Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cooking with Fire at the Agrarian Kitchen

Just a few quick photos from today's class at the Agrarian Kitchen.  There's just something magical about fires.  My clothes and hair still smells of smoke.  The good kind of smell.

Full post to come soon.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Agrarian Experience

Yes yes!  I'm very lucky to be invited back by Severine for more photos of the Agrarian Kitchen.  Being a little late with my mother's day present, I asked mum to come along.  She always talks the truffle lunch we had there few years ago, so it was the perfect opportunity to lavish her with a class.

A day at the Agrarian Kitchen involves a lot of eating.  Even before the class began, we were presented with this blueberry frangipane.  I love the deeply baked crust that was so short and buttery.  You know the day will be great when it starts with a coffee and cake.

This class was all the season, cooking from the garden right now and from recent autumn harvests.  Going back to the basics.  Even though it's winter, the garden is anything but bare.  The brassicas are abundant: kale, cabbage and brussel sprout.  There are leafy greens as well: cimi de rapa, purple choi and chicory.  Under the ground, daikons and radishes are ready for harvest.  Next to the polytunnel are the broadbeans.  It's my all time favourite vegetable, because they are quintessentially spring.  

Through the kitchen window, there were white boxes sitting on top of a table.  These are the bee hives, and have had their first harvest just days ago.   Luckily, we were given a taste of this.  Teaspoons dipped in a bucket of honey.  It was raw, slightly opaque, runny, and sweet.  It was the Agrarian Kitchen in a spoon: pollen from trees, vegetables, herbs and wild flowers.  Did you know it takes a bee's whole life to make a teaspoon of honey?  Think about that next time you have it...

We visited the pigs, who were quite excited to see Rodney with buckets of food.  They were fed a meal of grains and spent apples from cider making.  One of them was particularly hungry!

On the way back, we collected a few more items: carrots from a root cellar, pumpkins hiding in hay, garlic and potatoes from the dry store.  With all these ingredients in hand, we headed back to the kitchen for some cooking.

We cooked for a few hours before we sat down for lunch.  It began with the potato gnocchi, cooked with cimi de rapa, house made pancetta and breadcrumb.  It was followed by rabbit (raised just metres away) slow braised in apple cider.  It was served with a potato and pumpkin gratin and winter coleslaw (with a dressing that had a surprising ingredient -- milk!)

We finished off the meal with a grapefruit (locally sourced -- unbelievable!) meringue tart with lavender ice cream.  The lavender was trimmings from the garden and has been dried.  Oh, the ice cream was gorgeous, and reminded me of Nice.  I'm definitely saving the recipe for this one to make in summer.  The tart is nothing short of amazing: silky curd, buttery crust and mini puffs of meringue that were so sweet.

Guess which one was Rodney's and which one was ours? :)  Regardless of looks, it was the a delicious way to finish off the meal.  We could hardly contain our joy as we dug into the dessert.  I think that sums it up the Agrarian Kitchen so beautifully: ingredients produced with love, cooked with care, and shared with great company. 

Mum and I had such a fantastic time on the day and as always, thank you to everyone at the Agrarian Kitchen: Lee & Rainer for keeping the farm so productive; Stacey for cleaning the never ending parade of dishes (!); and of course, Rodney and Severine for letting us into their home, and sharing the joys of eating from the land.