reathe deeply, and imagine this. It’s a hot evening, Saturday, summer. You sit down with friends to dinner and tuck into freshly shucked oysters for entrée.
As the first slides into your mouth, the cool saltiness of the ocean diffuses across your tastebuds.
Then, pop! An explosion of creamy, smoked garlic. It’s an unexpected yet delicious combination.
Another oyster, and the same thing happens.
Can you stop?
If you’re worried about the bill, don’t be. Because tonight, you’re at home.
Generally, this experience has been reserved for patrons of expensive high-end restaurants. But thanks to Carmel and Brett Masterson of Springmount Fine Foods, no longer.
Say hello to the flavour fireworks of the handmade garnish pearl, which come in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours.
The duo, who have built a boutique food label from their home and farm at Springmount, Victoria, say the discovery of the pearl was almost accidental. “I was researching oil and vinaigrette emulsification,” Carmel says. “I came across a molecular gastronomy website in the US that had a similar version of pearls. So, we decided to give them a go”.
The entrepreneurs are no strangers to self-teaching, having developed and perfected other products including black garlic. Their passion for food arose in large part, because of a belief that food should be beautiful and creative, not just fuel for the body.
Brett, a former sign writer, and Carmel, a former sales rep and school administrator made the big tree change nearly 10 years ago. “Our suburb was a like lego land,” Brett reflects. “We had a great house, but we hated where we lived. The houses were jammed against each other, but no-one knew each other. No one even said hello,” he says.
Thus, began an 18-month journey for Carmel, Brett and their two small daughters to find the ‘perfect patch of land with good soil’. The family ended up in a small village, just outside of Creswick. Carmel says Springmount has been an ideal location. “We did want to go more remote,” she says. “But as the girls have grown, they’ve been able to have the farm experience, and still get to netball and music theatre in Ballarat and Daylesford”.
Gradually, the family taught themselves how to rear and slaughter animals, having already become skilled in growing their own fruit and vegetables. Carmel and Brett self-educated themselves on livestock management and slaughter, thanks to power of technology. “We’d be out in the paddocks with our laptop, Googling it all,” Carmel laughs.
Of the pearls, Carmel and Brett say the Rocket Seeder program will help them overcome one key challenge: increasing shelf life. “The champagne strawberry pearl is our most popular,” Carmel says. “If we want to enter new markets, particularly weddings and events, this is paramount”.
Of the future, Brett and Carmel say they remain flexible, but their short-term focus is the strawberry champagne pearl. “They’ve done so well at local farmers markets and festivals,” Carmel says. “It’s a gorgeous explosion of flavour. Really, it can’t be beaten”.