The changing seasons often yield a bevy of inspiration for chefs. Even in Singapore, where the sultry heat is perpetually surrounding us all year-round, many chefs are still influenced by the seasonal produce as well as colder months overseas to create evocative menus.
Barcelona-born head chef Carlos Montobbio, who helms renowned Spanish restaurant Esquina, also took cues from the changing seasons for the latest couple of additions to his menu: grass-fed Australian Angus tenderloin as well as beef cheek. Launched as part of the Tablexperience that’s presented by True Aussie Beef & Lamb, the month-long dining campaign will see eight of the city’s best restaurants presenting 21 different dishes focused on Australian beef and lamb.
It’s a well-known fact, after all, that the Land Down Under produces some of the highest quality red meats in the world, exceeding internationally recognised food safety and animal health standards. The limited-time campaign only serves to highlight that further.
Esquina, well-known for their contemporary interpretations of the Spanish and Catalan cuisine, is a natural fit for the partnership. The restaurant often uses Australian beef—even before the campaign—with Montobbio noting that “the quality and flavour is very good”.
The first of the two new beef entrants to Esquina’s menu is grass-fed Australian Angus tenderloin with Catalan romesco sauce and served with charred leeks. Served perfectly pink with a slight char, the decadent beef is extremely tender with a slight chew that offers a rich mouthfeel. The thick, tangy romesco sauce paired with sweet grilled leeks alludes to the head chef’s Spanish heritage; the pairing is a modern rendition of the traditional Catalan dish that’s typically found during the calçotada winter food festival in Barcelona.
The star of the show, however, is the grass-fed Australian beef cheek that’s served with butternut squash, baby arugula, and a tiny slice of grilled pumpkin. First pan-fried and thereafter slow-cooked in the oven for at least three to five hours, the result is extremely soft beef cheeks with a silky texture that underscores the meaning of a melt-in-your-mouth dish.
Dressed in a porcine mushroom and juniper berries sauce that complements the rich flavour and paired with butternut squash that offers a sweet and slightly nutty edge to the beef, the dish was inspired by the colder season. “This is a common dish in Spain during the colder months,” explains Montobbio. “It’s a really warm and comforting meal that’s perfect for the winter weather.” And while Singapore’s tropical humidity bears no similarities to the winter weather in Spain, the nostalgia-driven dish is still a welcoming course to indulge in for the slightly cooler and rainier month of November.
Read more: 5 Best Bistronomy Experiences in Singapore