Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri debuted on SBS Food four weeks ago and has been hailed as a wonderful ‘ambassadorial’ program, showcasing our region’s food production.
In episode two Stefano introduced viewers to Cobram Estate’s expansive olive plantings at Boundary Bend, a place he had visited many years ago when the orchard was first established and he officially opened the estate.
Sectors like the olive and almond industry have seen massive growth in our region and Cobram Estate’s award winning extra virgin olive oil is a favourite of Australian’s because it is so fresh and “an essential in every kitchen”.
Viewers were treated to the spectacle of Cobram Estate’s co-founder and executive chairman, Rob McGavin arriving in his private Cessna aircraft, landing on the orchard’s airstrip to meet with Stefano.
Formerly students together at an agricultural college in Geelong, Rob and Cobram Estate’s co-founder and managing director, Paul Riordan planted their first olive trees in 1998, and what started as a family investment has matured to become a team of more than 100 people working across multiple Victorian groves encompassing 6500 hectares of pristine farm land.
With operations in Australia and the USA, export customers in 18 countries, and a portfolio of premium brands, they are a market leader in the Australian extra virgin olive oil industry and a leader in sustainable olive farming.
The company’s mission is to simply produce the world’s best Extra Virgin olive oil − which they call ‘liquid gold’.
With a planting of more than 3000 hectares, the Boundary Bend olive grove is one of Australia’s largest and the Murray River location is home to more 1.3 million trees, representing five major oil varieties.
After touring the plantings and seeing the massive, Mildura manufactured, mechanical harvester in action and the olives being crushed, Stefano prepared lunch in the open air for Rob and himself. Stef made one of his simple signature dishes, a beautiful spaghetti ‘Aglio e Olio’, with a generous drizzle of Cobram’s Extra Olive oil being an integral part of the recipe.
Last week, episode three featured the ‘Festa Della Vendemmia’ − Slow Food Dinner − supporting local farmers, which was held under the vines at the Ellna and Gino Garreffa family’s vineyard in March this year.
Stefano prepared the feast with the able assistance of two of Mildura’s leading chefs who have worked with him over the years – Peter Webley and Brad Fyfe – with event manager Rachael Fyfe working alongside the trio to ensure the evening’s success.
The menu for the four-course dinner was created using local produce, including rock melon, mangos, tomatoes, wood fired homemade bread, goat’s feta and smoked lamb − ‘poor man’s ham’.
The goat’s feta cheese was sourced from the Coomealla Dairy, run by locals Donna and Dean Trickey, and the lamb was smoked and cured by well known Mildura butcher Naz Tassone.
Guests first enjoyed an antipasto that comprised lightly roasted rock melon and goat’s feta together with the poor man’s ham and pickled grapes.
Following this, the 200 guests were treated to ‘Pappa al Pomodoro’, a chunky Italian tomato and bread soup which was served with dash extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese, garnished with fresh basil.
The bread for the soup was homemade and cooked in traditional wood-fired oven.
Then came the main course – scotch fillet served with vegetables.
The scotch fillet was slow roasted over hot coals on a ‘home fashioned’ rotisserie.
A filo pastry basket with Italian custard cream and fresh mango was then served for dessert capping off a magnificent dinner under the vines.
‘Australia’s Food Bowl with Stefano de Pieri’ can be seen on the SBS Food channel at 7.30 pm, Thursday nights. Don’t miss it − it’s a viewing must!