South Burnett Cuisine > News Archives > September 2004
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Want To See The Wineries? Why Not Take A Bus?
Desley Benjecke from SB Grapevine Tours30th September 2004: One great way to enjoy the South Burnett's culinary pleasures that may not have occurred to some locals - but certainly has to tourists! - is to hop on board one of the many new wine and food tours that are now operating in our region. Although local bus companies have provided chartered services around the South Burnett's wineries for the last five years or so, there's been a considerable growth in demand during the last 12 months and the gourmet tour market is really starting to heat up. Lionel and Desley Benecke are the operators of SB Grapevine Tours and they visit most of the local wineries with customised itineraries. They offer both day and weekend packages and their air-conditioned coasters can pick-up groups and return them safely after they've sipped and savoured all the wonderful tastes our region has on offer. "We're literally flat-out with bookings from locals and people travelling from Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast", Lionel tells me. Similarly, Gourmet Food and Wine Tours manager Jason Olsen said that he custom-designs tours with half-day, full day and weekend stays where groups can stop for morning teas, lunches or dinners. "Our service provides tailored tours to fit any kind of itinerary - it's totally up to the customer", he said. With today's zero tolerance on drink driving, coach tours are a very safe and enjoyable way of taking in the sights of the South Burnett and a wine tasting or two (or three!). If you (or your group) want to take a spin around the wineries in safety, this may be the idea you've been searching for. You can contact SB Grapevine Tours on (07) 4162-3078 or Gourmet Food and Wine Tours on (07) 4162-5586. Photo above: Desley Benecke from SB Grapevine Tours, one of the region's brightest new business ideas.
Have A Spring Afternoon's Fun In Nanango's Pioneer Park
Nanango Pioneer Festival 200427th September 2004: A few weeks ago - based on information I had at the time - I tipped that readers who enjoyed Wine & Food In The Park, Picnic In The Park or Shakin Grape should leave a free space in their calendar for a similar experience at Murgon in October (see story 12th September). Well, I apologise for getting that particular story completely wrong! It now appears that the Rotary Art and Wine Show which will be held at The Pulse in Murgon on Friday 15th October is not going to be a wine festival of any description, contrary to what I was led to believe. Instead it'll be an art show where four Moffatdale wineries will be providing wine tastings. In terms of winery numbers this makes the event roughly four times bigger than a monthly opening at the Wondai Shire Art Gallery. But a Shakin Grape it certainly isn't. However, all's not lost! This year Nanango's much-loved Pioneer Festival has rearranged its Saturday afternoon program, shifting the traditional Friday night family concert over to Saturday and adding in what sounds like a lot of the trappings we've come to enjoy in our park-based days out including food stalls, street entertainers, non-stop live music and fun right through to a giant fireworks display at 9:00pm that evening. It's not clear if wineries will be on hand in any numbers but Nanango has at least two (Whistle Stop Wines and the Copper Country 1740 Vineyard) and it'd be a shame if they weren't. So if you've been hoping for another enjoyable family day out under the trees, go to Pioneer Park in Nanango after 1:30pm on Saturday 9th October (or go even earlier and enjoy the huge Pioneer Festival street parade which will run down Drayton Street at noon). Wine and food festival or not, it sounds like it'll be a great day out.
Springtime Shiraz and Port Recipes From Kingaroy Ridge
Kingaroy Ridge 2004 Port24th September 2004: Regular readers will remember that a few months ago I broke the news that the South Burnett's smallest winemaker - plucky John Cahill from Kingaroy Ridge - had just released his second vintage: a rich, earthy shiraz and a delightful port (see story 28th June 2004). Both wines were made from John's small holdings at Booie by legendary local brewmeister John Crane and you can only obtain them if you drop into the Carrollee Hotel's bottle shop in Kingaroy, where John often works himself when he's not tending his vines. In the three months since I wrote that story stocks of both the 2004 Shiraz and 2004 Port have dwindled fairly sharply. But John won't rest until he's sold the lot so he can reinvest in another few rows of grapes. And to help the process along he's now started produced and handing out his on recipe leaflets which give you some imaginative ideas about how to use Kingaroy Ridge wines. His first leaflet was released late last week and it contains two recipes: one for Barbequed Rib Fillet with Blue Cheese Butter Sauce and another for Affagato (ie "Drowned Ice Cream"). John tells me that he's personally tested both of these recipes to ensure they're goof-proof to make and I must say they're not only easy to prepare, but they're pretty mouth-watering too! If you'd like to give them a whirl yourself you can obtain both of them right here in Adobe PDF format (220K). But you'll need to drop by the Carrollee for the missing magic ingredient. Photo: Kingaroy Ridge 2004 Port in a hand-crafted presentation pack.
Kingsley Grove Releases Two South Burnett Champagnes
21st September 2004: If you dropped by Kingsley Grove's stand at Picnic In The Park last Saturday (see stories 22nd August and 12th September) you would've seen a little history in the making. The winery chose the event to launch their two new champagnes: Kingsley Zipp and Kingsley Red Zipp. To be called champagne, wine has to be produced in the tradition the French are getting so proprietorial about these days and then fermented in the bottle for six months. And while the South Burnett has produced at least one white champagne before (John Crane made a bit of bubbly a little while ago), a red champagne is definitely a first! Kingsley Grove owner Mike Berry told me that he's made the white Zipp out of semillon grapes that were hand-picked earlier this year and then pressed dry as whole bunches. The Red Zip, by contrast, is a Chambourcin base made from grapes grown right on the property. "Both are full of flavour and produce a crisp zip on the taste buds - hence the name," Mike told me. "They're both ready to drink now and should be chilled for maximum pleasure." When I asked why he chose to produce a champagne style wine he said he'd intended to do it even before he planted his first vines in 1998. "As winemakers we find the whole process fascinating from beginning to end", he said. "Making a good champagne is a real challenge." Both wines will be on show at the Brisbane Conrad this coming weekend and both retail for $15.00 each - which is pretty much a steal for great tasting bubbly! You can also obtain them directly from the Grove's new cellar door (see story 17th August); by phoning the winery on (07) 4162-2229 or (07) 4163-6433 or via email.
No Burning Beats Next Week: They're On Holidays!
Kerry Cotter of the Burning Beats Cafe18th September 2004: Fans of Kingaroy's Burning Beats Cafe will have to take it on the chin next week: the popular venue will be closed from Saturday 18th September right through until Tuesday 28th September, after which it will re-open on its usual Wednesday to Saturday schedule. Owners Paul Stoddart and Kerry Cotter (Kerry's pictured at right) will using the short break to rest, recuperate, investigate new recipes for the coming summer season and continue developing ideas for the little cafe that's become something of a South Burnett cult eatery over the last few years. In other Beats news, curry fans will be pleased to hear that after running several Asian Banquets during the winter the Cafe will be holding their next Indian Banquet Night on Saturday October 9th. For $35 per head (BYO) you can eat as much as you like from a dozen different dishes providing, of course, that you book ASAP (the Cafe's Feast Nights now regularly sell out a week or two ahead of each event). The Cafe will also be running one - and possibly two - more of its cooking schools over the next couple of months before Chef Paul battens down for the Christmas rush. So if you want to pick up the tricks of the Cafe's Asian and Indian cooking, these schools will be the last opportunity to do so until 2005. The Cafe is located at 194 Kingaroy Street and when they return you can phone them on (07) 4162 3932. You can also email them anytime:
Amy Ballin's Dreams Come True
Amy Ballin at the PCA Regional Cuisine Cook-Off15th September 2004: Over the last few weeks I've been reporting the progress of talented South Burnett chef Amy Ballin who's currently living in Scotland and making big waves in the UK (see stories 8th August and 6th September). In the latest update about her progress I've very proud to report that she's just had another major triumph in her quest for international culinary honours. Amy has been selected with 15 others to compete in the 2004 UK finals of the Young Chef and Young Waiter of the Year Competition. She and her fellow competitors will stay at the famous Louis Roederer property in France from the 21st-23rd September and spend three days learning about wine and having dinner at the chateau. Then they'll then do a cheese and wine course at Philip Howard's famous Square Restaurant in London before they compete in the national finals on the 4th of October. At the final, Amy will team with a waiter and cook an Amuse Bouche (starter) of her choice for six invited guests. She'll then have to make a main dish of her own creation using six squab pigeons and will be given a mystery box of ingredients from which to make a dessert. All up, the gruelling competition will take 3.5 hours and Amy said she's prepared. She's also told me that she's been checking out this site every couple of weeks. "It gives me a little feeling of being at home", she said. Popular Australian media have been taking great interest in Amy's story too. But - as always - you'll hear about it all first right here on this site. Good Luck Amy! (Photo: Amy Ballin competing at the PCA Regional Cuisine Cook-Offs at the Wine & Food In The Park Festival).
Two Big Spring Wine Festivals For 2004
12th September 2004: In late August I broke the news that Kingaroy was going to conclude its Centenary Week celebrations with a mini Wine & Food In The Park Festival headed by the legendary James Morrison (see story 23rd August). This particular event - Picnic In The Park - will be happening in Memorial Park in Kingaroy this coming Saturday 18th September ...and it looks like it's going to be a blast! However, South Burnett residents and visitors who want even more will get another bite of the cherry in October when Murgon stage their Rotary Wine and Art Festival as part of the joint Murgon-Cherbourg Centenary Celebrations. These celebrations will kick off with the town's long awaited Arena Spectacular on October 2nd and will carry on through much of the month. The Rotary Wine and Art Show is the next big thing after the Arena Spectacular and it will run for several days (exact details are still vague). And just for this year it will replace the Shakin Grape Wine Festival which was held at Barambah Ridge in October 2002 and 2003. As is the case with Picnic In The Park (where all the Kingaroy wineries will be lending a hand), all of Murgon and Moffatdale's wineries will be taking part in the northern celebrations and it looks like being another fun day out for regional wine fanciers. I'll publish more details about this event as soon as the timetable is finalised, but leave space on your calendar for it. I'm sure it's going to be a hoot!
Something Totally New: The South Burnett Dozen
9th September 2004: In about 9 months from now - roughly July 2005 - fans of our region's wines are going to be able to buy something they've never been able to buy before: The South Burnett Dozen. This will be a collection of the 12 best wines produced by our region's wine industry over the previous year as judged by the South Burnett Wine Industry Association itself. While the full details of the plan won't be finalised for another few months until all member feedback has come in, the South Burnett Wine Industry Association accepted a proposal put forward by winemakers Stuart Pierce and Luke Fitzpatrick at its most recent meeting to hold this annual competition. I can only think it's a very positive step. Briefly, Stuart and Like have proposed that every winery in our region - and that's more than 20 now - will be able to submit their new release whites and reds (ie this year's whites and last year's reds) into a blind tasting. Every participating winery will also be able to appoint one person to act as their tasting representative on the judging panel. All the submitted wines will be blind judged in categories (eg: shirazes, blends etc) by the full panel . And the twelve top point-scorers will become that particular year's South Burnett Dozen. The system Stuart and Luke have proposed is expressly designed to prevent anyone's individual bias affecting the results and will put all our wineries - big producers as well as boutique ones - on an equal footing. The end result? An annual dozen that reflects the genuine pursuit of excellence. When you pause to consider that our region's wineries have won a small avalanche of state, national and international medals over the last few years and that the best wines we've produced to date are still in the vats, the first South Burnett Dozen is likely to be a knockout! I'll keep you posted on this story as it develops.
Amy Ballin: An Update
6th September 2004: As you may have read in our story below (8th August) young chef Amy Ballin - previously of Nanango's Copper Country Restaurant and currently living in Scotland - competed in the semi-finals of the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship last week. The hotly contested culinary competition was held on the 26th August but unfortunately (on this occasion, anyway) Amy didn't make the final. Competitors were presented with a mystery box containing various meats such as pork livers and rabbit. There was a table stocked with a large array of vegetables, herbs, spices and dry goods. Each chef was required to prepare a main course meal of their choice using the surprise ingredients and all of them had to produce a fruit tart as the dessert. Amy admits that the rabbit threw her out a little which is fairly understandable, given that rabbit isn't used very often in Queensland: it's more of a European ingredient. Otherwise she was quite happy with everything else she made and was deservedly proud of being short-listed in the semi-final of such a prestigious event. However Amy's pursuit for culinary honours doesn't end there! Next week she'll be competing in the UK's Young Chef of the Year competition. She hopes the lessons learnt in the Ramsay Scholarship semi-final will take her even further this time around. Again - along with the SB Cuisine team - I'm sure that all our readers wish her the best of luck. You go girl!
A New - And True Blue - Kingaroy Cheese
Kingaroy Cheese3rd September 2004: It wasn't all that long ago that blue vein style Brie appeared on the Australian cheese platter. The story goes that a cheese maker discovered the cheese variety by accident after hundreds of kilograms of his Brie became infected with a blue vein mould. It's hard to say if the story is true… but if so, the expensive mistake resulted in one of the trendiest cheeses around today. The South Burnett's award winning Kingaroy Cheese has just produced its first batch of Bunya Blue - a triple cream Brie marbled with veins of blue. I recently taste tested the new cheese which had been matured for six weeks. The sixth week must be the magic moment for blue Brie because its creamy pate slowly bulged and oozed, it had a rich smooth texture and a subtle salt flavour with no bitterness. The company's master cheesemaker Chris Ganzer told me that it would be produced in limited quantity to start with and exclusively sold through the Stuart Range cellar door. Another new product available is Bunya Black, a grape vine ash enriched Brie which could be purchased as an alternative or an accompaniment to the blue. [PS: I apologise for the break in reporting over the last week. After August's technical glitches my whole family came down with a bout of Ekka virus last week that literally knocked us all off our feet. I'm feeling much better now and plan to resume normal reporting ASAP. These things are sent to try us, I guess....]

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