The following recipes have been sourced from far and wide – from Brunyfire’s ever growing collection of cookbooks; from countless magazines; from favourite restaurants; from the internet and from family and friends. They reflect the language of food – of place and season, of sharing and community. Wherever possible the produce is sourced, whether wild or farmed, exotic or indigenous, from Bruny Island, or at least from nearby. These are placed within an international context through the use of open hearth cooking methods, such as cooking with clay, both raw and cooked – as in the clay pots from Brunyfire’s ever growing collection. Clay and clay pots are the driving theme. Clay table braziers or clay cooking pots used in the firepit, or in the wood oven, or in the irori, the tandoor and the cob oven will all reflect the broad ranging make up that is Brunyfire’s family and the countries in which they reside.
Gathering and using wild foods, is not only a seasonal reminder of the natural order of things but an acknowledgement of culinary history from those that came before us. Foods of the indigenous, colonial and migratory population that makes up Tassie today.
Wild food foraging is an ancient practice carried out in many countries, borne of necessity rather than fashion. It has been carried out by Australia’s first foragers, its indigenous inhabitants, for thousands of years as a tradition of survival that embraced specific roles for both men and women as hunters and gatherers – men hunted birds and game, women collected plants and shellfish.
Bruny Island’s indigenous Aborigines, the nomadic Neunone people, traveled their lands following the shifting food bounties of the seasons, sometimes in small family groups or in larger clans. En route to Dennes Point, for example, there is an Xanthorrhea australis or grasstree – a living reminder of this ancient food source. These living fossils developed early in the evolution of flowering plants and were a food staple for the Nuenone – who ate the white, tender sections of its leaf base, as well as the growing points of the stems and the succulent roots. The seeds were also collected and ground into a flour to provide dough for cooking a type of damper, within the ashes of a wattle wood fire.They also ate a host of other foods including wallaby, mutton birds, echidna………. …….(please note, this one didn’t succumb to the pot!) and seafood.
Current wild foods that Brunyfire has collected over the seasons have comprised a mixture of exotic fruits, flowers and weeds…… ……….like the wild apples opposite the Alonnah Community Centre, a left over from Bligh’s original orchard maybe; nettles – the only thing Brunyfire has managed to grow; elderflowers that abound throughout Hobart; a 150 year old mulberry tree at the Wardle property; nasturtiums; marigolds and wild roses. Then there are the indigenous wild foods, such as pig face (Carpobrotus rossii), samphire and native violets (Viola hederacea) to name a few.
In more recent times, Bruny Island’s reputation as a gourmet destination has become well known – the 3 hour waits in ferry queues during popular holiday times are testimony to its growing popularity. Many folk turn the wait into fishing for their supper, like the grandkids who tried to catch the giant spider crabs congregating on the wharf’s pylons just recently and the professional Japanese fisherman on a bus-man’s holiday who scored a fine wrasse to make sushi …….. The best coffee on the island is to be had at Dave Robert’s kiosk at Roberts Point, just as you get off the ferry – stop by this surfer dude’s place for a bit of lip (he’s got strong opinions about everything!), fresh garden produce (he’s got green fingers) and some of the best baked goods from food he sources from local producers and his own kitchen garden. Bruny has continued to come of gourmet age. Not much further from Dave’s place, there’s the shed that sells the best commercially grown cherries in the Southern Hemisphere during the briefest of moments in December …….Not far from the Apollo Bay turnoff is the Bruny Island Smokehouse where locally farmed Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow Trout, quail, duck and wallaby, is hot smoked daily by Tony McLaine. Bish also produce a range of pates, chutneys, preserves and pickles.
Ross O’Meara runs Bruny Island Food from his small hold farm on the island where he makes a range of pork products from the free range, rare breed pork he raises. These range from his fabulous pork pies………..……….to his snags (in this case boer goat and wild bunny) and terrines (wallaby and possum). As a farmer and a licensed game harvester for rabbit and wallaby and as producer and chef, he often sells his produce at the Hobart Farm Gate Market. O’Meara’s mate, fellow Islander Richard Clarke also has a special license to hunt, in particular the Rufus and Bennetts wallaby, possum, wild rabbit, hare and the occasional pigeon. Clarke runs a licensed game abattoir on Bruny which enables him to prepare the meats properly for sale to the public.Then there’s the oysters……..……….the wild and the farmed.
Bernice and Richard Woolley run Bruny Island Premium Wines and their business style very much reflects what it is to be an islander. The farm has been in the family for years, and harvesting the grapes is a communal affair often involving friends and family. All aspects of the wine production occurs on the estate, including the wine labels that are based on original paintings by Bernice’s mother.Great quality (non mulesed) lamb and fine wool is produced on the Murrayfield Station, an iconic Tasmanian farming property that is operated by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). Father and daughter team, Natalie and Graham Wright harvest Manuka honey (Leptospermum scorparium) – or tea tree as it is more commonly known as, from hives that are moved around the island.This is a deliciously rich honey that is attributed to having unique medicinal qualities from a naturally occurring non-peroxide property (known as Methylglyoxal) that is found in the Manuka flower.
The Bruny Island Cheese Company needs little introduction, and Nick Haddow has been heroic in his endeavours in producing artisan cheeses of international quality. Cheeses have crazy monikers like NANNA (a cow’s milk, semi-hard cheese, matured with a lavender flower and herb rind) and C2 (from the mountainous regions of France and Italy – a cooked curd cheese with a 6-12 months maturity period). Around the back of Nick’s place, Owen and Dianne Carrington Smith have planted a small (some 90 trees) but productive, olive plantation on their property. They painstakingly pick the olives by hand, pickle the fruit from each tree separately and are steadfast in their dedication to preserving olives by natural, slow fermentation.
This is only part of the Bruny food story.
The recipes that follow all reflect the stories and the pots that have inspired them.
Add your own………….