A group of us Canberra foodbloggers were invited to Pialligo Estate Farmhouse to enjoy its garden pavilions which officially opened two weekends ago. The garden pavilions (you can’t miss them outside the main farmhouse restaurant) fit around 20-25 people and can be booked if you have a special function or occasion. Two pavilions can be booked if you have 50-60 people etc. Each pavilion is open on three sides, perfect for summer. It has floor to ceiling clear plastic blinds as well as sun shade blinds to protect against all sorts of weather. From memory, there are four pavilions for dining, one pavilion holding another kitchen, one pavilion where the charcuterie meats may be sold from, and one more pavilion holding the bathrooms.
We learnt that the team at Pialligo Estate are trying to use less stove top cooking and more open-fire cooking. There were only two burners for the stove – pretty impressive! We met Sean Keating, the Executive Chef at Phoenix and the Wolf in Tasmania, who was brought down to provide his skills and experience in working with open fire.
I had no idea what else was planned for us and was surprised that a sit-down dinner with a set menu had been organised for everyone. We all chose our seats and got ready to tuck into the food. I’ve been to Pialligo Estate Farmhouse twice before (you can read about it here and here) and really enjoyed my experience both times so I knew the food would be fantastic. The culinary director of Pialligo Estate, Jan Gundlach, visited us to explain the concept behind Pialligo Estate. They grow as much as they can on their 55 acres and use this fresh produce in their dishes.
First up some bread with Pialligo Estate olive oil. Yes they make their own olive oil and I can tell you it tasted delicious.
Line caught Kingfish with rhubarb, Pialligo Estate sangiovese and the herb garden. Really fresh Kingfish sashimi paired well with the poached rhubarb. Presentation was also stunning although the supersized chopsticks were hard to use since they curved out.
Next was the Tasso, a southern spiced pork butt with ginger, apples and onions. I had no idea what tasso was so it is a rarity in Canberra. It was much spicier than I expected so it was great idea to serve this with thin slices of apple.
We could smell the open-fire Flinders Island wagyu rump with 8-hectare farm roasted garlic before it even arrived at the table. I love the smell of roasted garlic! The wagyu rump was a great cut and cooked just how I like it with that gorgeous shade of pink. It was tender and easy to chew. I must give kudos to the roasting of the garlic and its near-magical transformation from solid to creamy goodness. All I had to do was stab at a clove of garlic with my fork when its creaminess oozed out. The taste wasn’t overpoweringly garlicky as I was expecting. It was very light and gentle. This is because they use baby garlic straight from the garden which is much milder. I’m sure you home cooks know about this, but it’s all new to me. I’ll have to try this at home.
I loved this dish and thought it went really well with the fresh basil granita. It didn’t take long for the granita to melt into a green puddle but that basil still had its sweet bold flavour to complement the fruit. J wasn’t a fan of the granita, but he doesn’t like herbs that much.
We thought that that was it for the night, but then Jan came in and apologised for forgetting one more dish. This was the Farmhouse brinner of buckwheat quinoa porridge with apple and fennel pollen. It’s actually on the breakfast menu but Jan wanted us to try it. What is fennel pollen? I had to google this when I got home. It’s basically taking the flowers from fennel that produce yellow pollen and drying it out to use in dishes. I felt that the warm porridge needed something else, like cream or honey, to accompany the quinoa. It was rather strange and no one could really tell if they liked it or not. The thinly sliced apples were very sour in contrast, so it definitely needed something sweet to go with it.
Speaking of breakfast, it is now available at Pialligo Estate Farmhouse from 8am on Sundays in the garden pavilions. Lunch in the pavilions is available Friday to Sunday, while dinner in the pavilions is available Thursday to Saturday nights. I recommend going for dinner to watch the sun set over the beautiful view.
Thank you to Pialligo Estate for hosting us, it was a wonderful evening! You can find Pialligo Estate at 18 Kallaroo Road in Pialligo – pretty much the last stop before the no through road.
Note: I dined as a guest of Pialligo Estate, however all opinions are my own.
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