The 2023 Autumn Festival, now a little more than three weeks away, has drawn a terrific assortment of food and beverage producers from across the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands.
More, a wide variety of live attractions is now coming together, too, from dog sheepdog agility trials to singing performances.
As a core sponsor of the event, Derwent Valley Gazette is providing a preview of what’s to come on Sunday April 23, starting in this week’s edition with the assortment of the myriad foods that are going to be on offer.
Here’s a sneak peak at what’s already booked for the Esplanade, the perfect combinations of hot and spicy foods for a cool Autumn day. And look out for a massive barbeque now being organized by the New Norfolk Football Club.
the artHouse New Norfolk has built a reputation for putting on a great performance, from showcasing local artists, to promoting local poetry or encouraging local singing talents, to bringing together an eclectic array of performers to delight audiences.
For the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, this local business — a combined café, creative retail and event space — will be setting up shop at the Esplanade.
They’re bringing a delicious menu of hot, local jacket potatoes, cooked to create an irresistible combination of crispy skin and a meltingly soft interior.
The finishing touches are a choice of hand crafted toppings from the classics of onion, sour cream, plain or garlic butter, to beans, grated cheese, coleslaw and Mexican salsa.
And these are local spuds, Kennebecs from Ellendale’s Rock Hill Estate… the perfect food for an Autumn afternoon.
Beyond the spuds, an outdoor seating area will feature performances from local community groups throughout the day, including the artHouse Singers, and their poetry loving open mic group called INKuB8tor.
Spuds, singers, poetry, community – a whole lot of local going on.
Here’s a local food business that evolved from a way to please BnB guests into an award-winning array of smallgoods and relishes.
At Hamlet Downs, Trish Davison has drawn from her wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry to form Bear and the Ladle Gourmet Foods.
The relishes have recently picked up a slew of awards at event in both Tasmania and in Sydney, picking up a Gold, two Silver and three Bronze awards.
“I admit I enjoy seeing our hard work bring the reward of awards like these,” she says, “but most of all, I like knowing the reward is in the contents of those bottles.”
The home-grown products emerged from bumper crops of zucchini and tomatillos, the cousin of the common tomato.
Trish is now making an Aztec green hot sauce and a mustard relish with a zucchini base, which complement an existing line of Burmese relishes.
Through Hamlet Downs Country Smallgoods, Trish is also part of the Slow Food Convivium, a world-wide cooking movement that celebrates the production, preparation and consumption of food in an environmentally smart manner.
For Autumn Festival, Trish is adding a number of ways to help visitors sample her award winning relishes, including sate sticks.
Glass and Brown Paper Pantry
Glass and Brown Paper Pantry brings something fresh in the way of food — as well as the way you take that food home.
Meg Fraser’s new store on Burnett Street is a departure from a local supermarket, and more like an international food bazaar.
You’ll find rice and lentils from the mainland, cocoa from Holland, cashews from the US, Turkish apricots, Iranian dates and Bolivian quinoa flakes. The macaroni is made in Tasmania.
What makes this place unusual, however, are that customers bring their own glass containers – for milk and shampoo for instance –to the store to be refilled.
For Autumn Festival, Meg and her chef partner Adam are bringing a number of delicious concoctions brewed on the premises.
Their commercial kitchen houses no fewer than four Thermomix machines to create everything from curry mixes to desserts and puddings.
“We make everything fresh in these remarkable machines,” says Meg.
“There are a lot of local customers now who want their food the way it was meant to be, with real nutrients instead of empty calories, over-processed and refined
At her stall at Autumn Festival, Meg Fraser will put the proof, quite literally, in the pudding. Ask about her vegan nachos, mung bean curry, and to finish, some drunken fig cheesecake.
Shady Hill Mushrooms
Lachlan’s Shady Hill Mushrooms is a bit special.
Owned by Sam and Lani Yates, this farm grows three varieties of gourmet mushrooms: King Oyster, Piopinni and Shitake.
“These are high quality, cool climate mushrooms, grown by us and cooked by us,” says Sam, “finished off by getting double-fried and sprinkled with our signature seasoning.”
Demand, usually from such places as the New Norfolk and Collinsvale markets, as well as the Farm Gate Market in Hobart, has brought a recent expansion in Shady Hill’s output.
The small family run business has completed a new grow house, enabling a tripling of production. And it turns out that mushrooms aren’t grown in the dark and fed manure.
Actually, says Sam, the best environment for these gourmet varieties is a mix of sawdust from Tasmanian hardwood forests and bran from flour milling. ‘We get great results from that substrate.”
“And they actually grow best in the light!” he adds.
You can taste the result at Shady Hill’s stall at the Autumn Festival, April 23rd. Meet Sam, Lani and their offsider, Caleb Whittle while you’re there.
If you’re looking for a perfect example of the food industry term paddock to plate, look no further than Rathmore.
The farm accommodation property at Hollow Tree, just outside Hamilton, produces some of Tasmania’s most succulent lamb.
And in a few days’ time, that lamb will be served up at the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, courtesy of Rathmore’s Cally Lyons and her husband Richard.
Rathmore provides many things to visitors of the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands, including a variety of accommodations, farm experiences, fishing and walking.
As a working farm, it is a specialist producer of prime lamb.
For her Festival stall on the Esplanade, as well as promoting other Central Highlands attractions, Cally is preparing two core dishes, including the traditional Greek dish dolmades, made with minced lamb, rice and fresh herbs, then rolled in tender vine leaves.
In addition, she’s promising little bites of heaven in the form of lamb fingers, a Middle Eastern inspired favourite also made with the succulent Rathmore product, Tasmanian Pepperberry and Feta.
Anticipating strong demand, Cally is bringing along some neighbourly help for her stall at the Festival.
These treats in line with Rathmore’s ethos of sustainability will be packaged in eco-friendly containers but for dishes that taste as good as they look, we don’t think you’ll mind!
Rachel’s Relishes and Sauces
“I always loved relish,” says Rachel Kemp. “And I came to realize other people felt the same way when I made a few jars of my own for sale at the Eaglehawk Neck Fair.
“Men told me that mine was the best relish they’d ever tasted. Women usually were different: they said it tasted like something their mum or nan used to make.
“Either, way, there was an old-fashioned quality that they liked.”
Rachel’s been at this for ten years now and business is booming.
She starts with a base from Johnno’s Make Your Own Sauce. The Tasmanian product, essentially a vinegar and spice mix, forms the base.
Then it gets boiled for a couple of hours, stirred regularly. Rachel doesn’t time it or measure things in any way … “just until I know it’s right and ready to go.”
Now’s the time she begins adding different spices, introduce subtleties of flavour with mustard, ginger and curry powder.
(Without giving away too much, Rachel always uses a quality product like Keen’s.)
Today, she produces two relishes, including a green tomato variety, a number of sauces including barbeque (from a friend’s recipe) along with a variety of jams.
The entire range will be available at this year’s Autumn Festival, Sunday April 23.
Scoopy Doo Soft Serve
Bill Jarvis has gone out of his way to put his customers in the mood for an old-style ice cream treat.
It begins with his Scoopy Doo van, now restored to its former glory and resembling the van from the old Scooby Doo TV series.
From inside emerges a traditional Italian soft serve ice-cream in myriad colours and flavours, sometimes a plain cone and sometimes dressed to impress.
The ice cream itself comes via the Valhalla company, which brings this treat in from New Zealand.
An extensive menu at Autumn Festival includes everything from a refreshing sherbet to a cone smothered in hundreds and thousands.
There’s one that’s simply dipped in chocolate and then there’s the Rocket, with flaky chocolate. Oh, and the famous Hedgehog, dipped in chocolate and nuts…
Jarvis, a New Norfolk local, has taken on a couple of special servers for this year’s Festival. Flo Ransley and Leanne Holdsworth are dab hands at dishing the good stuff.
Most important, Bill has made sure there’s enough ice cream aboard the Scoopy Doo van to keep everybody happy.