By Ella Walker
It’s 7pm in Tasmania, where chef Analiese Gregory is. There’s a huge bowl of in-season cherries beside her, a glass of wine in her hand, and a day behind her spent cooking, foraging and being awed by her new hive of bees. “They like it when it’s sunny, and they’re not so into thunderstorms or rainy weather,” she explains. “I’ve discovered this, just so you’re aware, it makes them grumpy.”
Having worked in top restaurants in London, France, Spain, Australia, Morocco and more, Gregory landed in Tasmania four years ago – and her new book, How Wild Things Are, captures how she lives and eats.
It’s divided into two sections: recipes – the kind of food she’d throw together for a friend; and a sketch of her (deeply enviable) life on the Aussie island state, where she’s learned new skills, like cooking possum and wallaby. The latter is a sustainable meat in Tasmania, and is lean, a bit like veal crossed with venison, says Gregory. “It’s surprisingly delicious – once you get over the mental block.”
Born in New Zealand, Gregory was raised on lots of Chinese food (her mother is Chinese-Dutch) and “grew up in one of those houses where we didn’t really go to McDonald’s or buy cakes at the supermarket”.
Even if we weren’t in lockdown and starved of travel, Gregory’s life would likely make you want to pack a bag, buy a beekeeping veil and rescue a couple of goats. “A friend was making fun of me,” she says wryly. “He was like, ‘Oh, you have to go forage wild fruit and make shrubs. Your life is so hard!’ I’ve made this my job!
“There are very good moments, where I go and dive and then cook abalone on the beach – life is great. Life is amazing,” she continues. “But then I also live in a 1910 unrenovated house with no heating. And my goats escape and terrorise the neighbours. And one of my pigs keeps biting me and now I have to get a tetanus shot.”
She makes a good case for the downsides, but can’t mute the sense of adventure that emanates from her stories and the book itself. You can definitely see why Australian TV channel SBS Food has been following her for a new series, A Girl’s Guide To Hunting, Fishing And Wild Cooking. Gregory calls it a more intrepid “Tasmania River Cottage” that sees her going floundering after dark and hunting for food.
Confit Lamb Ribs with Date Syrup and Toasted Spices
1.5kg lamb ribs
Olive oil, as needed for cooking the ribs, plus 2tbsp for the breadcrumbs
15g fennel seeds
15g cumin seeds
120g panko breadcrumbs
100ml date syrup
Sprinkle the lamb ribs all over with the salt. Arrange them on a tray and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Wash the ribs, pat dry and put in an ovenproof pot, drenching them in olive oil. Bring the heat up slowly on the stove until the olive oil starts to bubble. Transfer to the oven and cook, covered, for approximately two hours, or until the ribs are tender and the meat comes easily away from the bone. Take the ribs out of the oil and chill down in the fridge until firm.
Combine the spices in a frying pan over a low heat and toast until fragrant, then pour into a bowl to cool down. Put the panko crumbs and two tablespoons oil in the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until crispy and golden. Add the crumbs to the spices, mix together and season with sea salt.
Preheat a deep fryer or stovetop pot of oil to 180C. You’ll need enough oil to cover the ribs. Take the ribs and cut down between the bones to make individual ribs. Deep fry until brown and crispy on the outside, approximately five minutes. Drain and toss them in a bowl with the date syrup. To serve, arrange on a plate and cover with the spiced crumbs.
Manuka Honey Madeleines
Makes 24 madeleines
170g butter, plus some for brushing the metal mould
185g manuka or leatherwood honey, or other honey as preferred
160g plain flour
¼tsp baking powder
Soured cream, to serve
For the apricot jam:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the butter and let cool to room temperature.
In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and honey until light and fluffy, approximately 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients, then add them to the egg mix and fold by hand. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, gently fold in the cooled melted butter. Chill in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.
To make the jam, take the seeds out of the apricots, then roughly dice them. Combine with the water and honey in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until a jammy consistency is reached.
Butter a madeleine mould with a pastry brush. Fill each indentation half full and bake for 10 minutes. They should be set and golden, with minimal colour on top and light brown underneath.
Serve immediately with soured cream and jam.
How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing And Hunting At The Bottom Of The World by Analiese Gregory is available now