Monday 8 August 2011

A visit to Orange (the town not the fruit)

Ah holidays!  Driving!  Country Bakeries!  Shakespeare!  Pre-show dinner!  Museums!  Museum cafes!  Familiar faces!  Sharing food!  Shopping!  Cafes!  Sightseeing!  Tea rooms!  There! I have said it all and don't need to tell you much more about our recent trip to Orange in NSW via Canberra!

Seriously though, you want a bit more information with less exclamation marks and more photos.  Don't you?  If not you can check out some other blogs.  If you do, be prepared for a few long posts.  This one will focus on Orange.  I will also do one on places near to Orange, one on Canberra and one our roadtrip.  I will tell you about the food on offer but as we saw so much of our lovely country, be prepared to just share the sights of this part of Australia with me too.

Orange is a few hours drive west of Sydney.  We chose to visit because my sister Fran and her husband John are currently living there.  It was fantastic to see them.  Upon first impressions Orange is unassuming with neither prettiness nor sights to make much impact.  Yet it was a great place to spend a week.  It had shops, cafes, a great art gallery (we loved the Robert McFarlane exhibition), theatre (see below) and fun parks.  The Adventure Playground above was amazing with so much to do.  We also went to Cook Park (top photo) which has historical garden architecture as well as swings.

My favourite experience eating in town was at Lavendilli Blue, despite an inauspicious start.  We arrived late for lunch and found that there were no more savoury muffins (which I meant to find out more about but got dispirited).  That left me with one option of a toasted cheese sandwich and salad.  I asked for a scone for Sylvia but they were out of scones.  She had toast with cheese and tomato.  It was plain but pleasing.  The toasties were crisp and full of melty cheese, and the salad was substantial with a lovely dressing.

E was very pleased wit his big breakfast and we both enjoyed our pots of tea.  He had English Breakfast while I had a Raspberry Lime herbal mix.  I always love loose leaf herbal tea and this one was so pretty that I had to photograph it.  Even Sylvia ate quite a bit of her lunch.  The place just wasn't geared towards vegetarians but they were happy to make an effort.

We all had dessert.  I had a chocolate caramel macadamia tart which didn't have enough caramel to please me but E loved it.  E ordered a baked berry cheesecake which I loved.  Sylvia has had a fixation with iced cakes lately so this was a place for her to have a cake with white icing.  We all helped out with this cake which was chocolate under the white icing.  Sylvia has had lots of fun with this photo, talking about the different coloured "nuts" on top.

I also really like the space with the quirky floral merchandise scattered around the dining spaces.  We bought a few gifts here and I wish I had bought some of the beauty products which had great fragrances. We loved it so much we went back for morning tea another day.  It wasn't quite as wonderful.  E was delighted with his chai latte but I found it messy and frustrating sharing ricotta hotcakes with a fussy toddler

The other place we loved (which would have more appeal to vegans) was Bodhi Garden Vegetarian Restaurant.  We went there on our kid-free night.  The fates were kind and Bell Shakespeare had a production of Julius Caesar.  I have great respect for this theatre company and this production was as excellent as any other production of theirs that I have seen.  Our evening was completed by the excellent food and service at Bodhi Garden Vegetarian Restaurant.

I didn't take detailed notes of our dishes.  I wish I had done so for the teas.  The tea menu is fantastic.  I chose the sweet dreams tea because I loved the combination of camomile and rose petals but can't remember the rest.  E had green tea.  We had taro triangles and bbq vegetable steamed buns for starters.  For mains, E chose the satay kebabs.  These were a bit faux meat for me but he thought they were great.  I had fried noodles with cabbage, carrot and chefs sauce with a side dishe of sesame green beans.

E said this place was the culinary highlight of the trip.  I wasn't as bowled over, possibly because the menu was so long and I had to try and find something with no tvp or faux meat so I had problems choosing.  What I had was good but the beans had a gloopy sauce that I am not so keen on and I really wanted to choose a tofu dish for a bit of protein but couldn't decide on which one.  However I would definitely have gone back if I had the opportunity.

The previous night we had tried to get a table at the Union Bank Wine Bar.  It was one of those nights when nothing went right. Instead we ate at Fran and John's house.  Travelling with Sylvia was so much easier when staying with family.  Fran loves to cook and I enjoyed dabbling in the kitchen with some favourite recipes - rice bake, olive oil bread, vegetarian sausage rolls and flourless chocolate cake.  Fran made lasagne, minestrone with GF bread, home made chips for Sylvia, a fantastic muesli slice that I must try, and a mean chai latte for E.

On our first day in Orange we went to Roberts Bakery.  We were tired from the previous day's drive and just needed food.  I got a spinach and ricotta pastie that was very nice.  Best of all at these old fashioned Australian bakeries are the kiddie treats.  Sylvia loved her gingerbread woman, though she mostly loved poking her finger into icing blobs.  Who wouldn't!

Lastly, we were good tourists and spent lots of money.  We bought tea and lebkuchen at the Teahouse (which had a cute little tearoom we didn't get to visit), home made marie biscuits from A Slice of Orange, cheese biscuits from the Orange Visitor Information Centre, and wine from The Belgravia Cellar Door.  I also returned home with a new vegetarian cookbook as well as gifts and souvenirs. Good food, good company, beautiful countryside and lots of sunshine.  No complaints here.  I am sure the Orange economy will be grateful too!

Lavendilli Blue
41 Sale St 
Orange, NSW 2800
(02) 6361 9408

Bodhi Garden Vegetarian Restaurant
341 Summer Street
Orange, NSW 2800
(02) 6360 4478

Roberts Bakery
184 Peisley St
Orange, NSW 2800‎
(02) 6362 1245


  1. A Chinese style vegetarian restaurant out at Orange? Amazing!

  2. I LOVE Australian country bakeries! I always end up eating something I would never usually even think of, but makes me feel like a kid again. Holidays sound nice... :)

  3. What a great mix of foods...and the raspberry lime tea sounds wonderful. I'm pretty impressed with Sylvia's cupcake too!

    I've actually never heard of Orange (I'm concerned that says something terrible about my Australian geographical knowledge), so thanks for the introduction.

  4. So glad it's about the town, not the fruit ;) Though you're a meanie for not showing photos of the cheesecake and chocolate caramel tart! :P

    Also, you know, Sylvia's actually rather clever for calling them nuts, as we all know has "cachous" is pronounced :D

  5. Ooh this is exciting because you visited the places that we didn't get a chance to visit so thanks for this post! Will save it up for our next visit to Orange :D

  6. Oooh you're in my old neck of the woods, very cool :) That vegetarian restaurant sounds amazing!

  7. I enjoyed this post so much Johanna. Orange sounds like a lovely place to visit. Simply delightful, just the way I like it.

    Your meals were quite the adventure. It's so funny how you both you and your hubby swapped likes and dislikes and Sylvia remained neutrally curious:)

    Thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for visiting my blog. I'm just beginning to catch up after that family emergency hiatus.

    P.S. You may be delighted to know, my son and daughter-in-law have decided to exclude meat from their diets. What do you think his first request from me was; yup, vegetable lasagna!!!

  8. Great post, Johanna! I'd love to visit Orange again some day. Looking forward to reading about Canberra where we lived in early '80s. I hope that new cookbook is inspirational!

  9. Orange does sound like a nice place to visit. Actually, my sister lived there for a time many years ago too - and I do like a town with good tearooms.

  10. Ha ha I wanted to see the caramel tart too (how much is not enough caramel?)! Looks like you all had an amazing time. I'm a fan of good 'ol bakeries too - used to gobble up meringues when I was a kid.

  11. Nice to read about your travels and I love a restaurant/cafe review. Thanks Johanna. I've still got to start doing my eating out reviews. We're a bit in transit right now, in London for 2 months then, India, so it's hard to set aside the time and concentrate. Shame, 'cos we're having some great food!

  12. Thanks Cindy - well there were a lot of chinese on the goldfields - coincident?

    Thanks Lexi - I love these bakeries but I always wish there was more interesting savoury food (that is veg-friendly and snackable)

    Thanks Kari - I didn't know much about orange and would probably never have chosen it for a holiday if my sister hadn't decided to live there

    Thanks Hannah - I had a lovely photo of the cheesecake and caramel tart but was trying to keep the photos to a reasonable amount and thought Sylvia's with the cachous was cute (never though of cachous - cashews - nuts)

    Thanks Lorraine - you are lucky that this country is so much closer for you to drive out to - I would love to try more restaurants at vineyards but would need to be more organised in researching which ones would be nice to a vegetarian

    Thanks Shauna - you have a very beautiful backyard (though I can see why you would prefer to live in Edinburgh!)

    Thanks Louise - glad you are getting back into things - hope the emergency is under control and I am interested to hear of the new vegetarians in your family - am sure it will make family gatherings interesting

    Thanks Pene - I have had a few visits to Canberra but not enough to tell if it has changed much - need some time to grapple with the new cookbook

    Thanks Amanda - my sister has a nose for cool places to eat that make her feel like she is in the city - and there are a few in Orange which does make it more liveable

    Thanks Keely - there was very little caramel - it was more like a coating on the macadamias than a filling - and funny you mention meringues because every good old fashioned bakery has a fun one don't they!

    Thanks Adam and theresa - sounds like you are living an interesting life - though I don't quite envy you being in London right now with the riots - glad you are eating well even if you don't have time to right about it

  13. I am soooooooo jealous!!! I miss southern hemisphere holidays ;0(
    But I am LOVING that gingerbread cookie, so cute!

  14. I loved going on this virtual vacation with you! All the shops and sights look amazing. I would have loved to see that Shakespeare production as well! Looks like you had a marvelous time. yay!

  15. Sounds like a great trip! There are a few vegetarian Chinese restaurants here but I don't like all the faux meat, so I prefer to just go to regular Chinese restaurants and get dishes without the meat.


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