A season for change

An autumn update from this little jam maker including:

  • A trashy confession
  • Surplus tips
  • Some extra Zin opening dates
  • News of Zin House from July
  • Introducing The Pavilion 


I hate waste. Not a vague distaste for it but a full, bordering on obsessional, inability to throw things out. I’m out and proud about our virtually zero waste kitchen but I’m embarrassed to admit that I have gradually filled all our sheds with things that ‘will be really useful one day’.

I even have boxes and boxes of clothes whose beautiful no longer worn fabrics are destined to be transformed into scarves or cushion covers one day in the never never.

If I applied the current trend of holding an item to see if it brought me joy before deciding to keep or discard I would still find a reason everything would be useful and bring me joy in some altered form.

So I’m trying to use the little ‘spare’ time I currently have to deal with the head space my hoarding habit is taking up in addition to every piece of spare physical space.

But I keep getting distracted by the need not to waste anything the garden is producing.

Unlike the boxes of still can’t discard clothes, the cool-room collection wont wait. I’m working through a queue of stone fruits, figs, pears, tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers while daily an encroaching ripening of quinces, crab apples, persimmons and olives threaten my attention.

Bottling, jamming, freezing, pickling and drying have been my summer food hoarders tools.

When the sheer volume is overwhelming I give myself a daily schedule to make it seem achievable. When all else fails I cook with a syrup of sugar or vinegar and place in 20kg buckets in the cool room until I can face it.

Ironically all this work now will be an incredible free ride on big winter prep days. Pickled summer vegetables, punchy tomato sauces, fig and peach pastes, jams and pickles of all sorts will provide a touch of magic when we reopen Zin in the heart of winter.

Maybe I can deal with the sheds then…

Roast fruit sauce

Sprinkling a tray full of cut fruit with honey or sugar and roasting it is my top tip to keep up. Pop the fruit and all its gooey juices into the freezer for when life is not so sunny and bountiful. Instant pie or crumble filling, ice-cream topper or muffin mix.

Roast tomato sauce

One minute you’re sick of finding things to do with fresh tomatoes, the next you’re back guiltily buying supermarket pasta sauces. This helps the lag time between the two.

The quantities are totally flexible – just follow the basic principles.

In a large roasting dish combine:

5kg roughly chopped ripe tomatoes 

1 kg sliced onions

1 whole head of garlic cloves ( I don’t even peel them)

a large handful of fresh herbs (especially thyme & oregano)

250mls good quality olive oil

Salt & coarse black pepper

Cook uncovered in a slow oven for about an hour or until the tomatoes have broken down and everything is looking delicious and saucy. Freeze what you cant use this week.

Extra days of living in Zin

Many of you have been joining us for Twilight Tapas on Friday nights at Lowe and last Saturday of the month pop up dinners at Zin. So many of you in fact that we will run Tapas throughout April as well. 

We’re also open on the following dates with our feasting menu (includes wine and is $150)

Saturday March 30, dinner

Saturday April 6, dinner

Saturday April 20, lunch

Sunday April 21, lunch

Saturday April 27, dinner

Saturday May 11 Ninja @ Tinja (bookings via Lowe Wines)

Saturday May 25, dinner

Saturday June 8, dinner

Sunday June 9, dinner

Saturday June 29, dinner.

There will be considerable changes when we reopen in July, but more about that later in the month at which stage we will also reopen for July onward bookings.

Introducing The Pavilion

Sam Payne has drawn a couple of ‘artists impressions’ of our new project. The Pavilion is a marquee that will sit between Lowe & Zin House and provide a wide range of uses in addition to the obvious one of utilising our views, food and wine for weddings. More updates to come soon.


Changes in the House

What is it with all the ‘re’ words around rest, relaxation and renewal?

Refresh, revive, review, rethink, refuel…

I think my favourite is restore, I like the connotations with replenishing the cupboards. 

Recently I decided that my cupboards were a little bare, 40 years cooking and five years at Zin required more than a couple of weeks to find my culinary bearings again.

So I have decided to take a six month sabbatical. I do not do this lightly, and I do so with the utmost respect and appreciation for what our support base has allowed us to achieve.

I have new projects to work on, some food destinations to visit, food to eat, recipes to test and stories to write.

The facts:

  • Our last service at Zin House will be Sunday December 30th.
  • After this Zin House will open as a ‘pop up’ dinner last Saturday of the month and other dates may be announced.
  • We will still be taking function and private group bookings during this time and of course honouring any existing group bookings.
  • Jackie is staying on as our gardener and the food gardens will be maintained
  • We will be providing the food for Tapas at Lowe Wines every Friday night in January, February and March.
  • A wedding marquee venue will be available for forward bookings
  • Gift vouchers can be used between now and the end of the year or used at one of our ‘pop ups’. Dates will also be extended so they can be used later next year.

What about all my lovely staff? Ingrid has a new job in Sydney, Alexander will be off traveling, Thomas the French chef is moving to NZ with his twin brother, Celica our pastry chef has a number of local job offers to consider as does Joe. Nelson will be helping Renee and I with other projects.

Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions, 6372 1660 or eat@zinhouse.com.au

I plan to reopen – restored and restocked, on the first week in July 2019. Hope to see you then.



Defining Zin

Zin is not just an abbreviation for David’s famous Zinfandel, in Dutch it also means Appetite; Desire; Intent.

Many of you will know that there’s been a bit of drama in and around The House during recent times. Happily community and human spirit overcame evil intent and we’re working towards just getting on with what we do best here, full of Zin.

During the peak of ‘the crisis’ I made a number of promises to myself, the usual stuff when life throws a massive curve ball full throttle at you. Live in the moment, appreciate and spend more time with friends and loved ones, absorb and be aware of the beauty of where we live. And another big one for me, remember that I love what I do for a living.

Of course cooking and Zin is not about ‘a living’, it is simply how I live. So when somewhat out of the blue that was threatened there were occasions when I had to think, what else would I do and where would I do it?

I tried to imagine myself in a little French village, strolling to the markets each day from our stone pension,  returning to cook ad hoc for the days guests.

I conjured up a rough black sand east coast fishing village in New Zealand where I met the fishing boats before trecking back up the bush to my white weatherboard pub and making scones and paua fritters.

Yet whatever scenario I created I just couldn’t remove myself, even in my imagination, from Tinja. It wasn’t just bloody mindedness nor age or being set in my ways. It was simply the realisation that we are attached to this place in a way that goes beyond the physical. It is simply love.

You can go anywhere and buy great food, you can live anywhere and make fancy dishes. But it is only when you grow, cook and connect with the land and its community that you imprint it with the energy of care.

So here I am in the kitchen at Zin, on the farm at Tinja, cooking from our garden. And all because enough people had enough Zin.

Thank you.

Thomas’s Lemon Curd Tart

Zest of four lemons and juice of 5

6 eggs

250 grams sugar

Whisk together in a pan over gentle heat until it thickens, add 60 grams of butter and remove from heat.

Put in a blind baked pastry shell and cook at 130 degrees c for 15 minutes.

Optionally top with Italian meringue, brown with a blow torch or pop under the grill.

Serve with rhubarb sauce to make it even better.