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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nonna's Gourmet Sausages, Brookvale

EDIT 11/08/10: Please note that Nonna's Gourmet Sausages have now moved from Chipping Norton to Brookvale. See the end of this post for updated address details.

[Video notes: I originally edited this video to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" - appropriate, no? Sadly, YouTube wouldn't allow this track due to copyright reasons, so I had to substitute an alternate song after I'd already made the edits.]

Carol Cropper and Garry Aquilina

Sausages. They're a favourite with kids, barbecues and mashed potatoes.

For Carol Cropper, Andrew Lupton and Garry Aquilina, sausages are such a passion, they went into business together.

On a visit to Nonna's Gourmet Sausages in Chipping Norton, Carol, an ex-pat from Yorkshire, explains that sausages are not just a quick meal, but a part of her heritage and family history. "My dad is a true Yorkshireman who used to make sausages when I was a little girl. When I complained to him about what Australians were then eating as sausages, my dad said - why bother buying them? You should make them yourself."

So she did, first by buying a sausage mincer from Leichhardt and then begging some sausage skins from the local butchers. Carol soon set up stalls at local farmers' markets around Sydney and won over a legion of loyal fans. Juggling sausage-making and market selling with parental duties and weekend sports chauffeur for two rugby-playing sons, Carol realised the sausage business was no longer sustainable. "I needed to expand and I didn't have the support or the money to do that, so I stopped and became chauffeur again."

Then along came fate.

Carol's brother Andrew moved to Australia, and after arriving, began looking at buying a business with Carol. "Lo and behold, Nonna's Gourmet Sausages went up for sale and so we said let's go for it!"

Freshly made sausages


In direct contrast to Carol's chattiness, Garry is quiet and reserved, a hard and honest worker, not a natural salesperson. Born of Maltese-born parents, meat and smallgoods has always been Garry's trade, starting off in smallgoods in Joseph Street, Lidcombe, and then Zammitt's smallgoods. From there he moved to AC Butchery in Leichhardt and then after four years there, left to open his own butcher shop in Wetherill Park. After selling the butcher shop, he worked for a few years before taking the plunge and opening Nonna's.

As Garry quickly discovered, running a sausage business on your own is not easy. "You think you can run the shop, do the sales, do the paperwork and everything," he explains with a sigh. "But you can't do it. It's impossible, especially when you've got children."

When Carol and Andrew bought the business, they kept Garry on a partner. "He is the business," Carol explains.

Later when I speak to Garry he says "I didn't expect that, but I was more than happy to stay on".

The sausage maker


The English and the Maltese both have their own ideas of the perfect sausage, but the consistent underlying factor is the quality and quantity of the meat in the filling.

"I'm used to a a softer sausage made with pork, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, mace, herbs and spice," says Carol. She shudders as she talks about the cheap sausages currently available, which she describes as "pasty, fatty and hardly-any-meat".

"I went and found out how to make a cheap sausage and I was nearly sick," she winces. "Basically you use pork rind, pork flare [the fat around the kidneys] and beef suet, and you heat it up, emulsify it and then set it into a big block. Then you cut the fat emulsion up and mix it with meat."

Suddenly I'm not so hungry anymore.

European sausages, Garry explains, are traditionally chunky in texture. "With a fine paste of mince, you don't really know what's in it - whether it's pork, chicken or beef - but with a chunky product you can tell."

A perfect sausage for Garry uses good quality ingredients and only pork meat if it's a pork sausage or all beef for a beef sausage, and so on. "All my sage, rocket, spinach, garlic and herbs are all fresh," he emphasises. "I mix all my own ingredients - I don't buy any pre-mixes. I weight my own garlic, salt and pepper and noone gets their hands on the recipe.

"We don't use any bread crumbs or rice flour either. We use an organic preservative and natural casings, or sheep intestines. Synthetic casings are cheaper, but we use natural cases which are more expensive.

"Our sausages are each 110g to 120g each, and they're full of meat".

Natural casings - sheep intestines


Garry is clearly sausage-mad, and when I ask why he went into sausage making, he says "Not many people like to stay [in a butcher shop] and produce sausages for a long period of time. I like to experiment, and with sausages you can't produce a recipe overnight. It takes you months or years to make a product. I've produced 26 different varieties of sausages now.

The full Nonna's Gourmet Sausages range

The menu

Maltese sausages


Carol's happy to fry up some sausages for a taste-test. The hot and spicy sausage packs plenty of heat, and the chorizo (in South American style, is quite unlike the Spanish version I'm used to, being less fatty and milder in flavour without the addition of smoked paprika.

Maltese sausage comes in a traditional scrolled snail shape, with a satisfying filling that is chunky and hearty. I'm also a fan of the chicken, sage and pistachio sausage. "That's our number one seller," says Carol.

Later at home, we throw a garlic prawn snag on the barbie - Garry is the only accredited seafood sausage maker in Australia apparently. It sounds like an odd combination until you realise it's just like a garlic prawn kebab, the cooked sausage swelling to reveal an all-prawn party that is succulent and sweet.

Garlic prawn sausages and Garry's Special sausages

Garlic prawn sausages

Carol jokes that Garry's Special came about when he threw together random ingredients then picked up a Silver Medal at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show for his efforts. The Garry's Special is still Garry's favourite, a combination of pork, roasted pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, fresh shallots and Provolone cheese.

"It's an awesome snag," Garry says with pride. "It's a meal on its own. Actually the majority of our products are a meal on its own".

Garry's two children natually adore sausages. One likes Garry's Special, the other likes the beef, tomato, garlic and spinach version. Garry himself still loves his sausages, although when I ask him whether he has them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he laughs and says, "nah, maybe not breakfast - maybe just lunch and dinner."

Garry's Special

At dinner that evening we notice that all the sausages are generous with meat, so much so that one or two is plenty per person, our appetites quickly satiated from the high ratio of meat.

In addition to the simple "throwing a snag on the barbie" approach, Carol is keen to spruik the other ways sausages can be cooked or used.

She uses them on pizzas or in pastas or to make meatballs. "And they make the best sausage rolls," she says with an audible sigh. "Squeeze them onto some puffy pastry, fold over, brush with egg wash and they are to die for.

"The things you can do with a sausage!" she exclaims.


Nonna's Gourmet Sausages for sale at Harris Farm Markets Broadway

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Nonna's Gourmet Sausages
> Nonna's Gourmet Sausages has moved to Brookvale, Sydney
1/271 Newbridge Road, Chipping Norton, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9734 0769
Open Monday to Friday 6am - 4pm

Nonna's Gourmet Sausages at
Brookvale Meats
45 Mitchell Road, Brookvale, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9905 5239

With thanks to Carol Cropper and Garry Aquilina for the behind-the-scenes tour at Nonna's Gourmet Sausages.
30 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/31/2009 01:08:00 am


  • At 3/30/2009 9:47 am, Anonymous shez said…

    The things you can do with a sausage indeed! I'm suddenly not so appetised by the sausage sizzles that happen at Bunnings. Pork flare & beef suet indeed!

  • At 3/30/2009 9:59 am, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    These sausages sound super. I like the way they actually contain meat as the main ingredient. It means they're gluten free too, which is great.

  • At 3/30/2009 11:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sounds so delish!

  • At 3/30/2009 11:55 am, Blogger Howard said…

    Very nice write up, it's good to see they do everything fresh and nothing pre-mixed!

  • At 3/30/2009 11:59 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    They look so yum. The prawn ones are so pretty when you cook them up. You can see all the real prawn chunks.

  • At 3/30/2009 1:24 pm, Blogger Debzillah said…


    My heart is all aflutter with excitement :)

  • At 3/30/2009 7:06 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    A totally different way to think about sausages, fantastic post!

  • At 3/30/2009 7:52 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Now they look like proper sausages and not like those fond in Woolworths or Coles :)

  • At 3/30/2009 8:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooohhh I must hold a sausage-fest sometime ;) (haha ok that was a bit wrong) but srsly time for a bbqqqq yayyy thhx!

  • At 3/30/2009 8:44 pm, Anonymous Christie @ Fig & Cherry said…

    I can confirm that the Wagyu beef ones are wonderful! :)

  • At 3/30/2009 11:46 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Shez - lol. I remember watching Jamie Oliver make chicken nuggets in front of kids and it was amazing how many of them opted for chicken legs after seeing what goes into them!

    Hi Arwen - The sausages were jam-packed with meat and there was none of that heavy greasy aftertaste either. Such a good snag.

    Hi tummyrumble.net - They were! There's such a difference between ordinary and the extraordinary when it comes to sausages.

    Hi Howard - Thanks. It's always inspiring to meet people who are passionate about food, and are commited to quality products. Too often it seems food is made by nameless corporations. I think that's why farmers markets are so popular.

    Hi Veruca Salt - I was really impressed with the prawn sausages. You would think it might taste strange but wow, they really were prawn-tastic.

    Hi Debzillah - lol. Go hunt them down!

    Hi YaYa - Thanks, and I agree, it does make you think about what goes into sausages. It also makes me want to make my own! :)

    Hi harrip - lol. I'm sure you would appreciate a good ol' fashioned Yorkshire-style sausage!

    Hi FFichiban - Yes must take advantage of the final spate of hot days before winter comes. Although snags are great in winter too. Mmmm comfort food.

    Hi Christie - I must try the wagyu ones next time. I heard they're also a really big seller too.

  • At 3/31/2009 6:58 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Nice work with the video! Was this done with your DSLR?

    I'll have to give this place a go sometime. Ever since having gourmet sausages from AC Butchery, I've always been on the lookout for interesting combos. The garlic prawn one is certainly unique :)

  • At 3/31/2009 10:15 am, Blogger Forager said…

    Ooh - I'll have to visit this place the next time I'm out west (which is quite frequent these days). Looks like they have a great range too.

  • At 3/31/2009 11:03 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    hehehe LOVE LOVE LOVE your video! the music is perfect! and i love your text 'this is gary. hi gary." hahaha gold!

  • At 3/31/2009 8:31 pm, Anonymous Leanne said…

    I drive past this place all the time but I've never thought about popping in...now I certainly will! I do all my fresh fruit and vegie shopping opposite there, at Fruit & Veg City: the "food lovers market"...its fantastic! The only place out west you can buy Maggie Beer icecream...mmmMMMMmMmm

  • At 3/31/2009 8:48 pm, Blogger dyeo said…

    Great post! I love sausages and your post is really informative and interesting too.

  • At 3/31/2009 9:19 pm, Anonymous divemummy said…

    Helen, the video (and soundtrack) is abso-bl**dy-lutely brilliant.

    Shame you couldn't use Sinatra but I think your 2nd choice was more original and catchy.

    You're a creative genius.

    They have got to use your video at their next trade show. I liked the way it played out like a Baker's Delight ad - but much much more funkier!

    It made me want to start dancing with sausages : )

    And I can attest those sausages were both filling and damn good - especially the prawn ones.

    You've raised the bar for blog posts now!

  • At 3/31/2009 9:20 pm, Blogger Lilia said…

    My mom used to make pork sausage with no crumbs. Only the minced meat and white egg to make it soft for my grandpa. I used to use a porridge spoon to transfer the meat into pork intestines and it took a long timeee to put these in then we would need to use needle to let the air out and spread the minced meat inside. If only there is a small machine like the one Gary has.
    I'm thinking BBQ this weekend and may heading to Broadway as it is the closest one selling Nonna sausages.

  • At 4/01/2009 11:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - Yes indeedy. It was the first time I've really used that function - I tend to forget it's there!

    Hi Forager - There's a huge range of sausages. You can't miss the yellow building either!

    Hi Chocolatesuze - lol. Thanks. I had been editing it for so long listening to it with Frankie that it seemed really odd when I changed the song. And lol. I don't think Garry realised I was filming him at the time until he turned around, so he just managed to keep a straight face.

    Hi Leanne - I do recommend you go in. The staff there are so friendly. I haven't even tried Maggie Beer ice cream yet although I have seen it. A timely reminder :)

    Hi foodie-central - Thank you. I think it does pay to think about where your food comes from and who has made it. And who doesn't love a good sausage!

    Hi divemummy - Aww thanks, you're making me blush :) I had to look for an alternative that was the same length as Frankie which was frustrating at 1am (!!) but yeah, now I've had some time to adjust the 2nd song is more upbeat.

    Dancing with sausages? I'd like to see that!

    Hi Lilia - Wow, those pork sausages sound wonderful. I love the whole ritual of families cooking together. I have fond memories of cooking with my grandma :)

    The sausage machine was fascinating. Wouldn't we all like one of those!

  • At 4/02/2009 10:08 am, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    What's Merrick doing behind the counter?

  • At 4/02/2009 3:57 pm, Blogger Implosion said…

    Oooo-eer sausages *insert rude joke here* :)
    For many reasons I never eat sausages. BUT after seeing the prawn version, I will head to Harris Farm and look for 'em.
    Thanks Helen!

  • At 4/03/2009 2:16 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Billy - lol! Didn't you see him get done in the latest episode of Underbelly? :)

    Hi Implosion - I'm not actually sure if they stock the prawn sausages at Harris Farm, but definitely make enquiries if you can't find them. I would also give their other sausages a try - they really are very meaty and rather tasty too.

  • At 4/24/2009 8:30 am, Anonymous MzCooper said…

    I'm heading to Jervis Bay for this weekend and guess what I thought I'd bring along... some Nonna's Gourmet Sausages of course! I got there about 7.15 this morning and I can't wait to chuck them on the barbie tmr. By the way guys, Nonna's trading hours are now 6am-4pm (M-F). Thanks for posting this up Helen! =)

  • At 4/27/2009 12:50 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi MzCooper - Yum, sounds like you had a treat of a lunch at Jervis Bay. Hope you enjoyed them and thanks for the update re: trading hours.

  • At 6/12/2009 12:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Because of this post, I persuaded my gf to try Nonna's sausages (bought from HF) and we've been back for more. The sausages are incredibly chunky and have a lovely flavour, totally unlike the breadcrumbed fat flavoured (and slightly smelly) BBQ snags from the supermarket. Even DJ's snags (much more expensive) aren't as good as Nonna's. I'll have to take a trip to Chipping North. Did you see Nonna's now distributes Spanish Ham?!

  • At 6/14/2009 9:51 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Evecho - Their sausages are great aren't they? It's true, once you've had a really good snag, there's no going back! I did hear about the Spanish ham but have yet to try it. Am sure it's as tasty as their sausage range!

  • At 1/01/2010 11:06 pm, Anonymous Rob @ StickySteps.com said…

    Wow - ive always driven past this place and wondered what its like ... and now you have convinced me to actually stop by and try :) nice post

  • At 1/03/2010 4:15 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Rob - It's funny how often we go past places and never get the chance to go in. Hope you visit soon - they have quite an interesting sausage selection - the prawn ones were really quite different and very good!

  • At 6/11/2010 3:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great write up on this amazing sausage shop!! I am already a convert after reading a review some time ago and heading off to see what all the fuss was about. I am having a birthday bbq this coming weekend and only the sausages from Nonna's will get onto my BBQ.There is nothing like these tasty sausages, in fact I never ate sausages until I tried Nonna's.

    Added advantage is the shop is only a 15 minute drive away.

  • At 6/14/2010 4:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - The sausages are amazing aren't they? Glad you finally got there and lucky for you that they're only 15 min away!


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