Had a bit of a wow moment at work when my exec brought in some meat from Flinders Island Meat. I spotted some chops and asked him if it was lamb and indeed it was, then he brought out a shoulder plus some wallaby. The lamb was pretty good, very little stink, if at all and just a good clean flavour but you still know it’s lamb. I had trepidations about wallaby because it’s kinda like a small kangaroo. I’ve had kangaroo before, cooked it, ate it, ordered it etc. I don’t like it one bit. Wallaby, on the other hand, is a meat that’s definitely up my alley. Like ‘roo, it’s lean, really little fat content. Taste wise, I’d say it’s something like an 80/20 duck/pork mix but much leaner. I couldn’t have been any more wrong about my doubts earlier. Unlike duck, you don’t eat the skin and it has very little fat but if you cook it medium rare or just rare, it’s still juicy and just straight up delicious. So we started playing around with dressings and accompaniments and stuff but then I had to leave. I coulda just done that all week really, test a meat out, think of ideas etc.

But onto Flinders Island Meat (FIM). Flinders island is off the coast of Tasmania, on the Bass Strait. Wallabies happen to be at the top of the food chain here, unlike in the rest of Australia. Interestingly enough, they don’t release methane, like cows or sheep or pigs do, which kinda makes them carbon neutral. Wallabies don’t fart.

The wallabies are wild and sourced from the island itself. FIM also does an Angus beef as well as two types of lamb, one milkfed and the other saltgrass. The milkfed lamb is basically lamb that has only been fed milk from birth and is culled before it’s weaned. This basically nets a tender, gentle tasting lamb which is the one that I tried today, nearly completely lacking in that lamby “stink” some people just hate. The saltgrass lamb isn’t actually fed an exotic plant. Instead, it’s referring to the terroir. Flinders Island get a good bit of sea spray landing on the pastureland via the wind so the lamb reared there has a diet that’s completely different to most other lamb. I didn’t get to try this unfortunately.

Cycle back to my recent trip to Taste Of Sydney and I recall stepping into a huge tent, which was basically the Tasmania pavillion and there were all these businesses from Tassie, including Cape Grim Beef, Huon Aquaculture, Spring Bay Seafoods, Robbins Island Wagyu and FIM. I also recall Kylie Kwong doing a live demo at the time. Now it all clicks and I remember reading about Ms Kwong trumpeting the wallaby horn for Sydney eateries when there was a story run in the SMH about local “bush tucker”.

I’m just a sucker for that locavore thing. I think it really does make a helluva lotta sense. As much as it might be a trend or just another hipstery thing to get, I think it’s something that should exceed that and become the norm. Why eat something that everyone else can get? If you have access to something locally that’s just fucking awesome, like FIM’s wallaby, you should use it while you can rather than import something from a million miles away that is great too but would have suffered from the journey and time taking it’s toll. Speaking purely from the perspective of a professional chef who cares foremost about flavour, local is just better.

Really looking forward to seeing the wallaby on the menu, even if it’s just a special. It’s a lot better than a special in my opinion.

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