The class was a mix of food bloggers, a few food technology teachers, a chef and other food industry people. I think my jaw nearly hit the floor when some asked half way through the class what a food blog was? OMG – you mean you don’t read my blog? Heartbroken!
Simon did a sterling job teaching the class – especially as we sidetracked him by asking a million questions, telling anecdotes, and asking about things there were going to be talked about later on. His teaching style is great, very casual and patient with no jargon to confuse us.
The course was being run at MUMU Grill in Crows Nest, a restaurant that had always interested me because a) it serves tapas b) it serves meat, and lots of it and c) it has a strong philosophy on sustainable produce. Not only that, their beef is all grass-fed which means no nasty feed lots associated with “grain-fed” beef. I try to eat free-range meat and eggs whenever I can (it’s mostly what we eat at home when we can get our hands on it but it’s not always possible when you live in the wild wild west – a place not exactly heaving with eco-butchers). When I eat in a restaurant like MUMU Grill I feel happy knowing that the meat I’m eating has had a happy life...for its entire life.
Learning about ISO, White Balance, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Rule of Thirds and Composition can sure make a girl hungry! The sight of the MUMU Grill staff marching in plates of food for our lunch was a welcome sight.
Of course there was no eating until a thousand photographs were taken of each dish which gave us a chance to test out the various rules and techniques we had just learnt. I set my dial to Manual, set my own aperture and shutter speed, but cheated by leaving the white balance on Auto as well as avoiding Manual Focus at all costs (I think my eyes are fully dodgy, so Manual Focus usually means fuzzy pictures no matter how clear they seem through he view finder). I took all of these photos using my new 35mm f/1.8 lens (that I bought brand new for $320), and set the Aperture to between f/1.8 - f/2.4 for most of the shots so I could get a really shallow depth of field (which means all the stuff in the background is soft and out of focus).
Lunch starts with the softest, fluffiest wood fired bread I’ve ever eaten which is served alongside a selection of dips. It was a pretty hard task to not to scoff all the bread and pile it high with the creamy bean dip, or slightly spicy capsicum dip.
Dainty little bowls of Sicilian Green Olives accompany wooden boards piled high Jamon Serrano. The Jamon, which means Mountain Ham in Spanish, is sliced wafer thin after being salted, washed and dried for 18 months. The Jamon melts like butter in the mouth - so good!
The Szechuan Fried Prawns with Pickled Chilli and Soy was one of my favourite dishes of the day – even though by the time we got to eat the dish it was stone cold - probably as they had a slightly salty taste to them!
I’m such a bogan that I thought the Duck and Shitake Mushroom Empanadas were Curry Puffs – I’m quite the foodie aren’t I? Again these were stone cold by the time we ate them, but the flavours were still lovely. I’d like to go back to MUMU and try these babies whilst they are hot hot hot.
The first main of the lunch was the Organic Chicken with Maple Roasted Sweet Potato and Spinach – look at the charring on the chicken, lovely! The sweetness of the sweet potatoes was accentuated by the maple syrup and formed a nice outer crunchy crust.
What can I say about the Sirloin Tagliatta with Duck Fat Potatoes and Greens other than it was AMAZING! Now, I’m normally not a fan of meat that hasn’t been cooked to charcoal point (or beyond) so I was a bit hesitant to try this dish as I could see pink bits...and lots of them. But oh my, the beef was melt in the mouth soft, tender and so flavoursome. Cooking the potatoes in duck fat takes them to a whole new level – whoever came up with this concept deserves a Knighthood! I like that the restaurant popped some “token greens” on the plate to help alleviate any guilt by those who scoffed more than one tatter (which I didn't, just for the record).
The Cherry Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese was a light, simple accompaniment to the meaty mains. Enough said.
Class resumes for a while and we all get a chance to digest lunch before dessert rolls on in which means a chance to take more food photos.
The first dessert item to arrive is a simple fruit platter dusted with icing sugar. The platter contains a selection of pear, pineapple, watermelon and a fancy orange segment to make it pretty as a picture.
The arrival of the Dessert Platter gets our full attention - wow what a spectacle. The Dessert Platter has a selection of three of MUMU's desserts: the Chocolate Mole Tarte with Hazelnut Gelato, a Brown Sugar Pavlova topped with fresh Pineapple and Passionfruit sauce; and, a Ginger Bread and Vanilla Ricotta Sandwich with Poached Peach and Spiced Vanilla Syrup. My only complaint with dessert is that there was only two platters to share between the group - I could have quite happily polished off a platter all to myself...or at least had full possession of the Ginger Bread and Vanilla Ricotta Sandwich.
MUMU Grill is at 70 Alexander Street, Crows Nest. You'll find them on the corner of Alexander Street and Ernest Place.