It's a hot, humid Sunday morning and Steve Manfredi is taking me on a personal tour of his wonderful kitchen garden at his highly-acclaimed Bells restaurant at Killcare, on the New South Wales Central Coast. (Yes - I'm very spoilt!)
Stefano Manfredi is one of Australia's most important chefs and food educators.
His passion for Italian ingredients and authentic Italian cooking has led to him grow his own favourite hard-to-get Italian herbs and vegetables.
In a few square metres he is now supplying about 15 % of the produce for his restauarant.
big flavoursome purple bulbs
A huge patch of sorrel.
Steve says he loves throwing some chopped sorrel over baked potatoes for their lemony tang.
Steve also loves cooking with bitter Italian greens.
A white turnip. It might find its way onto today's lunch menu.
Yellow zucchini flowers
beans, beans and more beans...
They're just starting to fruit..
Damn... some of those birds have feasted on the tomatoes.
And a persimmon tree...
Dense with fruit.
Steve has just put in a new veggie plot.
It's well-fenced to keep out the rabbits and wild deer that were let loose after a nearby deer farm closed.
Steve loves this basil variety and no wonder. It has large billowing serated-edged leaves with a wildly pungent minty flavour.
A big patch of heirloom black radishes.
dark skin and white peppery crunchy flesh.
Steve's favourite chard
A new crop of tomatoes will be ready in early autumn
a watermelon patch
This is Steve's dog who protects the nearby chook house from attacks by wild dogs.
The brown hens get a nutritious pellet feed supplemented by scraps from the kitchen garden and lay beautiful deep, yellow-yolked eggs that guests are given as part of their breakfast hamper.
Steve's last lot of chooks were killed by a wild dog attack so these ones have Fort Knox-like protection.
...and in return happy chooks lay happy eggs...
look at these beauties!
Steve very generously gave me a basket of goodies from his garden containing garlic, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, radish, bitter lettuce and some of those delicious eggs....
...which I threw together for a light Sunday evening dinner of Frittata alla Stefano.
It included chopped garlic, onion, tomato, basil, and zucchini fried in a little olive oil with some lightly beaten eggs with a little milk...
... a sprinkling of cheese...
.... all topped off with some zucchini flowers.
Stefano it was delizioso!
What an inspiring day.