It’s the bold move that many small regional hospitality businesses have made during lockdowns.
In an attempt to give a taste of what Australians would have experienced if they were holidaying in places like the Hunter Valley or Batemans Bay, producers are encouraging people to “holiday with their stomachs and tastebuds” through hampers and wine boxes. But more important than that, it has helped sustain these small, family-run businesses which have been forced to close during the pandemic.
“I have been so rushed off my feet – I’ve had no time to breathe,” Anthea Cameron, owner of Hampers of the Hunter based in Morisset in NSW’s Hunter Valley, told Explore. She said that despite starting the business right before COVID, it has taken off. Many companies and individuals have been ordering hampers to send to employees and friends to celebrate special occasions.
Her hampers are custom-made, priced from $80 to $1000, and stylishly packed in timber boxes filled with Hunter Valley wines and delicacies such as salami, local cheese, chocolates from Maitland and honey.
“Our hampers give you a taste of the Hunter with a selection of fine wine, gin, rum, vodka mixed with local produce from the Hunter, including condiments, relishes and cheeses,” she said.
Now Hampers of the Hunter has teamed up with another local company, Bread & Brewery, to deliver cold beer and food to locals in the Hunter looking for relief from the chore of cooking at home.
Bread & Brewery in Morisset was founded by Dale Beckham, Ray Burkett and Jay Beckham. They wanted to create a sustainable hospitality business by recycling and reusing ingredients.
“There’s always something else you can do with items destined for the landfill,” said the owners.
But why bake bread?
“Because one of the biggest by-products of beer production is spent grains – they can be either be sent to a landfill or used as livestock feed. After reading about the nutritional value of brewer’s grains we decided to bake bread, scones and biscuits.”
Today, Bread & Brewery tells its clients to “loaf around in your pyjamas in style during lockdown with its Loafin’ Around Pack”. Priced at $65, the pack includes a loaf of their sourdough bread, Tar10 Apricot and Toasted Almond Jam, HunterBelle Dairy cheese and a squealer of HooRoo Lager.
Over at Mudgee Gourmet and Vinifera Wines, Debbie and Tony McKendry are proud owners of the business which has been operating for about 10 years. When the pandemic hit, they had to shut their cellar door at Vinifera Wines. With the help of their daughter Samantha, they pivoted to concentrate on a hamper delivery service – all homegrown and locally sourced.
“We have seen a massive increase – more than 80 per cent – in the growth of our gourmet hamper business. We usually see a spike for Christmas hampers but because of lockdown, we are seeing weekly orders come in,” Samantha McKendry told Explore.
Learn more at mudgeehampers.com.au.
Bodalla Dairy Farm on the NSW South Coast, which produces ice cream flavours such as Kakadu plum and rum, has opened an outpost in Woollahra, Sydney, which now sells 110 tubs of ice cream every day – double the amount pre-lockdown. The ice creamery has pivoted to mostly family take-home tubs and ice-cream cakes. It also offers a Buy-from-the-Bush market selling South Coast produce, including eggs from Cobargo and licorice from Junee. For more information, visit bodalladairy.com.au.
“It’s heartening to see so many hospitality businesses finding ways to innovate and stay connected with customers by providing takeaway, collaborating with other businesses, continuing to showcase NSW produce, and offering prepare-at-home meals,’ Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Tourism, told Explore. “Experiencing the world-class flavours of NSW is a luxury we can always indulge in at home.”
Top 8 regional providores
For a taste of travel at home order in from one of our favourite local producers.
This artisanal cafe and pantry in Warrnambool is stocked with goodies from the region. Their hampers include the likes of Ogilvie and Co shortbread, fig, almond and pomegranate paste, Davies’ chocolates and specialty relishes.
This prestigious Canberra winery is offering a tasting pack special of six Lake George wines from its current tasting list. There are also online tasting sessions you can join from anywhere around Australia.
This delightful cheese store is sending out hampers and weekly “cheese boxes”. The Brunch Box includes their lemon curd, Bruny Island Bakery sourdough, local dry-cured Boks Bacon and Meander Valley butter. If you’re in a lockdown region, you can get 15 per cent off.
If you’re missing swinging through Bendigo and tasting its riches, Grazed and Infused can bring Bendigo to you. Choose between sugary, sweet and salty hamper options.
Cheer yourself up with your choice of Cheer Box. There’s a huge selection, from small savoury platters to boxes that treat sweet cravings.
Fresh truffles can be tricky to find, however, Tasmania Truffles sells freeze-dried truffle, truffle salt, truffle oil, truffle honey among its many truffle-based treats.
Say Cheese Tamworth arranges huge grazing boards and if you’re local or nearby, there are even more options from which to choose – boards can be stacked with up to two metres of produce.
Wagga Wagga’s Knights Deli delivers its regional produce straight to your door. Expect delicious grazing boxes, many with an Italian or French theme, to add flavour to your lockdown picnic or date night on the couch.