One of the highlights for me each year is judging the salami for the Stanthorpe Show. I can’t believe how lucky I am to do this and the entries again last week were very good. The Show Society included an olive competition for the first time and 17 entries of black, green and dried olives were also lined up for judging by another group of judges. The traditions of salumi and passata making and olive curing are still strong particularly amongst the descendants of the Italian immigrants into the region. Look out for news later in the year of a tour on the Granite Belt which will include some hands-on cooking.
Michael Dalton of Fino Foods in Brisbane and I were joined by local John Finocchiaro to judge the salami class. John normally enters the competition but did not have any salami left so he made up for it by lending his talented opinion to the judging panel. Almost all entries used natural skins and we looked for good even filling without any air pockets and a good distribution of fat. Some of the samples had fat that was tough and chewy and did not cut cleanly whilst the best of them had soft back fat that just melted when tasted and left a clean aftertaste. Many of the entries were equal or better than what is available in delicatessens.
I couldn’t attend the judging without staying on a few more days to make some preserves with the bounty of produce available at present. A visit to Sam Giacca at Sam’s Farm Fresh Fruit and Veg at Cottonvale was a must and I left with two boxes of ripe Roma tomatoes which have now been dried and will be used later in the year. I will write more about the seasonal fruit in another post.
A new chef has arrived in Ballandean to take over the Barrelroom and Larder at Ballandean Estate. A friend and I dined there last week and the restaurant has had a makeover with new tables and chairs (made by the chef’s brother) and a more modern look to match with the style of food now being served. Travis Crane has written a menu that sources produce from within a few hours’ drive of the restaurant and is presenting a style of food not seen in the region before. From the house made bread and cultured butter to my well-made piccolo, the meal was pure pleasure. Travis, who is operating the restaurant with his partner Arabella Chambers, has worked in Brisbane restaurants as well as doing a stint at In de Wulf in Belgium with Kobe Desramaults and his contemporary food does justice to the carefully sourced ingredients. Change your plans and make a booking at the Barrelroom and Larder as soon as you can. I can’t wait to make a return visit in a couple of weeks.
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