16 March 2010

Pendolino: Australia's Best Bacon Awards - Bringing home the bacon, Sydney (15 Mar 2010)

Shop 100, Level 2, The Strand Arcade
412-414 George Street, Sydney 2000

You had me at 'bacon'

Tonight's tasting table looked very much like a custom officers worst nightmare at Sydney Airport but they would have had nothing to fear as all the pork products were completely produced in Australia. The dimly lit Olive Oil room at Pendolino was the chosen venue for announcing the winners of Australia’s best bacon, in the nation’s first ever Bacon Week, 15 – 21 March. The pork industry producer’s body, Australian Pork Limited (APL), launched the initiative to highlight the pink square Australian PorkMark – the only guaranteed way you can choose 100 per cent home grown and manufactured bacon. This initiative came about because Australia’s pork industry continues to face huge challenges from the massive amounts of frozen pork landing in Australia from highly subsidised agricultural countries like Denmark, Canada and the United States. In fact 70 per cent of bacon, ham and smallgoods products bought in Australia are made from overseas subsidised pork.

APL CEO Andrew Spencer says: “Traditional Australian grocery labeling laws are vague. Commonly used terms such as ‘Made in Australia’ can be used on products that can contain imported meat. This becomes very confusing for consumers. The pink Australian PorkMark is your guarantee of Australian origin. “To date we have one hundred and twenty one butchers and smallgoods manufacturers Australia wide that are licensed to display the PorkMark logo on their products, which are the finest smallgoods available in Australia.

The Awards For Excellence bacon competition was open to butchers and smallgoods processors who make bacon from 100 per cent Australian pork. There were 62 different bacons from 45 manufacturers around the country that were tasted and judged, in two categories, full rasher and low fat - the most consumed types of bacon. Each entry was judged on the curing process, aroma, texture, taste and shrinkage when cooked. The essential criteria in this competition was that the pork had to be sourced from Australian grown pig meat.

For some reason I really thought I was going to get to try some good old fashioned crispy fried bacon but alas there was none to be seen tonight. But it was very enlightening to see how many different types of pork products there were on the market and I tasted them all, twice. My memorable highlights were the Lardo (Cured Pork Backfat) pictured above from Pino's Dolce Vita (Sydney) which was amazingly melt-in-your-mouth and buttery — definitely not good for the arteries. The Pure Pork Salami from Borgo Smallgoods (Brisbane) and the Jamon from San Jose Smallgoods (Adelaide) with it's nice depth of flavour and softness also stood out for me. The prosciutto from Culatello Quattro Stelle (Sydney) was tasty and buttery soft. I could appreciate the nice flavours in the Weiswurst from Euro Master (Sydney) as well. I now have a goodie bag of all of them to try again including the winner of full rasher bacon from Schultes Meat Tavern (QLD) which I'm sure I'll appreciate this weekend for breakfast with scrambled eggs. I really enjoyed the wine choices from Piggs Peake of Super Tusker Sangiovese and Pork Barrel Viognier — a few more years on the Sangiovese would have rounded off the tannin nicely.

Winners are grinners

Over All
1st - Schultes Meat Tavern, Plainland QLD
2nd - Coota Valley Meats, Engadine NSW
3rd - Skara Smallgoods, Nairne SA

Full Rasher
1st - Schultes Meat Tavern, Plainland QLD
2nd - Coota Valley Meats, Engadine NSW
3rd - Skara Smallgoods, Nairne SA

Low Fat
1st - Willhome Farm Fresh Meats, Swan Hill Vic
2nd - Kanmantoo Bacon Company, Kanmantoo SA
3rd - Lucas Quality Meats, Bronte NSW

Other visits to Pendolino:
15 March 2010 - Bacon Week Launch
15 July 2009 - Vincisgrassi, Cotoletta alla milanese

Other National Bacon Week Launch events:
7 March 2011 – Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre
15 March 2010 – Pendolino media launch

A big thanks to Stewart White from Whiteworks Public Relations for inviting me along to the launch.

Pork products sampled
Guanciale Campisi Butchery Sydney Cured Pork Cheek

Lardo Pino's Dolce Vita Sydney Cured Pork Backfat

Pure Pork Salami Borgo Smallgoods Brisbane

Weiswurst Euro Master Sydney White Sausage

Danish Salami Roberts Meats Hunter Valley Smoked Salami

Chorizo Barossa Farm Produce SA Berkshire Pork Sausage

Tartufo Quattro Stelle Sydney Lean Pure Pork Salami with shaved truffle

Coppa B RE & Sons Perth Cured Pork Neck

Smoked Round Ham Skara Smallgoods SA Full Muscled Boneless Leg Ham

Jamon San Jose Smallgoods Adelaide Spanish style serrano jamon

Prosciutto Fabbris Melbourne Fabbris' Signature Product

Culatello Quattro Stelle Sydney 'Little bum' the most prized part of the prosciutto

Lachs Schinken BB Products Sydney Dry-cured, air-dried boneless pork loin.

Pancetta Princi Perth Traditional Italian cured bacon

Non-Pork products
Piggs Peake Pork Barrel Viognier 2009, Piggs Peake Super Tusker Sangiovese 2008


Vegetable sticks

Cirtus dressing made with Agrumato oil

Olive oil

Outside view of balcony

Olive Oil Room

Tasting table

Restaurant dining room

Balcony view of The Strand Arcade

Spaghetti carbonara

Australian Pork
Martin Carr, Australian Pork

Andrew Spencer, Australian Pork

Friendly pork lovers

Natascha Moy (Food in Focus) and Kylie Roberts (Australian Pork)

Goodie Bag
How did they fit this all into that little bag I'll never know

Bacon Rashers from Schulte's Meat Tavern, Plainland QLD

Princi Smallgoods Rolled Pancetta Mild

Quattro Stelle Culatello & Tartufo Salami

Fabbris Prosciutto

Campisi's Continental Butchery Guanciale

San José Smallgoods Premium Prosciutto

Robert's Meats Danish Salami

B. RE. & Sons Coppa Fermented

Skara Boneless Round Ham

Pinos Dolce Vita Lardo di Colonnata

BB Products Lachs Schinken

Borgo Smallgoods Pure Pork Sausage, Prosciutto Borgo

Euro Master Smallgoods: Weisswurst, Swiss Bratwurst, German/Swiss Cheese Sausage, Chabay/Czabia 'spicy' farm style

The Black Pig Hand made charcuterie

View Larger Map
Pendolino on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Oh that lardo was all kinds of deliciousness. Like eating happiness. You can quote me on that. lol.

Adrian @ Food Rehab said...

oh geeze, check out all that meat. Pancetta...mmm...

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of pork!! yummo!

Simon Leong said...

hi helen, hehe i'll definitely quote you on that. can't wait to try it again.

hi adrian, so much pork so little time :-)

hi ellie, it was a very overwhelming amount of pork to try but someone had to do it :-) although i missed the crispy bacon, you can't beat a good crispy bacon

Angela said...

Oh my goodness! I'm so jealous you're country has a whole week devoted to BACON! I agree, you can't beat a perfectly crispy bacon.

Simon Leong said...

hi angela, i think it should be a National holiday as well :-)

Renita said...

oh. my. gosh! That is a lot of pig products! Like the wine selection Piggs Peake - very fitting. Pendolino is such a lovely restaurant but it's a food bloggers nightmare trying to get photos in that lighting - but very romantic it is.

I hope you enjoyed all that pork...or perhaps saved me some?

Simon Leong said...

hi renita, i know what you mean about the lighting. it's definitely a challenge, especially using only a compact digital camera. a digital SLR would have no probs. i remember when i used to really enjoy low lighting in restaurants but now that i take photos of food i worry about the lighting all the time now :-)

YaYa said...

Nice to see your comment in the Times! Hooray for food bloggers!

Phuoc'n Delicious said...

WOW! That's a lot of pork..

AY said...

WOW. that goodie bag is like the one we got from the award launch night but...a billion times more?! talk about bacon overload!

Simon Leong said...

hi yaya, food bloggers rule hehe ;-)

hi Phuoc'n Delicious, i think it's going to take me ages to finish all the pork samples. i'm seriously thinking of having my own pork tasting night just so i can share it all :-)

hi AY, you can never have bacon overload but i think i'm pretty close to reaching that threshold :-)

kosher said...

I overload with too much pork you post... really yummy and tasty! Now I'm craving for crispy bacon.. :(

Simon Leong said...

hi kosher, i'm always craving crispy bacon :-) the crispier the better!

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