Leeton, New South Wales

  18 October 2015

So continuing on from my trip to Wagga Wagga, the boy and I drove 1 and a half hours north to Leeton, a small town near Griffith in the Riverina region. We dropped our bags off at the Kindred Studio Apartments before meeting Michael Fondacaro for a Juice’d Up Tour of their family owned and run Hillview Citrus farm.

We start off in the fruit packing plant where I’m immediately hypnotised by the sheer amounts of fruit stacked in the warehouse.

A video posted by Susan Thye (@chocolatesuze) on

The fruit are cleaned, waxed, inspected, then sorted by size before being packed into cartons.

There’s a secondary line on the opposite side of the warehouse where giant pallets of oranges await delivery to Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets in Flemington.

Did you know limes start off green and then turn yellow the longer they stay on the tree? Whenever I’ve seen limes and see a yellow one in the pile I’d just always assumed someone had mixed in a lemon!

We venture out into the orchards and Michael explains the different techniques they use from irrigation methods to pruning.

We head over to La Fresco La Fresco Caffè (Shop 15, 1 Acacia Ave, Leeton Market Plaza) which is run by Michael’s brother Joseph, and down a ginormous glass of freshly picked and squeezed orange juice.

Feeling peckish and wanting a protein hit I order a steak sandwich and it’s everything I had hoped with a super juicy slab of steak, grilled onions, fried egg, tomatoes, tasty cheese and good ol beetroot.

Noods gets the chicken parmigiana and I immediately experience food envy. The parmy is a beaut- juicy chicken in a golden crumb, oozy melty cheese, eggplant, olives and capsicum.

The servings were pretty generous but we just had to make room for the lemon cheesecake made by Michael’s aunt! The buttery biscuit base and light as clouds cheesecake filling had the perfect balance of sweetness to acidity, can I please get the recipe Michael???

We head over to Lillypilly Estate (47 Lillypilly Rd, Leeton), a family owned boutique winery.

Loved that Lillypilly stocks locally made goods like the marinated garlic green olives from Koala Gourmet Foods in Griffith, tomato relish from Riverina Grove and the Gusto chilli salsa.

We had a lil tasting with winemaker Robert Fiumara where I promptly fell in love with the 2014 Tramillon®, a medium dry white wine that had notes of lychee. Noods gave the thumbs up to the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry red that he reckons would’ve been perfect with a good steak.

Back on the road and we find ourselves in awe at the vivid yellows of the canola fields. Leeton is home to the SunRice headquarters as well as Freedom Foods, Berri Juices, Riverina Beef and Murrumbidgee Irrigation and is one of the most productive farming regions in the state.

And then we just had to stop by Barellan where there’s a Big Tennis Racquet created as a tribute to the former Barellan local and great Australian tennis player, Evonne Goolagong Cawley. Stay tuned for my visit to Junee!

ChocolateSuze travelled to Wagga Wagga, Leeton and Junee as a guest of Destination NSW.

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