On a recent trip to Tasmania we were lucky enough to visit the one and only Elgaar Farm. It was such an wonderful and inspiring experience that we just had to share!
Elgaar’s founders Joe and Antonia Gretschmann hail from a long line of organic dairy farmers. They initially inherited the Bavarian property that had been in Joe’s family for centuries before establishing Elgaar, near picturesque Deloraine, in 1986. Joe’s approach to farming isn’t much different to his father’s: Elgaar’s yoghurt is produced according to an age-old family recipe, the cheddars are still slowly matured in the organic cheese cellar and the cultured butter is made in a vintage wooden churner that made the cross-continent journey with them. One innovation that Joe calls his own is Biomilk, an incredibly creamy unhomogenised milk that reintroduces the goodness of beneficial enzymes eliminated by mandatory pasteurisation.
Despite having their hands full with the day to day running of the property we were welcomed by the Gretschmanns and got a comprehensive tour of the farm, from the traditional white-walled, wooden-ceilinged production room to the lush paddock, where we met inquisitive Alma and the rest of the girls.
Serendipitously, (or so we’ll maintain!) we arrived right on lunch time and were lucky enough to share the most divine farm table lunch with the family, farmhands and WWOOFers. Imagine a big wooden table bathed in sunshine, overflowing with an abundance of garden fresh produce, local condiments and of course, the literal cream of the (dairy) crop: it was one of those long lunches you want to return to again and again. Here’s a run down so you can join in too!
A feeling of conviviality and community is key to this lunch- it’s best served on a big table filled with serving dished and lots of chairs gathered around. There’s no need for fancy serving plates or matching cutlery- pop the bread on a board with a serrated knife and the rest of the pots in the middle of the table with serving spoons so that everybody can help themselves!
on the menu for lunch
(* see below for recipes)
– stone-ground rye flour loaf with Elgaar’s cultured butter
– hard-boiled eggs *
– strong mustard
– a selection of organic cheese
– Elgaar Farm cheddar
– haloumi with fresh rosemary *
– cottage cheese with herbs *
– mushrooms sauteed in butter with garlic *
– leek & potato soup served with a dollop of fresh cream *
– green salad with blossoms *
– Body cleanse tea from Highland Herbs
– black tea with Elgaar’s unhomogenised Biomilk
– coffee with Elgaar cream
– yoghurt cups with poached pears *
Place 4 60 g pastured eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and immediately remove saucepan from the heat. Allow the eggs to sit in the water for 8 minutes then drain and cool quickly in a large bowl of iced water. Remove eggs (save the water for your garden!) and roll against your countertop to crack the shells before peeling, halving and arranging on a plate.
Haloumi with fresh rosemary (makes 4 slices)
Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Meanwhile, slice a 160 g piece Elgaar haloumi into 5 mm thick sheets. Add a glug of olive oil to the pan with the tips of 8 rosemary sprigs and swirl to coat. Add haloumi in a single layer and cook for 1 minute on each side, until nicely golden (beware of overcooking, as this will toughen the cheese).
Take a 300 g jar of Elgaar’s cottage cheese, undo the lid and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper and top with whatever chopped leafy green herbs you have at hand- chives, dill and parsley are delicious.
Mushrooms sauteed in butter with garlic (serve 4 – 8 as a side)
Heat a large sauce pan over a medium heat and melt 25 g Elgaar cultured butter and and 3 garlic cloves, minced. Cook, stirring, for a minute then add 250 g sliced button mushrooms and plenty of seasoning. Saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender, adding a little water or stock to prevent sticking if necessary.
Leek & potato soup with fresh cream (makes 8 small servings)
Heat 25 g Elgaar cultured butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil over a medium heat. Add 1 minced garlic clove and 2 trimmed, cleaned, sliced leeks and saute, stirring, for 8 minutes, until the leeks are very soft but not coloured. Add 500 g peeled, chopped sebago potatoes, 1 litre stock or water and 1 tsp sea salt: bring to the boil and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Carefully blend in batches in a food processor, return to the saucepan and adjust seasoning. Serve with a small jug of Elgaar’s fresh cream on the side.
Green salad with blossoms
Carefully rinse and dry the leaves from 1 butter leaf lettuce. Arrange in a salad bowl, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with a handful of edible flowers– nasturtiums or herb blossoms are great if you have them growing (organically of course!) in your garden.
Prepare poached pears according to this recipe for Poached Pears with Honey and Cinnamon and thinly slice each half. Divide 2 cups of Elgaar yoghurt between 8 small glasses, top with pears and serve with teaspoons.