New Norcia warreners’ lunch

‘RABBITS,’ wrote the nineteenth century English cook Isabella Beeton, ‘are divided into four kinds, distinguished as warreners, parkers, hedgehogs and sweethearts. The warrener, as the name implies, is a member of a subterranean community and is less effeminate than his kindred who dwell upon the earth…and his fur is most esteemed. [For eating] choose one with smooth sharp claws; should the ears be dry and tough, the animal is old.’ Twenty-first century Australian chef and Slow Food member Stephanie Alexander writes similarly – ‘Smooth, sharp claws and tender ears are a sign of youth’ – but it’s difficult to tell when butchers today sell rabbits ‘head-off’ and skinned.

Slow Food Perth’s only long-table lunch of 2010 – to be held in the New Norcia Benedictine community’s St Gertrude’s refectory on Saturday 9 October – will feature an entrée of wild rabbit trapped at Yealering and a main course of farmed rabbit from Baldivis prepared by chef Conor Keating.

We will be joined at lunch by writer, photographer and ‘slow gardening’ advocate Trisha Dixon and a tour group, including members of the Australian Garden History Society, visiting Western Australian historic gardens. Trisha is an authority on the work of twentieth century Australian garden designer Edna Walling and is the author of Under the spell of the ages: Australian country gardens, and The vision of Edna Walling: garden plans 1920-1951. If she were planning a garden today, Trisha told The Sydney Morning Herald, she would grow nothing but herbs, vegetables and fruit. ‘Mother nature does it better than any of us,’ she says.

The rabbit will be followed by a citrus dessert featuring cara cara oranges from Golden Grove orchard in the lower Chittering valley. The cara cara is a ‘sport’, or natural cross, of washington and brazilian bahia navels and was found growing at Hacienda de Cara Cara in Valencia, Venezuela, in 1976. Golden Grove’s Zampogna family is one of the few cara cara growers in Western Australia.

Following lunch, the New Norcia community’s organist and liturgy co-ordinator, Gabrielle Mercer, will perform a recital on the historic Moser organ in the abbey church. The organ is only one of two Moser instruments in Australia. It was built to the specification of New Norcia monk Dom Moreno by Moser Organ Works in Munich, Germany, in 1922, and shipped to Fremantle in 1923, arriving in 24 zinc-lined cases. It was reconstructed in the abbey church by four monks and an aboriginal boy, Harry Weston, and was first played in 1923.

Event information
Date: Saturday 9 October 2010
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: St Gertrude’s College refectory, New Norcia Benedictine Community
Fee: $65 Slow Food member, $75 guest
Download: event information, booking form
Contact: Pauline Tresise T 08 9381 4519 or email, or Jamie Kronborg T 08 9293 1845 or email

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