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A.Baker’s Backyard Produce Dinner

Rachi Perera

If there is one thing that defines A.Baker’s dining philosophy that is their dedication to showcasing locally sourced produce. This is reflected in the seasonal menu that changes weekly where the chefs go to extraordinary lengths to source the freshest regional produce. The long list of local producers outlined on the A.Baker website is further testament of going that extra mile to emphasise the ideas of traceability and product origin.

If there is one thing that defines A.Baker’s dining philosophy that is their dedication to showcasing locally sourced produce. This is reflected in the seasonal menu that changes weekly where the chefs go to extraordinary lengths to source the freshest regional produce. The long list of local producers outlined on the A.Baker website is further testament of going that extra mile to emphasise the ideas of traceability and product origin.

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As an extension of this philosophy, A.Baker has embarked on an intimate series of Backyard Produce Dinners with the aim of partnering with regular diners who share the passion for seasonal produce. 

The concept of the Backyard Produce Dinners is simply wonderful- take the best fruit, vegetables and herbs that you’ve grown in your backyard and put it the A.Baker kitchen for the chefs to prepare once a month. Simply book a table, bring in a bunch, box or a bag of your best produce 2-3 days before the event and leave it to the chefs to play with. The names of those who supplied each produce will appear on a special menu on the night for all diners to see and in exchange for the produce A.Baker will trade in some of their finest products to take home after the dinner! 

It’s a concept that is original, interactive and great fun. Not only does it give diners active roles in the final menu but it also gives those with a green thumb the pleasure of sharing the fruits of their labour with others who appreciate home-grown produce. But don’t worry if like me, you lack a green thumb (or haven’t got any crop at the moment). You can still contribute to the evening by bringing a bunch of flowers for the table instead.

On Thursday night, I attended the first of these Backyard Produce Dinners. The menu was mainly share plate oriented and no one went hungry; the servings were plentiful, the plating was beautiful and the food was truly delicious.

We started the night with a charcuterie platter that featured Geoff and Gina’s figs. This was a lovely platter of premium quality cured meats and the figs were just ripe, juicy and bursting with freshness. To go with this we were served a little glass of freshly squeezed Lorriandale apple juice.

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Charcuterie Plate with figs bursting with freshness.

Entree was a seared king salmon panzanella with yuzu mayo and Allan’s Malabar spinach. This salmon was all kinds of perfect. It was just lightly seared and served with a variety of shiny and plump tomatoes, a rich yuzu mayo and a handful of earthy spinach leaves dressed in olive oil.

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Seared king salmon panzanella with yuzu mayo and Allan’s Malabar spinach.

Next came ricotta dumplings with Allan’s greens, nettle and capers. The dumplings were comfort food of the best kind- fluffy and pillowy soft. The mix of sautéed greens gave s hearty dish a burst of freshness.

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Ricotta dumplings with Allan’s greens, nettle and capers

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The main of charred Lost River lamb neck, A.Baker beans and harissa was simply spectacular. The lamb just fell apart with the touch of a fork and melted in your mouth. The freshness of the beans proved to be a lovely accompaniment to the lamb. 

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Charred Lost River lamb neck, A.Baker beans and harissa

Dessert was another crowd pleaser- Lorriandale Lord Suffield apples, baked and served with maple ice cream, coconut snow, granola, raspberries and apply jelly. This satisfied the dessert stomach perfectly without being over indulgent. The mix of two different types of apples meant there was a balanced sweetness and tartness to the dish. Together with the textures of  granola, snow and jelly this was a lovely end to the meal.

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Lorriandale Lord Suffield apples, baked and served with maple ice cream, coconut snow, granola, raspberries and apply jelly

As it was a school night I opted with just the food option but the matching local wine option was very tempting and included many local favourites like Mount Majura, Lerida Estate and Capital Wines.

The celebration of home-grown produce didn’t stop there. A.Baker gifted everyone in attendance with a little take home goodie box containing some fresh produce from the garden, apples from a local grower and samples of house-made granola and coffee beans. The little things do matter!

Not only was this a lovely evening of delicious food but it also had everyone thinking about where their food comes from and appreciating wonderful local produce. If this concept has got the locavore in you excited keep an eye on the A.Baker website for announcements as this is only the first of the monthly Backyard Produce Dinners. 

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Rachi Perera

Rachi Perera is the author of www.le-bonvivant.com, an optometrist and a freelance food writer and photographer. Rachi is a self confessed bon vivant who appreciates the finer things in life and a foodie passionate about promoting Canberra's culinary best. More about the Author

  • I LOVE this idea. Thanks for sharing your experience Rachi. Looking forward to hearing when the next ones on. Yum

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