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.
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.
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.
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?