Thursday, 18 August 2011

Truffle Lunch at Garagistes with 121BC

A few weeks ago, I was asked to photograph a special truffle lunch at Garagistes.  It was a lunch featuring cuisine and wine from Piedmont, home to Giorgio De Maria of 121BC.  It was great to see Peter from Perigord Truffles again, and taste some of his delicious truffles grown right here in Tasmania. 

The lunch was one of the best meals I've ever had, and I have trouble picking out my favourite dish.  It could be the risotto, or the agnolotti.  Oh, but real pannacotta is just so good, and who can forget about the bagna caoda?  The matching wines was brilliant, they complemented and added so much to each course.  Some of the wines hadn't been opened for 20 years!  It was a revelation.

It was great fun to photograph the event at Garagistes.  The restaurant had lovely soft light coming through the top, and I love the wooden tables with the black walls.  The kitchen is right next to the dining area, and we could see the whole team working.  You can't help but be excited by the energy that's coming from the other side of the bench.  Plating up risotto has never been more fun to watch.

My friend Stephen Escourt from Reminiscence of a Food Tragic will be writing up a detailed account of the lunch very soon.

In the meantime, here's just a few more photos from the day:

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Whole Hog at the Agrarian Kitchen

I am truly the luckiest person in the world :)  I was back in the Agrarian Kitchen last week to take photos and attend the Whole Hog class.  It was taken by one of the best butcher in Hobart, Marcus Vermey, of Vermey's Quality Meats in Sandy Bay.  What followed was two whole days of pork heaven, using everything from nose to tail, turning the hog into 13 dishes.  

The day began with Marcus and Rodney hanging one large pig from the ceiling.  These pigs are of a rare bred, the Wessex Saddleback, and you can read more about them here.  They have just been added to the Ark of Taste!  The animal was a lot bigger than I had imagined and looked like it was hard work to lift it up.  It had a good life.

With the hog secured to the ceiling, we were introduced to Marcus.  Marcus is from a family of butchers from Holland.  What I didn't know was that Marcus was trained in a supermarket, back in the days when they had real butchers and meat wasn't wrapped in plastic trays.  He has won the Work Skills Australia competition in 92/93 and have worked overseas before settling back in Tasmania to take over his father's business in Sandy Bay.  What an amazing teacher we have for the class.

It was time to get to the meat of the class (!)  Marcus began working on the body, and wow, what an eye opener.  All too soon, it was cut into three main sections, head, torso, back legs.  His knife sliced across the body with little effort, using precise and certain cuts with the blade.  Familiar cuts quickly emerged: ribs, loins and bellies.  He was so quick, I had a hard time keeping up.  It was a real treat to see a such a skilled butcher.  There was pride in his work and admiration for the animal.  It was the perfect way to honour the pig.

Each of us were set to a task, separating the ribs, shaving the ears, cutting up the fat.  No part of the pig was spared -- any fat remaining would go into the lard pot, organs were cut up to put into the crepetine, and anything else, including the head, tail and trotter went into the stock pot.  All skin was put onto a baking tray and baked as crackling.  While we were busy, Rodney made the amazing rolled stuffed pork.  The kitchen was in full swing!

We worked through the morning and soon, the pork feast began: crepetine, rolled pork stuffed with prunes and crackling, fresh salad and roasted veggies and a fresh garden salad.  While we were ate in the dining room, Marcus cooked the chops on the open fireplace.  The grill got pretty hot!

The busy morning and one many pieces of crackling got the better of me.  I wanted a siesta.  But there's more dishes to get ready for the next day, and after much persuasion from Rodney, we headed back to the kitchen.  We made a start on the bacon, the sausages meat was minced and seasoned, and we made baked beans that was to be cooked in the woodfire oven overnight.

This is what we had waiting for us for breakfast the next morning.  Needless to say, it was a tasty start to another day at the Agrarian Kitchen. 

We made so many dishes the next day: sausages, ribs, tacos, pie and pigs ear salads and lardy cake.  Here's a few photographs from day 2:

The day ended with a very very very long lunch with a never-ending parade of pork dishes.  It was a complete celebration of the hog.  Only the nose bone and tail remain untouched. 

Dear Mr. August, thank you for the life you have given.  It was very much appreciated.