When I hear the word “lamb,” my ears immediately perk up. It’s such a great protein, and when prepared well, it can be transformative. Add Australian wines to that and I am at your mercy. So when I was invited last week to Fairway Market’s Café on the Upper West Side (@FairwayMarket) for an Aussie lamb-cooking demo featuring the country’s wines, I was in.
The cold and snowy night didn’t stop the guests from arriving and taking their seats at the appropriately decorated tables featuring herb centerpieces. They were the same herbs that would be found in the recipes. I snacked on the chives!
Before long, Fairway chef Vincent Olivieri came out and started the demo. With his thick Long Island accent, Olivieri was holding court, describing the different cuts of the animal and professing the ease of cooking lamb. You could see his joy for cooking.
Questions flowed from fellow lamb lovers about cooking times and recipes while the smells of rosemary and other herbs whet the appetite for the delicious lamb to arrive at the table. Thank goodness the lesson was short, the answers to the questions were brief and the aperitif, Stone Dwellers Sparkling Brut NV, was flowing. Wine guru Joshua Wesson (@joshuawine) informed us that it is made from the same grapes as champagne, pinot noir and chardonnay. It had great body and the right effervescence. Each course was narrated with the guru’s whimsical thoughts on the paired wine. He called one varietal the “Boutros Boutros Ghali of wines,” for it is a great diplomatic representation of Australian wines. That got me chuckling.
Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Easy Fig Chutney
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz NV
This was a great start. I just love these little lollipop lamb chops, which were crusted with herbs and mustard and a relatively quick cook because lamb must be served medium to medium-rare. I wanted more. I also wanted more of the wine. I am a big fan of sparkling reds, and this one was perfect!
Classic Caesar Salad
- Yalumba “Y Series”
- Viognier 2012
- Punt Road Chardonnay 2011
I’m glad we were able to taste two on this course. My clear winner was Punt Road (@PuntRoad). While I am not a chardonnay drinker, this one was not too oaky and had great temperance.
Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb with Parsnip Turnip Mash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
- Stone Dwellers Pinot Noir 2011
- Yalumba “The Scribbler”
- Cabernet Shiraz 2010
What a plate of food! Perfectly cooked lamb and adding chestnuts to one of my favorite vegetables?! J’adore! I loved the texture. Cabernet and shiraz are two of my favorite grapes, so the Scribbler got my vote of these two wines. Lush and bright at the same time in a red is hard to do, and they did it!
Michel London’s Apple Tart Yalumba “Museum” Muscat NV Fairway’s catering chef knew what he was doing when he ended the meal with this ridiculously good apple tart. Our too-attentive server almost lost a hand when he tried to take my plate prematurely. The Muscat just gilded the lily.
Thank you, Fairway and team, for a fun evening! And to all of the lamb and wine, I say, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!”
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.