We have had an exciting November and early December. We have been contacted by Guy and Eliza at Mount Gnomon Farm, in Tasmania's north west. They are breeders of rare breed Wessex Saddleback pigs. These pigs have a very high level of fat and a beautiful sweet meat with a dark, rich colour. We are using the fore-leg and shoulder for out pork mornay dish.
The pigs are large and quite tall with a white belt across the shoulders and down both front legs. Originally from England was kept as a bacon big and is still classified as rare the world over but breeders in both Australia and New Zealand are having great success.
At Mount Gnomon Farm they are kept free range and allowed to graze and dig and wander where they like. They also have a fantastic blog site, that revolves around the goings-on of the farm, piglets, ducklings and beautiful vegetables. If you do not like to see photographs of very cute little piglets and know that the are being grown to be eaten then this blog is not for you, however if you like pictures of very cute little piglets being lovingly raised in a natural and happy environment to produce the best quality meat then you will love it!
We have also been approached by another local organic vegetable grower form the Huon Valley. Beautiful peppery radishes, sweet carrots and fat, tender spears of asparagus! We have been experimenting with a dish involving the asparagus and a 2 hour cooked egg with truffle oil and roasted hazelnuts!
Another new product we have found is Prickly Box honey from Bruny Island. The bees are making the honey from the scrubby bushes that skirt the bay where our oysters are grown. The honey has a light flavour and is beautifully matched to the saltiness of the oysters, a nice synergy of geography and in taste. We are making an emulsion of the honey with lemon juice and Ashbolt extra virgin olive oil with lots of black pepper.
We have had our first big week of pickling for the summer. A box of quail eggs arrived from our good friends at the Wursthaus. We decided there was no way we could get through the whole lot (about 350) and thought we should pickle some, here's how it went.
Lots and lots of quails' eggs
Firstly the eggs are hard boiled by starting them in cold water and bringing it up to the boil then immediately refreshed in iced water to stop the coking process.
Pendleton vinegar with soft bay leaves
Eggs on the way to the boil
We made a pickling liquid from the Pendleton Estate chardonnay vinegar, tender new seasons bay leaves, black pepper corns, brown mustard seeds and two star anise. The bad part of pickling 350 quail eggs is the next step in the process, peeling them. Quail's eggs have a soft shell but a tough membrane sandwiched between the shell and the white that also needs to be removed. It took just over three hours to peel the lot of them.
After the peeling
The pickling liquid is warmed to allow the aromatics to infuse and poured over the eggs. They are then sealed into jars or in our case cryovac bags and pasteurised and left for at least two weeks for the vinegar to work its magic on the eggs! The best part of pickling a large number of quails' eggs was the looks on Tom and Marcus's faces when they came in to work to find them ready to peel! We cant wait to get our hands on some stone fruit and berries to put down for winter!
ready to be pasteurised
The final product, time will tell!
Our tomato plants are also going great guns! The plants have tripled in size and there are tiny green tomatoes appearing all over them. Bring on the warm weather!
November and December promised to be a tumultuous time for Piccalilly. Our sous chef and our assistant restaurant manager were both due to leave us to take on different roles. Both Courtney and Klaa had been with us since shortly after the beginning of Piccalilly. Their replacements are taking on their new roles and responsibilities with relish! We are excited to see the new direction Piccalilly will take with some new blood both in the kitchen and in the dining room. We have also taken on a brand new first year apprentice and are very excited to see him progressing so quickly and gaining new skills!