duckfest 2010 in review

Last night, as an early birthday present, I went along to Duckfest 2010 at MUMU Grill where head chef / owner Craig Macindoe was cooking duck (provided by urbanfoodmarket) in a variety of ways for a large crowd of people. If his staff were fatigued after a long day, it was hard to tell. Despite anticipating a really busy night, Craig was happy to chat – great to meet him!

Chef Craig

The original menu looked like this:

Duck liver pate on arrival en Cruet
Duck Consume
Wine-Polin and Polin Vedehlo 2007 or Lowe “preservative free” Merlot 2009

“Peking Duck Pancake”
Lowe “preservative free” Merlot 2009

Duck breast with deconstructed XO
Yarra Yerring Pinot Noir 2008

Duck sang choi Bow-Flash fried Duck leg with kim chi and oyster in lettuce leaf
Bass Strait Pinot Noir 2008

“Turducken”- Turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a guinea fowl
Wine- Ada River 2003 Cab Sav

Various roast ducks . Meredith’s, Pekin, Muscovy with Pear and duck fat potatoes
Wine- Parker Estate 2003 Cab Sav

Duck Egg Caramel
Wine-Innocent Bystander Pink Muscato

Fresh fruit, Pineapple, Papaya

Obviously there were a few last-minute tweaks to the menu, as there was no Peking duck to be had, but we ended up with six courses of duck (one with the duck cooked two different ways), and then a dessert of Duck Egg Caramel. The surprise for me was how many people were there – 160 people had booked tickets for the meal (and, through various social circles, I knew probably 10 of them).

When I arrived a little after 7pm the place was already crowded. I said a quick hello to kristy and her husband and their friend, and then went in search of the duck (and to find out where my seat had been allocated. I had foolishly assumed that it would be a case of arriving and choosing your own seat, but in fact the seats were all pre-arranged. This meant, though, that I had the opportunity to spend the meal chatting about food with Miss Dissent and her husband, which was fantastic: they were both enthusiastically talking through what was happening with each course, and helped me to understand what was going on a lot better than I would have with on my own.

I think I’ll wait for the other food bloggers to provide more detailed coverage of the food: I just wanted to put the rough details up quickly for anyone who is interested. Though some complained about the sizes of the glasses of matching wine, I found that I reached the end of the meal with my wits still happily about me, which was – I thought – a good thing.

The first course was Duck liver pate on arrival en Cruet, which came with a “Polin and Polin Verdehlo 2007”.
Duck liver pate on arrival en Cruet

The second course – served in espresso cups – was Duck Consommé, matched with a “Little Yerring Pinot Noir 2008”. With such a strong flavour, it was better than even the best Chinese soup that I’d had.
Duck Consommé

Next up (course three) was Duck Breast with deconstructed XO. This was cooked two different ways – a crispy skinned duck with a strong sense of star anise about it, and a simple, unbattered offering. Hidden from view in this photo was a beautifully cooked scallop, and the sauce, though chilli-hot at first, had no lingering fire.
Duck breast with deconstructed XO

After enough of a gap at this point to rest our palettes, the fourth course arrived. Duck Sang Choi Bow (with Bass Strait Pinot Noir 2008). This was finely sliced, flash fried duck leg, with kim chi (a rather unusual, and perhaps too liquid take on kim chi) and oysters, to be assembled on lettuce. Though tasty, and fascinating to see how the oyster interacted with the other flavours, this was probably the weakest of the dishes.
Duck sang choi Bow - Flash fried Duck leg with kim chi and oyster in lettuce leaf

Fifth was Twice cooked duck with bok choy and poached pear (with Parker Estatee 2003 Cab Sav: the wines were certainly getting heavier as the meal progressed). This was the closest to duck as I’m used to eating it, and then some: the duck fat had really melted together and the skin was crispy. It was then a matter of mixing those flavours with a still-crisp bok choy and the subtle sweetness of the pear.
Twice cooked duck, with bok choy and poached pear

The last of the mains was probably the most eagerly anticipated in the restaurant. I saw it more as a curiosity than something essential – “Turducken”- Turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a guinea fowl. Due to the large number of people involved, the meats were deboned, and then rolled together, rather than the “traditional” way of putting the animals inside each other before the cooking process. As a result, some people on my table didn’t taste all the different meats together in their serve.

“Turducken”- Turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a guinea fowl

Amazingly, despite how busy everyone was, the staff brought out another two slices of turducken, this time with all the different meats clearly present. A fantastic handling of a complaint, and providing a great sense of how good the service is at mumu. Here’s a cross-section:

more detail on the turducken

The flavours of the various birds mixed together: nothing was dried out from the cooking process, and it was an intriguing mix of turkey, duck and guinea fowl (more gamey, as I understand it) with a hint of chicken.

Last of all was the dessert. To me, this seemed a bit of a stretch from the duck theme
– an iron chef would have had to somehow use duck meat, even in the dessert – but it’s unusual to see duck eggs used in cooking (at least in my own experience), and so I was interested to see what would happen.

Duck Egg Caramel with pineapple and papaya

The caramel dominated the flavours, and the fruit (out of season) was mostly there to cleanse the palette in between mouthfuls. I thought it worked, and it was good to have some sweetness on the palette by the end. After all this Kel (who didn’t feel like enough of a duck fan to try the meal) came and gave me a lift home, where I had the lingering flavour of duck on my palette for the whole trip.

A great night of enjoying duck cooked in a variety of ways – thanks to the extra slice of turducken, I didn’t feel the need to stop on the way home and grab some more duck, and indeed, I might be able to take a break from duck for a little while. Not too long!

Update: other reviews are coming in:

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  1. Thanks for the review – I’d agree with you about the size of the matching wine portions. Unfortunately for us stuck on the tables outside they didn’t match at all because we were forgotten altogether more of the courses than not. I’m not sure Mumu were really geared up for that many people and the gaps between courses were rather long…

  2. It was a lovely evening and for me at least, as designated driver, the smaller glasses of wine, meant I could drink more varieties without overdoing it. I particularly liked the Polin and Polin Verdehlo, Bass Strait Pinot Noir, and I think the second Cab/Sav from Ada River.

    Foodwise my favourites were: Duck Consommé, the Twice Cooked duck (and duck fat potatoes), and the dessert. The Consommé was utterly to die for.

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