Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lavandula Swiss Italian Autumn Harvest Festival

Last weekend we trekked out to Lavandula for their Swiss Italian Autumn Harvest Festa. Lavandula is a lavender farm near Daylesford, and they hold a festival each season to celebrate the bounty of nature. This one promised "olive harvest, jam making, bottling quinces, roasting chestnuts, Italian music and singing and dancing the tarantella". While much of this was here, it was really a great deal more like being present at someone's party than attending a festival.

Busloads of apparent Swiss Italians arrived just as we did and quickly claimed the reserved tables under the trees. They mostly brought their own picnics, which was just as well, given that the farm restaurant, La Trattoria, was besieged from all sides by hungry visitors. They featured a short menu of oxtail with gnocchi, minestrone and several types of pizza. As I stood waiting to give my order, a serve of mushroom pizza went flying out the kitchen window and just missed a waitress who had bent down for some paper. "Oh well" she said, unflappable. "You can't be perfect all the time".

The oxtail tasted a little smoky (burnt?) but the mushroom pizza with thyme and taleggio was scrumptious. I suspect the base was nothing more than flour, oil, egg and water and it was crisp and flaky and just what was needed out in the cold.

There was plenty of fruit and vegetables to be seen but not a great deal for sale. There were a few vendors of olive oils, preserves and cheeses, but to be honest, you'd find a wider selection at most of the farmer's markets. However there is the lovely Lavandula giftshop for anyone needing to flex the plastic! We walked around the property, peeped at the lavender fields (not in bloom now) and tasted wine and cider and just-made jam. When the music started up, the crowd under the trees began to sing and dance, elderly women in scarves joined hands and began to dance and for a moment, you forgot you were in Australia.

Lavandula holds these festivals regularly but I think I'd be more tempted to return on a quiet day when we could hole up in La Trattoria and see fields bursting with lavender blossom. Until then, enjoy the pics!


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Lazy cow said...

Thanks for the photo tour. Your photos are always so beautiful. I've been tempted to go to a festival there (they have a summer one too, I think) but it is just lovely to go on a quiet weekday and hole up in La Trattoria for an afternoon.
I've just popped some of the Lavandula lavender oil in my bath. Bliss.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Nerissa said...

For a moment I was confused as to why I was seeing autumn bounty. I quite forgot you were in the southern hemisphere. Fall has always been my favourite season so maybe I should head south :)

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Ange said...

Sounds lovely, I love all of the autumn phots too, love this time of year when the leaves are falling in masses everywhere, just wish it didnt mean that the cold has to come with it too!

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Barbara said...

I'm envious of the autumn you are enjoying in the country. What gorgeous colours.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger plum said...

Thanks LC! I think of myself as a rank amateur but every now and then I take a pic I like. Mmmm, lavender oil ...

Hey Nerissa, come on down under!

Hi Ange - yes it is a bit outrageously cold at the moment, isn't it??

Hi Barbara - yes the gorgeous colours of the leaves and hills make up for a lot.


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