If there were a category for most picturesque cooking school, Kate Sumner’s Kangaroo Island Source would be very hard to beat.
Perched high on windswept farmlands above Penneshaw, looking down towards the oceanic blue waters that divide Kangaroo Island from the Mainland, the purpose built kitchen and verandah dining is framed by that view.
My time with Kate began a few hours earlier. The plan was to collect provisions while touring the Penneshaw Farmers Market, then up to her kitchen to cook. I joined the session while holidaying on the Island (read more about my other wanderings here).
Ours is an engaging and friendly group of 8, some of us staying on the Island, others day-visiting for the class. Such a warm welcome from Kate all round. The conversation was easy, flowing from our lives to hers, and we caught a glimpse of a well-placed passion for this place.
Despite being a very cool, wet, and blustery day (for January!) there was a good crowd of visitors and locals at what is (by accounts) the busiest market of the year. People thinned to nearby cafes during the showers but it was great to see the market busy again once the rain cleared.
Today there were some 25+ stalls of largely food and wine producers, live music and a few other bits and pieces, in all giving a pretty good cross section of the Island’s offerings. Seafood was an exception, but thankfully we had already visited Andermel Marron (read more here).
But even the cold and wet couldn’t dampen my delight at being here, just being amongst it, lapping up the smells and the sights, chatting with other like minded people and working up an appetite.
We ambled from stall to stall, with producers sharing tastes and tales of locavore.
There was a generous offering of toasted bruschetta with grilled Island Pure sheeps milk Haloumi with rocket, atop Kate’s own deliciously warm Kangaroo Island Source Beetroot Relish. Both products became part of my KI booty (and you can read more about my visit, including Island Pure here).
From fresh and flavoursome olive oils (Kangaroo Island Olive Oil Co) to the burnt-sugary goodness of Sticky Fig Syrup (The Figgery) – I’ll be picking some of that up on my next visit. Across the range of Ligurian Bee Honey (Hog Bay Apiary) with hints of caramel or eucalyptus and an impressive local bee knowledge (Kangaroo Island is reportedly the oldest and purest bee sanctuary in the world), across to selections of delectable sheep milk cheese (from Island Pure). We were impressively restrained at the Dudley Wines stall – I guess we were handling sharp knives that afternoon. Dudley Wines is one of the Island’s oldest vineyards, with several awards under its belt, including as a 4.5 star winery by James Halliday in 2011. They is their 20th anniversary year.
Lots of oohs and ahs when we reached the delectable Suffolk Lamb offerings of South Rock Lamb (well, who says no to pan-seared chorizo). I was also pretty keen to grab some of the free range eggs from Modra’s. Kate also picked up some gorgeously generous organic lemons for our class.
I couldn’t resist topping all of this with a glass of old fashioned lemonade – maybe I’m a sucker for packaging, love the mik urn – but it was also a perfect little palate cleanser for what was to come.
Suitably stocked, we headed to Base Camp: Kangaroo Island Source Kitchen.
The philosophy of Kangaroo Island Source is one of showcasing local produce, through food that encapsulates the freshness, quality and flavour of the Kangaroo Island region. This persists strongly through everything Kate does. The Farmers Market Tour, the line of spice blends and relishes, our cooking class all stays very close to this promise. They also do gourmet catering and you would expect the same high standard there.
And why not – the Island has some of the best produce going.
Each of the dishes had been chosen to allow for the main ingredient to really sparkle. From what I’ve seen people don’t always get this so right.
The delicate (and probably thankfully forgiving) Twice Baked Island Pure Manchengo Cheese Soufflé was light and fluffy, the creamy nuttiness of the cheese was king, partnered well with a lightly dressed mixed leaf salad with pear.
The Southrock Lamb Wellington using Kangaroo Island Lamb backstrap (pictured) was tender and moist, enlivened by the Mediterranean style paste we reduced from mushrooms, eggplant, anchovies, garlic, spinach and semi dried tomatoes, and then layered on the inside of the pastry. The Paris Mash was an essential choice for what was a comfort food kind of day, but it was the Sticky Fig Syrup that brought it together beautifully.
Lemon Custard Puddings with Honey Anglaise were delectably silk-like, with crushed almonds giving just a little crunch. We owed it to the most luscious lemons, and gorgeously plump, naturally raised yellow eggs.
A deliciously moreish foccacia style bread infused with garlic was a great supplement to the meal, gobbled up by all of us with gusto.
All matched ever so well with wines from Kangaroo Island’s own Islander Estate (5 RED star producer in James Halliday 2014 Wine Companion).
The day passed so quickly in the chatter of knives sharpened, hearts opened, and mouths fed. We had gone longer than planned, but the conversation flowed easily and I felt that all of us could have happily stayed on for more. And probably want to go back.
And what is it that stays with us after the event?
Long after the recipe pages become dog eared and battered, and the shared inspiration applied and reused, it’s the simple sense of time well-spent that creeps up from that cup of tea and sneaks into a smile.
When it’s good – and in this case it was – somehow you are nourished well beyond what you shared and ate.
Want more? Try these..
Kangaroo Island Farmers Market at Penneshaw is held on the first Sunday of Every Month, 9am – 1pm at Lloyd Collins Reserve, by the beach, Penneshaw
Kangaroo Island Source website: contact for Cooking Classes, Catering or Product Requests
Leading Adelaide Food Blogger Lamb’s Ears & Honey has a nice piece on Kate Sumner and Kangaroo Island Source that is worth a read.