My six weeks free from gluten, dairy, yeast, sugar, caffeine and alcohol came to an end on Wednesday the 7th of July — which naturally led to my enjoyment of a perfectly delightful meal at Riverbank Estate on Thursday the 8th of July. You may have already guessed that this is not a low-calorie post.
Riverbank Estate, restaurant and winery (ph: +61 8 9377 1805) – 126 Hamersley Road, Caversham WA 6055
Although the entire specials menu looked incredibly tempting (especially the duck!), I ordered two entrees as a main: the Szechuan crusted kangaroo loin with chorizo and goat curd [$19, pictured above] and the seared scallops on crisp pork belly [$19, below]. Each presented me with satisfying portion sizes and exciting flavours; I highly recommend both.
My dining partners each ordered well for themselves: M was very happy with her gnocchi ($36), in its gorgonzola and white wine cream sauce;
J loved her crispy skinned snapper ($MP);
S was pleased with the prosciutto-wrapped chicken ($38), in its incredibly rich leek and mushroom sauce;
T was quite taken with the oxtail tart that accompanied the beef fillet ($38).
I did not partake in a post-feed coffee, and this happened to be the only part of the meal that disappointed, as one of the waitstaff misheard my friends’ orders of “long blacks” as “long macs”.
I was most impressed with the prompt and personable service, good variety in the menu, little extras (like bread rolls and petit fours) and reasonable prices (for Perth), and the upstairs area particularly excited me. I am still trying to fabricate a reason for a small function so that I have an excuse to use it!
Last night, I furthered my quest for bold flavours with a rather fetching rack of lamb — and at this point I can offer an explanation regarding my blog post title. The short story: it’s M’s doing. He told me not to use “comfort food” or “words that are too fancy, or guys won’t know what it is”. I don’t really know what makes this lamb manly, except for the fact that he is a man and he loved it.
Recipe #93: Clove-studded lamb with kailan and enoki mushrooms. Gives 2 generous serves with leftovers that are guaranteed not to last the night.
You will need:
► 1 rack of lamb [try to get a rack with a decent layer of fat for maximum juiciness; mine had 9 cutlets, which should have really been enough to feed 3 people…]
► garam marsala
► whole cloves
► tamari [or light soy sauce if you can’t find tamari]
► macadamia oil [or another nut oil]
► 1 bunch of kailan [or another green vegetable, such as choy sum or even English spinach]
► enoki mushrooms
► 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
► 4 thin slices of ginger, unpeeled
► sesame oil
Preheat your oven to 200°C, then prepare the lamb by scoring the skin diagonally in both directions > you will end up with little diamonds across your rack of lamb. Next, grind equal parts of salt and garam marsala together (I use a mortar and pestle) then rub this into the lamb, ensuring that it gets caught in all the markings you created. Stud each corner of the ‘diamonds’ in the fat with a clove (like a pin-cushion!), then drizzle over some tamari, a tablespoonful of honey and a good splash of macadamia oil.
Wrap foil over the exposed bones and place your rack of lamb in the oven on a roasting pan for around 30 minutes, checking it at 10 minutes and spooning more honey over at the 20-minute mark. If the lamb seems to be cooking too quickly, cover it over with foil for the last 10 minutes. Remember to let your meat rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into individual cutlets (ideally, the cutlets should be pink on the inside) and set aside the juices at the bottom of the roasting pan.
While the lamb is cooking, you can prepare your kailan and enoki mushrooms. Cut the roots from the enoki mushrooms and roughly separate the mushrooms. Slice the kailan leaves into thirds (save the stalks for another stirfry), then wash and drain them well. Swirl some macadamia oil into a large pan on medium heat and throw in your garlic and ginger, adding the kailan with a good splash of tamari and a decent pinch of salt once the garlic has been sizzling for a few seconds.
Stir constantly and for about 30 seconds only — the kailan does not take long to wilt and tastes bitter if it is overcooked; it should still be a brilliant green. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the enoki mushrooms with a very light drizzle (maybe a couple of teaspoons) of sesame oil.
Serve onto plates, removing at least the ginger pieces from the kailan and enoki mushrooms. Drizzle some of the pan juices from the roasting pan over the lamb — and you have the perfect meal for a cold and rainy winter’s night, so long as you’re not vegetarian.
This meal is a great alternative to the lamb and mash standard, and I find it more pleasing to the senses overall. I promise you won’t be able to get enough of the sticky sauce from the bottom of the roasting pan.
Now that I am at the other end of this post, I feel that I must add a kind of disclaimer. My lifestyle quest is still on track; these meals are recent treats. Something that I have realised for my own health’s sake is that I can’t eat like this every night, or even every week. Being creative in the kitchen makes for some interesting foodly adventures and a lifestyle journey that I hope you will continue sharing with me!
Addendum of 12 July 2010: I can’t believe I forgot to talk about the wines at Riverbank Estate!
I have a soft spot for the whites and the light buttery style of the 2008 Oaked Chardonnay ($24 cellar door) in particular. Most of my dining companions ordered red wines with their meals, with the 2005 Cabernet Shiraz Merlot ($24) and 2005 Shiraz ($22) proving most popular.