FOLLOWING newspaper reports of a proposal that we combat the population explosion of grey squirrels by eating them, the Gastropod was not in the least surprised to learn that the people of New South Wales may soon be eating kangaroo with impunity. With an estimated population of more than 20 million, kangaroos are a major pest Down Under, and the 1992 culling programme permits licensed hunters to kill some five million this year.

Until now, the consumption of kangaroo meat has been officially frowned upon in Australia's largest state, but new legislation will bring it in line with South Australia and Tasmania, where eating roos is considered perfectly normal. While it may not yet have hopped on to fashionable menus in Sydney, kangaroo is regularly served at the Sydney Street restaurant in west London (071-352 3433), where the chef is Mary Jane Haywood. She was voted Chef of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald in 1991.

She imports her kangaroo steaks from South Australia, says the meat tastes a little like beef but a bit more gamey, and warns it can quickly become as tough as old boots if overcooked. Ms Haywood is serving seared slices of kangaroo fillet with a Thai-style salad of cracked wheat, mint, chilli and coriander for pounds 7.20.

AS MENTIONED in this column a couple of weeks ago, Claudio Pecorari is the chef at the relaunched Tiberio (071-629 3561), the plush Mayfair restaurant which has been bought from Forte by a private consortium. Pecorari, who made a name for himself as a bruschetta and grilled vegetable specialist at such new wave joints as Cibo and then l'Altro, has been brought in to modernise the traditional menu at what was one of the stuffiest old-style Italian eateries in the West End. He has introduced a cheap lunchtime menu, offering two courses for pounds 13.95, which changes daily and incorporates regional specialities.

Meanwhile, the old team from Tiberio, chef Sandro Maresca and manager Basilio de Colle, have moved across Hyde Park to open Lusso (071-235 2525) in Lowndes Street, Belgravia. Formerly an outpost of Wheeler's, Lusso has been redecorated as the flagship of the Forte-owned, new-wave- Italian Distinctive Restaurants group, and the chef has worked hard to update his approach and incorporate the requisite bruschetta and grilled veg. Those wishing to investigate the place cheaply are directed to the bar menu, which features more than a dozen dishes for around pounds 6 each.

THE GASTROPOD always eagerly anticipates the annual publication of that crucial document, the Cockburn's Port Survey. Drinking superior wood-aged ruby port - also known as Vintage Character - is thought to prepare the palate for an appreciation of expensive bottle-aged vintage port. Since few people can afford true Vintage these days, so- called Single Quinta Vintage Port (the product of a single year's harvest from a named estate, or quinta) has become fashionable. Last year, the biggest-selling single quinta port at Oddbins was the Quinta da Foz, 1984, from the Portuguese shipper, Calem. This year, Oddbins has bought the entire production of Calem's Colheita, 1984. Colheita is a fine old tawny port which has been aged in the barrel for at least seven years and is the product of one harvest, or colheita. It has a deep amber colour, a slightly nutty flavour, does not need decanting and costs pounds 9.99 a bottle.

THIS column cannot begin to explain the exchange rate mechanism, but thanks to Godiva, the grandest chocolatier in Brussels, we can tell you all about the ecu. The so-called 'hard ecu' is made of dark chocolate filled with crunchy praline, while the term 'soft ecu' refers to the milk chocolate variety filled with cognac cream. Godiva chocolate ecus are sold in department stores in packages containing 27 pieces of confectionary, which are a bit bigger than our old florin, for a tenner. At this rate, one 'ecu' is worth around 37p, but if bought loose at pounds 13.50 per lb, its value is 21p.

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