Hand-selected wines from 500+
Australian wineries delivered to your door!
Hand-selected wines from 500+
Australian wineries delivered to your door!

Alert

The maximum quantity permitted for this item is , if you wish to purchase more please call 1300 303 307
Food

Impress: Maggie Beer

If there is one person who embodies the themes of nature and nurture, it is Maggie Beer. The nature side comes from her intuitive use of fresh, seasonal ingredients in her recipes and her vast range of food products. The nurture side from her background as a farmer, tending crops from seed to fruit in the wonderfully fertile soils of South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

Of course, one could posit that Maggie’s nurturing element also comes from her wholesome, nourishing dishes that bring comfort to our bellies and warmth to our hearts. Or, from her soft caring nature. What you see on TV is what you get with Maggie. She comes across as very maternal, and she is. She’s thoughtful, happy and humble, very much like your best-loved auntie who cooks your favourite recipe, a dish that seemingly hugs your soul and lingers in your memory forever after.

All this is quite remarkable when you discover the Maggie Beer story. Originally a Sydney girl, Maggie turned a fondness for food into a way of life when she married her true love, Colin, and moved to the Barossa to support him in his dream to farm pheasants.

Maggie took to farm life like a duck to water, growing crops, preserving food, cooking and even starting up her own restaurant. Then she started making her own pâté - her first ‘product’. It was the start of her 35-year ‘overnight’ success.

“It was only when I came to live in the Barossa 42 years ago that I really understood the seasons, because here we have four very distinct seasons and we live the rhythm,” Maggie tells me when we sit down for a chat on a warm day in the heart of the Barossa Valley.

“All I have ever had to do to cook is follow it as it happens and relate to the produce at hand.”

As her orders grew, so did her range, to pastes, jams, dips, oils and, of course, verjuice. In the early 1980s, festooned with an oversupply of Riesling grapes, Maggie turned adversity into opportunity. Having often read about an ingredient called ‘verjus’ in French country cookbooks, she produced what is thought to be the world’s first commercial batch of verjuice, a product these days synonymous with the name Maggie Beer.

“I’m quite proud of the verjuice story,” says Maggie. “It’s been around since Roman times, but I’ve pulled it out of obscurity and lots of people have followed, and that’s wonderful because verjuice gives this lovely acid balance to food.”

 What’s in a name?

These days, Maggie Beer is a household name, the brand probably more so than the woman. It is a double-edged sword lending your name to a brand. It helps in the beginning to get recognition, but should the business grow, it can be like the mariner’s albatross, each weighing the other down. However, it is here where the yin and yang of life has rewarded Maggie. She has only ever given out love and respect, and it has come back to her. She is lauded as a matriarch of the Australian food scene and her business is a reflection of her, run in a morally healthy way by good, honest people.

“I often have to pinch myself because I feel that coming to me and it’s not something you seek out,” Maggie says of the adoration she receives from the food loving public.

That is not to say she hasn’t been shrewd and tough enough to make strong  business decisions. She admits she is a control freak, even cooking all the dishes for this photoshoot, But she has done it all her way. The natural, nurturing way.

“I’ve always been onto this continuous improvement, it’s part of me, I’m driven. But all I have ever done, one step in front of the other, was do what I love and believe in it, without any grand plan, just loving the moment.”

You might also like

Food
Sweet Creator: Anna Polyviou
Words by Jackie MacDonald on 8 Mar 2018
To be a successful pastry chef, it pays to follow the rules. Except if you’re Anna Polyviou. Then you take the rules, stick them in a blender and dye them pink. Vanilla is not a word you’d associate with Anna Polyviou. Far from ordinary, Sydney’s punk of pastry with her pink mohawk and facial piercings is a self-dubbed ‘sweet creator’ making a colourful impression.  In actual fact, vanilla is her favourite ingredient and while it might not be an in-your-face element, it’s fundamental to so many classic desserts. And that’s where it all begins when you become a pastry chef. You have to learn the classics to be able to build on them.  For Anna, the classics are those of her Greek heritage. One of her favourites is Loukoumades, Greek donuts, which, Anna describes, were a staple of her childhood church, where they were served fresh to the hungry congregation. “The old ladies would be pushing them through their hand and flipping them over and frying them and they were always perfectly round,” she recalls. “I used to go there just to eat, Mum would be like ‘Where is she? Why isn’t she in church?’ and I’m out there eating!”
While Anna always had a sweet tooth, the fact that she became a pastry chef was, she says, “a mistake.” She started out as an apprentice kitchen chef, but, she describes, “I was a bit of a wild child, all those nerdy chefs were sitting there really paying attention and I was out partying and having a great time.”  On the verge of losing her apprenticeship, Anna was thrown a lifeline by way of the chance to participate in a cooking competition with a team of four apprentices. Her role: pastry.  “I had no idea about pastry, so I went in every single day to learn,” she says.  When the big day arrived, though, her hard work went unrecognised.  “I lost that competition,” she recalls, “but I had given so much of my time and energy and I remember crying in the corner and saying to Mum, ‘I don’t understand, I did so well and my dessert was honestly better than everyone else’s.’ That’s how I saw it.”  But like most sensible mums, Anna’s saw the valuable lesson in the loss.  “She was like, ‘My daughter really needs to know how to lose before she learns to win.’” 
For the full story and recipes from Anna, pickup a copy of Selector  from all good newsagents, subscribe or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery.
Food
Alla Wolf-Tasker: Lakehouse Legend
Words by Mark Hughes on 3 Jul 2018
Along with her loving family, Alla Wolf-Tasker transformed a downtrodden country town into a thriving culinary community. Alla Wolf-Tasker’s Lake House story is the stuff of legend and has been told many times. And while the Lake House is recognised around the world as one of this country’s great restaurants, the impact Alla, and the venue, have had on creating a culinary community will be seen as perhaps her greatest legacy. It is a true pleasure speaking with Alla. She’s friendly and knowledgeable, eloquent and assured, and so very passionate about all things food. The reason for our chat is to discuss the release of her latest book, Three Decades On – Lake House and Daylesford. Like everything Alla does, it is beautifully presented with gorgeous lush photography, delicious recipes and engaging editorial that updates the Lake House story. At its heart is a strong sense of community.
Dream A Little Dream As a young chef, Alla travelled to France, spending her time working in some of its iconic provincial restaurants. When she returned, Alla dreamed of creating one of her own in Australia. She instinctively chose Daylesford, a small village about 90 minutes north-west of Melbourne. It was where she had spent time as a child, as her Russian-immigrant parents owned a small summer house there, a place where they grew their own produce. In 1979, Alla and her husband Allan, bought what she describes as a ‘blackberry-covered car-wreck-strewn paddock’ and set about building the country restaurant of her dreams. “I came back from France with stars in my eyes and with this notion that the restaurants that really resonated for me were regional restaurants because they had this growing sense of place around them,” recounts Alla. “They actually grew a community around them. A community of growers and suppliers and producers and also a community of doers, people that would fix things and were part of the business. Someone like the florist who supplies the flowers, the carpenter builds the chairs and tables – that sort of real community enterprise that I saw overseas. That’s what I fell in love with.”
For the full story and recipes from Alla, pickup a copy of Selector from all good newsagents,  subscribe  or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery.  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
1 case has been added to your cart.
Cart total: xxx
1 case, 12 bottles, 3 accessories