Thursday, 8 November 2012

Goats On The Hill - from paddock TO PLATE!

I am so excited to be writing up this post, finally! If there is one thing I love to talk about, it is food

As the grand finale of the spectacular day Megan, Taylan, Chef Matt and Chef Salvatore organised... We gathered at the homestead for drinks, appetisers, a three-course dinner, dessert, after-dinner drinks, a cheese board, and coffee.

#mouthful

Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too? They sure need to get themselves down to Seven Hills Tallarook!
Goats On The Hill, Part 1
Goats On The Hill, Part 2


We moved seamlessly from mid-afternoon snacks to pre-dinner appetisers.

Chef prepared a comforting platter of potatoes, broad beans, and Seven Hills' own goat chorizo.
Chef Salvatore started in the culinary industry at a very young age, and his passion for all things food shines through his cooking.

Note that all the bread you'll see here is homemade! It's the same bread that they whip up at Scopri, where Chef Sal works as executive chef. His brigade for the day, Ponsy and Ricky, are also from there. Their bread is made with durum wheat, which gives it more flavour and colour, as well as making it easier to digest.
More drinks.

More food.

More good conversation.
Chef Sal invited us to crowd around the kitchen area, and showed us how a real risotto is made. 
For the first course of our dinner showcasing ingredients fresh from Seven Hills Tallarook, a risotto with yabbies and asparagus. Delicious! Silky smooth, with the grains still retaining their bite.
And the centre piece of the entire day - the goat.
Chef Sal and his team spent the day cooking the key ingredient in two ways, making sure the meat was tender as ever and the flavours were robust and warming.

The first dish has French roots that come from Chef's father's side. It's a stew with potato, onion, carrot and celery. The second dish, another stew, is an inspired springtime dish from Rome - simmered for four hours with onions in season, then finished with egg, peas and pecorino romano. Chef Sal told me that it's a very traditional combination that he grew up with.
As a side note to those that have been curious lately, while I still consider myself a vegetarian, I've been starting to have a bite or two of meat from my friends' food in the past couple of weeks. 

One of the main reasons I became a vegetarian over a year ago is the ethics behind the mass agriculture industry - I just don't sit well with the ideas that drive it. And I believe in the great health benefits that come with a plant-based diet, both for mind and body.

But because I want to become a chef, I also know that I have to know how to cook meat well and understand what good meat tastes like. It took a long time for me to grow ready to eat meat again - I used to actually have nightmares about it! 

My palate is very unfamiliar with the flavours now, and I'm not used to the texture anymore. I am lucky to have found a somewhat compromise though. I'm grateful for the access I have to fresh and good produce here in Melbourne. Seven Hills Tallarook was my real starting point, because I got to experience first hand how well Megan and Taylan take care of the animals. There is a respect and relationship between produce, producer and chef, and that is something I admire and appreciate.
It's complicated, I'm growing and learning as I go. No drama llama, I'm eating what I feel is right when I feel it's right.
Now for the exciting part! For all you sweet-toothed souls out there, here is something beyond luscious.
All of us took an interest in watching this delicate creation come together!
Chef Sal designed a wonderful dessert for us, made up of childhood memories in Italy and his modern imagination. It's a ricotta based dessert, with the foundation coming from his mother's cooking back in the day, and the rest being his own influence.
At the bottom is a sweet ricotta mousse. Then, a biscuit tuile that brags of "7 HILLS" on top of it.
Like a well-oiled machine (excuse the cliché, but it's true!), Chef Sal, Ponsy and Ricky quickly pieced everything together: ricotta mousse, biscuit tuile, dark chocolate covered hazelnuts, homemade coffee ice cream, hazelnut zabaglione, and a final garnish to dust the top.
Sheer genius.
Pure sin!
I don't know how we managed to continue on, but we capped our meal off with some fortified dessert wine, cheese, and coffee.
What an amazing day! I learned so much.

A big thank you to all the people that allowed this to come together. Shiv, my frequent partner in foodie crime, thank you for your patience, your photos, your friendship and your car! Hehe. Chef Matt, thank you for extending the invitation and giving us such a wonderful learning opportunity! Megan, Taylan and the Atar Family, for the amazing things you do at the farm, for your warmth and friendliness, and opening your home to us. And of course, Chef Sal, Ponsy and Ricky for creating all of the fantastic food!

Spending the day with you guys was inspiring and just... Wow, and I hope more and more people take notice of the fantastic things you guys get up to.
Seven Hills Tallarook
160 Scotts Road,
Tallarook, VIC 3659
1300 7 HILLS
+61 411 110 107 (International Number)

Whe-Eat
+61 414 567 910

Scopri 
Italian Food & Wine
191 Nicholson Street,
Carlton, VIC 3053
+61 3 9347 8252

(All photos of me in this post c/o Shiv Nandwani).

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