Living in a Marsupial World
 
Picture
Genesis in the Hills Restaurant
Received with warm smiles and kind eyes, our first moments at Genesis in the Hills, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant owned by sisters Ita and Rivka, were very reassuring. It’s a rare thing to feel at home the instant you set foot inside a new place. Before we could even finish proper introductions, we were already offered flat whites and slices of immaculate, homemade cake. Overwhelmed by instant kindness we sat there also overwhelmed and excited by the cultural paradise we had stumbled upon. In addition to serving culinary inspirations, the restaurant also serves as an art gallery and music space. We just so happened to begin our stay in the middle of a photography exhibition (some were Ita’s own work) and the day before a monthly live jazz performance. Our minds suddenly felt energized after a long stint of minimal intellectual opportunities out in the bush.


Picture
Picture
A daily selection of delicious
As we humbly ate our cake and drank our espressos in awe of our surroundings, we socialized a bit with Ita and Rivka. Originally from Israel, the two sisters moved to Australia ten years ago and have been running Genesis for the last four years. It’s truly remarkable what they’ve built in Roleystone in this short amount of time. As they frequently told us during our stay, their restaurant was a way of life, not just for them but also for their small town. Genesis in the Hills managed to fill a very vacant niche for vegetarians and vegans all across Southwestern Australia (as people came from far and wide every weekend), and subsequently became a beating heart for the local community. It serves as both a weekly gathering place for friends and families, as well as a base for some local business owners to sell their goods (avocados, flowers, honey, coffee, art and lit magazines) without a commission taken. Ita and Rivka’s business philosophy, largely influenced by their experiences living in a Kibbutz in Israel, has created a culture of sharing and support in this corner of Australia.


Picture
The Lovely Rivka, Head Chef!
Quinoa and herb-stuffed butternut squash, veggie crepe lasagna, marinated kale, beetroot hummus and seasonal salad
Just a sample of our veggie fare at Genesis
During our stay, we had the privilege of having morning coffee and cake and afternoon lunch followed by more coffee and cake on the days the restaurant was open (Thurs-Sun). As the head chef, Rivka whipped up some imaginative and perfectly balanced plates that could convince any meat lover that vegetarianism was not such a bad way to go. We had something different each time we sat down, and it was always inspirational. Every fruit, veggie and herb used in her food either came from their gardens or a nearby organic farm, and the menu varied depending on what was in season, as food should. It was easy to see how her upbringing in Israel influenced many of her dishes, but she also was very experimental. One such creation was a lovely hummus flavored with pureed beetroot, which besides turning the dip bright purple, left a subtle sweetness that countered the salt and garlic flavors of the hummus quite nicely.


Black pepper potato latke, black beans and sauteed mushrooms w/ cream sauce, marinated beetroot and garden salad
Picture
Picture
Artichokes growing on the property
Picture
Our work routine at the property consisted mainly of weeding for 4-5 hours per day. Not exactly the most exciting of projects but it was certainly a meditative task and left us feeling stress free and relaxed. The large amount of weeds and plant trimmings that we collected each day were put into the chicken coop for the birds to utilize. Ita and Rivka owned about thirty chickens, five roosters, six geese, and several Muskovy ducks, and the shenanigans that took place in the coop were always entertaining. Each group of birds, and individual birds within the groups, had their own special personalities and we enjoyed a daily dose of the fowl soap opera that took place. The chickens also laid tons of eggs, which aside from being the absolute freshest eggs we’ve ever eaten were also without contest the most delicious. Enough eggs were laid to sustain the restaurant’s egg supply each weekend, and on weekdays Ben perfected his egg poaching skills at Ita’s house.

One afternoon, Ita called us into the chicken coop and we found her with her mouth and fingers stained with berry juice. She promptly instructed us to pause in our work and indulge in the newly ripe mulberries that filled the bush. It was moments like these that always caught us off guard in the best of ways and added to the “at home” warmth that made this WWOOFing experience truly special for us.


Picture
Ita on her porch with her chooks
Picture
Picture
Picture
One of Ita's feisty roosters - this one had a bit of a Napoleon complex
Picture
As always, the property had a resident canine for us to bond with. Rivka’s dog PK was a happy-go-lucky, golden-type pup with legs that were proportionally, hilariously short. If you’ve seen Pixar’s film “UP,” he looked quite similar to Doug. On weekends he would wander up to guests at their tables out on the deck and give that irresistible big-eyed puppy look to try and score some handouts. If that failed, he surrendered to fatigue and was frequently found passed out at someone’s feet. One day, Ben and I were in the herb garden in front of the restaurant receiving instructions from Ita when PK decided her rosemary plants would make a good lounging spot. Ita began yelling at him in Hebrew to get off the herbs, and as he seemed quite oblivious to what was going on I thought to myself, “Well of course he’s not going to move, dogs don’t speak Hebrew.” Obviously not all synapses were firing for me that day. 


Picture
In between work and eating and drinking deliciousness, we took a few walks around the picturesque hills and valleys of Roleystone. The area actually reminded us quite a bit of the Colorado foothills, another reason why we felt so at home. Occasionally we ventured into Perth, about 45 minutes away, with Ita and Rivka treating us to a few fantastic dinners in town. We also managed to make a few visits to our favorite burger joint, Jus Burgers [sic], recommended to us by a good friend (Thanks Tom!). If you ever find yourself in Leederville, a neighborhood just north of the Perth CBD, make your way to this fantastic little place. We tried their Roo Burger, their Fish Burger, and two varieties of lamb burgers and they were all divine. They also have some great vegetarian burger options and sell an amazing ginger beer crafted by a New Zealand company called Phoenix, which is bottle fermented and delicious. 


Picture
Jus Burgers!
Picture
Picture
Other than weeding we had a few odd tasks assigned to us at Ita’s place, one of which was to help her keep the possums out of the attic space at the restaurant. This required waiting on the deck until nightfall, watching until all five members of this particular possum family had exited their dwelling, and to close up the hole behind them with chicken wire and a wood plank. Seems a bit harsh, yes, but as cute as Australian possums are (unlike its nasty cousin the American opossum), they were unfortunately destroying the restaurant roof space and peeing all over the sides of the building. In addition, Australian possums make the most terrifying, unearthly screeching noise, especially when its mating season. If you’ve seen the film Lord of the Rings, imagine the noise the giant spider makes when Samwise stabs it, and imagine hearing it right above your head in the ceiling panels. It’s the type of nails-on-chalkboard noise that makes your skin crawl, which is hilarious considering what these possums look like – you want to cuddle them and feed them things.


Picture
We successfully boarded up the hole, but a few days later Ita discovered that there was at least one possum still residing in the attic space. Fearing that we had boarded up a possum and sentenced it to an untimely, excruciating death, we headed back to the restaurant to figure out what to do. Ita pointed us to a ceiling panel that allowed access to the attic, and Ben bravely volunteered to poke his head up there and survey the scene. Just as Ben prepared to look inside after removing the panel, a tiny, furry possum appeared overhead, looking plump and surprisingly calm for a prisoner. Upon further inspection, it was determined that the original possum family had found a way back in! As Ben looked around, one of the smaller babies came up to give the strange intruder a curious sniff. While slightly startled to have such an intimate encounter with a wild possum, Ben couldn’t help but laugh at the little guy. Up close it looked like the creature was wearing fat, furry footy pajamas. While the whole matter was pretty touching, it also meant that Ita had a lot more work to do to keep these possums out.


Picture
We honestly wish we could’ve stayed here for months, we felt so comfortable in our routine at this beautiful place. We also wish we could’ve given Perth and Fremantle a bit more attention, but money, time, and car registration got in the way. Perhaps on our next journey to this part of the world we could make it our base, but at this point we needed to continue our journey eastward. We did, however, manage to sneak in a weekend in the Margaret River region of Southwest Australia. Stay tuned for those adventures in the next post…


Dad, Deb, Liv
12/18/2010

Genesis in the Hills is bloody brilliant. A true pilgrimage site. The shekina is at home there, indeed.

Reply
2/28/2011

Thank you guys. Good to know you had a good time.
Ita

Reply

Your comment will be posted after it is approved.


Leave a Reply.