Boogong Masthead
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Out For A Duck with Blood and Bones

Calum Stenning

Skin. Heart. Neck.

Not the first parts of a duck you might think about serving for lunch, but the chaps from new Canberra food company Blood and Bones think otherwise – and they’re not wrong.

At their inaugural event, a long lunch held at Bar Rochford last week, all of the above was served and then some. A bold menu centred around nose-to-tail consumption, it was definitive proof that sustainable eating can be delicious.

“I think people hesitate from cooking nose to tail for several reasons,” says Angus Raddon, co-founder of Blood and Bones. “Firstly it requires much more effort and patience, as it is more labour intensive to break down and prepare animal parts yourself.”

“It’s also responding to consumer demands, and customers can shy away from some of the weirder cuts of meat. Finally, it’s a departure from the status quo, which can take some time to achieve. Nevertheless, it is an extremely satisfying endeavour.”

Canberra’s food scene is consistently on the rise, but the Blood and Bones team believe that to bring the capital to the apex of the Australian food scene, bolder moves have to be made.

“We need to be at the forefront of exploring contemporary concepts,” says Angus. “We’re encouraging businesses and consumers to be more mindful about the food that they prepare and eat and teach them how to take steps to eat more sustainably. We want people to be excited about eating nose to tail food.”

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The long lunch started with a cocktail developed by Bar Rochford and a ‘snack plate’ consisting of a duck liver parfait with date jam, duck leg rilletes with pickles, and crispy duck skin dusted in nori that could change a life.

Next came the hearts. Soaked in white soy, cooked in a yakatori glaze and served with peas, bacon, pickled daikon, pickled cucumber, compressed apple and shiso with nori, the phrase “a tender heart” has never been more applicable.

My favourite came next, a duck neck curry served on naan bread with mango chutney, grated paneer and baby coriander. The naan provided a perfect vehicle for the soft and sweet duck neck, and both melted together with every mouthful.

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The following duck breast was sous vide and pan seared with a citrus caramel duck jus, and came with three salads: a red cabbage and pickled cherry salad with grated goats cheese and pistachios, a green salad with burnt orange and walnuts, and a potato salad with creme fraiche dressing, boiled eggs, tarragon and chives.

None of it looked or tasted like it wasn’t meant to be eaten.

Once you’ve experienced the possibilities that exist, it’s easy to get excited. Even I – someone who has a track record of being a somewhat (read: very) picky eater – found myself gobbling down the duck neck with relish.

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From the five courses (all, I might add, served with delicious wines and cocktails), choosing a favourite is a tall order. For the team behind it all, it came down to the dessert – cherry pie served with Chinese five spice braised duck leg and vanilla bean cream.

“After chatting with everyone involved, [we were] most excited for our dessert,” explains Angus. “It’s been modified from a traditional South African savoury dish, which we have converted into dessert. The match between herbaceous braising and a sweet pie filling is hopefully something that blows people’s minds.”

Can confirm, mind blown.

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If a long, slow, boozy, nowhere-to-be lunch is up your alley, the good news is that Blood and Bones will be an ongoing fixture.

“We would love to push this idea for a while,” says Angus. “We have planned two further events, which are tentatively booked in the next couple of months.”

“The longer we can do this, the happier we will be. I think that educating people and sustainability are inextricably linked.”

I don’t believe anyone left Bar Rochford on Sunday who could find fault with nose-to-tail eating and, if you’ll forgive a little creative license, I would eat the heart out of a low-flying duck now without question. 

Find out more about Blood and Bones on their Facebook and Instagram.

Photography by Andy Mullens

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Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author

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