Tom loves his work

Living in Tasmania and working alongside the passionate, inventive, uncompromising folk who grow, make and deliver world class Tasmanian food and drink to our tables is a real honour.

Someone said to me recently (actually, they tweeted, but that’s another story), “Man, you have an awesome job – travel, fine food, great wine. What’s not to love?”  You know, they were right.

Recently, I’ve been having fun with a few mates and the phrase: “oysters and fizz”. It may not be high brow, but it tells it like it, ahem, izz.

It all started because I like the way you can play with the word “Terroir” and come up with “Merroir”. The former is probably familiar. The latter? Well, to me it’s about the amazing, subtle, mouthwatering differences you can find between oysters that have been grown in different places around Tasmania, at different depths or even on different sides of a bay.

When I mentioned this to Sheralee from Wine Tasmania, we thought we should make an event out of it, and then Nick and Matthew from A Common Ground came along and suddenly it happened – on Grand Final day 2012 – an evening tasting and talking about Tasmanian oysters and Tasmanian sparkling wine that had us all spellbound.

We enjoyed wines from six vineyards around Tasmania and oysters from six farms from around Tasmania and enjoyed hearing from the growers and makers about their products, tasting and smelling and feeling the subtle regional differences and developing a greater appreciation for the wonderful products that come from Tasmanian land and water.

I think we might have started something. It was so easy to bring oyster growers and fizz makers into the mix because they know what great products they have and they love telling people about it.

And the reaction from all who joined us to partake that night was a mixture of:

  • Wonder at the fantastic Tasmanian sparkling wines in front of them.
  • Amazement at the complicated life of an oyster.
  • Rapture (well, almost) at the differences in texture and flavour that could be detected, described and discussed.

But the most gratifying outcome for me was that I learnt (yet again) that fun events like this can be the catalyst for future collaborations by regional producers who see themselves not as competitors but as partners showcasing a product, a region, their State.

In a time when we need to make all our working hours stretch further, we’ve seen how it can be when not-immediately-connected producers can get together in a novel way to promote their wares and their regions.

We also made it possible for a group of food lovers to get together, to learn and to hear about the provenance of the evening’s fare from “them wot made it”. And these food lovers will not be backward in extolling the virtues of this fare to their friends and families.

A bit of pre-competitive imagination can go a long way.

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