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On the pass: Michael Ryan, The Provenance

What's on the menu for autumn, Michael?
The mushrooms come in April and hit their straps in May.

We get inundated with field, pine and wild varieties, and either serve them cooked or preserved. We pickle a lot of vegetables with miso and nuka, a traditional Japanese way using fermented rice bran, and also shio koji, a fermented rice.

And for the meat enthusiasts among us?
Local lamb or goat from our supplier in Myrrhee in the King Valley; her capretto is the best I've ever used. We slow-cook it in duck fat overnight like a confit and serve it with pickled grapes, white gazpacho, charred cucumber, fresh curd and olive crumb.

You're passionate about the food of Japan; is it challenging to channel that in country Victoria?
You go to the supermarket in Japan and walk past store after store, pot after pot, of nuka pickles. In Beechworth we don't really have access to buy a lot of that sort of stuff, so we make our own miso, dashi, ramen for staff lunches, that sort of thing.

How often do you visit Japan?
Usually twice a year for research-slash-pleasure. As a chef you never just get away for a holiday, so I also run tours. June this year we'll go to Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa on the northern coast, which is a place I really love. It has the most amazing seafood.

The Provenance, 86 Ford St, Beechworth, Vic, (03) 5728 1786


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