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This program is not captioned. Some acid, some sweetness
and some richness. This is what you eat,
but this is where it grows. Have a sniff of that?
That's a beautiful piece of beef. Nicely aged, bit of fat on there. We're making booze,
and we're having a helluva good time. WOMAN: I sit between a grower
and a chef. Is this a food? Is it a medicine? It's like discovering colour TV after years of watching
black and white.

Hello, I'm Pip Courtney, and this week, a look at
that most-hated of vegetables, the brussels sprout, some black sheep
and Murray Basin salt.

I suppose salt used
to just be a seasoning tool, but now it's a really gourmet
product. When I sort of first started
my career, it was all the Maldon sea salts
and the imported European stuff, and this took over in the period
of a couple of years, I think. It just exploded.

Brussels sprouts have a very bad
reputation in the vegetable world. But is it deserved?
Kerry Staight has a taste.

KERRY STAIGHT: In the paddock, the
brussels sprout is a sight to behold.

Each bush is something
of an architectural masterpiece, but its growers are under no illusion about how many view the vegetable
that comes off it.

They're probably
the most-hated vegetable around, but we sell quite a few,
so someone likes 'em. We keep planting more
and packing more and planting more and packing more, and we don't seem
to have got to the end of it yet. It's certainly a vegetable that
incites passion and divides opinion like no other. On the one side of this bench
is well-known chef and brussels sprout advocate,
Simon Bryant. I mean, I loved 'em as a kid.
I was a weird kid. I loved 'em. On the other is a certain Landline
reporter who has less-fond memories. I mean, it does have
a bad reputation. Why is that? What have we done wrong? Oh, look, I think that overboiling
is the problem. There's a point where it turns into
Orwellian boiled cabbage, sort of, you know,
that memory of just... poverty. That's the only way...
Is it the smell or is it...? It's the smell more than anything.
I mean, there's three things. It's naturally bitter. You're damned
if you do, damned if you don't. One of the bitter compounds in there
turns non-bitter when you cook it, but one of the non-bitters
turns bitter when you cook it. So, you've either got to work
with that bitterness and embrace it or you've got to actually
go completely against it, which I'm going to do today. I'm going to contrast
the bitterness. So, what I've got here
is some onions that I'm just going to caramelise. It's just an onion jam with some
vinegar and a bit of brown sugar. I've got a white sauce here.
Yep. A bit of nutmeg.
Nothing special there. So, these are done...
These are done now? Yeah. And they're a happier colour
than a raw sprout, so this nice vibrant green.

And then this is the sweetness. This is a pretty simple dish
of layering up some acid, some sweetness and some richness. And then the bitterness
is just one thing. And, like I said,
cheese'll make anyone eat anything. (Chuckles) After 15 minutes in the oven
and a garnish of sprout leaves, it's time to face my fear. OK, well,
as a previous brussels sprout - I'll say hater, 'cause I was -
I'll start this end, shall I? Yeah, and there
should be some texture in the sprouts still.
Yeah, there is.

She doesn't like it - I can tell.
No, I do, actually. Is it OK?
Yeah, I do like it. It's a lot better than the way Mum
used to make it. Sorry, Mum.

Maurice Cranwell has been
growing sprouts since his schooldays. Back then, each bush was cared for
and picked by hand. Brussels sprouts was cleaner to pick
than pulling carrots and turnips, and getting muddy and, you know,
brussels sprouts suited us. There was 40 growers once -
it suited them too. Now it's only down to us
and Samwells.

We found that sprouts
have been very good to us. They're a fairly hard crop to grow
and very frustrating, but in the end, we've...
over the years we've got rewards. We started off growing cherries, and the neighbour
started growing sprouts, and he bought a Mercedes Benz
and we thought, 'Ooh, we better get onto this game.'

As others bowed out,
the two stayers spread out and the next generation stepped in.

Both families now grow
around 50 hectares of sprouts and pack up to 50 tonnes a week, making them among the biggest
producers in the country. SCOTT SAMWELL:
They're not a quick cash crop - they're not like a broccoli
or a lettuce that you can grow over summer. So, the reason we've stayed with it
is because we've become good at it,
we know what we're doing and we can make money out of it. So, what is so challenging
about the brussels sprout? They're in the ground for so long,
so that means that you need to protect them from everything
that wants to eat the crop.

The more effort you put into them,
the better they treat you. So, you have to do things
when they need to be done - not when you feel like it. And if you keep
on top of everything, they'll treat you kindly. If not, you may as well
pack up and go home.

It may be a small local industry,
but with not many growers, the brussels business
has been relatively buoyant compared to many other vegetables. However, with more and more greens
hitting the market, the sprout has some
stiff competition. We've got broccoli, cabbage, celery, broccolini,
kale, bok choy - all the Chinese greens - there's a lot of green veg in
the supermarket if you go to look. GIRL: Look at this big one. Which brings us to the biggest battle
for the brussels sprout.

Convincing consumers there's
more to this ball of vitamin C than bad memories. Small ones up here.
It's an easy sell out here. So happy to live on a brussels
sprout farm.(Chuckles) What do your kids think? Oh, look,
my kids love brussels sprouts. They will eat them off the plant
if they're out with me in the field. They will eat them first on
the dinner plate at home at night. And how many brussels sprouts do you
reckon you've eaten in your life? 300.
300? I don't know.
Yes. Way too much. Do you ever get sick
of brussels sprouts? ALL: No. What about the taste do you like? Oh, there's this taste that,
I don't know what it's called, but it's a really good taste that
I don't think anything else has.

If people are exposed to a brussels
sprout of the current varieties that we have and it's cooked
in an appropriate way, I think that people will be more
than happy to have another go at it.

The black sheep of the family
is making a comeback. A small band of sheep enthusiasts
is keen to breed the animals for their unusual wool,
as Prue Adams discovered.

The idea for this story started
with a Facebook post from a friend. She put up some photos
of the ridiculously-cute Valais Blacknose sheep,
which hails from Switzerland. I made a few calls to see if these
toy-like creatures were available in Australia, and before long, I was
driving halfway across the country from my home in South Australia
to New South Wales to speak to breeders who are passionate about
producing coloured wool.

Good morning, sheep.

So, I started with
one coloured sheep ten years ago.

Originally from Sydney,
Melissa Henry became interested in the genetics of coloured sheep
while still at school. Now she is the president
of the New South Wales branch of the Black and Coloured Sheep
Breeders Association.

And the first port of call for enthusiasts wanting
to get hold of special sheep. There certainly are a lot
of rare breeds that are overseas that are naturally coloured,
such as the Jacob sheep and the Valais Blacknose sheep that we see a lot of inquiries for
here in Australia. The difficulty is meeting
Australian quarantine requirements, which is absolutely crucial in protecting
the Australian sheep industry. Do you go through phases like this
in the association where people see something and go,
'Oh, have to have one of those'? Oh, absolutely. Yeah, certainly. We certainly do have a market
for selling cute sheep for people on small acreage
who are looking for a few pets, and if you're gonna have a few pets, then you may as well
have a few cute ones. While cuteness plays a part
in the selection of pets, the professional breeders
of black and coloured sheep actually treat their segment
of the industry very seriously. Wool quality is really important, having productive ewes that produce
a long staple-length. Temperament is a must for me,
being a small flock, and I operate it largely on my own, so temperament is really important
for me to be able to manage my sheep and to get them into the yards
quite easily.

The market
for naturally-coloured fleece is usually through the craft trade. Spinners, weavers, felters and home
knitters like to get hold of wool that has not been artificially dyed, and there has been a noticeable
resurgence of interest in these old-time skills.

Melissa Henry sells her fleeces
directly to the public via a Facebook page and client list. There absolutely is a market
for coloured wool. My fleeces are sold
to hand spinners, so individual fleeces,
at $15 per kilo. So, I guess compared to
a lot of commodity wool market, that is seen as quite a premium.

As adorable as they are
to the uninitiated, to woolgrowers,
the birth of a black or brown lamb is not usually cause for celebration. Only white wool can be successfully
and consistently dyed, so coloured offspring
are usually culled.

Off camera, there are those
who scoff at the breeding of these colourful animals.

'Oh, there goes Black Betty',
or 'There goes Blacksheep Broni'. And they're two names -
two monikers - that have given... have been given to me by members of
the white stud merino association. High on a hill outside Yass is the biggest coloured wool stud
in the country. Come on.Push.
Let's have you, let's have you. Yoou too. Come on, don't mess about. Broni Jekyll and Mac MacDonald have
run as many as 600 superfine merinos in varying shades of brown,
black and grey, but they're scaling back a little
now as they get older.

Broni is from
a wool-producing family. When she was growing up,
the 'genetic embarrassments', as she laughingly calls them,
wouldn't have had a future. Boom! Gone! (Laughs)
No questions asked. No, no, there's a very real reason
for that, and we cannot afford
to have any dark or medullated fibre contamination in the
Australian white wool clip, particularly
in the merino wool clip, because it's absolutely tantamount
to the wonderful quality of a product that we put out - of
white wool - that we protect that.

Under the stud name Drap'hyd, she's one of very few
coloured wool producers to sell through
the mainstream commodity market.

We do follow our wool through, we're very keen to make sure
that we know what our buyers want. And we have found out that the wool
mainly goes over to Korea for early-stage processing. So... somewhere there could be
a Saudi prince wearing a suit that our wool has gone into,
but, by crikey, I would've loved to have been paid
the amount that he paid for that bloody suit. (Laughs) Aww, look at that.
Isn't that beautiful? (Speaks indistinctly) With an emphasis on
low-stress handling and a keen eye to what the market wants,
Broni Jekyll is well-regarded by members of both the coloured
and white wool sectors. You got left behind! While she gets some jokey nicknames, she doesn't believe there
is the same prejudice there once was. We've had three or four different
merino inspectors come out, and the sort of comments
that are given to us are, 'Well, they're absolutely great. Pity they're coloured,
pity they're black.' But that doesn't worry us,
because that suits our market. There's room for everyone
in the industry. At the end of the day, we're
all about making our own share of the profit,
you know, the dollar at home. So, they find that they might have
a small property or a medium-size, a large property,
growing coloured wool, but if they can make extra profit
for themselves, well, well and good.

PIP COURTNEY: Show cooking isn't
for for the faint-hearted with its strict rules
and complex standards. I spoke to author Liz Harfull
who's documented this mysterious art.

I love going to shows. Fancy having an excuse
to go to a show for work, which is wonderful for a start, but I also love meeting the people
and the extraordinary diversity of people, from children right
through to people in their 90s who are still show cooking.

If you make a cake,
take it out of the oven and you think, 'Is it cooked?', put to your ear
and if it's still talking to you, put in back in the oven till it
stops talking.Stops singing.

I was looking for people
who loved cooking, who were passionate about their show
and had a real generosity of spirit, because I wanted
not just their recipe, but all of the tips that go with it, the things that they've learnt
over the years and they needed to be very generous
in sharing that, so that was the ultimate criteria.

Edna O'Neill lives on a dairy farm
at Murgon, and was thrilled to be included. There's a lot of younger generation
coming on and they're wanting to know
the ins and outs of cooking and show recipes. And you'll be able to pick up
some secrets too from other cooks? Oh, well, what I don't know... I think I know a fair bit already,
yes. The big no-noes are skewer holes
in your cake, cake rack marks, unevenness of any kind. Put it onto a tea towel, so that
you don't get the cake rack marks coming into the bottom of your cake 'cause it can actually detract
from the presentation. Incredible attention to detail. Infinite care in everything you do. That's what show cooking is about. And it might seem like obsessive
behaviour to the average home cook, but if you really want to win at the
highest level and win consistently, that's what it takes.

Liz found many
of the best show cooks were engineers
or fitters and turners - jobs where precision is all
and millimetres matter. So, for them to actually measure up
a slice and make sure it's square, they do it without
even thinking about it. You're a bit of an expert
of the fruitcakes... Retired dairy farmer Geoff Beattie
cooked to chase away the depression that followed the death of his wife. Just jam. Now he's one of the most successful
bakers and preservers in the state. So, do you hang onto your recipes?
Are they secrets? Ah, I try to give it out to young
people to encourage people. I don't give it out
to seasoned cooks.

And Liz says Geoff's tip
is a cracker. He makes a lot of jam and he has
beautiful, big preserving pots, but he butters the bottom of them to make sure that
the jam doesn't stick, and I'd never thought of doing that,
so that's a great tip.

It's made me a better baker. I thought I knew a reasonable amount
about cooking when I first started this, but I am so much better now
from following those tips. It's like having 50 grandmas.
It is like 50... Yes! It's exactly like having 50 grandmas
standing over your shoulder. One of the show cooks in here
is quite young - Tamara - talks about the fact that she
can hear her grandmother's voice in her ear when she's making
her ginger nut biscuits.

There are three things
show cooks are passionate about - sponge cake, fruitcake and scones.

Liz's hardest decision
was picking one person to represent this
much-loved country staple.

Slightly different version of scones
and they're very light and fluffy, beautifully textured. They pass the test
of both baking and tasting. And I decided too
that Dorothy was the perfect cook to represent them because she has
been cooking for mustering camps on the family grazing property
for many, many years, and she would have made thousands
of scones in her time. So, it seemed a very fitting person
to have with the recipe.

Liz Harfull no longer fears
show cooking is a dying art and hopes renewed interest
won't just drive cookbook sales, but prompt people to
ask great-aunts and grandmothers for their treasured recipes,
before it's too late.

Too much salt has been a continuing
problem in the southern Murray Basin. But now that waste salt is being turned into
a premium gourmet product, as Tim Lee reports.

TIM LEE: 10km north
of the Murray River, at Mildura, lies the Mourquong Basin, a natural saltmarsh
and a haven for birds. It's also a valuable source of salt, so valuable, in recent years,
it has won worldwide acclaim.

I suppose salt used
to just be a seasoning tool, but now it's a really
gourmet product. When I sort of first
started my career, it was all the Maldon sea salts
and the imported European stuff, and this took over in a period
of a couple of years, I think. It just exploded.

And this is what's helping stave off
environmental damage. This highly saline water pumped
from bores beneath the Murray River is part of a salt-mitigation scheme. Each day, this system removes
about 200 tonnes of damaging salt that would otherwise
travel downstream. This being
on the New South Wales side, this is the resulting end
of the bores. The water comes out and that's
the same salinity as sea water, and this comes out here
and then migrates its way up towards the north, where we then
turn this waste into products that we can sell. Our salt factory takes over,
makes the mineral salts, which... ..we see the pink salt,
swimming pool salt, hide salt - a lot of different things
for industry.

Evaporation during summer makes
the brine ponds even more vivid, and when they're dry enough, a special harvester
skims off the hardened crust.

The higher-grade salt goes
to the company's factory in Mildura, where in large vats,
it slowly crystallises into large pinkish flakes. It's then delicately dried
and packaged.

The salt from Mourquong
has no additives, but it is naturally loaded
with minerals and elements such as magnesium and calcium, and that's what makes it
a distinctive pink colour. Its colour has got it noticed
around the globe. LEIGHTON SCHMIDT: Look,
the Murray River gourmet pink salt, that was a brainchild
of Duncan and Jan. They've persisted with it
through the early years, but now it's just gone from strength
to strength over the last maybe five or six years. It's became known
as a really top-end brand in Australian gourmet food. And the pinkness and the taste
and the environmental story and the texture,
they all come in together.

For years, the Thomsons relied
on selling their gourmet salt at fairs and markets. The couple is still promoting
their products in person, such as here at the Perth Food Fair. Now, such is the demand
for the gourmet table salt that the Mildura factory
is about to double in size. In recent years, their pink salt has won dozens of awards
here and abroad. Notable customers include
several international airlines. With the gourmet salt,
we're getting more orders from all around the world. We've had to reject customers. We've
got a lot of things that we can do. We've had Chinese here wanting
to buy because it's clean, green. They want us to export food-grade
salt straight over there. So, I've got no fear at all to say that there's a market
for anything we produce here.

Having a diversity of products has
been crucial to the company's growth. Alongside the salts and minerals
for industrial use, there's a sweet sideline -
chocolates.

The Mildura Chocolate Company operates as a purveyor
of fine chocolate. Handcrafted products may seem
to be a little labour-intensive until you realise the enterprise
is far more than a sugar hit. As an adjunct to the Christie Centre, a not-for-profit
disability support service, it provides valuable employment. The No.1 and only reason that
we exist is to provide employment for our supported employees who otherwise might find themselves
with something... ..you know, with nothing to do
during the day or in another form of employment
that's not as fulfilling. And they really, really love
and really are so proud of the products that you see,
you know? So, it's great.
What a place to work! For the Thomsons, it's a way of
giving back to the Mildura community, and sweetness and salt
go together nicely. The pink salt is a really sweet salt
and it's got a real crunch about it. So, it matches
our really finely-structured and textured dark chocolate
really nicely. Neither of them override the other.
They enhance each other, you know? People are really quite surprised
that you can have this really balanced chocolate and then
you get these kicks of these, you know, that beautiful pink salt. The joint venture has given
the five-year-old charity a much-needed boost. The latest product
is a salted chocolate sauce. So, here's a sauce. Well, we wanna take more of this
to the food shows. The bonus is that they've got such
a great name in the market already. I mean, you see it on all those
great, big chef shows, you know, and it's sitting there and they
put in a bit of pink salt. Um... We're piggybacking, you know, at the same time as having
this great partnership.

High-profile chef Jim McDougall
certainly thinks so. The restaurateur,
a proud Mildura resident, is a big fan of pink gourmet salt, but he also puts to good use large
lumps of unprocessed or rock salt. Essentially, this is the wet natural
rock and it's quite hard there, so you want to scrape it down to
where that crust becomes quite firm.

I like a bit of a organic look. Doesn't have to be too pretty
for me, I don't think. I want it to look like it's just
come out of a salt lake, basically. Jim McDougall uses these salt rocks
to cure meats such as kangaroo. So essentially, it's cooking without
heat, using Murray River salt. So, as the moisture goes into the
salt, the salt cooks the kangaroo. Cooking at the table
with Murray River.

For diners, such innovative cooking
is quite an experience. They've never seen anything like it
before, honestly. Anything interactive I find,
on a menu, creates, you know, this great sort of sense of wonder, and the idea that they can
actually leave it on longer to change the texture,
it's all in their hands. They love it, they love it.
They really do enjoy it. And at the end of the day, it tastes
really, really good. (Chuckles)

Next Friday on A Taste Of Landline,
the miracle plum... Is this a food? Is it a medicine?
What is it? It's wonderful.

..and what lies beneath,
a spectacular underwater world.

Captions by CSI Australia



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