Accordingly to Ricky M. Gribling, the author of Smoking Food (Hyland House, 1997), there was a time when 'a good supply of smoked food often meant the difference between life and death... [and] the only method of storing meat successfully was to brine and smoke it.' Nowadays, it's a something of an art form and a Canberra-based duo, Charlie Costelloe and Peter Curry (pictured), have earned a swag of medals for their boutique smokehouse, Pialligo Farm at the Pialligo Estate vineyard.
Messrs Costelloe and Curry met last year in Cork, Ireland, through a mutual friend. Charlie Costelloe, Manager of Pialligo Estate, has been in Australia for about 18 months. Originally from Dublin, he has worked in the catering industry since he was 13 years old. Peter Curry is a chef by trade, also started work in the food industry in his homeland of Ireland at the age of 13. He worked with French chefs who taught him about charcuterie. Both have a passion for good food... and good Irish bacon (!). The rest, they tell me, is history.
Using Charlie's traditional Irish recipe, they prepare dry cured and smoked bacon, and cured hams (from free range pork), hot and cold smoked salmon, Gravalax, smoked ocean trout, smoked duck breast and smoked chicken. Their multi-award winning range also includes smoked eel, Irish whisky smoked salmon, honey glazed hot smoked salmon, Toulouse sausage, confit duck and gourmet baked beans. French oak wine barrels once used at Pialligo and other local vineyards have been recycled into smoking chips.
Plans are underway to build a new, large smokehouse and rejuvenate the property to its former market garden status. Forty varieties and over 1,000 heritage fruit trees have been planted on the farmland alongside the vineyard and olive grove, and crops will be grown to support an on-site restaurant and cellar door, which will open towards the middle of 2014.
In July, Charlie and Peter were interviewed by ABC Rural. Listen to their story here. For more information about Pialligo Estate and Pialligo Farm products, including online sales and a newsletter, visit the web site.