15 December 2021 Bill Alexiou-Hucker CoTD

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Food review by Rober Wiggins

Reader Alert!  This does not have a review of the wines, these will come later.

As I write this from my covid induced downtime near the end of the year, it is a good time for reflection on the year that was, including the last Wine and Food lunch for the year; Bills’ Bash.

Bill threw everything, including the kitchen sink at this one. Left no stone unturned or palate left wanting.  The wines flowed freely, with Chilly doing his damnedest to empty the cellar of the wines deemed to be surplus to our requirements.  Especially in light of the moving of the cellar to a new home.

It was a very busy lunch, with Bill everywhere, including the awarding of the Chef of the Year Award at the end of the festivities.

This was a Greek fiesta from start to finish.  And as befitting both the occasion and the chef, we had close to 60 members attending.  An affair to remember!

Canapes

The requisite Greek Occopussy was delivered charred to perfection, with chunks on a spoon with a bit of Greek salsa.  Very delicious, but a bit of salt was needed for those with jaded tastes.  Bill steamed these Cephalopods for an hour, charred them on the hot plate then chopped and dried them.

This was followed by succulent, keftedes; juicy Greek meatballs, made from grated tomatoes, oregano and dried onions, then deep-fried.

This was served with a great tomato-based sauce (with rendered reduced tomatoes, basil leaves and garlic and onions. The only negative comment was the sauce was hard to pick up by the balls, (isn’t that always the case?). Possibly a small implement for dishing out would have been appropriate. You could tell how juicy the balls were, with many members having the clear juice running down and through their jowls. These little babies were hoovered up by the members, whenever they made an appearance.

The Taramasalata cups were a wonderful taste setter, smooth and creamy centre, plus some Fetta and capsicum cups.  This was a clever innovation by Bill; he used burritos, cut into shapes and pushed into the right shapes in the cup pans, lightly baked and the result was a brilliant base for the two fillings.

To round it all off, there was the requisite Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) with tzatziki dip.

Needless to say, there were no leftovers.

Our Food Master produced all of this by himself!  Amazing.

Mains

For the main show, it was as one member remarked “delicious chicken with the best skin he ever tasted”

 It was, of course, Bill’s Slow cooked pork belly, with wonderful crackling testing both some of the old teeth in the room as well as their shiny new dentures.

This was accompanied with a fennel and apple puree, some hasselback potatoes, (cut, steamed and cooked in duck fat), sautéed broccolini in butter and a mushroom red wine reduction

For Bill, this was a 3-ring affair or more to the point a 3-refrigerator affair to keep all of the goodies cool for opening day.

Cheese

The cheese was a Holy Goat La Luna Ring.  This ring-shaped La Luna goats’ cheese is made using organic goats’ milk from Sutton Grange in Victoria. Surfaced ripened with geotrichum, which give this cheese its distinct wrinkly exterior. Runny inside the rind, curdy and smooth in the centre, this cheese is delicate, flavoursome and nutty. And it was delicious!  Good choice guys for the end of year celebrations.

Cheese accompaniment

Charcuterie; no salad but a tray of 3 different types of meat from Woollies.

Then to finish it all off, we had Baklava with the Society coffee

If we had not had enough firewater by this time, out came the Mastiha for a digestive.  Evidently, this only comes from one place in the world; sap from a tree on Mastica, which was also used for chewing gum and body lotions.

This whole affair was almost at the end when Bill presented the Chef of the Year Awards

Between the six chefs, there was only a 1-point difference, with the imitable Steve Liebeskind coming up trumps, for yet another year.  So, all of the drunken chefs were all contemplating on where they would be hiding their celebratory knives as they prepared to board public transport.  

It’s been a challenging year for all of us and let’s hope that 2022 sees us all in a much better space and time than this horrid year full of dodging, weaving, hiding, lockdowns and masking up.

See you all in 22, with possibly these write-ups from someone new.

 

7 December 2021 - CoTD Peter Kelso

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Food and wine review by Robert Wiggins

Tora, Tora, Tora; December 7th, 1941

80 years ago, when Pearl Harbour was bombed in a sneak attack by the Japanese.  This act of treachery gave the Americans the go-ahead to get into WW11.  This changed the course of history. Eighty years later, some of our previous friends are enemies and some of our enemies are now our friends.  The world has been tossed about like a careless Italian salad, thanks to Covid

Some of the comments today from the ladies, were that it was so good to be back at the Wine and Food Society and after the past couple of years, it had felt like we had gone through a war and now hopefully we are emerging from it.  A bit like leaving a bomb shelter, where you have been locked up forever, to find that upon emerging that there is life outside again and the world is starting to look like normal again.

It will take a great deal of time to recapture the abandonment of senses that enshrined the pre covid days of being able to do almost anything you wanted as long as you had the funds and health to do it. This is especially true for travel, either within our divided country or around the world.

So, with this second to last lunch of 2021, there was a great deal of optimism running through the room on where we and the world go from here, even with the spectre of more variants than you can poke a breadstick at.

Peter’s contribution was good; however, Catherine’s was outstanding!  Behind every great man is an even better woman peeling prawns.  Catherine peeled her way through around 350-400 large prawns… which is a very amazing and dedicated feat.  And the result was certainly worth it and we were lucky enough to partake in the feast.

However back to the beginning.

It was ladies’ day, which due to covid had been placed into abeyance for almost the past two years.  Therefore, there were many outstanding catchups with both the ladies and the members.  The Lanson Black Label champers flowed freely as a great starter to limber up the palates.

Canapes

The starters consisted of small cups of a cold consume of green herbs, made with chicken stock with infused parsley, sage, rosemary and lemon sorrel.  Only the thyme was missing, which was the only thing preventing Peter from bursting into song.

The other starter from James Hill was anchovy butter with a green Sicilian olive on croutons.  Both were an excellent way to begin and went well with the Lanson.  There were no other wines served with the canapes, and the Lanson certainly provided more than enough enjoyment on its own, with subtle malolactic acid smoothness.

Main Course

As previously mentioned, Catherine’s hard labour with the prawns certainly paid off.  The prawns came to the table, cooked to perfection, again with some help in the kitchen from Rob.. he really is an asset, compared to some of the previous cooks.

Peter said that the green king prawns were marinated overnight in a sweet chilli sauce, olive oil and garlic with a bit of preserved lemon. They were then sauteed very quickly in a hot pan and served with the marinade and a sauce made from the prawn heads on a bed of boiled rice with minced onion and sumac. The crisp al dente green beans were steamed with a sugar syrup/miso sauce. There was already a touch of heat in the sauce, but for those who like it hot, Peter provided a separate accompaniment of a hotter version of the sweet chilli sauce.

From Peter’s comments, this very labour-intensive meal is probably a one-off, so if you were here today, you were lucky to enjoy a great dish, if you weren’t then you have probably forever missed out.

There is a problem with the white sourdough bread that James Hill provides from Iggy’s.

It is far too delicious forcing many of us to eat more of it than we intended, especially with the tasty butter. Very cruel James, you are killing us with kindness and expanding our waistlines.  This was especially true with the fruit and nut bread; pecan and cranberry, also from Iggys, which was a perfect partner with the cheese.

The main course wines consisted of two Aussie whites and two Italian reds with cheese.

The 2016 Leo Buring Leopold Riesling from the Coal River in Tassie was termed a “wild beast” with natural styles layers of complexity and a bit “off-dry”.  It was the favourite with the prawns.

The Tyrrells 2018 Stevens Sem was fresh and bright with citrus notes and acidity and drinking superbly at this stage of its life, with fresh, vibrant fruit.

The two 2017 Piemonte cheese wines were both from the Italian maker; Paolo Scavino, to match James’ cheese.

The comments were;

The Barbera d’Alba had tannins that were not broken, fruity, cherry layers, with high acidity and luscious.

The Dolcetto was a joy to drink, with a peachy nose, a soft style and a great match for the cheese. It was commented that the tannins in this wine were too much until they were consumed with the cheese and then this became the standout wine.

Well today, James Healey, our resident Cheese Meister, went out of his way and also deviated from his cheddar tilt that he had steered us through over the past month.

This was a delicious Italian taleggio … in perfect condition. 

The microclimate 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 and should not be confused with the industrial waxed or vacuum-packed copies that are a poor imitation of the original.

This was a real treat today and a perfect pick for the ladies lunch.

The cheese was served with an oak leaf lettuce and rocket green leaf salad with a few nasturtium leaves scattered throughout, dressed in a vinaigrette of sherry and balsamic vinegars with walnut and olive oils. Some toasted walnuts were served with the taleggio.

The whole soiree did not wind up until close to 5:30, with many of the ladies remarking on how they were looking forward to the next lunch that they are invited to.

Next weeks’ lunch is the final lunch of the year and is a sold-out affair, however, don’t hesitate to put your name on the waiting list as there are usually some dropouts.

We are all looking forward wishing each other a Merry Christmas at the next lunch and there are several members who because they are not able to go on holiday due to the chaos with covid are looking to send their livers on a holiday during January, with a dry month, as there are no further lunches on until February in the New Year.

30 November 2021 - CoTD Roger Straiton

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Charles "Chilly" Hargrave

Now, this is a big write up, but it was also a big meal and occasion.

It was the last wine lunch of a shitty year of covid, lockdowns, freedom, more lockdowns, cancellations of lunches, not being able to travel and complete dislocation of our lives in a totally unexpected way.  So, after all of this, there had to be some good news and relief and today was that day.

It was the Chilly and Roger show, with Roger providing the excellent background music and Chilly playing virtuoso.

Yes, it was the wine tasting not to be missed and it did not disappoint.  Members emerged from the woodwork, including many who had not been seen for ages… this was a meal and a wine tasting that would entice even the timidest out of their repose to attend.  All 55 of us!

It was a very jovial affair, with many members remarking on how good it was to be able to congregate together again.

It is hard enough cooking for 30-40 people, but when that number swells to 55, well, feeding that many in the manner that Roger and his trusty sidekick Denis Redfern did, was worthy of the wine fest.

It was all 2002 and 2005 Left Bank Bordeaux.  Now given that Roger’s middle name should be Bordeaux as he has probably consumed more of this fabulous elixir than any of us, it was entirely fitting that he cooked for this presentation.

Roger, or should we say Annie, knew exactly what to cook.. it was as Roger stated that it was a meal that did not detract from the wines and allowed us to completely savour the Bordeaux

The entrees

Were a duck pate, that had been soaked in cognac on a small piece of bread.

The salmon mix in a small pastry shell was care of Denis’s implement of questionable legality; his smoking gun!  The salmon was sous vide, (French for "under vacuum"), for just under an hour in a bag also containing lemon and dill.  Then Denis smoked those little suckers with hickory chips (and other secret ingredients; might have to start calling him Colonel Sanders or maybe Wyatt Earp) with the smoking gun.  The fishes then slept for two days in the refrigerator, to ensure that neither they nor any bugs would survive this treatment.  This was completely science-driven to make sure that there were no remaining pathogens in the fish.  Again, the dishes that look so simple have such a complex background.

The third canape was haddock on a cracker, as a nod to Roger’s heritage. This was tasty, and just to prove it was real fish, Denis left a couple of bones in the mix.

The two canape wines went well with the aperitifs.  Chilly will expand upon the wines further below.

The Main Course

The main course consisted of two very tasty spread thighs, with crispy skin and tender flesh. It came to the table hot with delicious tarragon based creamy sauce. Also on the plate were some broccolini and asparagus for the greens. There was more than enough food for all of us, even with 55 hungry souls… you did very well Roger with this delicious chicken dish.

The meal itself was exactly what Roger set it out to be; to be a background or neutral accompaniment to the wines, as the meal while being excellent, did not detract or add flavours that would mask the Bordeaux’s.

The Cheese

The cheese, as James promised, rounds off a month of cheddars from around the globe.  This extra mature 18month old cow’s milk Cheddar from Devon in the West Country was a fantastic finish to this cheddar journey

This clothbound cheddar is made the old-fashioned way. Farmhouse cheddar, made on the farm and in small batches, is hard to find and demand is greater than supply.

Quicke’s ethos is quality over quantity. They manage their herd carefully, never pushing them above their breeding limits and ensuring they enjoy a long and happy life, even getting 60 days’ maternity leave prior to calving.

The truckles are specially selected for their brothy, caramelly flavour and dense, fudgy texture after maturing for a minimum of 18 months.

Each wheel is hand-made and reflects true craft and seasonality making each batch exciting to taste.

Speaking of Wheels;

Now, who said that the squeaky wheel doesn’t get oiled?  Last week, Joseph made a comment regarding the paper serviettes that we were dolled out, rather than the traditional cloth napkins.  There were a few comments at the time about it being a bit petty.  However, the cloth napkins were back in business today, and from the many comments, we are very pleased that Joseph stood up and spoke about this matter. It was also important that he was listened to and his appropriate criticism was acted upon.

It is important for all of us to have an opportunity to voice concerns in a constructive way to keep the Society moving forward in a direction that takes both the best of our history and blends it with being in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century.  Thanks Joseph, it was great to have those cloth napkins back!

We finished with both the house coffee and the remainder of Roger Prior’s cognac from last week.

 As a Society, we are very fortunate to have these wines in our cellar and as one member pointed out, the wines that we consumed today would be worth in excess of $300, given their rarity and popularity.  On top of this, we had an excellent meal, cheese and coffee, for the meagre sum that we paid today.  We are very fortunate!

The Wines by Chilly

The canapé wines were a pair of aged Tyrrell’s Semillons. The 2013 Vat 1 was everything that you could wish for in a mature Hunter Semillon. It was still bright lemon and citrus while carrying notes of butter and toast. The 2011 Johnno’s was a note complex wine, but quite disjointed. A very different style to the Vat 1, it lacked the fruit drive of the former and a rather tough phenolic finish.

Of course, the focus of a wine lunch is the pre-poured glasses in front of us. With such a big number at the lunch, the pouring is a complicated exercise. Many thanks to James Hill, James Tinslay, James Healy, Frank Liebeskind and Gary Linnane.

On the table were three classified Bordeaux château from the 2005 vintage and three from the 2002 vintage, all on the Left Bank. The former is probably récolassent the better vintage, but, as is often said, “producer, producer, producer”. I believe this was again the case with today’s range of wines where the 2002s showed better than the 2005s. In order of presentation, they were;

2005 Château Haut Batailley. A 5th growth from Pauillac, it showed the power and tannin structure expected of the appellation. Currently owned by the Cazes family (which also own Lynch Bages) its vineyards adjoin those of Château Latour. Traditionally a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlot (30%). With aromas of cassis and violets and a balanced palate of fruit, oak and tannin, it drinking beautifully.

2005 Château Talbot. A 4th growth from St Julien, its vineyard holding at 102 ha are the largest in Bordeaux, they abut Léoville Las Cases and Léoville Barton. Currently owned by Cordier, the assemblage is typically Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (25%) and Petit Verdot (5%). At today’s tasting, it showed some reduction on the nose which hid the fruit. Similarly, on the palate, it was a little tough and hard.

2005 Château Beychevelle. Another 4th growth from St Julien, it is one of the older properties in Bordeaux. In the 16th century, the Duke of Éperon was so powerful that boats had to lower their sails when they passed. In French, this is “baisse voile” which was corrupted to Beychevelle and the label carries a picture of a sailing boat. Now owned by Suntory/Castel there has been a significant investment in the winery and vineyard in recent years. The wine showed a delightful mix of quality oak and sweet berry fruit on the nose, while the palate had a lot of drive with recognisable grainy, dry tannins. Still bright and fresh, it was probably the most appropriate wine for keeping of the three from 2005.

2002 Château Léoville Barton;  Another wine from St Julien, but this time a 2nd growth. It was once part of the largest estate in Bordeaux before the separation of the properties Léoville Las Cases and Léoville Poyferré. Unlike most Bordeaux estates the property does not have a château. The château pictured on the label is actually that of the sister St Julien estate, Chateau Langoa Barton. A blend with a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) it showed bright red currant fruit aromas with a heavy layer of oak. As might be expected with a most prestigious growth, it was a big wine with fruit and acid carried by oak and firm tannins. Still a young wine with a solid future.

2002 Château Dufort Vivens; Again a 2nd growth, but this time the only wine we saw from the Margaux appellation. A château with a famous history and renowned for its quality. In fact, around the time of the 1855 classification, Château Margaux was the only wine in the region that commanded a higher price. It has been owned by the Lurton family since 1961 and is another chateau with large plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon - generally about 75% in their first wine. In the glass, it was unmistakably of Margaux origin. Its fine perfume and subtle soft tannins are a hallmark of the appellation. There was a wonderful Cabernet fruit expression with great mid-weight and length. My preferred wine on the day.

2005 Château Pontet Canet, another 5th growth from Pauillac, it is generally recognised as a wine that hits above its ranking in the 19th-century classification and the price often reflects that opinion. Its vineyards (which have a relatively high proportion of Merlot) adjoin those of Mouton and Lafite. Again, in the mould of the appellation, the wine was quite a brute. It was deep and layered with intense cassis fruit. The palate was similarly powerful with lashings of vanilla oak and chalky tannins. Certainly, another wine with a bright future.

Interesting Culinary Note:

To give you an idea of the time and trouble that Roger and Denis went to with the meal, here is an insight into the cooking journey they embarked upon;

Duck Rillettes

A whole duck was washed in cognac and dusted with a blend of herbs made with an industrial spice grinder that turns at 24000 rpm. It came from China but is mostly sold in India. It will grind up to 500g of spices at a time and is incredibly noisy. He uses it to grind up herbs and salt for dusting confit duck, comprising bay leaves, thyme, parsley, black peppercorns and salt resulting in a fine powder. The duck is dusted inside and out with this herby powder and then stuffed with slices of ginger, garlic, thyme, and orange peel

The duck is wrapped in four layers of foil and roasted in a very slow (140C) oven for five hours. After cooling to room temperature, the duck spends a night in the fridge, and then all the meat, fat and jelly is taken off the carcase and mixed in a food mixer with more cognac, Dijon mustard, white pepper, fresh thyme leaves and melted butter. The rillettes are transferred to a plastic tub and decorated with grated orange peel, sprigs of thyme and sealed with melted duck fat. At this stage, it will keep in the fridge for a month or more, but the one that was served on Tuesday only had three days.

The toasts were made with stale Costco baguettes by slicing thinly and baking in a 200C oven until golden. After cooling, the toasts are vacuum sealed to make sure they don’t go soggy.

On the day the rillettes are served on toasts and decorated with radish and gherkin.

Salmon Mousse Bouchées

I make smoked salmon according to a method I have developed over the years.  After buying a side of fresh salmon from the fish market, I wash it in dilute lemon juice to kill any surface pathogens, then portion it into three pieces, topping each piece with dill and a lemon slice. These pieces are vacuum-packed and cooked sous-vide at 55C for forty minutes. They are then iced to cool quickly. After cooling, they are transferred to a large bag which is cold-smoked with hickory produced by a Polyscience Smoking Gun https://www.sousvidechef.com.au/products/polyscience-smoking-gun?variant=13054860918839 The bag is quickly sealed and refrigerated for a couple of days o infuse the salmon with the smokiness.

The salmon is mixed with Philadelphia cream cheese and creme fraiche in a food mixer to make mousse.

The mousse is piped into Jos Poell canapé cups jos-poell-mini-toast-salad-ragout-cup cups and topped with a slice of cucumber and some salmon roe.

And there you have it folks, a great meal, influenced by science gliding in the background to the tune of Bordeaux.  

 

23 November 2021 - CoTD Steve Sparkes

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard Gibson

Steve Sparkles again

The ever-reliable Steve Sparkes was in the kitchen, reheating up a storm.  If you ever want a safe pair of hands in the galley, Steve is your man.

November 23, 2021 (a quiet nod to JFK 58 years ago)

CANAPES

It was all a quality show, with a bit of a throwback and transportation to my wasted and forgotten youth of the 70’s with the canapes presented as party pies and sausage rolls, plus the obligatory prawn cocktail on a cracker. It made me nostalgic enough to want to go home after lunch and watch Number 96 with Abigail and listen to a bit of Led Zep and Black Sabbath. However, I refrained from those urges and went to the pub instead for a couple of quiet ones with the boys.

Steve’s meal was supposed to be put on in the middle of winter, however, due to covid restrictions, it was delayed to the middle of November.  The weather was very obliging, with a relatively damp, cool day which went nicely with the fare that Steve served up.

The Pork and Fennel Sausage rolls and the Beef pies with crispy pastry, care of the Bourke St Bakery, came with some tangy sauce containing chilli and tomato and was washed down with two pinots, rather than the staple whites that are normally on offer for the aperitifs.

These were the Moss Wood and the By Farr.  From all accounts, the By Farr was by far the better wine as all I tasted was the Moss Wood which might have once been a good wine, (doubtful) but the fruit has long since departed leaving only the spectre of green acid behind.  The current cleanout of the cellar is long overdue as nothing lasts forever, especially mediocre wines… see the real wine report by Richard below.

LUNCH

It was quite a turn up for the lunch, with just about a full house as the word got around that Steve was in the kitchen and it did not disappoint. The main was a wonderful combination with both a piece of lamb saddle and backstrap wrapped together, with a delicious gravy that Steve remarked took more time and effort than any other part of the meal.  Steve was a bit disappointed that the exterior was not crispy enough and needed a bit more salt, however, it would have been hard to fault it.

The gravy was a blend of multiple kilos of chicken wings and necks, pressure cooked and reduced down, plus the bones from the lamb, which Steve sourced from Sutton Forest Meats, which is his go to for quality lamb. That is an enormous amount of work for a gravy, which is why it tasted so great.  I suppose this is one of the factors that separates the mediocre and good chefs from the great… if it was me, it probably would have been Holbrooks powder from the can.  My only complaint about the gravy was that the extra reinforcements arrived at the table after the meal had been devoured.  It was a temptation (resisted) to pour more gravy onto the empty plate and use the bread to sop it up.

The corn puree accompanying the meal was simply pureed corn off the cob mixed with cream. Sweet, simple, delicious and vibrant yellow colour.  Placed upon the puree was a mix of peas, carrots and both black and red beetroot (Keith you missed out), with a few small edible (hopefully because they were devoured) flowers sprinkled amongst the veggies.

There was also a small round of a potato, crisply baked, to assist with the gravy

The wines with the meal are provided by Richard Gibson

For the entrees, the Sangreal By Farr Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2010 & Moss Wood Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2010 were on the table.

The Farr wine (13% alc)is a single vineyard pinot produced from vines grown on the Farr family’s Bannockburn vineyards near Geelong. The area features limestone, bluestone and red ironstone terroir and Farr winemaking is in the minimal intervention camp;  70% whole bunch; open natural yeast ferment; unfined and unfiltered – it is aged in mostly new oak.  The nose displayed perfumed dark cherry fruit, some smokey notes and spice. The palate showed intense, ripe cherry/plum fruits followed by cedar/spice. Tannins were velvety and well-integrated, and the wine had considerable length.  Overall an expressive and powerful, yet balanced, pinot.

The Moss Wood (14% alc) appears to have been made from Mornington grower sourced grapes (handpicked; open natural yeast ferment; 12 months in French oak) - it being noted that Moss Wood also produce a Margaret River sourced pinot.  The wine showed bright, cherry/red berry fruit with spicy, earthy notes. The palate displayed attractive developed cherry and plum fruit, soft well-integrated tannins and nuanced oak.  It was an elegant, balanced wine with generous length. 

The room was divided on which wine was the best in this bracket (so we’ll rule it as a draw). Both wines went well with the tasty ‘comfort food’ canapes.

MAIN COURSE WINES

Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon

Vertical tasting – 2015,2010, 2006,1998  (all served with the main course)

The Black Label Cab Sauvignon is a perennial favourite of Society members – it has a deserved reputation for producing amazingly consistent varietal and regional characteristics.  The wine is produced only from the top 20-25% of Wynns Coonawarra cabernet fruit.

The 2015 displayed intense, attractive ripe dark fruit and cherry aromas with cassis/spice and chocolate notes.  On the palate, the wine was of medium weight and well balanced with soft ripe fruit with cedar/tobacco notes, fine polished integrated tannins and good length.  These characteristics were a common thread throughout each of the 4 vintages.  The 2010 was almost identical with similar levels of richness and intensity of fruit (but more developed on the nose), attractive cedar notes, palate softness and seamless balance – the main difference being that the tannins in the 2015 had not reached the same degree of integration/roundness of the 2010, which is ageing very gracefully and is in the peak drinking window now.

There was some considerable bottle variation amongst the 2006’s and in particular the 1998’s (being the only wine under cork).   The 2006 bottle on the writer's table displayed a well-developed nose but there was a shortness in the fruit with a consequent more ‘angular’ and less balanced palate which was dominated by tannins and acidity – but it was nevertheless still quite drinkable.  Other tables fared better with their examples and the fruit and overall balance of these wines held out well.

The 1998’s were on the whole disappointing and should have been consumed some time ago.  The writer's table bottle was particularly poor as the wine displayed fading, stewy oxidised fruit and lacked structure.

All wines were 13.5% alc.

CHEESE

The cheese was a traditional Tasmanian clothbound semi-hard cows milk cheddar in a 16kg wheel from Pyengana

Pyengana Cheddar is made by hand in north-eastern Tasmania using fresh Tassie milk from nearby farms and their own modest herd of Holsteins. Building on a dairying history of 130 years in the region, Pyengana Dairy has evolved to combine the best of traditional techniques and modern innovation to create their award-winning farmhouse cheddar.

One such innovation is that the Pyengana cows are able to decide their own milking frequency by taking themselves on a short walk to the dairy and through a milking robot, before being rewarded with a back rub. (I think a few of the members would be up for that; come to think of it, maybe that’s where a couple of them disappeared to after lunch!)

Apart from this robotic milking and pasteurisation of the milk, Pyengana Cheddar is made according to traditional, handmade techniques that date back to the turn of the century. The curds are formed using a technique known as ‘stirring’ and after hooping, the wheels are clothbound and pressed. These are then matured for up to 12 months on pine shelves at the dairy where the natural microflora plays a crucial role.

The symbiotic relationship of the developing surface moulds and cultures helps to develop a fine-textured, crumbly body, along with aromas reminiscent of summer grass, herbs and honey, and a long, sweet and nutty flavour.

This was all topped off with a 1962 birthday Armagnac from Roger Prior.

As one member remarked, how lucky are we to be living in this country at this juncture in time.

As a nod to Steve’s Australiana theme, a word from that wordsmith Austen Taayshus

Sitting at home last Sunday morning, me mate Boomer rang

Said he was having a few people around for a barbie, said he might cook a burro or two

I said, "Sounds great, will Walla be there?"

He said, "Yeah and Vejja might come too"

So I said to the wife, "Do you wanna go, Anna?"

She said, "I'll go if Ding goes"

So I said, "What'll we do about Nulla?"

He said, "Nulla bores me to tears, leave him at home"

 

We got to the party about two and walked straight out the kitchen to put some booze in the fridge

And you wouldn't believe it, there's Boomer's wife Warra sitting there trying to plait a puss!

Now, I don't like to speak ill of Warra, but I was shocked; I mean how much can a koala bear?

So I grabbed a beer, flashed me wanger at her and went out and joined the party

 

Pretty soon Ayers rocks in and things really started jumping

This Indian girl Marsu turns up, dying to go to the toilet, but she couldn't find it

I said to me mate Al, "Hey, where can Marsu pee, Al?"

He said "She can go out back with the fellas, she's probably seen a cock or too"

 

Well just then Warra comes out of the kitchen with a few drinks for everybody

Fair dinkum, you've never seen a cooler barmaid

I grabbed a beer and said, "Thanks Warra, tah!"

 

A couple of queens land at the party, one smelling pretty strongly of aftershave

One of them sat down next to me and I turned to him and I said, "Ya know mate, you reek of Stockade!"

It was a really hot day; Oscar felt like a swim

He said to Ina, "Do you want a have a dip in the river, Ina?"

She said, "I haven't got my cozzy, Oscar!"

Well Bo says, "Come in starkers, what'll they care?"

Ina says, "What, without so much as a thread, Bo?"

"Ah, perish the thought! Has Yucum been in yet?"

 

Well a few of the blokes decided to play some cricket

Boomer says "Why doesn't Wom bat?"

"Yeah, and let Tenter field"

He said I should have a bowl, but I was too out of it to play cricket so I suggested a game of cards

I said to Liptus, "Wanna game of euchre, Liptus?"

He said, "There's no point mate, Darr wins every time"

 

Well Bill said he'd like a smoke

Nobody knew where the dope was stashed

I said, "I think Marie knows"

But I was just spinning a bit of a yarn

Barry pulls a joint out of his pocket

Bill says "Great, Barry, a reefer!, What is it mate?"

"Noosa Heads of course. Me mate Ada laid 'em on me"

And it was a great joint too, it blue Mountains away and his three sisters!

 

Well I thought I'd roll one meself, I said, "Chuck us the Tallyho, Bart!"

He said "They're out on the lawn, Ceston, can you get 'em for us?"

Bernie says, "It's okay mate, she's apples, I'll get em for ya"

Just then Alice springs into action, starts to pack Bill a bong

And you wouldn't believe it, the bong's broken

I said "Lord how!"

"Hey man," somebody says, "will a didgery do?"

I said "Hummmmm, mummmm, mummmmm, mummmmm, maybe it'll have to"

 

I look in the corner and there's Bass sitting there, not getting into it, not getting out of it

I said, "What, is Bass straight or something?"

Boomer says, "As a matter a fact mate, he's a cop"

I said, "You're joking mate, a cop? I'm getting outta here. Let's go, Anna"

She said, "No way, I'm hangin round till Gum leaves. Besides, I don't wanna leave Jack around a party on his own

Have you seen him? I think he's trying to crack on to Wumba; he's already tried to mount Isa

And he'll definitely try to lead you astray, Liana!"

Thank you and goodnight!

 

Last line stolen from the great David Letterman sign off

 

16 November 2021 - CoTD Hal Epstein

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard Gibson

Doubleheader with a home run.

We all rocked up to another full house; the word had gotten around and queues began to form for places at the tables.

The twin bats of our resident Cooking Maestro, Bill Alexiou-Hucker and the wily old fox himself, Hal Epstein (whose resume of culinary delights spans almost every type of edible animal, and arguably inedible, did a double backflip twist, presenting a totally different take on his meal; completely vegetarian. (Lots of small animals out there were breathing a sigh of relief, especially the obscure ones).

However, this is where Kill Bill stepped in with an absolutely perfectly cooked slice of sirloin on the plate, in addition to Hal’s vegetarian fiesta.

CANAPES

We opened with three very interesting canapes.

There was a yellow (turmeric) pickled cauliflower, which was quite different, but extremely zesty and tasty, followed by some mini zucchini muffins and rounded off with the good old guacamole with tomatoes mixed in plus corn chips. The guacamole had two variants; hot or normal.

This was washed down with both the Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2016 & Timo Mayer Doktor (Kabinett Trocken) Riesling 2016.  Both pleasant wines, but nothing outstanding with either.

The Drumborg Riesling is part of Seppelt's premium Drumborg Vineyard range and is sourced from the old, cool-climate Drumborg vineyard in Victoria’s southwest region.

The nose displayed attractive developed lemon/lime citrus followed by hints of apple and steely minerality. The lemon and lime flavours continued on the palate which displayed considerable fruit purity, balance and length with good acid levels.

Timo Mayer is a respected Yarra Valley producer with German origins. The  Doktor (Kabinett Trocken) Riesling however is sourced from vines grown on the family vineyard near Stuttgart in southern Germany.  The nose displayed lean, clean lemon citrus characters – still a very fresh wine with racy acidity.  The palate showed excellent fruit purity with lime and apple flavours, and clean minerality. It is a polished wine with good length and balance.  The room was divided on which was the better wine but both went very well with the canapes.

MAIN MEAL

For the main, Hal presented a delightful combination of a three coloured capsicum/ eggplant stack, consisting of very lightly cooked pickled capsicum, eggplant, caper berries, mixed with buffalo mozzarella cheese.

For his part, Bill had cooked up three large sides of sirloin that were perfectly cooked and immaculately sliced in a perfect uniform manner; when asked how he did this the answer was very simple; Rob in the kitchen sliced them; we are very fortunate to have him in the kitchen to both assist and occasionally lead our cooking fraternity.

The wines with the mains were;

Lindemans Bin 1100 HV Shiraz 2011 and Tyrrells Steven Shiraz 2011 (both under Stelvin)

The grapes for the Lindemans wine are sourced from the original Ben Ean estate vineyard, matured in old French oak for 18 months. With still deep crimson colour, the nose displayed a richness of (only slightly) developed cherry/raspberry fruits followed by a medium-bodied spicy, velvety palate with soft well-integrated tannins and excellent length. This wine (13.5% alc) remains in great shape and should develop nicely.

The Stephen’s Shiraz (13.00% alc) is sourced from both old Tyrrells and former Stephens family vines and aged 12 months in larger format French oak barrels (2500L & 500L). The nose displayed rich dark cherry and raspberry notes and spicy vanilla oak.  The palate was medium-bodied with spicy red/blackberry fruit, biggish oak/tannins and bright acidity (still a little dominant at this stage) and excellent length.  It will benefit from further ageing.   The consensus was that the Lindemans was perhaps better drinking on the day insofar as it showed better balance at this stage.

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2012 and Saltram  No 1 Shiraz 2010

The Mamre Brook (15% alc) is made from grapes grown in NE Barossa valley and the higher Eden Valley and is matured in large French oak (old and new) for 16 months. It showed aromas of dried, rich plummy red and blackberries, spice and liquorice.  On the palate, it was medium to full-bodied with ripe, intense dark fruit flavours, big tannins and high acidity.  At this stage, it is not yet in balance and needs time.

The No 1 (14.5% alc) is the premium Saltram Shiraz and is sourced from old vines grown on the valley floor near Angaston. It displayed a rich plum and mulberry nose with spice, cassis and chocolate notes.  On the palate, it was full-bodied, opulent with savoury, velvety well-integrated tannins. Balanced and complex, with excellent length, it was the clear favourite of this bracket.  Both wines went exceptionally well with the cheese.

(Wine report is provided by Richard Gibson)

CHEESE

James presented a cows milk, semi-hard, cloth-ashed cheddar in a 2kg wheel from Calendar, a Maffra Victorian cheese company.

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

Head Cheese Maker and Owner, Ferial Zekiman, considers herself a farmer first and foremost, as she believes that ‘without great milk, there cannot be great cheese’. Her herd of Holstein-Friesian cows graze on the lush rye and clover pastures that surround her dairy located in Central Gippsland.

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 locked-in moisture as they age at the farm in temperature-controlled maturation rooms, ensuring they remain vegetarian-friendly. They are also Halal-certified.

Ferial grades the cheeses throughout ageing of up to 24 months with only the very best wheels receiving a hand-stencilled logo on the dark clothbound rind if they display a firm yet crumbly texture, sweet flavour and long finish.

We finished with the Society coffee and everyone agreed it was an excellent meal.

9 November - CoTD Mark Bradford

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Review by Roger Wiggins

How would you describe Mark’s meal today? I would sum it up in one word: Courageous.

After the meal that he served earlier in the year, which came under an enormous amount of criticism, many people would have just either given up or retreated licking their wounds. Not Mark, he took on board the comments and stepped right up again to bat.

The meal and canapes this time were in plentiful supply and a great assortment of dishes. Very well-done Mark for your enthusiasm and vigour in your work today.

The canapes consisted of two sorts of small micro quiches some with spinach and cheese and the other an anti-pasta mix, with chopped olives and sundried tomatoes. There was also a large quiche lorraine which came out piping hot. The smaller micro quiches were a little bit underdone, resulting in being a little chewy, but quite tasty.

Mark being the mathematician that he is, called these his pi dishes.

Mark also served up a corn fritter with a tomato chutney.

The aperitif wines were a 2002 Jacobs Creek Steingarten Riesling from the Barossa and a 2008 Tyrrells Stevens from the Hunter.

One of the members, Phil Laffer was actually the wine maker for the Steingarten.  His discussion on both the wine, the way it was made and the style, plus the history of the vineyard and the saving of the old vines from being pulled out was fascinating. We were also treated to a technical discussion on the evolution of the Stelvin closure. How the early caps, being like a top hat and the seals being only on the top of the bottle were prone to popping with a bit of mishandling. They were later changed to a more rounded top that extended the seal, providing better protection for the wines. We are very fortunate to have as members in our Society people like Phil who not only know the history of the wines and makers, but also interesting information on the technical nature of wines.

Both wines were extremely fresh, especially the Steingarten, being 19 years old. Phil thought that it was now at a stage where it would not get better, however there were comments that it would probably be in good shape for the next 5-7 years. It is fantastic that Chilly is now going through the cellar to bring these wines to the table that should be consumed now, rather than saving them for a special occasion that may result in the wines being past their prime.

For the main, Mark served up two chicken thighs per person, well cooked, wrapped in roasted prosciutto and baked, that had a subtle lemon, cream and parsley sauce.  They were stuffed with gorgonzola and basil pesto, scrumptious with lots of flavour. The couscous patty also had a small amount of feta and spring onions embedded within and a couple of very plump asparagus resting on top with a green pea puree and basil leaves.  The patty was a bit dry, however it was still very tasty. (note; the plural of asparagus is not asparagi, unless you are speaking Latin and as today was more of a French than Italian theme, we will stick with asparagus).

This time, rather than there being a paucity of food, there was more than enough for all of the members, with many not being able to finish their meal as they were “too stuffed to jump”.

The wines accompanying the meal were a 2009 Italian Chianti; Marchese Antinori and a NSW Orange Sangiovese from Fossil Hill.  They both went well with the chicken, however the Classico took the line honours. It initially had a bit of a smell, which evaporated, leaving an elegant spicy wine. The Sangiovese was too high in alcohol and the vines not old enough for this wine.

These were followed with a 2014 Cabernet Franc Terre a Terre from the Crayeres Vineyard  and a 2010 Sancerre Les Baronnes from Henri Bourgeois.  Both an interesting choice for the cheese, however it is hard going from reds during the meal to finish with a white, probably just a personal taste. It was suggested that Cabernet Franc is the father of Cab Sav… not sure who the mother is.

James supplied Iggy’s bread; two different types; a sour dough and a rye.  They went extremely well with the meal and the cheese.  The cheese was a surprise to many of the members, as although they had tasted this cheese in the past, this version was made from goat milk. It was a D’affinois Florette, from Rhone-Alpes France.

The cheese was a soft, surface ripened pure goats’ cheese made near Lyons, France using a special micro filtration technique called “ultra-filtration”, that concentrates the rich solids in the goat’s milk ensuring a very smooth texture and delicious rounded creamy flavour.

Ultra-filtration is a technique that occurs before the cheese making process. Pasteurised milk is forced through a series of membranes, extracting protein, and removing water, concentrating all other desirable components. This results in the production of consistent, nutritionally rich cheeses that have a silkier mouth feel and creamy subtle flavour.

The numbers for lunch were down and there is the ability for many more members to attend. I would suggest that although we now seem to be out of lockdown, you never know when we could have another imposition placed upon us, so get out now while you can, as there are only a few lunches left before the Christmas break.

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” – Isaac Newton. A simple, honest meal done very well!

Congratulations Mark, your redemption meal was a great success.

 

26 October 2021 - Merv Peacock

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard  Gibson

Hmmmm Beef Cheeks.. brave man Merv

Well, what can one say… those little suckers have been in and out of the freezer more often than Frosty the snowman, due to lockdowns and they didn’t even have freezer burn.

First to the canapes;

3 canapes were served;

The lightly fried Crabcakes, with crabmeat, capsicum, spring onion and egg, were served with a Salsa dip that was a mix of coriander, mint, chilli and a little coconut cream.

These were followed by an orange soup; there was some debate over what the vegetable was; pumpkin, kumara, but it was sweet potato, with a bit of bacon and onion. This had an accompanying Chipotle to give some heat, which Merv informed us was made with his son’s imported dried jalapenos from Mexico.

The last was Curry puffs consisting of beef mince, peas and a curry mix with mango salsa.

Merv also did all of the canapes by himself, quite an achievement.

The aperitif wines were a Linderman’s Bin 1350 Reserve Semillon 2013 under screwcap.  This was largely from an original Ben Ean vineyard and released as part of Lindy’s “Regional series”.. featuring a small volume release reserve wine.

The colour was Pale green, the Nose was developed with lemon/grapefruit and zesty and the palette was finely textured, complex and medium weight. This wine was showing an attractive toasty aged character.  It had a long finish with good acidity and an alcohol level of 12%.

This was matched with another Lindemans; a Bin 1150 Reserve Semillon 2017 also under screwcap.

The colour was pale green/clear and the nose was also developed with grassy / herb, smoke and citrus.  The palate was light medium-bodied, green herbs, almonds with some complexity and retaining the freshness of the fruit.  However, it lacked persistence of flavour and had a clean citrus finish.

On to the Mains;

We were not really sure what was going to happen with the cheeks, approaching them with some level of trepidation, given the unfortunate serving earlier in the year.  However it turned out to be a very hearty meal, with plenty of mash, and the cheeks of ample portions falling apart in your dish, slathered in gravy.. just the thing for a coolish afternoon.

The cheeks were cooked in multiple La Creuset, with 6-7 cheeks at a time for 5 hours. The stock used was a mix of beef stock, red wine, sweet paprika, onion, celery and garlic.

The mash was Dutch cream potatoes which were silky, buttery and completely artery clogging with a serving of perfectly cooked al dente beans.

Some of the comments were that it was like “pub food”, as the presentation was not beautiful, especially with the large amounts of gravy hiding the food, however, it was also pointed out that without that wonderful and copious amount of the sauce, it just would not have been such a tasty dish.  There was not very much in the way of veggies.. this was definitely a carnivores’ meal.

The table wines were excellent, especially at our table.. lucky for once!  There was some level of bottle variation.

The Houghtons Gladstones Cab Sav 2005, was generally picked as the best overall wine for the day.

It was sourced from a single vineyard in the Margaret River (probably with a large mix of fruit from Great Southern).  The colour was a dark purple hue, the nose blueberry/mulberry with some bay leaf and mint and toasty oak. The Palate was an attractive cassis/plum fruit, with a tobacco character.  This was a very balanced wine with fully integrated tannins and holding up very well. The alcohol content was 14.5% but did not feel like this.

The Penfolds Bin 407 Cab Sav 2004, which is inspired by the wonderful bin 707, offers similar varietal definitions and structure but at a more reasonable price.  It is sourced from muli-regions and matured 12 months in a combination of new and old oak.  The colour was dark, the nose restrained, with subtle dark fruit and chocolate menthol notes.  The palate was dark berry fruit on a mid-palate, with some greenness.  Summed up it was a medium weight balanced with integrated tannins, however not overly complex and reasonably one dimensional.  There was significant bottle variation. This wine for all of its promise was on the whole reasonably disappointing, especially given its price. The alcohol was 14%.

The Yalumba Signature Cab Sav 2006 is an iconic Australian blend.  It is sourced from Barossa and Eden valley vines.  It was matured in new and used oak for 22 months and handpicked with wild yeast fermentation.

The colour was a black crimson hue and the palate had dark chocolate, blueberry and black currant notes.  It was a full-bodied wine with good intensity of flavour, elegant and balanced with fine integrated tannins.  The alcohol was 13.5 and along with the Houghtons, it was one of the 2 best reds on the day.

Wolf Blass Black Label Cab Sav 2005. This classic Wolf Blass bled was sourced from Maclaren Vale and Langhorne Creek fruit and aged in new and used American and French oak for 24 months.  The colour was black and the nose was opulent, fruit and cassis with oaky tobacco and dried herbs and pepper notes.  The palate was intensely sweet black fruits and cab dominant out front and shiraz/pepper in the back of the palate. It was textured, balanced with integrated fine tannins that were a bit big and acidic, with a long dry finish.  The alcohol, bless dear old Wolf’s tastes was a big 15.3%.  The fruit was surprisingly well balanced

In addition, as there were 2 tables of 10, a Chateau L’Enclose 2000 Pomerol also made its way to these tables. These were drinking exceptionally well.

The finishing note was a couple of bottles of 5-year-old McWilliams Tawny Port.

The cheese was a traditional clothbound Pyengana Cheddar, made by hand in north-eastern Tasmania using fresh Tassie milk from nearby farms and their own modest herd of Holsteins. The symbiotic relationship of the developing surface moulds and cultures helped to develop a fine-textured, crumbly body, along with aromas reminiscent of summer grass, herbs and honey, and a long, sweet and nutty flavour.

This cheese was very popular, with a scramble at the end to obtain the takeaways of the leftovers.

All in all, a great way to kick off the return to lunches and the buzz in the room was excellent.

We look forward to many more lunches now that restrictions are easing

** Note that the wine reviews were courtesy of Richard Gibson.

 

22 June - CoTD James Hill

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Food review by James Tinslay

James Hill, one of the Society’s favourite chefs, was in the kitchen once again. He was assisted by Paul Thorne and of course the wonderful crew in the REX kitchen.

We once again treated to the deeply flavoured duck consomme from Paul Thorne. This is been enjoyed at many lunches, but on this occasion, there was a twist. In the past, Paul had used orange zest to top the consommé but this but on this occasion, he transformed the zest into a liquid and when placed in an atomiser sprayed the orange zest liquid into the consomme cup. It was wonderfully luscious.

Next up from James were three types of sashimi, kingfish, tuna and Mount Cook salmon from NZ. All three were served on spoons with a dressing of pickled ginger and tamari. Comments were around freshness and zing.

Finally for starters was a stunning looking rice paper roll, which contained an amazing number of ingredients including pickled carrot, betel leaf, mint, coriander,  garlic chives, rice vermicelli, prawn, BBQ pork and Peking duck sauce. With rice paper being so see-through, it provides the opportunity to gaze at all the ingredients, especially the stunning view of the prawn against the rice paper. Speaking of rolling rice paper with its fragile nature, James was grateful for the assistance of the new REX manager, Kylie, who had spent ten years in Vietnam and was able to use her experience with Vietnamese food to assist prepare the rolls.

The rice paper rolls were delightful with a mixture of textures and flavours.

The main came to table and was exquisite to the eye. The protein on the plate was duck breast which had been seared and had developed a wonderful char on the skin. Accompanying the duck was a mould of rice, pickled red cabbage with ginger and chilli (topped with toasted sesame seeds) and Chinese broccoli (gai lan) with oyster sauce. The range of textures and colours received many favourable comments from the floor. An excellent dish.

James Healey was on cheese and provided us with Capitoul Tomme De Chevre Caprinelle. This goat cheese is typical of the cooked mountain cheeses of the Pyrenees that have been made for centuries. It is made only in small batches from fresh goats’ milk during Spring and Autumn when the goats can graze on the rich mountain pastures. It is quite rare and to ensure supply our provider places orders at least a year in advance. It showed a smooth nutty texture that had developed a slightly sweet caramel flavour. Some commentators picked it for Ossau Iraty.

The cheese was served with cut pears with an orange-based dressing.

Another wonderful lunch from James Hill.

15 June 2021 - Paul Thorne

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8 June 2021 - Greg Sproule

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Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard Gibson

Food

3 up, 3 down, well hit, good game, comfort food for a cold drizzly winter’s day. A low turnout, possibly due to the inclement weather.

Starters

Well for any of you who follow the largest religion in the USA, baseball, the Boston Red Sox are known as the comeback kids of the major league.  Today, for the first time in over a decade, they swept their arch-rivals, the NY Yankees.

Well, we had our own comeback kid in the kitchen today, the ever-efficient Greg Sproule.

At one time a few years back, when Greg was the Food Master, it seemed that he did a majority of the cooking for the Society lunches.

So today was Greg’s turn to clean sweep us with his version of a Boston chowder variant, direct from the boondocks of Milperra.

Greg started out with a standard gravlax, with the salmon soaked in Bombay Gin and tears.  Thoughtfully Greg used both a biscuit base for some of the blinis, as well as a cucumber base for those who did not or could not consume the bread.

We had an ever-reliable Tyrrells 2014 Belford and the entry-level Leo Burling’s Riesling, which we all were given a bottle for the table to consume with the clam chowder.  Richard will be providing the wine review in detail.

Chilly was absent and his table notes that he supplies were greatly missed. 

Now, there is the noteworthy Boston or New England clam chowder and then the Manhattan clam chowder.  The latter is made with tomatoes, not as creamy, while the Boston clam chowder, although not as creamy as the San Fran Pier 39 variant, does have a roux base and cream. 

The pippies or small clams were cooked to perfection, (too much cooking will turn them into a rubbery compound) the array of vegies were beautifully al dente.  It was described by one member as being light and vibrant.

The bowls were swept clean with the accompanying bread.

Main

The main was a seafood risotto.

The accompanying wines were a Coldstreams Hill Pinot and a 2009 Chianti.  There was a great deal of discussion at our table on which wine went better with the food.  Personally, I preferred the Chianti prior to the food, but the Coldstream with the food, as the sweetness was a good balance to the lemon and salt in the risotto.  Others thought exactly the opposite.

The risotto all came together with tarragon, fennel and lemon, to give it a very refreshing and interesting twist.  Possibly a touch too salty for some, but the lemon countered the salt.

The squid was extremely delicate and tasty, as Greg used a pressure cooker to cook and tenderise the cephalopods.

The cheese was a semi hard cows milk, Latteria Perenzin Di Capra In Foglia Di Noce

Made in the alpine foothills of Italy by Slow Food-approved producer Latteria Perenzin, Formajo Ciock has been inspired by the centuries-old custom of hiding cheeses in fermenting grape must to conceal them from raiders in time of war... or from the master’s accounting ledger!

Formajo Ciock is adapted from a traditional Montasio recipe and then steeped in grape must for 10 days causing the grape residue to cling to the characteristically dark rind and help to give the cheese a slightly piquant flavour. Sweet and fragrant with notes of ripe fruits.

The two Aussie wines with the cheese were both 2012s.  The Yalumba Cigar and the Saltram Mamre Brook.  Again, there are those who love or hate these big Aussie red wines.  Personally, I found that the Cigar was a deep luscious wine that went very well with the cheese.

The coffee was the house blend. There were a few remarks on the table on how we miss Spencer and his deep knowledge and love of all thing’s caffeine.

All in all, a very good meal; not 5 stars but it was never pretending to be. Greg always cooks well (possibly with the exception of a prior goat mishap). You know that when Greg cooks, it will always be reliable, tasty and great to eat… well done, your culinary skills in the kitchen have been missed.

Next week will be a mixed lunch, with Paul Thorne slaving away in the kitchen.  Without blowing his own horn, it has always been a great meal when Paul puts his culinary skills to the test and the bookings are filling fast, so if you wish to secure a spot at the table, you have better move fast.  Nick, who in Chilly’s absence has been gathering the wine, has promised some great wines, so this is definitely not a meal to be missed.

Wine

The wines featured a Hunter Semillon and a Clare Valley Riesling (served with the gravlax starter), an Aussie Pinot and an Italian Sangiovese with the main (lightly textured Boston chowder) and a Coonawarra Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz served with the cheese.

Tyrrells ‘Belford’ Semillon 2014

Grown on old (Elliot family) vines, hand-picked and lightly crushed with minimal time on yeast. The wine displayed toasty lemon/lime citrus aromas and full-bodied, toasty citrus fruit richness on the palate with crisp mineralized acidity on the finish. 

Overall it was a well-balanced, textured wine showing attractive developed characters and considerable depth of fruit purity and length.  It went well with the Gravlax.

Leo Buring Clare Riesling 2014

This wine is the entry-level riesling in the Leo Buring Clare range.

The nose opened with attractive zesty, citrus aromatic aromas and toasty, grassy notes.  On the palate, we saw developed pure fruit flavours, crisp, fresh acidity and minerality. A simple, reliable, racy well-made wine with sufficient fruit depth and plenty of acidity to balance well with the textured chowder – probably the better of the two whites with the chowder, owing to the acidity.

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2015

Sourced from low-yielding Yarra Valley vineyards, the wine experienced a variety of handling (including some hand-picked and some whole bunch) and fermentation techniques and is matured in a mix of new and old oak barrels for 8-9 months.

The nose displayed cherry/red berry fruit aromas (with some stewy plummy notes), spice and smokey characters.  On the palate, there were clean ripe fruit red berry/plum flavours, spice and integrated fine tannins with decent acidity on the finish.

Overall a smooth, medium-bodied wine drinking very well now and was a reasonable match with the red wine squid risotto but perhaps carrying a little too much acidity for the subtle delicate flavours of the risotto.  Alc 13.5%

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2009

Grown in vineyards on the western flank of the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, the Isole e Olena CC is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canialo Nero and 5% Syrah.  It is aged for 12 months in a mix of large (4000L and 2700L) casks and 225L barrels.

The nose showed developed, savoury, red fruits (cherry) and pepper notes. The palate was medium-bodied and revealed layers of ripe dark fruits and well-integrated tannins plus aged tobacco/spice notes – in summary, a developed balanced wine still retaining its savoury fruit intensity and complexity.  It was generally regarded as the best match to the risotto.  Alc 13.5%

Yalumba Cigar Cabernet 2012

Grown on 25-year-old vines in Coonawarra, the Cigar was aged in French oak casks and 225L barrels (28% new) for 22 months.

Unfortunately one of the 3 bottles was slightly cork-tainted. The better bottles saw ripe back berry fruits and chocolate/liquorice characters (plus cedar).  The palate had dense, rich fruit flavours and spicy cedar notes and smooth, polished tannins. 

The Cigar Cabernet was an easy-drinking, balanced wine showing good depth of fruit and a long finish – it was regarded as the better match with the piquant, semi-hard cows milk cheese.  Alc 14%

Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz 2012

Sourced from grapes from the Barossa and Eden valley, the Mamre Brook was matured in large (2800L) casks and 225L barrels for 16 months.  The wine showed red and blackberry aromas on the nose with spicy vanilla oak notes.  On the palate, the wine was full-bodied with ripe dark fruit (not jammy), soft tannins and creamy vanilla characters with lively acidity and considerable length on the finish.

Overall a reasonably well constructed Barossa/Eden valley Shiraz with ample fruit intensity although perhaps not completely in balance at this point. Alc 15%