On the menu at Olleyville
Chef Anthony Davis loves creating wood-fired winter menus at Olleyville on the Shaw Vineyard Estate winery in Murrumbateman, 40min north of Canberra.
Set the winter scene for us at Olleyville.
The restaurant is set in the middle of the vineyard. Of course, the leaves will be off in winter but the bonus is that you can see more of the hills beyond. It’s actually a lovely time of year here. This is the first job I’ve had in a winery and it’s a really nice vibe. We use all local produce and it’s good to be in an area where everyone’s growing something.
What’s your favourite way to cook?
The wood-fired oven is the centrepiece of the dining room. Everyone can see it and just about every dish goes into the wood oven at some point. We burn red box because it has a really intense, direct heat, which is great for our pizzas and for getting colour on meats and vegetables. At the end of dinner, we let the fire burn down so we can braise gently overnight.
Are there dishes that always make a winter appearance?
In winter, we are all about slow-cooked meats. We do a lamb shoulder that’s braised overnight with star anise, bay leaf and cloves. It’s cooked till it’s ready to fall apart, then we finish it to order in a hot fire so it gets a nice crust. We usually serve it with white bean puree and gremolata and people can pick other sides to go with it. We have a braised sugarloaf cabbage that gets a lovely colour in the wood oven. I also get truffles from a local farm and make a truffle mash. We do buttered polenta with black garlic and samphire, too.
How about dessert?
A chocolate fondant is a staple for me in winter. People always love a hot chocolate dessert and I love to serve it with ice-cream because I think the hot-cold contrast is where it’s at. Another good one for the cold weather is creme caramel. I soak raisins in brandy so they’re really plump and juicy and put those on top with thyme and pine nuts. It’s an unusual combination but it really works.
What’s the dining experience like at Olleyville?
We like to focus on feasts that we put in the middle of the table. My cooking style is very rustic, not too refined. I want families to come and enjoy us for a nice, relaxed dinner – I don’t want anyone to be intimidated. Groups over 10 have a shared menu and they love it because we make all the decisions. We seat around 160 inside and it’s awesome when it’s full – everyone’s chatting, and enjoying the food. It’s really satisfying.