MFWF 2013 – La Luna Suckling Pig Lunch
Our boys are always a dilemma during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival… I have a cadre of food loving women who can easily be persuaded to any event – but our boys can sometimes be a little less enthusiastic. Thank goodness for Adrian Richardson – the man who knows the way to a man’s heart – MEAT. And what better way to celebrate meat than with a suckling pig lunch!
Two of my most gorgeous girlfriends and their respective partners – Bubblez and Adventurous Pete, and Gorgeous J and Dashing G accompanied me. Alas – at the last hurdle, Andrew could not make it due to having man-flu! It was pretty nasty and it was best not to unleash him on an unsuspecting public. Not to fear – Rambunctuous R, girlfriend extraordinaire, was happy to jump into the breach and did a remarkable job of standing in for Andrew!
Chef – Adrian Richardson
The Suckling Pig Lunch has been a fixture on the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for heaven knows how long – but to be honest – if MFWF wasn’t there, Adrian would put it on anyway. He’s that sort of guy. As he welcomed us, he said: My job is to make sure you’re fed well, and you drink well. And he certainly delivered on that statement!
The words “Suckling Pig Lunch” was a little bit of an understatement – what Adrian presented was a journey into pork. There were actually 9 courses, count them – yes, 9 courses – BEFORE the suckling pigs. I should have taken the advice of my friends – pace yourself. But you’ve got to try everything??? Right??
Let’s start the adventure…
Everything is made in house in the La Luna kitchen. Adrian Richardson is a man who loves nose to tail eating, and he never lets anything go to waste. The salamis were beautiful, the prosciutto amazing – sliced thinly so that it just melted in your mouth, and the lardo was rich, rich, rich!! Basically the lardo was cured back fat. Ooh la la!!
The brawn was made from meat from the head of the pig – or “head cheese”. It was effectively a beautiful terrine with some pickles to cut through the richness of the meat. Delicious.
Pigs ear schnitzel, sweet apple cabbage
Hmmm… interesting. Where the ear was the thickest, it was quite tender – but as you ate through to the thinnest part of the ear it became quite chewy. Not my cup of tea really, but I had a taste!
Bacon & onion croquettes, bacon mayonnaise
What more could a man want!? The bacon and onion was mixed through a potato filling, rolled, crumbed and deep fried – and then tenderly mounded upon a base of bacon mayonnaise! Crispy on the outside, and soft and delicious on the inside.
Pork and fennel sausage, parsley salad
Ahhh… the dilemma of being a blogger at a communal eating event! Stay back – dangnabbit – all of you!! Obviously, a very popular dish – the little sausages were bursting with flavour and they were sitting on a some beautifully fresh yoghurt with sumac. This was a really well balanced dish with the tabouleh on the side providing an acid finish to cut through the richness of the sausages. Amazing!
Cottechino, grilled, roasted garlic aioli
The cottechino was effectively a black pudding that had been crumbed, grilled and then served on a roasted garlic aioli. This was probably one of the richest dishes – so half a piece was enough. Good for the black pudding lovers amongst us – Rambunctuous R??? Adrian explained that the cottechino was basically the melting pot of many of the remains of the pig that weren’t used elsewhere – basically ground up and then lovingly teased into the very edible sausage. Say what you want – but it’s a way of honouring the whole beast, something that Adrian believes in very strongly.
Texan pulled pork, avocado and sweet corn salsa
Oh. My. Goodness. What an amazing dish! This pork was amazing – soft and tender, it had clearly been slow cooked for hours. But the dimensions didn’t stop there… there was this earthy smoky heat throughout the dish, electrifyingly partnered by the avocado and sweet corn salsa which provided this juicy, fresh counterpoint. This dish was amazing – Adrian, you need to put this on the menu!! So delicious…
Little baby pigs
And finally – the piece de resistance!! The whole roasted baby pigs were paraded before us – Adrian loves this part of the ceremony. He delightfully informs us that each one of them has a name. Ours is called Chantelle. Oh my!!
The beautiful piglets are taken away to be carved and then presented back à table. There’re not many things that are better than slow roasted suckling pig. It’s the best pork you will ever eat – the skin is so thin, it’s like paper – thin and crispy, with none of that chewiness common to the thicker skin of older pork. The meat is tender and fall apart, and deliciously moistened with the cooking juices. This is the main event – and it was worth waiting for! Chantelle you were delicious!
Some sides to accompany the meat – although, I have to say by this stage – they were a bit of a moot point! There were also fries… because we really needed them…
Bacon and chocolate sweeties, crème brulée, chocolate brownie
Enfin… something sweet to finish. A perfectly sized crème brulée in an espresso cup, topped with some thin bacon (maybe even prosciutto) that had been crisped and topped with chocolate (I know it sounds weird – but it was delicious), and a very dense piece of chocolate brownie (are you kidding!!!). I was done, done and done! I loved the brulée and the bacon sweetie – but only managed a nibble of my brownie.
Oooh. La. La. The suckling pig lunch is not for the faint hearted (or the vegetarians) – it is a massive undertaking. We all went home and collapsed on our couches – seriously – I checked with everyone afterwards.
It was amazing though – and I would go again in a heartbeat. Although, next time – I think I would pace myself much better. Let’s call this one the reconnaissance feast!! In fact, I am looking forward to doing it all again next year… The event represents amazing value for money – priced at only $95 per head, you were basically fed 11 courses and your wine glass never emptied. Adrian and his team were the very personification of hospitality and the communal seating arrangements (and the ever flowing wine) ensured everyone was in festival spirits from the get-go! Maybe I’ll see you there in 2014!