Sustainable food is something worth striving towards. We want our children to eat as well as we do, and for this to be possible we need to protect the quality of the soil and water that ultimately affects the quality of our food. Meat is a food with a particularly high environmental impact, so changing your meat consumption habits can make a big difference to your environmental footprint.
If I could eat a meal where the meat was produced in a way that protected Australian soils and the welfare of the animals I would have a much clearer conscience. If I also wanted this meal to be gluten free and at a reasonably affordable price do you think I’d be asking too much? Is there a place in Sydney where I could eat a meal that satisfies my conscience and my dietary requirements?
In fact there are a couple of places that satisfy all these conditions, and I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner at one of them. MuMu Grill in Crows Nest is a restaurant that takes real care to serve sustainable food at affordable prices. When Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella invited me to join her group of food bloggers for a Slow Food dinner at MuMu I was very excited. I was also worried though, because I couldn’t believe I’d be lucky enough to eat gluten free on a set menu.
A phone call to Craig, the chef at MuMu and our host for the night, set my mind at ease. This four course meal was entirely gluten free except for the bread served with the appetisers. One of the girls in my office, who answered when Craig returned my call, commented on how friendly he sounded on the phone. In person he was just as nice, and invited us to have a look behind the scenes at the kitchen and coldroom at MuMu.
Craig explained to us that ageing lamb makes it more tender, but many restaurants don’t do it because they fear it will go bad. To ensure the safety of the lamb at MuMu the coldroom is cleaned weekly and tested for bacteria and protein residues. Ageing the lamb in this room allows the muscle fibres to separate which makes the meat tender. This tenderness is enhanced by long cooking times at low temperatures.
From the coldroom we proceeded to the kitchen where the meat was kept handy in an open topped refrigerator on the bench. There were a couple of open-mouthed ovens and plenty of hot plates. This completed our tour and we proceeded to the bar for our appetisers.
As the staff moved about the bar serving jamon on slices of bread we helped ourselves to olives and wine. This was my first experience of just how considerate the staff at MuMu could be. When I explained that I couldn’t have bread a sympathetic waitress offered to get some jamon without it. When the platter arrived I was impressed with the cured meat. In the past I’ve enjoyed the taste of jamon, but found it a bit chewy, so I was really impressed with the tenderness of the jamon at MuMu.
We moved to our tables for the remaining courses which began with a whole lamb cooked in two ways. The lamb is from the Arcadia Saltbush Lamb farm near Narrandera NSW. The Australian native saltbush is deep rooted, which prevents soil salinity and also enhances the mineral content of the meat. When Graham Strong spoke to us about his farm he explained that he uses lighter fences than normal so that the sheep can jump through if they are tired of the feed they are on. This allows him to engage in an “agricultural dialogue” with his sheep. What a cute idea!
The first method of cooking the lamb was slow roasting at 80 degrees Celcius for 13 hours. The meat was very tender, and I really enjoyed the taste of the rosemary in it. As well as the roast shoulder and leg, we tasted the rest of the lamb as cutlets. Served medium rare these were tasty, but the roast was the winner for me. This course was paired with the Mr Riggs the Gaffer Shiraz which I quite liked (although I’m not usually a wine person).
Our next course was double roasted duck. Here I must admit that I’m a red meat girl, and I really preferred the lamb. I did find that the poached pear was a perfect foil for the fatty duck meat, and the serving impressively large. Nonetheless I enjoyed the first course a lot more. I also found that the Mr Riggs Shiraz Viognier was not as much to my taste as the wine served with the previous course.
Our final course, the dessert, really impressed me. I’m a sweet tooth, but I’m fussy with pavlova. I like it to be crisp on the outside and chewy inside, so when I go out I normally find pavlova is cooked too soft for my liking. This was not the case at MuMu’s – the brown sugar pavlova was perfect in texture. I think it could be the first time I’ve ever been impressed with a pavlova at a restaurant. It was superb. It was prettily presented too with pineapple spines on the cream and a swirl of fruit and syrup on the plate.
As I was enjoying my pavlova so much I was a little afraid to try the dessert wine. I didn’t believe it could be sweet enough to be palatable with pavlova. It proved me wrong by being perfectly sweet and very enjoyable. Mr Riggs Sticky End Viognier was indeed a fine match for the dessert.
Altogether the meal was very enjoyable. The four course meal with matched wine was priced at $95, which is reasonable considering the quality of the produce. We were fortunate enough to be sponsored by Craig and I’d like to thank him for inviting us to the event. The other attendees were a combination of MuMu’s regulars, members of Slow Food Australia and Nutrition Australia. It was great to see all these people who were interested in how their food was produced, as well as enjoying great quality sustainable produce.
This was also a fabulous opportunity to meet other food bloggers. Here is a list of the other participants at the event. I really enjoyed meeting you all!
Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella
Howard from Eat Show and Tell
Shez from One Bite More
Simon from Simon Food Favourites
Jennifer from Jenius
Steph from Raspberry Cupcakes
Anna from Morsels and Musings
Lisa from Spicy Icecream
Trina from Foraging Otaku
Ratings (out of 5 snorts)