Wild about food
While the average diner might balk at kangaroo tartare with quail egg and pickled radishes, it was one of many standout dishes served at Field & Game Australia’s inaugural Game Night.
The dinner was hosted at 400 Gradi in Essendon under the guidance of renowned wild food chef and keen hunter Riccardo Momesso.
Matt Fowles from Fowles Wine supplied the matching wines from the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch range.
Both chef and winemaker appreciate the flavour, versatility and sustainability of game harvested from the wild.
Kangaroo, camel, duck, venison, emu, rabbit and wild goat arrived at the tables reinvented as modern dishes that would please any palete.
Riccardo Momesso has a long tradition with wild food. “Before we were born Dad worked at the Ford factory and they used to go out the back after work and come home with a bag of quail,” Riccardo explained.
The Southern Italian traditions of hunting and gathering were passed on and after a day with his father the young Riccardo would return home with wild meat, mushrooms and artichokes, then sit, and watch his mum and aunties prepare the food. “It would turn into a feast,” he said. In the Momesso household, everything hunted was for a purpose and nothing was ever wasted. Riccardo recalls family time around the kitchen table with his father on the plucking machine and the children (like a well-oiled assembly line) trimming and dressing ducks.
At 16 he was apprenticed at Café E Cucina, Il Bacaro and finally, Est Est Est. After five years working in Italy and France, the roll call of dining excellence continued at Circa and Il Bacaro in Melbourne before Riccardo became co-owner of acclaimed Italian bistro, Sarti, in Melbourne’s CBD.
A signature throughout his career has been dishes featuring wild game. “Nobody did game, still they don’t,” he says. “I was the only guy in Melbourne who would have hare on the menu; wild horse, wild camel — I’d give anything a go. “It is OK to buy your meat from the supermarket but it is also okay to shoot it; you shouldn’t be judged for it. I am not a shooter, I am a hunter — there is a big difference.
“I’ve seen the billboards with celebrities saying duck hunting isn’t a sport — they are damn right; it is not a sport, it is a lifestyle and you respect the duck and the food it provides.”
Matt Fowles has developed many wines specifically to meet the challenge of game meat, which has strong flavours and a unique texture. “Many people say you need a big wine with game but I believe you don’t; you want a wine that is going to sit there in support and not overwhelm the dish,” Matt said.
Importantly the game food dinner highlighted the hunters creed; take only what you need, respect the beast or bird and enjoy putting wild food on the table for family and friends.
If more people could taste kangaroo tartare, venison carpaccio, wild duck polpettini and braised wild goat perhaps attitudes and regulations governing game meat consumption might change.
Keep an eye out for our next event.
Winemaker Matt Fowles and wild chef Riccardo Momesso.
Chef Riccardo Momesso explains his creations.