Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Maggie Beer in her home kitchen. Click for more photos

Kitchen spy: Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer in her home kitchen. Photo: David Solm

When Maggie Beer moved to the Barossa Valley in 1973 as a newlywed, she had no idea how it would shape her, steering her into a life in food. She and husband Colin went on to farm pheasants, a slow business that became more profitable once they opened a farm shop and The Pheasant Farm restaurant, cooking the birds themselves and making pates and accoutrements. The restaurant closed after 15 successful years in 1993, but life just gets busier for Maggie: her enterprises include winemaking, fruit growing, manufacturing and working on her ninth book.

The staples

My pantry There's always my [Maggie Beer brand] extra virgin olive oil and verjuice. Murray River salt, Haigh's dark chocolate for everything including cooking, Pangkarra pasta - it's a wholegrain pasta from South Australia and it's great quality. Apricots in verjuice.

My fridge Parmigiano for pasta and a lovely bit of French blue cheese. Sheep's milk yoghurt from Kangaroo Island for breakfast. I always have goose fat from our own geese for roasting potatoes, organic walnuts for nibbling, hazelnut and walnut oils for dressings. Paris Creek unsalted butter.

Secret vice

Peanut butter. It's got to be from the health food shop and it's got to be freshly made. It's so tempting I try not to keep it in the house. I have it off a spoon or on really crusty grainy bread with lots of unsalted butter.

I'm drinking

Coffee from Barossa Coffee Roasters. I only have two short blacks a day - first thing, then after breakfast - so they have to be perfect. We bought our neighbour's orchard 18 months ago, so now we crush apples for our sparkling Pink Lady apple juice.

Saturday night tipple It's almost always wine. I love Peter Lehmann's Margaret Semillon, and Yalumba ''The Virgilius'' viognier is amazing. We're grape growers and winemakers, so my red choice is our own Pheasant Farm Barossa Home Block Shiraz. For a celebration: Pol Roger French champagne.

My tool kit

My new powerful Vitamix blender is fantastic, especially for making juices out of greens from the garden. I have a tiny Sunbeam Oskar food processor, perfect for small quantities or making mayonnaise. Wire jar opener. Champagne cork puller. Copper pots I bought in Paris in 1991 that I use every day.

Inspiration

Books are so important to me. Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion is always in my kitchen. Nigel Slater's latest volume of Kitchen Diaries, Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem, Simon Hopkinson's books and Neil Perry's The Food I Love are all amazing.

Last dinner at home

It was so hot I didn't actually cook; we had a salad. I tossed pomegranates from the garden, pear from our orchard, jamon, watercress sprouts I was sprouting, parmesan shaved over the pear and some of our olive oil. It was the most perfect meal.

Most memorable meal

It was November 1996 on my first trip to Japan and we went to Kikunoi in Tokyo. I've had toro (belly tuna) many times, but this was from the belly of maguro, a locally caught tuna with the highest balance of fat to meat, so it melted in the mouth. We had new season rice to finish the meal and tossed through it were these huge orange jewels of fish roe.

Favourite

In 1985, the year before my mum died, she gave me an antique ceramic jelly mould and that's what I'd grab in a fire.

Food discovery

Australian pepper in season from L&L Pepperfarms in Queensland is a revelation. It's so fresh, it's far more aromatic than other pepper.