Simple Barossa luxuries

Returning to the roots of food production means an immersion in artisanal indulgence at the Barossa Farmers' Market and a ride in a vintage Daimler.

Australia's favourite food blogger, Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, finds luxury at the Barossa Farmers' Market.

"Hi honey,

I had a lovely bath last night and watched Miami Ink while lying in the bathtub which had lots of people with tattoos. They actually looked really interesting but don’t worry I’m not getting one.

I have to get up bright and early for the Barossa Farmers' Market tomorrow morning so have fun sailing! Call me at The Louise.

Love,
Me-me-me
xxx”

I start the day off with my breakfast in the suite. I knew I’d be nibbling a lot today so this was eating light. I had a glass of premium cloudy Adelaide Hills apple juice (I adore cloudy apple juice) and a plate of locally cured smoked ham with Ballycroft fresh cheese and house baked rye bread. It’s perfect low carb food and the rye bread is sliced super thinly. The cheese, soft, ripe fresh cheese and thin bread are just ideal for a day of snacking and feasting.

That was the grand plan at least but it's hard when the bed is this comfy and the wind and rain are beating down outside rocking you to sleep. I look outside the window while having breakfast and it is still bucketing down. South Australia is the the driest state in Australia-yes even drier than the centre of Australia which was news to me! So this torrent of rain is an anomaly. I’m afraid I had a bit of a late start. And I start the day off in style when my fantastic tour guide John picks me up in this beauty! "Instead of driving Miss Daisy I’m going to be Driving Miss Lorraine” he says smiling. Aww, why can’t life come with a tour guide like John?

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There are only six of these Daimlers in Australia and John owns three. This beauty was found in a paddock rusted out with chickens living in it in country Victoria. John himself has lovingly restored it and I get to be a passenger in it. The car itself lets you have 180 degree views as your seat is far back to allow you to see more. They were also built to be royal cars so that these windows open and you could wave to the people outside! I refrained from doing so.

It’s cold and wet but despite the late arrival it is still buzzing. This farmers' market are undercover and held every Saturday, and are where locals do a lot of their regular weekly food shop. To qualify for a stall here, you must be a primary producer so this is a true farmers' market. I meet Jan Angas who is part of one of the most well known families in the area. The Angas family settled the nearby town Angaston. She has her own stand which is the Hutton Vale Farm which grows pasture fed lamb.

For a state as dry as South Australia, most of the livestock is fed on grain as the pastures do not allow for it. Jan prefers to keep it small and keep true to making pasture fed lamb done as naturally as possible. Jan tells me that she gets feedback that celiacs and gluten free eaters have reported having some issues with grain fed lamb but not with grass fed lamb. South Australians are the first and so far only state to have banned plastic bags at the supermarket checkout and they have a rather nifty idea to make newspaper bags to help recycle the newspapers.

We start with the pastry brand Carme. Okay, all of you pastry aficionados in Australia are probably familiar with the Carme premium puff pastry which uses real butter. What you may not have known (and I admit I didn’t know) is that Carme also bake tarts, pies, galettes and all sorts of other pastry goodies.

There are some absolutely luscious looking apple tarts, some chocolate tarts with gold leaf on top and the piece de resistance, a lemon meringue pie. It’s clearly calling my name. You hear it too don’t you? Interestingly some brands don’t have shop fronts and they only sell at these markets. Carme is one of them-I guess they’re too busy making pastry!

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We start off at Ellis orchards. They previously had three orchards where they grew fruit, figuring that if conditions or weather affected one then the others would help in that regard. They’ve now sold two of the farms but have kept one.

Everyone behind the stalls is from the company itself and Carmella is another example of this. She makes three products in Angaston, a Kasundi which is a versatile wet curry paste that can be used for curries but also for things such as marinades for fish and meat. Each jar can make up to ten curries. She also does a dry curry spice blend which is intoxicatingly fragrant and a chutney. And Carmella was kind enough to give me a jar of her Kasundi paste! I’m suddenly the best wife for bringing this home.

The man who was the face of the Barossa farmers' markets and a favourite of the French journalists that visited is John from Cornucopia Olives. He’s strumming a guitar when we arrive at his stand. His speciality is seawater olives that are said to have a milder salt taste than regular olives but this also means that they have a stronger olive flavour to them. They’re so popular that they’ve sold out by now. He uses Lecchio olives from 20 year old trees that have never been fertilised or irrigated and they were planted wide which means that they survive the drought.

I stop by Bite The Biscuit where 'melting moments' take on mammoth proportions. As Jan says they’re not melting moments, they’re melting hours. They’ve been making biscuits for three years now and the woman behind the counter hands me a melting moment "to enjoy later at your own leisure”. How lovely! I’ve got my cup of tea already planned for this (oh and by the way it’s delicious with a lovely tangy icing in the centre of the biscuits!).

We stop by the award winning honey placed Turner’s Honey. Their creamed honey, Barossa valley pasture honey and their cup gum honey have all won awards. He is an ex-accountant of all things!

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We meet Rosemary at Four Leaf where I instantly recognise those packets as the same ones that sit in my pantry. When she first started making certified organic products people told her that she was mad and that no-one would be interested in them. Fast forward to several years later and now there is a big demand for organic produce. Her husband had an interest in engineering so he built the stone mills which meant that the cash outlay for the equipment was lower. The company has just celebrated its 40th birthday.

We pass by Fleming and Ware who make several types of muesli using Four Leaf’s organic oats and South Australian only fruit and almonds "The worst thing I can hear is when a Turkish apricot is in muesli” she says defiantly. Oops, better not tell her that I happen to love Turkish apricots then!

Among the businesses there is also a mix of cottage industries. There is a small grower that sells the produce from her farm.

We suddenly bump into chef Mark McNamara who is doing today’s shopping for supplies for tonight’s dinner. He is talking to Michael Voumard who is well known for having his own garden and for striving for fresh and natural ingredients while doing things like growing his own paprika. He has five biodyanmic acres on which he grows produce and on Thursday and Fridays he holds Stonewall society dinners in the Rockford Winery on a table that seats twelve people only. And it’s for Stone Wall Society members and their friends and is booked out months in advance.

I try some delicious little morsels at the Steiny’s stand. Jan tells me that every town has a butchers and a smokehouse and that people buy their Mettwurst (a smoked sausage similar to salami) from their favourite supplier and everyone has their own favourite.

Another cottage industry is Elaine’s relishes, chutney and pickles. She has both a standard line and a seasonal line which reflects the fruit of the current season.

The Lyndoch bakery sells all sorts of German based breads, rolls and twists as well as as sourdough, white and wholemeal leaves.

And there's the carrot juice man!

Jaci had told me to look out for the carrot juice man. The Lowke family grows carrots, parsnips and potatoes and sell cups of the refreshingly good carrot juice. I try some and it’s fantastically fresh and zingy and sweet.

Next to them is the Kurianda stand that sells some absolutely fabulous products. Everything that I tried there I wanted to bring back with me on the plane. First there is the wild olive olive oil where they use wild olives from 80-90 year old trees. They also make stunning bush dukkah with pistachios and bush spices as well as a shiraz sauce. If my luggage wasn’t already bursting with lovely gifts from the generous South Australians I would have bought all three to take home with me. Well, if I could, as most of it had sold out! Good for him, not good for my hungry tummy – although good for the scales!


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