ISSUE 26  |  Farmhouse Style

From Farm to Table with Annie Smithers

June 29, 2012 5:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

Share This:

Our friend Tricia Rose (of Rough Linen) lives in Northern California but hails from Australia. She recently took a trip home and came back armed with some of her favorite finds. One to note: Annie Smithers Bistrot in Victoria. Here’s Tricia’s account of her recent visit.

Annie Smithers’ fruit and vegetable garden spans the best part of an acre around her old cottage in Malmsbury just north of Melbourne, a region famed for its ethical, locavore, organic, and “slow food” eating. Amazingly, the garden supplies up to 90 percent of the restaurant’s fresh produce. “The end result, food grown to cook immediately, is absolutely priceless,” Smithers says. “There is no value that can be put on something truly fresh, delicious, and sustainable.”’ Her most fervent wish? “A more supportive attitude from the government to the water needed to grow vegetables. Is there a better use for water?” For morem visit Annie Smithers.

Above: Annie’s geese. She also has hens and bees, one naughty Cairn terrier and several majestic cats. Photograph via Broadsheet.

Above: Annie Smithers in her own kitchen. Photograph via The Age.

Above: Vegetable beds behind the restaurant. Photograph via Sleek it.

Above: Produce from the nearby gardens, which supply 90 percent of the restaurant’s needs. Photograph via Tracie Ellis.

Above: One paddock has 15 long beds for all the seasonal plantings. A smaller paddock has ten shorter beds for berries, rhubarb, and asparagus, and four have permanent trellising for berry canes. The back fence is planted with heirloom pears, quinces, and apples; an internal hedge is Quercus ilex inoculated with black truffle spores. The house yard still contains the original six-metre-square bed and a small orchard of heirloom apples. All of this is irrigated with a system fed from a tank and a well plumbed to the house and sheds. Photograph via Tracie Ellis.

Above: Annie with her produce. It is quite a dance, adjusting menus to accommodate the first new peas and broad beans, responding to hot weather with seasonal salads, and in winter drawing on foraged morels, root vegetables, and unusual greens freshly harvested. A glut of fruit means compotes and preserves: abundant Paris Double Yield cucumbers are picked young to supply Annie’s famous home-pickled cornichons yearround. Photograph via Broadsheet.

Above: Required reading: Annie’s Garden to Table published by Penguin Books Australia; AU$49.95.