Mumu Grill was pumping last night with 160 hungry duck fiends! The restaurant, the space previously occupied by a pizza bar, and all the long outdoor tables were full. I was a bit worried when I saw the crowd, hoping we wouldn't still be eating at midnight with seven courses of duck to follow, but I needn't have been. Owner/Chef Craig Macindoe and his Melbourne mate, Chef Ben Cooper handled it with aplomb.
One of the interesting things about these more festive eating events is that you are seated with strangers with whom you have one obvious shared link with - the love of food - in this case, duck. We dined with Dave from CafeDave who is a food blogger who writes about the cafe scene. He loves duck too. As we exchanged notes, our night began with Duck Liver Pate en Cruet and a meaty little cup of Duck Consomme. Our appetites were stimulated and we were ready for more!
Sometimes the first few courses of a degustation can be a little torturous... you're hungry, and despite the portion sizes being carefully planned so you can find space for the later dishes, you just want another morsel. The Duck Breast with Deconstructed XO was one of those dishes... I just wanted more! The crispy fried duck was the hero here... it had that compelling quality that Southern fried chicken has, and it kept its moisture beautifully. The XO had some bite, I loved the hint of shell in its flavour. If I wasn't obsessed about finally tasting Turducken, this probably would have been my favourite dish.
Luckily my fears about pacing proved unfounded, and this Duck Sang Choi Bow arrived soon after. The duck is leg that has been flash fried, and at the table we wrapped it in the lettuce leaf with some kim chi. For me this was probably the weakest dish, the metallic and creamy oyster overpowered the duck, and the kim chi was incredibly wet (and messy). It didn't really hit on my flavour memories of kim chi either, but it did stand up to the oyster.
The Twice Cooked Duck with Bok Choy and Poached Pear was a huge success. Duck is one of those proteins that the more times you cook it, the better it is. In this case, the fat had been beautifully rendered, and the meat was still moist, bathed in those wonderful fatty juices. The duck really sang in this dish, showing how tasty and wonderful the produce from Urban Food Market is (and we eat this duck at home too). I also love the duck-pear-pairing, though Paradise Pears probably aren't my favourite pears in the whole world, they looked so damned cute on the plate I'd use them too!
Now for me, this meal was just an excuse to eat Turducken. Imagine if you will, a deboned turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a guinea fowl... yes, it's a poultry lovers wet dream. Now sadly our first slice didn't contain the guinea fowl, but my partner's anguish was soon solved with an additional slice sent from the kitchen... and you know what? It made all the difference, the gamier guinea fowl and a shade of sweetness (possibly from prunes) just spiced up the center of the roll immensely. It really shows off turkey quite well too - a meat that easily dries out is saved by the oilier duck companion. I am excited about cooking this at home some time in the near future too!
The Duck Egg Caramel with Pineapple and Papaya was the final course of the evening and it was rich, smoky and sweet. The stickiness of the caramel as you drew out your first spoonful was a delightful surprise, eliciting gasps from all at our table.
You're probably wondering if I'm all ducked out? Well actually, I found the my own tail feathers were nicely ruffled by the inspiring cooking, so I am busy plotting on how to get a Turducken onto our home dining table in the very near future!
Well done Craig Macindoe and team! It was particularly reassuring to see so many diners served so quickly - we were driving back over the Harbour Bridge by 10.15pm.
70 Alexander Street,
Ph: (02) 9460 6877