Lismore Rainbow Organic Markets

If you are lucky enough not to be at work on a Tuesday morning, and you are in the Lismore region of New South Wales,  head to the Rainbow Organic Markets. This is a real farmers market where produce from the local region is sold direct off the back of the farmer’s ute.

Beautiful butter lettuce, pretty like a flower. I bought a bottle of organic local olive oil for $5. This is what I used to shallow fry my arrow root chips.

The market is held at the Lismore Show Grounds, every Tuesday morning. After we had finished shopping we brewed up a cup of coffee in one of the nearby pavilions. It was lovely to watch the passing parade of people. Good on you Lismore for supporting your local farmers market! I thought to myself  – who are all these people that don’t work on a Tuesday. Then I realised I was now one of them :)

Panforte by Faith Newham.

Mandarin Spelt Bun made by Faith Newham.

This mandarin spelt bun was so awesome. It was our breakfast. We had one each with a slab of butter.

We are on a travelers budget at the moment but we if we are going to splurge on food we prefer to do it at a farmers market.

We also bought a jar of Root Vegetable Kim Chi made by Foods That Heal. We love Kim Chi on burgers. This jar didn’t last long. We even spooned it on hotdogs.

Right now we are sitting in Armidale, NSW,  bracing ourselves for -3 degrees in the morning. We are unsure whether to head inland to Narrabri or down the coast towards Newcastle. Life on the road involves changing our plans every hour. Have a lovely week and I will be sure to keep you posted.

A Frolic In Thulimbah

Quoted – ‘Sam’s – it’s a cute little shop! ‘ – Blogger, Small Town Chutney

A month or so ago I was procrastinating, which lead me to google Small Town Chutney. Vain I suppose, but it is always interesting to see if I have been mentioned. I was surprised to find a quote in an online magazine, The Granite Belt Food + Wine (2012 edition). Coincidentally I happened to be in the heart of the granite belt sitting in front of a crackling fire.  The quote is not exactly the most inspiring thing I have written but I was chuffed. I remember at the time I was writing about Sam’s Fruit Shop, I didn’t have any photos of it. It was time to fix that. We had been planning a trip to Sam’s anyway to grab more Summit Coffee (which they stock for the bargain price of $7.99 for 250g).  With camera in hand, I happy snapped our little adventure.

Sam’s Fruit Shop in The Summit

New season produce is available by the box.

If I was to live in the Granite Belt, I would pick Thulimbah or The Summit. I love the warm rustic feel of the orchards and wineries. The mix of country, industry and history.

Abandoned building with beautiful brick work. The roof beams are made with railway sleepers.

View to Vincenzo’s at the Big Apple in Thulimbah (QLD) from across the tracks

After Sam’s we popped into Vincenzo’s to grab ham, fresh bread and cheese for lunch.

Vincenzo’s is right on the New England Highway at Thulimbah. You can’t miss it. Look for the big apple. It is a funny place, part cafe, part gift shop, part wine tasting and the rest is a rabbit warren of hidden foodie treasures. Don’t pass this place off as merely a tourist grab. Yes there is a giant sized apple out the front and the obligatory touristy products, but there is also an abundance of local products, wine and fresh produce. When we stay in Stanthorpe we regularly take a drive out here to stock up. It is also the best place in the area for Italian style ingredients. The staff are friendly, welcoming and helpful. On this visit we were given free ripe persimmons.

The Granite Belt is heavily settled by Italians. We went to the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery to see a photo exhibition of the early Italian settlers. Italians came to the area in the early 1920′s and set up orchards and later wineries. It was fascinating to see the pioneering pictures of people working the farms and then enjoying wine by the creek at big family gatherings.  As with all pioneering, it was essential to survival to be mostly self sufficient. Every property had a vegetable garden (called an Orto). Houses were made of iron and lined with hessian. Pigs were hunted and killed to make fresh salami.  Apples was the primary industry and many of the Italians worked seasonally between the Granite  Belt and sugar in North Queensland. Apples were shipped as far as London. Wine was made for their own consumption (the regional fame of the wineries on a commercial scale came much later). From the pictures it looked like the early Italians worked hard and also knew how to relax and have fun. It was clearly acceptable to pose for a photo swilling from a wine bottle.

I found this exhibition very inspiring. I wanted to stomp on grapes, make fresh salami, bottle fruit for the winter and hand weave beautiful tablecloths. Ah our lives are so different.

Anyway back to the story…once you are aware of the Italian history of the area, you see it everywhere.

Salami – take your pick at Vincenzo’s

Double Smoked Ham. According to the super friendly lady who served us, this free range local pork is smoked with molasses by a local butcher. He only uses female pigs to get a real sweet taste. It was delicate, light, sweet and fresh.

Local organic lamb is available at Vincenzo’s.

I would like to show you pictures of the amazing sub style sandwich I made with double smoke ham, fresh batard (shortened baguette), walnut layered cheese and avocado but I forgot to take a happy snap. I can’t photograph my whole life right?

Cheap As Chips

Buying from honesty box stalls is perfect for life on the road.  These days we try to get all our fruit, vegetables and eggs from honesty boxes or road side stalls. Why? Because it is cheap, super fresh and more often then not organic. It is a nice way to taste what a region grows well. Plus it is a travelers lucky dip. As you pull off the road you never know exactly what you will find in the stall.

This little stall on The Channon Road, just 200 metres down from the intersection with Dunoon Road (near Dunoon, NSW), is so cute. They sell an unusual collection of produce. We stayed for almost a week in The Channon and stocked up a few times here.

One of the days we stopped by, there was an adorable salad bouquet for $1. It had a number of green leafy vegetables, herbs and edible flowers all tied up in a bunch.

I bought six of these chillies. One was enough to turn any dish into a fire eater. We started adding chilli and tumeric to our dinner leftovers, mixing in a few eggs and doing a stylised version of bubble and squeak for breakfast. Chilli is quite addictive.

I bought some fresh tumeric and arrowroot.

This is something new to me. Apparently Kemiri is used in Indonesian cooking to create a thick sauce that is eaten with vegetables and rice (thanks Wiki). I have some to try.

Arrowroot is a bit of a cross between a potato and an apple. It is juicy and crisp but oxidises quickly once cut open.

After grabbing a random collection of goodies from the stall, we drove a few more kilometres down the road to The Channon and set up camp for the night.

I was excited to do something with my newly purchased arrowroot. I had no internet range to google recipes ideas, so I went with the little hand written suggestion inside the honesty  box to make arrowroot chips.

I used organic olive oil, bought that morning from the Lismore Rainbow Organic Market. Probably not the best burning temperature oil to use for chips but it was all I had.

Lightly salted arrowroot chips ready to eat. Between me and my husband we ate these as fast as I cooked them. Yum!

On a roll I added a bit of sweet potato to the mix.

Chips in The Channon as the sun set.

Coronation Park, The Channon

It was satisfying to cook up the arrowroot so close to where it was grown. I pondered the story behind the honesty box and who else pulled in there each day.

When I was a child, my parents went through a short phase of trying a new food each week. It was wonderful. I remember trying blueberries, lychee and ox tongue. I think that was a fun idea. I can now add Arrowroot to my list and I have Kemiri to look forward to.

Have you ever cooked with arrowroot or Kemiri? What did you make? Or have you tried a new food recently?

Variety is the spice of life I say (and they say).

I am writing this from a little beach car park in Woolgoolga NSW. The sun has now set and my face is glowing in the dark from the lap top screen. It is time for me to go cook up a vegetable curry with lentils.

Have a great weekend all.

Mulled Wine

Now we are traveling, we have more time to ourselves than ever before. There is nothing like having a little project to keep you motivated and engaged. With the temperatures in Stanthorpe starting to push into the minus at night, I decided to brew up some mulled wine to enjoy by the fire.

The granite belt region boasts beautiful cold climate wine. Initially I thought I was butchering a  local bottle and defying fine craftsmanship, by turning it into mulled wine. Then again art is often taking something good and making it your own. I wanted a wine unique to the area, ready to drink, cheap but rich and smooth . We found just the bottle while indulging in cheesecake and coffee at Hidden Creek Winery. There was a clearance barrel of 2002 Merlot that was $7 a bottle. It had reached the end of its shelf life and was ready to drink now. This was the last of the batch and the winery wanted to move stock. Hidden Creek Winery is situated along Eukey road in Ballandean. At 950 metres above sea level, it is one of the highest vineyards in Australia.

The setting is beautiful. There was just enough sunshine for us to sit outside by the dam overlooking the granite boulders and vineyard. The Cafe serves food, desserts and coffee. We did a quick taste test of the red wines and port. Their vintage port is delicious…oh I wish I had bought a bottle.

Enjoying the vista from the Hidden Creek Winery Cafe.

On colder days there is a beautiful glass atrium room to sit in and soak up the view.

Okay so with wine in hand, I needed 2 oranges, 1 lemon, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and brandy.

If I looked hard enough I reckon I would have been able to find a locally made brandy but we opted for a supermarket variety.

The oranges and lemons came from Gympie (the granite belt is too frosty  for citrus).I  bought these from a road side stall in Glen Aplin.

I followed a recipe in the 2012 edition of the Granite Belt Wine Country Brass Monkey Season online magazine.

  • 1 x 750ml bottle of dry red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 oranges thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced
  • 2 x cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Lemon peel to decorate.

Place wine, sugar, brandy, water, orange, lemon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large saucepan over low heat.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 -10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is aromatic. Do not boil. Remove from heat.

Strain mulled wine into a large jug. Serve immediately.

We drank the mulled wine warm.  The fumes are a bit intense if you breathe them in. With every sip it warms the cockles of your heart. An added plus is that your whole house will smell like a wintery Christmas.

Have you ever made mulled wine? What variations of ingredients have you tried?

This was my first mulled wine. I made this again a few weeks later while camping at Night Cap National Park and added a bit more brandy which also worked. Next time I might keep the strained orange and lemon mush and make a cake.


Sourced Grocer

Sourced Grocer in the Brisbane suburb of Teneriffe, is what I imagine my Small Town Chutney cafe/shop would look like, if I had one. Some aspects are a little contrived or perhaps more accurately on the trend (i.e milk crate seating). At the same time the ethos and mission of Sourced Grocer is brilliant. Seasonal produce is available to purchase and features on the Cafe menu. The grocer shelves are packed full of local products. It was wonderful to see the delights and creations of  local artisans  stocked in a busy Brisbane shop.  I had picked Sourced Grocer as the location to meet up with an an old friend to say my farewells (Goodbye for now Karen I will miss you!). I wrote this post while sitting at our camp spot in Mallangangee, New South Wales.  My husband and I have decided to reclaim our time and bring back some adventure to our lives.  We quit our jobs and are travelling around this beautiful country for a while.  It was about time that Small Town Chutney ventured further afield.

A modern interpretation of a traditional old style grocer store mixed with urban bunker.

Mmmm beetroot sausages

Sourced Grocer was a fitting place to say goodbye to Brisbane. As I explored the shop, familiar names, products and places popped back at me. My Small Town Chutney explorations of South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, all in the one spot, in my favourite city.  The seasonal bounty of this part of the world is made wonderfully accessible to city dwellers. Of course some of the pleasure of pulling in at the farm gates to buy it direct from the farmer is lost but you get to switch this for the uber cool experience of being a Hipster. Walk your dog to the store, pay at the Apple laptop cash registers and pull up a milk crate to enjoy the passing parade of regular fans and visitors.

Goodbye Brisbane, Hello Adventure

I moved to Brisbane a little over 10 years ago.  At the time I considered it a temporary stop over. I lived in hope my boyfriend (of only a few months) would leave his life in North Queensland and travel with me, perhaps down to Melbourne.  I was young and stubborn. I had one bag of possessions and I longed for a life of adventure.
Life very rarely works according to a structured plan (not that I had one back then) but I certainly didn’t plan on spending my entire 20′s in Brisbane either. Brisbane captured my heart. Lucky for me, my boyfriend did join me. He too captured my heart and is now my beautiful husband. I always loved living in Brisbane. The taste, smell and colours of Brisbane will forever be synonymous with my plunge into adulthood.
Today I turn 30.  Some things don’t change, I still dream of  adventure and throwing caution to the wind. A little over a month ago my husband and I quit our day jobs,  sold everything we own, bought a camper van and hit the road. We have no real itinerary and no time frame to work within. This is the start of our new lives.  Who knows where the road will lead us. So this is goodbye Brissy and goodbye 20s. I will miss you.
 I am proud that we have had the courage to step outside our possessions, careers and mindsets and look for something a bit more. We have an idea of the connected life we want, where each day is our own and we love what we do. I plan to expand Small Town Chutney and fill it with our adventures and all the wonderful culinary experiences we expect to find on the way. Hello adventure, hello 30′s and hello to this big vast country.

Our sweet little camper

Now we are self employed we are choosing not to  indulge in so many luxuries we used to, in terms of dining out. That’s okay,  I never wanted Small Town Chutney to be about gourmet luxuries of the rich. I want to be an example that living and eating well is in reach for all Australians. It is about making the most of what we buy and selecting food that is value laden. I expect some of my food choices will be modified to accommodate our new budget. Without an oven and only a small fridge, I also expect my cooking style will change. What I can say for sure is that my love and passion for good local food remains strong and I am finding new inspiration in every town we visit.
To stay updated, please subscribe to Small Town Chutney, or check in here regularly to follow our journey. If we are passing through your area and you know of any awesome local producers/artisans or markets, please let us know. We welcome recommendations for places to visit. You can contact us via email or Facebook or simply leave a comment on the blog.

Granite Belt Part 2: Wild Soul

Before I was born, my dad decided to build a house boat. The story goes, that with no experience in boat building, he bought a DIY  book and in the hills of Perth, commenced the mammoth project. This took 7 years to complete. The boat was eventually launched in the Indian ocean and my mum, dad and brother lived on it for a few years, until I came along.  Last year, the boat was spotted by my cousin down near Rockingham, in Western Australia. With  bright yellow paint and unmistakable Chinese junk sails, it is still seaworthy some 30 years later. This attitude of giving anything a go, teaching yourself along the way and going against convention runs strong in my family and is a quality I admire in other people.

The creators of Wild Soul winery in Glen Aplin, Queensland, are such people. It is the only organic and bio-dynamic winery in the area (that we are aware of). It was top of our winery list and our first cellar door visit during our last Granite Belt sojourn. Located up Horans Gorge road in Glen Aplin, the winery is not heavily advertised, but is clearly signed.

We were greeted by Beth Boullier, who had been down in the paddock, tending the raspberry patch. It is a low key cellar door, just the way we like it. Beth told us that with her husband, Andy, they bought the property  25 years ago and originally farmed strawberries and raspberries. In 1995, they planted some vines and after considering the economics of selling the organic grapes to other wineries, Andy Boullier decided to have a crack at wine making. According to Beth, he bought a DIY wine making book and is self taught.  It is a small vineyard (1.3 hectares) that produces only dry red wine. At the moment they have Shiraz and Cabernet Merlot.

Growing grapes bio-dynamically has been a challenge but they are completely committed to the process. They believe in minimal interference. The wine is unfiltered and no fining agents are used. Only grapes from the property are used to create a single origin drop, that reflects the particular growing season. This is my favourite thing about wine and why I love wine that is made using grapes from one vineyard.

I love how special characteristics of the environment, soil, climate and rainfall,  can be captured in wine.  All these factors impact the final flavour and give it a distinctive taste that is unique to that vineyard and vintage.  The french term Terroir, which loosely means a sense of place, has been adopted by the wine industry to describe this concept.

Beth and I had a bit of a chat about what it means to run a bio-dynamic vineyard. She made me laugh and echoed my sentiments regarding some bio-dynamic rules, you have to trust that there is essential wisdom to the methods. Sometimes she feels they are only a few steps away from being the crazy farmers that dance around the vines under a full moon. Not that they do this, but bio-dynamic farming does have some unusual methods.

I was curious about the raspberry patch Beth had been tending to on our arrival. I asked to have a quick tour. They still sell raspberries on the side but unfortunately none were packed and ready on our visit.

Beth, down in the Raspberry patch.

For the pure, unadulterated taste of the Granite Belt, I highly recommend a bottle or two of Wild Soul.

Wild Soul is located on Horans Gorge Road, Glen Aplin.
The cellar door is open on weekends and public holidays from 10am – 5pm.
Wild Soul wine is available at the Cellar door and by mail order.

I love a bit of DIY and the slightly eccentric that embark on a mission well outside their existing knowledge base. Power to them. I am all for supporting this sort of bravery.

Let me know (in the comment section below) if you have ever picked up a DIY book and taught yourself something wonderful.

As for me, being Friday afternoon, I could do with a nice glass of red.