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Mezzo Bar + Grill – Olive Harvest Lunch at Chapman Hill – Episode 3 – Foccacia ‘al padella’

EPISODE 3 – Foccacia ‘al padella’ with Chapman Hill olive oil. The crew from Mezzo Bar + Grill, spent a day amongst Chapman Hill’s olive grove in Glenaroua, 90 minutes out of Melbourne (Australia), to celebrate the olive harvest. Enjoy a series of videos on what the boys served up!

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Queenslander roasts the opposition at largest coffee roasting competition in the southern hemisphere – the CSR Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition

Esh Ediriweera (Sugar Australia’s National Marketing Manager), Golden Bean Winner Anne Cooper, and Phil Di Bella from Di Bella coffee

Queensland master roaster Anne Cooper from Di Bella Coffee took out the top award at the CSR Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition held on the weekend in Port Macquarie (NSW), roasting the opposition comprising over 700 entries from some 330 Australian coffee roasters in what is one of the biggest coffee roasting competitions in the world.

This is the fourth year of the competition and Sugar Australia has been a key sponsor of the event from day one. The CSR Sugar brand ensures that the event is well supported and will continue to grow by attracting the crema of the coffee crop.

“It’s been extraordinary to witness the level of skill and passion of these coffee roasters. It’s an incredibly exciting industry and these roasters are at the forefront of pushing the boundaries with bean selection and blending and in turn progressing the palates of consumers,” said Esh Ediriweera, Sugar Australia’s National Marketing Manager.

The competition puts the spotlight on coffee roasters, an integral part of the 8.5 billion dollar coffee industry in Australia. The winners spend months in preparation, researching and sourcing quality beans from all corners of the globe, with innumerable hours spent blending, roasting, and tasting to fine-tune the perfect cup, to submit an original blend. The winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals across seven categories* with the overall winners of the CSR Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition derived from the highest score between the milk-based and espresso categories. Coffees are taste-tested over the day-long competition period. Judging this year was overseen by Justin Metcalf, Head Judge for the World Barista Championships and Head Roaster for Daily Roast Coffee in Melbourne. He was joined on the judging panel by other champion baristas (such as Tim Adams – 2009 Australian Champion and David Makin – 2007 Australian Champion) as well as coffee roasters, international green bean brokers and coffee growers.

Anne Cooper was ecstatic about her win. “This is a phenomenal competition. The team at Di Bella uses the competition as a part of our research and development. It demands that we be creative. We go off and find coffee we want to use and create some great blends. Importantly, it is judged by our peers, some of the best and most discerning palates you could hope for. It’s a real chance for us to show off what we’ve got!” noted Anne.

It tops off a great year for Di Bella Coffee. Passionate company principle Phillip Di Bella was on hand to give an inspirational speech to the caffeine-primed audience, and share some of his learnings as head of one of the fastest growing coffee businesses in the country and winner of the BRW Young Businesses People’s Award.

The support of Sugar Australia ensures that a robust programme of keynote speakers and seminars can be conducted, critical to the advancement of the industry. The conference was a major part of the weekend’s activities, and featured educational seminars exploring current industry thinking on marketing insights, green bean procurement and roaster maintenance. The keynote speaker was the passionate Geoff Watts from Intelligentsia, a third wave coffee business based in the US. Geoff took the keen audience through his journey of the new third wave coffee movement looking at the ethical trends within the coffee industry and how roasters can best support the third world coffee growing nations.

KISS Marketing, the event organiser, is looking forward to an even bigger event in 2010.

* CSR Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition Category Winners

Overall Golden Bean:

Anne Cooper, Di Bella Coffee (QLD) – Gold

Vladamir Kazionov/Kailah, Coffee Secret (QLD) – Silver

Bernie Scotford, Arabica Coffee (QLD) – Bronze

Gold Medal Winners:

Category 1: Espresso  – Jack Hanna, Jack And The Bean (NSW)

Category 2: Milk Based – Anne Cooper, Di Bella Coffee (QLD)

Category 3: Australian – Elizabeth Lajos/Bernie Scotford, Prestige Organic Coffee (QLD)

Category 4: Filter – Dan Ainslie, Fiori Coffee (WA)

Category 5: Organic – Susan Castle, Bean Alliance (VIC)

Category 6: Retail – Richard St John, North Coast Coffee Roasters (NSW)

Category 7: Café Chain – Scott Lindsay, Coffee Roasters – Veneziano (VIC)

Filed under: Product, sugar, , , , , , , , , ,

First Vanilla Crops Underway in NZ.

They said it couldn’t be grown in New Zealand, but Heilala (pronounced: Hey-la-la) Vanilla has delivered a world first. Typically vanilla only thrives in the climactic conditions afforded in countries that fall into a narrow 20-degree band either side of the equator, but Heilala Vanilla has now harvested the very first vanilla to be grown outside of the tropics, in Tauranga, located in the Bay Of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island.

Heilala Vanilla is owned and operated by New Zealanders John Ross, daughter Jennifer Boggiss and her husband Garth Boggiss. The Tauranga operation was established primarily as a research and development site that they could access 24/7 when not in the Kingdom of Tonga, where Heilala Vanilla was first born.

Named after the national flower of Tonga (and also the daughter of the participating village family), Heilala Vanilla was created out of love and a duty of care to a Tongan village, and is a business that reaps benefits that are rare and remarkable in the commercial world. In 2002 retired New Zealand farmer and frequent holiday-maker to the village of Utungake, John Ross, mined his horticultural know-how and appreciation of the Tongan way to put to use a block of dormant land that the village had at their disposal. It then took three years to develop and nurture the vines through careful training, weeding and looping, applying organic and sustainable farming practices. With full community involvement charged by the Ross/Boggiss family (alongside the local Latu family) this has been a true labour of love. Today, the aid project has blossomed into a business that not only creates a range of the most exquisite, premium vanilla products, but also provides the local people with an income, necessary infrastructure and a sense of pride and purpose.

For Garth Boggiss it has been a long and testing road to produce vanilla in New Zealand.

“Our Tongan operation has provided us with the knowledge for growing vanilla the year round,” he says. “In New Zealand, we duplicated the key characteristics of the climate in our Tongan shade house and designed and built a computer controlled plastic house that emulates this environment. In fact we have optimised the environment based on our research into the requirements of the vanilla plant and the results have been fantastic.”

Heilala Vanilla was meticulous in its duplication of Tongan conditions right down to matching the soil and introducing computer-controlled humidity and heating using geo-thermal hot water.

“Volcanic vanilla,” says Garth, “using renewable resources. Only in New Zealand.”

Vanilla demands an intricate growing and production process and is one of the most labour intensive agricultural products in the world. As such it is a highly valued commodity, typically traded like oil or gold. The orchid flower of the vanilla plant opens up only once a year in the morning, closing again at midday, never to re-open. These four hours are the sole window of opportunity for pollination; an intricate exercise of procreation requiring nimble fingers and wooden tweezers the size of matchsticks to delicately push the stamen and stigma together – nine months on, a single bean is produced. There are no birds or bees of Tonga quite instinctual enough to play cupid, hence the need for a little human intervention.

The lengthy eight-week curing process complements the Tongan way; unhurried. Honour and respect to the enduring nature of this crop is obvious in the end product – plump and shiny pods with a poignant aroma resulting in the richest grade of vanilla in the Asia Pacific region. Heilala Vanilla grows the Madagascar Bourbon variety, considered to be the best quality, exuding a creamy, sweet richness.

The Tongan production of Heilala Vanilla is already exported to Australia, Singapore and Malaysia with distribution about be finalised into the UK and California. There is also interest from Japan.

It has quickly become a must-have product amongst chefs both in New Zealand and overseas. Heilala Vanilla products feature on the menus of NZ ex pat chefs Peter Gordon in the UK and Jason Dell, formerly of Blanket Bay Lodge now in Singapore heading the Nautilus project.  Melbourne’s The European, Cutler & Co, Sydney’s Jonahs and Aqua Dining and Auckland’s The French Café and Antoine’s are also utilising Heilala Vanilla throughout their menus.

Heilala Vanilla’s range of products include:

Heilala Vanilla Pods [RRP AUD $14.50]

3 Grade A pods in glass tube

Cured under the Pacific sun, these pods are moist, plump, shiny and packed full of seeds and vanillin for superior flavour. Excellent when used for poaching fruits or added to slow-cooked wet dishes.

Heilala Vanilla Extract [RRP AUD $24.50]

100ml jar

Premium 100% pure Vanilla Extract using cold extraction and a unique ageing process to deliver an exceptional product. The Extract is bottled along with a single premium vanilla pod to ensure flavour continues to develop. Bin your synthetic, imitation vanilla and replace with the real thing Perfect for cakes and everyday baking.

Heilala Vanilla Paste [RRP AUD $25.50]

100ml jar

Made by reintroducing vanilla seeds to the Vanilla Extract and then adding a natural seaweed thickener to produce a paste. Each jar amounts to over twenty pods. Use to make fragrant spice rubs for barbeque meats or for crème caramel.

Heilala Vanilla Sugar [RRP AUD $11.50]

335g resealable pouch

A premium organic golden sugar that has been subtly infused with Heilala Vanilla Extract and then mixed with very fine ground Vanilla Pods. Perfect for biscuits, cakes or dusting over pastries.

Filed under: Food, Product, , , , , , , ,

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