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Written by Lisa Moloney on February 10th, 2017

CELEBRATING NATIONAL LAMB DAY ACROSS THE NATION

THE BEEF AND LAMB EXCELLENCE AWARDS
CELEBRATING LAMB DAY ACROSS THE NATION


There is no better way to celebrate National Lamb Day this February 15th, than to dine out at a restaurant who has received the highest accolade for their lamb dishes – the 2017 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards.  The recently announced Awards have pin pointed restaurants across the country whose chefs consistently serve up deliciously innovative dishes using the best New Zealand lamb products available.

From the far north to the deep south and everywhere in between the Excellence Awards have taken the guess work out of where to dine.  No matter where you are across the nation you will find a restaurant proudly displaying their gold plate, just waiting to take your taste buds on a culinary journey this National Lamb Day.

Dan Fraser, executive chef of The Duke of Marlborough in Russell has held the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award for seven years.  He says lamb is a big seller for them and they can sell in excess of 200kg per week.  Their lamb dishes are particularly popular as they have a large number of overseas tourists who specifically come in to try New Zealand lamb, as well as the true-blue kiwis who can’t get enough of the trusted lamb dishes on their menu.

Dan loves cooking with New Zealand lamb because it is unparalleled in taste and texture and is always readily available.  Inspiration for his dishes come from many places but he tends to look back to his memories of growing up in New Zealand where family gatherings and events were often celebrated with traditional New Zealand lamb dishes. Combining those memories with modern cooking techniques and flavours Dan  likes to keep it simple and tasty.

On the menu at The Duke of Marlborough are two very special lamb dishes; slow roasted lamb shoulder with boiled baby potatoes, red onion shoots, mint & butter and seasonal green vegetable with toasted almond & lemon, pan jus and house made mint sauce.  This is a large dish designed to be shared for two.  Dan cooks the lamb shoulder overnight at 85°C then finishes it in a hot oven.  He says they easily sell over 100 of these every week and this lamb dish has been a staple on their menu now for five years.

Another beautiful lamb cut on their menu is grilled Hawkes Bay lamb rump with green pea purée, roasted cauliflower, new season potato, cranberry, spiced almonds and fresh herbs.  This dish features traditional flavour combinations and a succulent lean lamb rump cooked to perfection.

Moving to the other end of the country and as far south as Invercargill you will find restaurants proudly displaying their Excellence Award.  Paddington Arms in Invercargill has held the Award since its inception 21 years ago.  That’s a lot of accolades for chef Graham Hawkes to collect over the years showing that his craft of cooking lamb has remained consistent and innovative for over two decades.  He says that achieving the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award for so many years gives his customers the confidence they will enjoy any lamb dish they order off the menu at Paddy’s.  With our farmers renowned for growing the best lamb in the world Graham says this gives chefs around the country the confidence to know it will produce a quality eating experience every time they serve it. 

For inspiration, Graham  looks for flavours which enhance the delicate flavour of lamb and keeps an eye on what is new and innovative using different cuts and cooking methods to produce his mouth-watering lamb dishes. On the menu at Paddy’s you will find two classic lamb dishes; a slowly braised hind leg shank and lamb Parmigiana. In addition, they like to offer an additional dish to celebrate special occasions and for this year’s National Lamb Day, Graham will be replicating the lamb dish that won the New Zealand National Olympic Team a silver medal at the recent Culinary Olympics in Germany; lamb loin, pulled braised lamb shoulder, hangi potato and cabbage cigar, pumpkin purée and terrine, buttered green beans and pinot noir jus.   What better way could there be to celebrate National Lamb Day this February?

To find a Beef and Lamb Excellence Award restaurant near you visit www.nzexcellenceawards.co.nz

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