12 February 2019 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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Our Foodmaster Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was back in the kitchen today and once again numbers were over 40.

Canapés. Bill single-handedly provided us with three starters today. We started with two canapés on pastry cups, the first being a white bean mixture topped with olive tapenade and the other was hummus topped with dehydrated chickpeas that had been flash-fried. The crispness of the chickpeas was different and very satisfying. The final canapé was lamb mince and cumin ‘fingers’, a filo pastry wrapped delight. Many members were seen following the trays around the room trying to get more of this delicious piece of heaven.

Aperitif wine. The starter today was a New Zealand Riesling from Giesen, and the year was 2012. It was only 10% alcohol. To say that the average Society member is wedded to South Australian Riesling would be an understatement. This Giesen was roughly Germanic in style and hence some degree of residual sugar. The room was not particularly fond of the style and though it was Germanic in style it could have done with a strong acid boost to balance the sweetness. The Equipo Navazos ‘I Think’ Manzanilla Sherry was served again and enjoyed. However, there were some comments that this Sherry had lost the freshness that made it so good when it first arrived on our shores and REX.

Main Course. We are talking Bill here so today seafood was the go. And how wonderful was the braised octopus that was served. The octopus had been braised for about three hours and was served in a tomato sauce. The beauty of the dish was that instead of using rice, potato, et cetera, Bill had fried a couple of pieces of bread for each plate and placed them on the base of the serving plate to absorb the tomato sauce. This ensured that we were able to enjoy every last drop of the sauce. Whilst Bill, in his usual style, played down the work involved in this dish we didn’t really care as it was so damn tasty.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Sebastien Brunet Arpent Vouvray 2014 (cork, 12.4%)
  • Laurent Gauthier Grand Cras Morgon 2013 (cork, 12.3%)
  • Burton Reserve Shiraz 2002 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Balnaves Shiraz 2008 (screwcap, 14.5%)

The main course was rich, possibly richer than our Winemaster expected, and we had two very different wines to go with it. The Chenin Blanc 2014 vintage was a very good Chenin with some minerality and depth that was a perfect match for the richness of the octopus and its sauce. The Cru Beaujolais was also a very good wine with berry character, typical of Gamay but it was not a great match for the rich main. A shame, Morgon is a wonderful Cru.

For cheese today. Paul Ferman presented us with two Coonawarra Shiraz wines. Although very different wines the Balnaves 2008 was fruity, leaning to the jammy side, and I think would have been better a couple of years ago. The Burton from 2002 garnered a strong following from the room, and there was no doubt that whilst it was the better of the wines the fruit was beginning to fade. It was still drinking very well for a 17 year-old wine under cork.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey was back on deck today with cheese and served an Australian cloth-aged Maffra cheddar, which comes in a stunning and intriguing black wax. See the picture. Our cheese experts had difficulty picking this cow’s milk cheese which was wonderfully smooth and firm not yet reaching the crumbly stage. A fabulous Australian cheese.

Spencer Ferrier in absentia provided us with a new coffee called Blue Bianca which was produced in Indonesia in the north-west of Sumatra. The beans have a bluish tinge and hence the reference to blue in the name for this single origin coffee. A medium bodied and quite fruity finish.

Bill had provided us as an accompaniment, mixed nuts, fruit and chocolate pieces with some “Greek Delight”, which is always a favourite. And of course, it had been ouzo marinated. To finish the meal, we were treated to Greek Mastika, a Bill standard, which at 21% is an enjoyable palate cleansing finish as an alternative to higher alcohol spirits.

A good vibe in the room topped off by Bill’s smile and “let’s have fun” attitude.

19 February 2019 - CoTD Merv Peacock

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Many thanks to James Hill for the food report and Charles (Chilly) Hargraves for the wine report.

In our first 'cook off' for Chef of the Year 2018 Merv Peacock was in the kitchen ably assisted by Leigh Hall.

Canapés. A diverse of canapés kicked off proceedings. Leigh presented a flavoursome smoked trout pate topped with chives on pumpernickel followed by a lamb kofta rolled in dukkha served with a tzatziki dip. The lamb was moist with some chilli heat, a great combination. Canapés were bountiful and Merv also served us some goats cheese, tomato, thyme and leek tarts that were full of flavour, crisp and warm perfectly cooked that had members calling for more.

Main Course. Not wanting to be known as a one-dish cook Merv elected to cook a different dish to last year’s curry. Still Mauritian this time prawn and fish served with rice, cucumber and Spanish onion. The dish had a good balance of flavour and texture and was well presented on the plate. He had made a spicy tomato chutney with sultanas that were a great accompaniment to the meal. If it was bottled, he could have sold out on the day given members reaction to its taste. The curry was turmeric based, with a light to medium heat and delightful spiciness. 

Merv praised the assistance of Leo our chef who suggested cooking prawn and fish in separate baking trays to retain the texture and integrity of the ingredients.

To top off the main Merv sent out some perfectly cooked large poppadums which added to our enjoyment of the dish.

The Wines.

Aperitif 

2008 Chambers Rutherglen Gouais (12.3% stelvin)

NV Manzanilla 'I Think' (15% stelvin)

Main

2012 Hugel Gewürztraminer (14% under cork) 

2009 Guigal Cotes du Rhone (14% under cork)

Cheese

2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir (14% stelvin)

2012 Gris Tollot la Ciaude (14% under cork)

Gouais is a variety of great significance given its history as the parent of about 80% of the varieties we enjoy today. Hence it’s referred to as the ‘Casanova of Grapes’. The wine today, at 10 years of age, has had a marvellous history, but perhaps not a great future. 

The wines with the fish curry were somewhat opposites. A fruity, almost lychee, 2012 Hugel Gewurztraminer with great purity and a balancing sweetness was, for many, a perfect accompaniment to the dish. The 2009 Guigal Côte de Rhône, a savoury mix of Grenache berries and Shiraz spice, might not have had enough fruit to match the spice of the dish. Also, perhaps a little mature, as the fruit was evolved and the tannins more to the fore.

The Issau Oraty cheese was served with a 2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir which had retained beautiful fruit purity and definition. Although the oak was starting to dominate on the nose, the tannins on the palate certainly held the wine together. An excellent example of an aged Australian Pinot.

The other red with cheese was a 2012 La Claude. A Minervois wine from the married couple Anne Gros and Jean-Paul Tollot. Two famous Burgundy names that brought a soft interpretation to this Languedoc wine, a blend of Carignan, Shiraz and Grenache. It’s youth and complex earthy aromas and flavours were a good match for the cheese.

The final wine generously donated by Leigh Hall was a 30-year-old Lindemans Hunter River White Burgundy. There were a number of cork issues, but, while showing some aldehyde, it still retained fruit freshness and vigour. Perhaps at the end of its life, this curious blend of Verdelho and Semillon was a testament to the age worthiness of Hunter whites.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey presented one of our Society's favourite cheeses Onetik Ossau Iraty aged 12 months. It came to the table at a perfect temperature, a sheep milk cheeses its flavour generous and well-rounded showing a nutty, fruity olive like profile.

To accompany the cheese Merv prepared a salad of rocket, green apple and pickled radish. Created by Merv it was a great match with the cheese.

Spencer Ferrier on coffee continued with our tasting of Indonesian coffee with our third week being Bali God mountain soft, sharp and evanescent (a lovely term)!

5 February 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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In what has become a traditional start to the year. James Hill was in the kitchen this week. He was assisted on canapés by Nick Reynolds and Gary Linnane. A very healthy start to the year with some 55 members and guests in a very smartly refurbed Royal Exchange dining room. The LED lighting gives a far better visual aspect to the wines.

Canapés. Two canapés for us this week. The first was a Tet’s duck (with some chicken and pork) terrine served with a cornichon on Iggy’s bread. Good texture with a flavour that was enhanced by the cornichons. The next was a simple tuna butter mixture served on some wonderfully crisp Italian crackers source from Simon Johnson. Simple and tasty.

Aperitif wine. This is the Wine and Food Society of New South Wales so what else would we have as an aperitif wine to start the year other then a Hunter Valley Semillon. This particular one was the Tyrrells HVD 2006 under screwcap and it was in wonderful condition and just starting to show some development. The Sherry today was the Equipo Navazos ‘I Think’ Manzanilla which we have had previously to very positive comments. Today, however a couple of commentators said it was one of the lessor sherries from recent lunches.

Main Course. The big fish were out today with James serving two 3.5 kg ocean trout. These were oven cooked and served with lemon butter, baby potatoes, baby asparagus and our own native vegetable, samphire. An attractive dish to the eye with the lemon butter adding a real tang to the dish. The fish was beautifully cooked and moist and attracted positive comments. With well over the numbers expected, James did pull off something of a loaves and fishes experience.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Fevre Fourchaume 1er Cru Chablis 2010 (cork, 13%)
  • Vincent Giradin Pouilly-Fuisse 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • John Duval Annexus Grenache 2015 (screwcap, 14%)
  • Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap, 13.5%)

The fish was served with two Chardonnay is both under cork. The 2010 Chablis had freshness and minerality and above all the acid to balance out this wine. The Giradin Pouilly-Fuisse was a softer wine with quite generous fruit which many found the lesser of the pair. Some commentators not fond of the wine at all. I thought they were being a little hard on what was an good white Burgundy.

The cheese wines were an exercise in contrast. The Grenache was very much in the new Australian style with its power in a velvet glove showing complex and elegant fruit with fine tannins. At 4 years of age, it has a long future. The Tasmanian Pinot Noir at 9 years of age was showing significant browning and one of the few Australian Pinot Noir is to show a spark of Burgundy. It was not universally liked, but I thought it was one of the better Australian Pinot Noirs we have tasted in recent years.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane presented the cheese today in the absence of the Cheesemaster and we enjoyed Pont-l'Évêque. It appeared to be a little young and firmer, then we would like to see this cheese under normal circumstances.

James served a very attractive and tasty salad with the cheese of coral lettuce, nectarines, chives and lemon on an oil base.

Spencer Ferrier provided us with a Timorese coffee today and a special treat, some chocolate of unknown origin that was particularly dry and not at all sweet. Beautiful accompanyment to the coffee.

With Keith Steele’s birthday in the vicinity of the lunch he bought a long three bottles of the Cockburn’s 2013 LBV which disappeared in the wink of an eye.

A fine start to the year.

11 December 2018 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker

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The last gasp lunch for the year attracted over 60 members and guests and our Chef of the Day was our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker. Bill had set upon the idea of picking four recognised canapé makers from 2018 to provide one canapé each and these were Messrs Liebeskind, Peacock, Reynolds, and Hill

Canapés (in random order).

James Hill – we have lost count of the number of times James has been a Chef of the Day for us during this year. He repeated a roast duck and lychee salad which was so popular early on in the year. The duck and lychee were served with spring onions, ginger, garlic and topped with deep-fried peanuts and sesame seeds. A hoisin-based sauce accompanied it. Served on spoons, it was plentiful and gratefully received.

Steve Liebeskind - apparently an old family recipe of Bismarck herring (pickled in a light brine) with grated green apples, red onion, fresh cream and dill served om pumpernickel. Whilst I did not try this feedback was excellent.

Nick Reynolds - an old standby for Nick, smoked salmon blinis with cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, dill and salmon roe. Always popular.

Merv Peacock - Merv served curry puffs which he had served at his initial venture into the kitchen earlier in 2018. Puff pastry enclosing beef, curry powder and mango chutney provided some spicy and savoury characteristics and much liked as they were the first time.

Aperitif wine. After having a few lunches with bits and pieces as aperitif wines during the year with excellent feedback, we had one again today ranging across Riesling, Pinot, Chardonnay, etc but with a core of an interesting Spanish wine, Astobiza Txakoli 2016. From Txakoli de Alava D.O. of Spain it is made from local grapes, called Hondarrabi Zur. We have enjoyed this previously and it is a bright and engaging aperitif wine playing the educational card for our Society.

Main Course. Bill had promised us pork in the Greek style. For 62 people that is a lot of pork! The pork shoulder was brined and then cook for 6 hours in white wine. When in the REX kitchen it was warmed and plated with an egg and lemon sauce (a Greek special) with potatoes, artichokes and spinach. There was no shortage of crackling which was extremely crunchy but possibly lacking a touch of flavour. The pork was tender with the brining assisting to maintain moisture levels. A good way to finish 2018.

The Wines.

  • Scorpo Chardonnay 2012 (Mornington Peninsula) (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Ocean 8 Aylward Pinot Noir 2010 (screwcap, 13%)
  • Orlando St Hugo Cabernet 2004 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Fontodi Chianti Classico 2011 (cork, 14.5%)

The Mornington Chardonnay was a very good Australian wine trying very hard to be a Burgundy. Slightly reductive sulphur, it had texture, purity and a light creaminess and was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork. The Pinot Noir also from Mornington Peninsula is a high-end wine from Ocean 8. It was unfiltered so there was a touch of cloudiness in the glass and it was on the lighter edge of the spectrum. It was sweeter in the Australian style but had elegance that only a handful of Australian wines can match. Both excellent selections with the pork.

The St Hugo Cabernet is a favourite of many, although the 2004 was in a more traditional Australian style with a degree of extraction which overrode any elegance that it may have had. Still, it is a classic Australian Cabernet and enjoyed by many. The Fontodi is a wine that we have enjoyed a couple of times during 2018. The 2011 vintage in Chianti Classico was excellent and this wine had the dryness, astringency and savoury characteristics that many of us love about Chianti. It is not yet at its peak.

With the larger than expected numbers at each table some odds and sods left over from previous lunches were placed on each table. A fun way to use orphan wines that added to the diversity of wine tasted.

Cheese and coffee. Today James Healey served us one of the Oscar winners of Australian cheese, Holy Goat La Luna. It looks beautiful and tastes beautiful even for those who aren’t particularly fond of goat’s cheese. A special treat for the final lunch of the year, as it sells in David Jones for north of $200 a kilo.

Spencer Ferrier served us some Indonesian coffee today, speaking about the cooperative arrangements that the country has to produce and market coffee. He also left a small gift on each table of some East Timorese coffee. Some of my table found the Indonesian coffee to be a little lacking in strength.

Bill also served dates stuffed with walnuts, candied eggplant and Turkish delights. A delightful end to the meal. The candied eggplant was amazing and a new experience for most of us.

After explaining his food preparation Bill thanked his four canapé elves for their work as well as Leo and others of the team at REX for their hard work and assistance during the year.

The President closed the lunch and the year and presented the team working at REX on our lunches with a festive season gift for their contributions during the year. He reminded the room that the first lunch for 2019 would be on 5 February and he wished the members and guests present today an enjoyable Christmas season.

4 December Mixed Lunch - CoTD Grant and Susi Montgomery

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For our final mixed lunch of the year we had our meal prepared by Grant and Susie Montgomery (both first time chefs for us) and what a meal it was. Susie was responsible for the canapés whilst Grant had allocated himself the main protein and accompaniments for an excellent crowd of eager diners approaching 50 in number.

Canapés. Two canapés from Susie today, one in a shot glass and one on a spoon. On the spoon was a deconstructed smoked salmon terrine with layers of smoked salmon, smoked salmon mousse, mascarpone and nori, topped with pickled beetroot cubes and baby cress dressed in olive oil. In the shot glass was gazpacho comprising of pepper (capsicum), cucumber, Spanish onion, tomato and basil leaves, sieved and poured over a jelly made of the same liquid but strained again over muslin and with gelatine added. Dressed with diced cucumber, onion, pepper and Greek basil.

Both starters were in the look at me, taste me and enjoy category. They did not disappoint with their promise and were much appreciated.

Aperitif wine. The first drink to touch out lips today (well, besides for those loitering beforehand at The Republic) was the Seppelts Salinger 2010. The fruit was sourced from Henty in South Western Victoria and whilst it had clean acid there was only the faintest suggestion of a yeasty backdrop. Still, a pleasant way to start the lunch.

Main Course. Grant promised us high-quality Wagyu sirloin and he delivered. I could paraphrase but from the man himself:

  • Queensland Wagyu sirloin cut Marble 5-6. Seared, rested, hot griddle grilled and then baked in the oven, rested
  • A fairly complicated porcini mushroom sauce, made with beef stock, red wine reduction, butter and dried porcini and fresh swiss brown mushrooms
  • Potato stack with some cream and garlic infusion twice baked
  • Snap peas very quickly sautéed and left crunchy
  • Assorted yellow and red carrots baked in olive oil

The professionalism of the presentation on the plate was noted. Once again, the nearby photographs save me describing this charming dish. Comments were very positive, especially about the porcini mushroom sauce with many wishing there was a little more served on each plate.  

The Wines.

  • Burton McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 (cork, 14.5%)
  • Bowen Cabernet 2006 (cork,14.5%)
  • Clairmont Crozes-Hermitage 2008 (cork, 13%)
  • Cogno Barbera D’Alba 2014 (cork, 13.5%)

With the beef there was of course an expectation of some meaty wines and Paul Ferman delivered on this expectation. Both wines were under cork and both 14.5% alcohol. The Bowen has a somewhat hit-and-miss reputation for bottle variation caused by cork, but today there was only minor variation. The Burton Shiraz was at its peak, solid, not too sweet and not over extracted. Certainly, the favourite of the two. The Bowen had some sweeter style Cabernet fruit and was also a very presentable wine drinking at its peak.

With our excellent fromage, the Northern Rhône and Piedmont wine pair provided us an excellent and educational contrast. The Croze-Hermitage was lighter in colour with the elegance of a good Syrah from the North. A very good wine. The Barbera from Cogno, an excellent producer, was beautifully balanced for a 4-year-old with a fruity but dry finish. Another excellent example of what this grape and resultant wine from that area should taste like.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey today selected a cheese to top off a “Montgomery Day” with a Neal’s Yard Dairy Montgomery Cheddar made from raw cow’s milk and animal rennet from Somerset. It was a semi hard cheese, crumbly with nutty characters. Well done James.

Spencer Ferrier took us back to Yirgacheffe beans from Ethiopian today which may not be one of his favourites but certainly it is one of mine.

In closing, the President, Peter Kelso, presented Grant and Susie a joint apron after they had both addressed the lunch about their own contributions to this very successful lunch. The head chef, Leo once again received praise for his insightful assistance.

2018 has seen several first-time chefs and all have done a great job of cooking for their companions and guests at the Society.

27 November - Wine Lunch CoTD Nick Reynolds

 

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In the absence of the lunch reviewer we have a brief description of the wine and food served at this wine lunch.

Nick Reynolds was CoTD for this final wine lunch of 2018.

Appetisers:

  • All butter puff pastry dumplings with Italian sausage both hot and sweet (sweet = non-hot).
  • Mini quiche Lorraine.

Main:

Fish soup (not bouillabaisse) with tomato and saffron plus prawns, mussels, cockles, and fish, both ling and redfish. This was served with sourdough croutons with rouille.

Cheese:

Will Studd selection Comte La Couronne.

Wine:

Appetiser - Wairau River Albarino 2017

Main –

  • 2006 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling
  • 2010 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre
  • 2015 By Farr Viognier
  • 2012 Cheron Vosne Romanee les Barreaux
  • 2002 Torbreck Struie
  • 1998 Lindemans Pyrus

20 November 2018 - CoTD Matthew Holmes

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Chef of the Day this week was first-time chef Matthew Holmes assisted by Nick Reynolds. A significant lunch as in addition to Matthew's first time in the kitchen we were celebrating the fact that Walter Edwards was turning 102 years old was this week. We had a special tasting of Keith Tulloch wines kindly donated by Keith who attended the lunch with Cameron Davies also from the vineyard.

Canapés. For those with an affection for oysters, they were in seventh heaven as Matthew had a number of trays of Sydney rock oysters which ran out far too soon for the voracious oyster lovers at the lunch. For those of us who do a pass on oysters, we heard the appreciative sounds from elsewhere in the room. Apparently, they were very fresh and tasty. In a seafood theme, the other starter was lightly poached green prawns served with a fine coconut source made from dry coconut and served in single serve spoons.

Aperitif wine. The first wine of the day from Keith Tulloch Wine was the 2017 Hunter Valley Chardonnay (13%). The wine had been fully barrel fermented in a selection of French oak and had a beautiful fullness and length of fruit balanced by sufficient acid. Drinking well now but will certainly stick around for a few years.

Main Course. Many first-time chefs choose to go softly softly with something that they know well but not Matt. He launched into a deconstructed duck curry based on traditional coconut cream with three types of chilli. There a long list of ingredients, many of which would be familiar to those who cook Asian food. The presentation of the food was splendid with the full duck breast placed on top of the mild coconut curry sauce and served with lycees. After rendering the duck breast, it had been cooked briefly in the oven. The sweet character of the lycees was a sublime complement to the sweetness of the duck. Well done Matthew.

The Wines.

  • Keith Tulloch Shiraz Viognier 2016 (screwcap, 14%)
  • Keith Tulloch Forres Blend 2015 (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Keith Tulloch Tawarri Shiraz 2016 (screwcap, 14.5%)
  • Keith Tulloch The Kester 2016 (screwcap, 14%)

The duck was accompanied by the Shiraz Viognier and the Forres blend. There is an opinion by some members that excluding the Northern Rhône blend of Shiraz/Viognier and a couple of Australian wines, that they are generally a little over sweet and perfumed. The Tulloch wine was neither and the Viognier as a percentage was up there at 5%. The grapes are co-fermented, and the result was surprisingly soft with a certain roundness from seemingly balanced fruit and tannin. The Forres blend was the favourite of a number of members who love their Cabernet blends. This 2015 was a blend of Cabernet (55%), Merlot (28%), Shiraz (9%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) with the latter being from the Hunter and the other components from Hilltops. Again, surprisingly drinkable at two years of age with, at this stage, a dominant Cabernet character.

The two reds with the cheese were a different kettle of fish as they say. The Tawarri is from a higher altitude Hunter Valley vineyard with some plum and spice evident. Nicely integrated oak and fruit created a solid impact on the palate and whilst enjoyable now, this is a wine for the longer term. Keith’s flagship wine, The Kester Shiraz, was a step up in power, but still relatively supple. Fruit flavours were very bright (a description that could be applied to all the reds today) and there was more power evident in the fruit and oak. This wine clearly needs time to reach its peak drinking time.

Keith Tulloch ran the room through a little history of the family and the confusion that exists in the minds of many about the multiple Tulloch labels that existed historically and how his family set up Keith Tulloch Wine in 1997. He is Hunter to the core. He also commented on the use of Viognier and his personal style with the variety. Keith also ran us through the five wines that he had generously presented to us today.

Cheese and coffee. We were back in the good ol’ USA today with a Cabot cheddar clothbound cheese from Vermont. This cheese has always presented well and did so again today. It is one of the more expensive cheeses available from any country.

Spencer Ferrier provided us with Brazilian coffee, the name of which was not clear. Mid strength and fruity were my first thoughts.

The President asked Wal Edwards to say a few words in honour of his 102nd birthday and of course he obliged. Wal reiterated his background in the 1930s beginning work for Johnnie Walker in Sydney and knowing nothing about wine but being able to sell ice to Eskimos. We promptly sang happy birthday in imperfect harmony before indulging in the 79.5% Inner Circle rum Wal had provided. Whew.

In closing, the President, Peter Kelso, presented Matthew Holmes with his Wine and Food Society apron and Matthew spoke about his food. He was cool as a cucumber and our Foodmaster will line him up for 2019.

Today was a lunch with three components, being a new chef, Wal’s 102nd and Keith Tulloch providing an excellent tasting of a selection of his top wines and special member only pricing for the lunch.

Thank you to all involved for an outstanding lunch attracting some 60 members and guests.

13 November 2018 - CoTD Steve Liebeskind

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Chef of the Day this week was Steve Liebeskind assisted by Paul Irwin and Jeremy Lubrano. Steve’s reputation on the pans is such that we had healthy numbers of about 50. It was a real joint effort with canapes.

Canapés. Three was the order of the day. In no particular order, we had pork terrine wrapped in bacon topped with beetroot relish on a slice of baguette followed by gravlax with dressing on the same base and finishing up with pumpernickel topped with pickled herring in a dressing mixed with onion. A prodigious quantity of canapés was produced and eaten, and this may account for the aperitif wine being consumed at full tilt. An excellent set of canapés.

Aperitif wine. Back to Riesling today with the Pressing Matters R9 Riesling 2015. The R9 refers to 9 g of residual sugar which adds just a touch of sweetness to this fine wine from Coal River in Tasmania. Interestingly enough, similar wines just at that off-dry level have not attracted much positive comment in 2019 but this wine was appreciated. A couple of comments suggested they would have liked a touch more acid to offset the small amount of sweetness.

Main Course. The presentation of the main arriving at the table was splendid. Steve later said that he had a lot of fun preparing the lunch and will take his word for that, but there was a boatload of ingredients on the plate and my description shall fall short of naming all.

The dish was sou vide salmon topped with sea weed flakes and touches of wasabi, the latter becoming evident when a spike of heat attacked the palate. On the plate with was an olive tapenade, charred onion, pickled cucumber and a Thai basil and silver beet portion. Oh, there was also some mushroom, but my memory runs out at this stage. What was particularly impressive about this dish was the incredibly crispy skin on the salmon, which was a real treat. A complex dish and a most impressive production. Indeed, Chef of the Year finalist material was the suggestion by many.

The Wines.

  • Domaine Roux “Clos des Mollepierres” Rully AOC 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • Clerget Bourgogne Rouge 2014 (cork, 12.5%)
  • Montgomery Hill The Mulberry Block Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Albany, WA) (screw cap, 12%)
  • Pallister Pinot 2009 (screw cap, 14.5%)

The fish was served with the Rully Chardonnay and the red Burgundy. The former wine we had only a few weeks ago and it is a fine example. At 5 years of age it had a mature richness and fine acid cleanliness. The Clerget was lighter bodied, but an excellent example of the Clerget style albeit at the lower end of the range. It. A delightful pair of wines to have with the salmon.

The Winemaster repeated the combo with the cheese with the WA Chardonnay opening the batting followed by the Pallister New Zealand Pinot Noir. And there the likeness ends. There are winemakers, wine professionals and consumers who like a touch of sulphur in wines on the basis that it can had some complexity and body. The Chardonnay had the match struck reductive sulphur style that divides a room. Whilst proponents claim it adds a degree of Burgundy complexity it is a style that I don’t enjoy but others loved it. It was an impressively low 12% alcohol. The New Zealand Pinot from Martinborough was on steroids compared to the Burgundy in the first bracket. Too big, too sweet.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane provided us with a Beaufort cheese today. This raw milk rather firm cheese is associated with the Gruyère family of cheeses and was in wonderful condition. We were fortunate indeed to have large portions this week.

Spencer Ferrier in absentia provided us with one of his best liked beans, Kenya AA. As usual, fresh beans and high-quality beans produces good coffee.

A top-quality lunch with Steve once again confirming his experience and expertise in preparing attractive, complex and seductive food for large numbers.

6 November 2018 Melbourne Cup lunch at Brick Lane

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Some 45 members and guests attended the Society’s Melbourne Cup lunch at Brick Lane in Darlinghurst. We started with three NV Champagnes, Gosset Brut Excellence, Bernard Bremont Grand Cru and Donson Blanc de Noir and after that it was a BYO event with some fine bottles produced.

Many thanks to James Hill for organising the lunch with the Brick Lane and REX crew and to Kiran who kept the room purring along over many courses.

The me and you looked a bit like this.

Duck Samosas

Duck & cinnamon, eggplant dip

Spice Cured Smoked Salmon Tostada

Spice cured smoked salmon, citrus avocado salsa, coconut yoghurt

Batata Vada (vg)

Plump spiced potato and chilli dumpling with tangy coriander chutney

LIGHT BITES:

Naan-Mi

Roti bread wraps with roasted pork belly, spiced pate curry sauce, spring onion, chilli

King Prawn Curry Leaf (gf)

Grilled king prawn piece on prawn & coconut curry with spiced basmati & betel leaf

MAINS:

Served with spiced basmati rice and roti bread

Holy Cow (gf)

Boneless tender beef curry, slow cooked with nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon

Coconut Chicken Curry (gf)

Tomato, fenugreek, red chilli, coconut cream, with cucumber & cabbage slaw


DESSERT:

Chai Chocolate Moose

Sweet roti and honeycomb

A wonderful lunch with spices but no real heat to suit our whole cohort.

30 October 2018 - CoTD Gary Patterson

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A special lunch today with some 60 members attending with Gary Patterson in the kitchen, turning out a wonderful duck pie for each of us, and member Bruce Tyrrell, providing his now annual Hunter Valley tasting of the best of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show. Paul was assisted by Matthew Holmes and Paul Thorne.

Canapés. Gary’s intention for this lunch was a total duck theme and we started off with duck consommé, which was made using the carcasses of the ducks which had been clarified with egg whites and flavoured with some saffron. It was sumptuous. This was followed by Peking duck on blini with cucumber, hoisin and a few other bits and pieces topped off with a wonderful crispy piece of duck skin. It looked. A classy canapé.

Aperitif wine. Staying with the Hunter Valley theme, our Winemaster had sourced from Bruce, the Tyrrells HVD Semillon 2013. At 5 years of age under screwcap it was as fresh as a daisy with crisp acidity which had obviously softened just a little to make the wine drinking well now and with a medium-term future.

Main Course. Hand making 60 duck pie for a lunch is not for the fainthearted. Gary never baulks at doing something different in his own style and in his own time. Gary had used the meat of 12 deboned Peking ducks with some pumpkin and pate and hand wrapped each in the pastry. Going to our web page to look at the photograph to the duck would be worthwhile. The ducks were served with a sauce of soy, hoisin and fennel with an interesting salad and asparagus. The salad had some sweetness for the duck. The fact that all the plates went back to the kitchen empty says it all. Well done

The Wines. Bruce Tyrrell had badgered a number of wine makers in the Hunter to provide us with a selection of the best wines of the 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Show. There were 11 wines in all and you can view a photograph of the listing of wines on the website under Recent Functions, no password required.

The five 2018 Semillons from 2018 were as a group surprisingly soft and drinkable and confirms somewhat of a style change over the past half-decade or so. The six Shiraz from the 2017 vintage varied significantly with one wine, Mount Pleasant Old Hill 1880 Vines Shiraz, at $135, showed massive oak and a most un-Hunter style.

Cheese and coffee. Gary Linnane filling in for James Healey as Cheesemaster gave us a will Studd El Esparto Manchego. This sheep’s cheese from La Mancha is easily identifiable by its tyre tread like skin and the example we had today was well aged and some thought a little on the dry side.

Coffee by Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a favourite of mine.

The combination of Gary in the kitchen and Bruce supplying wines was a combination that worked to a tee. Thank you to both for an extraordinarily enjoyable lunch.