Former chef and food critic, Matthew Evans has made Tassie home. The success of the Gourmet Farmer television series has showcased the beauty of the State and our excellent produce. No doubt it has created its fair share of green-eyed monsters too: Sydney-siders who are sick of the two hour commute and want for an idyllic lifestyle, a sea change with a small farm.
The Gourmet Farmer business model has expanded with Evans’ move to a larger property at Glaziers Bay. It’s home to those fat pigs and a market garden producing for his family and his new restaurant.
At lunchtime Fridays, Fat Pig Farm opens its doors to a multi-course meal for around forty people. Evans has a purpose-built restaurant, with a huge commercial kitchen, a long dining table, shopfront, customer services and a deck from which to look out at the property. The house he shares with partner Sadie and son, Hedley, can be seen to the left.
When you book online you’ll receive the mandatory fat pig fact sheet induction which is a little like lunch in the country for dummies. It seemed a little overkill for Tasmanians who don’t go far without Gortex or a puffer jacket but then we were surprised by just how many interstate guests were at lunch. Maybe people from the big smoke need detailed instructions.
The induction sheet does act to remind guests that the food on offer is pretty much what comes off the farm, fresh and seasonal. They will make allowances for vegetarians, even if it’s not called Gone-to-seed silverbeet farm, with notice of course. They can do gluten-free, but for god’s sake don’t ask for soy milk. They don’t grow the beans. This Girl calls it cultural imperialism, but dems da breaks kid.
Diversity of milk options aside, our Friday Feast at Fat Pig Farm was fabulous. Its success relies on a number of factors.
Everyone there was on some kind of holiday. The Two Girls took an annual leave day to swan around the countryside. Others had come from Canberra, Melbourne or Albury. One couple had decided to take their new convertible Audi for a burn, others were enjoying time with family and friends. It made for a relaxed event.
You’d expect a former food critic to know what makes a restaurant excel – good customer service has primacy. Our table attendants were charming and enthusiastic. It was clear that the staff also had a lot invested in this enterprise – they’re 100% behind it.
It’s an experience as much as it is a lunch. A farm tour is part of the bargain. Wear your blunnies or borrow their gum boots and slosh around the paddocks, get some insight into growing produce in the windy bay and pat the baby pigs jostling for food.
Last but not least, enjoy the feast. There’s enough for seconds.
On arriving we were offered a lemon ginger hot toddy with McHenry’s gin or ginless for the designated drivers. Canapes were a paste of garlicky Jerusalem artichoke on toast.
For starters we enjoyed a glass of Huon Valley’s Willie Smith Wild Cider and some Fat Pig bacon poached in the same cider served with radish and house-churned butter, sauerkraut and herbs. Wood oven Italian baguette was served alongside with more of the orange butter. Not one to eat a thick cut of bacon, this meat was wholesome and bursting with smoky flavour and completely enjoyable. That’s what bacon should taste like.
The second course was spinach and winter savoury pie in homemade filo pastry accompanied by Elsewhere Riesling, a vineyard up the road, and a fennel, rocket and broad bean shoots salad. This Girl loved the firmly packed filling but we were both a little nonplussed with the chewy thick house made filo.
The main course was Italian style slow roasted pork with garlic and rosemary, served with bowls of carrots, parsnips, broccoli shoots and up to dates roasted in beef fat. The intensely flavoured pork was gorgeous, melt in your mouth and it maintained some textural component.
Dessert was what This Girl likes to call a boy-dessert. It’s one of those desserts that have savoury elements. The latte cotto was served with barely-sweetened rhubarb, oatmeal biscuit, and thankfully, apple caramel, which was the oasis of sugar at the bottom of the glass.
We went for a drive around the area so we arrived Goldilocks-esque – just at the right time – not too late, and definitely not too early (see lengthy warning in fact sheet). The area’s two vineyards, Elsewhere and Paramount, were closed on the day which seemed like a missed opportunity to value-add to the trip to the area. Something they could consider further.
Take a day and enjoy a relaxed home-style lunch in the country.
Find out more about their Friday Feasts and upcoming cooking classes – Fat Pig Farm.
See our post based on an experience at the former Hobart restaurant, Gargistes on communal eating – The Shared Table.
Boy desserts are also available at Franklin – here’s our most recent post – Franklin.