Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Agrarian Experience -- first look

My mum loves cooking.  No, I mean.  loooooooooves cooking.  When I was asked by Severine to take some photos for their Agrarian Experience class, I asked mum to join me for the day.

That's my mum making bread there!  I think the photo says it all -- she was pretty happy :) 

Oh oh oh.  We've had a taste of fresh honey, right where it's made.

Sorry about the quick post.  But it was a fantastic day, and couldn't wait to share some photos.  More to come, really soon.

By the way, it's a year exact;y since my first blog post!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Peasant Feast at the Old Bank B&B

It's been a while since my last post...  Apologies for the lack of updates.  Life has been a little crazy lately.

I love visiting Cygnet!  It's a gorgeous town set amongst apple orchard, fabulous food and even more fabulous people.  So when a peasant-styled long table dinner was announced, I booked as soon as I could.  I roped in a friend to come with me as well, and as a coincidence, she had found some long lost friends there! 

The dinner was based around produce either grown or made locally.  Every mouthful of food, from  Fat Pig Farm salami to the Worcestershire sauce in the shepherd's pie was made locally.  Sitting next to people who has produced your dinner was not an everyday experience, and clearly I've lost touch with the very people who feed me.  But luckily, we have some pretty great farmer's market and I'm trying to change this, one meal at a time.

The dinner was held at the lovely Old Bank B&B, run by the word wizard Bruce (follow him on twitter: ) and gorgeous Jasmine.  A long table set with about 30 places had overtaken the orangery.  Despite being in Cygnet on numerous occasions, this was my first visit inside the Old Bank.  It's a beautiful old building and the orangery would be a lovely place to be on a sunny day.  I'll have to stay there for a night next time I'm in Cygnet.

The first of two main courses: good old fashioned shepherd's pie.  It was served with some lovage beetroot.  Being a peasant dinner, the main courses were shared dishes, family style.  I love eating like this. 

Next was the slow cooked brisket, cooked for 10 hours.  The meat just fell off the bone, and was rather challenging getting some onto the plate!  Oh, I love brisket.  So much flavour for such little work.  And eating off the bone is always tastier.  Always.

It was served with quinoa & overcooked broccoli, which was also lovely and tasty.

As if my night couldn't get better, I stayed with Gillian & Dave ( in their "shed".  I had visions of drafty room with a mattress on the floor... But this is no ordinary shed -- it's a two-story mansion with a toasty wood fire going.  The bedroom even had a roof window with views of the sky.  I dream of a house like that.  One day... one day...  Thank you so much for letting me crash at your shed place :)  I would offer the same in return, except, I don't have a shed, and it really is just a room with a mattress.

I woke up the next morning and had a poke around the pretty garden.  Isn't the windmill cute?

A leisurely breakfast at Lotus Eaters and the essential coffee, then it's off to the Cygneture kitchen, to have a play with chocolate.

So.  Much.  Chocolate.

There was a fountain of perfectly shiny dark chocolate.  

Needless to say, I have no talent for handling chocolate.  They are such finicky things -- rubbing them too much causes them to crystalise, and if you don't get the temperature and movement right, they don't set properly with the crispy crunch.  I had a bit of a disaster with the white chocolate!  Despite failures, I had so much fun and it was great to chat with Gillian while she worked, and I wrecked.   Next time, I'll stick to chocolate buttons and leave the rest to the professionals :)

Due to the fact that most of the time, my hands were covered with chocolate (not a bad problem to have) and had to work with them quickly, I didn't have much of a chance to take photos of the  kitchen.  The chocolate buttons was all I got.

Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up.  I went home with a big bag of chocolate that I shared with my workmates.  They were gleefully accepted and were snapped up in minutes.

I'll be back there again soon enough :)

Until next time...