Summer’s here. You can scent it on a warm breeze, see it in the bright hues of the season’s fruit and vegies and, even better, you can taste it too. What better time than this to make a foray out of your usual haunts to the gates of the farms where those delectable goodies grow?
One thing Adelaide’s top flight chefs tell us repeatedly is that they are amazed by how close they are to the source of so much great produce. It means they can get out and meet the producers, and it means the produce gets to their restaurants faster and fresher than happens elsewhere in the country. So let’s take a fresh, tasty leaf out of the chefs’ book this month and make tracks for the local farm gate.
All our farm gates are within easy reach of the city. No wonder those chefs like it so much in South Australia. For many more farm gate feasting opportunities, visit the Eat Local SA website.
Make a saucy start
A South Australian success story, Beerenberg Farm in the Adelaide Hills is a hive of activity at this time of the year. The sixth generation of the Paech family are busy presiding over an array of jams, sauces, marinades, mustards, jellies, and dressings at their farm shop, many made with produce from the surrounding fields.
It all began for Beerenberg with strawberries and strawberry jam, and so can you. Check the website in picking season for this favourite fruit to make sure the patch is open, and put the kids to work (because they don’t have to bend down as far as the adults do, right?) This is our kind of hunting and gathering, especially since a stop in the farm shop to browse the Beerenberg Signature Collection Botanical and Dessert ranges could sort out a lot of your (wait, I’m gonna write it…) Christmas shopping list (sorry about that).
Life is just a bowl of…
Down south, where fertile land meets fresh seas, the folks at Fleurieu Cherries are patiently watching their 20 cherry varieties ripen in the early summer sunshine. They’ll have fruit ripening from the start of December through to the beginning of January. A cherry tasting is therefore in order, especially with you-know-what celebrations speeding towards us all (please don’t make me write that word again).
You can pick your own cherries here, or buy them fresh from the trees, grown with minimum spray before being picked and sorted by hand to preserve their all-round delicate gorgeousness (check their website and subscribe for personal updates on what’s ripening and opening hours). You can also pick up a jar or three of ruby red cherry relish and cherry jam. And a cherry ice cream to eat while you sit on the lawn… and learn all about cherries. After a visit here, the madness of the approaching summer holidays will seem perfectly manageable, at least for a while.
Paris Creek Beef
And so to meat. Bulk beef, specifically, and dry aged, antibiotic, growth hormone and GM feed free beef even more specifically. It’s rare to have the chance to go to the source for any meat these days, which makes Paris Creek Beef something special for the carnivores amongst us. Stocking up for the party season is easy with these guys.
Paris Creek beef is 100% grass-fed, processed and cut to order. The cattle and grass in question are at Paris Creek and on other smallholdings in the Adelaide Hills, and all the heavy lifting is done by the farmers and their local accredited butcher. All we need to do is exercise a little finger muscle or two to order online. How easy can farm gate shopping get? A bulk order will include all sorts of goodies for home cooks and the team at Paris Creek recommend Chef Google for ideas to try with the less familiar cuts (cheffy hats are optional).
Secret gardens in the outback
I know what you’re thinking. Flinders Ranges equals outback, equals dry and dusty rough country, right? Wrong. The rugged terrain of the southern Flinders fosters little known micro-climates that are lush and frost free, which is exactly what a delicate peach or apricot needs to be their best. This is the ‘green Flinders’, where you’ll find Taralee Orchards, with Wirrabara Forest nursery on their doorstep and a bit of hiking to hand on the Mawson and Heysen trails, should you feel so inclined.
Back to the stone fruit. It’s Demeter certified bio-dynamic, the Australian gold standard of bio-dynamic certification. That means ecological and sustainable production methods underpin everything that happens in the orchard and the kitchen, from the fresh apricots, peaches, nectarines, peacharines, plums, quince and persimmon, to the dried fruit range (both lightly sulphured and preservative free) and the range of stone fruit jams and chutneys.
Taralee Orchards’ farm gate opens to the public from December to April and they can also be found at the Wirrabara Farmers’ Market, and they even do postal orders for dried fruit, including in bulk, which is handy if you’ve got that festive plum pudding/fruit cake vibe going on about now. The Orchard also offers accommodation if you feel the need to stop and stay awhile.
All hail the big cheese
How to finish a sumptuous farm gate feast? With a few morsels of beautiful cheese of course. Udder Delights offer sheep and goat milk cheeses ranging from creamy camembert to bitey blues (though not too teeth-gnashing, as mild cheeses are the specialty of this Adelaide Hills-based company). Most recently and to much fanfare, Udder Delights has launched their first raw blue cheese, the King Saul. And last week, to more fanfare, they were inducted into the South Australian Tourism Awards’ Hall of Fame after winning the award for food excellence for the third year in a row.
Udder Delights cheese cellar door in Hahndorf offers guided tastings and light meals showcasing their range, often matched with other local Adelaide Hills gourmet favourites. A Kanmantoo bacon and Udder Delights cheese muffin is a breakfast revelation, or share a grazing board of local smallgoods from the likes of Little Acre Foods, Beerenberg, Skara, and Forage and Feast. Don’t forget to take home some Udder Delights’ Goats Curd to pair a slice of Harris Smoked Salmon to get yourself in gear for the summer season, and we may also mention that their creamy Adelaide Hills Brie is a great partner for any of that fruitcake you may have to hand?