Once upon a time there was a girl who visited a country town called Tamworth. Tamworth was where one of her best buddies came from and all she knew was how friendly folk were (well if her friend was any indication of the calibre of people). One day she was offered the chance to visit her friend’s hometown. And the mission? To meet local producers and taste their produce in a 5 minute session speed dating style.
Photo by Gordon Hammond from the www.australianregionalfoodguide.com.au
After a 1 hour flight to Tamworth we settle into our digs for the evening, the Powerhouse (what The Second Wife called the “fanciest digs in town”). We make our way into the function room where there are 17 producers that have set up shop. Each one has a display and will give us a rundown of their products and a sample. With me are buyers from Rockpool, Two Providores, Flying Fish, Australia on a Plate, Bird Cow Fish and Danks Street Depot amongst others as well as media such as Good Living and Australian Regional Food Guide.
After the introductions and speeches we are each assigned a producer’s table number. We are to speak to each producer for 5 minutes and then move into another. Everyone looks at each other and nods “Speed dating, food tasting style” we say to each other. And the whistle goes off!
I’m assigned Jac Wagyu for my first stop and it’s excellent timing as they carry out a whole prime rib. It’s a family business (as we learn a lot are here) and a fourth generation farming family where they raise grass fed wagyu with a 1-2 and 3-4 marbling score. I prefer grass fed beef for the flavour and the fact that it is better for the environment to produce it (rather than feeding cattle on grain) but it is near to impossible to find grass fed wagyu. They raise 500 plus cattle a year which makes for approximately 1,000,000 kgs of meat. All of their cattle are free range and they use natural base fertilisers (worm waste) which reduces their environmental impact on their property where they farm wheat, lamb sheep and beef Angus on their 2,300 hectare property.
I try a slice of the prime rib. It melts in my mouth. They cut me another slice and I eat that even though it’s about 10am, it’s that buttery soft. They also sell Wagyu burgers with the lesser cuts of Wagyu as their current clientele opt for the prime cuts.
*tinkle tinkle* the bell goes and I’m off to my next stop. Daily Ritual is an Armidale based producer that makes gourmet coffee, tea, drinking chocolate and chocolate coated coffee beans. They produce a High altitude blend which is a South American bean grown at over 2000 feet which is popular particularly with students for it’s high caffeine content. Their Signaure blend has also won Bronze in the 2010 Easter Show.
The Super Strawberry
“Oooh tiny scones” I say taking my bag and camera and promptly losing my folder along the way to The Super Strawberry which is a family run business established since 1972 and based in Glen Innes. It’s not Strawberry season at the moment so Cecily offers me a taste of tiny scones with strawberry jam and cream. Prices for her jam are very reasonable at $5.75 for a jar and she gives me two pots to take home with me. There is also a sample of a Dalkeith Mustard Pickle which is made using Guyra tomatoes and they are just divine with cheese on crackers. The shop in Glen Innes also sells strawberries and cream, fresh strawberry milkshakes made with real strawberries as well as scones with tea or coffee.
Bellata Gold’s story is an interesting one. Originally farmer Doug Cush sold his durum wheat to Italy. The North West area of NSW is known for it’s golden durum wheat (called the “golden durum triangle”) and it is popular with Italian pasta makers. Soon they started producing pasta of their own using the same type of durum wheat that they were selling to Italy. Technically only 100% durum wheat based pasta can be called pasta (as opposed to 00 flour pasta).