A Long Lunch with Matthew Evans

Friday, 4 October 2013

Sydney's Good Food Month has kicked off with a bang, and a spit roast. Oh yes, you read right. This momentous (and lamby) occasion was to mark the release of Matthew Evans' a.k.a. Gourmet Farmer new memoir, The Dirty Chef. His latest book documents his bold tree change from bustling Sydney to the tranquil of the Huon Valley in southern Tassie. And what better way to enjoy the October sunshine than a lamb spit roast and a long lunch? Warning: this post is not recommended for vegetarians.

Taming the Beast: this was our welcome. Hot fat drips into the coals and plumes of smoke puff back at you, tauntingly. Want a piece of me? [That was rhetorical, obviously]

Our luxuriously long lunch was hosted by The Commons, the 'local eating house' of Darlinghurst. A venue much suited because of their philosophy of sourcing food locally and knowing its origins. Ethical food choices are what they are all about and this is a message that Evans' also endeavours to get out there. Much of the produce from the lunch was sustainably sourced by providore Feather and Bone, whom you can find at Pyrmont Markets. I've written a bit about these ideas in a post that you can find here. Glass of La Zona prosecco in hand, you can't help but enjoy the surrounds!

The outdoor courtyard at The Commons, home to the spit roast lamb for this afternoon delight.

We were in for a looong lunch, 4 courses of a sharing style menu designed by Matthew in conjunction with the Commons kitchen. A veritable Spring feast i.e. the best. Here's my photographic rundown... Bon appetit!

Fried local zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and herbs. Plump and stuffed with creamy-as ricotta, these babies were a delicious and crispy starter

Charcuterie board (left) and Chicken liver crostini (right). The charcuterie by Feather and Bone included bresaola (a favourite amongst us), prosciutto and salami - cured meats that were surprisingly sweet and mellow. I'm a bit of a closet paté/terrine fan so this smooth liver crostini was lovely

Grilled mackerel stuffed with salsa verde. A sustainable fish course presenting a vibrant green hue. This was one of my personal favourites, with a squeeze of lemon and a smear of aïoli the little mackerel packs a punch

The mackerel (left, ain't it pretty?) and right, seasonal vegetables - a warm salad of asparagus (new in season), heirloom carrot and broad bean

Le pièce de résistance: whole 2 week dry-aged biodynamic White Suffolk lamb from Lynden Farm, Oberon NSW. Carved up with expertise by Matthew and Grant from Feather and Bone. Boom.

The lamb, in case you were wondering was the star. Rather tender, rather crispy skin, rather amazing. If we only had one plate for lunch, this would be more than enough. But no, we've gone for seconds and thirds and fourths...It makes me smile :)

For dessert we had a cheeseboard of Marrook farm biodynamic Brinawa (Tilsit style) cow's milk farmhouse cheese but this was the main event: blood orange, polenta & olive oil cake with mascarpone. Oh boy, this was a thing of beauty. The occasional crunch of the polenta grains was a nice textural touch.

Three glorious hours later we were nursing our food babies and listening to Matthew tell us about the highs and lows of working the land (he now has 2 farms to keep him busy) and a sneak peek into his upcoming project (which smells a bit fishy, hint hint). Evans is as down-to-earth and hospitable in real life as he seems on our TV screens. This afternoon was a wonderful feast of ideas, great food and good company. What more could you ask for?

Evans' new memoir, The Dirty Chef - a rather curious title indeed! I've got my signed copy next on the reading list ;)

Thanks for reading and Happy Long Weekend!
x Gourmand


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