16 April 2019 - CoTD Hal Epstein

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Food notes James Hill

Wine notes Charles ‘Chilly’ Hargrave

Hal Epstein was in the kitchen today for our sixth and final Chef of the Year cook-off.

He was assisted in the kitchen by James Hill.

Canapés. Hal and James provided us with two canapés today. The first, by James, was a chicken and lemongrass meatloaf served with lettuce, cucumber, coriander and mint. It was served two ways, with toasted croutons and on spoons. An interesting canapé that had residual heat from chili and sriracha glaze. The inspiration for this dish is the Vietnamese Ban Mi sandwich. Next was Hal's prawn balls made with prawn, coriander and shallot, seasoned and dipped in flour. Egg whites and bread crumbs were used for the bind with a dipping sweet chilli sauce. They were plump and delicious with great flavour and well commented on by members as most of the canapé was prawn with no extra filling

All the canapés were spicy and popular and a challenge for an aperitif wine however the Pikes held up well.

Aperitif wine. The aperitif wine today 2009 Pikes Traditionale Riesling. Pikes always make a fruit forward style, and this was no exception. After 10 years it had showed definitive fruit and some freshness and showing more brown lime than fresh lime. And certainly, no petroleum characters. Perhaps best drunk a few years ago, it was still lively on the palate, although there was a little bottle variation.

La Guita Manzanilla. We’re back to some fresh sherry with this wine. Lovely purity with its traditional tangy, salty dryness. A long finish with nutty flor notes and a refreshing minerality.

Main Course. Rather than show us the rabbit dish that Hal was nominated for as CoTY contender he took us on a tour and taste of Thailand.

Today we had Homok a traditional dish (steamed fish pudding) cooked in coconut milk with spices and herbs something rarely available in Sydney Thai restaurants. The fish Hal used was monkfish and served in paper parcels.

The accompanying dishes were:

Thai Yum sei Nam Prik (Yum = salad tossed with spicy sauce) again spicy with traditional ingredients. Nam Prik is on every restaurant table in Thailand as salt and pepper is here.

Kao Nieo Sticky rice white with some black mixed in this helped to counteract spiciness.

Favourably commented on and enjoyed by all, the heat wasn't overwhelming, and we had a great balance of flavour, spice and texture in the meal.

The Wines.

Main course

2015 Pressing Matters Riesling R9. Rather closed with hints of lime and apricot. It had a pleasant sugar/acid balance although a little more richness would have carried the sweetness further. Nevertheless, it went extremely well with the lightly spiced main.

2012 Triennes Rosé. I personally believe this one of the best rosé producers in Provence. There is a wonderful savoury complexity from its mix of Cinsault and Grenache. While we are encouraged to drink rosés in their youth, the freshness of this wine reflected its prestigious Burgundian pedigree. With its fruit and dryness, it was another excellent companion to the main.

Cheese 

2006 Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay. Although perhaps a little mature in flavour, this Chardonnay still had the right weight and texture to complement the Burgundian cheese. The oak was a little separate to the fruit having been made in what we might call the ‘old style’.

2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir. Another Burgundy variety to match the origin of the fromage. We had this wine not that long again, perhaps it was the cheese, but there seemed a slight volatility which, with the toasty oak, masked the fruit. The palate, however, had a very good flavour, texture and length that easily carried the fat of the cheese.

Cheese. 

James Healey presented a Delice de Bourgogne, a pasteurised cow's milk from Burgundy. Served at room temperature it was a challenge to section.

Described as a decadent triple cream incredibly rich with a buttery sweet interior with a slight sour note on the finishing palate.

Iggy’s bread went well with the cheese.

Hal made a quince paste (now in season) to accompany the cheese. Hal mentioned that he had miscalculated the cooking time and the paste was somewhat caramelised. It didn't detract from the flavour.

Coffee.

Spencer continued our African journey this time with coffee from Malawi, it had a medium to light flavour a little tannin, good drinking.

9 April 2019 - Paul Irwin CoTD

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Paul Irwin was cooking for us today and was assisted by Steve Liebeskind. Again, a very good attendance at 45.

Canapés. Between the two of them, we were served three canapés today. Having only the opportunity to try one, the following is a direct description from Paul:

  • Citrus cured tuna, with a touch of fish sauce, coriander and some red pepper. Also added a touch of sesame oil to round out the palate and counteract some of the acids.
  • Mushroom pate, which was a 48-hour sous vide mushroom, cooked with butter, thyme, butter, brandy, butter and some seasoning. I then added some butter to round it out and fit with the Riesling we were no doubt going to start with.
  • Beetroot relish by Steve Liebeskind, which had some star anise and other spices to give it some savouriness and paired with a sheep’s cheese.

All three were beautifully presented and the comments from the floor were complimentary. I tasted the beetroot relish and thought that the star anise, a wonderful spice, added depth to this combination.

Main Course. Sous vide played a role in both the canapés and the main course the latter using lamb backstrap as the protein. The first impression was the picture-perfect presentation. As always, all the images are on the website and some in the lunch report, which all members receive.

The lamb backstrap was sous vide and coated in salted leek ash. The leek ash was carbonised, and it left all commentators puzzled as to the origin. This was served with “hasselbacked” beets (very accurately sliced) with sour cream and sumac, a smoked eggplant baba ganoush underneath the meat, roast carrots (cooked with lemon, cinnamon and cumin), and a blanched broccolini.

The visuals of this dish were excellent. As you would expect with sous vide the meat was perfectly cooked with pink from the centre to the carbonised leek exterior. The dish looked good and tasted good.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Heggies Riesling 2011

Valdespino Inocente Fino

Valdespino La Guita Manzanilla

That Riesling was in fine condition and though under screwcap there a was a little bottle variation but only with the colour not so much the condition. It was quite a firm wine with minerality present. The comments were very positive.

Main and cheese:

Yalumba Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Yalumba Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Terre a Terre Crayeres Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Wrattonbully) 2014

Chateau Belloy (Canon-Fronsac) 2010

The two Yalumba wines were an interesting comparison and both were in the Coonawarra Cabernet style with some mint evident. The 2009 showed a little bit more “age” on the meniscus and a slight extractive element and the 2008 was preferred by many. Both are drinking at their peak and were a fine match in the time-honoured style for Australian lamb.

The Cabernet Franc from Australia and the Right Rank Bordeaux were a distinct change of style. The Cabernet Franc was a little controversial. Some loved it and there those who decidedly did not like it. I thought it an extraordinarily easy drinking wine with clean, bright and crisp perfume with weight, but not too much, in the Australian style. The Château Belloy was a typical 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc and had some of the Bordeaux power that you would expect from the Right Bank. A solid wine with good tannin structure.

Cheese and coffee. James served us today a Berry’s Creek Riverine Blue, which was particularly deceiving to the room given it was buffalo milk. It left many guessing. It had a beautiful soft creamy mouthfeel with intense blue/green portions and was much enjoyed.

The coffee from Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe a stone’s throw away from the origin of the coffee from the previous week. A full flavoured coffee with sweet overtones.

Another excellent lunch.

2 April 2019 - CoTD Gary Linnane

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Gary Linnane stepped in as Chef of the Day at short notice and was assisted by James Hill with canapés and Bill Alexiou-Hucker jumping into the kitchen to assist with plating. 46 members and guests attended. What a wonderful number for a non-wine luncheon.

Canapés. If there is one thing that most Australian males can scoff down with a beer or wine, it’s a great sausage roll. God’s comfort food! Gary produced a goodly number of miniature sausage rolls which were cooked perfectly and very tasty though they could have been a little warmer, but I believe that was due to a timing issue with serving. Next up was a canape prepared by James Hill which was smoked duck sausage charcuterie served on some wonderful Iggy’s bread. Underneath each piece of sausage was either some quince or pear paste. The paste added another dimension to the duck and was a big success.

Main Course. Saint Peter may be a religious icon, but today we were treated to Saint Peter of Oxford Street seafood sausages which was a repeat of a successful lunch from Gary in 2018. The sausages are made daily with seafood of the day and today we had sausages with ocean trout, snapper, ling, onion and assorted seasonings.

The sausages were served with colcannon, crispy bacon bits and a Marie Rose source. One comment thought the sauce was too strong for the seafood, but this was an isolated comment. All in all, the dish was much loved by our audience and it was suggested that it may become the annual festival of the seafood sausages.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

St Huberts Chardonnay 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

The St Huberts was supplemented by a couple of odd bottles but was the main aperitif wine. At 6 years of age it was hanging in there but had a quite broad Australian Chardonnay style profile. The wine had not lost fruit nor was oxidised (under screwcap) but was a wine that needed to be consumed now.

Main and cheese:

Craggy Range Chardonnay 2010

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2010

Denmar Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Bress Shiraz 2009

The 2010 pair were served with the main, a good pair. The New Zealand Chardonnay is of great pedigree and with 8 years of age, it was still pale and showing a good acid/fruit balance and was in peak condition. This would never be mistaken for a Chablis with its very rich fruit but was an excellent Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay.

The Coldstream Hills Pinot was showing remarkably well for an entry-level Australian Pinot Noir. It was showing some browning and it had the typical sweetness of an Australian Pinot but with some restraint. It could not be mistaken for anything but Pinot Noir and had a nice intensity of fruit and ready to drink now.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey had for us today. The familiar black cloth Maffra Cheddar from Gippsland in Victoria. It was between aged between 12 to 18 months. The cheddar is quite soft with a little bit of crumbling evident and it was beautifully creamy. The cheese was served with a fruit bread which provided an interesting variation.

The coffee from Spencer Ferrier today was Ethiopian Guji. The Guji region is between Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, both coffees we have enjoyed before. It had sweet fruit overtones and was silky smooth.

We enjoyed two birthday wines with coffee and cheese today. Thanks and happy birthday to Peter Manners for his Cockburn Fine Tawny and to out CoTD for his Yalumba Antique Tawny Museum Reserve.

Gary closed the Masters' comments giving us some details about Saint Peter and its produce.

Another good lunch.

26 March 2019 - CoTD Nick Reynolds

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Fifty members sat down to the March wine lunch this week prepared by Nick Reynolds as Chef of the Year cook-off number 5. Nick as assisted on canapés by Bill Alexiou-Hucker. Nick summed up the meal as a vegetarian event which given the population of the room, received full agreement. However, the eggs may not meet the standards of others who would never be a part of our Society.

Canapés. The first canapé was “fancy” filo tartlets with baby cucumber, home-made hummus and cherry tomato slice. Look at the photograph to see why the word fancy was used. This was followed by hollow cucumber bases with olive tapenade and home-made baba ganoush.

Main Course. Nick had promised us a repeat of his double cooked soufflé which was so popular last year. The souffle was double cooked using blue cheese including Gorgonzola and Roquefort sauce served with a salad of baby spinach, kumara, feta cheese, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, eschallots and red capsicum with a white balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette.

As in 2018, the dish was lovely. One member commented (I paraphrase) that most of us would not do two at home and 50 is just crazy.

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Wairau River Albarino 2016

Hugel Riesling 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

The aperitif wines had a clear winner in the Hugel Riesling. Whilst their entry-level wine, it is always good value and yet again showcases the world's most underrated grape. The Albarino which has been served once or twice before was a bit flat and needed a little more acid to get me excited.

Main and cheese:

Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012 (five vintages)

Wynns Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

The Wynns black label would have to be one of Australia’s most loved labels and was first released in 1954. It would also be one of the most collectable wines with many in the room having multiple vintages in the cellar. In recent years, the Black Label has continued to improve under the stewardship of Sue Hodder at Wynns.

As befits the sort of people we are, there was a lot of different opinions about each bottle but of course, there was bottle variation.

1998 – At release claimed to be the vintage of the century as with many 1998 wines from South Australia, it disappointed. The wine was not bad from what is now considered to be a lesser vintage, the fruit had faded with some extraction evident.

2004 – this was the last of the label to be bottled under cork and it was drinking well with all the attributes of both the Black Label and Coonawarra. Balanced, clean and drinkable.

2006 – this was the firmest wine of the group and only one of two of the Black Label at 14% alcohol. At its peak, drink.

2008 – 2008 was a warm vintage and there were signs of over-ripeness matched with a grippy finish. It may improve.

2012 – beginning to drink well with tannins softening already. This is a very clean and balanced wine. With well-presented and typical Coonawarra Cabernet overtones.

Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 – some of us thought that tannin was starting to dominate although the structure of the wine was good. There was much difference of opinion and some loved it and one of our knowledgeable wine men suggested it could do with another 10 years ageing.

This was a fascinating tasting and Paul Ferman was thanked for the theme. No matter what each taster thought of each vintage (and there were large variations), the tasting reinforced what most of us think of the Wynns black label. It must be borne in mind that the prices of this wine have barely risen over the years and possibly decades as opposed to its stablemates at Penfolds which have seen dramatic price increases over the past 5 to 10 years.

Cheese and coffee.

Due to the unavailability of the original cheese, James was given only short notice to change horses and he served a Merco Mucia al Vino, a Spanish goats milk cheese. Apparently, it is matured with a natural rind for a minimum 45 days during which it is washed with local red wine which is very high in tannin. It had mild to mid fruity flavour and buttery texture but was not one of the members favourite cheeses served in recent times.

Mixed nuts accompanied cheese.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) continued his world coffee tour with Kenyon AA beans today. This has been one of my favourite coffees and today was no different.

Nick thanked Bill and our in-house chef, Leo, for their assistance in the Chef of the Year cook-off.

Brian Sproule closed the lunch reminiscing about the lunches of 50 years ago with other members present at this lunch and the changes that had been brought.

19 March 2019 - CoTD Josef Condrau

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Thanks to James Hill for his review of the lunch

Josef Condrau was in the kitchen today for our fourth Chef of the Year cook-off.

Canapés. Joseph provided us with three canapés today. The first was blinis topped with salmon roe and creme fraiche. Then followed two different terrines on a baguette the first a pork, duck and cranberry terrine topped with gherkin and the second Iberico pate (Iberico is the famous Spanish black pig) made from pork belly and pork liver with sherry.

All the canapés were tasty and popular and were a good match for the aperitif wine.

Aperitif wine. The aperitif wine today was the Tyrrell's Vat 4 Stevens Semillon 2007. This wine under screwcap was in excellent condition green and gold in colour with fresh citrus and floral characters. The palate showed citrus with great length and acid finish. It showed how well wine can keep under Stelvin.

Members welcomed back a more approachable Sherry, Valdespino Inocente Fino.

Main Course. The day was coolish and a perfect day for a rack of lamb that had been frenched and then baked with garlic, fresh mint and Dijon mustard. The lamb was tenderly cooked just beyond the rare stage. The meat was tender, succulent and a joy. It was served with baked cherry tomatoes with basil, green beans with bacon and fried polenta sticks (the polenta was done with parmesan and then reheated in the oven). Presentation was colourful red yellow and green, the tomatoes and beans crunchy and good. Some thought that perhaps a jus to accompany the meat was needed but the depth of flavour and perfect cooking of the lamb showed it wasn't required. It was one of the most perfect serves of lamb the room has seen and tasted. The lamb was sourced from Vic’s meat and they advised it is obtained from Tasmania.

Well done Josef.

The Wines.

Main course

Alva Castro Dao from Portugal 2009 cork 13% alcohol a blend of Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. A smart wine with sweet fruit character and acid to match the dish.

 Trapio Yecla (Spanish) the is 100% Monastrell grapes from 2008 under cork with 15% alcohol. 

This Monastrell is from free-standing vineyards over 50 years old. Intense cherry red colour, with complex aromas of leather, liquorice, tobacco and minerals, with a wide mouth and a long and intense roasted end. It was well made with great flavour.

While Cabernet is normally the wine we associate and prefer with lamb these wines showed up very well.

Cheese 

We were fortunate today to be able to try both a white and red wine from Priorat in Spain.

Clos Figueras 2016 a Priorat blend of white grapes of Viognier, white Grenache and Chenin Blanc under cork 15% A great textured mouthfeel and acid finish.

Marco Abella Liodana Priorat 2013 under cork 2013 blend of Garnacha and Carignan 14.5% showed red and black fruit flavours and delicate spice notes. Elegant and balanced.

Both wines complemented the cheese.

Cheese 

James Healey presented a Le Gruyere Swiss gruyere unpasteurised (raw) cow's milk.

It came to the table in perfect condition. The pate is slightly grainy with the wonderful complexity of flavours at first fruity then revealing earthy, nutty and sweet characteristics that linger on the palate. Josef served some ripe pear and dates with the cheese.

Coffee

Spencer showed us decaf Columbian coffee that had some Swiss magic in the process that kept the coffee strongly flavoured and full bodied.

 

12 March 2019 - CoTD James Hill

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Lunch 12 March 2019

Some 52 members and guests attended this cook-off number 3 by our frequent flyer Chef of the Day, James Hill. The two words ‘duck pie’ may explain the popularity. James was assisted in the kitchen by our Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, and assisted on the canapés by Nick Reynolds.

Canapés. Not mucking around with two canapés, there were three starters today. First off were Queensland scallops on a purée of sweet corn, golden shallots, garlic, butter and wine. The comments around the room were very positive, especially about the texture of the scallops being ‘just cooked’. Next up was a simple ‘salami on a stick’ which fully describes this very tasty piece of cured sausage. Origin unknown. The third involved Iggy’s bread as is so often the case with James. Amazing bread. Today it was a capsicum (sort of) paste, called Ajvar. More of a relish, but with full and spicy flavours. From Google, for our education:

Ajvar is made of roasted or cooked peppers. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot (ljutenica). Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish. There are a few variations of ajvar. If it contains tomato, then it is called pindjur or if it contains eggplant is called malidzano.

Main Course. Finally, a break from seafood. The duck ragu that James used as the heart of his pies was based on a Terry Durack recipe. The ragu filling had the usual carrots, onions, spices et cetera et cetera. The 50+ pies were handmade on the morning of this lunch and were served on a base of green pea purée with poached radishes on the side. The appearance of the dish was pleasing and defined simplicity. The ragu had a depth of flavour reflecting the long cooking time with vegetables and other ingredients. The jus was the icing on the cake.

The comment of the day was ‘chips would have made it better’!

The Wines.

Aperitif:

Morin Sancerre 2013

Valdespino Inocente Fino NV

 

Main and cheese:

Mauro Molino Barbera 2015

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre (Veronese) IGT 2011

Vasse Felix Filius Cab Merlot 2013 (not tasted for this review)

Craggy Range Syrah 2008

Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot Minervois La Ciaude 2012 (not tasted for this review)

Given the large numbers at the lunch, no two tables had the same suite of wines and so the five listed above were some of the more common shared amongst tables.

The Allegrini wine was really a Valpolicella but not legally. It had a touch of Sangiovese thrown in with the usual Corvina and Rondinella which made it a “non-complying” wine of the area and hence an Indicazione Geografica Tipica or IGT. By no means is that a reason to think second rate. Some of Italy’s best wines are IGT’s. At 8 years of age, it was a medium-bodied style with a light fruitiness as befits Valpolicella. The wine has probably started down the incline and would have been better a couple of years ago, but still very enjoyable.

The 2015 Barbera was in wonderful shape. Behind the worship associated with Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Barbera runs number two in red varieties. Mauro is a very good maker and this wine was lean, aromatic with intensive flavours. A very good wine from a very good year.

Possibly the best wine of the day, which was shared by all tables, was the Craggy Range Syrah 2008. This Gimblett Gravels wine whilst not a skinny weakling was highly refined with length and power followed up with a white pepper character. This is one of New Zealand’s best wines and you can see why.

Whilst I did not taste the Vasse Felix or the and Anna Gros wines, I would imagine that the Minervois would have been the better of the two having had it on many occasions.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey had selected a Rhône Alpes cheese for us today, a Beaufort, the producer being Thones. This cheese lit up the faces of all around the room and whilst our suppliers apparently under delivered the quantity, there was sufficient of this beautiful cow’s milk cheese to go around. James commented that as it was lighter in colour and hence probably the winter version of the cheese. The price of Beaufort is in the very top echelon of imported cheese into Australia and you can see why.

A simple salad accompanied the cheese and as usual, bought comments about salad being served at all. Tradition lads!

Spencer Ferrier today served us Monsoon Malabar Arabica coffee and explained the background to its name. We have had this coffee before but not for some time. It is very full flavoured and ideal for those of us who only drink coffee sans dairy.

James summed up his meal and the cooking part of the day and thanked Leo and Bill for their let’s get into this job attitude. He also thanks Nick for the meticulous work in preparing three canapés for over 50 people.

Well done guys for a very good lunch.

5 March 2019 - CoTD Gary Patterson

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Thanks to James Hill for the meal review and to Chilly Hargraves for the wine comments

In our second 'cook off' for Chef of the Year 2018, Gary Patterson was in the kitchen assisted by Gary Linnane and Matt Holmes.

President Peter Kelso welcomed members and made special mention of our annual visitor from the West, Basil Greene, who attended with his brother Peter.

Canapés. The canapés that kicked off proceedings were sashimi salmon with wasabi paste and pan-fried crab cakes.

The sashimi tuna was very fresh, and its intense colour was a stand out with just enough wasabi paste to add to our enjoyment of the fish.

The bountiful crab cakes were fabulous, plenty of crab meat served warm with a generous squeeze of lime. Blue swimmer crab meat was used and a corn tapioca meal used to bind the cakes, it was tasty and a popular canapé.

Main Course.

Gary likes to accompany his main portions with salads or similar to produce light fresh dishes. Today we had a salad with individual seafood terrines. Gary used whole pieces of seafood in each terrine rather than pureeing the seafood. The resulting texture was excellent. Whole pieces of scallops provided a beautiful plump centrepoint for the dish accompanied by king prawns and salmon supplied by Tassel. He had sourced all the seafood from a local wholesale outlet avoiding retail to ensure quality. The terrine was served room temperature and was made with cream mayonnaise, leeks and onions. Gary added some cayenne pepper to give the dish some heat but not enough to overwhelm the flavours. On each terrine, there was a spoonful of salmon roe to add to the wonderful mouthfeel.

Members were generous in their praise of the dish with some comment that the accompanying salad of lettuce, apple, tomato, pickled mushroom, yellow capsicum and almonds could have been dressed to enrich the flavours.

A wonderful dish, perfect on a hot autumn day.

The Wines

Aperitif

2011 Cherubino Riesling Great Southern WA (11.5% Stelvin)

Main

2012 Scorpo Chardonnay Mornington Peninsula (13.5% Stelvin)

2013 Yves Cuilleron Sybel Rose Northern Rhone (12.5% Cork)

Cheese

19 Clyde Park Pinot Noir Bannockburn Geelong (13% Stelvin)

09 Angullong Sangiovese Orange Region (14.5% Stelvin)

2011 Cherubino Riesling - A pleasant mix of lime and toast, but rather low in acid. Easy drinking. Although not over the hill it lacked vigour and freshness.

Manzanilla Sherry - Certainly losing freshness with some devolving rancio notes. The palate was quite broad and a little tired. Too long in bottle.

2012 Scorpo Chardonnay - Very new world with lots of wild and barrel ferment characters. Still very fresh, it showed a typical regional fruity profile with texture and depth. There was a “funky” dryness on the palate and quality oak on the finish.

2013 Yves Cuilleron Sybel Syrah Rosé - A controversial wine that seemed to sit between a rosé and a red. At 6 years of age it had lost its original juicy fruit, but still carried its red wine structure and tannins. A cork closure certainly didn’t help.

2016 Clyde Park Pinot Noir - Quite ripe cherry notes but showing some development. Tannins were soft with obvious oak flavours. Another contribution to the argument that most Australian Pinots need to be drunk young. Very different to the 2008 Coldstream that we had recently.

2009 Angullong Sangiovese - A wine very much in the traditional Australian red style. Although many Chianti have alcohols above 14% this wine was more about the ripe fruit and oak than savoury Sangiovese. While not tired it lacked varietal definition and flavour.

NV Lyndhurst The Grate Rare Tawny - Not sure if Grate was misspelt here, but it was certainly an exceptional wine. Beautiful aged, rancio notes freshened with some quality young material. Very textural with a balanced sweetness. Thanks James Hill for this birthday wine and Happy Birthday.

Cheese and coffee.

James Healey presented Fromager blue d’affnois a pasteurised cow’s milk from Rhone Alpes France It was runny with had a soft creamy texture, the flavour mildly blue with a buttery aftertaste.

Gary served nectarines and walnuts to accompany the cheese with multigrain bread.

Spencer Ferrier provided a Nicaraguan El Penon San Juan Rio coffee showing bright flavour notes with a long finish.

26 February 2019 CoTD Peter Kelso

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Our President, Peter Kelso was in the kitchen today and was assisted by Martin McMurray. Being a wine lunch, it was well attended with 48 members attending.

Canapés. Two canapés today. Whilst I did not get to try either of these canapés, I can report that the first was sesame prawn toast. The second was tuna dip which apparently was loosely based on an Elizabeth David recipe with walnuts, horseradish and braised leek. The tuna had been seared prior to making up the dip. It was served on a biscuit.

Main Course. Continuing our seemingly endless season of seafood Peter cooked a Cajun blackened fish which was served with a fresh sweet corn and onion mix, courgettes with mint and rice prepared with preserved lemon. The fish was from the Dory family and was wonderfully flaky and flavoursome.

Peter complimented Leo for his expert assistance in the kitchen.

The Wines.

 

Aperitif:

Lindemans HV Bin 1155 Semillon 2011

NV Manzanilla 'I Think'

Wine tasting:

Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 2011

Benjamin Leroux Chassagne- Montrachet 2014

Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2014

Benjamin Leroux Gevrey Chambertin 2013

Lignier Gevrey Chambertin 2011

Remiossenent Gevrey Chambertin 2009

The Lindeman’s wine attracted comments around the fact that whilst it was good wine, it was atypical of the classic Hunter Valley Semillon’s that Lindemans and others have long made. It was noted that 2011 was a difficult year in the Hunter. Soft, not much acid, with a touch of fruitiness not often seen in better Semillon’s.

For the wine tasting, the order was as above. The Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet whilst eminently drinkable was probably a little past its best. Showing very mature characteristics it would have been livelier a couple of years ago. The Leroux was quite a comparison as it was very dry with prominent acid and showing a touch of struck match sulphur. A very good wine. The Tolpuddle stood out immediately from the older two white wines. It was richer whilst being very elegant but a little simple and shorter than the French Chardonnays. It is a very good Australian Chardonnay.

The Leroux Gevrey-Chambertin was already quite soft with a complexity and freshness that made it the pick of the three reds. The Lignier appeared prematurely aged with extracted bitterness and was probably the least wine of the day. The Remiossenent showed age and was quite tannic and whilst a good wine, it would appeal more to those who liked that style.

Overall, leaving aside some minor criticism the Burgundies were all elegant.

Ross Tzannes, as it is his want each year, supplied us with four bottles of his birthday wine, Remiossenent Beaune-Greves 2014. It was soft, drinking remarkably well with a great future. Thanks Ross.

Cheese and coffee.

Taleggio was the pick by James Healey today. At peak eating condition this washed rind cheese was fabulous.

Accompanying the cheese were figs in perfect eating condition and pear.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) had purchased coffee from ONA coffee in Canberra, which was founded by the 2015 World Barista Champion, Sasa Sestic. Nick Reynolds' daughter is the Cafe Operations Manager for the Group and her partner Sam is the roaster and runner up in the 2017 World Coffee Brewer's Cup. Those who went to the Canberra weekend away a couple of years ago enjoyed their restaurant and their hospitality. The coffee was Black Betty, an espresso blend, which was very soft and rich with characteristics bordering on chocolate.

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)!

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.