Paddock-to-plate experience takes you down memory lane
Travelling down Australia’s country roads, you are never quite sure what you will find.
Yet that’s the joy of it. And here, somewhere between Sydney and Melbourne, is just one of those surprises.
The Long Table Cafe is off the beaten track in many ways. Situated 22km east of Deniliquin which in itself is between Echuca and Jerilderie in the Riverina of New South Wales.
This is in itself the home of some landmark sheep and cattle properties.
Yet here, the Smits family have created a wonderful on-farm dining experience that highlights the paddock-to-plate culture.
Lawry and Kathy Smits, together with their children Lauren and Daniel, have set up a family owned and operated establishment using only the freshest local and home-grown produce.
To get there, turn off the Riverina Highway at Deniliquin and head towards Blighty. Turn into Mokanger Road, then McLaurins Rd that takes you to their Joy Pine farm.
While Lawry is originally from South Gippsland, in the Victoria’s south east, the Kathy’s family is generations deep in this area and they are providing not just dining but a farm experience.
And while the Long Table Cafe is off the beaten track it is certainly proving to be on the gastronomic trail.
“It’s as close as we can get from the farm to the table,” Laurie tells me while out feeding the pigs, sheep and goats on the property.
“We want people to enjoy a pure paddock-to-plate experience.”
That includes a walk through the orchard, herb garden and vegetable patch.
Joy Pine is a boer goat stud but they also run horses, pigs, sheep and turkeys.
“The Riverina is famous for our lamb, rice and beef,” Laurie says. “The area is full of world-class exports that we love to serve right from our place and neighbouring farms.
“We are growing all of our produce organically – free of chemicals and hormones.
“The pork is smoke-house roasted and we make our own salami.
“We sell some of our goats in Echuca, that go to Melbourne, and others in Moree that go to Sydney.
“We want to set up a dairy … milk the goats and get into soft cheese.”
The Long Table provides morning teas and lunches, as well as catering for events and large dinner parties.
The choice of set-lunch menus includes courses being interchangeable, with personalised menus available for groups.
While Laurie is at home in the outdoors Kathy is in charge of the kitchen.
“Success has been word of mouth,” she says. “It’s nothing for groups to come up from Melbourne.
“We make home-made sauces, chutneys, jams and jellies, and they are all preservative free.
“They are prepared the traditional way from traditions passed down through the family.”
Fruit from the orchard is preserved using the Fowler Vacola method.
The roasted vegies that are served include sweet potato freshly picked from the garden, while the home-made focaccia uses home-grown herbs and garlic.
The stove was from the Howlong Pub, and it makes the best roasts.
Daniel is the pasta king and Lauren is queen of desserts.
These include lemon-baked cheesecake served with cream and finished off with a sprig of fresh picked mint and a dusting of icing sugar.
“As a member of The Long Paddock tourism group, our mission is to utilise and promote produce from local farmers to help bring business and sustainability to our region,” Kathy tells me.
Bookings are essential; there is a set menu which is coordinated at time of booking and for a three-course meal the price is set at $55.00 per person.
Tea, coffee and cold drinks available at bar but it is BYO alcohol only.
The restaurant seats up to 50 guests and a bus service is available for parties with 20 or more people.
LONG TABLE PADDOCK TO PLATTER
Quince paste, soft cheese, olives, cured meats, roasted almonds, homemade dip;
Wood fired roast lamb with roasted vegetables and baked potato;
Seared chicken with a white wine reduction, sauted vegetables and crisp potatoes;
Lemon baked cheesecake served with quenelle of cream, finished off with a sprig of fresh picked mint and a dusting of icing sugar;
Sticky date pudding with a rich butterscotch sauce.
Pumpkin and goat cheese bruschetta;
Slow roasted smoked chicken served with garden fresh salad and home-made dressing;
Oven baked oregano crusted pork with a variety of fresh garden vegetables;
Traditional pavlova with heavy whipped cream and fruit of your choice;
Apricot crumble with cream or ice cream.