It seems that, after decades of happily buying and eating fresh and packaged foods from supermarkets, we are becoming increasingly concerned about where and how that food has been grown, processed and packaged, before it arrives on our grocery shelf. The rise of farmers’ markets and growing vegetables and herbs at home, even on rooftops and balconies, is a consequence of this trend. So is the “paddock to plate” experience.
Across Australia, it is possible to undertake an authentic farm to fork activity, which seems like the ultimate food indulgence. Imagine starting your day milking the goat, picking the vegetables from the garden and the fruit from the orchard, taking delivery of the fresh seafood and meats, perhaps from neighbouring farms and fishermen, and cooking up a storm, before eating slowly and meaningfully, all washed down with some local wine.
In Tasmania, Rodney Dunn takes you on a holistic paddock to plate journey at The Agrarian Kitchen. Choose from a variety of all-day cooking and eating experiences in small groups, at Rodney and his wife, Severine’s organic farm and converted schoolhouse outside Hobart. Roam around the vegetable garden and visit the family of hens, geese, ducks and pigs, before retiring to the rustic kitchen to create a three course feast all sourced from the farm itself or surrounding area.
In New South Wales, two new paddock to plate experiences are evolving. On the north coast, The Farm at Byron Bay is emerging as the new kid on the block, with farm owners Tom and Emma Lane (of the Oroton Lane family empire) creating a portfolio of produce and activities including orchards, vegetable and herb gardens, hens, ducks, cattle, pigs, a restaurant and cafe, cooking school, farm shop, yoga and meditation classes, a petting zoo and more. Iconic Bronte restaurant Three Blue Ducks has recently opened and is attracting a loyal following! Just outside Sydney, Martin Boetz is creating the The Cooks’ Co-Op farm, which will, in time, feature farm tours, cooking classes and a unique dining and events venue.
In Queensland, Martin Duncan has been running his Freestyle Escape luxury accommodation, food and art classes on the Sunshine Coast for the past eight years. The effervescent Martin corrals a bevy of big name chefs and artists to teach, entertain and delight visitors at his hilltop eyrie, sourcing produce from local suppliers.
Of course, every winery region in Australia is essentially a paddock to plate indulgence, taking you on the journey from terroir to table, not only encompassing grapes, but also often many other goodies from the region such as olive oils, cheeses, chocolate, beer, and meat and grain products. And the many food and wine festivals which occur around the year, such as the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival in May or the Taste of Tasmania Festival in December/January make it worth the trip for food alone!
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