And frankly, on the north-west coast, there wasn’t much else for a family looking to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.
Guy’s family didn’t even go out for tea – it was never going to be as good as what came out of the garden.
It’s a region of contradictions here: from our office window I can see fertile paddocks running from here to the sea that have all produced high-quality, intense-flavoured food this season.
Our neighbours have boer goats that taste better than lamb, and our other neighbour has the healthiest murray grey cattle I’ve seen.
On our road alone there are two walnut orchards, a farmer who exports onions, and even a pheasant grower.
We’re surrounded by great food, but even at the bottom of our road, where country meets town, is one of those parmy places.
It’s a strange food culture here. The meals are about quantity, not quality. Chips and salad means a mountain of chips and one slice of hard-as-rock mainland-grown tomato.
Fortunately, the choice of good restaurants on the coast is growing, especially in Burnie and Penguin.
There are a number of places going out of their way to source fine local produce to do interesting things with. We'll bring you more information about them on the blog.
A night on a mountain
Over Easter we went to Cradle Mountain Lodge to try our pork at the Highland Restaurant – where the executive chef is Simon Cordwell.
Simon has been a great supporter of us in the start-up of our business. He’s passionate about sourcing local food, and knowing the full story behind it.
The first thing he wanted to do when he found out we had pigs was to come and see the farm so he knew they were genuine free-range and being ethically farmed.
It was so heartening to know that he would actually go out of his way – all the way down from the mountain - to check us out.
So, to our meal at the Highland Restaurant: as an entree Simon braises the pork belly and serves with shitake mushrooms and Asian greens. The recipe is on Simon’s blog and involves garlic, ginger, shallots, soy sauces, star anise, and cinnamon.
We also ordered the salmon plate, which has three pieces of salmon each treated differently, including cured with citrus. They were served with a dob of freshly-grated wasabi, and it was great knowing this came from our close friend Melina Parker from Shima Wasabi.
It’s always difficult sharing a plate of food with Guy. He comes from a family of five children so has a survival-of-the-fittest mentality, and I’m from a family of one, which may have influenced my sharing habits.
Never-the-less I’ve found that dividing shared meals in half from the start, and then protecting my half with raised knife and fork seems to work. Just don’t let your guard down for a slurp of wine.
For main we had our pork loin with maple roasted pear, sweet potato batons and grain mustard jus. Just beautiful.
We had been so excited sitting down in the restaurant and hearing other people order our pork, and Guy just had to tell our waitress straight away we were the pig farmers.
The fellow sitting closest to us was eating the pork belly entree and Guy whispered, “should I ask him what he thinks?”.
I said he should at least wait till the poor bloke had finished eating.
Two seconds later: “should I ask him now?”.
I thought he should wait till the plate had been collected, then we might hear him make a comment to the waitress.
Guy couldn’t control himself.
Turns out the fellow’s a chef in Launceston, and really liked the pork. Guess where a box got sent out this week?
It's amazing how these plants survive through the incredible extremes of the highlands.
The leaves of the nothofagus gunnii (Tasmania's only deciduous plant) are just starting to turn.