Dr Morse is throwing out the recipe book for Duck Duck Orange, an evening of poultry and orange wine

Dr Morse is throwing out the recipe book for Duck Duck Orange, an evening of poultry and orange wine

Words by Greta Brereton

If there’s two things Melburnians love, it’s good food and fine wine.

With the annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival just around the corner, the time is fast approaching to ditch your diet and invest in some oversized pants. Venues all across the city will be getting involved with the ten-day culinary celebration, including Abbotsford hotspot Dr Morse.

The Asian-inspired eatery and bar will be hosting two dinner sessions on Thursday March 26 for their Duck Duck Orange event, a celebration of duck dishes and orange wines. DJs Jack Danzey and Dr Condiments will be on the decks with some tasty music to match the meals, creating soundscapes from instrumentals and recorded conversations.

“For our MFWF event this year we wanted to celebrate the cultural diversity of Melbourne’s food scene,” explains Head Chef Ash Monks. “I love that Melbourne is a melting pot of different cuisines because it allows chefs to really get creative using differing techniques, and I wanted to pay homage to that.”

Monks has been fronting the Dr Morse kitchen since 2018, and is something of a barbecue master. He drew inspiration from French and Asian cooking for the Duck Duck Orange event, but you won’t find any classic dishes like Duck a l’Orange on the menu. 

“We’ll have duck heart skewers that we’ll pair with fermented cherries,” he says. “There’ll also be braised duck leg bao and duck breast pancakes on offer, accompanied by a range of different herbs, vegetables and sauces.

“We’ll brine the ducks in a really aromatic liquid, then we’ll dry-age them for a little while. We’ll break down the ducks so we can braise the legs and keep the breast on the bone, and we’ll cook the breast over our outdoor fire, glazing it as it cooks with a house-made orange liquor.”

The aim for Monks is to replicate traditional Chinese-barbecue style flavours, but without using traditional techniques. He’s thrown the recipe book out the window, and is instead following his own personal chefing experience.

“Duck is quite a fatty animal, so the citrus and tartness of the orange cuts through the fat and balances the dish. We’ll be making an orange glaze for the duck but also using different spices like Sichuan peppers, star anise and cinnamon to bring a different flavour profile to the meat.”

To get the full depth of flavour, you’ll need to pair your duck with one of the four orange wines they’ll have available on the night. Orange wine is named for its colour, not because it’s made from oranges. Also known as skin-contact wine, it goes through a different fermentation process to a normal drop of white.

“It uses white grapes treated the same way as red wine, by keeping the skins on,” Monks explains. “Doing this to white grapes results in an orange or copper colour.

“The resulting wines are textural while still refreshing but with an extra layer of depth over the equivalent white wines.”

There’ll be orange wines from Avani in the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley’s Jumpin’ Juice, Preston’s Jamsheed Urban Winery and Latta from Coghills Creek. They’ll also have a selection of non-alcoholic tonics made from native botanicals, if you’re not a big drinker. 

As for the tunes, it sounds like it’ll be an eclectic set. Jack Danzey and Dr Condiments are compiling a mix tailored specifically for the event, drawing on the same French and Asian influence as Monks has for the food.

“Right now, we’re collecting and recording different sounds, speeches and conversations, and from there we’ll be putting together a mixture of different styles of music,” explains DC. “Expect a mix of French and Chinese sounds – traditional music as well as modern reinterpretations.

“I can’t imagine you’ll ever experience a similar live soundtrack for such a dining experience.”

Duck Duck Orange takes place at Dr Morse on Thursday March 26. Grab tickets to a 6pm or 8pm dining session via melbournefoodandwine.com.au.