On the journey to find myself … or a place to live before I do, I made it to Tassie. The “South Island” of Australia has low population density, moderate climate (mind you, every time I am here it’s the height of winter, pretty cold and there’s snow – not that common in OZ) and awesome food & produce.
After a day on Cape Hauy with its spectacular cliffs and another day in the mountains – yay – as in Mount Field National Park, Wallaby tracks in the snow included, I have headed down to beautiful Huon Valley. It’s known for its awesome produce, whether it’d be the famous Atlantic salmon (mostly farmed though), wine (the pinots are awesome) and pretty much any fruit. It’s no coincidence Tassie is called the Apple Island – and not just referring to its shape.
So I found the Apple Shed which is really “just” a business growing awesome organic apples, fermenting their sugary juice into cider and running a “cellar door” / barn / shed. Now, I like a good (and heated) barn any day (think man cave). But this reminds me of something else. In the region where I grew up, a lot of people own small orchards and grow their own apples (my Dad owns a whopping 2 apple trees and I think one of them has collapsed), for consumption … and to take to the local fruit press to get them crushed, juice extracted and then ferment into Most (cider) in your cellar.
We’re talking organic (the cheap skates not wanting to pay for pesticides), local (pick yourself – well or get your kids to do it) and thoroughly fermented. Now Mum wants to put an edge on it, so she juices elderberry (hand picked, you guessed it) and adds it to the apple juice giving it an awesome red-ish colour and making the taste even better.
On fermentation: any apple juice that is not either pasteurised or cooled will ferment… which is when yeast and bacteria will eat the sugar and convert it into acid and / or alcohol. Now I wouldn’t go as far as to call Most a superfood, but if it’s not pasteurised, the active bacteria in it will strengthen your gut (and as such your immune system). – In the spirit of full disclosure, the alcohol in it certainly is not healthy.
So what’s the point of this post you might wonder. What is a “Heuriger” or “Besenwirtschaft”. Well “heurig” is Austrian / Bavarian for “this year’s”. Meaning the newly pressed fruit juice (usually grapes or apples) that is fresh and just about to ferment. And some people doing it, will setup a pop-up restaurant (bloody hipsters) called Heuriger, Besen- or Straußenwirschaft where they sell this year’s partially fermented apple or grape wine and whatever leftover fully fermented wine from last year. Traditionally you can BYO food and / or they might have some hearty feast on the menu. The pop-up period is quite short (tied to the harvesting season) and the atmosphere is awesome.
On that note, my first ever business trip was to Vienna and they took me out to a “Heuriger” … I missed the alarm and slept in, way into the morning (until my pickup arrived)… properly embarrassed (good we finished everything the first day).
The Apple Shed is a “Besen” on the other side of the world, its Most is pretty awesome.