New lease on life.

The re­cent re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of Mitchel­ton in cen­tral Vic­to­ria brought with it a re­vamped din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Ex­ec­u­tive chef Dan Hawkins shares his ap­proach and why he’s head over heels for the Nagam­bie re­gion.

Halliday - - 80 Wines -

When chef Dan Hawkins set about re­ju­ve­nat­ing The Muse restau­rant at Mitchel­ton win­ery in cen­tral Vic­to­ria’s Nagam­bie, he couldn’t wait to im­merse him­self in the re­gion. “I wanted to source in­gre­di­ents from the area, and the qual­ity of the pro­duce just blew me away,” he says. In search of small-scale lo­cal pro­duc­ers ded­i­cated to sus­tain­able, eth­i­cal farm­ing and an­i­mal hus­bandry, Dan soon dis­cov­ered he was spoilt for choice. “What stood out was their com­mit­ment to their prod­ucts and how pas­sion­ate they are.”

This qual­ity pro­duce now fea­tures promi­nently on the Mitchel­ton menu, which Dan says is de­signed to sim­ply let the in­gre­di­ents shine. “I think in some ways we’re min­i­mal­is­tic, with three to four el­e­ments on the plate,” he says. “We like show­cas­ing a few good flavours and stick to the the­ory of ‘what grows to­gether goes to­gether’. We just get such great pro­duce here, we re­ally don’t have to do a lot of work to it.”

Dan points to a num­ber of high­light in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing Mur­ray cod, Bald Rock pork, Sevens Creek wagyu and trout straight from the Goulburn River. The lifeline of the re­gion, the river borders the es­tate, run­ning just 20 me­tres from the restau­rant. Here, guests can dine out­doors and soak up this scenery, per­haps af­ter a tast­ing of Mitchel­ton and PREECE wines at the cel­lar door. “In the evenings, you can see kan­ga­roos jump­ing five me­tres in front of you and there’s lots of other wildlife and birds here too,” Dan says.

Orig­i­nally from New Zealand, Dan con­fesses he wasn’t fa­mil­iar with the re­gion be­fore tak­ing on this role, hav­ing worked at top Mel­bourne venues such as the New­mar­ket Ho­tel, Lon­grain, Circa and The Prince Ho­tel. How­ever, he was quickly hooked on Nagam­bie’s charm. “This re­gion is very much un­der the radar,” Dan says. “It’s quite an un­touched world and I feel very lucky to have tapped into it.”

GOULBURN RIVER TROUT, MAC­ER­ATED BLACK­BER­RIES AND WAL­NUTS

2 x 180g trout fil­lets

50ml cham­pagne vine­gar 15g white sugar

250g black­ber­ries

3 – 4 wal­nut halves

Dill

Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

Salt flakes

PREPA­RA­TION

Pin-bone the trout fil­lets and clean up for pre­sen­ta­tion. Cut the fish across the body into 30 gram pieces.

Pour cham­pagne vine­gar and sugar over black­ber­ries and al­low to sit for 20 min­utes, stir­ring once to mix. Re­move half the black­ber­ries and liq­uid, and mash to­gether to form a lit­tle driz­zle, then pass through a fine sieve.

Pan-sear trout on medium heat to crisp the skin, flip over in the pan and re­move from heat.

PRE­SEN­TA­TION

Al­low for 3 fin­gers per por­tion, ar­range on plate. Place whole mac­er­ated black­ber­ries around and driz­zle with the black­berry liquor. Us­ing a mi­croplane, grate the wal­nut over the trout and place dill sprigs around. Driz­zle with olive oil and sea­son with salt flakes.

The Goulburn River borders Mitchel­ton.

Dan Hawkins, ex­ec­u­tive chefat The Muse.

Lo­cal pro­duce shines atThe Muse, Mitchel­ton.

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