The latest news from the Ballarat Food Network

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Yendon Truss TomatoesAward winning Yendon tomatoes

I knew we were going to have a wonderful time at Taste Ballarat at the Rural Lifestyle Expo the moment I walked into the giant marquee. In a setting made for celebrations, we gathered together our regions finest quality producers to share a day filled with food, food and more food. Who could not have a good time in a big white marquee filled with beautiful light, lots of smiling faces and AMAZING produce?

Sultana ClustersSultana Girl gourmet sultana clusters

Suzi Pork Demo
Suzi Fitzpatrick shows us how to prepare Tarna Valley pork

The Taste Ballarat Marquee was emcee’d by wonder-chef duo Suzi Fitzpatrick and Simon Beaton with special guest The Weekly Times’ Jeremy Vincent. Suzi and Simon are true supporters of the real food movement in Ballarat. They focus on quality food, ethical and sustainable practices and they strengthen the community by supporting our local producers. They shared with us their extensive knowledge regarding the quality aspects of the food in our region and how to prepare it.

Taste Ballarat
Jeremy Vincent, Daniel Armeni and Simon Beaton

The guys responsible for some of the best meat in our region were on hand to share with us their mad skills and passion for real food. Tarna Valley’s Daniel Armeni on the knives breaking down a carcass, Brooklands Free Range Farm’s Jono and Salt Kitchen’s Mick Nunn on the mic giving us the lowdown on all things meat and Sebastian Jurcan at the BBQ sizzling his freshly made sausages lured locals into the marquee in record numbers.

Carcass Breakdown
Jeremy Vincent, Simon Beaton, Mick Nunn, Jono, Sebastian Jurcan and Daniel Armeni (in the foreground) 

Following the meat frenzy it was time to hone our techniques as we were shown how to make a tasty tomato passata and truly great gnocchi by some of our best chefs and most experienced Italian cooks from the Italian Society. The winner of the Gnocchi Off competition was announced, Liam Downes from Craig’s Hotel took out the prize, although it was not an easy task for the judges to decide with so many tasty contenders. The Junior Tomato competition was awarded to the Madden sisters with their pork passata submission.

Passata Demo

Gnocchi Judging
Judging the gnocchi

To complete one of the tastiest days in recent memory we announced our Artisan Pantry and Paddock to Plate Awards. So without further ado here are the winners for 2016.

Artisan Pantry Award:  Basilio Sourdough

Artisan Pantry Award 01
Pauline Basilio from Basilio Sourdough accepting the 2016 Artisan Pantry Award

Paddock to Plate Awards Business over 2 years: 1st Yendon Tomatoes 

P2P John Yendon TomatoesJohn Elford from Yendon Tomatoes accepting the Paddock to Plate Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo 

Paddock to Plate Awards Business over 2 years: 2nd  Country Style Smallgoods

P2P Sebastian CSSSebastian Jurcan from Country Style Smallgoods accepting the Paddock to Plate Second Place Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo

Paddock to Plate Awards Business over 2 years: 3rd  Basilio Sourdough bread

P2P Pauline BasilioPauline Basilio from Basilio Sourdough accepting the Paddock to Plate Third Place Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo

Paddock to Plate Awards Business under 2 years:  1st Tarna Valley Farm

P2P Brian Daniel Tarna ValleyDaniel Armeni from Tarna Valley Pork accepting the Paddock to Plate Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo

Paddock to Plate Awards Business over 2 years: 2nd Sultana Girl

P2P Erin Sultana Girl 01Erin Jonasson THE Sultana Girl accepting the Paddock to Plate Second Place Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo

Paddock to Plate Awards Business over 2 years: 3rd  Harmony Garlic

P2P Brian Harmony Garlic
Brian Woodstock accepting the Paddock to Plate Award from Graham Wilkie from Natures Cargo

Congratulations to everyone who submitted the their produce for this year’s event. It was all of such fantastic quality. It thrills us to see how quickly the Ballarat region has become renowned for it's exceptional produce.

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ballaratfood suzi fitzpatrick

The Rural life style expo is on again this weekend, I do believe it’s the 5th year for this Ag-stravaganza! For Ballarat Food it’s the third year and we are looking forward to presenting to Ballarat a snapshot of exceptional produce in our region and quite an incredible selection of tasty treats just outside the Taste of Ballarat Marquee.

Friday morning Simon Beaton of Mr Beaton’s Cookery and the Executive chef of the Ballarat North Sports Club, Graham Willkie managing director and owner of Nature’s Cargo and Jodie Kaine and myself of will gather in the ‘Ladies’ room at the showgrounds for a cup of lovely tea and three hours of tasting the best of the region’s produce. Thanks to all the farmers, producers and foodies who have entered the Paddock to Plate and the Artisian Pantry awards this year. For those of you whom are planning to join us in the food Marquee you are in for a treat.

See you at Rural Lifestyle Exp2016

This Saturday the 2nd of April the festivities will kick off at 9.30. Entry to the show grounds in $10 for adults and $5 for children. Good value family tickets are also available and there are many farmy things to check out. The food component is only one section. Get ready for Big tractors, 50 breeds of live farm animals, a kid’s shed full of activities, food, fibre and fashion, gardening and guestspeakers, U Beaute country folk like the Expo’s Ambassador Gorgi Coghlan.

The Taste Ballarat Marquee will have its own agenda. MCs for the day are the usual suspects, Simon Beaton and I will be joined by celebrity chef Jeremy Vincent, food writer and food contributor at The Weekly Times.

Bring your shopping trolley as Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market stall holders will also be there to sell and share their food story. Ballarat loves our meat and you can meet four superstar butchers and watch them break down a pork and lamb carcass and learn all the tips and tricks; where your favourite cuts come from, how they may be cooked, seasoned and aged.

ballaratfood sebastian and daniel

Sebastian Jurcan of Country Style Smallgoods, Daniel Armeni of Tarna Valley Pork, Mick Nunn of Salt Kitchen and Jono from Brookland Freerange Farm will be working the BBQ and Mel Davies from the Preservers pot will be there with her incredible locally foraged preserves, jams, curds and tomato sauce.

Janet from Cheeselink is one of my favourite festival characters at The Rural Lifestyle Expo and in the past Janet has made feta and ricotta fresh on the stage before our eyes. If it’s something to go with your cheese you are after we have Sultana Girl a local Victorian organic farmer. Erin who is immensely popular at our local farmers markets with her incredible organic oranges that she brings from tree to market. Erin will be showcasing her newest product, Clusters, sultanas that are dried on the vine and are the perfect foil with a good cheddar, an oozy brie and a sexy smelly blue. Erin will also have her sheet dried and vine ripened sultanas available by the kilogram or smaller for the kid’s lunch packs.

Harmony garlic were one of the winners of last year’s Paddock to Plate awards and have come back this year with an amazing range of value added products. Pantry staples like Garlic salt, garlic infused oils, smoked and comfit garlic. The range of locally grown varieties is amazing, anyone who has a bit of a garlic addiction could spend hours with the lovely Brian and Helen just talking about the nuances of each country’s garlic from the Italian whites to the purple Spanish varietys and our own Aussie cloves too.

Pink Muesli makes a super food exploding brekkie mix that is soaked in beetroot juice and then roasted till crisp and nutty in flavour. I love this product as it has no sugar added and the milk goes bright pink when poured over the muesli. The kids think it so very cool. And guess what? It’s really good for them. It’s so yummy it also makes a great health snack or teamed with seasonal fruit and good yoghurt it’s a meal when you are strapped for time and still want to tick the healthy box.

4 Season Juice is an incredible local food adventure, Alicia is my official go to girl for health, her cold pressed juices are packed with vitamin, minerals and healing properties, the fibre is still present and the taste is incredible the nutrients stay activated for 72 hours once sealed in her glass bottles. Turmeric are new exhibitors that I’m looking forward to learning more about especially when considering the health giving nature and anti-bacterial properties of this vibrant yellow rhizome.

Basillio Sourdough,Yendon Tomatoes,Gorae Organics, Ballarat Mushroom Farm and Camilo Olives will tantalise your taste buds and then there’s the eating exhibition. Watch us, gather and consume at least one treat from these mobile food dudes; Esther’s Eats, Bean Me Up Coffee, Knife Fork Spoon, Alia Lebanese, The Charcoal Pit Spit Roaster, Finesse Catering with old school lemonade, Timboon Ice cream, Luigi’s Gelati, The Forge, Zed and Co Porky yummos, Red Duck Beer and Ned Kelly Winery.

We’ll be judging the awesome entries of the Gnocchi Off and the Junior Tomato Sauce Competition. It’s great to see the kids creating some excellent dishes and embracing a whole food ethos. Here’s one of the Junior Tomato entries that melted out hearts.

Tomato Entry

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BCG Dahlia

Harvest Festival 2016, Sunday 20th March 11am - 3pm at the Ballarat Community Garden on the corner of Queen Street and Dyte Parade Ballarat East. Free entry and lots of delicious food and local entertainment.

It’s a great opportunity for local gardeners and food enthusiasts to swap advice and find out what food we can grow successfully in the Ballarat area. 

BCG Gardners

BCG Gardener

Come along and try some of the delicious pizzas being made by Ballarat Food members Basilio’s Sourdough’s Georgio Basilio and chef extraordinaire(s) Andy Beyerle and Suzi Fitzpatrick. The lush pizza toppings are donated by the Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market Stall holders, including Country Style Smallgoods, Granite Hill Produce and Enbom Honey. All proceeds go to the Ballarat Community garden.

BCG HF2016

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Rural Lifestyle Expo logo 2015 Horizontal

Save the date Saturday April 2nd 2016 The Rural Lifestyle Expo is on again at the Ballarat Showgrounds from 9:30am to 5pm. This is the fifth Rural Lifestyle Expo event which is set to showcase a variety of lifestyle activities from the region.

The event is a great chance to check out a variety of unique and interesting breeds of animals, over 50 demonstrations and seminars, new technology, sustainable energy, garden zones, fibre and fashion and food artisans and vignerons.

The Rural Lifestyle Expo is a fantastic opportunity for food producers, chefs, cooks, artisans and anyone with a food business to share your product and skills to an audience looking to sample some of the quality foodie activities taking place in our region. Featured below are some of the food businesses at last year's expo.

enbom honeyAngela Enbom from Enbom Honey

gorae applesThe Gorae Organics team with their organic apples

charisma boysThe Charisma team with their awesome coffee

saltbush kitchenSaltbush Kitchen

organic juiceOrganic Juice

zandcoandboysZ and Co Freerange Farms

Applications are now being accepted for food artisan stalls showcasing everything from bread, pastries and baked goods, pigs, cows, poultry, lamb, game, water creatures, yabbies, eels, trout, fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs, edible flowers, condiments, preserves, coffee, chocolate, chocolate, olives, oil and honey. So don’t delay secure your place in this amazing expo showcasing the best of all things edible in Ballarat and surrounds.

Visit the Rural Lifestyle website to download an general trade stall kit to apply.

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Ballaratfoo Jiggety Jig Feb 2016

February’s Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market is on this Saturday at the Ballarat Showgrounds. This will be Market number 9 for the Jiggety team. Over the past 9 months we have built a local farmers market that is 100% locally made and locally supported. Our Database now has 45 excellent food business listed and at any one market you can come along and meet at least 20 amazing producers and chefs.

We are holding strong and sticking with our ethos “A SUPER MARKET NOT A SUPERMARKET”. At present we have many stallholders in the wings and hope that as The Jiggety-Jig Farmers Market becomes more and more popular we will offer shoppers a larger choice of produce. Our biggest goal is not to bring the market to the people but bringing the people to the market. We have thus far found it challenging cracking into the local scene in order for our local producers to obtain their share of the local food dollars.

This weekend join us and fill your pantry with high quality nutritional sound produce. Here’s a little peek at my shopping list.

Nitrate free ham, bacon, salami and sausages from County Style Smallgoods
Tarna Valley free range pork
Jono's Brookland Farm highland beef

jonoJono from Brooklands Free Range Farm

Ok that’s a roast and two nights cooking on the BBQ, breakfast on the weekends and ham sandwiches for the school lunches.

Of course if I’m cooking breakfast I’ll need some of Robin Hollow’s, Granite Hill free range chook and duck eggs. Granite Hills is in Waubra and will supply not only eggs but this season herbs; oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, sage, Italian parsley and chives. She’ll also have carrots and sweet little vine ripened cherry tomatoes. That’s got to get the home chefs creating something remarkable.

I’ll be buying sexy Yendon tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, eggplants and sensational basil - that’s pesto for pasta night. Tick. Thai basil for curry night Check out the recipe from Damian Jones from Cat fish Thai, his green curry with Brooklands Farm pork recipe.

To finish filling my veg crisper I’ll be heading to my favourite stall holder. The wonderful Carmen from Mt Egerton produce, although Carmen’s veg isn’t certified organic, it’s as organic as you can get. Peter her hard working husband pulls all the veg from the ground the day before the market, while Carmen washes and bunches the produce on the back veranda. I am going to have a little brag on their behalf. I still have perfectly fresh kohlrabi and green beans in my fridge from a month ago. They are sealed in my old school Tupperware and fresher than a daisy. Try getting that mileage from your dodgy supermarket fare! From Carmen’s stall I will add purple carrots, iceberg lettuce, apple cucumber, beans, kohlrabi, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, radish and zucchini. That’s salads tick. Crudity for snacks and stir-fry tick tick.

Wine is high on my list and Sarah Cuthbertson always has a couple of table reds and bubbles put aside for me. Thank god for Michael Unwin!

michael unwin winesSarah from Michael Unwin Wines

Coffee beans freshly ground by the lovely local roasters from Enga coffee. Enga is a sensational organic locally roasted bean. Two types available and for all the health conscious people who are on the sugar-free wagon. You will love this coffee. When brewed correctly this coffee is never bitter and a large bag should keep you going til the next local market. (Also check out Stephs amazing knitting skills.)

I’m not on the sugar-free wagon this month given I ran out of Angela Enbom’s honey, I’ll be grabbing the big bucket this month. I’ve been reading up on how to reduce sugar cravings and honey is the way to go. Ange’s honey is local and her bees are never exposed to pesticides or chemicals on her permaculture holding in Dunnstown.

basilio breadBasilio Sourdough Bread

No one goes to the market and leaves without bread. Yes I’m skiting again but Ballarat has the best bread in Victoria. Giorgio Basilio’s hand crafted sourdough bread is out of this world. I only eat this bread. It is made from stoneground biodynamic flour, no sugar, no preservatives, each loaf is individually weighed, hand rolled, shaped and left to rise under the watchful eye of Giorgio himself. To bring this incredible high quality bread to our region Giorgio works every Friday from 10am to 3am. He then heads home for a kip while his bread elves label the loaves and pack them in crates. He returns with his wonderful family early every Saturday morning, delivers the bread throughout the region and brings his bread directly to us at all the local farmers markets. I often wonder how he can manage his rye (pardon the pun) smile on a Saturday morning.

So what am I going to pop on my bread? Apart from Sebastian’s ham and salami and Johns tomatoes and Ange’s honey? Yep I’m going to need sensational jam.

preserverspot girlsMel and her Mum from the Preserver's Pot

Mel from The Preserver’s Pot will be ticking that box. In fact it’s always a thrill cruising over to check out her seasonal preserves. I’m banking on apricots, berry and summer rhubarb conserves. Mel Davies uses age old preserving techniques in her home kitchen at Smythesdale. Mel will have created something amazing with all the locally foraged elderberries and I am always the first person to call dibs on her big 2 litre homemade tomato sauce bottle. White Wings has been a thing of the past in our house for a long time now and any Mum who wants to keep their kids away from preservatives, additives and the dirty white stuff should be queuing up to get their hands on this kid friendly tommy K .

Harmony Garlic is on the list and I will be buying up big time as Brian and Helen have so many amazing varieties of locally grown garlic, they not only have fresh garlic but garlic salt, garlic infused olive oil, confit and smoked garlic.

Harmony GarlicBrian from Harmony Garlic

Guess what after all that I’ll still have enough money for some treats. And I won’t be distracted by all the blah blah crap that vies for my attention at the super stores. Pink Muesli is attending Jiggety-Jig for the first time. Sensational handmade muesli that is soaked in naturally sweet beetroot juice and then dried. My kids love this and it is the number one breakfast at our place. The milk turns bright pink as soon as you pour it in and I’m sure the kids think they are eating magical fairy milk. A large bag lasts us a good three weeks and I know my kids have headed off with a great start to the day.

Marie Poppies KitchenMarie from Poppie Kitchen

More treats to be had for the puppy dogs in your family. Poppy’s kitchen homemade organic dog treats are available by the pail load and from the response of local pooches these treat must be pretty damn good. Marie is a wonderful addition to Jiggety and loves to share stories of her puppy and listens to the adventures of all our customers. In March we are planning to hold our first Pet Show. Doggies and pampered pups can vie for the Jiggety trophy and perhaps win a bucket of Poppies treats.

 Ballaratfood Esthers EatsMelanie & Jeff from Esther's Eats

Our hungry guests can look forward to the amazing American classics like the Piggy Wiggy hoagies Texas BLT and the pulled chicken with blue cheese dressing and slaw. Not to forget the garbage cookies and best pickles in town, made by my favourite food van Esther’s Eats. Coffee and sweet treats this month by Sweet Cake Love, served from the retro classic caravan Frankie. Dutch crepes by Kevin the pancake man who also makes one hell of a snow cone. And rest your feet while you dine in my new look outdoor food court, yep bunting, flowers for sale, colouring in for the kids, hula hoops, bubble blowing and even a silky bantam rooster to be won.

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