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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2010: The Edible Garden; and Aussie Bacon Week

We all recognise and appreciate the joys of good wholesome food and the home garden is rapidly becoming the latest frontier in the pursuit of sustainability and provenance.

During our weekend to trip to Melbourne, Billy and I were keen to check out The Edible Garden in City Square, a public initiative to demonstrate how to grow, harvest and cook your own fruits and vegetables. Forget about hedges and thirsty flowers - a crop of rosy red tomatoes, fragrant basil plants and fruit-laden trees offer colour, smell and mouthfuls of deliciousness.

Admiring the plants and the artwork


There were lots of plants to touch, smell and discover, all helpfully labelled with identification tags.

Strawberry spinach

Wild corn

Table setting for lunch

The table setting for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation lunch was particularly picturesque.


You're never too young to enjoy a day out learning about food

Information leaflets are available for those wanting more information, and nursery staff are also on-hand to answer gardening questions. In Melbourne for the festival? Head down to check it out!

Aussie Bacon Week

Culatello by Quattro Stelle, Sydney
"Little Bum"

This week also marks the launch of Australia's first ever Aussie Bacon Week, a public awareness campaign by Australian Pork to highlight the ambiguity of Australian labelling laws.

Jamon by San Jose Smallgoods
Spanish-style Serrano jamon

The aim of the campaign is to ensure that the public are aware that up to 70% of bacon and ham products in Australia are made from imported pork products, much of it subsidised by overseas governments. The public should also be aware that:

Made in Australia means a product may have been processed or manufactured in Australia, but some or all of the ingredients are likely to have been imported from overseas.

Only Product of Australia means that the item has been processed or manufactured in Australia using local ingredients. A square pink and white Australian Pork label has been developed to help the public quickly identify locally sourced and manufactured Australian pork products.

Tartufo by Quattro Stelle
Lean pure pork salami with shaved truffle

Lardo by Pino's Dolce Vita
Cured pork backfat

In the meantime, it was a pigfest of oink-worthy proportions at Pendolino in the Strand Arcade. The Lardo by Pino's Dolce Vita was the tastiest sliver of richness you could imagine. The soft ribbon of cured pork backfat melted in the mouth with a soft and subtle soundtrack of garlic, bay leaf, rosemary and sage playing in the background. I needed a quiet moment after my first taste. I needed a figurative cigarette after the second.

Lachs Shinken by BB Products
Dry-cured, air-dried boneless pork loin
with a thin layer of pork backfat

The winners of the Awards For Excellence for Australian-grown bacon were also announced, an impressive field that included 62 different bacons from 45 producers across Australia.

Australian Pork Awards for Excellence winners

Full Rasher
1st - Schultes Meat Tavern, Plainland QLD
2nd - Coota Valley Meats, Engadine NSW
3rd - Skara Smallgoods, Nairne SA

Low Fat
1st - Willhome Farm Fresh Meats, Swan Hill Vic
2nd - Kanmantoo Bacon Company, Kanmantoo SA
3rd - Lucas Quality Meats, Bronte NSW

Over All
1st - Schultes Meat Tavern, Plainland QLD
2nd - Coota Valley Meats, Engadine NSW
3rd - Skara Smallgoods, Nairne SA

Spaghetti carbonara

Pork product tastings

The Edible Garden will be on display at the City Square in Melbourne, 10am - 7.30pm daily until March 19, 2010. Entry is free.

Grab Your Fork attended the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival as a guest of Tourism Victoria.

> Read the next Melbourne 2010 post (Madame Brussels)
< Go back to the first Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2010 post
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/16/2010 01:27:00 am


  • At 3/16/2010 1:45 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    that edible garden is so cool!. we should definitely have that in Sydney, perhaps Martin Place. that would be awesome. why does melbourne always come up with the cool stuff first ;-) although we do have the edible side walks in chippendale :-) that lardo needs to be renamed lard. is so silky buttery but i can feel my arteries clogging up with every bite :-(

  • At 3/16/2010 7:37 am, Anonymous Fiona said…

    That corn is so cool! :)

  • At 3/16/2010 8:09 am, Anonymous JT @ areyouhungary said…

    Oh edible garden looks like a perfect reason to head down to Melbourne!

    I almost don't need to say this, but Bacon Week?! Swoon.

  • At 3/16/2010 8:57 am, Anonymous Pete said…

    Lardo di colonnata was one of my favourite snacks when I was in Italy last year. Gloriously rich pork fat on toast with a glass of chilled vernacchia was pretty hard to beat.

    Did the bacon folk have any information up about the provenance of pork in Australia? Even the tastiest bacon can leave a very bad taste in the mouth if it’s from poorly treated pigs. I know in the UK the meat can be so bad it’s treated with all sorts of flavour enhancers. When it comes to pork I think it’s always worth tracking down a (proper) free range or organic product.

  • At 3/16/2010 10:17 am, Anonymous jo said…

    that strawberry spinach looks interesting! were you able to try the fruits and how did it taste like? and i do hope they bring an edible garden to sydney one day, i would love to go.

  • At 3/16/2010 10:43 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    I kind of love that a Bacon Week exists. So much glorious meet! Though when I saw the words 'edible garden' in the title I immediately though of Heston Blumenthal's one, with the deep fried insects!

  • At 3/16/2010 11:22 am, Blogger rissa said…

    I couldn't help but giggle at Culatello - "little bum - the most prized part of the prosciutto"! Also great idea to educated people about "made-" vs "product of australia" products.

  • At 3/16/2010 12:55 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Hmmm... How come I never heard of Aussie Bacon Week? Oh boy I am a tad envy when I saw Simon's post of all the pork porn in the goodie bag!

  • At 3/16/2010 2:59 pm, Anonymous Mrs Pigflyin said…

    The edible garden is nice and I have seen community gardens in Sydney too, you just need to look or check with the local councils.

    I love pork! I was once served seasoned lard instead of butter at a restaurant and that was amazing!

  • At 3/16/2010 5:50 pm, Anonymous Myriam @Detours said…

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Edible Garden idea (and your pics are beautiful, as usual...). I agree with Simon Food Favourite, why does Melbourne always come up with these cool ideas first? Wouldn't it be great to have that in Sydney? How well, maybe later this year as part of SIFF...

  • At 3/16/2010 8:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Omg bacon bacon bacon?!?! I r jealous toooo all that tasiness from a single magical animal!

  • At 3/16/2010 8:27 pm, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    National bacon week? We all must get behind this and raise the awareness.

  • At 3/16/2010 10:02 pm, Anonymous Latso said…

    mmm Bacon week :)
    Homer: Wait a minute wait a minute wait a minute. Lisa honey, are you
    saying you're *never* going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Ham?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
    Homer: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.


  • At 3/16/2010 11:52 pm, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    I love the edible garden BUT totally envious about the BACON week. Melbourne needs one too!

  • At 3/17/2010 1:48 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    OMG bacon week! That lardo is so tempting although I'm sure it's a heart attack waiting to happen! Not that it's going to stop me from eating it ;)

  • At 3/17/2010 6:31 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Despite not being a fan of bacon myself (the horror! I have willingly purchased bacon in chocolate several times though, so don't shun me yet) you do know how to make it look and sound delectable :D

  • At 3/17/2010 12:30 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - The Edible Garden is such a great idea. I think many gardens are under-utilised and having experts on hand could really help placate people's fears that it's all too hard.

    I think the lardo should be renamed happiness, but hey, maybe that's just me :)

    Hi Fiona - Wild corn is always pretty. I love the range of colours on each cob.

    Hi JT - Yes, I love the idea of bacon week too! Although every week should be bacon week really :)

    Hi Pete - Oh I wish I could've grown up on lardo di colonnata as a kid :)

    It was only a brief night of speeches, but I agree, understanding provenance is important. I had many a poor encounter with bacon in the UK. It was incredible to see so much water leaching out when you cooked it.

    ps. Welcome back!

    Hi Jo - We weren't able to try any of the fruits but it was lovely just to see them all alive and growing. Hopefully the SIFF organisers will consider something similar for Sydney!

    Hi Stephcookie - Oh yes, Heston's edible garden looked like so much fun. I would've loved to have eaten one of those deep-fried insects. Such a fantastic concept.

    Hi Rissa - lol. Apparently "little bum" is a literal translation of culatello. I love it. The 'Made in' versus 'Product of' is something many members of the public wouldn't be aware of - hopefully the campaign succeeds in getting people to inspect their food labelling a little more carefully.

    Hi Billy - You have now :) The goodie bag was quite incredible. I think it'll take me a month to get through it all!

    Hi Mrs Pigflyin - Community gardens are flourishing in Sydney which is great to see, but I think yours is the best one I've ever seen :)

    Lard is always something of think of being served during the Depression but oh once you've had seasoned lard it certainly brings it up to a incredible level of 'gourmet' desireability!

    Hi Myriam - The Edible Garden is a great idea and I'm sure Stephanie Alexander's involvement had much to do with it. Let's hope it's included as a part of SIFF, and thanks, such beautiful produce naturally translates to lovely photos :)

    Hi FFichiban - Oh yes, pigs are magical animals indeed!

    Hi Veruca Salt - I believe I've been supporting Bacon Week all this time and not even realising it. lol. A fab idea.

    Hi Latso - lol. I love that excerpt from the Simpsons too! Homer - he's a genius.

    Hi Penny - Oh but Bacon Week is national! I say we all have some today - Product of Australia, of course :)

    Hi Jacq - The lardo is so good it's terrifying. lol. And yes, hurrah for Bacon Week I say!

    Hi Hannah - You don't like bacon? No, say it isn't so! Actually, it could come in handy. Remind me to sit next to you next time there's an event involving bacon. lol. Don't worry, I'll still be your friend :)

  • At 3/17/2010 1:29 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    The strawberry spinach looks great - I've never seen something like that before. Do you eat the red bits or the leaves?

    I'll watch out for bacon labelling too. Importing cold-stored products seems like a big waste of energy.

  • At 3/17/2010 9:33 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    When I move out into my own place I am hoping to have a mini edible garden... or at least my own herb pots, nothing beats freshly picked produce!

  • At 3/18/2010 1:55 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Arwen - Apparently you can eat both, although the berries aren't particularly sweet. The best part is the leaves and stalks.

    It's a sad state of affairs that subsidies often mean that imports end up being cheaper than local products. Public awareness is perhaps the best way of driving a shift in consumer purchasing decisions.

    Hi Angielivestoeat - I agree, freshly picked produce is so rewarding. I must work on my edible garden too!


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