Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Well RED (and FED) in Port Macquarie – Ricardo’s tomatoes and strawberries

When I was in Port Macquarie as an Australia Day Ambassador I dropped in to Ricardo’s – around 10 minutes drive from town and just down the road from Cassegrain Winery where I attended Oysters in the Vines.
Anthony Sarks and his tomatoes

The farm, farm-gate produce shop and adjoining Café Red are run by brothers Anthony and Richard (‘Ricardo’) Sarks, who planted their first crop of tomatoes back in 2002 and now produce over one million annually.

Farmed hydroponically, the varieties include: Conchita cocktail tomato, Flavorino mini roma style and full size Tradiros. Obscenely red, sweet yet sharp and incredibly juicy, Ricardo’s award winning tomatoes are among the best you’ll ever taste.

Beginning with a shop, then a café, they wanted to give customers more reason to come. So they developed an amazing system for pick-your-own strawberries where they are grown on an A frame so there are some at every height for picking. Great for the kids! I was there the first day they introduced pick-your-own hydroponic lettuce. A great way to get kids into their greens.

Sweet strawberries growing on an A frame

Mixed lettuce growing hydroponically

The family also make their own range of sweet and savoury sauces, relishes, chutneys, pasta sauces and jams. In the farm-gate shop I spotted tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, tomato chilli chutney, Grandfather’s tomato relish, strawberry syrup, strawberry jam and tomato & basil pasta sauce.

As well as their own produce, the shop also stocks a good variety of local produce: fruit and vegetables, olives and olive oil, eggs, hand-made chocolates, honey and macadamia nuts.

After you’ve picked some produce and purchased some treats from the farm-gate your next stop is Café Red – also run by the busy brothers.

Café Red is open every day for morning & afternoon tea and lunch. The menu is of course packed with dishes featuring tomatoes and strawberries – lots of salads, desserts and smoothies.

Port Macquarie and the Hastings region is fast becoming a food paradise.

The details
Ricardo’s Farm
221 Blackmans Point Road
Port Macquarie 2444
Telephone 02 6585 0663
Farm-gate and strawberry picking from 7am, 7 days
Café Red from 9am to 3pm, 7 days
Free farm tours at 11am from Monday to Friday

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