Top Queensland ingredients from the Scenic Rim region are the stars on a new farm to table menu at Signature in Emporium Hotel, South Bank.
Meet the farmers behind the food
Signature’s creative husband and wife duo, Executive Chef Chris Norman, and Executive Pastry Chef, Alex Norman, have developed 17 dishes for their reopening menu.
The produce includes fresh fish from Rocky Point Aquaculture on the Gold Coast, edible flowers and leaf mixes from Pretty Produce, cheeses from Towri Sheep Cheese, and meats from Running Creek Beef, all based in the Scenic Rim.
Executive chef Chris Norman said the new menu was a direct reflection of the current times.
“Something that has been very apparent with COVID-19 is that we’re not in a position to dictate what we want anymore. We’ve had to be very led by what the farmers have available. Anything imported has slowed down or stopped completely. It’s made us focus more on the amazing produce we have on our doorstep, less than an hour from Brisbane.”
Executive chef Chris Norman
Scenic Rim region road trip
Chris and Alex visited the Scenic Rim to meet the farmers producing the ingredients for their menu.
“For us, it was a nice reprieve to go out and see our suppliers,” said Alex. “We don’t often get to put a face to the beautiful produce we’re getting. It was good to build a stronger connection with the people who are bringing the flavours to our dishes.
“It was really incredible to see how resilient these farmers have been during this difficult time, and how they are adapting to the circumstances. It blew us away to see how positive and hospitable they’ve been, despite significant financial loss.
“It’s important for our guests to know where their food is coming from. They should know it’s not coming from a factory, but from local farmers in their area who are lovingly hand-feeding the lambs that make their cheese, who are working from dusk till dawn to ensure our product is the best it possibly can be.
Meet the farmers
Four of the farmers with produce on the new Signature menu were invited to dine at the restaurant, see and eat the results of their hard work turned in a palate pleasing plate full.
Simone Jelley, Pretty Produce
After a move to the Scenic Rim from Lamb Island, the Jelleys are deeply involved in re-establishing and building their farm. Simone has a keen interest in widening her knowledge of edible foods. She says it is amazing how many plants you can actually eat.
Pretty Produce have an online store selling seed packets so you can grow them in your own garden, honey, dried flowers and tea.
Signature’s sommelier Antoine Heutier matched the dish with a 2018 Ravens Croft Pinot Grigio from Queensland’s Granite Belt.
Signature’s cobia dish
Rocky Point Aquaculture
Take a left off the highway opposite Yatala to find Rocky Point Aquaculture where seventh-generation farmers are producing sustainable Cobia fish and Queensland Giant Groper.
The cobia on the Signature menu came out with a fine dice of corn and pancetta with sorrel, buckwheat red pepper and lime. The fish was exceptionally moist, which is a feature of this species which retains fat in the muscle when cooked.
Rocky Point Aquaculture is a State winner in the Delicious Produce Awards for the second year running. In 2020 the award is for their sustainably raised cobia. Their goal is to minimise the impact of farming on the environment, and they have introduced their own breeding program.
It was matched with a 2011 Tobin Wines, Isabella aged sémillon from the Granite Belt.
Running Creek Beef
From the mountain pasture grass-fed, tick resistant Sahiwai cattle produced at Running Creek near the McPherson Ranges in the Scenic Rim region bordering the New South Wales rabbit-proof fence came a slab of beef brisket.
Chef Chris brined and marinated the brisket in stout and maple syrup. He then slow-cooked it for eight hours and sealed it in the pan before serving with smoked parsnip, maple glazed brussel sprouts and slippery jack mushrooms.
Second generation farmers Rod and Debbie Richardson offer their Running Creek Beef and a range of other Scenic Rim product for sale direct from the farm or delivered. They also make delicious meat pies.
Sommelier Andre matched the full-flavoured brisket with a 2012 La Petite Morte Cabernet Sauvignon, from Ballandean, Queensland.
Towri Sheep’s Cheese Eweghurt Bavarois
Towri Sheep Cheesery
My favourite dish of the night was the Towri Sheep’s Cheese Eweghurt Bavarois. It came to the table with a delicate wafting aroma of rosemary which screamed eat me! The contrast between the smooth bavarois and the crunchy accompaniment created an exciting mouth feel, lifting the palate after an already rewarding series of courses.
Cheesemakers Dallas and Carolyn Davidson are passionate about their sheep and the gourmet cheese they produce. Their flock of 350 sheep graze on 300 acres of scenic rural land at Allenview near Beaudesert in the Scenic Rim region, about a one-hour drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
The sheep are a mix of Awassi (a Middle Eastern fat tail sheep), East Friesian and Assaf (an East Friesian/Awassi Cross) milking breeds, and the Dorset and Dorper for fat lamb production.
The cheesery is open to the public every Friday, but you need to book ahead.
Antoine matched the dessert with a 2016 Clovely Estate Saperavi made in Queensland’s South Burnett wine region.
What’s on the menu at Signature?
Beginning with four entree options, the extensive Signature menu includes Mooloolaba tuna, Rocky Point Cobia, Fair Game Venison and The Falls Farm Heirloom Beetroot, as well as fresh rock oysters from the Clyde River.
Available as part of the selection of main dishes are Coral Trout with tropical rock lobster, zucchini, heirloom tomato and rosella tea, and Mottainai Lamb with gnocchi, black garlic and oregano.
The menu also offers Australian cheeses served with mulled wine, and four desserts including the sweetest Queensland strawberries, accompanied by rosella consommé and pineapple sage.
Dining at Signature
The Signature menu is available in a two-course ($65), three-course ($85) or Signature experience ($99). Each course can be paired with wines chosen by the Head Sommelier from the restaurant’s 6000 bottle cellar for an additional cost.
You will find Signature in the Emporium Hotel at South Bank, Brisbane.
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Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Signature