Plate of pork 250gm – $29
Last year was the year of the farmer, yet this year I am now a farmer and I am on a mission to support local farmers. Two weeks ago I was invited by Alfred and Constance on a tour to the area where some of the produce comes from that they use in the restaurant. The day was hosted by patron chef Jocelyn Hancock who took us through the paddock to plate principal. For those of you who don’t know what a patron chef is, it is a chef who writes the menu and sources the produce for a restaurant. They work closely with the head chef of the kitchen to fine tune the menu and ordering systems.
Our first stop of the Saturday was to a beef producer’s farm then on to Jocelyn’s property for lunch. During the day we spoke with Carey Bros who supply the meat to A&C and they gave us a demonstration on how to break down a whole lamb.
I stayed at the limes hotel on the Friday night as it was going to be an early morning start. We made reservations to eat at A&C so I could get the full picture of the place and venue which is two converted Queenslanders. They were built for two daughters of a man who came over from England by boat, the timber from the boat was used to construct them. Each room is fitted out with quirky fixtures from roof to floor each space has is own unique feel, perfect for arty inspiration. I also lost count of how many animal heads are hung on the walls.
Vanguard Beer Garden Restaurant & Bar
Clockwise: Face chair in the room next to the White Lightning Tiki Bar, the bar next to the Cafe and the White Lightning Tiki Bar.
Hogs head, eat, roasted garlic and the josper oven.
Roy and I had dinner at Alfred & Constance on the Friday night, I had heard about how good it was from many friends. Friday nights in general are the busiest in Brisbane with knock off drinks, fancy meals out with loved ones or drinking your sorrows away with mates. A&C was packed, Roy and I have obviously adapted to country life and like our space. I had forgotten what city life use to be like, going out for drinks with my girlfriends and dancing the night away. Mind you I definitely don’t look as trendy as I use to, I have become practical and just don’t care about fashion at all.
The restaurant was full, the beer garden packed and overflowed into the surrounding areas. I miss this, a Friday night drink out on the town. Once we were seated at our table we looked over the menu, after studying it for a week, I knew what I was having as did Roy. When Roy and I were in Argentina we ate the best steak ever, it still is the best steak ever and only a few have come close. Anyways the oven they use to cook the steaks in are similar to the josper oven which they use at A&C. With coals cooking at the bottom the steaks are placed over the coal to cook, the taste of a woodfired steak is far superior than a flame grilled one.
Roy ordered the rib fillet, I ordered the 250gms of pig and we were suggested to try the pork belly. I was hoping that the meat came directly from the baby porker sitting in the prep area. Alas, it is Friday night and it is busy so cutting up a pig is probably not high on the agenda in a fast paced kitchen. Best to have prep ready to go. The pork belly entree was good but the skin was not crisp nor would it melt in your mouth but the rhubarb and ginger sauce made up for it, totally scrummy. We shared the steak and pork between us, the crackling was so crispy (like how you want yours to turn out at home but never does) and good, the meat was well coated with oil when it was reheated which made it really moist. I liked that you could make your own little pork buns with the meat, apple sauce and gravy. We ordered one dish with salad (just a variety of lettuce leaves) and the other with roasted vegetables; capsicums, potato, zucchini, squash, eggplant and onions.
A great place to share a few things off the menu over a beer, though I would recommend you to book a table any night or day of the week. Next time I come down (to Brisbane) I will go on a Wednesday night instead of the busiest night of the week.
Whole suckling pig, rib fillet 300gm – $36 and pork belly with rhubarb and ginger relish – $13.90
The group of food bloggers from Brisbane and I were taken out to meet a farmer who supplies beef to Carey Bros who supply meat to Alfred and Constance. With two 4WD full of foodies we spoke about food majority of the way to and from Killarney. I was in the car with Kirsten, Claire, Melissa and Jessalyn. During our journey we played silly games of spot the tractor and what sort of cow is that one.
Our first destination was to meet the farmer Ian Mapes along with our host Jocelyn. During our visit to Ian’s farm we had the chance to meet the owner, manager and the buyer of Carey Bros. We spoke in great length about the quality of beef Carey Bros seeks to use.
Meet the beef farmer
Ian Mapes farm has only 60 head of cattle on his property, he uses multiple breeds of cows for his beef but he swears by his limousin bull that services the ladies. The limousin bull promotes strong calves that have plenty of muscle, yet when they are born they are not to large and it makes them easy to birth. Ian grows various grains on the property to feed his cattle, currently with the lack of rain he has only just now planted his latest crop. Being a farmer in drought is tough, he tells us how the water table (water below the earths surface) has dropped further over the past five years which means that there are worrisome times ahead. Ian’s heard are some of the healthiest we have driven by on our trip thus far, the coats on the animals have a shine to them and there is plenty of meat on the bones.
Paul Carey owner of Carey Bros was on site to talk to us about the quality of beef they use along with his manager and buyer. Dennis Bourke the buyer goes to farms everyday to check the cattle before they are sent to the abbatoir. Carrey Bros have a unique standard of meat, this means the cows they are looking for are 6-9months of age and are still milk-fed, Dennis tells us. They are to be solid like a brick and ultimately weigh around 160kilos to get the ok. This surprises me, I grew up eating old beef then, we ate cows more than 2 years old, maybe the meat was a little chewer but it still tasted like beef. Since doing some homework, I have found that most animals are slaughtered just after a year of age and the older ones that are two years or older are going through the abbatoir and packaged off to Japan, Asia and America. Reflecting on this and talking with many other people, chefs and butchers, the Carey Bros have created a niche product that appeals to some people and restaurants. A superior steak that is milk-fed, tender and has a light pink colour. Over the next couple of months I will also be talking to some more beef cattle farmers to find out their processes.
Unfortunately the pork used at A&C is not free-range. Yet they do source their chicken from Inglewood Farms, which is the supplier of free-range chicken. Visit their site to see the difference from standard farming to free-range. Imagine what organic would sound or look like.
Carrey Bros Butchery Yangan
Carrey Bros Butchery opened in November 1944 in Yangan (a very small town which is 18km from Warwick. The Yangan store still operates but they make most of there hams, sausages, kabana and cheerios there. They also opened a store in Warick in the early sixties and they gained a great reputation for their meat which lead to another store opening. All meat is sourced from the Darling Downs region and sent to their abbatoir in Warrick. Which means that most of the meat goes direct from the farm to the abbatoir and bypasses the saleyards so the cattle have less stress.
Pig menu, Miss Foodie and a refreshing drink and chickpea salad.
When we arrived at Jocelyn’s House in Killarney we were greeted with cold drinks and appetisers which overlooked the town and the surrounding mountains. Then Peter Wright the manager for Carey Bros showed us how to break down a lamb and a quarter of beef before our lunch. It brought back memories of my childhood of the family meat day which would happen once or twice a year. We would all go to my grandparents place along with my uncles and their families and neighbors and we would cut down a whole beast generally it was a lot older than the ones Carey Bros use. We would spend the whole day packing meat into bags, four steaks to a bag, 4 handfuls of mince in a bag and a whole roast wrapped in two bags. Either Amy or I would use a nikko to write on the bag what it was, so when rummaging around the freezer to find something it would be easy to find. It was great to see it done the old-fashioned way with the saw. Though Peter tells me that they always use the bandsaw in the shop.
Paul Carey & Peter Wright cutting the beef rib.
Kidneys with beetroot relish, woodfired pizza and BBQ lamb cutlets with paprika mayo.
Roasted rack of beef
Lunch was set up like a buffet style for us to help ourselves to the freshly cut lamb and beef and scoop on some salads. There was a confit of potato salad with leek and bacon, chickpea salad with vegetables and spices, tomato and mozzarella salad and lastly a freekah salad which was lightly spiced.
After lunch there was a cheese tasting with Michael from Fino Foods which were all sourced from across Australia.
Cheese tasting with Michael from Fino Foods
After ten years working in Brisbane in various kitchens, I was rudely surprised that I had never heard of Jocelyn before. Jocelyn use to own ‘Jocelyn’s Provisions a store dedicated to cakes, pasties and jams. I can admit that I don’t have a sweet tooth and would never seek out a place to eat pastry at. Two weeks ago that has changed, I tried Jocelyn’s tart that was just mouth-watering and the pastry OMGoodness. I may be converted to having dessert again. The stewed apricots were just like my grandmothers in taste yet these stayed a bit more in tact.
Stone fruit and almond tart with duck egg vanilla bean ice cream and lightly poached apricots.
The view from Jocelyn’s House.
After feasting on lunch, cheese and dessert Jocelyn took us out in the paddock to show us the range of fruit trees she is growing. With a few varieties of figs, pears, quince, apricots, lemons, limes and even a couple of olive trees. It was good to see after four years of the plant being in the ground how big they can actually grow. I found this encouraging for our trees that have only been in the ground for six months. In April we will be planting many more trees in our orchid to start it off.
Jocelyn Hancock showing us her fruit trees, pears and lemons.
Alfred & ConstanceCnr Alfred & Constance Street, Fortitude Valley (07) 3251 6500 www.alfredandconstance.com.au
Limes Hotel142 Constance St, Fortitude Valley (07) 3852 9000 www.limeshotel.com.au
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to Brisbane & Kilarney by Alfred & Constance and Limes Hotel. We paid for our meal at Alfred and Constance, all other meals, drinks, travel and accommodation were supplied.