I have a soft spot for this hidden gem in the Australian countryside.
The Poacher's Pantry is officially in Hall, NSW, just outside Canberra, ACT (Australia). That said, it is not in the town, but on Nanima Road. To get there, head along the Barton highway towards Yass and look for the signs and road off to the right.
What is special about this spot? I guess it is a combination of things. The atmosphere is a major feature. The farm property is very picturesque and the building itself seems the epitome of an Australian country house. The wide verandah and patio invite visitors to settle down for either a light snack or meal. From there you can gaze over the wide lawn, watching the birdlife, or other wildlife such as these kids playing.
The other appeal is of course, the food. The smokehouse that inspired the name makes all sorts of wonderful treats - favourites of mine are the emu prosciutto and smoked semi-dried tomatoes. Now the range has expanded with the planting of vineyards around the farm, producing Wily Trout cool climate wines.
The day we went was gloriously sunny (mind you, nowadays that is the norm for this part of the world) and we settled down to start with a glass of champagne and a mezze platter. This allowed us to try a little bit of everything: grilled zucchini, emu prosciutto, ham, smoked chicken, hommous, smoked tomatoes, baba ganoush... a grand mini feast!
For main courses, we chose:
- smoked chicken and leek pie
- smoked lamb with couscous
- smoked lamb chops with sweet potato mash
- smoked duck salad
But I made up for it with my dessert - I could not resist the Poacher's Mess: crumbled meringue, cream and lemon curd. Her creme brulee was good I am sure, but my dessert was divine!
I bought some brandy-smoked chicken and also 2 packets of smoked tomatoes. If you have never experienced a smoked tomato, I tell you, you have not yet truly lived! Sweet and smokey and a taste sensation like no other.
If you want to discover the Poacher's pantry for yourself, you can visit the website, or go there for yourself. "Marakei", Nanima Road, Hall, ACT. Ph +61 (0)2 6230 2487