Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to literally dig deep into the terroir and learnt everything about Jacob’s Creek – the history, the people and of course the wine. I travelled across different wine regions in South Australia from Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills to Barossa Valley, to discover the tradition of winemaking. It was truly a whole new experience for me and my knowledge about wine was definitely expanded.
Fast forward to a month ago where I found myself back in the Jacob’s Creek Visitor’s Centre in the Barossa Valley and this time, I got to team up with Jacob’s Creek once again to work on an exciting project that was inspired by their new ‘Made by’ campaign. Made By is a new campaign by Jacob’s Creek celebrating the people, places and passions that go into crafting every bottle of Jacob’s Creek wine.
Of course Barossa Valley is not always about the wine, there is also a collective of farmers and producers here who are just as passionate about what they are producing. Wine and food go hand in hand, both birthed from the land and shaped by the dedicated people that makes them unique to the region. My role was to capture the essence and unique charm of Barossa Valley, as I would be cooking up a storm by using local produce to showcase what this region has to offer. But where’s the fun without a good challenge? Jacob’s Creek had set me a task to create three dishes using local produce and pair with their premium Reserve wines.
Well, consider challenge accepted. So I wasted no time and headed straight to meet Annemarie and Graham at The Food Forest in Gawler.
The Food Forest is a 15 hectare permaculture farm in Gawler where Annemarie and Graham Brookman grow over 160 varieties of organically certified fruit, nuts, grains and vegetables. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is a framework for thinking about and designing environmentally sustainable farms, gardens, buildings and communities. It aims to create systems that will sustain not only for the present, but for future generations. They also have WWOOFers helping out at the farm quite regularly during the harvest season. Being a WWOOFER, you get the opportunity to work at an organic farm, exchanging 4-6 hours work per day for your meals and accommodation, and of course you get to learn about permaculture organic farming.
Annemarie and Graham usually have a stall at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market every second Sunday, where you can pick up some of their fresh organic produce. Whenever they are not at the market, they will be running workshops at the farm including building with strawbales, fruit and nut growing, organic vegetable growing, preservation of food, planning your property and becoming a certified organic producer.
Many of the autumn vegetables had already been harvested when we were there, and the winter crop like broccoli had only just started to come out. I felt elated (and guilty at the same time) when Annemarie asked me to cut the first broccoli of the season for my cooking even though they were still baby size. It may sound silly but it was rather a special moment to actually cut my own veggie straight from the ground. It definitely beats putting a broccoli in a plastic bag at the supermarket, don’t you agree? I also picked a few other vegetables including young leeks to go into the first dish that I was going to cook.
I had a pasta dish in mind that I would love to cook, so next stop was to pick up some Wiech’s Barossa Valley Egg Noodles. Wiech’s is a Barossa Valley company with over 75 years of proud heritage. They believe the family meal has always been an important part of the Barossa tradition and Wiech’s are proud to share their best egg noodles at these special occasions. David and Val West are the current business owners who took over Wiech’s in 2007, but still continuing the tradition. When they are not selling their egg noodles at Barossa Farmers Market, they and a few part-time staff will be making egg noodles in their small factory at Tanunda, the traditional way of course.
These German egg noodles are very similar to Italian egg pasta, they are generally thicker and cut into long wide strips. The noodles are all hand-made using the highest quality flour and spelt. The noodle dough is kneaded longer to produce more gluten so it is often more chewy than its pasta cousin and also very forgiving during cooking.
To go with my pasta, I also picked up some small goods from Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst in Tanunda. Another institution of Barossa, Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst has been producing quality traditional Mettwurst and small goods for well over 20 years. They specialise in German-style traditional fermentation and smoking methods to create some of the most mouth-watering Mettwurst.
So for my pasta dish, ideally I would love something a little bit spicy like chorizo. They introduced me to their new invention – the “after burn” mettwurst which was fiercely covered in dried chilli flakes and may have been a little too hot for my dish. Hence, I settled for some spicy pepperoni which worked just the same and they made a mean one here too at Steiny’s. I also picked up some smoked bacon, the smokey flavour would definitely help to elevate the flavours of the pasta dish.
After picking up all the ingredients, it was time to head back to Jacob’s Estate Cottages to prepare my first dish. I’ve stayed at this cottage last time I was here at Jacob’s Creek. It is the original estate of the Jacob family including William Jacob after whom the creek was named, and his siblings John and Ann. I was amazed to see how this place has changed since my last visit. They have fully revamped this old sandstone cottage into a modern and comfortable 3-bedroom B&B accommodation, currently only available for the visiting VIP guests (note – they are planning to open for public rental in future).
Behind the cottages is a well-equipped outdoor commercial kitchen overlooking a gorgeous kitchen garden. Here is where they hold regular outdoor cooking classes. Visitors are welcome to sign up for their cooking classes where you get to pick fresh produce from the kitchen garden and then prepare a gourmet lunch at the outdoor kitchen.
I was pretty lucky that I got to cook in this beautiful outdoor kitchen. So the first dish I cooked was a favourite pasta dish in many Australian households with a twist – spicy chorizo fettuccine carbonara. It is perfect for a weeknight meal as it can be easily prepared within 20 minutes and enough to feed a family without costing an arm and leg. Since my challenge was to use local produce to prepare the dish, I had no trouble substituting the pasta with Wiech’s egg noodle and chorizo with Steiny’s spicy pepperoni. If you are preparing this dish at home, please do use whatever is available in your area as I do believe best dish is created using locally sourced ingredients. You can even add mushroom if you like.
If you’ve been using cream for your carbonara, well stop it, right now! Cream is a no no in any carbonara, many Italians can tell you it is a sacrilege! Eggs, cheese and a little bit of the water the pasta was cooked in is all you need to create that creamy sauce. Trust me, you won’t even need cream once you have try this method.
Looking for a wine to pair with this pasta dish is a no brainer. I’ve chosen Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay which worked exceptionally well with the creamy carbonara. The Chardonnay is complex yet elegant with a fresh lemon citrus flavours and hints of white peach. I just loved how the spicy pepperoni enhanced all the distinctive flavours in the wine.
- 1 packet (250g) fettucine (or flat egg noodle)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 bacon strips, cut into thin slices
- 250g chorizo (or spicy pepperoni), cut into thick slices
- 1 leek, white part only, quartered then chopped finely
- 1 brown onion, diced finely
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 eggs plus 1 yolk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water, then grab a handful of pasta and spread them into the water and cook for 10-15 minutes or until al dente.
- 2. Meanwhile, heat a deep fry pan (or a wok) with olive oil, add bacon and chorizo, stir fry for a few minutes to render the fat out and they start to brown on the edges. Then add leek, onion and garlic, stir fry for another few more minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
- 3. When the pasta is cooked, drain pasta and reserve one cup of the water. Add pasta to the fry pan, stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper, then turn off the heat.
- 4. Beat all the eggs and yolk well together in a mixing bowl, add cheese and stir to mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the pasta while keep stirring until the pasta is nicely coated. Add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems a bit dry. Grate more cheese on top of pasta before you serve.
Wine pairing – Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay
TASTE – Complex yet elegant with white peach characters, a creamy texture and refined finish
SMELL – Lifted bouquet of citrus, white peach and fig balanced with nuances of cashew and cedar
COMPLEMENTS – Ideal accompaniment to cream-based pasta dishes or roasted chicken.
For the second dish, Jacob’s Creek asked me to cook a dish using pork belly, but the challenge was I had to match it with their Reserve Shiraz. Technically pork isn’t really red meat, so the bold Shiraz can be overpowering against the sweet delicate meat. So what I had in mind was to create a dish that has strong, rich flavours that should work with the Shiraz beautifully. So first thing first, I needed to get some pork belly for this dish and my host knew exactly where to take me to grab some.
First stop was at Mount Pleasant Butcher for some pork belly. Nothing beat the friendly service of an old fashioned butcher shop where locals come here not only to buy some quality meat but also catching up with news and gossip about what’s happening around the Barossa. Here you will find all the meats are from 100% family-owned and -operated South Australian businesses, rest assured that all meats here are the highest quality. Mt Pleasant Butcher owner Jamie told us that the pork belly we were getting was from a free range pig farm at Keyneton, so off we went to check out those happy piggies.
We met pig farmer Michael Blenkiron and his wife and son, Margaret and Shaun who were happily showed us where the piggies live, sleep and eat, and repeat. I squealed when I saw a whole litter of pink piglets happily sucking on mummy’s milk. These little piglets would stay with their mummy for breast feeding until they were at least three weeks old before being released to a bigger pigpen where they will continue to grow. By seventeen months, the pigs will be a full grown size and ready for the market. The pigs I met seem happy and weren’t stressed at all, Michael told us that the pigs have an endless supply of food and all the grains are also sourced from local farmers. It was great to learn that the pork I am about to cook was from pigs that were well looked after in an ethical farming environment.
The second dish I was about to cook is a dish that is very close to my heart, a favourite dish of mine that always makes me homesick. It was vinegar braised pork belly with eggs, a recipe I inherited from my mum. It is a one pot wonder, very easy to prepare by simply putting all ingredients in the pot and let it simmer away for couple of hours. What you’ll be rewarded with is a big warm hug of tender pork belly swimming in a rich, sweet and sour dark soy gravy. I particular like the use of star anise that gives the dish that distinctive aniseed flavour, that works surprisingly well with the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz.
Remember that broccoli (and also bok choy) that I picked from The Food Forest? I also created two side dishes with the vegetables to go with the pork dish.
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz is an exceptional robust wine. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼This full bodied wine has a big spicy black fruits taste and subtle oak flavour. The supple ripe tannins are typical of the best Barossa Shiraz which gives you a long, satisfying finish. It is a very versatile wine that will pair very well with cheese or any hearty meat dishes, just like this vinegar braised pork dish
- 2 litres water
- 1kg pork belly, cut into 3 cm (11/4 inch) cubes
- 5 cm (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 whole garlic bulb
- 8 star anise
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark soy caramel
- 100 ml light soy sauce
- 150g sugar
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (extra for the egg lovers)
- 1. Pour the water into a large non-stainless steel pot (such as a large Chinese claypot or enameled cast-iron casserole dish), and bring to the boil over medium–high heat.
- 2. Add pork belly to the boiling water, then add ginger, whole garlic bulb, star anise and bring back to the boil again. Scoop out all the impurities floating on the surface.
- 3. Turn the heat down to a simmer, then add chilli flakes, white vinegar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and sugar. Give it a stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the hard-boiled eggs to the pot. Cover with lid and braise the pork for at least 2 hours, or until the pork is meltingly tender, stirring occasionally.
- 4. When the sauce starts to thicken, have a taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. If it is too sour or too salty, add a little more sugar. If it is too sweet, add more light soy sauce. DO NOT add more water unless it dries out too quickly. Serve hot with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.
Wine pairing – Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz
TASTE – A full bodied wine with big spicy black fruits taste and subtle oak flavours with a silky finish.
SMELL – Bright blackberry and clove aromas, hints of allspice and vanilla caramel oak.
COMPLEMENTS – An ideal accompaniment to braised lamb shanks, eye-fillet of beef or hard cheeses.
If that wasn’t challenging enough, Jacob’s Creek decided to throw me a curve ball and requested I create a dessert that would go well with their sparkling Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir. It is a little be unusual to pair a sparkling wine with dessert, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I was confident that I would be able to pull it off.
My host took me to Gully Gardens in Angaston to pick up some dried fruit for my dessert. The Steicke’s beautiful 32 acre property has been in their family for fifty years. Just outside of Angaston, it is a traditional mixed farm, with 8 acres devoted to fruit orchards, the source of Gully Gardens dried fruit and natural confectionary. Sadly it was the wrong time of year to visit an orchard as most fruits had already been picked, the 8 acres orchards were reduced to nothing but twigs. Nevertheless, I picked up some beautiful dried prunes as this underrated fruit would be the hero ingredient of my dessert. For the final challenge, I made a vanilla panna cotta, served with brandy poached prunes and macadamia gingerbread crumbs.
As the Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir is refreshingly crisp yet dry on the palate, I had to create a dessert that was delicate and not overpowering. For some reason, when I tasted the sparkling wine, all I could think of was Christmas. Hence, I decided to play with those flavour notes that remind me of Christmas.
Everybody loves a soft, delicate vanilla panna cotta that wobbles. I kept it very simple and used less sugar as I wanted the prunes to shine in this dish. The prunes were the piece de resistance in this dessert, poached in brandy (or Armagnac if you have any) with a cinnamon stick. If you are going to poach some prunes, I’d suggest you to make a big batch as you can use it on ice cream, cake or hot porridge in the morning. Last but not least, what is Christmas without the smell of gingerbread? Since panna cotta and prunes are both soft in texture, I added macadamia and gingerbread crumbs to give the dessert crunch.
The Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir has a lovely creamy texture and biscuity nutty flavour which worked beautifully with the macadamia and gingerbread crumbs. The refreshing lemon and citrus notes balanced nicely with the panna cotta and added sweetness to the poached prunes. Dare I say, it was my favourite pairing among them all.
- VANILLA PANNA COTTA
- 15g gelatin powder
- 300ml double cream (or thickened cream)
- 600ml full cream milk
- 260g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
- BRANDY POACHED PRUNES
- 300g dried prunes, pitted
- 2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 slice of lemon peel
- 1 cup Armagnac or Brandy, plus 1/2 cup extra
- MACADAMIA AND GINGERBREAD CRUMBS
- 1 cup (150g) macadamia
- 150g plain flour
- 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 100g butter, melted
- 1. To make the panna cotta, soak gelatin powder with 4 tablespoons of cold water until the gelatin is bloomed. Takes about 10 minutes.
- 2. Meanwhile, add double cream, milk, sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan and heat it up over medium heat until it is hot enough to touch without boiling. Turn off the heat, add gelatin to the hot mixture, stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- 3. Pour equal amount of mixture into dariole moulds or plastic cups, transfer them to refrigerator and let it set for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- 4. To poach the prunes, place prunes in a saucepan with water, cinnamon stick, lemon peel and 1 cup of brandy and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the prunes have softened and the syrup is thick. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool. Add the remaining brandy to the mixture. Pour everything into a container and chill in refrigerator until ready to be used.
- 5. To make the crumbs, preheat oven to 180C, spread macadamia on a baking tray, bake for 10 minutes until they are lightly browned. Transfer toasted macadamia to a chopping board, let them cool down a bit then roughly chop them up.
- 6. Place chopped macadamia, flour, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl, then pour melted butter over the mixture. Use both hands, stir everything together until the mixture is wet but crumbly.
- 7. Spread the mixture on a tray lined with baking paper then bake for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is nice golden brown. Remove the tray from oven and set aside to cool. Transfer the crumbs into a container and ready to be used.
- 8. To serve, dip the mould in a pot of hot water for 10 seconds, the panna cotta should slip out of the mould easily onto a serving plate. Add a few spoonfuls of the crumbs, then top with poached prunes, drizzle the syrup over the panna cotta.
Wine pairing – Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir
TASTE – A crisp yet dry palate with complex creamy yeast and biscuity nutty flavours.
SMELL – Refreshing lemon citrus with hints of fresh strawberry and an aroma of freshly baked bread.
COMPLEMENTS – Chilled with oysters, lobster, or crumbed Camembert cheese.
The Barossa Valley might be well known for its wine, but there is so much more to offer. Barossa is a region made by hardworking farmers who are genuine loving what they are doing, made by winemakers who spend nights and days nurturing the vineyards to produce world class wines, made by 100% South Australians.
I had an absolute blast in Barossa, unearthed some of the hidden gems in the valley. I have to thank Jacob’s Creek for this opportunity and their generous hospitality.
Places I’ve visited in Barossa Valley
Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre
Barossa Valley Way, Rowland Flat,
South Australia, 5352 Australia
P: +61 8 8521 3000
Open from 10am – 5pm daily, restaurant open from 12noon – 3pm daily
Except Good Friday and Christmas Day.
The Food Forest
80 Clifford Road, Hillier
South Australia, 5116 Australia
P: (08) 8522 6450
They are at Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market every second Sunday.
The farm gate is only open for workshops, please check website for details.
Wiech’s Barossa Valley Egg Noodles
12 Walden Street, Tanunda,
South Australia, 5352 Australia
(not open for visitors)
P: (08) 8563 3004
They are at Barossa Farmers Market every Saturday.
Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst
9 Barossa Valley Way, Tanunda,
South Australia, 5352 Australia
P: (08) 8563 3098
Tasting room opens
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 4pm
They are at Barossa Farmers Market every Saturday.
Mount Pleasant Butcher
98/100 Melrose St, Mt Pleasant
South Australia, 5235 Australia
P: (08) 8568 2019
Open from Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 5:30 pm | Sat: 7:00 am – 11:30 am
175 Gawler Park Rd, Angaston
South Australia, 5353 Australia
Phone: (08) 8564 2606
Open from Tue to Sat from 9.30am – 3.00pm; other times by appointment
They are at Barossa Farmers Market every Saturday.
[A Table For Two worked closely with Jacob’s Creek on this post for their ‘Made by’ Campaign]