Sunday, 20 February 2011
Source: Sunday Star Times
Deciding that people should know the provenance of their pork, Linda and Ian McCallum- Jackson drew up a business plan for the country’s only paddock-to-plate pig farm over dinner at a Dunedin restaurant on a napkin, now framed. Ten years later their company has scooped the pool in this year’s Cuisine Artisan Awards, proudly sponsored by Caffe L’affare.
With no added liquid and traditionally dry cured, Havoc Prime Pork’s Yorkshire black bacon has been named Supreme Winner, lauded as ‘‘just wonderful’’ by the judges, with one declaring it the best he’d tasted in a long time.
Virtually hand-rearing freerange pigs on a farm at Hunter, near Waimate in South Canterbury, the McCallum- Jacksons took their familyfavourite Yorkshire recipe to the Otago Farmers’ Market in 2009 – where it rekindled memories of the way bacon used to taste – and word spread.
Says Linda: ‘‘We feel like we jumped off a cliff to do this, so it’s extra special to receive such an honour. It validates everything we are doing.’’
Havoc’s bacon topped a shortlist of 35 products. Says head judge, Cuisine deputy food editor Fiona Smith: ‘‘New Zealand artisan producers are going from strength to strength in 2011. In a wide-ranging field from preserves, sauces, gourmet yoghurt and icecream through to a fantastic selection of fish and meats such as sausages, all were standouts.’’
Runner-up Heilala vanilla paste was declared ‘‘simply the best’’ by the judges. Retired farmer John Ross had often visited the Tongan village of Utungake, on Vava’u, and returned to help rebuild after a storm hit in 2002. Ross then converted spare land offered by the appreciative chief to a vanilla plantation, now employing up to 30 locals and producing close to two tonnes a year. Sun-dried in Tonga, the vanilla beans are transported to the home base, Tauranga, to be made into extract, paste or syrup.
Canterbury continued to star in the listing of 10 other winners. Kate Addis of Addmore Products matched her elderflower cordial runner-up success in 2010 with a sparkling, super-refreshing elderflower rose´ – a second ‘‘summer in a bottle’’.
Fellow 2010 runner-up, J Friend and Co, also revived childhood memories with a second singlesource, single-varietal, organic honey – beechwood honeydew. Honeydew hangs like fine threads of silk from the native red beeches at the foothills of the Southern Alps, similar to the quality of this fine liquid amber honey.
The ‘‘beautifully balanced’’ Clearwater’s Organic Dairy’s cream top yoghurt with a touch of clover honey is not separated or homogenised so the cream rises to the top. Minimal processing at this South Canterbury dairy farm ensures the character of the milk is retained.
Family-owned Akaroa Salmon was praised for its hot-smoked, sea-reared salmon – the only additions are Dominion salt and smoke from manuka wood chips. ‘‘Elegant, clean in the mouth and not oily,’’ said the judges.
Other winners included Dollop Puddings’ smooth-pouring vanilla bean custard in its evocative old-fashioned milk bottle, perfect to serve at the table. Ingredients include vanilla from runner-up Heilala vanilla paste.
Chris Ludbrook of Ludbrook House knows a thing or two about flavours in preserves (her dessert figs were a winner in 2009) and her subtly spiked, preservativefree pickled limes were singled out this year.
Orcona Chillis’ fragrant harissa paste is a blend of cayenne, jalapeno and serrano chillies with great flavour as well as heat – the result of a career change for former Napier cafe owner Anne Prescott.
Hand-made and packed manually, Piako Gourmet Yoghurt’s lime zest frozen yoghurt captured the true flavours of the fruit, with the fresh zest and juice providing the zing. Cuisine’s inaugural Supreme Winner in 2009, Salumeria Fontana’s Toulouse sausages, adapted from an old French recipe, appealed to the judges as ‘‘brilliantly made and delicious, with no fatty taste but fantastically juicy’’.
The Damson Collection’s damson jam, the sequel to its winning damson paste in 2010, sparked customer comments like ‘‘that taste takes me down memory lane’’. The potential from this old-fashioned, now rarely seen plum, originally began in a home kitchen as treats for family and friends.
Cuisine editor Sarah Nicholson says the artisan industry is flourishing in part through the numbers flocking to farmers’ markets to buy produce. ‘‘Here people can try new products – often home-made in kitchens – just like our great-grandmothers used to make. ‘‘We want to celebrate our artisan heroes. They are the ones out there, throwing all their passion into producing great-tasting food.
‘‘We salute them and these awards are our way of rewarding them for a job well done.’’ Profiles of the winners feature in the March issue of Cuisine, on sale from February 21, which also includes recipes by Fiona Smith showcasing the winning products.
The winning artisans will display their products at Auckland’s Monteith’s CheeseFest event at the Langham Hotel on March 2 from 5pm-9pm.