Kate Thompson’s Avocado Salsa is, she tells me, one of her signature dishes. She makes it on a regular basis, serving it up simply as a dip or alongside Ballina prawns (‘it’s fantastic!’, she enthuses.) Spring onions, lime juice, roasted ground cumin, fresh coriander – and her own gorgeous creamy organic avocados, ripe but firm, diced and all of that tossed in salt and pepper and olive oil.
Of course, we agree, a perfectly plain, unadorned, spooned-from-its-symmetrical-half avocado is the ideal, the truest way to consume this fruit. Thriving in the conditions she cultivates them – red volcanic soil, rainforest, good drainage, Alstonville plateau – Kate’s avocados have been a constant and comforting presence at local farmers’ markets for many years, within the window, late April till the end of November, in which they grow. And yet, she tells me, they ‘aren’t an easy crop to grow.’ If you start with a seed, she continues, it may never grow. She herself buys the best grafted trees available in Australia, but has many customers who are on to their fifth or tenth tree, still trying and still failing. ‘A good grafted tree is the best way to start’, she says, advice to anyone wanting to grow their own avocados. ‘Lots of organic matter and plants. Rainforest conditions. No chickens scratching around – they break up the little roots.’
We chat a bit more about other culinary uses for avocados, aside from the predictable and ubiquitous guacamole. Recently a customer told Kate about a broccoli soup she made, blending an avocado through at the end to render it creamy. An avo mashed into mayo to bind a potato salad – dill, lime – is another lovely idea. That rich butteriness: no wonder avocados were once called ‘Midshipmen’s butter’ when they were taken aboard sailing ships as food for crews!
The Organic Avocado is at New Brighton on Tuesdays from 8 – 11am and Mullumbimby on Fridays from 7 – 11am