Ok ladies and gents, I suggest you pop the kettle on and make yourself comfortable. This one's going to be a doozy...
This weekend past, Miss Rose and I took a little trip down south for something we've been anticipating for quite some time. Unfortunately, my Tasmanian experience got off to a rather poor start, and without the care and pharmaceutical support of Miss Rose and our generous hosts at Explorer's Lodge in New Norfolk, things could have taken a devastating turn. I believe the nausea may have set in as we disembarked at Hobart and Miss Rose uttered "Look! A winnebago! We SO should have done that. AND it's called the 'Leisure Seeker'. That is SO cool..." *shudder*
Thankfully transport arrangements were unchangable, and I managed to pull through the ensuing unpleasantness with a sturdy constitution, a little help from a tidy Tanzanian, and the belief that enduring a few crazy days with the delightful, if not slightly insane, Miss Rose, would be thoroughly worth it.
This is how we travel...
Before heading to the événement principal, we managed a quick trip down to Glaziers Bay and Tass-Saff, where the ever-charming Terry took us through the finer points of growing and using saffron, and provided us with some of the most beautiful and fragrant saffron I have ever seen, and which I am certainly looking forward to cooking with.
Then, it was time for The Hog.
On a crisp autumnal morning we headed down to The Agrarian Kitchen, a gorgeous little cooking school run by the delighful Rodney and Severine, in the pretty little hamlet of Lachlan. Like anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen, I have a "when I build my dream kitchen" plan, and as I entered The Agrarian, while I was incredibly jealous to see this dream realised - by someone else no less - I was also very excited to know that for the next two days, I would be calling this place home.
The Agrarian Kitchen
The purpose of our visit was to partake in their Whole Hog Masterclass, which starts like this...
Middles on something like this...
And ends as a two day, thirteen course, pork-fest extravaganza.
We began by learning the finer (and not-so-finer) points of porcine butchery from the lovely Lee, who bestowed us with a wealth of knowledge, beautifully marbled pork and delightfully lewd innuendo in both adequate and equal measure.
A butchery pork-tage!
Our first port of call was the loin, which was stuffed, rolled and then popped in the wood-fire oven to crackle away happily as we prepared various other bits-and-pieces, stuffed our fat chops, and then settled down to lunch.
How the civilised prepare to dine...
Rolled pork loin stuffed with calvados prunes and served with a winter salad
Silverbeet stuffed chops
The afternoon breezed by in a haze of overindulgence, there were pork scratchings for the brave, and after a little more to-do, we were sent home to take respite and recover for the coming day of porknanigans...
Stock, trotters, streaky bacon, ears, lard...
Our return was greeted with three of my favourite words: Morning. Coffee? Breakfast? If something had been dastardly hilarious I may have had a moment, but fortunately for all that was not the case, and after being treated to the most wondrous baked beans imaginable, we headed straight to the kitchen.
Numerous dishes were set bubbling, baking and roasting, and then it was time for everyone's favourite mid-morning snack, ribs.
Chinkiang vinegar pork ribs
Dirty, messy, sweet sticky deliciousness ensued, and so naturally thereafter, it was time for sausage.
A quick taste test...
Pork and fennel sausages
Streaky bacon and rillettes were prepared for the journey home...
...and then we sat down to the most gloriously long and delicious progressive lunch you could ever ask for.
Soft tacos of shredded slow-cooked pork leg
Pressed pig's head
Chorizo, chickpea and poached egg soup
Parsley, radicchio, apple and crispy pig's ear salad
Pig's trotters and potato torte
Torta Sbrisolona with goat's milk dulce de leche, preserved apricots and lavender, lemon, goat's milk ice cream
I cannot adequately describe how much I adore The Agrarian and their friends. From their principles to their passions, everything is as it should be, and so accurately reflects how I personally believe food, and life, should be approached. And that all is done without fuss, simply stemming from the desire to share good food with good friends, makes it all the more better. Everything is thought through to the finest detail, and you are so incredibly well looked after you're not quite sure whether to feel guilty or immensely honoured. How gracious a host, I ask, which not only welcomes you in to their home and feeds you like royalty, but then sends you home with this as a doggy bag?
So I offer my humblest of thanks and respect to Rodney, Severine and Lee. The quality of produce was exceptional; the company just splendid; and the food simply divine.
I had fun. I am happy. I am inspired.
And I think I'm still full...
So thank you