In the first of several ‘Foodie’ events at Readings of Hawthorn, I was lucky enough to join a small group of Gourmet Farmer Fans to hear from Matthew Evans about his new book ‘Winter on the Farm’.
The evening was brilliantly set up with the team at Readings setting up the back area of the shop for an intimate night with a nice glass of wine, the star of the show and even some treats cooked from the book.
The team from the Readings cafe, ‘Bread and Jam for Francis’ did a brilliant job and before we got started there was a cup of warming soup to welcome everyone from the new book, the Winter Potato and Bacon Soup was delicious, with hearty chunks of succulent bacon in soup packed with great flavour.
Once everyone had enjoyed their soup and a bit of wine Matthew Evans took the stand and allowed everyone a rare glimpse into the man behind Gourmet Farmer and I felt incredibly lucky to have that experience. Matthew took us through the journey of the boy from Canberra who went from chef to food critic to farmer. It really touched me when he talked about the new life he has set up at the farm with his family, with references such as ‘our sanctuary’ and ‘idyllic’.
There were amusing stories about life as a chef and a critic and some edgier conversations in regards to the bureaucracy facing the small goods producer, obviously a matter close to the heart of Matthew Evans and his fellow food producers who face a mountain of red tape and ridiculous-ness that tries to stop ‘real’ food getting to the public. As Matthew said, certain people of power are far more comfortable with the nation feeding on processed foods as nothing could ever live on those products!! An oxymoron in itself!
Whilst we listened eagerly to all the gossip from the farm we were treated to a beautiful stew and AMAZING gruyere Cheese Puffs – definitely must make those very soon!
Evans took us through fantastic stories of Winter in Tasmania and how the season is embraced and becomes a reason of celebration and festivities. I can’t imagine a bonfire in the middle of Salamanca or hundreds of people breaking into song around it, it sounded like a very unique experience. Also the lantern parade through the town where everyone has made their lantern and then join together (wrapped up and in their merino wool undervests!) to celebrate a season that for people on the farm involves only doing those tasks truly necessary and then spending a lot of time in the warmth with tea and a nice slice. Evans has dedicated a whole section to wonderful recipes of ‘Puddings and things to eat when drinking tea’.
There were plenty of questions from the small crowd including my own curiosity as to whether the life of a food critic can ‘ruin’ the restaurant experience and whether he had recovered! Obviously with a 2 year old and life on a farm there aren’t so many restaurant visits but when they are they are, as Evans said, a special occasion to be enjoyed. Evans had visited Chin Chin and Coda on his vist and was very impressed with both!
Evans spoke about the experiences of selling produce through ‘A Common Ground’ , a collaboration with Ross O’Meara and Nick Haddow fellow artisan producers. There was great passion in behind this pursuit and, as per the website;
We want to reconnect people who love eating great food with the great people who produce it.
We feel that both the producers and the diners are equal sides of the equation and we aim to honour both
The book is lovely, filled with great photography of the frozen landscapes and hearty, warming food. Evans favourite from the book is the Shephards pie, will be cooking that one very soon! For today I am cooking ‘White Wine Roast Chicken’ with braised cabbage, roast parsnips and ‘Caramelised Brussels Sprout Colcannon – I will let you know how it goes!
Next up is Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish for Movida’s guide to Barcelona, more details can be found at;