Land of plenty: On the menu at Burning Lamb (+ recipes)
Pictured above from left: Moa Brewing Company CEO Geoff Ross, head brewer David Nicholls and Al Brown
Chef Al Brown describes the (still top secret) Burning Lamb venue as a giant food forest which unfolds as you move through it. The lush, wooded 15-acre property, 45 minutes west of Auckland, is laden with exotic fruits, including cherimoya, avocados, tamarillos — which are now turning pink — lemon and Tahitian lime trees, along with herbs that have helped steer the menu for a lavish Kiwi feast for 1200. Burning Lamb, the one-day food, drink, music and art festival for grown-ups (it will be mellow and sensory, Al says), is set to wow from the get-go, beginning in the afternoon and carrying through until late evening on March 10.
Centre-stage, as you will have detected if you’ve seen any of the publicity material, is whole lamb — 24 of them from Te Mana, cooked crucifix-style over 3-year-old Northland manuka on four circular fire pits. Each will be tended by its own pit boss for the eight-nine hours’ cooking the wet-brined meat will need. Joining them will be 24 whole salmon, butterflied on manuka poles.
“We’re cooking rotis to order as well on a flatplate that’s 20ft long. There’s lots for people to be part of,” Al says. “Before the lamb, when people arrive, there will be tuatua fritters, fresh ceviche made to order on big ice blocks and fish tacos. There is also a lemon and lime orchard area where we will make gin and tonics and there will be cocktails using passionfruit, also from the property. The cherimoya [custard apple] season has just ended and we have harvested the fruit for a cherimoya lime icecream. It’s been made by Kohu Road for the event because, obviously, we need quite a lot.”
A beer has been created especially for the festival by Marlborough’s Moa Brewing Company (see below) and barrels of wine and bubbly are standing by.
“The name Burning Lamb is tongue firmly in cheek. It’s an idea that’s been floating around in my head for four or five years, wondering how we could do something for people our age [he looks at me as he says this] in an amazing environment, where there’s no push and shove.”
Al does admit to being nervous throughout the planning of the festival. “I’ve never put on a festival. I know how I can nail the food but when it comes to lighting, liquor and fire licences, health and safety … there’s just so much to do.” Still, he adds, on a high note: “We’re well on our way to selling out. We’re thrilled.”
Basil and beetroot is a great combo and the creamed lentils, made with yoghurt and a bit of spice, offer up a fragrant earthiness that beautifully complements the sweetness of the beets and freshness of the pesto. This recipe is on the menu at Burning Lamb. Get the recipe
While this salad tastes simply delicious and is a bit of a cinch to put together, it’s the textures that make eating it so enjoyable. This recipe is on the menu at Burning Lamb. Get the recipe
With a nod to tradition and just a hint of mint, Marlborough’s Moa Brewing Company has created a special craft beer that’s perfect with all that lamb. “Al mentioned the concept of Burning Lamb to us a year ago and we loved the name,” CEO Geoff Ross says. “A New Zealand version of Burning Man but you don’t have to get naked or take acid or anything.”
A crisp pale-ale style, the aptly named Burning Lamb IPA is refreshing and not too heavy or alcoholic for afternoon consumption, Geoff adds. “It also has a bigger hop profile which suits lamb for sure.” The IPA has a generous helping of German Polaris hops with dry mint added to the fermentation, creating a beer tasty enough to replace traditional mint sauce.
Tickets to Burning Lamb include all beverages from a selection of premium Nautilus and Yalumba wines, an exclusive Burning Lamb Moa brew, Karven Cocktails, Otakari Springs Water, food ranging from seafood to lamb and all things in between, and music and entertainment from Dave Dobbyn, Dick Frizzell, Dust Palace and more.
We’re giving away a double all-inclusive ticket, valued at $700, to the event on March 10. Enter the draw at Bite.co.nz/win