Rizzo's garden a sanctuary and a place to grow freshest food

Dominique Rizzo combines a garden to cook in with one to relax in.
Dominique Rizzo combines a garden to cook in with one to relax in. Contributed

AUSTRALIAN chef, TV presenter and food writer, Dominique Rizzo, has transformed her suburban Brisbane backyard into an amazing garden.

Before she took off for her latest Pure Food and Wine Cooking Tour to Sicily she spoke about her passion for her garden and what it means to her.

 

Here is part of her garden story:

Should we all be growing herbs and the like?

Definitely, and if like me you are initially not confident, just give it a go.

I have always been passionate about pure food so growing my own produce was very important to me.

You can always ask a professional for advice, do as much research as you can and the best thing is to get in there and learn through experience.

And no space is too small; there are so many different ways that you can grow fruits, vegetables and herbs even if you have the tiniest of balconies or outdoor areas.

Fresh fruit and vegetables and all produce not only taste great freshly picked, it is like picking life's energy.

Nothing tastes better than freshly cut ingredients and especially if you grow them yourself you know they are free of pesticides and other nasties. It is all about keeping your food as pure as possible.

For me it's also about the satisfaction of having grown all of these greens, herbs, vegetables myself and then here they are on my plate and I get the added bonus of being able to create a delicious recipe and dish with them, so I am doubly blessed.

 

What food do you grow in your garden?

At the moment ready for the picking are snow peas, cherry tomatoes, kale, cavalo nero, eggplant, lemons, limes, chilli, pineapple, sage, parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sorrel, endive, stevia, lettuce, tea herb, turmeric.

In progress are grapes, passionfruit, figs, pomegranate, artichokes, capsicums and choko. For my cats I have cat grass and catnip.

 

Do you spend much time in your garden?

We set up the garden in a certain fashion so it is low-maintenance and does not require daily care.

But my 74-year-old father Vincenzo lives with me at the moment and he loves being out there so he will water, prune and garden daily.

But for me, I love spending my leisure time early on a Sunday, seeing what's happening, what's picked up and what needs a little more love and care and then I sort it out or put it on my gardening list. I also spend a lot of time looking at it, admiring it and dreaming of making the time to spend in it.

I have these huge glass doors that are between my kitchen, lounge room and my back garden and so I am looking at it every day.

 

Is it a family garden?

Well, in a sense yes, I live with my father as I mentioned and a lovely housemate Rachael who has lived with me for about three years.

My helpful and creative brother and his fiancée live next door and so we have a doorway cut in the fence and we are always going to and fro between houses.

The truth is that they come over to mine more often as I am always yelling over the fence that I have some new creation for dinner that I want them to try or have leftovers from a function or dishes from a recipe shoot and there they come with their glass of wine in hand and we all sit down to dinner together, it's wonderful.

I have had quite a few large functions in my dining/outdoor area with three tables joined together and about 25 people over for dinner.

The garden creates an open space where everyone feels welcome and warm and at home.

I also have two cats who love the garden, mainly for sleeping and chasing grasshoppers.

One of my favourite pastimes is watching Muffin, my fluffy cat, bouncing around the garden getting covered in ground cover and then dragging it all inside the house.

Thankfully, dad is also an amazing cleaner.


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