8 March 2022 CoTD Steve Sparkes
Food review by Robert Wiggins
Happy Days Revisited BY Steve Sparkes
As per directions for this cook-off, the meal served was a close replica of the lunch served in early November of 2021.
This report does not discuss the wines; one of the Masters will fulfil this task.
The underlying theme of the meal was ’Australiana’ aimed at highlighting just how lucky we are to live in this country through some ‘old-fashioned’ dishes presented in a more modern style.
Steve Sparkles was again weaving his magic in the kitchen cooking up a nostalgic culinary storm, straight out of the 1970s
Also, the weather played its part on the day, being cold, wet and miserable… just the ticket for some hot comfort food.
Who wouldn’t want to partake in the ubiquitous sausage roll, meat pie or prawn cocktail, with a bit of Sam Kekovich the Australian 'Lambassador' being channelled by Steve with his lamb beautifully served on the plate.
You could almost smell a bit of Teen Spirit in the room when the nostalgia kicked in when the entrees made their rounds. It temporarily took us back to our youthful days, but thankfully it didn’t last for very long (Teen Spirit smelt like a stolen dab of your father's Old Spice and the dregs of a can of Lynx deodorant you'd got last Christmas from your granny. It smelt like flat Bulmers, swigged from a flagon down the local park on a Friday night, along with the stale reek of Benson & Hedges.) For those of you who can’t remember this, it’s probably the dementia kicking, so just relax and don’t worry.
It was certainly a trip down memory lane, with the main complaint being that there was too much food!!! Judging by the girth and mirth of many of the members this was certainly a bit of a one-off grizzle. However, it did raise a very good point and one that needs to be discussed and addressed.
The reason for the excess food was the large number of members who had booked and then did not turn up or cancelled at the last minute. There was a whole saddle of lamb left over, plus a kilo of cheese, an excess of pies and sausage rolls as these had all been budgeted for by the chef. This occurs occasionally and begs the question for Society members; should late cancellations receive a refund? In many walks of life, the answer would be a straight no. Today’s lunch resulted in a much higher average cost per person, which of course then affects the finances of the entire Society. There is no perfect answer, but this should be raised, addressed and debated upon by the members, probably over a few drinks at lunch.
The Society has moved from a time where members would just roll up on the day, with the chefs having no idea how many people they were catering for resulting in either a feast or famine on the day, quite often with disappointing results. However, in those days past, the focus on what was served was certainly nowhere near the standard of today. Some members have recanted meals that included; wombats, roadkill, not sure if the old brush turkey or goanna were served, but it wouldn’t surprise. The entrées were quite often a bit of cheese on a Jatz cracker. Thankfully those days are long behind us.
The Society has been continually moving along with the times and at various junctures in time it is important to reflect on where we came from and where we are moving to. This is yet another one of the decisions that we need to make going forward.
The three canapes presented were rapidly consumed: These were:
A prawn cocktail on a biscuit.
Simply a rice cracker was topped with avocado mousse, gem lettuce, tiger prawn and a homemade Rose Marie sauce. Easy to eat, lots of work to make it.
The good old sausage rolls
Based on a Bourke Street Bakery recipe using pork mince, dried fennel, finely diced veg, a few spices, it was served with spicy homemade tomato chutney. This one had a bit of heat in it, which took some members by surprise as it was piping hot when served and a hot surprise on the way down
Another great innovation today was having the server also dish out the sauce for the rolls by a spoon.. so much more effective, faster, without the usual mess or double-dipping. Again.. see how far we have come!
Then what is a party without the Party Pies?
These consisted of using shortcrust pastry shells with a filling of diced beef chuck and beef mince in a curry sauce topped with puff pastry. Served with a homemade tomato sauce.
There was certainly more than enough to go around
They were served with a perfect compliment of a fresh 2014 Brokenwood Semillon from the Hunter.
It also seemed to be the day for pink shirts.. so it really was a throwback, with Terry, John and Chilly all resplendent in their night fever attire.
For the main course;
The mains consisted of a saddle of Sutton Forest lamb. The saddle is the absolute prime cut of lamb consisting of both fillets, both backstraps with the bones removed but with the fat and skin intact.
Each piece (approx. 1.3kg) was flattened out, painted with some Dijon mustard and then a ‘rub’ of bush tomato, wattle seed, lemon myrtle and dried rosemary was added and the piece rolled tightly and tied and left to dry for about 24 hours in the fridge.
Garnishes consisted of a potato fondant, creamed corn and pickled mushrooms with an intense gravy.
The lamb was rubbed with salt and olive oil and baked in a hot oven and then rested until medium-rare.
It was very interesting with the jus and the saltiness of the sauce. Steve did not add any salt to the mixture, however, the intense reductions, resulted in a reasonably salty flavour. It was a good lesson in tasting the food before automatically adding salt.
Now given that it was a lamb dish, the lunch wine needed to be a cab sav.
These were a 2012 Mildara from Coonawarra and a 2009 Blue Pyrenees
The Cheese wines were a 2012 Bests Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz and a 2012 Bishops Shiraz.
A real treat for those who like their big wines.
For those wanting more Lambtations;
The lamb was sourced from:
(Many people have asked!!)
The coffee was the house special and the cheese a real delight; thanks James;
The cheese following on theme was of course a sheep's milk Yarrawa semi-hard, from the Southern Highlands Pecora Dairy at Robertson in 2kg wheels.
Yarrawa’s flavour reflects the local soil, pasture and season with micro-flora encouraged to grow within the cheese and upon its natural rind.
More information and Product Description of the Yarrawa;
Michael and Cressida Cains founded Pecora Dairy in 2011 on 200 acres in Robertson, located in the green heart of the Southern Highlands, 100 miles south of Sydney. Their overarching philosophy is one of gentleness: towards the land, their sheep and in the production of their award-winning cheeses.
Robertson lies 743m above sea level and as such enjoys generous rainfall most months of the year, producing lush pasture for their East Friesian sheep. July brings the arrival of lambs who stay close to their mothers for warmth and milk. When they begin to graze in early Spring, no longer in need of their mother’s milk, seasonal cheese production gradually increases.
Yarrawa is Australia’s first raw milk cheese. The absence of heat application during the cheese-making process ensures the bright, natural flavours of the milk are allowed to shine through. A special blend of cultures is added to the milk and the resulting curds are carefully hooped. The freshly formed wheels are placed in a traditional French cheese press to remove excess moisture over 6 hours.
After hand-salting, the cheese is placed onto Silver Top Mountain Ash timbers, milled on the farm, for maturation. Microflora is encouraged to grow within the cheese and on its natural rind over a minimum of three months in specially designed maturation rooms that are continually replenished with fresh mountain air. When ready, each wheel has the Yarrawa name seared into its rind with a hot branding iron.
Named after the indigenous word for Robertson’s unique cool climate rainforest, Yarrawa has a supple paste with hints of butter, cashews, caramel and grass and excels alongside Riojas and Tempranillo wines and when served with quince paste or cherry jam.
Pecora Dairy’s Yarrawa is Australia’s first non-cooked raw milk cheese, available seasonally.
After lunch, many members remained in the club, with a great spirit of comradery.
We look forward to Nick’s seafood creation next week… it is sure to be both interesting and tasty.