dessert chardonnay, threw it into a bowl of cream, caster sugar and figs and a few hours later had ice-cream (thanks to the beautiful Local is Lovely cookbook by  Sophie Hansen).

One sleep later and I was off to market again, this time to the second annual Cook Park breakfast and produce market as part of the Orange FOOD festival. I paced myself at this one, fuelling up on coffee and hazelnut meal (for more baking purposes) from Fourjay Farms. Lots of lovely local producers were there, including The Agrestic Grocer and The Second Mouse Cheese Company. Printhie Wines were also there serving up tasters of their delightfully unparalleled Swift Vintage and Cuvee – it is never too early for sparkling.

The final, and penultimate, leg of the weekend market trail involved catching a lift with friends to the nearby village of Millthorpe (just a 15 minute scenic drive outside of Orange) to the much-loved biannual edition of the Millthorpe Markets. It would have been easy to go crazy for bunting and cushions and lace doily dresses, but I managed to contain my enthusiasm and come home with a wooden handmade birdhouse.

We wandered into the village after the markets, and it was an extended affair – most of the local stores had trestle tables outside on the pavement selling wares and it was definitely a country fair atmosphere. Sailing home past verdant green paddocks and soaring blue sky, it occurred to me that this #treechange thing was one of the finest ideas I’ve ever had.

Happy happy joy joy – Kelly

 

The Rocking Horse Lounge: it’s love

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We’d driven past this charmingly converted cornerstore a few times, and gazed into the windows to the inviting white tablecloth-draped tables, wooden floors and art nouveau stained glass centre counter. Around the corner, this place also has the best preserved ‘Billy Tea’ painted ad splashed across its walls I’ve so far seen in the region, so it’s had me intrigued from the get-go.

So I decided it was finally time to rock up to The Rocking Horse Lounge with The Italian to celebrate our anniversary, and as part of my official ‘research’ into how to #livelikealocal.

While #OrangeNSW is justifiably proud of its Chef Hat restaurants – Racine, Lolli Redini and Tonic – there are some real local gems hidden away that you only have to search a little bit to find. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you The Rocking Horse Lounge.

I’m not quite sure what I loved the most, it’s all kind of Parisian dark wood art nouveau/1910s with tables in nooks & crannies in there.  We were given the best seats in the house in the old store window, which meant we could gaze out watching the sunset drop dramatically while sipping the house sparkling Printhie Swift Cuvee from local vineyard Printhie Wines (“forget the French stuff, drink this” says The Italian).

The menu is $50 for two courses or $60 for three. We had pork belly with figs and sauerkraut, finished with a creme caramel and the best shortbread either of us has ever eaten in our lives, and polished the evening off with a Printhie Reisling. Fairly safe to say, it was an evening of being in love at, and with, The Rocking Horse Lounge.

Rocking Horse rocks! Don’t just take my word for it, read the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor and Australian Good Food & Travel Guide 

Enjoy! Kelly

Find The Rocking Horse Lounge 211 Byng Street, Orange. For bookings call 02 6369 1483. It’s Casual Dining and they’re open for lunch Tues-Fri and dinner Tues-Sat. 

all hail Autumn + the village pub

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The fantastic thing about the arrival of Autumn and the rain and the chilly evenings, is the village pub. As soon as the rain hit we hit the road the Millthorpe to Gerry’s Commercial Hotel to warm up by the fire.

You can’t really ask more from a village pub than a roaring fire and a publican with a broad Irish accent, but the Commercial goes even better than this and offers up award-winning pub food, a stellar wine list (being just next door to the Angullong cellar door), Guinness on tap and craft beer – and Jamesons.

Gerry and his wife have scored the 2014 ‘Best Lamb Burger’ and 2013 ‘Best Steak’ awards from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Pub Food Guide, and the pub has achieved ‘2 Schooner Status’ in 2013 and 2014.

Totally opposed to pokies, televisions and TAB punting, this is a pub for good conversation and conviviality. If you get over-excited by it all you can even stay the night.

Enjoy! Kelly

let the vineyards come to you: Kelly’s Rugby Hotel

This place might just about be Orange’s best kept local secret. Don’t be fooled by the goldrush era exterior, Kelly’s Rugby Hotel  not only has a drive-through bottleshop (very classy, very handy in winter) but it has the best-stocked local and regional cellar in town.

If you are on a flying visit and can’t make it to the vineyards, don’t despair. Kelly’s stocks it all, and better yet, because they buy in bulk they pass on the savings. TOP BLOKES.

But wait, the love and regard and esteem I have for this place knows no bounds. Their friends at the vineyards also send through cleanskins when they’ve had a bumper year. So much value, so much joy, who needs labels to understand what you’re drinking.

I have friends who make the drive up from Sydney just to visit the two Kelly’s – me and this bottleshop.

Share the love and enjoy,

Kelly

You’ll find the legendary Kelly’s Rugby Hotel Orange at 133 Lords Place. You can also find them on Facebook to keep up with the specials. 

live like a local: beer + barber shop

Now where else could you find a 1940s-era barber shop inside a pub eh? All this and you can catch up with whose running for the Cox Plate.

You’ll find this little gem tucked away in the front entrance corner of the Hotel Canobolas, on the corner of Summer Street & Lords Place. 

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