28 June 2022 CoTD David Madson

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Lunch review by James Tinslay

David Madson was in the kitchen today for the wine lunch and was assisted by Duane Roy (winemaker at Glandore Estate and an ex-chef) and James Tinslay.

This wine lunch was a completely Tyrrells-themed lunch, but more of that later.

The first canapé was from me and were savoury palmiers which were based on anchovy with a Philadelphia cheese base on the puff pastry with dried tomato and a very sharp Parmesan cheese. I first came across savoury palmiers from Peter Manners who served them some years ago and I’ve kept the tradition of serving them at lunch every few years.

The next two canapés were from David with the first being commercial smoked ocean trout rillette combined with white cod taramosalata served on a rice cracker with dill and cucumber. The fish lovers in the room. This went down a treat.

The next came on an Asian-style spoon and was yellowfin tuna, kohlrabi and trout roe with dashi. Kohlrabi goes by many names and is from the same family as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc.

The main was chicken Maryland seared then braised in a tarragon infused stock and served with hasselback potatoes and snow peas. The skin of the chicken was pleasingly crispy with moist flesh. David had used a mix of fresh and dry tarragon with some dry vermouth and white wine in the mix. The sauce was plentiful and tasty. Their hasselback potatoes were red unpeeled, and the oven did a sterling job of crisping them. The dish was much liked.

This was our Cheesemaster’s first lunch for some time after his travels and James was back with a new cheese which was the Uplands Cheese Company’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is a cow’s milk cheese made in the tradition of alpine cheeses by a family-run dairy and cheese making facility located on ‘Pleasant Ridge’ in southwestern Wisconsin.

The cheese is only made between May and October, while the cows are grazing on fresh pastures. The grass-fed milk produces flavour complexity in cheese that can’t be replicated when cows are eating machine harvested feed. It comes in 4.5 kg wheels and it was served with mixed nuts and dried fruit.

The cheese was buttery and reminiscent of another alpine classic, Beaufort, a Society favourite.

Of the canape wines, David donated six bottles of his newly bottled 2022 Glandore Estate Fiano which was Broke fruit. Very fresh with strident acid sometimes lacking in Fiano.

The meal wines were all Tyrrells and were:

2013 Vat 1 Semillon

2013 Johnno’s Basket Pressed Semillon

2011 4 Acres Shiraz

2007 Vat 9 Shiraz

2007 4 Acres Shiraz

2007 Old Patch 1867 Shiraz

The pick of the whites was the Vat 1 which was in great condition with stunning acid and was certainly in the more classic or traditional style of Hunter Valley Semillon, especially the Vat 1. The Johnno’s still had a good acid structure but was a fuller style.

Of the four reds, there was not much agreement between the tables. Many in the room love their Hunter reds and the most expensive of the bunch, Old Patch, was very popular. It was a big wine with huge intensity. In a blind tasting. I wouldn’t have picked it anywhere near the Hunter Valley. However, I only occasionally imbibe Hunter Valley reds.

There was quite a bit of variation between the other three reds with the lightest being the 2011 4 Acres which was more in the “HV Burgundy” style. Our table picked the 2007 4 Acres as the pick of the reds.

The Society cellar has large quantities of Tyrrell's wine so I think we shall see many of these aged and relatively expensive wines being served over the next few years.

21 June 2022 CoTD Mark Bradford

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Food review by James Hill

Mark Bradford was in the kitchen today presenting us with a Ukrainian-themed meal. A lot of effort and research was obvious in today's lunch.

Canapés

  • Kielbasa and cucumber on crostini  
    Cream cheese and butter on Ukrainian “crostini”, Ukrainian salami topped with Ukrainian dill. Served cold. 
  • Ukrainian perogies
    Dough: flour, sour cream, butter, eggs 
    Filling: potato, cheddar cheese, cream cheese 
    Served warm with crème fraiche and parsley. 
  • Ukrainian blini with gravlax
    Topped with crème fraiche, Ukrainian black sea trout, dill and Ukrainian caviar from Odessa.

Good comments on the canapés from the floor. The blinis were light and perfect for the gravlax and caviar. The perogies had more substance with good overall flavour and taste.

Main

The main course today had many elements all coming together to give us a good example of typical Ukrainian food.

We had Chicken Kiev, a chicken breast filled with cream cheese, unsalted butter, garlic and parsley …a good herby filling with a hint of garlic …it sat on some creamy mash with parsley.


Surrounding the chicken was Deruny, a Ukrainian potato pancake and Holubtsi, Ukrainian cabbage stuffed with the best Crimean tomatoes, cumin, onions, parsley and dill. There was some sour cream and green onion garnish and a very tasty homemade beetroot ketchup of cooked beets, apple cider vinegar, cloves, onion and coriander.

Well done, Mark.

Bread

Mark arranged for a mixture of bread from Baltic countries to go with the main and cheese.

Estonian Black, Riga sweet and sour and Litewski a Lithuanian bread made with Rye and wheat flours.

Cheese

Our cheese course today was presented by Gary Linnane, our acting cheese master. It was an Italian washed rind, cow's milk cheese Mauri Taleggio DOP.

Mark served this with some buckwheat wafers, Turkish figs and a Ukrainian blackcurrant jam.

The micro-climate in the natural caves where these cheeses are matured, high in the Alps, encourages the development of a unique flora on the outer rind. Washed and brushed several times over a month, the cheese develops a thin bloom flecked with blue penicillium moulds. Beneath the rind, the ivory chalky texture of the cheese begins to change slowly as it ripens, becoming buttery and soft. The creamy texture, when balanced with the delicious yeasty taste provided by the rind, is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Mauri Taleggio is considered one of the finest DOP cheeses made in Italy.

14 June 2022 CoTD James Hill

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Food notes by James Hill and then added commentary on the high quality of this lunch

For this mixed lunch, we had our most prolific CoTD, James Hill, in the kitchen.

Canapés

We kicked off with a canapé of red pepper mousse piped into small pastry cups. Peppers are cooked rather than roasted and have an intense flavour. The main ingredients were butter, red peppers, garlic, some white wine vinegar, double cream and seasoning. It was served with some thyme leaves on top.

Next came a duck liver parfait based on a Bathers Pavilion recipe served on some oven-baked bread with a cranberry, blueberry jelly topping. The main ingredient in the pate apart from liver was duck fat and butter. Rich and flavoursome with the jelly adding some acidity to counter the full flavour of the pate.

Gary Linnane made a white bean anchoïade topped with some Cantabria anchovies served on a crusty baguette slice. Gary used the Tarbais beans that Society member Scott Witt had provided.

The beans were puréed with some Parmigiano-Reggiano, capers ,anchovy lemon zest and EVOO.

Full of flavour, creamy, thick and rich.

There were many favourable comments on this appetiser.

Main

Seared duck breast with prunes, Pedro Ximenez, sherry vinegar, cauliflower cream, duck fat potato bake and fioretto. The dish was inspired by a Peter Gilmore recipe.

Note: Fioretto is a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli that was created by the Tokita Seed Company, in Japan

Then prunes were soaked overnight in water and then cooked on low heat for twenty minutes with equal quantities of Pedro Ximenez and sherry vinegar. In the cooking process, the acidity evaporates and leaves a rich full flavoured sauce. The duck breast sat on a bed of cauliflower cream and was accompanied by a crispy duck fat potato bake slice and fioretto. The fioretto was blanched in hot water and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Fioretto is a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli and it is sweet in flavour. It was created by the Tokita Seed Company, in Japan

Like most Chefs off The Day, James praised the assistance of the kitchen team led by Head Chef Rob Doll.

Bread

Today we had Society favourite, Iggy's long loaf sourdough with Copper Tree farms chef’s series truffle butter.

Cheese

Gary Linnane presented a French cows milk cheese ‘Fromager D’Affinois Brique’.

This unusual brick-shaped cheese is made by Fromagerie Guilloteau near Pelussin, France and is based on the ‘brique’ shape of a traditional cheese of the region.
The facilities of this new dairy were built to utilise the best of modern dairy technology, but at the same time encompass and respect the flavours of the past. The result is an elegant cheese with a mixed washed/white rind with a slightly pungent aroma. It develops to a mild silky texture as it ripens.

Today was a perfect example after it came at room temperature with a runny with a slight salty taste that went perfectly with the accompaniment of hard persimmon and passionfruit. An unusual match with the cheese however it worked. This was served with some whole wheat flour crackers.

Each table received a bottle of 2017 Chateau Miselle Sauternes donated by James.

Once again a splendid lunch by James Hill and a generous contribution of a Sauternes.

A well-attended mixed lunch with a lively atmosphere in the room.

31 July 2022 CoTD Roger Straiton

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Food review by James Hill

We saw a welcome return to the kitchen with Chef of the Day, Roger Straiton, cooking for our monthly wine tasting. French wine was the theme and Roger was the perfect choice as our Society Francophile. He was ably assisted by son-in-law Adam and on canapés Denis Redfern.

Bryan Belling, Chairman of the Board of the Royal Exchange, was welcomed as a guest at lunch today.

Canapés

There were three canapés today:

Gorgonzola and ricotta with grape segment, pecan and pomegranate seeds on a round of cucumber.

Salmon rillettes two-ways on toasts. Rillettes made with skinless-salmon cooked sous-vide at 52C for 45 minutes and cold-smoked with ash chips. This salmon was mixed with chopped commercial smoked salmon, Kewpie mayonnaise and horseradish and served on toasts. Some of these were also served with optional Beaver brand wasabi that wasn’t too overpowering for the salmon.

Bruschetta in brioche cups. Chopped tomato with basil, aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil in brioche cups made by sandwiching quarters of brioche between two mini muffin pans and baked until crispy. There was some variation in the thickness of the brioche due to one of the early production methods. Typically bruschetta is served on flat thick toasts, however, Denis thought that making cups would avoid spillage.  He suggests more development of this canapé is required.

There were bountiful canapes, they looked good and had great texture and taste.

Main

In theme with our wines today Roger presented lamb racks perfectly cooked moist, pink and full of flavour. They sat on a bean stew. Roger kept it simple and it worked.

The bean stew was a Rick Stein recipe of borlotti beans, butter beans, chickpeas, petit pois, baby carrots,  lots of garlic, shallots, thyme, parsley and stock. Finished with lashings of salted butter.

The lamb was cooked in a hot oven for 15 minutes then rested then garnished with a little rosemary and parsley.

This dish was a great match to our brace of Bordeaux. It was delicious.

James Tinslay bought the bread today it was from Cornucopia at Naremburn, good bread.

In the tradition of the Society there was robust discussion on wine and good comments overall, one chap rose and quoted the bard ‘now is the winter of our discontent …’

Long may it continue.

Cheese

Gary Linnane presented a Society favourite today, Ossau Iraty, a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese from France.

New-season ewe’s milk is collected from the shepherds of the Ossau Valley and Iraty Forest, in the Basque Pyrenees to make this traditional hard-crusted cheese. The method used in making these cheeses is claimed to be one of the oldest surviving in the world and dates back at least 4000 years. After cooking the curds, the rind is washed and hand salted before being matured in cellars for six months by affineurs. This cheese is made exclusively with milk from local breeds of sheep (Manech and Basco-Bearnaise). It has a succulent and complex flavour, developing notes of hazelnut and caramel as it matures. Firm, nutty with a slightly sweet finish, this AOP cheese is often only available for six months of the year due to the short lactation period of ewes.

It was a good example of this cheese today.

The cheese was served with an assortment of dried fruit and nuts.

Coffee was supplied by the Royal Exchange.

Wine

The wine tasting selection was a great selection of Bordeaux. Some of the wines were a little fruit deficient due to age and cork but enjoyed by the majority They were:

2009's

Chateau La Serre

Chateau Cantermerle

Chateau Saint Pierre

2000's

Clos du Marquis

Chateau Talbot

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste

7 June 2022 CoTD Hal Epstein

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Food review by James Hill and wine review by Nick Reynolds

Hal Epstein was in the kitchen today for the last ‘cook-off’ in our Chef of The Year schedule for 2021. He was assisted by his son Piers. Hal advised that Piers is the third generation Epstein to attend our Wine And Food Society lunches. Sign him up Hal!

Canapés

Hal challenged us to identify the vegetable in the first of his canapés presented today. Many tried but unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the mystery component and Hal revealed it as Jerusalem artichoke, it was simply served on a biscuit with a cornichon. Our cause wasn’t helped by the addition of dried chilli flakes in the artichoke purée, it certainly added some heat to the lovely nutty flavour. the artichoke was sliced then baked with olive oil and chilli then blended.

Our second canapé was a homemade ocean trout gravadlax served with dill on a slice of baguette. A lot of flavour in the gravlax. It was cured for four days on salt and dill with a touch of vodka.

The canapes went well with our aperitif wines.

Main

Hal’s dish today was based on an Ottolengi dish, Aubergine tricolore.

They say we eat with our eyes and this was certainly the case today. It looked spectacular on the plate accompanied by a perfectly cooked slice of sirloin steak. Our table initially thought we may need horseradish or mustard to go with the steak, but it didn’t, as it was well seasoned with a Moroccan spice rub.

This colourful dish had contrasting flavours sweet, salty and sour.

The salsa and buffalo mozzarella sat on discs of silky oven-baked eggplant.

The salsa that Hal had prepared for us today marinated for three days it was a mix of tomatoes, mini roma, mini roma yellow, kumato, mini heritage yellow and green capsicum and capers. It was finished with handfuls of coriander strewn across the top of the dish.

So much flavour ..we saw why it was COTY nominated dish.

Well done Hal.

Big bread love from Iggys today.

Cheese

Gary Linanne presented a Maffra cloth aged cheddar 24 months.

It was a perfect example of the cheese we saw today, it crumbled as we cut the slice and had a long lingering finish with good bite.

The cheese was accompanied by some homemade quince paste, a perfect match.

Maffra Cheese Company produces an award-winning range of Australian farmhouse cheeses in the style of well-known British territorials.

To create their flagship Cloth-Ashed Cheddar, the traditional process of ‘cheddaring’ is used to remove excess moisture from the curds before they are scooped into large hoop moulds and wrapped in ash-dusted cloth. Instead of being rubbed with animal lard like their British counterparts, these wheels of cheddar rely on the vegetable ash to suppress undesirable mould development and lock in moisture as they age at the farm in temperature-controlled maturation rooms, ensuring they remain vegetarian-friendly.

The cheese maker grades her cheeses throughout their maturation, which is usually up to 24 months. We were fortunate to secure a special release of 3kg wheels that have been slowly matured for significantly longer.

Under the hand-stencilled clothbound rind, you will find a traditional, crumbly textured cheddar. Tyrosine crystals fleck the dense paste and provide a satisfying crunch. The flavour is fruity up front, with a long, savoury finish and bright milky tones – a result that only be achieved with premium farmhouse milk and long, slow maturation.

Wine

Today with the appetisers we sampled three different Rieslings, all of which evidenced different characteristics. The first two wines were Peglidis Riesling by KT. Today we tried both the 2015 and 2017 vintages. Both showed lime acidity and mineral-like texture. The room was divided on these wines, which are a favourite of some wine critics, with some liking the clean flavours and texture while others stated that they deviated too much from what they considered to be the Clare Valley style of Riesling. With the same winemaker, it was interesting to see variability in the wine that could be due to vintage or ageing. The 2015 was more favoured today. Perhaps the 2017 was in one of the dumb phases that can occur with wines and may pick up with some further ageing. The next Riesling was a 2012 Yalumba Pewsey Vale Riesling, which understandably was showing some more aged Riesling characteristics, including a slight hint of petroleum, but still retaining great fruit weight and acid structure. This perennial favourite was universally enjoyed. We then moved on to another Society favourite in the 2017 Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon which is just starting to develop the toasty aromas and complexity that emerge in aged Semillon.

Hal’s delightful beef and chargrilled vegetable dish was served with two Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2008 vintage. The first was a black label from Wynn’s Coonawarra, the 53rd vintage of what must be one of the most consistently good Cabernets in Australia. A wonderfully balanced Cabernet that is now starting to show delicious aged Cabernet characteristics that complement the still evident fruit from a warm, dry year in the Coonawarra. The Yalumba Cigar from 2008 was unfortunately under cork and today we saw bottle variation as a result. Despite being labelled as 13.5% abv, the wine was very full-bodied and, in the bottles where the cork did not fail the wine, retained cassis fruit characters as well as showing some decent development. The Wynn’s under screwcap still has a decent time ahead of it while the Cigar is turning into a gambling proposition for ongoing quality.

We had two Shiraz to accompany today’s fine vintage Australian Cheddar. The first was a 2013 Hewitson Mad Hatter Shiraz. Hewitson is a Barossa Valley based winery that has a reputation for making big wines. Today’s wine was from grapes grown in McLaren Vale and despite coming in at 14.5% abv was well balanced and showing the chocolate undertone that emerges in aged McLaren Vale Shiraz. It was interesting to see that despite the winemaker using a consistent style as for their other wines, the vineyard location in McLaren Vale produced quite a different style of wine. For the second wine, each table had a different wine, either an Andrew Thomas Kiss Shiraz 2010, a Best's Great Western Bin No. 1 Shiraz 2012, or the By Farr Shiraz 2014. Each table reported that they preferred their second wine over the Hewitson.

 

24 May 2022 CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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Lunch review by James Tinslay

Our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was in the kitchen today and as always, the meal was solid with nobody going home hungry.

The Food. 

Bill started us off with three canapés. First up was a soup which turned out to be the beloved choko (also known as chayote, vegetable pear or mango squash) as the main ingredient with onion, garlic and a touch of lemon. It was served with bits of bacon boating about on the top. There were guesses about whether it was cauliflower, potato, et cetera and there was a bit of reminiscing about choko vines growing over the old outhouse toilet and as kids being threatened with choko if you didn’t behave. It was excellent.

The next starter was in Italian herb focaccia topped with olives. There’s not much more to say and looking at the photograph will give you more information. The focaccia was cooked in the REX kitchen and was delicious.

The final starter was a zucchini, fetta and dill tart. The zucchini had been mandolined thinly and the slices looked attractive and tasted even better.

There was no shortage of canapes. It was Bill!

The main. As had already been declared on the function notice we had a deconstructed Reuben. Bill had slow cooked the silverside beef at 110° C for about five hours and had glazed the meat with orange marmalade and whole-grain mustard. The sweet-and-sour taste on the outside of the meat was enticing. The moistness of the silverside varied a little around the table.

Served with the silverside was sauerkraut which was made by Paul Irwin who was originally going to cook on this day. The sauerkraut was surprisingly good to my taste (as I am normally not a fan) as the full-blown traditional sauerkraut I find a little over the top.

Bill had, strangely enough, served a Yorkshire pudding based on Gruyere cheese with the main. The jus topping gave an excellent flavour while the pudd itself was light and tender. Bill being Greek and serving a Yorkshire pudding had a call from the floor saying it could be called Spartan pudding!

The cheese presented by Gary Linnane as the acting Cheesemaster was Fourme d'Ambert, a semi-hard French blue cheese. One of France's oldest cheeses, it dates from as far back as Roman times. It is made from raw cow's milk from the Auvergne region of France, with a distinct, narrow cylindrical shape. It was rich and satisfying. James Hill provided bread for the lunch from Sonoma I recall.

It was announced at the lunch that there will be a new Society trophy for the best accompaniment to a cheese course in honour of our departed long-time Cheesemaster, Ross McDonald. A fitting trophy.

That is relevant as Bill served an accompaniment, pears poached in red wine (Cabernet in this instance) with cloves, cinnamon etc. The presentation was stunning and it tasted exquisite.

The Wines.

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2006 - A delightful aged Riesling still with plenty of acid and fruit to carry it off the back palate.  Deep straw colour, by no means oxidised, but as a 16-year-old, certainly a drink now proposition.

Wines by KT Peglidis Vineyard Watervale Riesling 2015 – Lovely lime juice with pure and focused finish. It has a long future but just now the Pewsey Vale was preferred by most.

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Another great Black Lable from Sue Hodder. Tannins are smoothening out but it still has luscious fruit. Such good QPR. I preferred it to the companion Yalumba Cabernet. Under screwcap.

Yalumba The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Slightly overcome by tannins with diminished fruit. Under cork and probably suffering for it. Something was not right.

Dr H Thanisch Kabinett Riesling 2016 - Very pure apple, minerals with some herb at the back. Medium dry. A wonderful wine with the cheese at only 10.5% alcohol. We, as a whole, do not drink enough of this type of wine.

Wairau River Reserve Pinot 2010 – This Marlborough wine is a brooding big boy. Sometimes we forget that good Burgundy is not light and ethereal but big and tannic. Hard to believe that is 12 years old. A food wine with dark fruits. Where is it going? No idea but pretty good drinking now for its age and provenance.

17 May 2022 CoTD Bernard Leung

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Food review review by James Hill and wine review by Nick Reynolds

Food

Bernard Leung was in the kitchen today assisted by member Allen Langridge both younger members of our Society. The last time Bernard cooked he was a first-time chef of the day and was nominated as a Chef of The Year Contender.

Gauging by comments on today’s lunch presentation we’ll see him preparing the dish in next year's cook-off!

Today’s lunch had a Spanish theme and we started with a flavourful and textural gazpacho. It was made from de-seeded tomatoes, peeled cucumber, and capsicum with some red onion and a clove of raw garlic for some bite. Tablespoons of olive oil, sherry vinegar were added then ground cumin and blitzed in a blender along with a thick slice of soaked bread for a fuller thicker consistency. It was topped with some bread sippets and red, green and yellow peppers.

It looked good and tasted good.

Next served were some perfectly made - Serrano ham croquettes.

These consisted of Serrano ham diced into 5mm cubes, with béchamel sauce seasoned with nutmeg and grated Parmesan cheese. It was then rolled in egg and bread crumbs allowed to cool and then deep-fried.

They were served on top of aioli which secured them on the plate.

They were perfect.

In a Society first, a bottle of canapé wine was left undrunk at the aperitif wine table … dark days indeed.

Our main course was quail with couscous and harissa sauce.

Tunnel boned quail marinated overnight in cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. Then pan-fried to brown the outside, before finishing in the oven. This was served on a bed of couscous made with vegetable stock, mixed with diced and de-seeded tomatoes cucumbers, chopped parsley and mint and finished with lemon juice and olive oil. The harissa sauce is roasted tomatoes, roasted capsicum, blitzed with sherry vinegar, olive oil and seasoned.  Extra bowls of sauce were served to our tables for those that liked a little more spice.

It looked like the sauce may be too overpowering to be able to taste the quail but this was not the case …it was perfectly cooked.. moist and flavourful.

There were some comments as to the texture of the couscous however the main comment was that everyone wanted another serve!

Well done Bernard.

Today's cheese presented by Gary Linnane was Latteria Perenzin Di Capra In Foglia Di Noce, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Italy.

This pure goat’s milk cheese is made in the Valle del Piave in the province of Belluno. When young, the wheels are wrapped in leaves from local walnut trees which impart a delicate herbaceous character to the cheese as it matures.

Wine

One of the best things about lunches at the Wine and Food Society of NSW is the ability to experience different expressions of classic grapes. Today we experienced this in at least two of our flights.

Chilly presented us with two Rieslings to accompany the canapés. Although both were made in 2017, they were obviously made with different aims, which was apparent from how they presented today. The first was an Isolation Ridge from Frankland Estate. This was a typical Riesling with clean lemon/lime flavours and a nice straight acid line. It had pure Australian Riesling flavour and was a great accompaniment to the food. The second Riesling was a Peglidis Vineyard Watervale Riesling from Wine by KT.  Certified organic and having a focus on natural farming, this wine showed some petillance and a more textural feel than the first Riesling. The winemaker states on her website that she intends to produce wines with drinkability and personality. She certainly achieved her aim with this wine; however, the demonstrated personality is perhaps not an ideal match for Riesling traditionalists.

With the main, we moved on to two Australian Pinot Noirs to accompany the main course. Interestingly, these also provided a contrast in flavour that highlighted differing winemaking approaches. The first was a 2016 Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula. The wine presented with clean linear fruit, while the 20% new oak was more apparent on the nose than on the palate. The wine was light, perfumed, red-fruited, and ready to drink. The second Pinot was a year older and from the well-regarded Curly Flat Winery in the Macedon Ranges. With 10% whole bunch, indigenous yeast fermentation, and 100 % French oak maturation (almost a third new), this wine had a lot more structure from winemaking supporting the fruit than the other Pinot. This was apparent in the tannin structure on the palate and black rather than red cherry dominating this savoury wine.

The very tasty cheese was accompanied by two bottles of Shiraz, both from winemakers based in Hunter Valley, albeit with a different philosophy. The first was a Bin 1003 Shiraz from Lindemans. A limited release Bin, this was a treat, being an elegant wine still with good fruit and great balance. It was appreciated in the room. The second wine was a Thomas Wines Kiss Shiraz, again from 2010. This wine was perhaps more overtly fruited than the Lindemans wine but it was also accompanied by secondary characteristics indicating that the winemaker was pursuing a direction away from more austere, traditional, winemaking. Despite the higher fruit concentration, it was interesting that the wine showed more green tannins, adding a savoury edge to an amped-up wine.

10 May 2022 CoTD Gary Patterson

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Lunch review by Stephen O'Halloran

Tuesday 10 May delivered to the happy campers of the WFS an excellent afternoon.  Most enjoyable, let’s keep up the good work.

The Food. 

Gary Patterson was our chef today and he along with Peter Karr produced a fine lunch. To begin with, we had some Greek-style pastry envelopes filled with various cheeses, fetta and parmesan. Unfortunately, they were left in the oven too long, resulting in most of them being burnt and dried out.  A pity.  The next pass around was another Greek-inspired creation Spanakopita,  flaky puff pastry filled with Spinach, egg and fetta with a dusting of nutmeg. Delicious.  Very well received.

For the main we enjoyed a pork fillet with a red currant style sauce, cooked to perfection and served with baby spinach, corn and walnut in lime juice, some beautiful florets of cauliflower fried in panko crumbs with egg sitting atop pureed cauliflower and topped off with a sliver of red pepper. Visually excellent and tasted just as good.  The sole negative was the pork being served a little cooler than desirable.  That did not detract at all from the flavour. Scrumptious!

To finish we were treated to an exciting cheese from  Ireland, the famous Cashel Blue from the Tipperary region. A cow's milk cheese three months old.  Just beautiful. Creamy, smooth and most flavoursome. I had it picked as a Gippsland Blue.  They say it is Ireland’s answer to Stilton. For my part, I would prefer it to a Stilton which I often find is a little acrid and too sharp.  A wonderful choice inspired.

The Wines.

We kicked off with a Pewsey Vale Riesling 2006. Glad we did.  A delightful aged Riesling still with plenty of acid and fruit to carry it off the back palate.  Deep straw colour, by no means oxidised, but as a 16-year-old, certainly a drink now proposition.

The second cab off the rank was a  Clyde Park Bannockburn Pinot which I did not enjoy.  Thin, not much flavour a rather sad wine and expensive too!

Speaking personally, I do not like drinking red wine as an aperitif.  We have many wonderful aged  Australian whites, I wish we would stick with them for the pre-lunch drinks.  I do understand that the Cellar Master may have an agenda about making inroads into some stock which needs to be drunk.  I understand the problem if in fact there is one!

 The wines for the main course were terrific. A 2015 Greywacke PN from Marlborough NZ  and a 2014 Shiraz By Farr from Bannockburn. Both excellent. I noted that both wines were almost identical in colour, deep and concreated. The PN illustrated the difference between PN from NZ and the local product. I have always thought that quality PN from the Shaky Isles has a very similar appearance colour-wise to Australian Shiraz.  This wine had great PN taste, clean finish and lots of power to finish off.  13.5 %.

The second main course wine was the Farr 2014 Shiraz, my pick of the wines for today.  Again 13.5%.  Elegant yet powerful, an excellent wine.  With the cheese, we were served a Chardonnay and a  Dolcetto d’Alba. The Chardy was from Scorpo in Mornington 2017 and it was a blockbuster.  Huge oak and fruit flavour, it came storming out of the glass full of buttery overtones, voluptuous in texture, no room here for elegance and balance here.  I really liked it, although it was apparent from several other comments that my view was not universal.  I felt it went very well with the cheese.

The last wine was a Dolcetto 2017 from Paolo Scavino. I understand the word Dolcetto in Italian means” sweet little one.“ There was nothing wrong with the wine, it’s just that I find this grape a little insipid.  It is no doubt the Italian wines are generally food orientated, which is fine, but I felt this wine got lost between the huge Chardy and the very flavoursome cheese.

All in all, a most enjoyable few hours. Looking forward to next week already.

3 May 2022 CoTD Amosh

 

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Food and Wine report by Stephen O’Halloran

Around the world we went yesterday, the notion perhaps stirring distant fun memories for some! I digress.

We had a terrific day yesterday, travelling from the mountains and valleys of Nepal, to the sunny pastures of the La Mancha region, south of Madrid, then onto the vineyards of the Pessac Leognan region of Graves in Bordeaux. Our tour guides were our REX Chef Amosh for the food and Tony Scott for the wines. Our collective thanks to Tony for his generosity in supplying all of the wine. An exceptional gesture.

The Food

I must have been too busy taking photos and making notes to be able to enjoy all of the canapes, only snaring one chicken dumpling. The steamed dumpling came in a seductive spicy sauce which was delicious. From the noises around me, I am sure that the Puri balls and the Bara were also excellent.  The main was slow-cooked Nepalese chicken confit, a thigh with the skin on. Served with a sauce similar to the one with the dumplings. Beautiful, juicy, full of flavour, and tasted like the real chicken we grew up with. Alongside was some Pulau Nepalese Basmati rice and mixed spicy vegetables. A great combination. A most enjoyable meal thanks to Amosh.

The cheese from James Healey was up to the usual high standards we have become used to from our Cheesemaster. This time it was the legendary Manchego from the La Mancha region. A sheep milk cheese, semi-hard. It came in two servings one 3 months old, the other 12 months. Another triumph of selection by James. Great flavour, lingering aftertaste, milky and creamy delicious. I think I preferred the older version. Whenever I hear the name La Mancha, I am taken back to Jim Nabors singing the “Impossible Dream “, one of my favourites, I love the line, “to be ready to march into hell for a heavenly cause “. Quite stirring, at least for me.

The Wines

Once again sincere thanks to Tony, as the Jesuits say “a man for others“. Today we were treated to some excellent French Wines from the Pessac Leognan region, In particular, some Sauvignon Blanc, for which the Graves area is renowned. We do not see a lot of these wines here, a pity as they are a revelation in showing the comparison between Graves SB and the same grape grown in NZ. Many years ago I was able to share a bottle of the famous Graves white, Chateau Carbonnieux. It made a lasting impression. Today Tony produced two straight SB and one SB/ Semillon blend. All were excellent and went so well with all of the food. I preferred the Lurton of the two aperitif wines, but overall my choice was the third wine, the Louviere. The added Semillon gave it more depth and finish. A lovely complex taste.

 In all honesty, when you drink these wines and then compare them to that crushed Lantana smelling rubbish from NZ, the wine you only ever are served at any function I wonder why? Is it part of a Prisoner Exchange Programme with NZ?  I do not allow NZ SB in the house. There, got that off my chest!

Finally, we were served three reds from the same region. I personally thought the reds played second fiddle to the whites. Nothing wrong with any of them, just overshadowed by the excellent whites, perhaps they were affected adversely by the spicy sauce with the main. I did however enjoy the last red, the Rochemorin from 2014. Nice lifted Bordeaux after taste and flavour. Went very well with the Cheese.

All in all, a very enjoyable lunch, consistent with our high standards of late.

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26 April 2022 CoTD James Tinslay

 

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Lunch review by Stephen O’Hallaron

FOOD

Keith Steele and David Madson combined to create some delicious canapes for the near-full room. An excellent response from the membership to today’s lunch. We were treated by Keith to some prosciutto and cheese puffs with parmesan and pecorino and some very tasty prawn &and pork balls by David. Both went down with the aperitif wines, a batch of Hunter Semillons. More later.

The main was a very generous slice of sticky slow roast pork neck with Chinese spices  The pork had been marinated for 24 hrs in a combination of Chinese cooking wine, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Some star anise and light soy also featured.  It was slow-cooked for 3 hours and served with some nice roasted duck fat potatoes and green beans.  My serving was near perfect, juicy, moist and full of flavour.  Very excellent. I did however hear some faint grumbles around the table about their particular slice, such is life!  We have all been there, I often get food envy, it’s part and parcel of eating out.  I am aware that pork can sometimes be dry, but not this time. A lovely main thanks to James Tinslay.

James  Healey produced a  cheese that caused considerable debate around our table. Described as a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the mountains in Northeast Italy the  Montasio arrived at our table in great condition but challenging anyone to cut thru the crust. If that is semi-hard, I tremble at the thought of attacking a hard one.  However, after a struggle to get access to the core, it was well worth the effort! Delightful,  well-chosen James.

WINE

Cellar Master Hargraves really opened the silk purse division of the Society’s Cellar for today’s lunch.  Five excellent Barolos  and one Barbaresco . Where else would you get a lineup like that! It makes investment in WFS membership a very sound decision.  Consider the fact that the wines we had today command prices between $ 200 and $ 500 per bottle and you get these wines plus an excellent lunch for $90!  Has to be the best deal around.

The Barolos were: 2013 Sordo, 2012 Massolino, 2010 Marcarini, 2010 Conterno Fantino and a 2008 Ceretto. The Barbaresco was a 2010 Gigi  Bianco.  According to my research for Piedmont 2010 was the star vintage followed by the  2008.

Looking at this bracket it was clear to me that all wines with exception of wine 5, the Conterno, were mid red brick in colour, with the Conterno much darker  The  Massolino and the Cerrato showed some hint of browning around the rim.  All wines were quite tannic with high levels of acid.  Alcohol levels were in the 14/14.5 % range. With exception of wine 6, the Ceretto, the wines had very little bouquet.

Trying to sensibly assess these fine wines between themselves is challenging. A bit like trying to pick your favourite in a Miss World contest.  With some fear of strong contradiction by those present, I felt the Ceretto was the pick of the bunch, just ahead of the Conterno.  The Barbaresco was in the middle and the Massolino was the last to greet the judges.

I am well aware that these wines are wonderful food wines, however sometimes I feel after my last sip that there must be something more, some more thrilling final lift on the back palate, but no,  gone. But wanting more. Like a kiss from a pretty girl, but just a kiss.

I have enjoyed many fine Bordeaux wines over the years which seem to have a  more satisfying mouth-filling, lingering aftertaste, leaving one fully contented, daydreaming of the Terroir, the wind and fields and soil of the  Medoc.  

Getting back to Australia however, the two aperitif wines we had were both excellent. Both were Lindemans,  one a Bin 0755 from 2007 and the other a  clean skin, but identified as another Lindemans from 2005.  These years were regarded highly in the Hunter for the Semillon and Chardonnay. I can see why.  Despite the fact that the wines were  15 and  17 yo they were both in terrific condition, clean, balanced full of flavour.  No wonder these wines from a good year are in a class of their own.