What do you get when you put six of New Zealand’s top chefs together in the kitchen on National Lamb Day? An amazing celebration of everything that is so good about New Zealand lamb. The creative and inspirational dishes which each chef created culminated in an outstanding degustation dinner which was enjoyed by a select group of food writers, media and those lucky enough to secure a ticket for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’ s first ever pop up restaurant.
The evening started with a tempter by Darren Wright of Chillingworth Road, Christchurch, heirloom tomato iced tea with cured salmon and black olive oil.
This was delicious light and a refreshing way to begin the evening as we mixed and mingled with guests.
Once seated our first course was prepared by Rex Morgan of Boulcott Street Bistro in Wellington. Rex prepared lamb carpaccio with balsamic pearls
. The lamb was meltingly tender with the soft balsamic pearls adding a nice silky texture to the dish. A crispy crumb of dried seps, toasted almonds, coco nibs and chestnut were granulated together to provide a nice contrasting crunchy texture and the slither of green mint jelly added a splash of colour and a wonderful minty flavour which always sits well with lamb.
Michael Coughlin from Olivers at Victoria Store in Clyde was in charge of course two – beetroot-tamarind and lamb shin broth, neck fillet and smoked eggplant dumpings, miso creama, soy and ginger lamb jerky and fresh mint.
This was a visually stunning and colourful dish with the added interest of immersing the dumplings, to absorb the amazing flavour of the broth which gave them a spicy kick. The smokey flavour came through nicely in the dumplings with the miso creama adding texture and coolness to the palate.
Course three was by Brenton Low of á Deco in Whangarei. This dish was a visual feast of colour and texture – warm salad of 12 hour Asian spiced lamb shoulder with poached crayfish, cucumber and peanut.
A delightful sophisticated take on surf and turf which had a beautiful range of fresh flavours and crispy textures which complemented the soft, tender lamb. The flavour and texture of the crayfish was soft and subtle perfectly enhancing the beautiful flavour of the lamb.
Mat McLean of Palate Restaurant in Hamilton served up a slow roasted Silere shoulder, sweetbread and scallop fritter with vanilla pea purée
for the fourth course. This dish delivered big time on flavour with the slow roasted shoulder full of the classic lamb flavour which comes from this tasty cut and accompanied by the subtle flavour of the sweetbread and scallop fritter all pulled together by the rich mousseline pea purée. The flavours of this dish were a match made in culinary heaven.
Next up was a palate cleanser by Rex Morgan. ‘Just peachy’
with a Church Road McDonald Series Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014. This was a delightfully cool and calming way to cleanse the palate and prepare for the final two courses.
Course five was by Darren Wright of Chillingworth Road and featured lamb rump with lamb shank dumpling, pumpkin fondant, creamed spinach and black garlic béarnaise.
The rump was perfectly cooked to a blush pink and meltingly tender. The dumpling was a flavour sensation and the sweetness of the pumpkin fondant and the earthy flavour of the spinach and black garlic enhanced the delicate flavour of the lamb.
Finally, it was time for Stephen Barry of Mount Bistro to shine with his lamb dessert – apricot lamb tallow cake with fennel pollen, smoked lamb praline parfait and lamb bacon bark
. Now it’s not too often you get to try a ‘meat’ flavoured dessert and anticipation of just how this would taste was high. There was no disappointment here with the dessert being an ultimately satisfying way to end the evening. The sweetness of the dish components combined beautifully with the subtle smokey lamb flavour which Stephen had created by replacing the butter in his apricot cake with lamb tallow. The lamb bacon encased in encrusted chocolate was a masterstroke and polished off the desert with a sweet crispy slice of lamb and chocolate.
To see all the dishes check out our Instagram account @beeflambnz