Russell the rooster is a happy lad. He now has six ladies to cluck and fuss over, and all seems good in the freshly cleaned chook house. One hen has started laying (quite small speckled eggs to start with), and I'm hopeful that with the approaching winter solstice, others will start up soon. Three are only young pullets, but they are growing fast. I am really enjoying seeing all seven Barnevelders roaming around the place. Even if for most of this week it was in the rain and fog. Each evening, I've had to chase a pademelon out of the chook shed or the girls won't go inside. It doesn't bother Russell though - he's up on the perch by 4.30pm!
Thanks to some lovely friends in Franklin, today we took delivery of a side of lamb, with a side of pork still to come. The freezer will be very full again. The local abattoir that processes the animals provides a 'cut up sheet' for private stock to complete with your instructions on how you would like your meat butchered and packed. End result: we now have meat packed into portions for two and ready to cook. And we know exactly which paddock the lamb came from - now that's local sourcing. I've been consciously cooking and eating less meat recently, so this supply will last us a while. I have a string of recipes lined up to try.
On Sunday night I tried venison for the first time in years (it was tender and lovely), at a dinner with the person who shot and butchered the deer himself. After my recent rooster butchering experience, I'm pretty sure I could not tackle something the size of a deer.
The open days at Willie Smiths Organic Cider in Grove have become a monthly event, so last Sunday we went again, meeting up with friends for a very pleasant afternoon outside the big apple shed. Last time I went on a tour of the cidery. This time I got there early enough to go on a tour of the orchard with the grower, Andrew Smith. It was interesting to hear about some of the organic methods, the history of the property, his childhood there and how they prune the trees (very minimally). It is clear that they always have to think ahead of the market so that they grow and make what people want... the preference for Pink Lady apple over other varieties some years back just one example. They supply organic apples to a large supermarket nationally and despite some onerous requirements like regular audits against some very important and some quite ridiculous quality and OH&S criteria, his overall experience of working with them was very positive. On the other hand, Aldi quite rightly copped a serve for importing everything into Australia and not supporting local producers or manufacturers. Andrew said the orchard tours are an opportunity for them to educate consumers who in turn influence the supermarkets. Back at the shed, I tried a deliciously dry rhubarb cider and a pulled pork burger from Tasman Quartermasters who cater the day. Check their web site or Facebook page for details of the next one.
I mean dogs literally in the Huon - see photos below. Before the weather turned soggy this week, we managed a sunny dog walk and swim along the Huon River at Franklin. But this week winter finally arrived, after a very mild extended autumn and the hot, dry summer before it. Now light misty rain drenches everything and it's cool and damp. The water tank is full. The ground is soggy. This means we spend half the day (at least it feels like it) toweling off the dogs so they can come inside. The rain doesn't bother them at all, of course. They love it as much as they love everything else. What a great doggy life they have.
It's a food kind of weekend. Sushi lunch at Masaaki's and home made curry dinner yesterday was followed up with breakfast this morning at the wonderful Summer Kitchen organic bakery in Ranelagh. A fresh chocolate croissant and a coffee for me, eaten in front of the cosy wood fire, and a loaf of sprouted rye sourdough to take home. A stop as the Taspice shop in Elizabeth Street for essential curry ingredients this afternoon and tomorrow we're off to another Willie Smiths Organic Cider open day with some friends. We enjoyed it so much last time. Hope you're having a great long weekend too.
I'm only the last in a long line of people singing the praises of sushi chef Masaaki Koyama, but his food and team are really worthy of the praise. From his little premises in Geeveston in southern Tasmania, Masaaki sells the freshest sushi around. I normally work from home and don't get out to lunch often. Well, I do get out of the office, but normally just to go downstairs to the kitchen, or down to see the chooks. So today was a real treat. A 20 minute drive that's more than worth it. We had miso soup (made with a stripey trumpeter stock), teriyaki duck and a tasting platter of sushi to die for. Take a look at season two of The Gourmet Farmer to learn more about him. Aside from the food, a highlight today was listening to a staff member providing advice to a tourist who is only in Tasmania for seven days and wanted to try more gourmet produce. She recommended so many of the places we love ourselves, like Summer Kitchen bakery in Ranelagh and the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, and I even picked up a new tip on where to buy freshly harvested Huon salmon. Brilliant.
A couple of weeks back we had the chance to stay at the Tahune Airwalk Lodge, the new accommodation opened last year at the Tahune Airwalk near Geeveston. You can read all about it in an article that David wrote for Think Tasmania. We've been to the Airwalk quite a few times, on our own or taking interstate visitors, but as we were staying overnight, this time we had the chance to walk it at night! It was brilliant. The lodge provides head torches and the path is lit with reflective markers. It's so peaceful standing on the end of the cantilever up in the treetops in the dark, hearing nothing but the river rushing below. Oh and we also went on the hang gliding experience for the first time, which gives you a totally different view of the river. Next time we'll have to go on the mountain bike track, it looks great.
Escaped Sydney in 2010 for a piece of paradise in Tasmania's Huon Valley. I'm a keen walker, remote worker, incompetent gardener, Bernese Mountain Dog owner, fan of almost anything German (food, language, cars, beer), amateur linguist, chook fancier, childfree.