We have a number of Mulberry trees on the farm but the season has been really dry and the BEST mulberries are growing in our bookkeeper Julie’s garden. She has been very kindly providing for our needs.
The addition of this lovely fruit to a tarte tatin adds just the right amount of tart-ness and colour. Add our house ice-cream – Honey
and it is just about as perfect as an old-fashioned dessert can be.
Don’t let anyone bluff you into thinking that this classic French dish is difficult because it simply is not. If you like pastry work make your own, if you don’t, just buy it (and the same goes for the ice-cream). There’s a brand called Careme – comes from the Barossa and is almost as good as that Lindl makes at The Zin House (but not quite).
We’ve been making a caramel, coating the bottom of small non-stick pans with this, adding a few layers of thinly sliced apples (core, and skin intact), a smattering of berries and topping with a thick lid of our house made puff pastry. Then it’s baked at about 200 degrees until the pastry is nicely brown and you can tell the bottom is getting gooey because there’s a bit of ooze up the side of the pan.
Don’t be scared about flipping it, that’s the fun bit.
The other great thing about this dessert is that even as the sixth course on our menu, it never comes back. Somehow there’s always just that little bit of extra room. It also passes the most testing test of all – we always bake enough for everyone on staff to eat at the end of service with a big dollop of Dubbo cream.
My favourite spot in the vineyard is the patch of muscat vines just below the restaurant, to the side of the dam.
It’s also the first to bud up in spring and usually the last to be harvested at vintage. For several weeks I have magnificent bunches of drool worthy muscats (and a number of port grape varieties) to use, mostly and best just as they are.
I ask David how he came to plant the muscats. He replies, ‘Every great vineyard has a plot of table grapes close to the house’. I silently give thanks to people of vision everywhere.
In a few weeks I will make dolmades but right now is the perfect time for a fine tempura batter made simply with white wine and flour to dunk the leaves in, fried till crisp and served with a little sea salt – and more white wine of course.
Tempura battered vine leaves
Self raising flour
Enough white wine to mix to a thin batter consistency
Vegetable or olive oil for frying (I prefer olive oil but this is a bit indulgent)
Maldon or Murray River salt flakes to serve
Whisk the flour and white wine until the consistency of pouring custard. Two cups of flour will make sufficient tempura for a number of people as a starter.
Our vines are organic so I use the leaves straight from the vine, but if you’re not sure if your vine leaves may contain spray residue wash them well first and then ensure they are completely dry before use.
Dunk the leaves in batter and wipe on the side of the bowl so only a thin coating is left.
Fry in hot oil, turning to brown on each side. Drain on paper towel and serve sprinkled with salt immediately.
Use any left over batter to tempura anything else – young peas, shoots of any sort, flowers – whatever.