This January I’d like to invite you on a tour of our edible garden (I’d call it ‘my’ garden but Jackie does all the work).
The plan is for you to join Jackie and I on a gathering stroll in the garden and orchards then retire to the dining room for a meal based on what we’ve found growing.
Given the slight issue of time travel we will have anticipated some of your finds and pre-picked and cooked ahead that morning as well as me cooking from the open kitchen during lunch.
Head chef Jeremy will join us for a demonstration of what he might have done in comparison to some of the dishes I will present – a little Kiwi rustic vs French refined in our Aussie kitchen.
It will be each Monday in January. I learn something every time I’m in the garden and I’m looking forward to sharing the summer pickings, Jackie’s fabulous expertise and a leisurely meal of food that will speak for itself. Can’t come on a Monday? Talk to us about customising your own group or buying a gift voucher as Christmas gifts for the garden obsessed.
But that’s January, a lifetime and Christmas away. And we know its nearly Christmas because I just plugged buying gift vouchers; well now you know I’ve moved into the marketing department!
My heart and that of Zin House remains firmly in the garden. It’s been a big year of recognition for excellence and I like to think also for authenticity. It’s always bothered me when pocket handkerchief gardens feeding 1,000 + covers talk baldly about cooking what they grow. All of us who do the hard yards, and I include our colleagues at Pipeclay Pumphouse here, know what it takes to actually grow the talk.
I remain infuriated with the obsession for how food looks over how it’s grown and how it tastes. The greatest compliment you can give us is to tuck in with lots of yum’s, stretch out over the privilege of a meal that isn’t sandwiched between the two hours most convenient to someones spreadsheet, bring your friends to share a sunset and continue to support our small country restaurant as it grows.
Whilst ‘the marketing department’ may be very happy for you to shoot your meal, I’d much rather you just savoured it.
We know everyone’s a reviewer now, so how lovely when we get a rave review from the country’s leading professional restaurant critic.
John Lethlean writes in this weeks Australian “Pretty much my idea of the ideal regional restaurant: unpretentious yet stylish; warm and hospitable, with service that doesn’t make apologies for the address; food sourced as locally as possible; wines that talk of the region; and a kitchen with really skilful cooking that knows its audience.”
A lovely trial by fire for new head chef Jeremy Metivier, if you haven’t tried Jeremy’s updated version of Zin House cooking then you should.
This brings me to the very challenging juggling we’ve been doing here at Zin between my rustic style, Jeremy’s more refined cooking and our principles of cooking simply, from scratch. I think that we’re both learning to be better cooks as I accept that young chefs might know a thing or two I don’t and the opportunity to cook from a garden rather than a shopping list provides disciplines of creativity courtesy of the seasons.
Or as Lethlean put it in describing one of the dishes “A crimson tide of beetroot and pomegranate seeds tartare style with garden leaves and walnut cream, a marvellously inventive dish made better by rice crips that use zinfandel lees in the batter.”
I’m happy for the food to always have the last word.
I haven’t had much to say here for a while, not for want of activity!
Craigmoor Pavilion is six months old – hosting functions, making magnificent sourdough and redefining weekend grazing. As hard as I am to please, I love its new/old look.
We grew Australia’s first organic hemp seed crop and are using it in all sorts of ways now that it is happily (and luckily) legal for human consumption.
The edible garden continues to expand in productivity, form and beauty.
Our staff has grown too, including two of my sons working as chefs (Sam is baking and Alec is sous) and my step son Alex as restaurant manager at Zin. Somehow we are all still talking to each other.
And it is with much pleasure (and relief) I introduce you to Jeremy Metivier, Zin House’s Head Chef. Jeremy and I are combining his considerable fine dining skills with my simple ethos, aiming for an elegant balance.
I met Jeremy when he was at Cottage Point Inn and we enjoyed many spirited discussions about food, eating and growing the food you eat over the year or so we took to decide to work together.
These discussions have continued and intensified with wins on all sides – a win for Jeremy as a foam snuck in, a win for me when the sous vide machine didn’t and nothing but wins for those eating our new menus.
We look forward to sharing The Zin House with you soon, maybe even for the following event where David Lowe challenges the worlds best Zin’s to a vertical of his own.
Truffle & Zinfandel Dinner with Jeremy Metivier & David Lowe.