In its inaugural search for the country's best artisan product, the New Zealand Cuisine magazine has uncovered 'possibly the best sausages in New Zealand'.
Greg Scopas, of Salumeria Fontana, scooped the supreme award with his Sicilian Sweet Fennel Sausages made by hand in Wellsford using Canterbury's finest pork. More than 90 products were scrutinised during the judging process in the 2009 Cuisine Artisan Awards, sponsored by super-premium wine Selaks Founders Reserve, from one of the foremost pioneers of winemaking in New Zealand.
"We've uncovered producers from all corners of the country who have transformed their love of food and passion for local produce into thriving artisan businesses," said Cuisine's new editor, Eric Matthews. He noted the continental-inspired pork sausages as a representative sample of the best from the country's pork industry.
Top-notch artisan fare
Judges said the Salumeria Fontana sausages were 'handmade with the greatest of care and the best of ingredients' and 'exemplify top-notch artisan fare'. They found Greg Scopas's Sicilian Sweet Fennel Sausages "beautifully elegant, sweet and fresh, with great flavours, tasting clearly of pork and fennel and with perfect seasoning and tender skin".
Scopas was inspired to make sausages when he realised he couldn't find in New Zealand the sort he'd developed a taste for when living in Italy. "I was just dead keen on them as a product – they are delicious."
He began making the sausages in his kitchen for himself and a few friends, but in 2000 the hobby became a commercial venture after a team member of New Zealand's yachting Pravda team challenging for the America's Cup derided the quality of New Zealand's sausages. Now Scopas produces six Mediterranean-style sausages, as well as pancetta, dry-cured bacon and extra virgin olive oil.
He said winning the award was 'just huge'. "We are pretty fussy about what we do, and it's good to get the recognition." All Salumeria Fontana sausages are preservative- and gluten-free, and made from Murrellen pork from Canterbury, and can be traced right back to where they came from.