Mount Wellington was the backdrop, the cows in residence along the single-lane highway were mooching around, chewing their cud, and the sun was sparkling off the blue water of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. There’s nothing better than a drive in the country on a beautiful summer’s day.
It was Friday before New Year’s Eve and we were off in pursuit of the newest adventure for #Blissfarm – ducks – and enjoyed a lovely stop off at Grandvewe sheep cheesery on the way.
But before sheep there’s a little more on ducks.
On more than a few occasions, This Girl had suggested ducks. Sort of like, <whinging> ‘Can’t we get ducks, pullleeeassseeee!’ They muddy up water, which for the cows and goats is not so good.
The Eureka moment came with the discovery of ducks and permaculture. Ducks are the perfect residents in a veggie garden, where they wonder around, wagging those little tail feathers and cleaning up all the slugs and snails. Better still, their pond muck can be scooped up and watered onto the garden. Ducks were now on the A-list!
In a moment of good fortune while weeding in the veggie garden, just prior to lugging a bathtub up from the paddocks, I discovered one that had been filled in. Winning! The Lovely Deputy happily dug it out and filled it with water. We had a home and now it was time to collect ducks from down the Channel.
We piled in the car with the youngins – ‘I’m the Arty One’ and Skater Boy – and took in the scene until we reached the little hamlet of Birchs Bay just south of Woodbridge.
As the tradition goes on these types of outings, The Lovely Deputy was on the lookout for a café. I suggested Grandvewe. I’d been there many years ago when they housed a restaurant headed up by former-Garagistes duo, Luke Burgess and Katrina Birchmeier. I still remember the dish I ate – pork neck poached in milk and aromatic spices. It was delicious. But that was A LONG time ago. I also remembered the location, the large deck of the property, overlooking the Channel and their grazing sheep.
I was super pleased to enjoy what Grandvewe was currently doing. A lovely café showcasing their products: sheep milk, sheep cheese, mutton sausage, and sheep whey gin and vodka from their Hartshorn Distillery.
The younger and less adventurous chose cow’s milk for their coffee and we paid a couple of dollars extra for sheep’s milk lattes.
A word or two on sheep’s milk for the squeamish: it’s super-creamy, great for cheese making and definitely worth trying. I drank goat’s milk disguised with chocolate flavouring as a child, dispensed as a cure for asthma. Sheep’s milk is not at all pungent but it was definitely richer than cow’s milk or the processed soy milk I normally drink.
Australia is big on dairy and it’s the dairy industry that monopolises our milk-based products, which incidentally, is pretty much the only reason our palates are accustomed to it. Sheep’s milk is used all around the world and you’ll find it traditionally in cheeses like feta, ricotta, Roquefort, manchego and percorino for example.
The real deal on this menu is the cheese platter. Select any number of the cheeses on offer on the day for $6.50 per 50 grams. We selected: primavera, a manchego –style cheese; white pearl, a delectable creamy curd in herbs; and the brebichon, a soft washed rind. Cheeses are served with sourdough and crackers and add any of the separately priced condiments. We chose the mutton kransky ($6.50), spiced cherries ($5.00) and pear chutney ($3.50).
There are a number of light meals like gourmet toasties (from $12.00), mac’n’ cheese (from $14.00) and a mutton kransky dog ($14.00). For something sweet, choose Devonshire tea (from $6.00). biscuits ($3.50) or their sheep’s milk ice cream or frozen yoghurt ($7.50).
Grandvewe has been producing award-winning spirits over the last couple of years and it started as a sustainability measure. Respect out to custodians of animals who do their best to make the most of the precious resource. Whey is a by-product of cheese making and Grandvewe have invested with trial and effort to establish a technique for fermenting the whey to produce alcohol. They’re the first in the world to produce whey vodka and gin and have been recognised for the excellent spirits they’re producing.
You can enjoy a Tasmanian wine by the glass or bottle with your cheese plate but we chose to indulge in a couple of their cocktails. Hell it was Friday! We loved the apple crumble ($15.00) and the gin martini ($15.00).
Grandvewe is a great place to visit. There’s also cheese tasting, and milking and cheese making demonstrations.
The ducks have settled in, enjoying their bathtub immensely and have found a nice place to hangout under the blackcurrant bushes. And no, they don’t have names yet.
For more information including their opening hours and tour details, see their internet page – Grandvewe
You can follow them on Facebook – Grandvewe Cheeses
Find them at 59 Devlyns Road, Birchs Bay, Tasmania.