River Cottage Australia Series 2 Ep 3: Inside story

WELCOME to the next inside story behind Series 2 of River Cottage Australia!

The Narooma News just like during the first series will again be bringing you running coverage of each episode.

We will highlight the local characters and scenery of the Far South Coast of NSW featured in the hit show that airs on The Lifestyle Channel on Foxtel.

Episode 3 of Series 2 starts with the delivery of some new roosters from Tabitha Zarins of Tabandy Farm Wool.

Tabitha from Candelo appeared in the first series with her camel dung and so is another River Cottage Australia regular.

Next we get to meet one of the real dynamos of the local district – Erica Dibden from South Coast Cheese and Tilba Real Milk.

Back in February we at the Narooma News reported it had been a momentous first year in operation for Erica and her husband Nic Dibden, who started out bottling around 1000 litres of milk a week.

Production has grown to around 25,000 litres of milk a week that is now not only stocked at local IGA supermarkets and independent fruit and veg shops from Batemans Bay to Pambula, but also is very popular at farmers markets in Canberra and Sydney.

“I can’t say how important the support of the local shop owners who were brave enough to stock a new product has been,” Erica said.

“Their support was fundamental is establishing our brand and the success we have already achieved.

“We have now expanded to farmers markets where we are bringing the producer to the consumer, who increasingly is willing to pay a little more for quality, sustainable food that they know where it comes from.”

Erica, Nic and their staff of 19 full-time and part-time workers, who commute to Tilba from Bermagui, Cobargo, Tilba and Narooma, now plan to take a deep breath.

Rather than trying to increase production even more, they will focus on perfecting and streamlining milk and cheese production.

Cheese making is one area that should see some exciting developments over the next year with more new varieties and also cheese-making classes held in the factory due to start later this month.

Handmade cheeses include cheddars, Camembert, haloumi, fetta, Colby, Havarti and even a “Tilba Jack” based on the American Monterey Jack.

Life has become a whirlwind of activity for the husband and wife team, who still run their 200-head Jersey cow dairy farm at Tilba Tilba just down the road from the factory that supplies all the raw product.

When not getting up early to milk, deliver the milk to the factory, running and planning factory production, there is so much to do with marketing and travelling up to the farmers markets.

Now back to the show!

After creating their cheese in factory, Paul and Erica then arrive with freshly made cheese at the Bemboka Secret Cheese Society – we would like to tell you more about this organisation, but it’s a secret!

What we can tell you is that the group was formed by local gourmand Patrick Reubinson, who also organises the Bemboka Banquet featuring food grown within a local radius.

River Cottage is all about being locavore and Patrick certainly is a big advocate of eating local.

We last caught up with Patrick at the first ever Tilba Milk Producers Dinner back in March when fancy Sydney chefs Colin Fassnidge serving up the finest local produce in the idyllic setting of Erica’s dairy farmhouse garden.


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