Six months, 16 days. That’s how long it’s been since I ate at Blume – a destination diner in rural Boonah – and I think about it often. From owner-chef Jack Stuart’s thoughtful, well-executed food using local produce from the Scenic Rim, to the beautiful 20-seat dining room (a former dental surgery) decorated with flowers grown by Stuart’s Auntie Jenny, Blume is often on my mind.
I have a memento from lunch that day. Hanging up in my room is a lovely drawing of our table by Stuart’s Uncle Angus – an ex-courtroom artist – who sometimes sits at Blume’s bar and draws the guests.
But there’s one thing in particular that I can’t stop thinking about: the mutton neck and black garlic sanga.
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I remember spotting it at the bottom of the set menu as an add-on option and discussing it with my dining companions. “It’s a lot of food, do we need the extra dish? Maybe we should just order two and halve them?” Then the waitress offered some sage advice. “It’s a difficult dish to halve,” she said. “Order one each.”
As soon as I bit into this sanga, I knew why it was wise to order one each. The crispy, crumbed mutton exploded with juice, splashing onto the plate. It would be a nightmare trying to cut this in half. Then there’s the black garlic sauce, which adds umami and a one-two punch of sweet and bitter to the rich, unctuous mutton meat. The fluffy white bread – cut into crustless rounds – helps soak up all the juice on the plate and keeps your fingers (relatively) clean. You know why else it’s wise to order one each? You won’t want to share this thing.
The snack is an homage to the pig’s head and green mustard sanga at Melbourne wine bar, Congress, which Stuart created when he was head chef there. It became the venue’s signature dish and an iconic Melbourne sandwich. Sadly, Congress has announced it’s closing its doors on September 3. The Blume version might now be the closest you’ll get to the original. Just remember to order one each. And then perhaps another round.