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30 Oct 2009 - 5:12 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Lunch. An amazing lunch. It started as an idea for Rare Food, Ross’s and my stall at the market. But the space we wanted to use was unsuitable, the logistics too great. Where to host it? How many could we have come? So we held a more intimate, potentially perilous lunch at Puggle Farm with the aim being to serve as much food that is illegal as possible.

Of course, the motivation was to show off what Ross and I can do. As former chefs who’ve moved to Tasmania to get down and dirty with the best produce in the land, we’re no strangers to great food. The lunch was designed to show what we like to eat at home, what we cook and ripen and mature for ourselves and what would be possible commercially, if we had the facilities and ingredients available that they do in Europe.

The theme, to make great food that you can’t get in restaurants, was easy to keep up, for various reasons.

The knives were all hand forged damascus steel, fashioned by local blacksmith, John Hounslow, from carbon steel – it rusts, they have wooden handles; they’re against the law in a commercial kitchen.

We used wooden chopping boards - illegal in a restaurant. We killed ducks and geese ourselves - illegal to sell. The wether, the castrated male Wiltshire horn lamb which I had been fattening on Puggle Farm, was hung underneath the pine trees after being killed, skun and gutted on the property rather than an abattoir.

The perry, pear and apple cider that I’d brewed by the fireplace, would be contraband if we tried to sell it. The cured meats were hung in barns and sheds. The milk, aaah, the milk was unpasteurised. Raw milk is forbidden to be bought or sold in this country unless it’s not for consumption by humans.

There were less than 20 people. They were guests in my home. And we cooked them exactly the kind of menu I’ve been looking my whole life to find in Australia, and never have.

This is what we served

The Menu

Bruny Island prosciutto – cured for six months on north Bruny (in a shed) and six months on south Bruny (in Ross’s stables). From a whey fed, free-range 80kg Berkshire pig. Texture like butter, fragrance like nothing else.

Maggie’s Raw Milk Fresh Farmhouse cheese – a soft set, junket-style cheese made that same morning from Maggie’s pure unpasteurised jersey milk. A remarkable expression of fresh, raw milk.

Bruny bunny terrine – wild shot Bruny Island rabbit loins in a rabbit and Berkshire belly mince, baked in a caul-lined terrine. Ross cooked it in the woodfired Rayburn. The best terrine of my life? I think so. Thank you Ross.

Smoked duck and goose breasts – farm killed, hand plucked, the breasts (from birds of indeterminate age) were wet-cured and smoked over Tassie hardwood at the corner of Puggle Farm’s cottage. We sliced these very thinly, across the grain, because they were old and were in danger of being inedibly tough. They weren’t.

Rossages – Ross’s home cured chorizo, chargrilled and tossed with homemade perry (pear and apple cider)

Tuna salad – tuna that I caught earlier in the year, preserved on the beach, tossed with celery heart.

Cygnet cassoulet – home killed lamb shoulder, local pure pork sausages, confit of Cygnet Berkshire pork belly, and Bruny goose confit, all cooked with beans for hours in the wood cooker. The ultimate farmhouse dish where the sum is far greater than its parts.

Duck fat brussels sprouts – long, slow cooked brussels sprouts, like they should be, with organic local garlic and some duck fat left over after we made confit with the duck and goose legs.

Green bean salad – just plain old green beans, with plenty of fresh lemon zest and a terrific local olive oil.

The lunch brought up plenty of issues. Like, why is it so hard to get small farmholder’s chickens killed legally? Why aren’t there any ducks or geese processed in this whole state, to the best of my knowledge, when you can see them at every dam and pond in the isle? It seems the rules favour large processors, leaving your average, small, artisan producer unable to get great ingredients that would be considered standard in Europe. Ever been on a holiday to France and Italy and wondered why the food is so much better? The markets more exciting? One reason is regulation.