Locally sourced food is able to connect people to a place and also helps to support the local community. In Australia the regions are distinct due to their separation by massive space and extremes in topography. We are driving around Australia for 12 months looking for what separates the regions and to capture some of these differences.
Regional thinking is not to be confused with a parochial mindset. Many of the older generations in a place have never left – in Cornwall it is referred to as going up country – and this is often considered a backwards and outdated outlook. In contrast a chef who focusses on using only local produce may be heralded as a Champion within the industry. Maybe both the hidebound Narcissus and the wandering Goldmund were right.
FINO appeared on our radar as we headed North West from Adelaide towards the Barossa Valley and owners David and Sharon welcomed me in to capture their progressive regional dining. The restaurant operates out of the Seppeltsfield Estate and works closely with local growers to establish product that is unique to the Barossa. Their original restaurant in Willunga was a tiny 40 seater where David and Sharon refined their vision of a truly regional dining experience. Their new home in the Barossa allows them to reach a wider audience with their regional dining philosophy.
David says: “Our bread was developed in conjunction with Emily Salkeld from Small World Bakery at Langhorne Creek SA. She is a master baker and was instrumental in the creation of the Fino loaf. We use three flours for texture and balance of flavours. The Stoneground durum wheat flour is from the Maitland family at Clare, progressive grain growing farmers. Four Leaf use the highest quality milling techniques and are committed to organic farming practices. Lauke was one of the pioneers of milling in the Barossa Valley. We use sprouted grains and cumin for texture and complexity. We prove the bread for 18 hours, that is so we can bake at 10am not 4am like real bakers!”
The quality of the produce used at Fino was highlighted by a zucchini flower dish – with the key ingredient sourced from an old farming family who grow the zucchini between the grape vines.
Driving around Australia we are witnessing a country that is embracing and enjoying its incredible regional (and indigenous) larder, and slowly turning its back on the homogenised offerings of times past.