Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mirrool Creek Lamb

Sixth of April! There have been no posts since that date, shame on me. Still, I've been somewhat distracted by the hoard of lamb in my freezer. That's right, lamb, my favourite source of protein. And this is not just any lamb, believe me.

Sam Hayes from Mirrool Creek Lamb is a friend mine from Sydney and as a wedding gift she presented S-bo and I with seven cuts of fantastic lamb. Some might find meat a strange wedding gift, but if you're reading this blog you obviously like food as much as I do and I doubt you would even blink. As Mirrool Creek Lamb is a finalist in the 2010 Delicious produce awards S-bo and I feel very spoilt indeed.

Mirrool Creek Lamb comes from the Riverina region of NSW, an area renowned for high quality lamb production. All stock is bred free range and pasture fed, vital to ensuring the produce benefits from the unique soil, climate and rainfall conditions of the Riverina. Low stress handling throughout the lifecycle, particularly prior to processing, ensures exceptional quality and consistency. For more information check out Mirrool Creek Lamb's website.

All cuts come in a cryovac and will keep for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. The rack was prepared so finely, it was a pleasure to work with. A neat strip of muscle that could almost be described as elegant, with a fine edging of fat for flavour and moisture was an exciting prospect. The rack was seasoned and then seared before being roasted for 20 minutes in a medium oven. Homemade olive and rosemary tapenade formed a crust on the outside during cooking and filled the room with a mouth-watering smell.

Cooked to medium-rare, this was the most tender lamb I can remember eating, what's more, it tasted like lamb. That sounds like a funny claim to make, but too often I find lamb is either too light on flavour, or too strong, conjuring images of mutton at boarding school (fortunately those dark, dark days are behind me).

My first attempt at cooking this beautiful wedding present demonstrates how successful anyone can be in the kitchen when using good quality ingredients. What's more, I have 6 cuts to go. Dinner anyone?

If you're heading to Sydney you can find Mirrool Creek Lamb at various markets and food stores. Unfortunately there are no stockists here in Melbourne, instead you can sample this great produce at Longrain.

You can also find Mirrool Creek Lamb if you're lucky enough to be headed to Noosa Food and Wine Festival. As a finalist in the 2010 Delicious produce awards the lamb will be on display in the Grand Marquee on Saturday and Sunday and Martin Boetz from Longrain will be serving the lamb on his Spice Trail. And if you see Sam up there, send her my thanks!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Three lovely quinces from our march long weekend on the peninsula. A little on the green side, I think poaching these might be the only option. Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Mr Wolf

It's been a little while since I've been to Mr Wolf in St Kilda, but it still holds a little piece of my heart. It was one of the first restaurants I went to in Melbourne upon moving here, it was where I took S-bo when he completed his last CA exam and it's where I had potato on a pizza for the first time ever. The patate pizza comes and goes as the menu shifts, but Mr Wolf is still getting it right.

Specials for the kiddies make the venue ideal for families; but, if you're not blessed with little angels you should choose to eat a but later. Whilst providing a laid-back, casual vibe, the marble table tops and timber interiors can also bounce sound around rather effectively.

Don't be fooled into thinking Mr Wolf is just about pizza, infact the antipasto items are so moreish you might not even make it to pizza. Mt Zero mixed olives are sophistacated nibbles, but why not consume an entire course worth of food? Crumbed eggplant fritters, served with lemon yoghurt mayonnaise, have a creamy texture inside a batter so light you'll believe its healthy, and the salted fish cakes dance to a similar tune.

The famous pizzas are supplemented by a few other options, including lasagne, a wet dish of the day and, on the night we visited, a nicoise salad special, which GB enjoyed. I stuck with the basics and, just like the patate pizza experience four years ago, this visited heralded an eating epiphany: I ate anchovy on a pizza and actually liked it! Diavolo (tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, olives, capers, chilli, oregano, basil) had no overpowering fishiness, instead a mild salty seafood flavour greeted this sceptical eater.

That's not to say I'm an anchovy convert, I'll definitely try anchovy on a pizza again but on this evening I was happy to stop at one piece, particularly when we'd ordered a few other winners. Signore Lupo (my pick; roast tomato, roast cauliflower, mozzarella, sausage, pancetta, chilli) was dominated by the chilli but had a wonderful chewy texture thanks to the sausage and mozzarella, and Funghi (porcini, roasted garlic paste, mozzarella, roast mushrooms, thyme) shifted the focus onto the fantastic Mr Wolf bases (also available in gluten free). Unfortunately, a chorizo pizza special had too many toppings and the flavours got a little lost, but hey, you win some, loose some. The chorizo itself was great, it could have been served on cardboard and I'd still be happy.

One unexpected winner, particularly given the quantity of pizzas with chilli on them, was the cabbage salad. A not-quite-coleslaw offering was GR's suggestion and thank goodness we obliged. Many a diner has been known to walk out the door with a copy of Karen Martini's Cooking at Home book just so they can make this salad at home.

We glossed over Mr Wolf's dessert menu as we had another dessert venue in mind (St Kilda, dessert? Melbourne foodies will know exactly where I mean). Still, we couldn't resist a scoop or two of Mr Wolf's vanilla icecream made with the deliciousness of Heilala Vanilla pods. Thanks to the kitchen for sorting this little sampler out for us ;-)

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