By: Sara Grazia
2015 has been one of the biggest years in Sausages Made Simple’s history. We’ve reached a number of new milestones as well as opening the doors to our new Sausage HQ.
Here’s just a little summary of the year, of not only us, but you as well. We’ve heard from many of you throughout the year sharing your stories with us, showing off your salami, cured meats and fresh sausages with photos and video; which we’re looking forward to receiving again in the new year, along with new treats and treasures from all our meat processing newbies.
The year started with us moving into our new Sausage HQ at 118 Ireland St, West Melbourne. Formerly the Railway Hotel, a grand old Victorian hotel with a long and colourful history. It’s rumoured that bush ranger Ned Kelly was held in the basement until he appeared in court. Worried about a potential prison break, the basement of the railway hotel was one of the safest places to keep the notorious criminal.
Through the years this well-established building has housed a variety of businesses, now it’s time for another reincarnation. After months of work and restoration the original main bar has been stripped back and returned to its former glory – the bar as we see it today was originally renovated in 1913. Ned’s (apparent) former cell, once a beer keg storeroom, has now been converted into our 21st century SalamiLAB™.
With our renovations coming to an end, we will soon be opening our very own sausage and salami bar, filled with handmade delicacies, all produced onsite by our Sausage Queen, Norcina Sara Grazia.
During our renovation our Sausage Queen was back in Italy receiving professional qualifications for her specialty training in meat processing. She studied in depth with the Nocino Society and qualified being the first – and currently only – norcina (a female norcino) in Australia! The norcini stem back centuries in Italian history, and are an ever growing community of specialists.
We’ll have more on the Norcini soon, they’re such a fascinating people we think they deserve their own blog post.
After Sara’s return from Europe and Phase 1 of our Sausage HQ renovation was complete, it was time to get our bench tops dusted off and students through the doors to share the latest secrets in fresh sausage and salami making. Our cured meats and prosciutto making courses also came back with popularity being at an all-time high. Overall 15 additional courses were added to this year’s timetable, teaching over 1,000 people this year alone! we look forward to seeing and hearing all about your meat processing adventures in the New Year.
Our Sydney courses were back in force with a record number of courses being listed and a record number of enthusiasts learning how to produce their own fresh sausage, salami and cured meats. We introduced our Prosciutto Making Master Class in Sydney for the first time and were overwhelmed with the interest from Sydneysiders. A big Thank you to all. It’s always a wonderful experience when participants walk in with their sleeves rolled up and ready to start a session before anyone has even said hello!
As the year progressed and the renovations at our Sausage HQ continued – as many of you know, this has been a lengthy process, but one we think you will agree was worth the time and effort once we open our completed Sausage HQ to you all in 2016 – we managed to get in some travel time. Is was back off to Europe for a little Christmas shopping.
Our shopping adventure began in Milan at HOST. If you’re an avid food processer or coffee connoisseur, then this event is for you. With 14 exhibition halls filled to the brim with equipment, supplies and gadgets a plenty, this is your one stop Christmas shop! With busy schedules and our international diary bursting at the spine with meetings and tasting, more meetings, teaching (and the occasional shopping trip) we needed a little ‘quiet’ time.
With our luggage continually increasing in weight, we decided to try something new, and hopefully relaxing. Instead of packing up and heading off to yet another airport we took the morning train from Milan to Paris. It was an 8.5-hour journey, but what a beautiful experience it was. The train left Milan and passed around Turin before crossing the alps, through the French countryside and straight into the centre of Paris. The scenery was breathtakingly spectacular. The snow hadn’t started to fall between Milan and Turin at this time, so all the fields and villages were visible from the train, most being nothing but a blur with the speed the train was travelling. Vineyards were prepared and ready for the winter frosts to settle in, farms were battening down ready for the snow to fall, and Christmas decorations and lights were starting to be hung!
Once passed Turin, and in range of the alps, the snow had started to settle. White peaks that gradually faded into rock and lush forest the closer to ground level you got. As the train started to climb through the alps everything became much more fairy-tale like. There was a cross culture of Italian, Swiss and French design throughout local villages, many looking more like movies sets than comfortable family homes, however the magic and diversity continued from one village to the next. Some partly covered in snow, with ice crystals starting to form from window sills and gutter, while others were completely covered in snow with fairy lights ablaze, all looking like a village of gingerbread houses.
It was a spectacular sight to behold. A much recommended trip if you’re looking for a different route from Milan to Paris. We’d even recommend stopping off overnight at a couple of villages if you have the time, it is a truly picturesque part of the world. One I image not very many people get to see.
Next stop… Paris, the city of romance and love, and we can assure you there was plenty of love and romance to be had. There has been an Italian boom in Paris since our last visit. Salami bars have taken the city by storm, and not one is the same. They all housed the classics, Prosciutto Di Parma and some other top quality cured products from Italy, but then the they also had their own house made specialities. Depending on where the owners originated, they had their own special recipes that they made, with a few having a bit of French influence which in some cases was rather enjoyable. Most visitors to Paris visit all the major attractions, and we did just that, from one salumiera to another, to another and another, it was a very pleasant and unexpected journey. So when in Paris, you can eat like you’re in Italy!
After returning from our European shopping trip it was time to get back into the kitchen and what we know best, and that’s summertime salami making.
In the spirit of Christmas, we invited you to come and join us for our Salami Gruppo Experience. Many of you rolled up your sleeves and got your hands dirty mixing up salami recipes and filling casings ready for curing and eating over Christmas and the festive season. We had 2 events running that produced over 400kg of handmade salami.
INTRODUCTIONS AND EXCLUSIVES
We also introduced 2 new fresh sausage making kits, Beef and Burgundy as well as Venison Sausage. These have been very popular in the lead up to Christmas and we’re looking forward to seeing their popularity grow in the new year. If you haven’t tried them yet, it’s not too late. Make barbequing and picnicking more exciting with our new range of sausage recipe kits, all quick and easy to use, ready for cooking within hours!
SANELLI PROFESSIONAL KNIFE SERIES
Working with some of Italy’s top manufacturers we now offer a range of professional processing and kitchen knives by Sanelli. These knifes are used by many of Italy’s top chefs in some of the finest restaurants throughout Italy and Europe.
BRINGING IT HOME
Overall it’s been a very exciting and meaty year for us at our Sausage HQ and we’re looking forward to sharing it all with you in 2016.
We will be running an even larger number of courses in 2016 with the opening of our SalamiLAB. We’ll also be extending our fresh sausage, salami and cured meats making courses even further around the country.
A new book is almost ready for release, and everyone will be invited to come and dine at our sausage bar. Dine in or take away, whatever your choice we’ll have tasty artisan made produce ready for you, your friends and family to enjoy.
We also re-introduced our Fresh Italian Cheese Making Master Class with great success.
We have some new sausage recipes on their way just in time for Australia Day barbequing.
We thank you all very much for your support and patience throughout the year and look forward to bringing you an even bigger and better year ahead, full of more sausage and meaty goodness, deliciousness and excitement.