Photographs by Wine Australia
Food & Drink Features

How these 4 New South Wales restos embrace sustainable dining with panache

Eating the ethical way in Australia
Marilen Fontanilla | Jan 23 2019

“Paddock to plate” was a term I often encountered during a recent trip Down Under, a reference to Australia’s wholehearted approach to advancing sustainable practices in dining, by highlighting ingredients that give a whole new meaning to fresh.

Organic produce, locally-grown ingredients, ethically sourced and farmed, nose to tail, farm to table and zero waste—these are no longer terms bandied about but rather unswerving principles expected from the chefs and restaurateurs we met, who have fully integrated sustainable practices into their dining establishments to great success.

From hearty breakfast feasts, sustainably sourced seafood, to a one-of-a-kind farm restaurant experience, and Italian-French cuisine married with local ingredients—the New South Wales food scene shows how stunning dishes can be when created from seasonal, ethical, and sustainable produce.

From fin to tail

“Fish butchery can be creative and forward thinking,” explains Chef Josh Niland of acclaimed Sydney restaurant Saint Peters, as he welcomed our group of journalists to his retail outlet Fish Butchery.

Saint Peters in Paddington, Sydney
The custom designed Fish Butchery is the retail shop adjacent to Saint Peters, where its fish is processed.
Chef Josh Niland of Saint Peters and Fish Butchery

He proceeded to demonstrate what fish butchery entails, while deftly tackling his philosophy of sustainably sourced seafood, prepared expertly and served simply.

“You have to understand what it tastes like to create the right flavor profile,” Chef Josh Niland continues. “Each fish has certain nuances and this varies from fish to fish.”

 Saint Peters’ sustainable outlook extends to its use of the entire fish, with an aquatic love for offals so less parts go to waste.

During the fish butchery class, Chef Josh used overlooked fish parts—the skin is crisped, liver turned to pâté, fish fat rendered, stomach boiled like tripe, ribs grilled, gelatinous throat boiled and barbecued, head grilled, and eyes steamed and dried to make something similar to prawn crackers, to name a few.

“The more you can articulate that, the more it will encourage people to diversify what fish they will eat, beyond the typical salmon,” he explains further as he pointed to cool rooms for dry aging specific species to heighten their flavors.

Saint Peters sources its fish and seafood daily from fisherman partners, guaranteeing a seasonal and sustainable catch

The attention to detail at Saint Peters is clearly seen with the inventiveness and careful consideration for its fish products, emphasizing how Australia is still the master when it comes to modern seafood.

Sourced from the Central Coast, Yamba sardines are barbecued with currants and shallots for a delightful blend of salty tanginess
Raw Port Albert silver trevally, drizzled with oil and served with green peas and blood orange has a wonderful velvety texture, which accentuates the purity of fish flavors
Corner Inlet Rock flathead, barbecued and served with carrots, sorrel, and mead butter provides another perfect plate that furthers one’s appreciation for the seafood
Saint Peters’ wine list is purely Australian, with selections meant to showcase the seafood dishes, including the 2018 Yeti and the Kokonut Mt. Savagnin from McLaren Vale and a 2017 Turon Limited Edition Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills

When breakfast tells a story

The Agrestic Grocer (https://www.facebook.com/theagresticgrocer/) is a cozy haven in the middle of Orange, New South Wales. It houses a grocery filled with only local products and a farm-to-table restaurant, which is an inviting nook any time of the day.

The Agrestic Grocer serves fresh and seasonal food made from local produce, supporting and working with local farming businesses and families

The Agrestic Grocer’s menu is a wonderful example of how one establishment can support its local farming community, with flavorful dishes that tell a story of its ingredients and its producers.

The limited breakfast menu ensures a great start to the day, with dishes created from locally sourced ingredients and with choices that appeal to different diners
A healthy choice includes freshly squeezed orange juice, seasonal fresh fruit salad, and Coconut Chia Pudding with poached and seasonal fruits, yogurt, and granola. There’s even buttermilk pancakes drizzled with maple syrup
A hearty selection is the Bacon and Egg Sandwich with local fried egg, local double-smoked Trunkey CK bacon, Swiss cheese, house-made Badlands beer jam, and house-made Agrestic kimchi

French-Italian with a local twist

A visit to Orange requires a stopover at fine dining destination Lolli Redini (https://www.lolliredini.com.au) where contemporary Italian and French-influenced cuisine is prepared with local produce and specially sourced items which are seasonal, organic, sustainable, and ethically farmed.

Lolli Redini is located in Orange’s restaurant precinct, a stalwart presence that draws a steady clientele who appreciate the impeccable service, fine fare, and impressive wine list. It has been awarded 16 Chef Hats by the Sydney Morning Herald since 2002, in recognition of how this iconic restaurant has made local produce shine.

The restaurant has gained a following among locals and visitors who appreciate Chef Simonn Hawke’s flair for creating exquisite dishes from fine quality local produce, like organic vegetables, hand foraged pine mushrooms and wild herbs, and other ethically raised and sustainably sourced ingredients. The result is a constantly evolving menu that pays homage to its prime ingredients in a variety of ways.

Lolli Redini’s famous twice-baked Heidi Gruyère cheese soufflé served with a chiffonade salad of spinach, roasted local hazelnuts, and beurre Bosc pears topped with a Chardonnay vinaigrette
Parroo kangaroo striploin crusted in native wattle seed, pepper berries, and juniper, served with a silky fennel and celeriac puree, grilled local Cowra asparagus and caramelized eschalot jus
Creamy truffled Bloodwood honey bavarois with honey jelly, fig and vanilla ice cream, fresh figs, and squashed puff pastry
Lolli’s curated wine list marries the best of the Orange region with food friendly wines from Australia, Spain, Chile, Italy, France, and New Zealand, aside from a growing private collection of rare and vintage wines

With access to exclusive quality products and cool climate wines that pair magnificently with the menu, Lolli Redini is an Orange destination one sets aside time for in order to bask in the dishes which make every meal feel truly special.

Fresh from the garden

Our first introduction to The Zin House (https://zinhouse.com.au) in Mudgee had chef Kim Currie take us on a tour around the extensive backyard garden of the restaurant, spread over the 1,000-acre organic and biodynamic Tinja farm. The garden is The Zin House’s greatest joy, a beautiful and productive patch of land that surrounds the restaurant.

 

Chef Kim Currie’s passion for her garden was very evident, as she picked herbs, greens, flowers, and vegetables that would be part of our lunch that day.
The restaurant was named after the nearby Zinfandel vineyard of Lowe Wines (https://www.lowewine.com.au) which it overlooks
The spacious farm restaurant offers a sweeping view of the classic Mudgee hillscapes and the Tinja property

For Chef Kim and her team, their menu evolves according to what is in season, with the local produce prepared in simple and straightforward ways that reflect the flavors of the region.

 
The sprawling kitchen garden and farm of The Zin House is certified organic and bio-dynamic. Our visit coincided with harvests of parsley, sage, borage, peppermint, rhubarb, elderflower, oranges, beetroot, bitter greens, carrots, artichokes, garlic, onion, leeks, potatoes, fresh herb teas, as well as Zinfandel lees and grape skins from the Lowe Wines vineyard, honey from their hives, and eggs from their hens
The Zin House prides itself in preparing everything from scratch, like the butter, sourdough bread, pasta, pastry, pickles, ice cream, and more.
The connection to the ingredients it uses is an important part of The Zin House philosophy, where quality food is grown over time and with care, ensuring that flavor takes precedence over fancy plating
The modern farmhouse restaurant boasts chic interiors, with sweeping windows and an open space

 Through the daily harvest, The Zin House is able to create food that embodies its ethos of authenticity, generosity, and quality. Chef Kim creates a balanced menu that showcases where the food comes from—its gardens, farm, neighbors, and regional producers.

The Zin House’s house-made butter and light rye sourdough bread with flavorful pork rillettes
Dolmades made with grape leaves harvested from the vineyard
Asparagus and organic spelt wheat salad is an intriguing blend of mellow nutty flavors, the slight crunch offering a textural counterpoint to the refreshing basil mint dressing
A colorful and freshly-made beetroot tagliatelle, topped with Jannei fresh curd, roasted hazelnuts, and hemp seed
The perfectly roasted Grasslands poultry heirloom chicken did not require an elaborate sauce to go with the dish. It had the perfect sides of potatoes dauphinoise, roasted carrots, and chili jus.
A satisfying ending of cherry clafoutis with lemon verbena-infused vanilla ice cream
The wine list at The Zin House showcases local wines from the Lowe vineyards, and other leading producers in Mudgee and New South Wales, with museum and seasonal vintages exclusively available to its diners

The Zin House is a place that beckons guests to return and savor the beauty of the Mudgee region through its produce, lovingly plated in Chef Kim Currie’s menu which highlights all of this in every dish that comes out of its kitchen.

 

Photos provided by Wine Australia (https://www.wineaustralia.com)

Special thanks to Wine Australia https://www.wineaustralia.com
Orange Region Vignerons Association http://www.winesoforange.com.au
and Mudgee Wine Grape Growers Association https://www.mudgeewine.com.au