We arrived in Wagga Wagga on Monday morning just before 10am and the hospitality started from the minute we stepped foot on local soil and filled our lungs with crisp, clean air. Sandy picked us up and was the perfect tour guide as we drove into town.

We stopped at the well known cafe, Mate’s Gully Organics, for a takeaway coffee. We were greeted by owners Marcia and Paul who lovingly run their business by the paddock to plate philosophy, as Marcia told us in fluent French.

Our next stop was a delightful property atop a hill overlooking green acres as far as the eye could see. Owner of Food I Am and organiser of the event, Tania Sibrey, burst through the door as we pulled into the driveway and gave us a big hug. We’ve been in communication over email and phone for months and it was wonderful to finally meet in person.

Expecting 17 guests for lunch at 12.45pm we began preparing the ingredients in the stunning kitchen and butler’s pantry. Wayne and Kelly (Tania’s brother and sister-in-law) kindly opened their home to us for the day while construction on Tania’s new Food I Am premises are completed.

Right on queue, cars appeared in the distance as the sound of corks echoed through the room. Drinks were flowing as the guests arrived and the noise level rose while old friends and acquaintances caught up. It was great to see familiar faces from another food event we attended 9 years ago with Charmaine Solomon!

Everyone gathered around the bench to commence the class and first up was a canape to awaken the palate and appetite.

Toasted Sourdough with a Salsa of Pear, Stilton and Fresh Chives. The salsa was tossed with some Lemon Dressing and drizzled with Orange Jelly just before serving.

For entree we demonstrated Chilli Garlic Masala Prawns with Couscous Salad and everyone took their seats at the dining tables to eat.

Main was Moroccan Spiced Baby Lamb Rump with Preserved Lemon Risotto and Onion Salsa.

We finished the meal with Petite Crème Brûlée.

The lovely Tania served matched wines including Prosecco, Calabria Private Bin from Westend Estate Wines in Griffith;  Margaret River Devils Lair Chardonnay and Audrey Wilkinson Shiraz.

A local supplier of Bitton products, Deanna from Knights Meats & Deli, arranged for our jams, pastes and dressings to be available for sale on the day.

Copies of ‘Bitton – A French-inspired Cafe Cookbook’ were purchased to continue the experience at home and give to loved ones as gifts.

It was a fantastic day filled with laughter and we also had the pleasure of hosting a dinner class in the evening from 6.15pm.

Gloria Salvestro drove from Griffith to assist with the classes and there were a few French vs Italian jokes shared especially when it came to the technique of cooking the perfect risotto using locally grown Organic Koshihikari Rice.

This Sunday over 800 people will visit Gloria’s home town to attend The Festa Delle Salsicce and Food I Am are running a booked out tour to the event.

To wind down after an action packed day, our next stop was the newly refurbished Oak Room at The Townhouse. To start, house made sourdough with butter and black salt.

For entree, Smoked Salmon with Cripsy Fried Capers, Baby Herbs and Lemon and Parsley Oil.

On special was Slow Cooked Lamb with Mash, Hazelnuts and Asparagus. The lamb could not have been anymore tender! It simply melt in the mouth and hardly required chewing.

Atlantic Salmon with Green Olive, Leek Risotto, Balsamic Roasted Tomato and Salsa Verde was comforting and very satisfying.

Visit Wagga Wagga and find out for yourself!

The next morning we returned to The Townhouse for breakfast (impressed by our dinner) and met Tania to catch up on yesterdays events. We found an article in The Daily Advertiser following an interview and photo shoot that took place in between the classes on Monday.We read this over breakfast and swapped stories on how we all ended up following our passion for food.

Local Smoked Trout from Tumut features on the menu and the poached eggs were beautifully cooked with a yoke so rich in colour and flavour.

The coffee, made by owner and barista Nick, was so good that we didn’t think twice about ordering a second round.

Tania took us to Knights Meat & Deli for a visit on the way to the airport where we said our farewells.

Overall Wagga Wagga has truly left a pleasant taste in our mouths and we can’t wait to return soon. Thanks to everyone who was involved and see you again soon!