Class acts

Country Style - - TRAVEL - WORDS KYLIE WALKER AND VIR­GINIA IMHOFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHY GUY BAI­LEY STYLING PHOEBE MCEVOY

SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS, OR LEARN NEW ONES, ON YOUR NEXT WEEK­END AWAY. HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE COUN­TRY COOK­ING SCHOOLS.

In a shed on an ap­ple farm, sur­rounded by lush lawns and with rows of trees stretch­ing into the dis­tance, Tara Mills is do­ing some­thing she loves: shar­ing tra­di­tional skills. Some week­ends, this self-taught cook teaches bread­mak­ing, while other classes in­clude sweet pas­tries or gar­den­ing. “I was for­tu­nate to spend my child­hood sur­rounded by green f ields and a large veg­etable patch, with some­thing al­ways bub­bling away on the Aga or a cake bak­ing in the oven… this has al­ways been a part of me, bak­ing and grow­ing veg­eta­bles,” Tara says. She lives with her part­ner and three chil­dren not far from Glen­bernie Or­chard, a farm about an hour south of Syd­ney, where own­ers Glenn and Jo-anne Fa­hey grow ap­ples and stone fruit, and where Tara runs her classes. Tara ran a small bak­ery be­fore de­cid­ing to con­cen­trate on the work­shops; Mill Lane was launched last year. Half-day classes in French breads and pas­try are reg­u­lars, as is pre­serv­ing. A one-day ed­i­ble gar­den work­shop is led sev­eral times a year by Narelle Happ, and Tara has just launched Slow Stitch Satur­days, with bas­ket maker Brooke Munro. Those ar­riv­ing for a class are of­fered a cup of tea and a slice of one of Tara’s ex­cel­lent cakes — usu­ally made with fruit from the farm. Tara is a cheer­ful and en­cour­ag­ing teacher, im­part­ing clever tips to those with ex­pe­ri­ence and re­as­sur­ing be­gin­ners. The shed, dec­o­rated with straw-bale seats, and f low­ers and herbs from Tara’s gar­den, is only me­tres away from Glen­bernie Or­chard’s Ap­ple Shack farm shop, and there’s al­ways time dur­ing class to pop over and stock up on ap­ples, pota­toes, honey or eggs. At the end of the day, stu­dents re­lax over a shared plat­ter and a glass of sparkling wine, or cider made from the farm’s ap­ples, be­fore head­ing home with a bag filled with class notes and food. “Mill Lane is about build­ing com­mu­ni­ties and bring­ing peo­ple to­gether,” says Tara, who keeps reg­u­lar classes to no more than eight stu­dents — “That means I can give each stu­dent my full at­ten­tion.” from $195. 259 Darkes For­est Road, Darkes For­est, NSW. 0416 006 122; mil­l­lanework­shops.com For ac­com­mo­da­tion, try Ot­ford Cot­tage, a 15-minute drive from the farm. 0431 615 941; ot­ford­cot­tage­bandb.com.au

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