South Burnett Cuisine > News Archives > February 2003
   
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Our web site is always interested in news about developments in the South Burnett's wine and food industries.

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South Burnett Wine and Food News with Jason Ford

Barambah Ridge Bring Wine Tastings To You!
Barambah Ridge Winery28th February 2003: Earlier this week I wrote that the best way to buy South Burnett wine is right at the cellar door. Not only do you get a much better deal (especially if you buy in bulk) but you also get to enjoy the atmosphere of each particular venue - and atmosphere plays a critical role in any wine or culinary experience. However many of our wineries have identified that regardless of how short the trip to their door might be, not everybody has the time or means to do so. And this has brought about many initiatives such as satellite cellar doors, mail order and online sales. Now Barambah Ridge Winery have taken the challenge one step further by inviting wine lovers and their guests to a free wine tasting at any local venue of their choice. For a limited time, groups of 20 or more can be introduced to the winery's large selection of award winning wines wherever they want. And to add extra spice to the offer, the winery will also offer a 15% discount off the retail price of any case sales made at the tastings. Interested? Then contact Tom McKenzie at Redgate on (07) 4168 4766 for more details. Residents of Montville, Maleny and the Sunshine Coast can also get to enjoy the same offer by contacting Dave Philip on (07) 5478 5566.
New Autumn Menu For Copper Country
25th February 2003: Nanango's Copper Country Restaurant have just rolled out their new Autumn menu. And after taking a New Year vacation in England and discovering just how bad the general quality of food in the UK is, Copper Country's chef Steve Winter says he's returned with an even greater passion for Australia's abundance of high quality meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables than ever. Steve said that the barrage of flamboyant English celebrity chefs on TV and in our bookstores disguises the fact that - in real life - the typical English menu is both tiresome and expensive. "You could literally drive from one end of England to the other, take menus from each establishment, shuffle before returning them - and they wouldn't know they had a different menu", Steve said. "On top of that, prices for an average main course - even in a pub - were up to double the Australian equivalent. People don't realise just how innovative, inexpensive and interesting Australian cuisine is now in comparison to many other countries." This philosophy is reflected in Copper Country's new menu, which is a celebration of fresh Queensland produce and innovative high quality dining at an affordable price. The restaurant's baked rack of lamb with braised lamb shanks on a warm root vegetable salad in garlic and rosemary dressing is a dish that (I know) requires all the time and TLC a chef can muster. And the char grilled meats selection is comprised of nothing but the highest quality South Burnett pork and beef. Diners simply choose the meat they want - Smoked Pork Loin Cutlet, Sirloin or Eye Fillet - and it's served up with sweet potato fondant, mushrooms, tomato concasse and their choice of sauce. Soups and fish dishes change daily, as do the desserts. You can find a suitable matching red or white wine from Copper Country's own label (there's a large selection of other brands available too) and select a cheese from the restaurant's range of award-winning fresh Kingaroy Cheeses. It's enough to make Jamie or Nigella emigrate....

South Burnett Restaurant Fast Facts

Restaurant:  

Copper Country Restaurant

Address:  

D'Aguilar Highway, Nanango

Contact details:  

Phone: (07) 4163-1011
Fax: (07) 4163-1122
Email: sw1@bigpond.com

Open:  

6:00pm Mondays to Saturdays
(functions by arrangement)

Average entree:  

All entrees $11.50

Average main:  

All mains $22.50

Average dessert:  

All desserts $7.50

Licensed?  

Yes
Type of Cuisine:

Fresh, locally sourced South Burnett produce, prepared in an up market modern Australian style. Generous portion sizes. The menu changes seasonally and there's always a large selection of wines, including Copper Country's own label. Limited foods are also available during the day to complement the cellar door.

2003 Wine Harvest Likely To Set New Records
22nd February 2003: The South Burnett's 2003 wine harvest - which has been underway for several weeks now - looks like setting new records for both grape quality and quantity. While the drought hit most of the region's traditional agricultural enterprises hard, the word I've heard from several wine industry operators is that the baume (ie sugar content) in this year's harvest is so high that the region is likely to score a swag of gold medals when the 2003 vintage finally hits the shelves. Unfortunately, though, these wines aren't likely to appear until much later this year and/or 2004. And this means we're going to continue being offered much earlier vintages at wine tastings, local restaurants and bottle shops for some time yet. Why is this? Well, one of the biggest problems the South Burnett wine industry faces at the moment is that most cellars are still full of product from 1997 through to 2000. There are some very drinkable wines in this assortment that are still waiting to be sold - and until they are the temptation for some winemakers is to simply their latest vintages to ferment in the vats rather than roll them out. However - on the flip side - some of the more dynamic wineries have decided to clear out their cellars ASAP. And they're doing it by specialling these older wines. This means that if you drop by their cellar doors right now you can pick up dozens of their better releases for around $8.50 per bottle. To my mind, buying by the dozen is the only smart way to buy South Burnett wines. It's also unlikely that it will ever be cheaper than it is right now.
Pumpkins Cafe To Become A Weekend BYO Restaurant
19th February 2003: Late-night dining in Kingaroy will get another shot in the arm next week when Pumpkin's Cafe in Kingaroy Shoppingworld begins opening on Friday and Saturday nights as a BYO a-la-carte restaurant. The long-running cafe changed hands in November 2002 when John and Nola Collins of Coolabunia purchased the business from Doug Fogg and installed their daughter Nicole Wetherspoon as manager. Nicole has 14 years experience in the hospitality industry and has worked in a large variety of dining styles, and Kingaroy is about to see the fruits of this. "Although many of our customers' favourite blackboard items will remain on the cafe's daytime menu we're going to start offering some new items such as Japanese sushi, an array of gourmet bagels and superb Italian style coffee," Nicole said. But the biggest development will take place shortly when Pumpkin's begins opening on Friday and Saturday nights as a BYO restaurant with full a la carte table service. Chef Aaron Bell (formerly of Barbella's and a winner in the 2002 South Burnett Regional Cuisine Cook-Off Competition) will be commanding the kitchen along with an apprentice chef, and patrons will be able to access Pumpkin's through the café's external sidewalk entrance. The café will also open for Sunday breakfast with a choice of continental or traditional cooked breakfast dishes. "We believe there's a need for more dining establishments in the South Burnett's booming food and wine market," John said. "Especially establishments that value their customers' opinions and try to meet high standards. We're really looking forward to this!"

South Burnett Restaurant Fast Facts

Restaurant:  

Pumpkin's Cafe

Address:  

Kingaroy Shoppingworld,
Cnr Youngman and Alford Sts, Kingaroy

Contact details:  

Phone: (07) 4162-4611
Fax: (07) 4162-8418
Email: jonola2@bigpond.com

Open:  

Cafe from 8:00am to 5:30pm Monday-Friday
(plus late nights on Thursdays)
8:30am Sundays (as of mid-February 2003)
A la carte BYO: Fridays and Saturday nights until late
Corporate catering and functions by arrangement

Average entree:  

Cafe - meals from $3.85
A la carte: $7.50

Average main:  

Cafe - meals from $3.85
A la carte: $15.00

Average dessert:  

Cafe - meals from $3.85
A la carte: $4.25

Licensed?  

BYO
Type of Cuisine:

Blackboard, limited and full menus. Modern Australian café and restaurant cuisine for a variety of tastes and budgets. Some innovative international dishes. Quality Italian Style Coffee.

SB Food Service Distributors Open Up Online
16th February 2003: After 25 years, family owned and run SB Food Service Distributors (SBFSD) are joining the information age. Never shy of new technology, owner Barry Randall made the decision to go online to complement the recent expansion of his award-winning food distribution business. Early in 2002 SBFSD invested more than $350,000 in a new freezer and chiller complex sufficiently large to hold around 200 pallets. "The expansion has given SBFSD increased buying power which has allowed us to make significant savings - savings we can pass on to our customers in food service businesses", Barry said."We've also recently completed a network and computer system upgrade. And our focus on quality service and quality products seems to be appreciated because we're now the largest food service company in the South Burnett area". The company's new web site currently contains a product list and a regularly updated specials page. It's anticipated that future updated version of the site will facilitate online shopping, a product search function and a product database.
Goats: Meat Of The Future.... No Kidding!
Goats13th February 2003: Late last year I had the pleasure of working with TV's celebrity chef Peter Howard conducting cooking demonstrations during the Peanut Festival. Mr Ern Wilkinson - Director of Queensland Domestic Goat Meat (Q Goat) - asked if I could incorporate goat meat into the demos. At the time I was unaware the South Burnett had such a thriving goat meat industry, but the simple fact is that Queensland's leading goat meat cooperative's headquarters is based here. I'd used the meat some years ago but wasn't happy with the outcome. But since then I've done some extensive research (particularly at the dinner table) and I'm now convinced that if Australians learn how to cook goat meat correctly it can be a healthy alternative to traditional red meats. Goat meat is commercially known as Chevon and Capretto. It's been an important and traditional source of meat for centuries in regions such as the Mediterranean, Africa, India, the Middle East, Spain and the Caribbean. Many South Burnett farmers have recognised the increased diversity of Australia's population and our obsession with trying new things by developing a bumper domestic and export market. So what does it taste like, you ask? It's similar to lamb but a little sweeter. In fact, its structure is so similar to lamb that you can buy the same cuts as lamb. Goat meat is also high in protein and lower in fat and cholesterol than a lot of conventional red meats. If you want to try it yourself, try the following local outlets: Gaedtke Bulk Meat in Nanango; The Kingaroy Butchery in Haly Street, Kingaroy; Shoppingworld Butchery, Kingaroy; Ryan's Butchery in Wondai and Steele's Butchery in Murgon.
Successful Hemp Plantation Brings A Smile To The Dial
Henry and Jason10th February 2003: If you'd suggested to me a year ago that I'd find myself standing in the middle of a 400-acre hemp field with a State Minister, both of us smiling from ear to ear, I'd only have been able to say it sounded like a pipe dream. But life is strange - and last Friday I found myself standing alongside Primary Industries Minister Henry Palaszczuk and a swarm of dignitaries as we observed Queensland's first industrial hemp crop go under the blades. Ecofibre Industries used the South Burnett as one of three trial planting areas for this amazingly useful crop and the results they had here exceeded their wildest expectations. The company now hope to put in a $7 million processing mill and extend their plantations all the way from Murgon to Childers. Industrial hemp is used in literally thousands of products throughout the world such as fibre, pulp, textiles, fuel and (most interesting to me) food. Current Australian legislation prohibits the ingestion of hemp food products even though the seeds are not a drug and will be sterilised. But in many countries, hemp-based food products such as hemp seed oil, shelled hemp seed nuts, muesli bars and gluten free bakery products have been part of a healthy diet for many years. As the demand for natural and healthy food products increases within Australia the South Burnett could lead the way - or at least, as soon as national legislative reforms take place. Gosh - what a coup! Photo above: Queensland Primary Industries Minister Henry Palaszczuk and me in the middle of Ecofibre's trial hemp field. Our smiles were not chemically assisted!
New Developments In Peanuts
7th February 2003: The South Burnett is Australia's peanut capital. We produce most of the nation's crop here and we've done so since about 1920. But few people are aware that there are some exciting new initiatives being taken in this industry that - if they're successful - could revolutionise Australian peanut production in the space of the next few years. Right at the moment, trials are being undertaken in the South Burnett to produce high oleic acid peanuts and to create a benign aflatoxin fungus. High oleic nuts taste identical to the peanuts we're used to but retain their freshness for about 9 months. And scientists believe that aflatoxin - which can cause liver cancer and is responsible for the loss of tonnes of harvest every year - can be rendered almost harmless by introducing a less toxic variety into the local landscape which will compete (and beat!) its lethal rival on the ground. Very soon, too, some growers will also be planting Indian varieties of peanuts into their fields. These varieties deliver a harvest in 75% the time that current harvests take. While we won't know the results of these trials for awhile, if they all work out we could soon all be eating fresher, safer peanuts than we've ever had and see production volumes ramp up significantly. This may help South Burnett peanut farmers (who've had wretched harvests over the last two years because of the drought) get back on their feet faster than they ever have before.
Regional Cook-Off Competition On Again!
4th February 2003: Further to my last story about the Tarong Coal Wine & Food In The Park Festival (see below), I was delighted to hear today that thanks to the generosity of the Peanut Company of Australia, the Kingaroy branch of DPI, TAFE and the South Burnett Tourism Association, the Regional Culinary Cook-Off Competition that proved such a smash hit at last year's Festival is on again! This competition debuted last year and had crowds flocking in to watch it all day as top South Burnett chefs tried to come up with sensational local produce dishes that incorporated a skewer. The cook-off also gave rise to this web site (the recipes we feature were last year's winning entries). This year - thanks to PCA's sponsorship - the theme of the cook-off will be recipes that not only make use of local produce but in one way or another incorporate peanuts. The competition will also be renamed the PCA Regional Culinary Competition. South Burnett chefs will be invited to start composing their recipes in the next few days - but if you'd like to take part yourself without waiting for an invitation, email me directly for more details. I know of at least half a dozen people who wanted to take part in last year's cookoff but didn't hear about it until after the deadline. Let's see if we can improve on that for 2003.
Excitement Building For Wine & Food In The Park
Barbara Fordham Band1st February 2003: The 5th Annual Tarong Coal Wine & Food In The Park Festival will be held in Memorial Park on Saturday 22nd March this year. And interest in the event - which has steadily grown to become one of the region's major annual events and its signature Autumn wine festival - is already starting to build. Entertainers booked for this year's Wine Food In The Park include Brisbane swing jazz legends the Barbara Fordham Band (pictured at right), Midnight Syndicate, Blind Dog and The Reverend and many others. Street theatre performers (who proved such a hit with crowds at the 2002 Festival) will also be roving the grounds during the day, adding to the colour and spectacle of the event. This year Festival organisers hope to extend the licensed area to eliminate the distinction between the wine tent and general bar that existed in 2002. There'll also be a much wider array of high quality food stalls and an extensive market area to cater to increased crowd numbers. An estimated 6,000 people attended last year's Wine & Food In The Park Festival. And now that the event is just 7 weeks away, its web site is also being updated over the next few days to provide continual briefings on the Festival as it draws streadily closer.

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