21st century honesty system

June 29, 2009

thingsontoastWe had a swift overnight trip to Dungog, in the  Barrington Tops area of the Hunter Valley last week. The reason for our drive was very sad (vale Valerie, and may you rest peacefully), but the countryside was absolutely gorgeous.

Dungog itself is a really beautiful little town, and unlike most country towns I know of, has a perfectly architecturally preserved main street without yet having succumbed to the chintzification that afflicts other such ‘historic’  towns. (Dungog also, I hear, has a brilliant Australian film festival each year which draws thousands of folk to town.)

Anyway, on our drive home we took a slight detour to the award-winning produce growers, Johnson’s Farmgate at the hamlet of Glen William. We’ve heard a great deal over the years about Johnson’s Farmgate, as our friends J&B return from their Gog weekends with boxes full of lovely veg.

So we stopped in and filled our car boot with locally-grown goodies.

Love the vibe of this place. It’s a little wooden shed at the farm gate (surprise) on the side of the road, stuffed with either produce from the farm itself, or grown by other local or regional producers (with the possible exception of Eumundi Smokehouse snags & bacon, which, as ES is just  up the road from us here in the inner west of Sydney, we left alone!).

Inside the shed are a couple of fridges and lots of baskets and boxes of beautiful-looking grub. No sign of actual people, but a very convienent honesty system based on a set of scales, a calculator, a notepad & pen and a cash box.

This seems to work perfectly, perhaps partly because of the sizable closed-circuit television screen in the corner of the shed!

As Senor remarked, however, that must be more for appearance’s sake than anything because it would be pretty difficult if not impossible for the telly-monitor elsewhere to see if one were cheating at any point of the transaction including the cashbox that you stuff your moola into.

It was all luscious-looking stuff. We came home with three beautiful eggplants, with which I made baba ganoush next day; two bags of divinely ripe tomatoes (Romas and small garden toms – I slow-roasted the Romas, seen here on toast with a slathering of the Dungog baba and some avo -mmm, best lunch); a couple of hefty bulbs of garlic; two pristine leeks; a bag of silky salad greens; some sweet green baby beans; a good thick bunch of rosemary; a massive bunch of beetroots which I’m either going to roast or make a beetroot dip once I prise the empress’s recipe from her fingers; and a jar of fig jam.

That set us back about thirty bucks. I don’t know if that’s cheap or not, but the freshness and quality of the food and pure pleasure of the experience made  it a complete bargain to us. So, viva the farm gate and the honesty system, and long may it prosper well into the 21st Century…


  1. Other than the reason for the road trip, it sounds heavenly. I miss my country roads and places. I used to camp up near there at a place called Vacy – a Girl Guide camp a stone’s throw from Eaglereach. We used to laugh that the folks over the fence were paying a fortune for the same views we were paying $5 for. I grew up at Singleton, so those Upper Hunter stretches were not too far away.

  2. Here’s the beetroot dip recipe, courtesy of Madhur Jaffrey though without her precise measurements, which aint my thing. Boil the beets til tender (use a pressure cooker if you have one), peel and coarsely grate into a bowl. Stir through as much yoghurt as you fancy – I’d probably go about 3 -4 big tablespoons or more for 3 beetroots – and some salt to taste. Now the fun bit: peel a couple of cloves of garlic and cut them into biggish slices and fry until golden with some chilli (flakes or fresh) in olive oil (maybe 50mls or so). Then tip all that into the beetroot and yoghurt and stir through a heap of chopped mint. C’est tout!

  3. Ah, katiecrackernuts, the good old Girl Guides. I failed my cooking badge. It was frozen peas and I boiled them dry. I am glad to say things have changed, a little.

    Empress – I bow down before you once again. that sounds fantastic. Hope mine will do justice to yours.

  4. […] ganoush & Steph’s beetroot dip – plus packets and packets of rice […]

  5. […] Beetroot chunks are especially good in a salad with some feta, don’t you think? Not to mention grated  in the Empress’s delectable beetroot dip courtesy Madhur Jaffrey. […]

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