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I simply want to be in the garden all day.
Tasmania has left its mark on my brain. After only 5 days travelling around a tiny portion of this unique island, I can’t get it out of my head or heart. I don’t think I ever will. Having copious space, nutrient rich soil, sufficient rainfall and sunshine is only part of the equation. The people with the willingness to tend the land and their animals, with respect and commitment closes the circle of life. And what a life!
When we were admiring Fat Pig Farm, Matthew Evans said to us with a twinkle in his eye ‘the harder I work the luckier I get’. Stunning scenery certainly inspires. The green valley the little farm sits in is enchanting. The sun was shining when we visited but I know there would be plenty of horizontal rain days where people would be glad to get inside and dry off from the bone-chilling cold. Sitting in Matthew and Sadies brand new restaurant on a long (and I mean long) table, the kitchen running alongside the dining area, open for eager eyes to drink in the freshest of ingredients being lovingly plated up, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually there.
Matthew told us he hadn’t had a day off since August…not complaining but just stating the fact. They do work hard. There is so much to do. The seasons don’t wait.
So if the apple trees in the orchard need pruning it has to be done after fruiting. If the milking shed needs building it has to be done before the calf arrives. If the spring vegetables need planting it can’t be done over summer! But, what a satisfying adventure to live your life in.
Integrity is a highly prized value it seems, for everyone we met along our travels. From the crazy Canadian running a tiny and oh-so-exquisite chocolatier in a small town, the pioneer quality saffron growers overlooking Glaziers Bay, to Cheryl and Naser, owners of Daci and Daci a stunning continental style bakery in Hobart, and the mushroom lady Bec who grows surreal fungi in an old apple shed just outside her home country town of Cygnet.
I love the city I live in. But if I can create my little slice of rural horticultural heaven in my Perth backyard I get the satisfaction of providing for my family. Growing fruit and vegetables takes time, but I have chosen it as a priority. I’m glad I have.
The highlight of this tour personally was spending time with Rodney Dunn at The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School. Arriving at the old school house, meandering through part of the herb garden walking over a gurgling stream to the kitchen door, we were all full of anticipation. The building didn’t disappoint. I can’t really describe the feeling of tranquility we all experienced. The usually vibrant and chatty group completely transformed. You could have heard a pin drop as we wandered in through the teaching kitchen, open mouthed to take our places at the old pine table for our introduction to the day. It just got better from there on in.
Rodney and Severine are two of the most gracious cooking class hosts I have ever met on my food-tour travels. We all learned so much about gardening, animal husbandry and cooking. The pork we butchered and ate had been dispatched on the farm a couple of days previously. No stress to the animal provided us with meat that was tender and sweet.
All fresh produce was picked and prepared by our hands from the garden, seasonal and as fresh as could be. Artichokes, asparagus, broad beans, breakfast radishes, rhubarb, kale, shiso….and the list goes on. After we had feasted on what we cooked, we wished we didn’t have to leave. I’m sure most of us will return for more learning in this extraordinary establishment.
Local culture is always important to include on our food tours. An eye-opening, thought provoking visit to MONA just had to be on the itinerary. The museum of old and new art is overflowing with amazing exhibits and arriving there via the water was pretty spectacular. The Source restaurant has incredible views of river and rolling hills.
The executive chef Vince Trim is a creative visionary. His living tables are a work of art in themselves. Outdoor tables are covered with ground-cover plants and herbs. Dinner plates sit, raised up from the greenery on bespoke metal halos that look like they are fresh out of the forgery fire.
The respect we have for small growers and producers of fresh food in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia has grown immensely. Eating seasonal produce makes so much sense, giving our bodies what they need during the ever changing year.
Thanks Tasmania for, as one of our participants eloquently put it, widening our horizons.
Read more about what you could be experiencing in November 2017 if you join the next Extraordinary Culinary Tour to Tasmania.
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