I was excited to receive an invitation to the “For the Love of Lamb” cooking demo at Fairway Cafe & Steakhouse. Not only did it sound like fun, but proceeds were going to a great cause, The Common Pantry. I immediately replied that I would love to attend and purchased a ticket for my husband, Mike, to join me.
I have been lucky enough to be invited to a few complimentary dinners, demos, and classes, and each and every one is very different. Some feel like they are constructed for the press, with photo opportunities throughout and bulleted fact sheets as we leave to help us write our posts. Those have their place, and it’s always fun to be exposed to these things that I would otherwise probably not have stumbled upon on my own.
This was a bit different. While “press” were invited, I would guess that most of the guests there were present for the sheer enjoyment of it (whether press or not) and greeting us with immediate glasses of bubbly helped make sure everyone had a good time from the start.
There were a few “brands” represented at the event, with a focus on Australian Lamb and Australian Wines.
This Stone Dwellers was a lovely sparkling wine that I really enjoyed. I am not a champagne fan, so I’m always on the lookout for something bubbly and celebration-y without tasting like dirt (sorry champagne lovers).
The cafe upstairs from the market was set up nicely, with simple white linens and nice red chairs, with all the ingredients out on a display table when we arrived.
Including a beautiful rack.
And a lovely leg.
As well as some plate garnishes, ready to go.
Our menu of the day looked scrumptious, with all things I love (lamb, fig, caesar, parnsnip turnip mash, roasted brussels, apple tart, chardonnay, pinot noir, and muscat… all on the list of my favorite things!)
(See recipes at the end of the post)
We were welcomed by a very nice woman who worked at Fairway and introduced us to a spokesperson for Australian Lamb (who just bubbled over with excitement about her product, which is always good to see and makes it so you can’t help but be excited as well) and Chef Vinnie, who apparently is self-taught and has been with Fairway for some time.
Vinnie wound up being a great teacher. Passionate and informational, with great tidbits but no over-explanation.
First tip: Press the rack into the hot pan to get a good, full sear, rather than letting it hang out and wait. The pan should be very, very hot and you only need about 1-2 minutes per side.
Next tip: Really press the breadcrumbs onto the mustard coating to make sure it really sticks.
So much that when he lifted it up, it (mostly) stayed put.
Then it went into the oven to cook while he started adding an herb mixture to the lamb leg.
Next tip: Always roast on very high heat. He quoted someone who taught him as saying that anything under 400 degrees F is “baking cupcakes.”
And then fan it out with garnish.
The leg was bought boneless (for ease and cooking time, though chefs always seem to prefer cooking them on the bone), so it was wrapped in string, which he removed after roasting to show us how (unwrap… discard…)
But the key was holding it together as you slice so it plates nicely.
And then moving it all as one piece once sliced.
And yet again, use the “fan out.”
Both dishes, plated and ready to go!
Throughout the night, various wine experts spoke to us, including Joshua Wessen who was proclaimed to be a “wine guru.” He told us about the Stone Dwellers Sparkling Brut which contained chardonnay and pinot noir (my two favorites). Similar grapes as are in champagne, but similar to prosecco in preparation. They press the red grapes gently so the wine stayed white. Really nice.
We also tried a Paringa Sparkling Shiraz, which was also quite nice. Sweet but not too sweet and I had to agree with the expert that this could probably go with anything.
With our first lamb chop, we had the Yalumba “Y Series” Viognier 2012. This was one of (if not the?) oldest family owned wineries in the region, established in 1849. The vineyard has a huge respect for the Viognier grape from France and they worked with clones for 30 years in the nursery. The wine maker is Luisa Rose and it was obvious there was love in this wine.
Our chop was scrumptious. The great thing about lamb is that it is quite easy to prepare and doesn’t need a lot of ingredients to taste great. This was a great example of that. It was so easy when we watched him prep (even easier than I thought) and it tasted so special.
Our next wine was a Punt Road Chardonnay from 2011. This had a little woody and was a very nice balance of flavors. Punt Road was one of the first wineries outside of Melbourne.
It went very nicely with a slightly peppery caesar salad that was lightly dressed but had an ever so slight essence of anchovies (which I loved).
Our next wine was the Stone Dwellers Pinot Noir from 2011. It was an early ripening red and we heard a story about the wine maker who ran around the vineyard and he ran into a giant spider web and then a red bellied black snake in the long grass and in a fruit bin. It was a reminder that wine is a “living thing” and this wine was said to have been made with a lot of “love and danger.” It tasted great.
Next wine was Yalumba “The Scribbler” which was a Cabernet Shiraz blend from 2010. It’s a “baby” of their signature wine (which is apparently very expensive) and they blend it to soften it a bit. This went down reeaaaaalllll easy. We both really loved this wine.
They mentioned that they had served the two wines to give two different perspectives (if you’re keeping track, we are already up to 6 wines!)
The leg of lamb could not have been more flavorful, and it was well complimented by the Brussels and the root mash.
I loved the lardon on top of the sprouts.
For dessert, we had the Mitchel London’s Apple Tart with the Yalumba “Museum” Muscat NV. Both the tart and the muscat were fantastic separately and even better together. A great end to a great meal.
By the end of the night, we had tried (ok… fully consumed) seven wines, and they were all great, easy to drink wines. A really wonderful showcase of what is so good about Australian wines.
We just had so much fun at this event! The demo was great, informative, and interesting. The meal was absolutely delicious from start to finish and could have easily been served in one of the best restaurants in NY. I already was a lamb fan, but this definitely pushed me over the top and made me want to make it at home even more. We have dabbled in a few rack of lamb recipes when we found the racks on sale, but now I’m excited to try a leg of lamb and cook it for a dinner party.
And I will certainly be going straight to the Australian wine section in the near future.
While I did receive a complimentary ticket to this event, all opinions expressed are entirely my own and I was not required to write about this event. I just really wanted to, because it was pretty great.
Speaking of… they just emailed me to say that they are doing a special Valentine’s Day dinner. (Which at $45pp for Valentine’s Day seems like a steal to me compared to most places in this city). Here’s some more info from their press release if you want to go!
SAVOR LOVE WITH A DELECTABLE VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER AT
FAIRWAY MARKET CAFÉ & STEAKHOUSE ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2014
Chef Mitchel London’s Special Menu for Valentine’s Day:
- Roasted Wild Mushrooms in Thyme and Garlic
- Rack of Lamb with Parsnip & Turnip Puree
- Crepe a la Crème Flambėed in Cointreau
- Glass of Prosecco
$45 per person. Please call the Café at 212 994 9555 to make a reservation. Fairway Café & Steakhouse regular menu will also be available on February 14, 2014.
And here are all the recipes from the lamb demo:
- 3 large turnips
- 6 large parsnips
- 3 yellow carrots
- 4 TBS unsalted butter
- 1 tsp Fairway honey
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- Peel all vegetables
- Rough chop all vegetables (to about the same size)
- Place all vegetables in a large sauce pot completely emerged in water
- Season water with a pinch of salt
- Bring water to a boil
- Boil for 10 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender
- Strain water and place vegetables in a large mixing bowl
- Add butter to vegetables while veggies are hot
- Add honey
- Season with salt and white pepper
- Using a potato masher, mash all ingredients together
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano
- 5 or 6 sprigs fresh chives
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 1/2 cub Fairway extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 TBS grainy mustard, like Fairway Moutarde en Grains
- 4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
- 1 TBS sea salt
- 1 tsp course black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Chop all herbs
- Mix herbs and garlic with olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard to make herb marinade, set aside
- Season lamb with salt and pepper
- Use 1/2 of the herb marinade and rub evenly over the lamb
- Let lamb marinate for 30 minutes
- Remove all visible herbs from lamb (to prevent burning) and place in roasting pan
- Roast lamb for 30 minutes on 450 degrees and then drop oven down to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour (for rare)
- Remove lamb from oven and, while hot, rub on the rest of the herb marinade
- Let lamb rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving
- 1/2 lb thick-sliced bacon
- 1.5 lbs Brussels Sprouts
- 1/4 cup Fairway extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots
- 6 oz. roasted chestnuts
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Cook bacon on a bacon sheet until crispy
- Remove bacon from oven, reserve all fat drippings
- Chop bacon into 1/4 inch pie, set bacon aside
- Raise oven to 400 degrees F
- Clean Brussels sprouts by cutting off bottom stem and outer leaves
- Do not discard outer leaves: Set aside and toss with half of the olive oil
- Place leaves on sheet tray and roast in oven for 10 minutes or until leaves are browned and crispy, set aside
- Once Brussels sprouts are cleaned, stand them on the side you cut the stem and slice them thin, almost shaving them
- Thinly slice shallots
- Place shaved Brussels and shallots in mixing bowl
- Add in bacon drippings, chestnuts, remainder of olive oil, salt, and pepper
- Place shaved Brussels sprout mixture on a large sheet try and spread out evenly
- Do not overcrowd the tray, use 2 trays if necessary
- Roast at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until nicely browned
- Once removed form the oven, toss together with chopped bacon
- Garnish each portion with the roasted leaves