I attended my first gourmet food tasting since I moved to the Sunshine Coast a few months ago. The How to Cook shop had so many people when I arrived that guests were spilling out onto the footpath with their champagne and samples. Everyone was in a good mood.
The population in the coastal communities here is not large so I knew not to compare it to a lavish tasting you’d get in Sydney or Melbourne, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t disappointed. Everyone was warm and friendly and willing to say hello and have a chat. The vendors were eager to introduce us to their products. I met four lovely women tasting along with me and I hope we’ll become good friends.
My first stop was Lick ice cream, award winning hand crafted ice cream. I was given a sample of a sugar cone filled with vanilla bean ice cream, topped with couverture chocolate and coconut. It was very good. The other sample was chocolate ice cream topped with chocolate and raspberry. Lick also offers ice cream sandwiches made with shortbread and they come in the plastic boxes you see in the photo. The portions are small and perfectly sized to serve after a big meal.
Sharyn Cook from Saltt, Himalayan Salt & Aussie Pepper, had a few minutes to tell me about the salt and pepper they sell through gourmet food stores. I tried a piece of cucumber with both salt and pepper and I felt the heat of the pepper on my tongue which was then cooled by the fresh cucumber. The salt is mined from the Himalayan mountains and has the finest molecule of any known salt. Sharyn explained that Himalayan Salt has 84 minerals and trace elements that are good for us. I have to admit that the beautiful pink color was the attraction for me. My palate isn’t advanced enough to tell pink salt from white salt. Pink’s prettier. Shame on me, I know.
Next, I moved on to Rebecca Symons and her fantastic hand made cookies. Each cookie is big enough to share but I doubt that I ever would. I tried the macadamia nut and white chocolate and I could have eaten every one on her sample plate (that’s what I meant about not sharing). Rebecca is just starting out in her business and she’s going to let me know when her website is ready for you to visit. If her website is anything like her cookies, it will be worth the visit. They were yummy! I’m going to buy some when I visit the shop on Friday.
Across the room I found a couple of selections that I thought were truly orgasmic. Seriously! I met Elisabeth Turner from Le’Petit Gourmet Trading who had quite a few things on offer for me to taste. How could I let her down?
I grabbed pieces of bread and dipped into the wonderful oils and vinegars and dips from Pukara Estate. I was hoping more people would flock to the table so nobody would notice that I was going back for seconds. The pomegranate balsamic vinegar was lovely and would go well with fish but it didn’t hold a candle to the caramelised balsamic vinegar. If I were REALLY skinny I would have crawled down the neck of that bottle and asked Elizabeth to toss bread down to me.
I closed my eyes and could imagine dipping a piece of my artisan bread in their premium extra virgin olive oil and then into that nectar of the gods caramelised balsamic vinegar and then just a hint of dukkah. Ahhh… heaven. They also offer pepper flavoured extra virgin olive oil as well as truffle, lemon and wasabi. An interesting balsamic vinegar was the vanilla and cinnamon. On its own it didn’t send me to the moon yelling, “Oh God!!” but maybe it’s best used in a different way.
By the time I got to Tar10, the table was filled with people and I didn’t get to taste everything. I did try the Greek Aubergine Relish that was SO good. I will have to buy some of the others because just the names seem to call my name. Strawberry rhubarb jam for instance, or spanish onion marmalade, or Tunisian spiced date & orange pickle, or beetroot, apple and ginger chutney – see what I mean?
My final stop was a local ginger company called Christie’s Organic Ginger Products. I like ginger but I can’t say (until tonight) that I was a huge fan of it. I wasn’t a fan until I tried a cracker with some swiss cheese and a piece of sweet ginger on top. Okay, this was orgasmic akin to When Harry Met Sally but I wasn’t quite as loud. I wanted to be. The spicy hotness that you normally associate with ginger is there but it’s in a sweet sauce that cuts right through all that. The crunchiness of the cracker and the creamyness of the cheese topped with the ginger made my heart sing. See?
Yes, this is my plate and my crackers. I bought a jar of the sweet ginger. I brought it home and immediately started looking for the crackers and cheese. Hubby asked if I hadn’t already tasted it earlier. I had but I hadn’t had enough, obviously. I made up 3 crackers with aged cheddar and popped one in my mouth. It was as good as it had been with swiss cheese and a different sort of cracker. I opened my eyes and asked hubs if he wanted one and he said, “I’ve already eaten two.” While I was carefully putting the cheese and ginger on my crackers he was standing there cramming them in his mouth! He’s not a real fan of sweet and savoury but he gave two thumbs up for the diced ginger in sweet sauce.
I would go to another tasting tomorrow if there was one. My thanks to Iris Windsor from How To Cook for inviting us all and being such a gracious hostess. I can only imagine what it’s like to have your shop filled shoulder to shoulder with champagne drinking, food eating people. If you live in or visit the Sunshine Coast of Australia – come to the Friday cooking classes that Iris gives. I will learn something from each one whether it’s a cheffy technique or about a product or ingredient I never used.