Tasmania is an island with some of the most pure air and water in the world. This makes it magic for growing beautiful food. With the (very) slow demise of logging and mining, tourism is becoming a major component of the economy, and tourism based on food and wine is an important sector in that component. There are Wine Trail booklets, and a Tasting Trail leaflet leading people to the wineries and special interest food producers. Organic food is gaining in popularity with local growers and consumers. To add to the mix, there are Taste of … festivals in several different areas, and open farm days (see our free range chickens!).
Last weekend I headed to the 3rd Annual Tomato and Garlic Festival on a farm outside of the tiny hamlet of Selbourne, I wasn’t really sure of what to expect – could be something really good, or just maybe a couple of stalls of tomato relish. There was a hint of a possible tomato fight, so I thought that was enough of an enticement for me to go anyway. Well, the cars started piling up on the country back road about 2km from the entrance, and as we approached the gates, marshals were there directing the parking. Okay, not just a couple of relish stalls. A bit of a trek from car park to entrance, and then into the 1000 strong crowd to see what was happening. Cooking demonstrations, garlic plaiting, garden tours, bushwalk and bird watching (although, with all the noise, any self respecting bird would be a long way away), talks from agricultural experts, food and drink stalls, tomato tasting and evaluation, seed stalls, and a couple of very fancy condiments stalls … definitely way more than I was expecting.
My little veggie garden has a few issues, so I asked one of the seed sellers for a bit of advice. “What’s the pH of your soil?”. “Ah, I don’t know.”. “Well, you SHOULD! That’s always the first thing you do!!”. Oh, okay, ummm…. sadly, I’m not about to run pH tests on my garden. So, feeling a bit of a failure as a veggie gardener, I turned my attention to the tomato tasting area. Wow! The hundreds of varieties of tomatoes available was really mind boggling. I ended up voting for a wee, tiny yellow tomato that grows with a little leaf tent around it, and tastes just like pineapple. The tomato grower tells me that this is a ground cherry. This is fast getting a little confusing – I know tomatoes are a fruit, but now we have a cherry disguised as a tomato, tasting like pineapple….
For some reason, I just couldn’t make it to the garlic eating competition – maybe because I was eating local calamari and chips. Sadly, with poor weather conditions, not enough tomatoes were available for the tomato fight – but maybe next year!
Love local festivals – and island food festivals are special.