Great Ocean Food: Travelling to Hobart
In my last article, I proposed the idea of travelling through cooking at home. It worked for us wonderfully.
We have spent time in Greece and France in the past fortnight and although our weather does not quite match the destinations of our mind travel, it is the best we can do. Without the current travel restrictions, I would usually make a pilgrimage to Hobart about now. So, I am going to travel there in my mind this week through memories and a few select recipes.
One of my favourite escapes just north of Hobart is the renowned cooking school, The Agrarian Kitchen. Last time I was there the wind blew directly from the Antarctic and the countryside was dusted with a layer of snow. The kitchen area is housed in an old school building with a beautiful open fire upon which meals are cooked. Together with a wood fired oven used during the lessons, the room becomes very warm and it is a glorious feeling cooking in such a cosy environment while looking out to the surrounding snowcapped hills.
The concept of the school is to reconnect the kitchen and the land. It is an ideal venue for people to rediscover the simple pleasures of gathering and cooking produce as close to its source as possible. It is a working farm and incorporates an extensive vegetable garden, orchard, berry patch and herb garden, all grown using organic principles. This produce is incorporated into the cooking programmes.
The last course I attended was called “The Whole Hog”. We were instructed on butchery techniques by master butcher, Marcus Vermey and the food preparation was done by owner and founder Rodney Dunn. We butchered a Wessex bred free range pig and in true nose to tail style and cooked everything, including a gorgeous crispy pig’s ear salad. The standout dish for me was the rolled pork loin stuffed with calvados prunes. We prepared it in the morning and completed the class while the loin cooked in the wood fired oven. (Recipe to follow).
At the end of the class we enjoyed the dish served with roast potatoes, a green salad and several glasses of Tamar Valley pinot noir. In front of the fire watching the snow fall outside was a perfect way to enjoy the Tasmanian winter. While my friends and I were enjoying the warmth, other brave souls were participating in the nude swim as part of the Dark Mofo festival. Sadly, the event was cancelled this year, but to recreate it you could always sneak down to Point Addis for a mid-winter swim; whether you chose your birthday suit as attire is totally up to you.
Rolled pork loin stuffed with calvados prunes
1.6kg pork loin
150g pitted prunes
125ml calvados (or brandy)
1 onion thinly sliced
2 tablespoon finely shredded sage
80ml extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
130g fresh breadcrumbs
For stuffing, heat olive oil in a frying pan, add onion and garlic, and sauté over, low-medium heat until golden, about five minutes, add vinegar and simmer until evaporated, then add sage and stir through breadcrumbs, season to taste and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a small saucepan, bring calvados to a simmer, add prunes, remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Using a sharp knife score the skin of the pork then place skin-side down, season meat and spread over stuffing. Place prunes in a single line down the centre and roll to enclose. Tie with twine at five-centimetre intervals and place in a roasting pan. Rub with sea salt and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
Preheat oven to 250C. Place pork into oven and roast for fifteen minutes, reduce the heat to 180C and cook for another hour and or until golden brown and tender.