I intend to write a poker update within the next few days. That can wait. What can’t wait is the telling of my tantalising tale of the last 24 hours. Naturally it’s all about food.
It actually began many months ago. My good friend Will and I had both watched the episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” where he visited Sydney. Specifically to this post we’re interested about the part where he visited the Victor Churchill butcher. Somehow the whole episode is on youtube, so here is the clip of his visit for anyone interested:
Will is one of maybe a handful of people that I know who shares the same zest for food and cooking that I do. Obviously we had to go there. When he planned a climbing trip to the Blue Mountains we immediately decided that he would come to Sydney for a day of food.
The day was yesterday. It began with us meeting up at the Sydney Fish Markets for lunch. Embarrassingly despite having lived in Sydney for almost four years now, this was my first time at the markets. The place is amazing. The freshest seafood of countless types and varieties everywhere you looked. Heaven, if you will.
Not knowing where to go or what to do we decided to work our way through the building eating a little something everywhere. We began with pacific oysters. These were no ordinary pacific oysters – they were aptly named “X JUMBO Pacific Oysters” – we devoured them too quickly to remember to take photos but they were without a doubt the largest oysters either of us have ever had. Delicious, too.
From there we tried some fresh tuna sashimi – sliced in front of us, some cooked prawns and calamari, and more oysters – Will opted for some cooked kilpatrick and mornay style while I went back for another dozen from the first place – this time Sydney rock. While still fantastic they didn’t hold a candle to the first batch.
Last of all we got a crab leg each to satisfy our crustacean cravings. They were almost frozen cold and while apprehensive at their icyness at first, they turned out to be jaw droppingly good on a hot summers day. It was at this point that I had my lightbulb moment. I was almost not going to mention this million dollar idea for fear of someone stealing it, but then I thought I would be doing the world a disservice keeping it all to myself and that I must share.
It happened when a bunch of the ice in the crab claw melted and mixed with the juices and meat of the crab. I cracked open a piece and put it in my mouth and in flowed a gulp of crab-flavoured slush. It was perfect. So, my idea? A crab cocktail. The kind with alcohol and lime (or something), not with a dipping sauce. So far everyone I have told has recoiled in disgust at the idea (slightly sullying my hopes of being a crab cocktail kingpin) — but I stand firm that it would be amazing. Next week I begin stage 1 of testing – I’m thinking vodka or gin but we’ll see. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a gooooood week.
Okay – Fish Markets aside, we then set off to find Victor Churchill. Despite getting lost numerous times on the way we manage to make it there and boy oh boy was it worth it. We walked in and immediately had the feeling of being like kids in a candy shop. The video clip posted above gives a great idea of what it’s like on the inside but here’s a closer-up photo of the cabinet we were most enamoured by:
We were focusing mainly on the steaks but it was hard no to get distracted by everything else there. And get distracted we did – buying an assortment of sausages and a fancy type of rock salt (literally rocks of salt that need to be grated). Will had mentioned cooking duck fat roasted potatoes as a side dish later so we picked up some duck fat too. But now for the gold, the steaks. It wasn’t an easy decision but with the help of one of the staff there we decided to get two steaks and slice them up to share between us and Puneet for dinner.
The one on the right is a 380g (0.8lb) grass fed rib-eye on the bone. That’s a pretty decent sized steak – it makes the one on the left look downright scary. It is a 1.15kg (2.5lb) dry aged, grain fed rib-eye on the bone. The mother of all steaks.
We decided to reverse-sear the baby steak and cook the big mamma in the oven for the majority of the time, using the pan only to get a good sear on it. Searing (n.b: we put the steak into a dry fan, all the fat you see is rendered from the steak itself):
While the steak cooked away in the oven we started on the duck fat roasted potatoes with rosemary. Duck fat in pan, frying, resting then done:
The big steak had to rest for a while before we could slice it so that’s when we cooked up the smaller steak. I didn’t take photos of it – I was too busy gawking at big mamma. Speaking of which, here she is after resting and a final sear:
The mark of a well-rested steak is that when cut into the juices don’t come flowing out (which means they along with their incredible flavour remain in the steak). Ours came out perfectly:
Finally, our meal in it’s entirety. Served with a 2009 Old Paddock & Old Hill Shiraz from the Hunter Valley. This was definitely one of the top 5 steaks I’ve had in my life and easily the best any of us had ever had as a “home cooked meal”.
Bon freaking appetite. We slept well last night.