This is the type of book you hold in your hands and you know it's been three years in the making. It's a labour of love, much like the Agrarian Kitchen itself. Former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved his family from the bustling streets of Sydney to settle in Tasmania. Here, he and his lovely wife Severine swung open the doors of a 19-century schoolhouse to create the Agrarian Kitchen - a farm-based cooking school drawing visitors from the world over.
It was a bold move in 2008, one where you'll read in the book that the Dunn's "bought the warmest woollen doona we could lay our hands on and set about moving to one of the coldest parts of Australia in the middle of winter." But as they stoked the wood fire, they knew they were onto something incredibly special- a way of life lived close to the earth where eating is in tune with the seasons and 'paddock to plate' involves a small few gum-booted steps.
And now, Rodney has released his first book- The Agrarian Kitchen so that you can enjoy a little snippet of the Agrarian experience in your own kitchen. The much anticipated book offers a collection of recipes coupled with beautiful imagery captured by Luke Burgess. As I read it, this book does not feel so much like a series of recipes but more a journey through the seasons and life at the Agrarian Kitchen - the scents, sounds, friends and flavours that are the Agrarian way.
Flowing in seasonal order from Spring, The Agrarian Kitchen is brimming with recipes that have been cultivated and refined over the past five years. They're the best of Rodney's own recipes, sprinkled with sound advice on everything from keeping animals and gardening through to foraging for mushrooms. We are reminded that "all the crops we grow today have been cultivated from a wild ancestor." In smooth style, Rodney takes you from the woods, to the kitchen, all the way to the dining room table.
“For me, The Agrarian Kitchen represents the chance to share the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rewards of a life lived close to the earth.” – Rodney Dunn
The passion in this book is unmistakable. It's not a cookbook but a way of life. And imagery from Luke Burgess conveys this beautifully. The recipes themselves use accessible ingredients, are easy to follow and each showcase some of Tasmania's finest fare. There's also a good splash of drink recipes, ranging from peach, mint and passionfruit iced tea to Elderflower Fizz.
If you think that this is the perfect book to slip under the Christmas tree for someone, you might like to meet Rodney and have it personally signed at the book launch. Rodney will be discussing The Agrarian Kitchen ($59.99) on Wednesday the 23rd of October at Fullers. Bookings are essential so just follow the details below:
Fullers Bookshop Hobart
131 Collins Street
Wednesday 23rd October
5 for 5.30pm
Reservations essential to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last but not least here's a little treat for our readers- a recipe from this gorgeous book. Enjoy!
Chicory and bacon on wet polenta with walnuts
Chicory is the cold-weather equivalent of lettuce – something crisp and refreshing to offset a meaty braise. The characteristic bitterness of chicory, which is muted by the winter chill, also serves a higher purpose, helping our bodies to digest the rich foods of winter. In this dish various chicory leaves are teamed with soft polenta. At The Agrarian Kitchen we are lucky to be able to grind our own polenta from home-grown corn, which sends the corn flavour off the scale. Unless you are really pushed for time, I recommend traditional polenta over the instant version, which is pre-cooked and tends to be blander in flavour with less texture. This dish makes a lovely starter or a side dish to go with a beautifully chargrilled medium-rare steak.
Get your signed copy of the Agrarian Kitchen book here
Words by Alice Hansen. Read about my trip to the Agrarian Kitchen
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.