I have never heard the term cinnabuns. That is until the Daily Plenty Workshop at Moorabinda Station, in the picturesque Dumaresq Valley on the New South Wales/Queensland border. Now the word evokes fond memories of breakfasting with like-minded souls at linen covered long tables in the middle of a paddock.
We gather for two days and three nights of learning photography and styling, brought together by the talented Annabelle Hickson of The Dailys blog and tutors, photographers Luisa Brimble and Lean Timms and stylist Caitlin Melling. I join the group as paid help, along with Hannah Mccowatt, to be an extra pair of hands in the kitchen (shearing shed or creek bed as it turns out), washing up, sweeping floors and generally helping chef Sarah Glover. As always at workshops a favourite part is meeting the participants, Sarah, Edwin, Natasha, Mel, Paola, Noha, Amelia, Cindy, Sonya, Jo, and Kirsty.
Annabelle has written in depth about the workshop here, so I won’t cover the same ground. I will share with you insight into Sarah’s cooking background, philosophy and how she’d like us all to become better acquainted with Australian native flavours. You can hear more on ABC New England North West’s Food Journey on Sound Cloud. Conincidently, just the week before at Food and Wordsfood writers festival in Sydney, I sit in on a session by French-Australian chef Jean-Paul Bruneteau, who pioneered the commercial use of Australian native ingredients, documented in his 1996 book Tukka, Real Australian Food.
Food, and the process of making, is a centrepiece of the photography and experiences at the Daily Plenty Workshop. Tasmanian-born Sarah feeds 18 of us, without referring to a recipe, cooking for the first time on a wood stove, in a rustic shearers’ cook’s kitchen, without a trace of exasperation. She trained in commercial cooking from the age of 16 before following paths in nutrition, fashion, and merchandising. Luckily for us she has returned to her first love cooking, establishing Bondi Bikkies, working at Franklin Restaurant, Hobart, and developing recipes to share on her website and with her Foodie Gang. Luisa Brimble’s video gives insight into Sarah’s life here.
“Mum was always in the kitchen and cooking Sunday lunch was a big thing in our home,” Sarah says. “I was influenced by my best friend’s mother, chef Karen Goodwin Roberts, and now I am inspired by Franklin head chef David Moyle and chef Jessica Muir, who worked with Christine Manfield.”
Sarah’s food is distinguished by her left of centre ingredients, appreciation of the rawness of local produce, simple flavour combinations, and creative presentation.
“When I visit an area I talk to the locals and ask them what they are passionate about and create from that place,” she says.
At Moorabinda Station this turns up lavender and eucalyptus shortbread, bush lemons used to make curd, zest, candied peel, salad dressing and tumeric cordial, wallaby ragu, saltbush foccacia, turkey egg pavlovas with wattle blossom, whipped cream and dehydrated pineapple, steel cut oat bircher with buckwheat and pecan granola with fresh raw milk and fruit and freshly baked scones with strawberry and blood orange jam, lamb asado with quinoa tabbouleh with fresh tzatki and roti bread warmed on the fire, nettle grain risotto with broad beans and nettle sauce served with saltbush and dried olives. And of course those cinnabuns with candied orange, wattle blossom and blood orange icing, and breakfast salad with nasturtiums and florals.
From the get-go Sarah has the compact shearers’ quarters pantry completely organised, the kitchen is spotless and the wood oven firing to feed the Daily Plenty gang. She even has the grace to pose for the paparazzi of photography and styling students, and knows how to bring an image alive with a toss of flour, basting of rosemary dipped in an enamel bucket of olive oil, or piping pumpkin filling into a tart shell.
“I don’t have a fussy attitude towards food,” Sarah says. “I enjoy feeding people.”