Tassievore Eat Local Challenge: Week 2: Support local business

I started to write a post that summarised what I’ve done this week for the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge and quickly realised it was going to be pretty much all about one local business. So for the first part of Week 2, I’m writing about we did on Saturday night.

We went to the Two Metre Tall Annual Beer-Fed Brisket Dinner, held at the Two Metre Tall Brewery in Hayes.

Image

Two Metre Tall hosts several themed dinners during the year and this was our fourth one – last year we went to the Brisket dinner, the Spring Lamb dinner, and the Christmas dinner.

Image

It’s local eating at its best – the beef is raised organically on Two Metre Tall’s farm (“beer fed” on spent grains from the brewery) and the vegetables were also locally sourced.

Image

(These were some of the vegetables served with the first course – the white vegetable is a salad turnip, which I’ve never heard of and am now on the look out for.)

It was, as always, a fantastic night, and the food was just amazing. The photos don’t do it justice. (I only had my iPhone, which doesn’t perform well in a candle-lit brewery shed.)

Image

Image

I love everything about Two Metre Tall.

Image

Image

(It’s OK, it’s raspberry cordial.)

Two Metre Tall’s vision statement (if that’s the right term) sums up everything I love:

Fiercely independent, we seek flavour, sustainability & truth of origin in the food we grow & make.

If you’ve ever heard Ashley speak about large food and beverage businesses, you’ll know that the term “fiercely independent” describes Two Metre Tall perfectly.

If you aren’t familiar with Two Metre Tall, then you probably don’t know me, because it’s one of my favourite places to go.

Briefly – Ashley and Jane came to Tasmania about 10 years ago to start a winery and ended up building a brewery. Ashley has pointed out more than once that the Derwent Valley is a major hop-growing region, yet there wasn’t a brewery here.

So they started brewing beers, with a view to sourcing everything locally – either from the farm or from local suppliers. The names of some of their original ales reflect their region of origin – Derwent, Huon and Forester (which has Pride of Ringwood hops from the last working hop farm in the Forester River area of North East Tasmania).

The Huon is an interesting ale. It’s a dark ale that includes 20% apple juice from Huon Valley apples. I really like it. I might be* drinking it now while I’m writing this.

Image

From ales, Two Metre Tall moved into apple and pear cider. The apples are an old cider variety called Sturmer Pippin, which are grown in the Huon Valley and the pears are from the Tasman Peninsula.

Two Metre Tall’s ciders are real ciders in that they are just fermented fruit – unlike many mass-produced “ciders”, they aren’t made from fruit concentrate.

Ashley has also been developing a range of soured ales, which he has gradually unleashed on his customers, to our great excitement. So far we’ve had the “original” soured ale, sour cherry, sour wild plum, oh and a sour cherry cider.

Recently we’ve been treated to the one-off “Respect Your Elder” ale, which was one of the ales (Derwent I think) with elderflowers added, and another one with mulberries.

None of this is anything like commercial beer production. It’s real, it has flavour and complexity (do I sound like a wine expert now? Probably not.) and each brew is slightly different to the previous one, just like each wine vintage is different. It’s a living, breathing beverage. (Maybe not breathing. That would be weird.)

It’s one of the things I love – the experimentation and Ashley’s willingness to admit that everything he does is a learning process and his openness about what he does and why.

Image

Ashley was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2012 and spent a month last year touring breweries in the UK, Belgium and the USA to find out more about sour and natural fermentation and about traditional brewing methods. His report is on Two Metre Tall’s website and it’s a very interesting read.

After visiting more than 30 breweries and looking at what they do, he concluded that the approach taken by Two Metre Tall is unique.

His report touched a nerve with me with his comments about how too much of what happens in the Australian market has become dominated by large interests, and about the loss of old skills that are no longer required by large industry.  He talks about how this ends up with everything being homogenous, instead of food and beverages displaying a natural variety and seasonality.

“. . . whilst it may be true that a consumer can purchase many more different types of vegetable from a country supermarket than they could many years ago, the truth is that these often plastically uniform, industrial, largely flavourless, gassed ripe, energy- guzzling cross continentally distributed imitations of the real thing present a mirage of choice and a very poor substitute for the very fresh, highly nutritious, harvested at peak ripeness and flavour, but slightly more limited numerically offerings of yesteryear.”

Image

The way I see it, the result of this is also a disconnect between consumer and producer – and I suppose tightening those connections is part of what the Tassievore challenge is all about.

And it’s one of the things that’s so great about Two Metre Tall. We can see the beer as it’s being brewed. We can see the beef wandering around the hills and then hanging in the cold room. We can talk to Jane and Ashley and find out exactly where everything comes from, what’s in it and how old it is.

We can come to a Friday night or Sunday afternoon Farm Bar and cook the best tasting beef I’ve ever had on a wood fired BBQ, accompanied by ales that are unique and full of flavour.

It’s a model for keeping food real and keeping it local, and is truly inspiring.

Thank you for a wonderful evening Ashley and Jane – and thank you for doing what you do.

* am

Advertisements

east coast retreat (sunday selections)

I’m linking up with River for Sunday Selections today with some photos of our recent getaway.

We went away for a few days to the East Coast of Tasmania. It’s not an area I know well, though I have visited parts of the coast previously and I have vague memories of going to some of the north-east towns as a child.

We had a very quiet time in a beachside town called Beaumaris, which is between St Helens and Scamander. We stayed in a fabulous self-contained house that allowed pets, so Sleepydog was able to come with us.

Juniordwarf was delighted by the choice of beds (two double bedrooms and a kids room with a bunk) and the fact that the “play room” had a TV and a DVD player.

We deliberately didn’t plan to do anything, just to get away and relax. The weather wasn’t the greatest for a coastal holiday, but I like the coast on misty wet days, so I didn’t mind too much.

I won’t say much more other than I don’t think I ever needed a break more than I did before we went away.

The house we stayed at.

Juniordwarf wanted to build a sandcastle.

Construction (mostly by Slabs) complete.

Moody closeup of the sandcastle.

I wanted to get some sunrise photos. 

Not very spectacular when the sky is overcast.

We went to Pyengana Dairy to taste some cheese.

This is really pretty countryside around Pyengana, just inland from St Helens.

Priscilla the beer drinking pig at the Pub in the Paddock.

Lunch at the Pub in the Paddock at Pyengana.

St Columba Falls near Pyengana. Stunning. Breathtaking.

You can see the top of the falls from the road.

The beaches at Beaumaris.

Juniordwarf attacked by a freak wave at Binalong Bay (this was very funny).

Near Binalong Bay

The Gardens

The Gardens

The Gardens

The Gardens

The Gardens

Attempted panorama at The Gardens.

The Gardens

Iron House Brewery

Ironhouse Porter and the view from the brewery.

P365 – Day 281 – two metre tall (8/10/2011)

This weekend is the official opening of Two Metre Tall’s Farm Bar season. 
Yay!
Scenic!
To celebrate, the Farm Bar is open all weekend.
Yay!
Juniordwarf learns self-photography
Lil Sis kindly agreed to drive us, so we all squeezed into her car for the trip. We met up with some friends and had a great afternoon drinking the different ales and ciders. 
Designer of the ‘Norfick’ shirt, Samedog.
Two Metre Tall has been very busy over the ‘off season’ and there is now an undercover BBQ area for people to cook their ‘beer fed beef’ steaks and sausages that come straight from the farm.

We called the BBQ area the ‘Man Cave’ because, well, there were a lot of men there bonding over the wood fire and discussing tongs. I don’t know, it must be a man thing.
Men doing secret men’s business in the Man Cave
Juniordwarf found himself a new friend in Molly the dog, who seemed quite happy for him to chase her around the place (he took this photo).
Molly the dog
It was a beautiful day, perfect for getting some Vitamin D in this part of the world where apparently Vitamin D deficiency is a big issue. Then in true Tassie style, we were treated to a glorious rain storm, which meant we could all cram into the shed and continue our sampling of the ale-y goodness. (Some of us might have drank a few more than others . . . )
Mr Tall, Lil Sis, Juniordwarf, Me & Slabs
Ashley working the bar
Ale-y goodness
Discovery of the day was the ‘new and improved’ Huon Dark Ale, which now has 25 per cent apple juice (from Huon Valley apples), and is a really delicious drink. We also tried the new wild yeast ale, which is a variation on the Forester ale – my favourite. I’ve forgotten what it’s called, but my name for it was ‘Salty Forester’. And Slabs’ new favourite is the Derwent Ale, which now uses spelt instead of wheat.
I love Two Metre Tall’s philosophy of using ingredients that they grow themselves, or source directly from local growers. Having direct links to your food by growing it yourself or, if you can’t do that, then at least knowing where it has come from and what’s in it, is an appealing concept, although for me right now, it’s not something I can do as much as I’d like to right now.
It’s something I’m becoming quite passionate about! But I digress . . .
As you know, kids love rain, and today was no exception. We’d been warned that the ground might be a bit soggy, so we made sure Juniordwarf was kitted out in his gumboots. This proved to be a really good idea, and allowed him to participate in ‘puddling’. His attempt to keep his pants dry was very amusing, but rather futile in the end.
Puddling
Somehow I let him talk me into going for a walk up the hill, which was a Mighty Big Adventure. If I hadn’t turned him back, he might still be walking!
It was a fun afternoon and I’m looking forward to the next time. Thanks Ashley and Jane for a great day out.

P365 – Day 149 Deyrah Dexter

Today’s post is an unexpected set of photos for Frogpondsrock’s Sunday Selections project.
This weekend was starting to look like another one of those weekends where I spent most of it moping around the house. I’ve got another cold, which seems to just be a continuation of the last two – or the last one that lasted a month, whichever way you want to look at it – and didn’t do much yesterday as a result.
 
Today was going to be much of the same, but a friend texted me last night and said she was going to look at some cows and asked if we wanted to come along.
Well looking at cows sounded like something Juniordwarf would like to do. It didn’t sound too strenuous, it wasn’t too far away and it would get us out of the house, so I said we’d love to go.
The cows in question were Dexters, which I’ll admit to knowing nothing about until today.
The Dexter is a fairly small Irish breed, about one metre tall, which was brought to Australia in the 1880s. They are bred both for beef and milk, hence their tagline ‘beefy little milkers’. You can find out more about them at the Official Dexter Cattle Australia Inc. website.
The property we went to is Deyrah Dexter, in the Derwent Valley. Daryl and Sue held an open day today, which was part of the 2011 Tasmanian Heritage Festival.
Juniordwarf was very excited about going to a farm, and he was hoping to see sheep and pigs as well, but I think not being able to see those animals was well outweighed by being able to get close to these beautiful, docile cows.
Typically for a little kid though, he ended up being more interested in the cow poo than the cows themselves, and was quite delighted when one of the cows actually did a poo right in front of him.
The cows were great and didn’t mind a bunch of strangers standing round in their paddock watching them and patting them. I got a bit of a surprise when, standing next to a hay bale, a cow’s head suddenly appeared practically under my arm to get some more hay. They certainly weren’t shy.
We also got an opportunity to sample the Dexters’ ‘beefy’ nature, with a sausage sizzle. They make a very nice sausage. Juniordwarf thought so too, as did the farm cat, which was quite determined to take Juniordwarf’s away from him.
We left with my friend and her partner very interested in getting hold of a couple of these lovely cows, once they have the land to do it. I’m very excited for them.
Juniordwarf attempting to pat a cow