Pipers of Penola – MLA Paddock to Plate Dinner

by Doc-G on November 19, 2007

Sometimes, when you are in the right place at the right time, you get to experience something that is truly special. These one off occasions do not come along very often but when they do, you hold on to those experiences forever. This was one such experience. Admittedly, I was not ready for it. I didn’t have a camera with me at the time, but I managed to get a couple of pictures from someone else to share with you. On this particular occasion, it was a special degustation menu that was put on for a dinner held by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) at Pipers of Penola restaurant in Penola, South Australia.

It was a five course celebration of meat that brought to light some of the fantastic meat products that are being produced all around the south east of South Australia, an area that geographically includes the Coonawarra, well known throughout the world for producing some truly wonderful wines and the Limestone Coast, an area of land that is quickly becoming known for producing high quality produce of all varieties. On this occasion however, we (being a group of chefs, food professionals and food media) were to sample some of the prize winning meat that is produced in the area.

The menu for the evening was as follows:

Mayura Station Beef consommé braised marrow and beef dumplings served with N/V Rymill, Coonawarra ‘The Bee’s Knees’ Sparkling Red
This was the perfect way to start what was predominantly a meat dinner. The beef consommé was rich and hearty with deep savoury flavours and a crisp clean finish. The marrow and beef dumplings were wonderfully light a fluffy and to the credit of the chef and the amazement of my fellow diners, the held well in the liquid for something that melted as soon as it entered the mouth. The Sparkling Red supported the dish, the sparkling element reinforcing the rich yet crisp mouthfeel of the consommé and cutting the soft unctuousness of the dumplings.

Mayura Station Beef carpaccio, sauce gribiche, crisp potatoes and local olive oil served with 2006 Rymill, Coonawarra ‘The Yearling’ Cabernet Sauvignon
This dish showed off beautifully the marbling characteristics that define Wagyu. Wagyu beef is probably one of the best ways to go with carpaccio. The fat provided a full and rich mouthfeel but with its melting point being much lower than that of standard conventional beef, it was not cloying or tacky on the mouth. The fat was effectively cut by the sauce gribiche and the olive oil provided grassy notes that went well with the beef. The Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon was a big wine but did not overpower the sublety of the dish.

Limestone Coast Lamb, Champvallon, white bean puree, medium rare roasted backstrap and jus served with 2004 Rymill, Coonawarra ‘mc2’ Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
The lamb provided a flavourful break from the first two beef dishes with its characteristic sweetness and grassy flavour being perfectly matched with the earthy flavours from the white bean puree. The wine was an interesting blend, the combination of the three grapes providing a flavour that was distinct from any of its individual constituents. This wine according to the wine maker would go with just about any dish but it complemented this dish beautifully.

Terra Rossa rare skirt steak, crisp beef croquets, green beans with Roquefort and slivered almonds served with 2004 Rymill, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Whilst the Terra Rossa skirt steak had great flavour and was acceptably tender, for me it was the beef croquets and the green beans with Roquefort and slivered almonds that really did it for me. The croquets were soft, rich and unctuous on the inside and crisp and flavourful on the outside and the beans were perfectly cooked with just a small amount of roquefort to lift the flavour of the whole plate being almost used as a seasoning with the slivered almonds providing textural contrasts and complementary nutty flavours. Again the Cabernet Sauvignon providing full flavoured, robust support to the dish but in a complementary rather than overbearing way.

Coorong Angus, braised short ribs with star anise, roasted standing wing rib, roast garlic mashed potato and jus served with 2002 Rymill, Coonawarra Shiraz
Last but certainly not least, this dish provided a triumphant ending to the red carpet roll call of South-East Australian meat heaven. You only have to read the description of the dish to see how beautiful it could be. Slowly cooked beef with star anise which served merely to accentuate the beef, the roast garlic mash was like a little cloud of garlic heaven was delightful and the dish as a whole really provided a showcase ending to this wonderful meal. Perfectly accompanied by the Rymill 2002 Shiraz.

Yeast doughnuts, pistachio, mint, orange blossom syrup and vanilla ice-cream served with 2005 Rymill, Coonawarra ‘June Traminer’ Gewürztraminer
This dish was great and the person who took the photo’s neglected to take on of this dish because they were an employee of Meat and Livestock Australia and thought it wasn’t so important!! However, it provided a great little ending to the meal. The highlight of this dish for me however was the sticky the accompanied the dish. The ‘June Traminer’ was such a great little wine, I bought a dozen the next day when we visited the winery! It was so lovely because like so many of its counterparts, did not carry the sometimes ‘sickly’ acetone like nail polish remover aromas that sometimes partner up with sticky whites. This wine however was the ‘Goldilocks’ of sweet whites, not too sweet, not too sickly but just right!

Tea and Coffee

One might think that a dinner like this with this much emphasis on meat would be too much to handle and too boring for the palate. However the range of different styles of cooking and textures and different flavours attributable to different breeds of beef meant that each dish was a suprise to the palate and like a breath of fresh air which meant that throughout the meal, my palate never felt jaded. Chef Simon Bowen did a wonderful job for a tough audience on this occasion and in my opinion and the opinion of my fellow diners, all successful chefs, he passed with flying colours.

So what did this meal really do? Firstly, it showed off the wonderful meat that is being produced in the south east of South Australia. These brands that have websites are listed below and I urge you to to visit them and if possible sample their produce. I assure you that you will not be disappointed! Secondly, once you try these products, I believe it will demonstrate that the MSA meat grading system introduced by Meat and Livestock Australia is a valid way of ensuring that meat of the highest quality is identified and marketed to the consumer of being of a higher quality. Finally it really shows of the talent and skills of Simon at Pipers of Penola. I have included a link below to their restaurant. By all means, visit the website but more importantly, visit the restaurant and sample this guys fantastic cuisine!

Terra Rossa Beef (They dont have a website but here are a couple of links with information on the product)
ABC Rural
Olga’s Fine Foods Terra Rossa Beef Range (Shameless plug but please check it out!!)

Limestone Coast Lamb

Mayura Station Wagyu

Coorong Angus Beef

Pipers of Penola
58 Riddoch Street, Penola, South Australia 5277
Phone: 08 8737 3999

Bookings advisable

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