King Island Long Table Festival
– menu reconnaissance
20th – 22nd February, 2015
Flying in to King Island on a small plane (that is pretty much the only way to get there)
King Island appears in Bass Strait like a green pillow on a sea of blue.
In February, Chef Ashley Davis and the Pure South team are creating a lunch menu on
King Island for the first time. We have teamed up with our local Islander friends for a special event.
King Island’s unique reputation for superior farming & seafood is enhanced by the romantic, remote location.
Pure South Dining is all about provenance and the relationship with the producer,
so we couldn’t possibly create a King Island menu without visiting King Island and doing some homework.
Ashley and the lads flew down a couple of weeks ago; diving for crays and abalone,
foraging on the dunes and chatting with the local farmers and fishermen to set up the menu.
The options for the menu are incredible.
The dive was a walk off a remote rocky point at ‘Red Hut’ at the bottom of the island.
Our host Paul moved like an otter in about 6-8 metres of water and had a small bag of Lobster almost immediately.
Chef showed some snorkelling skills and was like a leach on Paul’s shoulder for an hour.
The boys finally emerged about a kilometre down the coast on an empty,
pristine beach with enough lobster and abalone to feed a football team.
The wild indigenous coastal herbs are so many and very good,
and the vegetables that locals grow in the coastal dunes are stunning too.
A couple of growers on King Island have been sending us vegies for the restaurant menu for a while.
We have been visiting King Island since 2003 to build our menus and not much down here has changed;
it only seems better each time. But this is the first time we have planned to cook for a crowd on the island.
As in the regions of France, Italy, Spain, or anywhere really, the locals usually know how to cook the
local produce as well as anyone, so the pressure is on.
We did not have enough time to catch up with everyone unless we met a few together in one place, so we caught up with the King Island Long Table committee at www.portsidelinks.com.au at Grassy for dinner. Ashley prepared our catch and some superb King Island beef from the farm of Fred Perry. The evening included a fantastic dinner, informed, charming company and a unique education for restaurateurs and chef; priceless.
We stayed on the stunningly beautiful and wild ‘Porky Beach’,
down a sandy track through the dunes behind the King Island Dairy.
The ‘Turnstone’ house blended delightfully into the wild dunes and long native grasses,
and offered lovely, unexpected luxury.
It was opening week of the new lobster season and we were lucky enough to see
the catch hit the jetty with Max and Donna at Currie. We can recommend the spectacle to anyone.
We were on King Island to find menu items, and plenty of options found us when we caught up with several great people for lunch at Pegarah Homestead. In a very funky, converted farm shed. Janet Fuller and Peter raise free-range everything: belted Wessex Saddleback piggies, dorper sheep, goats, roaming fat chickens and more, even snails. Our long-time dear friend Glenda Holloway provided free-range eggs that feature all the time on our menu, and very cool vegetables & herbs. Dick Stanfield’s excellent manuka honey was a feature. There are too many great things to devour on King Island for just one lunch.
Ashley drafted a menu for February in pencil and will confirm
it on the day as the product comes into the Golf Club kitchen.
Tasfast Airfreight have been flying product to Pure South Dining from King Island,
Flinders Island and Tassie several times every week for 10 years.
They also run www.vortexair.com.au and they provided an impressive, smooth and safe flight.
Thanks Ellie, Colin, Peter.
When we go back in February for the lunch, Pipers Brook Vineyard are helping us out with their stunning cool climate wines, and chef Ashley will be running a couple of cooking workshops over the weekend. We can’t wait to get back out there.
More details on the King Island Long Table lunch here: