On Wednesday night, despite a freshly fallen snow and single digit temperatures, I found myself on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at Fairway’s flagship New York location observing the talented Chef Vincent Olivieri prepare an amazing lamb dinner. This benefit-type style of a dinner donated all of its proceeds to the New York Common Pantry, which is New York City’s largest community-based food pantry; designed to meet the needs of families by providing culturally-appropriate and nutritiously-balanced food. Aside from a delicious dinner, cooking lesson and the charitable donation, we were also given 7 generous pours of some of the tastiest Australian wine I have had in a long time!Thanks to all the snow, commuting from Upper East Side to Upper West Side via bus was all kinds of awful- not to mention my penchant for motion sickness. Jumping off the bus at my destination and feeling the frigid air on my face did wonders for my queasiness and once I checked into the event and received a glass of sparking white wine, the rest of the night was a huge triumph.
I walked in midway through Chef Olivieri’s tutorial on cooking rack of lamb. The aromas were out of sight. I watched hungrily as my mouth watered and waited with great anticipation. The presentation not only touched on the proper cooking techniques when preparing lamb, but also made note of the importance of using quality ingredients- AHEM- Fairway’s top quality products. After having tasted all the amazing elements of a well-made dinner, I can say with full conviction that the quality of fairways olive oil and mustard are worth a trip to the market some time in my near future.
Our first course was a mustard crusted rack of lamb with fig chutney; paired with Paringa Sparkling Shiraz.
My good friend Phil, as well as BR were in attendance. Not sure if it was the hunger pangs or the sheer deliciousness of the food but NOT ONE PEEP was said while we ate our rack of lamb with fig chutney.
I had a hot date for the evening. :-) BR and I aren’t big drinkers so thank goodness for all the protein to soak up the booze. That smile is most likely, a boozy smile :-)
Classic Caesar salad paired with two whites; Yalumba Y Series Viogner and Punt Road Chardonnay.
The salad course was great. I have a love hate relationship with already dressed salad and this Caesar was perfectly dressed in a creamy dressing that didn’t saturate the lettuce and didn’t overpower each bite. And I normally forgo croutons but these were too good to pass up.
Did I mention the pours were generous???
As I imbibed freely, I made a mental note that a cab ride home would be a MUST.
After a brief run down of the reds we were drinking, the strong aroma of lamb wafted into the dining area as serves carrying armfuls of entrees walked through the room. Whole leg of lamb with Parsnip and Turnip mash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts cooked with slab bacon and roasted chestnuts. Paired with Stone Dweller Pinot Noir and Yalumba “The scribbler” Cabernet shiraz.
The leg of lamb was incredibly tender. Phil said its texture reminded him of prime rib-I would have to agree. The lamb was not overly gamely but was full of flavor and simply dressed with an herb marinade. The turnip and parsnip smash was also really good and after a sprinkling of sea salt was even better. The thing I still can’t get out of my mind were those brussels sprouts. The thick slab of pork belly in the brussels sprouts as well as the plump and chewy chestnuts gave such a pleasant texture to the side that I am determined to recreate it at home!
Just when I thought dinner was complete, these beautiful desserts were placed in front of us. Warm Apple tart with Vanilla ice cream paired with Yalumba “Museum” muscat NV. I had reached my full level of tipsiness and could not finish the dessert wine paired with this dessert. The wine was thick and syrupy and had a delightful maple aroma to it. But with the little room left in my belly, it was either the booze of the buttery, flaky warm apple tart…
The tart wins. And boy was it delicious. Dare I say it, but I finished BR’s tart when he couldn’t.
What an amazing event! Prior to this event, I had never visited a Fairway before, let alone the fairway cafe. Its close enough to the train station for me to make another trip to the upper west side.
Big thanks to Fairway for hosting this great event and providing all the delicious foods along with the Australian Wine ambassadors for all the generous pours. Another big thank you to Phil for letting me
steal borrow some of his photos. (Be sure to check out his recap here)
Want recipes to any of the dishes featured above? Leave a comment below with the recipe you want and i will add it in the comments.
Here are the recipes that were requested:
Parsnip Turnip Mash (Serves 4-6)
3 large turnips, peeled and chopped
6 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 yellow carrots, peeled and chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white pepper
Place the turnips, parsnips, and carrots in a large sauce pot completely submerged in water. Season water with pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil. Allow vegetables to boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Strain vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl. Add butter to vegetables while they are hot, and then add honey, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until you reach a smooth consistency.
Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb (Serves 6-8)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
5-6 sprigs of fresh oregano
5-6 sprigs of fresh chives
1 Tbsp minced garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp grainy mustard
4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
Preheat oven to 450*. Chop all the herbs. Mix herbs with olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard to make herb marinade. Set marinade aside. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Use ½ of the herb marinade and rube evenly over the lamb. Allow the lamb to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Remove all the visible herbs from the lamb to prevent burning and place in roasting pan. Roast lamb for 30 minutes at 450*. Decrease oven temperature to 350 and continue to cook for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour for a medium rare center. Remove lamb from the oven and while still hot, pour on the remaining herb marinade. Let lamb rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Serves 4-6)
½ lb thick sliced bacon
1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 oz roasted chestnuts
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Preheat oven to 350*. Cook bacon on a cookie sheet until crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and reserve fat drippings. Chop bacon into ¼ inch pieces and set aside. Raise oven temperature to 400*. Clean Brussels sprouts by cutting off the stem and outer leaves. Do not discard outer leaves. Set aside and toss with half of the olive oil. Place leaves on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes until they are brown and crispy. Set the leaves aside. Once Brussels are cleaned, slice them thinly. Slice the shallots thinly as well. Combine shallots, Brussels sprouts, bacon drippings, chestnuts and remaining olive oil with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and spread out evenly. Roast at 400* for 15 minutes until nicely browned. Once removed from oven, toss together with the crispy bacon pieces. Garnish each portion with the crispy leaves.
Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Easy Fig Chutney
1 rack of lamb, trimmed (about 1.5 lb)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated parmesan
Season rack of lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add olive oil. When oil is smoking add rack of lamb and brown well on each side; about 3 minutes per side. Set aside and let cool. Preheat oven to 450*. Mix together mustard and garlic. In a separate container mix together the panko and parmesan cheese. Spread mustard mixture onto the lamb making sure to coat evenly on all sides. Pat breadcrumb mixture tight on all sides of the lamb. Place rack of lamb on baking sheet and roast for 12-15 minutes; or until desire doneness. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into chops. Serve with fig chutney.
Easy Fig Chutney
1 lb Fresh figs, diced
3 Tbsp onion marmalade
4 Tbsp fig balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fig preserves
(fairway carries ALL of these items)
Combine all ingredients and mix well.