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Grilled Steak (with curry flavoured smoked sea salt) with Chimichurri Salsa and Fennel Salad (dressed with strawberry port wine vinaigrette)

Quite a mouthful title, isn’t it?

It had to be because today’s post is my dedication to the farmers and food and wine producers of the panoramic Yarra Valley.


Travel, for me, is not about just visiting a destination. It is about the whole experience of discovering what that place has to be offer, albeit at a small level. It is about bringing back not just memories but also intimate knowledge about the culture, food and life of that region. So when I got this amazing opportunity to visit Yarra Valley as part of the regional food group tour, I bought back some incredible food products and wine using which I created today’s recipe.

From the Gateway Estate, I bought home this bottle of strawberry port wine which I used to make the salad dressing. I really wanted to bring back some dry aged steak but unfortunately travelling by public transport didn’t allow me that luxury.



While walking around the regional farmer’s market at Yering Station, I came across the Smoke and Roast stall. Getting to hear about my fascination with spices and the like, the owner offered me a sample of their signature curry flavoured smoked sea salt which I have used in today’s recipe as the spice rub for my steak. I also bought a pack of their original smoked sea salt and this gorgeous looking salt container.

While I have used plenty of smoked sea salts before, I have never come across a curry flavoured one. Bang on flavour; totally recommend this one for your spice pantry.


I also picked up a bottle of Yering Station ‘Old Beenak Road’ Shiraz 2013. A single vineyard wine, I could not have asked for a better pairing to my steak. It was rich yet velvety and smooth with the hint of ripe blackberry fruit and peppercorn spices. The wine tasting session did improve my knowledge and helped me pick a really good bottle.


Our final stop in the journey was at the Locavore Studio from where I didn’t bring back a product but rather recipes and cooking skills. I learnt to cook the perfect steak and also picked up a great chimichurri salsa recipe, both of which are put to use today.



Usually I photograph the food for the blog beforehand for optimal light conditions. But today, I am inviting you to our dinner table – no unwanted props or stylized food; this is how we eat whenever I make something special at home.

So come along on this delicious journey……


For the fennel salad:

1. 2 cups mixed salad leaves
2. 1 fennel (white bulb); sliced lengthwise finely
3. 1 small red bell pepper; sliced lengthwise finely
4. 1 small red onion; sliced lengthwise finely
5. Fennel fronds; for garnish
6. For the vinaigrette:
• 4 tbsp strawberry port wine
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to season
• Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you do not have strawberry port wine, use vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic or any other port wine. Orange juice is also a great one to experiment with.

For the chimichurri salsa:

1. 1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves; finely chopped
2. 1 cup fresh coriander; finely chopped
3. 3-4 fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
4. 1 garlic clove; crushed and finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp strawberry port wine (red wine vinegar can also be used)
6. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
7. Salt, to season
8. Dried chilli flakes; a pinch (or more to suit your preferences)

For the steak:

1. 3 Scotch fillet steaks (the best quality you can buy)
2. Smoked curry flavoured sea salt rub
3. Olive oil
4. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you cannot get the smoked sea salt rub, use any spice rub of your choice or just salt and pepper.


To prepare the salad:

• Cut all the vegetables and place in a bowl. Refrigerate till serving time.
• To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients given under vinaigrette. Vigorously shake well to form an emulsion and keep aside.
• Dress the salad just before serving (remember to shake the vinaigrette again) and garnish with fennel fronds.

To prepare the chimichurri:

Combine the chopped leaves, garlic, port wine, olive oil, salt and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust balance if necessary. Refrigerate till serving time.

To prepare the steak:

• Heat the grill to smoking hot; most people make the mistake of not heating the grill enough so make sure its smoking hot.
• Crush the smoked sea salt lightly (the salt crystals were chunky).
• Rub olive oil onto both sides of the steak well and then rub the smoked sea salt all over the steak.
• Place the steak pieces on the grill lengthwise; after a minute turn the steak breadthwise on the same side to get the nice criss cross marks. Half a minute later, flip the steaks over and repeat the same (almost one minute each). This is an approximate time for a medium done steak.
• Remove and rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.

• If you prefer medium well, then place in the oven at 180°C for 2-3 minutes.
• Timings are always an approximate as the cooking times will vary according to the cut and quality of meat that you are using. So go by the feel of the meat and cook to your preferences.




Yarra Valley – Meet the Farmers and Food Producers

Most of you would have seen the tons of pictures that I posted on my social media channels from my recent trip to the Yarra Valley. So be prepared for a long picture heavy post today.

I was incredibly lucky to be invited by Yarra Ranges Tourism to be part of their Regional food group tour and explore the Farmer’s market and local produce grown in the region. Since there was plenty we did that day, I am going to write about this over two segments. In today’s post, I will introduce you to the many food producers and farmers of the region and what to expect at the regional farmer’s market and in the next post, I will take you on a trip to the Yering Station private wine tastings and a beautiful cooking experience at the Locavore Studio.

Our day began with a quick coffee and personal introductions at a quaint little café in Lilydale. Our travel host for the trip was the very enthusiastic Orson Koch, from Yarra Valley Transfers. Apart from offering luxury coaches and bus charter services, the company also offers food and wine tours, events assistance, wedding transfers etc….. I totally recommend using a service like this when visiting the Yarra Valley especially if you are a newbie to the region or would like to enjoy a unique, customized travel experience of the region.

Photograph Courtesy - Yarra Valley Transfers

Photograph Courtesy – Yarra Valley Transfers

Orson was a delightful companion who knew almost everyone personally in and around the region so we were privy to loads of insider information and unique experiences which might be otherwise missed if we were to travel just on our own. And what more, he even had an esky ready in the boot for all the ‘fresh produce’ shopping….

Our first visit was to the Gateway Estate Farms. Located at 667 Maroondah Hwy, the Gateway Estate is one of the best places in the Yarra to experience and sample regional produce. We visited the high tech hydroponic green house (about 5000 square metres) where strawberries, capsicums and basil are grown in tons. The sight was breaktaking and the session informative.



We met Brett Spurling, who took us on a tour of the greenhouse explaining about the benefits of the zero waste closed loop irrigation system and how it can enable large scale farming using a fraction of the water and fertilizers than required in an open field farming system.


A unique wire system to grow capsicums

A unique wire system to grow capsicums

Pots and pots of basil....

Pots and pots of basil….

The farm produces about 7 tons of ripe, red strawberries annually and one of the highlights is you can visit the farm during the berry picking season and indulge in this fun activity with your little ones. (I have already begun to plan a small holiday with my son to the farm to get our hands on some juicy, red strawberries straight from the ground). Get more details here, if you would like to plan the same.

Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants

A teeny weeny one just came out to pose for me!

A teeny weeny one just came out to pose for me!

At the Gateway Estate, you can also shop for the freshest produce, all grown in the local farms in and around the Yarra region. The season’s best is always on offer so make sure you have plenty of boot space to bring home an array of fresh vegetables, fruits, berries and herbs.





The in store farm gate is also stocked with a range of dried herbs, spices and blends, chutneys, dips, relishes and homemade jams. Totally recommend the capsicum relish made from those grown in the green house, it was absolutely delicious.


The Gateway is also home to a small Angus cattle herd which means that you can also source some great quality free-range dry aged beef. Apart from all the regular cuts, you can also pick up home made sausages, pies and lasagne, all prepared using the in house beef and fresh local produce.

It’s not just fresh produce that you can buy at The Gateway but also wines and liquers. There are a few Estate produced Pinot Noirs and Shiraz but what really caught my fancy is the strawberry liqueur, port and cream. Ask for tastings and especially ask for the ‘strawberry shot cake.’ I came home with a bottle of strawberry port which I have been saving to use in a dish.


The Strawberry Shot Cake

The Strawberry Shot Cake

And if all the strawberry picking and shopping has tired you out, make sure to stretch your legs in the quaint little café inside the Estate. I had a really good cappuccino made from locally roasted beans and the best egg, cheese, bacon toast with capsicum relish. And I really mean the ‘best’ part!


Our next visit was to the Regional Food Group Farmer’s Market at Yering Station. Iconic and one of the oldest farmer’s market in Victoria, this one has grown leaps and bounds since its inception in 1999. The Regional food group farmer’s market is held on the third Sunday every month inside a rustic farmhouse style barn on the scenic Yering Station grounds and is the best way for visitors to sample and purchase the best produce that Yarra has to offer.

Yering Station

Yering Station

There cannot be a better way to interact with the farmers and regional food producers; a brilliant system that allows one to sample and purchase the finest food and wine this region has to offer.

Here is a pictorial guide of just ‘some’ of the sights from the Farmer’s market;

Big pots of vibrant and delicious paella on offer from Lady Paella. Apart from the seafood version, there is a vegetarian option (the first time I am seeing one!) with a whole lot of veggies, herbs, eggplants and currants. Moreover, these were also gluten, dairy and egg free.


How beautiful does this plaited garlic look? Make sure to pick up a bunch from the goregous Norma of Sure Things Garlic.


Or maybe you would like to stock a couple of bottles of Giverny Estate Kiwi Fruit Sparling Cider; would be perfect for the summer.

kiwi fruit cider

How about some delicious jams from Jam Lady Jam? I especially liked the spiced Syrian fig jam……


Perhaps some ginger cordial……and the lovely lady behind it tells me that it is an award winning one!

ginger cordial

These guys do such wonderful stuff with meringues; no wonder their company is called Unforgettable Products. I came home with a pack of meringue bites and a meringue lollipop for my son….



And how will The Spice Adventuress come home without any spice blends in her shopping basket. Look what I found….curry flavoured smoked sea salt from Smoke and Roast.

smoke and roast

For more information on visiting Yarra Valley, to plan a tour or to stay informed of current and future events; visit and


Twitter: @yarra_valley

IG: @yarra_valley

Disclaimer – As mentioned, I was invited to an all expense paid trip to the Yarra Valley but all the photographs and opinions are solely mine.

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