It’s a glorious time of year for food. Okay, so the raspberries have finished, and the strawberries continue to be just a trickle. But zucchini from the vine, complete with flowers, ready to throw in a risotto? Beat that. Or new season apples, straight from the tree? Scarlet runner beans. Purple beans. Dutch cream potatoes. Pink eye potatoes. Yellow, purple, white and orange carrots. Beet leaves in a salad. The first of the tomatoes; this week the first black Russian tomato, in a salad with walnut oil. Purple sprouting broccoli. Corn as fresh as corn can come, too, though one was picked too pale and young.
The caravan’s first outing to Festivale came as a bit of a shock. It’s decked out with a full commercial kitchen – stainless steel all around. A gas stove and hot water unit. Three sinks. Two under-bench fridges. And a serving hatch that opens up on one side. Though I should’ve had things sorted a bit earlier.
A quick run to the servo two days before the event not only taught me a thing or two about reversing a caravan. On a narrow dirt road. On a hill. With hydraulic brakes. With a tree across the road where I could turn. It also had Bill the mechanic replacing the bearings, and the tyres that had a 400kg rating. For a 1.6 tonne van.
Luckily, we were organised. The logo went on as Ross and I drove north to the event. The bread was warm in the bags when we picked it up. The cordial (organic strawberry and rose geranium; raspberry and elderflower; rhubarb and bay; and red currant and mace) a folly with no serious thought as to how to serve it. All we knew was that proper hot smoked frankfurters (knackwurst, according to our German smallgoods maker) with homemade mustard and homemade tomato sauce, tasted great. So too Ross’s American-style spiced barbecued pork, shredded and shoved in a bun. All we needed was a few customers, and we were lucky a few customers came. Despite the rain on Friday.
The ute, a very flash 1989 Navara, struggled its way north and south, towing the van, occasionally dropping down to second gear to get over the hills, making a strange clunking sound as we went. And blowing a bit of black smoke. The farm ute performed admirably – we had no choice. In the final hours before we packed the van, Ross and I had three goes at towing, with different cars. The Navara was the car of choice.
We had a few long days in the lead up to the festival. Farm work. Cooking work. Kitting out the van with implements. Packing. Repacking. Long hard days, and that’s before we headed off on the road. Add in an 18 hour day on the Friday. A 14 hour day on the Saturday. It made the 13 hours on Sunday, and getting back to the farm at nearly midnight, feel like a picnic. Funny thing is, I’m already planning on how to do it all again next year.