While many of us have considered running away to Tasmania to live content and self-contained on a farm, for the vast majority it’s more pipedream than reality.
But not for New Zealand-born chef Analiese Gregory, who moved to the Apple Isle in 2017 when she took over the kitchen at the (now-closed) destination restaurant Franklin in Hobart. Eventually she found a 110-year-old weatherboard farmhouse she loved in Huonville, about 30 kilometres south-west of the capital, and just before Covid hit she resigned from her post and took up rural life proper.
“At night, Analiese gets home, lights a fire, pours a glass of red wine then lies down on the couch to read,” writes Hilary Burden, who has been tasked with telling Gregory’s story in How Wild Things Are.
Gregory’s new book is part cookbook, part memoir and part ode to Tasmania’s rugged beauty – and it’s frank about how the chef decided to throw in big-city madness for the sake of her mental health.
“I moved here to get away from Sydney and all the bullshit and being constantly hungover and just partying and checking Instagram and Facebook 20 times a day,” the former Quay and Bar Brosé chef says in the book. “This is what I want it to be like. There is no voice inside my head. I just found somewhere I liked and put my things in it.”
Even though she moved to Tasmania to find quiet and calm, Gregory hasn’t been idle. Before Covid, she’d travel around the country to teach masterclasses. In 2020 she appeared on the Tasmania episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Uncharted series for National Geographic, where she was introduced as “a culinary nomad and forager who has embraced the region’s rich ocean-to-plate lifestyle”.
Then Covid hit, and her quiet life on the farm became a full-time pursuit. She embraced it – making cheese and charcuterie, foraging, diving for abalone and urchin. She even learned how to slaughter chickens.
How Wild Things Are is the culmination of her journey and the culinary lessons she’s learned along the way – from working in renowned restaurants in Europe (including Mugaritz in northern Spain and Le Meurice in Paris), to fine-diners Quay and Bar Brosé in Sydney, to Franklin. This recipe is inspired by her time in London, when she worked at The Ledbury and fell in love with gnocchi.
“I like to pair it with flavours and ingredients from other cultures and influences. This is a dish I had on the menu when I was part of a Sydney wine bar [Bar Brosé] and trying to blend my Chinese heritage with the European classics I had been taught. It may sound like an odd combination, but it works,” she writes. “Trust me.”
Analiese Gregory’s potato gnocchi with lap cheong and kombu butter
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes
3 lap cheong sausages (dried Chinese pork sausage), thinly sliced
1 bunch kai lan (Chinese broccoli), washed and cut into 5-centimetre lengths
1 tbsp lemon juice
1kg floury potatoes
50g finely grated parmesan
2 egg yolks
110g type-00 flour
Olive oil, for tossing
50g Lao Gan Ma (crispy chilli and Sichuan pepper sauce), or other chilli sauce
55ml olive oil
1 tbsp black vinegar
1 tbsp shio kombu
100g cultured butter, softened
1 tsp shiro shoyu (a wheat soy sauce)
1 tsp wakame powder
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper and sprinkle them with flour.
Wash the potatoes, and, with the tip of a knife, score a circle in the skin without cutting much flesh, about 5mm deep. This will make it easier to break them apart once cooked. Bake directly on a rack for approximately 1 hour, or until soft in the centre. Break the potatoes in half and press the flesh through a drum sieve or put through a ricer.
Weigh out 500g of potato flesh into a bowl. Add the parmesan, egg yolks and a pinch of salt and mix with a spoon. Add the flour and fold in gently, being careful not to overmix. Turn the dough out onto a floured bench. Divide into fourths, then roll each into a thin log. Cut into 2cm pieces, then place the gnocchi carefully on the prepared trays.
Cook the gnocchi in batches in some lightly simmering salted water. Wait until they float, then give them another 20 seconds before lifting out and putting them in an ice bath. Once all are cooked, drain and lightly toss with olive oil. Refrigerate.
To make the chilli dressing, mix all of the ingredients together.
To make the kombu butter, rehydrate the shio kombu in 2 tablespoons water, then chop and combine with the butter, shoyu and wakame powder.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and pan-fry the gnocchi in two batches, tossing halfway through to brown both sides. Remove the gnocchi from the pan. Pan-fry the lap cheong until it starts to render. Return all gnocchi to the pan, add the kai lan and kombu butter, and toss until the leaves start to wilt, approximately 1 minute. Season with lemon juice and salt if needed. Transfer to plates and dress with the chilli dressing.
This is an edited extract from How Wild Things Are by Analiese Gregory, published by Hardie Grant Books ($45).
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