Last Friday night after a less than average week, I forced my boyfriend to wine and dine me. He took me, under instruction, to Smithfield’s classy Italian dining spot, Candelori’s. I had already spent an hour or so carefully reading through the extensive menu before we had even arrived, but still took my time trying to work out what I should get once I got there - which is very rare for me!

When it comes to pizza, western Sydney has a lot more to offer than the standard Hawaiian (though we do love a slice of the ole’ ham and pineapple). Many cuisines have also recreated the traditionally Italian fare with their own twists. Stay tuned as we share our favourite pizza places throughout the west.

Last week was Refugee Week. As supporters of Australia accepting refugees and asylum seekers, we were keen to get involved in some of the many activities that our local government area and refugee welcome zone, Auburn, was holding for the occasion – particularly when we saw food related events on the agenda!

Yesterday was my birthday so to celebrate I took the day off work to cook up a dinner feast for my family. Yes, I know that seems strange, but I actually find it really relaxing and fun! So what did I cook? Some delicious sliders and rollers accompanied by coleslaw, flat fries, oven-baked onion rings and some delicious homemade ranch dipping sauce. They were all based on recipes from the awesome Aussie cook book ‘Sliders and Rollers: mini burgers and hot dogs’ by David Cowie. Oh and I made my own birthday cake too – an impressive Bombe Alaska.

Every year in June it has become a tradition that my lady friends and I meet up for a ladies Day at Rosehill races. This date coincides with our friend Julie’s birthday. This year with Julie turning a milestone 50 I decided to bring a picnic so we could all celebrate with her while enjoying a trackside high tea. Maybe we would also strike it lucky with a big win on the horses.

This weekend I went on a two hour walking tour run by Auburn Council to visit some of Auburn’s hidden food gems. As a local, I felt a little weird about going on a tour in my own neighbourhood. But from the moment we reached our first destination, I was learning so much about the cultural traditions behind the food and the stories of the business owners making and selling it. It really gave me a new sense of respect for Auburn's diverse and authentic food culture. 

During late April and May I took a little time out from my usual shopping routine and decided to check out some of the fine food and farmers markets of Western Sydney. I popped into Farmers Markets at Castle Hill, Warwick Farm and Glenorie on separate weekends. It had been some time since I had visited a farmers market so this was to be a rediscovery tour putting me back in touch with what loved about this market culture.

 

There is nothing better than a fresh mandarin picked cool fresh and juicy straight from the tree. This year Fords Farm at Wisemans Ferry opens their “pick your own” mandarin season on Saturday the 31st of May (Saturday 28th of May for 2016). My family embrace the opportunity to pick our own fruit. It’s a great way to enjoy a great family day out while teaching your children where their food comes from. It also encourages them to eat healthy. Kids are always keen to eat what they have picked. We were granted the oppertunity to pick some mandarins at Fords Farm just outside Wisemans Ferry. It was a fantastic way to spend a sunny Saturday morning

 

We are spending another family weekend relaxing by the Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry. We have spent our short stay here making the most of the  late autumn scenery which is still a vibrant  blaze of colour. Everywhere we go we have been greeted by autumn coloured leaves floating gently down from their branches creating a soft carpet of nature underneath that will eventually provide nourishment back to earth.

 

This truly is a beautiful part of Sydney which we have fallen in love with over the past year. If you are like me and enjoy  beautiful scenic country drives then this area is your paradise. The winding country roads over look unspoilt river views interchanging with green pasture and healthy bushland. Some areas enjoy national park status with valleys and mountains adding visual appeal and interest to the landscape. Today we enjoyed one of those meandering country drives just a short 20 kilometres to St Albans for lunch at the Historic St Alban’s Settlers Arms Inn. 

 

Persimmons are those glossy vibrant orange fruits topped with a calyx you may have walked past at the market or fruit shop. I admit that I have walked past them too. Strangely I have always been a bit scared of them as I was never sure how to choose them at their best.  During the Easter weekend I saw a table of Fuyu Persimmons at Sydney markets and decided it was time to change my perception of this bright orange star topped fruit.