BARBARA SWEENEY’S PICK OF THE LATEST FOOD BOOKS. PLUS, MEET A FARMER WITH A PASSION FOR FRUIT.
This month we hear from a tropical fruit farmer. Plus, a round up of regional food news.
MEET THE PRODUCER John Picone, Picone Exotic Fruits, Tyagarah, NSW
The exotic fruit orchard at John and Lyndall Picone’s farm at Tyagarah, northern NSW, is the result of an insatiable curiosity and hard work. John worked as a graphic designer before he and Lyndall left Sydney with their children 30 years ago. First stop was a 6000-tree macadamia farm at Tintenbar where, to supplement the macadamias, John also planted 3000 dragon fruit cacti. When customers began asking if he had any other fruit, he planted tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees — “For something different,” he says. Lyndall and John moved to their existing 50-hectare farm in 2008, planting hundreds of trees. Today it’s a lush Garden of Eden with about 400 tropical and sub-tropical fruits, including sugar apple (left, a custard apple variety), guava, jackfruit (above), lychee, longan and sapote — white, yellow, green and black. John has even developed two types of dragon fruit with pink flesh: ‘Byron Sunrise’ and ‘Pink Ice’. John and Lyndall sell their fruit at Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market, where they educate customers on when to eat the fruit and how to prepare it. “I don’t think God has created a fruit I don’t like. I’ll have a go at anything,” says John. Visitors are welcome to visit the farm in small groups, telephone 0412 926 208. LOVE BAKING Renowned Sydney baker Nadine Ingram is talking about the making of her first book Flour and Stone (Simon and Schuster, $55) this month at the Food and Words food writers’ festival. The book, to be released in October, is filled with stories about her bakery Flour and Stone, its people, her philosophy and the recipes that have made it a success, including the much-hyped panna cotta lamington. Nadine is one of 10 writers appearing at the annual festival, which celebrates our best food writing talent. The event, aimed at those who enjoy food and reading, is on September 15 at The Mint, Sydney. foodandwords.com.au
September is a big food book month and here are our picks. Milkwood (Murdoch Books, $45) is a DIY guide to growing tomatoes and mushrooms, keeping bees and safely picking wild plants, including seaweed. The point of learning these skills, say authors Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar, is that they enrich our lives and create connections to the land and the people around us. Hooray to that. (Kirsten and Nick are also speaking at Food and Words, see left.) Cauliflower is King by Leanne Kitchen (Murdoch Books, $19.99) is an ode to the chameleon of the vegetable world, lots of fun and instructive.
SPICE IT UP
Fourth-generation farmer Anthony Rehbein from Bundaberg, Queensland, now sells dried, ground ginger and turmeric as well as fresh. The products — sold under the Bunda Ginga brand — are Australian-grown and available online at bundaginga.com.au
Due to popular demand, Holy Goat Cheese from Sutton Grange in Victoria has stepped up production of Nectar, the semi-hard cheese made with organic cow and goat milks. You can buy it at farmers’ markets in Victoria or order it at select Sydney restaurants. holygoatcheese.com
HOW TO EAT Evan White, chef and owner of Byron’s Mexican restaurant Chupacabra fell hard for black sapote (left) when he first tasted it in Mexico. “It’s chocolate pudding in a fruit,” he says. While Mexicans use it in compotes and cake, Evan likes to eat the ripe fruit straight. “Wait for the skin to crack and for it to smell strongly of a rich chocolate pudding,” he says. chupacabra.com.au