Horticultural History – Panzanella and Pasta Recipe – Fact Sheets – Gardening Australia

SERIES 31 | Episode 11

Please note: This story was filmed before social distancing regulations were implemented.

Millie visits a Sicilian chef and her gardening partner at their historic property in Central Victoria to talk, cook tomatoes and capers, and delve into a little bit of local history.

Chef Rosa Mitchell is renowned for her Sicilian-inspired restaurants. Currently she operates ‘Rosa’s Canteen’ in Melbourne’s CBD. Rosa is known for her authentic Sicilian, seasonal and homestyle cooking. She cooks in her restaurant “as if you’ve come to my place for lunch”. Her food combines her Sicilian roots, a love of Australian ingredients and her commitment to the philosophies of Slow Food, a global movement that originated in Italy.

Rosa and husband Colin moved to Yandoit in central Victoria in the late 1980s, purchasing a small property with a vineyard. Located between Daylesford and Castlemaine, according to Rosa, its where the first Swiss Italians settled in the 1850s. Some got sick of mining and turned their hand to feeding the miners instead; the riches of the area are now the local food producers.

The farm is dry and rustic and oozes country backroad charm. An old walnut tree remains, and an ancient Mulberry tree is covered in copious amounts of dark red mulberries, which it has supplied for generations.

Colin is currently trying to resurrect vines at the back of a stone cottage, dating from in the 1860s and 1870s. Colin: “They are 90% shiraz; the rest are unknown. The grapevines have collapsed, and they are lying on the ground, taken root and become small bushes. Getting them productive again is doable. I want them upright, on a stake, goblet-shaped, and I want their grapes for producing for wine”.

The growing climate of Yandoit, with its hot summers and frosty winters, is Mediterranean-esque, and the garden’s success stories are no surprise: Mediterranean herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and bay tree) thrive, olives cope well and horseradish…

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