Arrive at a restaurant and it’s not often the co-owner will greet you in gumboots. It’s not just the carpark that makes us feel special, we’re also greeted at the front door of Fat Pig Farm and a second later, are handed a delightful tea cup of bean and bacon soup from another smiling face. This is country hospitality at its finest. Famed Matthew Evans of Gourmet Farmer is just hovering in the background by the fire. There’s no pomp. No ceremony. He’s definitely a Tasmanian now.
We are at Fat Pig Farm’s new restaurant and cookery school, owned and run by Matthew and partner Sadie Chrestman. It is 28 acres of wonderful. Here, they live, raise those ‘fat pigs’ and grow produce that deserves table space at any high-end Australian restaurant. After all, Matthew was a food critic before he headed Cygnet way.
The feasts happen on Fridays. That’s why they’re called Friday Feasts. After everyone has admired their special tea cups (genuine Nanna cups) we’re invited to sit down. We’re told we’ll be heading out to the farm, to find out what paddock our plate came from. Mostly, it’s just beyond the window. Just like the vineyard for our first cool climate drop.
It’s a home cooked meal delivered in style. Not just any style. In the open kitchen, fashioned with a side tea towel, is Michelle Crawford. She’s no standard waitress – but a cook book author and food stylist envied by the best in the Australian game. She’s there to ensure our food looks as exquisite as our palate receives.
It’s a feast of celebration. Some 29 folk gather as strangers and quickly become fast friends. Interstaters chat about moving like Matthew, and locals encourage them to do so. Our first plate is a treat – ham and pastrami with a rhubarb pickle. The breads are wood-fired and the butter has been churned by some strong-muscled staffer. It’s closely followed by a feta and nettle spinach pie (of course with homemade pastry) in anticipation of the main. If anyone still had an appetite.
We’re taken on a tour of the farm, each foot slipped into hardy gumboots. We’ve been well fuelled with Willie Smith’s Cider and Sailor Seeks Horse wine to help us on our way. As Matthew talks us through his farming techniques, in the background Sadie is busily feeding the piglets. Nothing is staged. This is their rural life.
Back in the timber-clad dining area there’s more on the menu. Out comes terribly plumb Wessex saddleback pork – piled high with crackling. There’s roasted carrots, pumpkins and all kinds of goodness to accompany the main attraction. We’re all full but we tuck in. And there’s more to come. Golden syrup dumplings and a warm gin to top off the afternoon. Perhaps they need accommodation.
Visit: www.fatpig.farm or ring 0415 168 285. Friday Feasts: $130.
Words + images: Alice Hansen (a grateful guest of Fat Pig Farm)
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