I’m taking a short departure from my Mindful Christmas Crash Test (and giving myself an much needed extra week to get sorted!) to tell you about another departure – one to the country town of Bright in Victoria. It has both inspired me and validated my choice to cut/reduce the amount of sugar (fructose) in my life.
You see, Bright is a bit of a foodie paradise and I was concerned that I would be the person on the trip saying, “Sorry I can’t eat that, do you have something else?” But I needn’t have worried. In Bright I not only found super friendly people everywhere I went, but I also found super IQS friendly food everywhere.
Here are my 4 Bright ideas for IQS friendly eating . . .
1. Enjoy the process
Food doesn’t need to be seen just as good fuel or bad fuel. You can enjoy your food, and even more so when you make it from scratch yourself. I was privileged to experience an Italian cooking class with Patrizia Simone (of Simone’s of Bright Restaurant fame). She and her husband George have recently finished their new purpose-built kitchen at the back of their home, for their Country Cooking school.
Walking into Patrizia Simone’s kitchen felt like a privilege right from the beginning. There was no pretense of perfection, we were welcomed across the unfinished garden, behind the scenes and into the beautiful newly finished kitchen. The smiling couple at the top of steps greeted us like we were already close friends. We enjoyed Fritelle di fiori di zucchini (zucchini flower fritters) and beautiful homemade salami. But the best of all was learning to make gnocchi. Yes, I know potatoes are not a great choice for some sugar quitters, but personally, eating a bowl of gnocchi doesn’t send me into a crazed sugar craving lunatic. Besides, you can make it with sweet potato too.
I have never been so delighted by the process of creating something as simple as gnocchi. Squishing my hands through the potato, the bright yellow streaks of fresh egg yolk, the rolling and then cutting of each little morsel before giving it a satisfying poke and flick into the sea of gnocchi we had made together.
Patrizia served it with a sauce of Gorgonzola, Castello Bianco (creamy soft white cheese) and truffle paste. Yummy beyond imagination and it was the lightest gnocchi I have ever tasted. Usually it sits heavy in my stomach so this was a wonderful new experience for me.
Another wonderful experience was watching George’s 92 year old mother make a perfect sheet of pasta appear, as if by magic, and slice it up into gorgeous fettucine. An absolute treat to watch and eat. If you’re into Italian food, do consider a cooking lesson with Patrizia or check out her new book, My Umbrian Kitchen.
2. Tis the Season(ing)
Eating sugar free certainly doesn’t mean ‘taste free’ too! Sure, sugar tastes good to many of us, but there are so many other flavours we can enjoy. All too often we forget and our food can become bland and less satisfying. Breakfast yesterday morning was at Food Wine Friends Cafe and Providore in Bright. I was a little nervous at the sight of our table laden with fruit juice, fruit and muesli. Breakfast can be hard when you’re trying to avoid fructose. But again, I needn’t have worried because I was served the most amazing breakfast.
Avocado on toast.
I can hear you now – how boring and bland. But what if I said it was served on a gorgeous sourdough toast and topped with dukkah and feta, finished off with a squirt of lemon?
(Photo Credit: Thank you Caroline from Present Imperfection for showing restraint and photographing your breakfast before scoffing it)
Now we’re talking. Actually I wasn’t talking, I was too busy scoffing. It was so delicious with extra flavours I hadn’t thought of adding before. I was really stoked to come across a packet of Egyptian Dukkah from the Australian Pumpkin Seed Company (based just outside of Bright) on a fun scavenger hunt around town. I’m looking at recreating the Food Wine Friends experience at home now. Make sure you drop in for brekky when you’re next in Bright. They’re a lovely bunch.
3. IQS friendly communal eating
So, how do you make sure you’re not the person ‘dragging everyone down’ when it comes to choosing somewhere to eat out? Easy, Tapas! We had dinner at Ginger Baker on Saturday night, a gorgeous little place down near the banks of the river in Bright. I had noticed it last time we were there and thought how funky it looked. I mean, check out their lighting! Industrial oven lights inside preserving jars. I have made a mental note to figure out how to do this in our outside area at home!
But back to the food. I found the Tapas style offerings really IQS friendly. I had lots to choose from and didn’t feel at all like I was missing out. There was crackling pork, slow roasted meats, green salads, lots of vegetable and a lovely dahl dish, just to name a few. It was perfect. And instead of a sweet dessert they served a cheese platter! Bonus :)
I’m looking forward to going back with friends, and really want to stay at Alegria again too. It’s just a short stroll along the road and is beautiful. See for yourself!
4. A new slant on treats
I know how hard it is to give up the notion of eating all the yummy sweets you have enjoyed before. I love chocolate (and probably won’t give it up altogether) and I used to adore pavlova and meringues. But now I look at my treats differently. Instead of buying lots of expensive biscuits and sweets, I’d rather spend my money treating myself in other ways.
On the way home yesterday we stopped at the Butter Factory in Myrtleford. I love butter. Chatting to the owner and “chief butter maker” (can I call you that Naomi?!?!) was great as she explained the different butters we were tasting, from a soft fluffy virgin butter she learned to make in Sweden to the specialty butters infused with all sorts of goodies.
It is the latter that I brought home to treat CrashHubby and myself. Two 150g tubs of butter – one Murray Darling Smoked Salt and the other Australian Black Truffle. They’re not cheap at $12 each, but worthy of a treat, spread on toast under Avocado or melted on top of a steak. Yum.
Don’t do what I have done on previous trips to Bright and drive past the Butter Factory, wondering what lies within. Stop, enjoy and get yourself a buttery treat!
I think one of the main reasons I found my Bright experience so IQS friendly was the focus on local produce. It’s all really good quality fare and the people of Bright and surrounds put a lot of passion into what they are doing. This was really obvious when we saw the wide range of regional produce on display at Snow Road Produce in Milawa on our way to Bright (thanks for the great lunch guys!).
I can thoroughly recommend a road trip into the country to stretch your foodie horizons a bit, to discover some new tastes, some new skills and immerse yourself in the passion for good living that attracts people to leave city living behind. And if you’re in Victoria, just go to Bright. OK? It’s gorgeous.
I was invited to Bright as the guest of Kim Abbate of 365 Things to do in Bright and hosted by the lovely people and businesses of Bright. I have been to Bright before and jumped at the chance to help Kim promote her beloved town. All opinions are my own. I am of the opinion that the bloggers I travelled to Bright with are worth stalking for more stories of Bright. Here they are:
Caz and Craig of yTravel blog
Trevor from PR Warrior
Katrina Katrina Higham
Renee from About A Bugg
Kimberley from Melbourne Mum
Megan from Writing Out Loud
Pip from Bub Sweat and Tears
Caroline from Present Imperfection
Carli from Tiny Savages
You can also see what we got up to by checking out the #BrightDelight hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.
In other Crash Test Mummy news . . .
- I’ll be back next week with the results to the Mindful Christmas Crash Test
- Members of the Crash Test Mummy community have the chance to win an iPod Touch. Remember to submit your app review to qualify!
- Also, for members only a chance to win two family passes (2 x 4 tickets) for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition at Pavilion Waterfront, Docklands Drive in Melbourne on Saturday 1st of December.
I’m linking up with Jess from Essentially Jess, because I (only) Blog on Tuesdays! See who else has blogged today in Jess’ link up :)