Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

“It is to eat and drink that you come here, not to dine”

Words by David Matthews

Brigitte Hafner

About an hour after I meet Brigitte Hafner, we’re standing in the entrance way at Tedesca Osteria as she rifles around the back of a glass-fronted cabinet. Reaching behind dried flowers, a framed portrait of her with her husband and daughter, a small stack of gardening books, vases, carafes, wine glasses and a bottle of Partida Creus MUZ vermouth, she finally pulls out a journal. It’s a Japanese-style orihon book, the pag- es folded together in zig-zag fashion. As it unfurls, Hafner’s handwriting appears – black, thin-lined, elegant – snaking across the paper.

“Walk into the inner workings of a kitchen – into a great big, dimly lit hall of golden light, of wood and steel and iron. Part industrial. Part romance.”

I keep reading. “There is an entire wall – one long kitchen – and a wide blonde wooden bar – built opposite it. On the other side is a wall that is the cellar – behind a cast-iron grate – boxes and bottles of wine.You sit at the bar, looking into the kitchen – watching everything in motion. You drink from beautiful glasses – great wines – and the food comes out – there is no choice – a menu that I have prepared just for that day.”

Flicking through, fragments and phrases jump out. “Warmth, generosity and nourishment.” And another: “It is to eat and drink that you come here – not to dine.”

When she’d first mentioned this journal out in the paddock, dog at one side, standing in front of the rested winter produce garden and the newly planted grape vines – what will one day be a biodynamic vineyard – it seemed a little hokey, or like maybe Hafner had volumes of scrawled notes sketching some vague outline. But flicking through the pages what strikes you is how entirely, exactingly clear the vision is.

Walking through the property 10 years since she first put it down on paper, there are aesthetic differences – sure the wine cellar is split over two levels and the bar is hewn from ancient river redgum instead of blonde wood – but in tone, mood and atmosphere, the finished product couldn’t have been truer.


Enjoyed this extract? The whole story will be available in glorious print, on all good bookshelves and via our store from October 6.

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