27 April 2015
Whenever I mention Tamworth to city slickers, the first thing they say is… “Ah, Australia’s country music capital”. It is the home of the Big Golden Guitar and has hosted more than 40 annual Country Music Festivals (held every January), but Tamworth’s food and wine scene is another string to the region’s bow. To celebrate, Taste Tamworth is a ten-day festival held every year in April, highlighting the region’s growers, makers, chefs and diners through a host of events such as the Taste Pop-up Laneway Bar, Taste in the Park, The Long Lunch and Farm Gate Trail.
Taste Laneway Pop-up Bar
Taste Tamworth kicked off with the trendy one-night Taste Laneway Pop-up Bar, where locals and visitors enjoyed a selection of nibbles from two local caterers serving great Lebanese and Italian cuisine, plus live music and a DJ. The inland city came to life in a little laneway in the heart of Tamworth and was the perfect opening to what was a hugely successful festival for 2015.
Tamworth’s stunning Bicentennial Park was transformed into a foodie haven known as Taste in the Park, where 10,000 locals and visitors spent the day sampling regional food, meeting the producers or pulling up a seat in the garden bar. Mum and I were delighted to be asked to host cooking demonstrations at this packed event. After a quick Q & A, we talked the audience through a Thai larb of duck, which finished with tastings, while our second session explored the world of hot smoking and we were fortunate to use local Arc-ed-Ciel trout.
The Long Lunch is one of the highlights of Taste Tamworth, with 250 visitors making their way to Bicentennial Park to enjoy a five-course lunch created by the region’s top chefs. Held under the dappled shade of the park’s trees, with live music and tables set with linen tablecloths and silverware, diners were treated to a cheese platter, local wines from Merilba Estate and New England Brewing Company beer – there was nothing but rave reviews.
Farm Gate Trail
Running throughout the festival, the Farm Gate Trail saw about 20 producers open their gates to host visitors and provide an insight into how they farm and market their produce. This self-drive tour took in New England, Peel Valley, and Liverpool Plains. Among the many highlights were fresh produce shopping opportunities at the Le Pruneau Organic Markets and Nundle Craft Cooperative, cheese sampling at Hunter Belle Cheese, and wine tasting at Blickling Estate and Eastview Estate.
Taste Tamworth is an outstanding regional food and wine event – but don’t wait until next year’s festival to explore the region and its many gourmet offerings.