Sim­ply de­li­cious

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips


CORINNA is in the south- west tip of the Tarkine for­est, 20km up­stream from the for­bid­ding mouth of the Pie­man River, an equal dis­tance west of the Sav­age River mine and at about the north­ern limit for Huon pine.

In the late 1800s, about 2000 min­ers and pin­ers lived there. There were two pubs, a spe­cial oval for the bareknuckle set­tle­ment of dis­putes and the po­lice sta­tion was a tent.

To­day, those days live on in the wild sto­ries the few lo­cals tell over a beer, the rain­for­est and river have re­cov­ered from the scars and pol­lu­tion of his­tory and Corinna has be­come a re­mote wilder­ness re­treat at­tract­ing tourists, fi sher­men and gold fos­sick­ers.

It’s also home to Tas­ma­nia’s only Miche­lin­starred chef, Euan Wise­man.

Or, per­haps more ac­cu­rately, our only Miche­lin- starred sec­ond chef since, for six years, he and chef Charles Lock­ley worked as the two- man kitchen team at Boath House, a bou­tique ho­tel near In­ver­ness in Scot­land, in that time win­ning the restau­rant four Miche­lin rosettes and a one- star rat­ing.

In 2010, Wise­man and wife Jac­que­line hon­ey­mooned in Aus­tralia armed with 12- month work­ing visas. Af­ter work­ing stages in both, he de­clined job of­fers from Vue du Monde in Mel­bourne and Neil Perry’s Rock­pool in Syd­ney, posted his CV on Gumtree, fi el­ded a fl ood of re­sponses from around the coun­try and chose Corinna.

“Nei­ther of us are big- city peo­ple,” Wise­man said. “And we love it here.”

More im­por­tant is the infl uence the Miche­lin star had on his ap­proach to cook­ing.

“Be­fore the Miche­lin thing, Charles and I had a lot of fun in the kitchen,” he said.

“We shot and cooked a lot of game, served wild salmon from the Shetland Is­lands, for­aged mush­rooms and other wild food and cooked it the way we wanted to.

“Then the star at­tracted a dif­fer­ent clien­tele. It changed the kitchen dy­nam­ics from ‘ this is what we do’ to the pres­sure of ‘ is this good enough?’ It ceased be­ing fun.”

Af­ter an ini­tial stint at Corinna, they spent 18 months at the Cable Sta­tion in Stan­ley be­fore re­turn­ing to Corinna six months ago, where Wise­man is once again do­ing what he wants the way he wants to do it.

And what he does is food from a very small black­board menu that is sim­ple, al­most ba­sic, but per­fectly cooked and beau­ti­fully pre­sented.

Noth­ing, for ex­am­ple, could be sim­pler than a scal­lop and pars­ley pie. But the scal­lops were still ten­der and juicy, the lid of light- as- air puff pas­try and the pre­cisely judged pars­ley sauce creamy, but not heavy, and cut, lifted

and very subtly flavoured by a fi nish­ing touch of le­mon. Noth­ing orig­i­nal, in­no­va­tive or haute cui­sine about it, just ex­cel­lent cook­ing.

Sim­i­lar in qual­ity was the slow- braised pork belly. The crack­ling was nicely salted and crisp, the meat still tex­tured and moist with not the slight­est sug­ges­tion of stringi­ness, and it was beau­ti­fully pre­sented with a lit­tle pick­led red cab­bage tucked un­der one side, a broc­coli florette on the other and, in a nod to moder­nity, a smear of good ap­ple sauce.

Fea­tur­ing in­gre­di­ents from such top North­West producers as Cape Grim Beef, Red Cow Dairy, Mathom Goat Dairy, Black­ridge Farm and South­ern Shark Seafoods, the menus change al­most daily and are ac­com­pa­nied by a small, rea­son­ably priced se­lec­tion of mostly Tas­ma­nian wines.

While the Miche­lin in­spec­tors may not be overly im­pressed by the Corinna tav­ern’s rus­tic decor, bare ta­bles and pa­per nap­kins, in Jac­qui’s friendly and very pro­fes­sional ser­vice and Wise­man’s cook­ing, pre­sen­ta­tion and sauc­ing, I sus­pect they would ap­pre­ci­ate the sim­plic­ity of ex­cel­lence the pair have brought to this idyl­lic cor­ner of the Tarkine.

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