by June O’Brien.
Everybody has something they love and one of my loves is gastronomy & tourism. Once I started exploring and discovering the region, especially meeting the artisan producers and hearing their stories, I realized just how much there is on offer here.
The Wadawurrung spirits have certainly blessed our region. As one of my favourite food, wine and travel writers Rita Erlich wrote, “Geelong is like the hub of a gastronomic wheel, it’s spokes being the wineries, cheesemakers, fruit growers, restaurants, bakers, honey producers and truffle growers in its surrounding area”.
Try Buy Local is the ethos which I have adopted and promote… relentlessly. It’s made up of many elements that can be summarised below.
For me, it’s simple, there is so much value in getting to know and expand my local community network. I’ve made some great friendships by buying (into) all things local.
Introducing visitors and tourist to the wineries, distilleries and craft brewers also means that I’m supporting our local economy, its producers, our communities, and families.
I know where the produce is either grown or made locally.
One example is Lard Ass, hand-crafted cultured butter, which is made locally here at Ocean Grove by the butter maiden and dairy farmers daughter Monica alongside her small team of (now) nine. Monica knows the local farmers and their grass-fed cows, personally sourcing their fresh creamy cow’s milk to make her cultured butter. The key is the quality ingredients. Alongside the fresh milk, the best quality salt, fennel and even garlic produces the best flavour, texture and taste of her award-winning butter.
Buying direct locally means that we are contributing to minimizing our environmental footprint as well as boosting our local economy. It allows us to minimize food waste because you don’t have an artificially long shelf life and it just tastes better.
We are all aware of the concepts of from “paddock to plate” or “farm to fork”, now it’s time to extend those concepts to also think about how we can minimize and re-use waste from “fork back to farm” or “plate back to paddock”. How do we make the best use of our products as well as the waste which results from their production?
We should think of this as a circular economy with the objective of reducing our footprint on this planet.
I might pay a little more for this local produce, but it’s about the quality, freshness, local hand-crafted or locally hand made. For example, back to Lard Ass butter, the taste and quality is superior and so much better than any of big companies manufacturing mass produced butter – and I know the artisan producers and makers personally, that’s where I’m putting my money.
Collaboration and cross-promoting
Given the opportunity, I like to introduce people and/or their produce to other people connecting other businesses products or producers to each other. Sharing and introducing in this way helps to expand the local food scene which benefits to our local community as well as visitors to our region.
Homemade & Homegrown
Evidence of the produce and producers can be found at our amazing famers markets such as:
- Bellarine Farmers’ Market @Ocean Grove
- Golden Plains Farmers Market @ Bannockburn
- Pako Farmers Market
- South Geelong Farmers Market @ South Geelong Primary
- Torquay Farmers Market
- Torquay Cowrie Market
- Winchelsea community Market
- Aireys Inlet Market
- Anglesea Riverbank Market & Twilight Farmers Market
A little side note – there are 17 coffee roasters (that I’m aware of) just between Geelong and Torquay. We haven’t even counted Colac or past Anglesea to the Great Ocean Road and Otway region. Now we must be serious about our coffee!
Check out the War on Waste Cartel who rescues and repurposes the coffee bags and work with a few of our roasters in our area.
Some of my local favourites:
- What Sprinkle to Season: A must! Some amazing seasoning, homemade garlic and chilli cooking oils as well as amazing black garlic products which I like to think of as “paddock to magic” by the beautiful Linda & her hubby Wil.
- Lard Ass: My absolute favourite and the best butter (psst… the black garlic and fennel butter is next level!)
- Corporal Freddies Worcestershire sauce: This is black magic! The story behind Mike’s WWII veteran Pa’s sauce is just fantastic and I think that is what makes this black magic sauce just the best!
- Bellarine Brownies: The best vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free brownies made in our region (maybe Victoria….just saying….. 😊)
- Curious Cabinet: Get around this amazing, delicious beverage by Pia Cook! These great non-alcoholic drinks are great for the designated driver and the friends who don’t or can’t drink. This is now very cool and popular.
- Lonsdale Tomato Farm – little gem
- Portarlington Mussels – It’s a local icon and the best
- Bellarine Smoke House – Pop in and say hello to Sarah & Jason
- My Bellarine Kitchen – This is my go-to cake destination. Gabi makes the best gluten free, dairy free, vegan cakes and I’m now a converted marshmallow fan, check out her chocolate, raspberry and vanilla marshmallow…oh she does passionfruit as well.
- Frank n Al Chai – 100% organic and handmade deliciousness.
- I love all our wineries and distillers in our region
With thanks to our guest author:
Epic Taste Experiences
June hails from a diverse cultural melting pot – New Guinean, Danish, Chinese and Melanesian – and like her adventurous ancestors, she likes to live life to the full. In her early years she lived in Port Douglas, Townsville, Brisbane and dipping her toes in the Whitsunday islands. Plus having spent time in some of the worlds great wine regions when living in San Francisco, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. She is now proud to call Geelong home. As a qualified international travel advisor, she has been in the customer service, hospitality and tourism industry for over 25 years with a slight eight-year detour into the basketball sporting industry. She has now come full circle and is operating her own tourism business – Epic Taste Experiences.
About Epic Taste Experiences
Wineries + Micro-brewers + Distilleries + Fab food producers = Epic Taste Experiences
Epic Taste Experiences offers small, personalized curated tours to our award-winning wineries, micro-brewers, distilleries and artisan producers around Greater Geelong, Surf Coast and Moorabool Valley. connect People, Places, Culture and Country and want everyone to fall in love with our region.
Photos courtesy of June O’Brien.