Savour Tasmania 2014 – matching Cider and Rare Food »

Come to Tasmania to taste these delicacies for yourself!

By Kerry Scambler
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Cider & Rare Food - Salmon smolt with Willie Smiths Bone Dry Cider

Cider & Rare Food - Salmon smolt with Willie Smiths Bone Dry Cider

Cider & Rare Food - possum pie and Spreyton Dark Cider
Cider & Rare Food - Tassie map of food
Cider & Rare Food - Pigs Head Cheese with Pagan Cider
Cider & Rare Food - Anvers Fortunata chocolate bavarois and Allans Rivulet green tea jelly

 

When the events for 2014 Savour Tasmania were announced, there was a must-do for local foodies and interstaters alike. Combining two of my favourite things – cider and tasting new foods – under the  magical direction of a Tasmanian chef who revels in all things local, it was a dinner not to miss.

Cider and Rare Food at Elizabeth Street Food + Wine with Karen Goodwin-Roberts taking charge in the kitchen was, as expected, a sell out and a success on many fronts.

Interest was piqued from the first announcement when few details of the rare food were forthcoming. Apart from not wanting diners arriving with preconceived ideas, a huge array of rare and interesting seasonal produce gave Karen the opportunity to be selective, and it took some time for her to whittle the menu into shape.

A surprise was always planned and it was an enjoyable part of the experience to sit at  the table and discover the night’s menu unfolding before us.

The evening began with a welcoming glass of Captain Bligh's Cider, while guests chatted and checked out the large blackboard illustrating the Tasmanian source of each the products. Then the request to be seated... and the feast began!

We present the menu with a few notes on some of the ingredients. Please forgive any overuse of the word delicious.

 

Shima Wasabi leaf, purple congo potato, yolla, wasabi dressing – matched with Lost Pippin Wild Cider

The colours looked lovely on the plate, and the palate agreed with the plate and the glass!

  • Shima has been growing authentic Japanese wasabi in Tasmania for over 12 years and is now the largest producer of fresh wasabi in the southern hemisphere. 
  • The congo purple potato has a mild flavour and apparently also makes interesting purple chips.
  • Yolla is also known as short-tailed shearwater or muttonbird and can only be hunted with a licence. This has been well-handled and was not at all overpowering.
     

Salmon smolt, Tamar Valley truffle salt – Willie Smith’s Bone Dry Cider

  • Smolt are young salmon at an intermediate stage when they develop small scales. This is when they migrate from fresh to salt water, in this case by truck from the hatchery to the sea farms. These little guys were sweet and salty with the hint of truffle. 
  • The cider was a perfect match with its refreshing, dry flavour.
     

Little Quoin Farmhouse Berkshire Pig's Head Cheese, kohlrabi, blood cake, Bedan cider apple – Pagan Cerise

  • Firstly Pig's Head cheese isn’t actually a cheese at all, more like a terrine made from the head.
  • The Bedan apple is a hard cider variety of apple, and one of the first brought to Tasmania. It has a mild, bittersweet and fragrant flavour which went perfectly with the 'cheese'.
  • Pagan Cerise Cider is a blend of 60% apple and 40% softly pressed cherry juice and I thought it was a good match with the dish, adding more subtle fruit flavours into the mix. (This would also be delicious on its own)
  • Atop the dish was some beautiful black garlic, a new taste sensation of soft, sweet flavour. It has the same consistency as roasted garlic but has been fermented in custom-built ovens for 40 days. Definitely on the shopping list for the next gourmet get together and something to try out on your foodie friends.
     

Poached Marans' egg, consommé, chrysanthemum leaf – Dickens Scrumpy

  • A warming dish mixing the rich egg and with a flavoursome consommé. I liked the Scrumpy with this dish – it’s a still cider and warming in itself at 8% alc/vol.
  • Marans are a rare French breed of hen that produce large, dark brown eggs.
  • It's also a delicious eating bird.
     

Patagonian toothfish, Spring Bay mussel spat, rock samphire – Franks Pear Cider

  • Spring Bay Seafoods produces mussel spat (baby mussels) in its own hatchery on Tasmania's east coast. Instead of being sent out to the clear cool waters to grow, these sweet little beauties were plated up for us.
  • Rock samphire was eaten regularly in the 16th and 17th centuries and is now making a comeback with chefs rediscovering its seawater flavour and natural saltiness.
  • To fish for toothfish, you have to be affiliated with the Coalition of Licensed Toothfish Operators (COLTO). This particular fish was caught off Heard Island, an uninhabited rocky outcrop nearer to Antarctica than Tasmania.
  • The cider was light and crisp, not overpowering the seafood.
     

Lenah Game possum crème fraîche pie, medlar, yellow beetroot, native pepperberry jus – Spreyton Dark Cider

There was a lot of discussion beforehand about the possum meat, but most guests loved it immediately. I took great personal delight in this dish given its main ingredient – these critters regularly raid our (caged) veggie gardens at home, so a little revenge is always sweet!

  • Medlars are a fruit that looks like a cross between a small apple and a rosehip. They’re picked when ripe (green and hard) and incredibly become edible when they’re half-rotten! (through a process known as 'bletting'). Regarded as a dessert fruit, the medlar added a lovely sweet, slightly acidic taste to this small pie that was packed with flavour and quite filling.
  • The cider (which actually doesn’t look dark) again added a refreshing side to the pie.
     

Anvers Fortunata chocolate bavarois, Allans Rivulet green tea jelly – Little Players Sweet Cider

Oh my, what a superb little dessert to finish the night; the sweet cider was a perfect mate.

  • The Fortunata chocolate is made from the Pure Nacional cacao tree in Peru, until recently thought to be extinct. And Tasmania is fortunata indeed as Igor Van Gerwen of Anvers Chocolates has the exclusive Australian licence for it, and his creations are divine.
  • I love chocolate and I love ginger – guess what the little side chocolate was, absolutely delicious!
  • Yes, tea is grown in Tasmania and Allans Rivulet is the most southerly tea plantation in the world. As you would expect, it produces a green tea quite unlike any other, and the jelly was likewise but mixed well with the bavarois.
     

So what did I love about this rare food and cider evening?

  • Cider was recognised as being a good food match, particularly dry cider with the savoury dishes.
  • It was a chance to try new things, in the knowledge they were presented in their best form.
  • The food was plated in small portions so if you didn’t like a dish, you’d not go hungry. There were 10 course in all.
  • The take-home placemat with the dishes on the front and information about the ingredients and producers on the back was a great touch (and being used to reference this article and future dinner party plans!)
  • Perhaps most of all, the anticipation as each dish arrived and the cider was poured.
  • And the company was most enjoyable as well! Two VisitVineyards.com guests from Sydney accompanied us (winners of our SavourTasmania promotion), and loved it all. 

This event emphasised to me that Tasmania has so much to offer in niche produce, beyond what is currently becoming known (eg oysters, scallops, lamb, etc). It seems to do so much so well but sometimes struggles to get the recognition at home that producers can achieve interstate and overseas.

It was also a personal inspiration to spend more time seeking out some more unusual produce and seeing just what can be whipped up in the home kitchen.

Thought for next time?

As a Tasmanian cider lover, I pretty much knew what to expect from each glass but there were a number of people who may have benefited in hearing a little about each one and why it was chosen to suit that particular dish, prior to serving.

Overall, it was an excellent event, and visitors to the Gourmet State should drop in on Karen Goodwin-Roberts' Elizabeth Street Food + Wine in North Hobart for a meal or a coffee, and to stock up on some unusual provisions and treats to take home.
 

Regions

  • Hobart (TAS)

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July 08th, 2014
 
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