Monday, October 03, 2005

Spring has sprung, so what's on the menu?

The weather is warming up, soups are being replaced with salads and greengrocers are stocked with the first pickings of early spring produce. With asparagus and artichokes now adorning the shelves, I spoke with chef Guillermo Viscarra about what he likes to cook with in spring.

Guillermo is the chef at Newtown bistro Oscillate Wildly, known for its great value $45 three course special and fortnightly changing menu. When we spoke I found it wasn’t beetroot or broad beans that got him excited, but spring lamb.

"Spring is great for lamb," Guillermo Viscarra said.

"The loin is always good and the racks. With the loin you can flatten it out and roll it up."

As well as the traditional flavour of rosemary, Guillermo likes to compliment lamb with juniper berries or smoked paprika.

"Sometimes I cook it until it falls off the bone, about four to five hours, and serve it with smoked red peppers and smoked paprika. Or with a watercress salad you would use smoked green pepper."

On the vegetable front, baby asparagus gets a tick of approval.

"Baby asparagus is really nice and good served on its own," he said.

In late spring zucchini flowers are a highlight. Guillermo said these featured on Oscillate Wildly’s menu last year, but rather than the traditional goats cheese stuffing, he used enoki mushrooms and haloumi.

"The best way to use them is to deep-fry them. They don’t really have a strong flavour," he said.

Guillermo’s open attitude and willingness to be inspired by what he finds at the market leads to some unique combinations. His words of advice to intrepid home cooks:

"You can use any produce that you might not think works well with others, it all depends on how much of it you use," he said.

Oscillate Wildly, 275 Australia St, Newtown. Ph: 9517 4700.

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