Celebrating Regional Food & its Producers at Terroir in the Lovely Clare Valley
Last Sunday saw the final day of the Adelaide Food and Wine Festival – a day which focused on the wealth of choice we have in South Australian regions for food and wine. With The Husband behind the steering wheel, I headed up to Terroir, a new restaurant in Auburn in the Clare Valley, for a regional lunch with some “Ladies of the Land”, which had been organised by one of the busiest and hardest working people I know, Michele Lally of Savannah Lamb.
Chef Dan Moss, the man behind the pans at Terroir, had created a menu in which the products of some of the local producers was shown off to their absolute best – and we had the ladies who brought them to us on hand to commend and question to our hearts content. Dan Moss, and his brother Rohan, opened Terroir just a few short months ago, in September last year. In a region renowned for its stunning local food products and exceptional wine, there is always room for another place to pull up a chair and savour the culinary riches and Terroir is already making a name for itself as a high point on the local foodie trail.
The splendid wines for the luncheon were provided by the highly esteemed Kilikanoon Wines and were presented by their winemaker, Katie Turvey. The poultry came from the effervescent and passionate, local free-range meat hen and egg producer Lisa Williams of Spudcutter Poultry, the lamb from Savannah Lamb and the vegetables were a combined effort from local vegetable producer Doug Slugget and Dan’s produce which he grows on his own block.
The meal was preceded by a boning demonstration by Rohan, Dan’s brother, who is not only a qualified butcher, but is also an extraordinarily skilled sashimi loiner. For those of you who are unaware what a sashimi loiner actually is (and that included me until very recently), Rohan ran a tuna plant in Port Lincoln for seven years and was personally responsible for over-seeing ALL of the tuna that was sent to Tokyo for sashimi. This means his knife skills are up there with the very best in the world – no wonder his chicken and lamb leg boning looked so easy.
Lunch began with some rabbit spring rolls which were handed around while we sipped at some Kilikanoon Sparkling Vouvray and watched Rohan display his skills. Normally I can take or leave bunny dishes as they are often too dry or too boney, but these were utterly delicious – I had no idea rabbit could be so moist and tasty.
Once seated, our entree was promptly placed in front of us and equally promptly vanished. Dan’s presentation of Lisa’s free range meat birds in a Whole Chicken Terrine with a walnut praline and lemon cream was simple, but incredibly tasty. This is how chicken is meant to taste and he really does use the whole bird, including the skin. The terrine was accompanied by a poached egg which was then coated with polenta and deep fried. This was a triumph in temperature and timing, resulting in a perfectly soft-poached egg with a crispy coating – a testament to his skills and which was enhanced perfectly (especially for me, as a Riesling nut) with the Kilikanoon 2012 Morts Reserve Riesling.
The main course showcased both Dan’s talent in the kitchen and Michele and Phil Lally’s skills in the paddock in the production and presentation of some fine Savannah Lamb. The boned leg was blackened and served succulent, juicy and blushing pink, but my heart was won by what Dan called a lamb brick – rich, moist, slow-braised lamb neck meat, polenta- coated and lightly fried on a bed of cumin spiced yoghurt and borlotti beans sourced from another local – Four Leaf Milling. All of which was very happily accompanied by Kilikanoon’s 2010 The Medley – a soft and luscious Grenache, Shiraz and Mourverde blend.
Dessert was a just-sweet-enough apple and pear tart that held a hint of spice from the addition of a mere suggestion of cayenne pepper and a truly sublime gingerbread parfait, sitting on salted caramel. I came close to disgracing myself with this last dish for, while I’m not a massive fan of ice cream, this parfait was simply sensational. Fortunately, I managed to scrape every, last smear of it from the plate and did not have to resort to picking it up and licking it. Just. Dessert was matched brilliantly with Kilikanoon’s 2009 Mort’s Cut Riesling, a dessert wine that is produced a little unusually. The canes are cut – completely severed – and the fruit is left to wither on them for two weeks. Severing the vines this way completely arrests the fruit which dehydrates and concentrates resulting in a deliciously sweet wine.
Once again I was reminded of how terribly spoiled we are here in South Australia. Terroir is only two hours drive from the city of Adelaide – easily accessible and well worth the drive for a remarkable meal. However, it would be much more fun to make a weekend of the trip, taking in more of the amazing wine and splendid food of the Clare Valley. Food tourism is all the rage these days and we have the best on our doorstep – so indulge!