Desierto Australiano – A Fair Dinkum Feast at San Telmo

Desierto Australiano – A Fair Dinkum Feast at San Telmo

What do you think about when you hear the words “Aussie” food?

Vegemite, Tim Tams, Fairy bread, Lamingtons, Pizza Shapes and a snag on the Bunnings BBQ are just some of the collective responses.

When Argentinian grill San Telmo was asked to think outside the square for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival they decided to stay on home soil and take inspiration from local Aussie ingredients and time honoured home-grown favourites.

San Telmo

The Cuadril de Cordero (Pasture-fed lamb rump) I had 10 years ago, remains the best piece of lamb I’ve had to date. With the mere promise of a cheese and vegemite empanada, I was hooked, booked and excited.

With nanna’s tea towels hung up around the dining room and Australian rock top 40 songs blasting over the speakers, it was clear the gang at San Telmo were having a bit of a laugh.

The menu was simply mouth watering:

  • Red emperor ceviche, finger limes, samphire, avocado and cucumber
  • Cheese and vegemite empanada
  • Wallaby tartare, saltbush and potato chips
  • Chargrilled kangaroo fillet with bush tomato chimichurri with seasonal vegetables
  • Dulce de leche lamington
San Telmo Ceviche
Red emperor ceviche, finger limes, samphire, avocado and cucumber

Red Emperor Ceviche

I feel like an absolute twit, but I had no idea what a “finger lime” pearl was before last night.

I do know now that they are the most delicious little popping packets of lime juice that pair beautifully with the mild and delicate taste of a fresh snapper. The welcome sparkling cocktail also included these delicious little pearls of sour delight.

Additionally, the native cactus “samphire” was a tart and succulent (pun intended) addition to the ceviche that saw our mouths water for more. A most excellent start to the evening.

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Cheese and vegemite empanada

Cheese and Vegemite Empanada

The conversation around the cheese and vegemite empanada went a little like this:

“mmmm”

“mmmMMMmmmm”

“mmmhmmmm”

Obviously both expert food critics here. A delightfully crispy and light crunch, the empanadas really put the mmm in Vegemmmmite, if you know what I mean. From now on I’ll never be satisfied with a mere C&V sanga.

Wallaby tartare at San Telmo
Wallaby tartare, saltbush and potato chips

Wallaby Tartare

Unfortunately, this photograph of the wallaby does make it look a little like offal, perhaps heart? However, it tasted nothing like that with a super mild and surprisingly non-gamey taste or chewy yield.

The meat cut from the extremely lean topside became a lovely conduit for the tasty pickles and saltbush herb flavours. It was a really interesting dish that was definitely pushing the envelope of the usual tartare.

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Chargrilled kangaroo fillet with bush tomato chimichurri with seasonal vegetables

Chargrilled Kangaroo Fillet

San Telmo sure knows how to work a grill.

The kangaroo did not disappoint, cooked perfectly (medium-rare) to ensure it wasn’t chewy and beautifully charred. I’ll be adding chimichurri to all my roo dishes from now on. Bloody tasty and just a little fancy.

I never thought I’d say this… but the lovely green salad side, dressed in a vinaigrette (that I would probably kill a distant relative to get the recipe of) hands down beat the beef-fat roasted potatoes.

A salad. Beat beef fat. Unfortunately, the potatoes were a little on the dry side, much to our lovely waiter’s horror. Perhaps it was just the busyness of the evening but with a salad that good I didn’t even care.

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Milo Espresso Martini & Dulce de leche lamington

Milo Espresso Martini and Lamington

The quote of the night goes to my lovely dinner partner who stated, with complete gastronomic expertise “this pairing is the actual tits“.

The crumbly exterior of the Aussie lamington held together with sticky and decadent dulce de leche paired with the sweet yet bitter dessert cocktail was the ultimate cap to an unusually fun and expressive food fusion event.

And now I have head to Costco for a 3kg milo tin and learn how to make espresso martinis.

 

 

 

 

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