Not too far afield as it happens and the Barn in question, is the Schoolhouse Gallery and Cottage Museum, set in the landscaped grounds of the historical Rosny Farm site in the City of Clarence, in southern Tasmania. The site has important historical roots as a fine example of an early walled farmyard containing a 19th century heritage listed sandstone barn and farm cottage. It underwent a program of redevelopment in 2006 that transformed the old barn into a visual and performing arts space where it hosts recitals, concerts, exhibitions, lectures and workshops.
On a cold winter’s evening, the Barn was the setting for a gala dinner to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Australia’s first cookbook by the first Warden of Clarence, Edward Abbott. The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many as well as for the Upper Ten Thousand by an Australian Aristologist was written by Abbott in 1864 and was a one-off – there was only ever one edition ever produced.In the 1970s, a selection of Abbott’s original material appeared under the title The Colonial Cook Book: the Recipes of a By-gone Australia, edited by Alison Burt and on May 4 this year, a full facsimile, published by Paul County of The Culinary Historians of Tasmania, was also launched at the Tasting Australia Festival in Adelaide. The English & Australian Cookery has a companion volume………The gallery was beautifully decked out and the large open barn was surprisingly warm for such a big space. Fine glassware and candlelight – live music and a Master of Ceremonies. Ryk Goddard (in French garb) regaled us amusing readings from the recipe book but became a little irksome with his party games in between courses – personally, I preferred him as the wicked wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf played during the Festival of Voices at the Theatre Royal.
All in all, a pleasant enough meal but expensive for what we got at $80 a pop. As the evening was supposed to celebrate Abbott’s cook book and act as a sales opportunity for the companion copy produced by Paul County it was a pity the book itself wasn’t there – still not back from the publishers at the time of the dinner apparently.