Tasting Platter

Cost: $25
When: First or Second Friday of each month, 6-7.30pm
Location: Central Market Kitchen
Web site: http://www.barossafinefoods.com.au/index.php

Smallgoods Appreciation; well what’s that all about then?  Well firstly, for people not from Australia or New Zealand, what are smallgoods; well I would describe them as processed meats, not all processed meats I believe, but if I said charcuterie, salami, aufschnitt, cold cuts, deli meats, etc.  Hopefully you get the idea if not a definitive definition.

So why should we appreciate them, well nobody is saying you have to, but I do enjoy them and it is not always easy to find good quality.  The challenge for me is that coming from the UK there is a plentiful flow of imported smallgoods from France, Italy and Spain and these can vary in quality but do include the highest quality these countries produce.  I shouldn’t forget that there is a long tradition of production in the UK which can equally be of the highest calibre, but I digress.

The point I was getting to, albeit painfully slowly, was that there is not the availability of these self same products here in SA.  Now I can buy the odd piece of imported Spanish or Italian cured ham, but this is limited and I certainly can’t buy the fresh chorizo from Spain that I used to enjoy.

A little bit about Barossa Fine Foods; it’s a family business whose origins lie in Munich.  The family opened their first shop in 1961.  You can read more about their history by clicking here.

So, I went to this class to learn more about the company and their approach, learn more about Germanic smallgoods (not that prevalent in the UK) and because I couldn’t think of a better way to start a Friday night.

I went to the class with my wife Chrissy and friend Joey.  Joey is my local connoisseur of smallgoods and may indeed have a slight smallgoods addiction.  She has been bravely trying to educate me in their products, so I don’t feel so daunted when I rock up to the Barossa Fine Foods counter and immediately become overwhelmed by the array of products they do.  If you have not been, go to Central Market and see for yourself, my brain goes into a spin just thinking about it.

After all that, the class is simple.  It was run by two of the brothers, Alex who makes the product and Stephan who is the general manager.

You are given a pack of sheets, first the tasting sheet for the smallgoods and secondly tasting notes for the wine.

We work our way through the sheet and at the appropriate times we are poured the relevant wine.

There are eleven smallgoods to taste and plenty of bread to go with it.  I’ve put in a picture of the list below, so you can get the idea.  There were a couple of changes to the list, which always keeps things interesting.

Table Set for Tasting

Alex talks you through the different products with great enthusiasm and there are consistent references to the importance of integrity and quality in the products they produce.  He also paints a picture of their father, a man not easily satisfied, demanding high standards and uncompromising approach in what is good enough for the public.  There were amusing anecdotes from the brothers on their father, although I did think Alex sounds like he has some of the same uncompromising approach as his father, but don’t tell him I said that.

It is great to hear about the techniques they use and the importance they place on traditional methods and keeping them alive.  Going back to what I was saying earlier about my search for excellent produce, I was interested to hear Alex talk about pigs and the resulting products and that in his opinion that there is not the right kind of pigs in Australia to make good prosciutto/parma ham therefore they don’t make it, but import it.  I think there is a culture in Australia because of its European heritage and its remoteness of trying to replicate the produce of home whether it is smallgoods, cheese, etc.  I think it is important to recognise where this works and where it doesn’t.

The stand out products for me, which I wouldn’t have expected were the Duck Terrine, the Smoked Waygu and the Spiral Ham.

The terrine had a softer texture than you often get with a terrine, some might say more towards a pate consistency.  It was a big smack in the face of flavour, but make no mistake, this was sophisticated with real depth of flavour.

I’m currently going through a period of not being into smoked meats, hence the surprise for the next two.  The Smoked Waygu is not 100% pure bread Waygu, but as Alex describes, the aim was to use cattle that displayed “enough Waygu” qualities to come through in the end product.  This also translates to the cost; most people take a sharp intake of breath when Waygu is mentioned as they wait to hear the eye watering price.  Not so, this retails for the same as your average ham.  This all sounds like some half way house compromise and I’ve certainly been guilty of such conclusions; but buy it, taste it and you’ll see it is not.  It’s clever and I take my hat off to them.  As you would expect with a Waygu product, it has a melting quality which is quite seductive.

And finally the Spiral Ham, not the best name I’ve heard or the most appetising, but when you sell this many hams, names must be a challenge.  This is a cured (the cure includes rum which makes everything taste better) and smoked ham and its odd name comes from the machine that cuts it.  The description of the machine sounded like some evil torture device from the Spanish Inquisition.  Some ham feels like it has been machine processed and it is hard to recognise that is actually meat that has come from a real animal.  Not this case here, the texture was meaty with an enjoyable grain and the flavour just came through so well.

I’m sure I mentioned wine; well the winery as you would expect hails from the Barossa; Hentley Farm.  There were three wines 2011 Grenache Rose, 2009 ‘Dirty Bliss’ (Grenache/Shiraz) & 2010 ‘The Stray Mongrel’ (Grenache, Shiraz/Zinfandel – single estate).  The rose was pleasant, but I would have preferred it to be dryer as there was a little too much residual sugar.  The Dirty Bliss was very nice and great value at $20.00.  The one aspect I would highlight is this wine is high in alcohol at 15% and you can taste it, which might not be to some people’s taste.  Moving to the Mongrel you can appreciate the change in price from $20.00 to $32.00 with this wine; more complexity and better quality of fruit.  I haven’t tasted at Hentley, so it was a nice opportunity to try a small selection of their wine.  Stephan took us through the wine telling us about the winery and the individual wines.

The whole class was great and what comes across from the two brothers is passion and commitment to their products which always generates enthusiasm with others (well me and my companions anyway).

If you enjoy smallgoods, are interested in how they are made (a dying art) or just fancy having a glass of wine with some good produce whilst listening to entertaining stories, get yourself along there and enjoy!

The whole class was great and what comes across from the two brothers is passion and commitment to their products which always generates enthusiasm with others (well me and my companions anyway).

If you enjoy smallgoods, are interested in how they are made (a dying art) or just fancy having a glass of wine with some good produce whilst listening to entertaining stories, get yourself along there and enjoy!

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3 Responses to Barossa Smallgoods Appreciation Class

  1. Sam says:

    Thanks for the great feedback on the class – glad you enjoyed it! We’ll post a link to our Facebook page.

  2. Mahendra says:

    Mmm, good call JP, close to my fav Aussie rose. It’s always sexy in ttxruee and colour isn’t it? A rose loving friend and I were at a bottle shop lately and he asked me what to recommend in the way of a rose. I picked out the Charles Melton, and all it took was a comparison of colour to its peers and he knew what I was talking about Still, I haven’t had the 09 yet, but it’s days are numbered now Cheers,Chris P

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