Wednesday, March 19, 2014

stories from the cellar

We had a 'the grass is greener' moment at Elizabeth Bay House a few weeks ago. No - it wasn't the expansive harbour views. It wasn't the majestic historic home in all its glory. It wasn't the proximity to the lively and refined Potts Point. 

It was, in fact, in response to the demonstration of the filleting of a rabbit - fur on to ready-to-cook - in a few short minutes.

J and I booked a babysitter for the afternoon and headed in to the city for a event put on by Sydney Living Museums, Stories from the Cellar. Featured on the program was colonial gastronomer Jacqui Newling, cheese maker Kristin Allan, fish smokers Steve and Adam De Launay (Fish Place), pickling extraordinaire O Tama Carey from Berta, and wild game and sustainability warrior Rohan Anderson (aka Whole Larder Love blogger). 

We took our place below the grand home, built in 1835 which once housed the family of Alexander Macleay, the colonial secretary (and second only to the governor). The cellar held stores grown and harvested from nearby plots, hunted from the grounds and extracted from the estate's dairy and on Sunday was filled with eager foodies. 

Rohan's presentation involved the skinning and filleting of a rabbit and it was during his musings that my husband and I made eye contact with each other. This moment hasn't exactly been creeping up on us. We've felt it 'in our bones' for a long time. Considering our parents fled the cities in an attempt at the self-sustainable lifestyle in the 1980s and raised us with this in mind it's hardly surprising that we'd like to adopt this approach to living in a more consistent and committed way. 
Rohan's presentation reminded us of the small things we manage to do in our busy city life to support locally produced food, buy organic and minimise waste but we admit that we do have a long way to go. In one week J brought home three fish (2 Australian salmon and 1 bonito tuna) from the line he trolls from his kayak on his commute to work. He has no by-catch, he doesn't use the car and the fish has a good life. As Rohan says "there's only one bad day in the life of an animal that is hunted." The fish J caught aren't being produced for meat - pumped full of pellets. They live a life in the wild, free and their death is quick. We don't waste any edible meat but the little we have left over is buried in our garden. 

I was reminded of my childhood when Rohan showed us that to store root vegetables you cover them completely in dry white sand in timber boxes and place them in a dry, airy, dark room, a cellar would be preferable. I remember boxes of apples stored beneath our house, wrapped in paper and bottles home brew too.

In addition to the presentations there was a spread of food to die for, designed by Dan the Man Cooking -

Olives & roasted nuts
Lonza, speck, crackers, washed rind cheese (cellared at Elizabeth Bay House), fig jam, crackers potted salmon, pickled cucumber, sliced baguette

 Potted salmon, pickled cucumber, olives, toasted baguette

Rooscuitto (Kangaroo Prosciutto), labne, peach, crushed macadamias, rocket
Smoked ocean trout kedgeree
Shaved zucchini, mint, basil, ricotta
Slow-roasted pork belly, relish
Cheeses hand-made by Kristen Allan, cheese maker.
Lonza, Speck and Roosciutto provided by Salumi Australia.
Smoked trout provided by Fish Place.

Yellow peach Rickey: fresh puréed yellow peach, Pamper, rum, shaken with fresh citrus, crowned with sod
Cucumber Gimlet: pressed cucumber juice shaken with Tanqueray London dry gin and fresh lime, served straight up.
Wine, Beer and more
Freshly pressed Granny Smiths Apple served tall with J&B blended Scotch Whisky
A selection of Murray’s craft beers : Whale Ale, Rude Boy Pilsner, Angry Boy Pale Ale
A selection of white wines
Non-alcoholic selection by Capi
Sparking Pink Grapefruit
Ginger Beer
Mineral Water

Is your mouth watering yet?

If this sounds like your kind of 'thing' recommend attending an event put on by Sydney Living Museums and following them on Facebook to keep up to date with events. 

(Excuse the iphone pics. I was too busy enjoying myself!)

No comments:

Post a Comment