Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goats and Shanley's

Goats form the inspiration for this post. Elysia and Iain spent the weekend in the Huon Valley and we took the opportunity to visit a couple of our favourite producers, as well as a bit of eating and some lovely accommodation.

The trip began early on Sunday morning with a quick visit to Piccalilly to pick up a couple of ingredients and then to the Hill Street Grocer for some more bits and pieces for dinner (which we will dicuss later).

The day was warm but not sunny and the roads were quiet so our trip to Cradoc for our first stop went quickly. Peter and Lorraine at Rivendale Boer Goat Stud had agreed to show us around their property and introduce us to their wonderful goats. Rivendale’s goat has featured on Piccalilly’s menus for nearly three years and is a product that we absolutely love. Leaner, sweeter and more delicate than lamb, it is a real treat.

Boer goats were developed in South Africa in the early 1900s specifically for meat production. They are a large and solidly-built goat with a long body, red-brown head and white body. 

 The older kids

The Rivendale goats had kidded in late August so there were heaps of little goats around – skipping, jumping and climbing. The older ones that had just been weaned were occupying a paddock adjacent to the house. It seemed that they would stand on anything to get off the ground, whether it be a log, an upturned bucket or even each other! Lorraine bottle-feeds the kids and as a result they are very friendly, and as we stood and observed their hjinks they would come right up to the electric fence, sometimes to their detriment - a zap and crackle and the kid would spring away with a very loud exclamation of surprise, which all the other kids would join in on making for quite a chorus.

The farmers explained that the electric fence is very important with young goats because of their inquisitive nature, rambunctious play and ability to climb anything which makes it hard to keep them contained.

We then went to visit the even younger goats that were still on the bottle and confined to the shed. The little ones are even more social, jumping at the fence and making a lot of noise – very cute!

Little kids

 Being friendly!

It was then off to see the adult does and bucks in another of the green hilly paddocks. The adult goats are far more relaxed than the little ones, happy to examine their visitors with quiet regard. We could see how muscular these goats are and why they are held in such high regard as a meat producing goat. They lounged in the sun munching lush green Huon grass, at ease with us and now with a couple of Lorraine and Pete’s puppies that had joined us.

 Big ones

The sun was now out and we were introduced to the rest of the  Rivendale menagery - rabbits, a miniature white donkey (which was very shy), a couple of very large horses and the big white maremma that diligently looks after the goats in the bottom paddocks.

Maremmas are a breed of dog bred to live amongst livestock to protect them from any predators. The dogs regard their hoofed companions as members of their own pack and will defend them to the end.

The puppies tumbled around while we collected some goat shoulder before heading in to Cygnet to try and find some lunch.

It was a pleasure to finally see the goats at Rivendale. Very happy and healthy animals that lead a good life. Fantastic ethically-grown, hand-raised meat. Thank you to Lorraine and Pete for the tour and for supplying us for the last few years.

You can meet Lorraine and Pete at the Farm Gate market on Sundays when they are there. To subscribe to the Farm Gate newsletter and keep an eye out to see when goat is available click here.

In Cygnet we headed straight to the Red Velvet Lounge and weren’t surprised to see it was packed. We shared a large table with a couple of other people and studied the menu.

Unable to narrow our choices down we opted to have entrees and main courses (and good coffee). Vegetable and ham hock soup and cheese croquettes with cucumber salad hit the table first. The soup packed with ingredients in a minestrone-style was a big portion and we were starting to regret our decision to order mains.


 Hok soup

Pulled-pork sourdough sandwich and squid with chickpeas. The house-made sourdough with its shiny glazed crust was excellent and packed full of crispy pan-fried pork. The squid was soft inside its crunchy coating. A lot of food!
The pulled pork sandwich

 Squid and chickpeas

On the way in we walked past the selection of cakes in the display cabinet and were looking forward to tasting a couple but were forced to take some away to enjoy after dinner.

Next was the long drive back up to Huonville and back down the other bank of the river to our accommodation. Just before Dover, Shanleys click here is very new boutique B&B accommodation and we were looking forward to seeing it! We were met on the driveway by Eamon Shanley, a very large horse and a friendly brown and white spaniel.

Shanley's view 

Shanley's sheep

We pulled up to the little house that was to be ours for the night, set in its newly landscaped garden. Bespoke furniture, polished boards and a lot of glass to make the most of the stunning view.  We relaxed for a couple of hours before shucking some oysters that we had pinched from work and opening a bottle of Glen Shian sparkling. We also got stuck into white anchovies, olives and cheese from Hill Street.

Shanley's spa with a view

 Cheesy snacks

We had read on the Shanley’s website that they had a pizza stone so on Friday Iain had started the process of making a light rye sourdough pizza dough that we topped with simple tomato, mozzarella and salami with a little bit of garlic and oregano oil.  Perfect pizza. For dessert we tried unsuccessfully to finish the banoffy pie and berry trifle we had bought at Red Velvet Lounge, before watching a DVD and turning in for the night (on possibly the biggest bed in the world)

 Simple pizza the way it should be!

The following morning (after waking up in possibly the most comfy bed in the world) started with bacon and eggs (from the Shanley’s chickens) on home-made bread that was provided as part of the Shanley’s service, and made the most of the view while the small flock of sheep and a chocolate-coloured horse in the neighboring paddock started their day.

We said goodbye to the Shanleys before driving about 10 minutes south to the St Imre Vineyard click here. We were excited to see the natural wines produced in at this small, family-run setting. They grow gewurtztraminer, pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris as you might expect, but also blend in some unusual varieties like gamay, ziegerrebe, and the very rare baco noir click here.

The wines are made with grape juice, and only grape juice. This means that each vintage is completely different and that vertical tastings are very interesting. We bought a couple of bottles to take home for the Piccalilly list.

Heading north again we made straight for Geeveston and the Tahune Airwalk click here. The galvanised walkway snakes through and above the treetops offering stunning views of the forest and the tree canopy that cannot be seen from the ground.

The view from the end of the Airwalk

We stayed in the Tahune car park and used the raminder of the pervious evening’s dinner to make some sandwiches in the back of the car before heading further north.

Sandwiches in the boot 

We had an appointment to meet Dr Anne Clark  and her herd of Toggenburg dairy goats at Belstone Goat Cheese click here. The long driveway snakes over Bonnet Hill then back up a small rise to the house and cheese-making room on its own little hill.

Standing in the parking area you look across the top of Blackmans Bay towards Bruny Island and the Southern Ocean. Spectacular!

 Belstone's view

We were met at the door by Anne all kitted up in hair net, apron, gloves and special boots to keep any foreign bodies out of the cheese room. We were given all the appropriate coverings and headed into the very warm room. The aroma of warm goats milk hung in the air, sweet and sour at the same time it is a wonderful thing. Pots on induction plates warmed slowly, curds were pressed and brined, and several large collar boilers were busy setting big pots of milk.

 Cooking whey for ricotta

We spent a couple of hours helping Anne and her assistant Kate in making chevre, soft white mould cheeses and natural ricotta. Fascinating processes left-right-and-centre. It was then time to leave the clinical environment of the production room and prepare bottles for the baby goats in one of Anne’s paddocks.

The nine kids knew what was coming and were clamouring at the gate as we approached. The scrum of very vocal kids shoved each other as the bottles are upended into a rack where all the kids can be fed at once without bottles being held by hand (although we did hand-feed a couple).

Very excited!

 Elysia feeding one of the Belstone kids

We left the kids to it and went to meet the small herd of milking goats. Very docile, they regarded us in a casual way and went about their business of eating and sitting. Anne showed us her antique milking machine and her tiny dairy before we met the two huge Toggenburg bucks. Looking like rugged hairy mountain goats, their paddock faces Mt Wellington making for a spectacular backdrop.

Anne and one of last year's kids

 Vintage milking machine

The boys

Anne loaded us up with cheese samples and sent us on our way home. Thank you to Lorraine and Pete, the Shanleys and Anne Clark for a wonderful weekend!