“This is our Charleston cheese made from jersey milk, named after a neighbouring town, Charleston. We affectionately call this cheese Charlie.”
”Oh really, Charlie?” said Prince Charles with a broad smile, “Camilla did you hear, they call this cheese Charlie!“ To which they both laughed.
When I was asked if I would like to present Woodside Cheese to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall I had no idea just how memorable an experience it would be. The market style walkthrough, carefully crafted by Maggie Beer, showcased the timeless Penfolds Magill Estate scenery to the royals, as they meandered the large marquee.
Over a dozen producers arranged, fussed and fiddled with their produce to create perfect arrangements – and perfect they were! As I looked around I felt so very proud to be a South Australian, revelling among this selection of world class food and wine. Premier Jay Weatherill, Maggie Beer and Peter Gago guided the royals through this colourful gastronomic display. P
eter Gago greeted the royals with a short tour through the vineyard before settling at his own installation which boasted several bottles of Penfolds’ liquid gold including the special 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz. They sniffed and swirled the 50-year-old wine before Camilla let out a hearty “cheers” and they tasted a wee drop. Needless to say, all were amused and it set the tone for the remainder of the tour.
The royals proceeded to Saskia Beer, who was enthusiastically stuffing Woodside Saltbush Chevre and Matjarra herbs into her own corn-fed organic chooks. Alongside her, the wonderful Richard Gunner was hanging up an entire saltbush lamb while the three barbecue kettles behind him exuded the succulent aromas of lamb, chicken, beef and kangaroo – teasing our tastebuds as it wafted through the marquee.
Herbs from Aboriginal company Nunga Produce were shared by all in both cooking and garnishing, the sweet and spicy fragrances complemented the spectacular market garden display. Plump spectacles of strawberries, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes, capsicum, aubergines, apples and pears filled the marquee with their rich colours.
This display perfectly illustrated the vibrancy, strength and diversity of South Australian produce. Our Farmers of the Year, Mary Retallack and Mr Peter Kuhlmann, chatted briefly about farming to both royals who keenly asked questions about crop yields and livestock health. Then came the cheese.
Prince Charles was attracted to one cheese in particular – if only by curiosity at first, asking, “what is this one?” with an inquisitive look on his face. Covered in fresh herbs and bright, edible flowers, the curiosity immediately turned into delight as he and Camilla sampled the Monet, before moving onto our Edith’s Cheese. We then discussed milk sources and the Artisan Cheese Making Academy.
The next stall belonged to Laucke Flour Mills that displayed a fine arrangement of breads and pastries, wafting that deliciously tempting aroma that bread does. A pungent and superb olive oil by Joe Grilli and Dee Nolan complimented the bread, while the didgeridoo played by Vincent “Jack” Buckskin (2011 Young South Australian of the Year) set a remarkably Australian atmosphere that felt relaxed and genuine. Simon Bryant positioned a 40kg tuna compliments of Dr Hagen Stehr AO.
The tuna was atop a huge slab of ice and accompanied by his friends Kinkawooka black farmed mussels and MSC certified sustainable Spencer Gulf king prawns. Bryant served the Duchess sashimi with his special Wakame seaweed. Bryant said: “I have always had a precarious relationship with Southern Blue Fin Tuna. I am in awe of its beauty, stunned by its flavour, aware of its export value to the state but slightly terrified by the possible consequences of the world’s appetite for it.”
Prince Charles commented: “That is a very valuable thing”. “I have no doubt that the inference was on the future of the species and I DO have enough faith in the boys in Lincoln that we don’t let the future king down,” Bryant said. It is no party without Mr Glenn Cooper and his world class brew. Cooper was relaxed at his traditional Aussie bar sporting a bright and classy beer tie.
On the home stretch Duncan MacGillivray from Kangaroo Island Pure Grain finished the afternoon with Tim Tams, produced with soft wheat varieties – Orion and Impala from the farms on Kangaroo Island. Jim Carreker discussed the integration of food and wine experiences into our premium tourism experience. Hats off to Primary Industries and Regions SA for the initiative to showcase South Australia’s premium food and wine from our clean environment to the royals in this spectacular manner.
A swag of local and international journalists accompanied the entourage and they were all delighted to have the opportunity to try the offerings presented. Sometimes it takes something quite out of the ordinary to make you realise what you may otherwise take for granted. South Australia punches way above its weight with world class food, wine, tourism and people. I encourage you all next time you are out shopping food to consider buying South Australian; we could all easily be South Australian Food Ambassadors.
Kris Lloyd is Woodside’s Head Cheesemaker