It was summed up in a moment, when one of the people I had just had lunch with turned to me and said, ‘Days like today are very special.’
Days like the day we had lunch at the Agrarian Kitchen, built in a 19th century schoolhouse at Lachlan, 45 minutes outside of Hobart in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley, are magic; because places like the Agrarian Kitchen make them so through the foundation on which they’re created – quality, love, intelligence, passion and beautiful product.
Rodney Dunn, former food editor of Gourmet Traveller and his wife Severine Demanet moved to the Derwent Valley just 2 years ago and established The Agrarian Kitchen. It is already a highly respected cooking school where Dunn takes people through a class of their choice – from The Agrarian Class where you can collect your own produce to cook for lunch to bespoke cooking classes that suit your needs – fancy ‘the whole hog’ weekend?
On four acres of blissful land there are two Jersey cows for milking, rare-breed Wessex saddleback pigs that are utilised after slaughter in the kitchen and a plot full of vegetables. This is a great place to explore the paddock-to-plate idea in an environment that allows you to be completely hands-on with indepth guidance from Rodney while being backed up by an genuine generosity and innate style.
My visit there was simply to eat (yippee!) and after house-cured pancetta and salami (unctuous with a wonderful sweet/earthy balance) we sat down to lamb leg that had been roasted, in the stunning wood-fired oven, with rosemary. It had been gently handled and intelligently cooked allowing the succulent flesh to highlight the complex sweetness of such quality meat. It was accompanied by a classic Pommes Anna, fat Paris Market carrots – tiny round carrots with a deliciously nutty sweetness to them and sauteed brassica leaves that were robust and perfectly intense, adding a bitter green balance to the flavours dancing round the table.
We passed around dishes: the clang of cutlery, the conversation full of anticipation – we were at a table full of delicious food! And it was – full of flavour, rich with texture and absolutely cooked with love.
We finished with poached quince and ginger icecream, the chunks of ginger through the icecream were a bity foil to the fruit.
The entire meal inspired conversations that were thoughtful, serious and downright hilarious! A table of food lovers who knew that where they were and what they were eating was, indeed, very special. www.theagrariankitchen.com