mumu grill & mr riggs wines

mainpictureSustainability is all the buzz in food these days, and with excellent reason. Traditional farming often sees minerals leached out of soil faster than they can be put back in and produce being bred for rapid growth. And with the impact that mass production is having on the environment, it is a breath of fresh air (literally) to meet people who not only care about what they do, but also the way their livelihood affects the world we live in. Sounding a bit preachy for a Wednesday morning? Well another pro of this sustainable produce business is that the food tends to taste better. Ahhhh... now we're talking!

I was going to start this sentence with "It has been a long time since I saw a fully grown man getting cosy with a lamb" until I realised that I hadn't actually seen it happen prior til, well, now. Introducing Chef Mumu (Craig to his friends) a food world veteran and a person who isn't shy about getting up close and personal with his produce.

take it slow dinner at mumu
Chef Mumu getting cosy with an Arcadia Saltbush lamb

Don't you worry, he was hugging the lamb for a reason. All of the meat that arrives at MuMu Grill is aged for 2-3 months in crytovac before being hung in the cool room for a week. And this lamb? It was time to get hanging.

The hanging process results in a tender and more consistent texture to the meat as the proteins soften from enzyme action and excess moisture is released from the meat. "But what about the germs?!" I hear you ask, whipping your heads around at the thought of raw meat sitting unadorned in a walk in fridge. Fear not! For a big ol' super cleanup and bacteria check are conducted weekly, and no stomach issues have been had thus far.

take it slow dinner at mumu
roasted tomatoes

We (and by we I mean Anna, Howard, Jen, Lisa, Trina, Steph & I) had been invited by Lorraine to attend the "Take it Slow" Dinner at MuMu Grill courtesy of Chef MuMu. Each dish was to be accompanied by a Mr Riggs wine and once names, greetings and business cards had been exchanged, we were chomping at the metaphorical bit to sink our teeth into something spectacular.

take it slow dinner at mumu
carefully preparing the starter

A kitchen tour proved no aid to this enthusiasm, and, as we entered the kitchen, the first thought that came to mind was "Oh! It's so hot in here!". The thought was quickly replaced by the realisation that the lovely man in the corner was plating jamon. And 18 month old jamon at that. A finger of catalan bread, a light smothering of a roasted tomato puree and then a curl of lovely, red, fragrant meat. Dear heart, be still.

take it slow dinner at mumu
18 month jamon & catalan bread

It was served at the bar, accompanied by bowls of olives and a choice of two wines. I am, by no means, a wine expert but enjoyed the way in which the sometimes too-oily viognier complemented the lovely fat in the jamon whilst the tempranillo's rich spice and mellow acidity drew out the meaty flavours in the pig. The jamon itself? Just lovely. Delicately fatty. And complemented nicely with the faint flavour of the tomato and the oiliness of the Catalan bread.

take it slow dinner at mumu
mr riggs wines

But now we are seated and glasses of Mr Riggs 2007 "The Gaffer" Shiraz are being poured out in front of us. It's a mellow wine and not quite as hard hitting as a shiraz can be (which is much apreciated by this particular drinker). It has dark berry flavours and spices that aren't overpowered by an overly alcoholic kick.

take it slow dinner at mumu
chef mumu explaining the hanging process

And while we are drinking, Graham Strong, producer of Arcadia Saltbush Lamb (the lamb that is about to hit our tables) has a chat about their farming techniques. The lambs are fed on about 80% Old Man Saltbush, which has a high nutrient content. Bonus of that being that the nutrients that are sucked up by the saltbush's deep roots are then absorbed by the happy lamb. Graham has worked hard on creating what he calls "a dialogue with the animals", letting them choose what they want to eat and when, rather than force feeding them whatever is cheapest and most abundant.

take it slow dinner at mumu
whole arcadia saltbush lamb roasted for 13 hours served with
minted eggplant and white bean paste, green beans, beetroot jus

The lamb itself is firstly deboned before its hind and forequarters are braised and then slowcooked for 13 hours. The midsection (where everyone's favourite, the cutlets, come from) is cooked separately (and briefly) in a hot pan. Cooking the lamb in this way is said to preserve the nutrients present in the lamb.

take it slow dinner at mumu
cross-section: lamb cutlet

The lamb cutlet is perfectly cooked. Pink on the inside and properly rested so the juices have had the time to settle back into the meat. Certains on our table were so enamoured that they picked up the bone for a quick chew before plates were removed. (You know who you are). The eggplant and white bean puree gave the meal a lovely comforting flavour, and the beetroot jus (which I, incorrectly, assumed was the meat bleeding out) added a sweetness to the dish. I found that the shoulder / leg pieces had a much stronger aroma and flavour than the cutlet, and was tickled when told that the fat in it was "all very good for you, so eat up!" Oh ok. Will do then!

take it slow dinner at mumu
whole confit duck

Course Two, the duck, started off by being confited whole. The bones are roasted in a woodfire oven and then braised for a further 2 or so hours to make a wholly organic stock. This stock is then used to braise the duck pieces, before they are put in what I fondly dubbed "the magic drawer".

take it slow dinner at mumu
multiple ducks in the magic drawer

Cooking the duck for this long inevitably means that more fat is rendered out. And not just the fat that you'll normally find under the skin, but also the fat that is spread throughout the meat itself. As a result, the meat is somewhat drier than normal. We are assured, however, that the flavour "more than makes up for the loss in moisture".

take it slow dinner at mumu
2½ hour double roasted duck with bok choy and poached pear

The portions have been generous and I am struggling to finish my duck. Two marylands sit perched atop a tumble of cooked-but-still-crispy bok choy and a gorgeous little pear squats on the side. I'm a fan of the pear and duck combination, the sweetness of the pear bringing out the dark, musty flavours in the poultry.

I am equally intrigued by the wine, a 2008 Shiraz Viognier. It has been dubbed the new rockstar of reds, and doesn't disappoint. By co-fermenting the red and white grapes together, Mr Riggs (Ben to his friends) has ended up with a wine that has a lovely floral nose (like a white) and a meaty rich flavour. As a representative from Siansbury's said, it is a wine that "smells like a woman's handbag and tastes like a man's wallet". Oh!

take it slow dinner at mumu
brown sugar pavlova with seasonal fruit

Desserts are often done badly at a place which focuses on its meat, and so expectations were not high for this, our last, course. I was so, so incorrect in making that assumption. So incorrect. A crunchy exterior, a mellow brown sugary sticky interior. A dollop of whipped-just-right cream. A smattering of cubed fruit, bursting with flavour. A whirl of passionfruit and the sometimes hedgehog-like spikes of pineapple sitting on the top. It was, in a word, bliss.

take it slow dinner at mumu
the perfect mouthful? maybe.

And the Sticky End 2008 Viognier that accompanied it? I'm currently looking for people to split a case with me (any takers?) Air drying the grapes pre-fermentation has resulted in a light as air, sweet wine without any of the musty flavours and smells that botrytis normally adds to a sticky. I was (and still am) enamoured by it.

take it slow dinner at mumu
1x happy poster

There was a competition for a magnum of red and then, sadly, it was time to go. But on my way out, I spied a poster advertising jamon and cocktails at MuMu on Sunday afternoons. "Hmm." I thought to myself, a little smile spreading across my face "How interesting..."

MuMu Grill
Shop 1-6 / 70-76 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph (02) 9460 6877


[ps: many thanks for the dinner Chef MuMu - it was greatly enjoyed!]

10 bites more:

Simon said...

An interesting post, as always. Love the shots with the wine glasses and lamb.

This must have been a great night for all :)

Helen (grabyourfork) said...

yum yum. i heard the lamb was particularly good. sounds like you all had a great evening, and i love the pic of craig snuggling up with the lamb :)

Simon Food Favourites said...

i'm proud to say i did enjoy eating the lamb off the bone and i'm sure your jealous of the fact hehe. great post of information. well done!

simon :-)

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

It was nice meeting you Shez. I was impressed with the pavlova too. Nice photo of the whole lamb.

Stephcookie said...

Heehee I had my Mumu post scheduled for tonight, do we have some sort of freaky psychic thing going on? Great photos :) It was so great meet you there, I'm sad I missed out on the kitchen tour :(

Karen said...

Ooh I would've loved to have enjoyed the wine here :)

FFichiban said...

Mmmm should ask for a whole slow roasted lamb next time ^^! and a whole duck (and pavlova) while we are at it hee hee

Yas said...

*gasp* I love confit ducks!! what can possibly go wrong when yummy goodness of duck meat cooked in oil.

I've got to check out this place soon!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

hehe yes Simon was the only one brave enough to eat teh lamb off the bone. I wish I had

I definitely need to work on a brown sugar pavlova recipe since I don't really have a hope of hanging a whole lamb...

shez said...

Simon: many thanks :) and yes, twas an enjoyable night.

Helen: takes a real man to get cosy with lamb right? and oh, it was very very tasty.

Simon: didn't want to out you but there you go! i was so full at the end that i'm not bemoaning your nibbling one bit :)

Arwen: yes! and you! always nice to put a face to a blog.

Stephcookie: i've decided that we must be the same person :)

Karen: i know you would have! i'm looking for stockists now so will let you know once i find them.

FFichiban: you're crazy (good crazy but crazy nonetheless)

Yas: and its own oil no less!

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